Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Everything I need to know...

So, Maisie's kindergarten year has come and gone.

Here she is, on her first day of school back in August...

so excited! And look how short her hair was!

Here we are, waiting for the bus in the morning and so excited for her last day...

 And here she is, school year complete, now a first grader.

Why Ella's clinging onto her arm like that, I do not know. But it makes for a cute picture!

Aaron and Ella made Maisie a cake to mark the occasion. It was yummier than it was photogenic, which is fine, because cakes are for eating, not for photographing. We also let the girls stay up a little late watching a movie of Maisie's choice - The Secret World of Arietty. It was a nice evening and a lovely way to celebrate the end of the school year.

Maisie's kindergarten year was wonderful. She had a great teacher, and she learned and grew so much. A number of years ago there was a schmaltzy book out called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. So, I thought I'd share with you some of the things she learned this year, which I think will serve her well for the rest of her life.
  • Love of reading: Minneapolis schools use the Scholastic Leveling Chart to measure students' reading ability and progress. Maisie started the year at level B, and finished at level I, which is a little ahead of the curve. She enjoys reading on her own (she brought comic books in her backpack to read on the bus!), and especially likes to read nursery rhymes to Ella. (Ella likes that too!) We're very happy that she's developed a love of reading.
  • Love of art: as a Montessori school, Maisie's school incorporates art into almost everything they do. They really encourage the children to be creative and artistic, and Maisie's definitely taken this to heart. She draws all the time - both things she's made up (princesses and fairies are popular) as well as things she sees around her. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll tell you that she wants to be an artist. She's well on her way!
  • Curiosity about the world: She loves to ask questions and try to figure out why things are the way they are. Her science classes have done a wonderful job at fostering and encouraging this curiosity. Even if her hypotheses aren't always correct, she's putting a lot of thought into them. It's so fun to hear her say, "You know what? I bet this is this way because..." and then to explain her ideas and thoughts.
  • Speaking and listening: Maisie's a champ at expressing her ideas, thoughts, and feelings. At the beginning of the year, her first reaction to any frustration was to burst into tears, but as the year progressed, she got better at expressing herself in ways other than crying. She does still cry when frustrated, but she's able now to use her words to tell us exactly what's going on. She's also very empathetic; seeing another child upset will upset her, too, and she will do what she can to remedy the situation. These traits combine to make her a wonderful friend and a positive person to have in any group.
So, that's a lot of what Maisie learned in kindergarten this year. There was a fair amount of more academic work, but I think that these things might serve her better, in the long run, than knowing how to tell whether an animal is a mammal or a reptile. (Not that that's not important! But, you know.)

Monday, June 03, 2013

Dinosaurs at the zoo!

First, one note: tomorrow is Maisie's last day of Kindergarten. OMG! So if you see me, I might be a big weepy about it. Be nice to me... and tell her congratulations!

Last Saturday, the girls and I headed down to the Minnesota Zoo. There are two new exhibits there for the summer! One has African animals, and the other has dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs at the Zoo! Just animatronic... this isn't a Jurassic Park situation.

If you haven't ever been to the Minnesota Zoo, let me take a second to explain its layout. There's one main building that has customer service/ticketing, a cafeteria, and the gift shop, and several indoor exhibits: Discovery Bay, the Tropics Trail, the penguins, and the Minnesota Trail are all in the same building. Then outside, there's a main plaza with a fountain/splash pad and a lot of trails with outdoor exhibits. Russia's Grizzly Coast, the Northern Trail, and the Family Farm are all outside. Dinosaurs and the African animals exhibits are outside, along the Northern Trail.

We had sunscreen, sunhats, and were ready to walk the trails to get to Africa and to see dinosaurs. Sadly, there were other plans for us! When we got to the zoo, we were told that a bison had escaped its enclosure, so nobody could go outside until it was recaptured. WHAT!

So, instead we spent the morning doing activities to help Maisie earn her Girl Scouts Minnesota Zoo badge. Ella was not exactly pleased about this arrangement.
But, what can you do.

Eventually we did all Maisie's activities (How many species of frogs are in Minnesota? What are three bird on the tropics trail? Draw your favorite fish on the coral reef. Draw a food chain of animals you see on the Minnesota trail.) and got the all-clear to head outside. FINALLY! We were off to see the dinosaurs!!
This is a dimetrodon. I don't know why, but I think its fossil looks much scarier than the robot version. Maybe because you can see the teeth so much more clearly? Or maybe it's the freaky spines... hard to say.

Either way, I'm glad we don't have to worry about running across one of these in the wild.

By the time we got through dinosaurs and the African exhibit (not as great as advertised - one giraffe and a bunch of ostriches was really all we saw), the girls were hot and tired. Fortunately, we went through the central plaza with its splash pad/fountain on the way back. They were ready to cool off and weren't going to be stopped by not having brought swimsuits!

A quick pose on the wolf statutes on the way out...

 capped off a great day at the Minnesota Zoo!