Little Miss Muffet and cheese making

Our Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students are studying nursery rhymes. Here are two animated versions we found, plus a Teletubbies parody and a useful video on cheese making (from curds and whey, also known as junket).

Little Miss Muffet – animation:

Little Miss Muffet – animation:

Teletubbies perform Little Miss Muffet:

How it’s made – Cheese:

(from “The Discovery Channel”.)

What should you do if you meet a Goliath Tarantula spider?

(from “National Geographic”.)

What time is it when the clock chimes 13?

Answer: Time to get a new clock.

You may recall my emergency repair job on the library’s “Auckland” clock, part of our set of “newsroom” clocks in the revamped library? Well, the clock mechanism has failed again. I can’t get it to run longer than a few minutes. I very much doubt I can buy a matching replacement for a clock bought six months ago “on special” – and, rather than put up with a clock that was always giving a totally random time, I decided to go back to an idea I used a few years ago when I was teaching Stage 1 full time.

I’d realised that many students in that had no concept of a longcase grandfather clock, so I created one with corrugated artboard on the classroom wall, utilising the regular schoolroom clock that came with the room. We added a mouse to the clock when we were studying the nursery rhyme, “Hickory Dickory Dock”, and the students were shocked one day when the battery ran out right on the dot of one o’clock!

Anyway, “Auckland” has now been officially replaced by “Storyland” – and that clock’s time is permanently striking one, so to speak:

Revised clocks

At least it’ll also be the right time every lunchtime!

I also took the opportunity to make a better version of my laminated “Time 4 Learning” signage, and changed the “Library Rules” chart to match the green colour of our core values signage. Previously, it had been white.

Clocks x 4
(Click photos to see larger versions)

Time to rhyme

Stage 1 has continued to add contributions to the Jack and Jill page of our Nursery rhyme wiki!

Four Stage 1 classes have now completed the lesson in which they suggested rhyming pairs for flashcards, made changes to the colour coded template (an online matrix I created by saving a Word document as HTML) on our wiki page to create their own nursery rhyme parody. It has been extremely effective to demonstrate how editing the screen on one computer and uploading the change is shown on all other monitors after refreshing the page (ie. pressing the “Enter” key).

What fun!

My three Flickr slideshows have proven to be useful, and I’ve been using these blog posts as bookmarks. I must set up a del.icio.us account some day!

But I learned something very exciting yesterday. When the mouse is dragged across the middle of the frame, a large “i” icon appears. I assumed this meant “information” but I never thought to test it. Children don’t seem to have that lack of impulse to click a button; thus I discovered that my photo titles and description, in white text, superimpose the photos at the click of a mouse! Simple, but effective. Technology makes adults feel dumb sometimes!

Chinese New Year K-2
Bridges – Stage Two
Antarctica – Stage Three

Of pails, crowns and brown paper

As I explained in my post about the fables wiki post, Term Four for our Early Stage One and Stage One students concentrates on fables. Now that we’ve started a new year, the school-based (three year, cyclic) literacy program devotes Term One to an exploration of nursery rhymes, Term Two to fairy stories, Term Three to Dreaming stories – and back to fables again in Term Four.

On Fridays, I take eight Early Stage One and Stage One intensive language class students for an additional lesson, to help prepare them for their immersion into English lessons the next week. These students perform best in English when they have had lots of exposure to the field knowledge of the topic being studied. For the nursery rhymes unit, I like to emphasise the repetitiveness of rhyming words, the relative ease of memorising nursery rhymes, the historical context (as often reflected by the illustrations in children’s picture book collections of nursery rhymes), and really explore the often archaic vocabulary.

Last year, these language students were integrated into several different English classes, and it was important that they entered Monday’s lessons full of confidence about the topic of each nursery rhyme (a different one each fortnight). This year, they come to the library on a Thursday (for their team-taught lesson) accompanied by junior students from our hearing support class. It will be interesting to see how these students work as a cohesive group in the upcoming week.

Last Friday, we examined Jack and Jill, which they’d already learned by heart with their class teacher – so I brought out the book we used last year, which has bery old-fashioned artwork to illustrate the nursery rhymes. I had the students predicting what they would see in the pictures, and they did extremely well: “a boy; a girl; some water (in a well? – What’s a well? Will it be made of bricks, stones, wood, etc.); a bucket; a boy getting a bandage put on him…”

We also discussed why they were called “nursery” rhymes, and then the meaning of the word “rhyme” in its context. Who are nursery rhymes told to? What’s a nursery? What’s a ryhme? Why weren’t they written down at first? Who do we tell nursery ryhmes to? I was thrilled that the Stage One students were remembering details from a similar set of lessons this time last year!
We said the rhyme together. Where was the bucket? It wasn’t mentioned in the nursery rhyme. Or was it? (It took another recitation before someone realised the bucket must be the pail.)

Then I asked some questions: will we see the city or the country (harking back to last year’s The town mouse and the country mouse fable); will there be a rabbit in the picture (there was!); will we see a mother/cow/shark/bottle of vinegar (what’s vinegar?), etc.; a cat?; a crown? (What will the crown look like…?); and so on. There is always a major emphasise on opportunities for the students to use repetitive oral language, in ways I had modelled, as they answered these questions.

Next, I revealed the pictures and we ticked off our predictions. The students were getting very excited that they had predicted so well. (Again: “Where was the crown?” – I even demonstrated finding it on a real boy called Jack!)

Next, we did a dramatisation of the nursery rhyme: miming the exhausting climbing of the steep hill; fetching the water; “Jack” rolling down the hill (the illustration had the bucket upturning onto Jack’s head, to great hilarity; “Jack” hurting the crown of his head; “Jill” tumbling after him; “trotting” home for medical attention; “Jack” crying out as vinegar was splashed on his head, etc. I also had a chance to tell an anecdote about my paternal grandfather, who always used to maintain that the best cure for injuries like Jack’s was a Depression-era poultice of Friar’s Balsam and brown paper!

Sometimes I look at these five- and six-year old students and worry that I’m aiming too high, but they thrive on it! Their eyes grow wider and wider as we act out the words, not overlooking any of the quirky, now-anachronistic, terms. Their reactions as “Jack” suffered loudly his indignities with the vinegar soon had them telling their own anecdotes of various medical treatments for their cuts and scratches over the years.

The dramatisation of the (rather abstract, to them) concepts in Jack and Jill have definitely became more real, and I know that they will surprise their class teacher on Monday with their newly-acquired field knowledge, and renewed confidence, in saying – and performing – the rhyme.

Update (25 Feb): Success! Now check out Stage 1’s Nursery rhyme wiki page! First Stage 1 class for the week suggested rhyming pairs for flashcards, which were typed onto an online matrix on our wiki page to create their own nursery rhyme parodies.