On the Journey
news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, was one of our country's earliest conservationists and the man responsible for making apple trees plentiful in the United States. Kindergarteners spent a week focusing on lessons tied to this historic figure. In the process, they discovered a lot -- not just about apples and planting trees, but also about how to approach a big topic and use it to experience all kinds of learning.
Kindergarteners learned about John Chapman's life, what it was like, and his many accomplishments. There are many tall tales and legends about Johnny Appleseed, so teachers explained the difference between fiction and non-fiction, an important concept for beginning readers. The kids also learned what a "tall tale" is and the difference between a tall tale and a regular non-fiction story.
How the theme applies to reading & writing
As Johnny's story focuses on apples, this tied into our letter of the week, "A." Kindergarteners learned how to write a capital A and a lower case a, and also learned to connect the letter to the short vowel sound of a. The children searched in the classroom for pictures of items that have "a" words, and also suggested "a" words of their own. Morning work in the classroom also revolved around the apple theme as children practiced writing and spelling. At the end of the week, we gathered as a class to discuss what we had learned, writing our findings on a large poster for all to see. This helps develop memory recall and active participation.
How the theme applies to math
Kindergarteners counted 100 applejacks on a large ten-by-ten grid, grouping the individual applejacks in groups of ten. They worked on their fine motor skills by beading them together in necklace that's wearable as well as edible!
One of the highlights for the children was getting to taste the different varieties of apples. Children shared and noted their favorites on a class graph. We then explored the various shapes apples are depending on how you look at them; for example, a star is made when you cut the apple open crosswise. This is what data science and geometry look like in Kindergarten!