Featured Stories

Deer Creek kindergartners study winter weather

Students in Diane Bonica's class have fun building 'igloos' and decorating 'ice' sculptures
by: Barbara Sherman, LET IT SNOW! — Making treasures out of Styrofoam (which kids pretend is snow) are Deer Creek Elementary kindergartners Molly Russell (left), Amelia Elliot, Ivy Saylor and Cora McKay, whose class is currently studying winter weather.

TIGARD - Once kids in Diane Bonica's kindergarten class at Deer Creek Elementary finished listening to her read a 'Tacky the Penguin' story Tuesday, it was time to break into two groups: Half the class met with their 'upperclassmen' reading buddies while the other half went into the 'Whisper Room' to work on their winter weather projects.

'In kindergarten, we study the four seasons, and now we're studying a four-week winter-weather unit,' Bonica explained.

In the Whisper Room, where the kindergartners were indeed working quietly, several of them worked at the creation station making 'ice sculptures' out of Styrofoam and decorating them with colored Popsicle sticks and other items.

'They will take home their Styrofoam creations,' Bonica said.

In another part of the room was an 'igloo,' where several boys were rearranging large, white, plastic ice-cream tubs and sheets of Styrofoam computer-packing material to make the igloo's walls.

'In general, the boys seem to destroy it, and the girls organize it and put it back together,' Bonica said.

As a wall of the Styrofoam sheets fell over, she noted, 'See, it doesn't make any noise.'

Bonica pointed out that the kids have to use math skills plus organizational and architectural skills to figure out how to build the walls of the igloo.

'It's fun to watch them problem-solve,' she said. 'It's really fun to watch them create.'

A monthly event for the kindergartners is a family-homework assignment, and January's assignment was to create a weather project with help from parents.

With the deadline looming this Friday, the projects have been trickling in this week.

'Today was an exciting day - five projects came in,' Bonica said. 'Each day, I never know if I'll get one or two or none or a lot.'

One completed project was a poster showing a map of the United States and winter temperatures for the states with photos around the edge of people dressed appropriately for the weather in their section of the country, such as ski clothes in the Midwest and swimsuits and shorts in Florida.

Another project was a shoebox diorama showing a snowy scene complete with a pond, a tree and a snowman.

One boy's project was a scrapbook showing him in the different seasons - wearing a parka in the snow, raking leaves in the fall and sitting in the sun by a lake in the summer.

A girl created a book about snow, and another student made a mobile of brightly colored cards with each one explaining how to enjoy a different kind of weather, such as looking at clouds in the sky or flying kites in the wind.

As Bonica walked around checking on the kids and pointing out their various projects, she was interrupted to help pull two ice-cream tubs apart, twist a lid off a pill bottle or get glue to start coming out of a bottle.

'You can talk to the kids about things, but at this age, they've got to do it,' Bonica said as a boy walked by to show her a 'birthday cake' he made for his mom out of a piece of cardboard and decorated with pill-bottle 'candles.'

'We really recycle everything,' Bonica said. 'The staff will ask me if I want something they are going to discard, and the parents bring in lots of stuff - like Christmas bows and egg cartons. The kids never know what they'll find in here, and they have to be creative to find ways to use it.'