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The beginning of a new year is a good time to take stock, reflect on the past 
and make goals for the future.
In kindergarten that seems to mean drawing a portrait for the portfolio, so that the adults can see the change, growth and development since the last self portrait. 

Salmon are amazing creatures. 

Any creature who jumps up waterfalls in order to get back to their birthplace is worth learning about. 

Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones is an ideal picture book to help young children learn about the life cycle of the salmon. 

Salmon Stream
author: Carol Reed-Jones
illustrator: Michael S. Maydak
publisher: Dawn Publications, 2001

Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award
CBC/NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book

summary   Fast-paced prose and brilliant illustrations follow the salmon from their form as eggs in a stream to the wide ocean, eventually making a hazardous journey home to their stream of origin. As in her earlier best-selling book, The Tree in the Ancient Forest, author Carol Reed-Jones uses cumulative verse--a literary technique that is not only enjoyable but suggests how interconnected salmon are with their habitat. At the back is a section on salmon facts and what makes a good habitat for them, teaching the basics of ecology and why clean streams and waters are so important.   -- Dawn Publications

from Dawn Publications: https://dawnpub.com/activity/salmon-stream-activities/

After reading the book, we got ready to code our friendly salmon from the ocean back to the stream where she was born, so that she could lay her eggs (and die).

We got our our coding grid.

 I made it out of a heavy piece of paper and marked the squares with electrical tape.

Before we could code our fish "home", we had to create the journey.

What would be in between the ocean and her gravel bed -- the kids really wanted a waterfall, fish ladders, a tunnel/culvert.

How could we represent a waterfall, or fish ladders?  Loose parts to the rescue. The kids made a lego fish ladder, and a blue scarf and tin cans became a waterfall.  Driftwood and building blocks completed the "obstacles".

Then we started talking predators. Kindergarten kids can be pretty blood thirsty! But it made for more interesting coding, so ... we had a mama bear and 2 cubs, an eagle, a couple orca, a seal and a shark. The kids were a bit frustrated that the ocean animals had to stay in the ocean.  But we had to think like scientists.

Once the grid was all set up, we were ready to get our salmon to her spawning grounds.

We code with arrows.  Click [here] to print the set that I made to go with the grid.

Each child had a turn to put an arrow on the grid to help our mama salmon get upstream.

There was lots of discussion how to best make the journey.

Sometimes a wrong turn was made, and we had to "debug" the code. 

Just before our salmon was about to be coded to her spawning ground there was a shout - "eggs, we need red eggs". There was a bit of a scurry around the classroom as a gaggle of children looked around to see what could be salmon eggs. Red beads. Then we needed gravel. And still water. 

Then we could finish our code. 

We loved listening to Bobs and Lolo sing Run Salmon Run.  There's also an app.  Full disclosure - the song can get stuck in your head ... for days.


place based art

Reading The Six Cedar Trees by Margot Sandahl and Celeste Aleck, made us think about cedar trees.

They are all around us, but we hadn't really stopped to look at them with curiosity and creativity. 

As we looked carefully at the cedars in our school yard, we saw their beauty -- and wanted to make some art.

The 6 Core Competencies are at the heart of the redesigned BC curriculum.

They are designed to underpin and arch over all learning K - 12.

The Six Cedar Trees  is a book built on the Core Competencies.

The Six Cedar Trees
by: Margot Landahl and Celestine Aleck
publisher: Strong Nations Publishing, 2017

summary: Eagle perches himself in a grove of cedar trees high above a school playground. He explores the characteristics of 6 different Pacific Northwest animals and connects them with strengths  we grow in ourselves  (the core competencies).

Who would have guessed that the common garden snail would inspire great art.

As part of our snail inquiry/investigation/curiosity/learning, we wondered about how we could be snail inspired artists.

When we did some research, we discovered that we were not the first to be inspired to creation by the garden snail.

One of our favourite books is Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo. All right - it's one of my favourite books - but my enthusiasm is contagious - so the kids love it too.

As well as being a perfect story for reading, watching (the BBCOne production is delightful), and retelling -- it is also a perfect story for learning story elements.

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