Sunday, September 30, 2012

Who We Are

As we prepared our packages to pay-it-forward, we had an impromptu picture session to share the faces of our school with other children and teachers around the world.

We have been talking a lot about identity, who we are, who others are, how we compare to other people around the world, and how we see ourselves in our world. Taking pictures and seeing oneself in those pictures, the preschoolers have an image of who they are. They try out different facial expressions and poses, each time wanting to see their pictures.

Identity can be so many things and figuring out one's own identity in a world full of others is an ongoing, ever-changing, process. Giving the preschoolers the chance to explore different facial expressions and poses through pictures is one way of exploring identity. Through different activities and daily routines, the preschoolers have opportunities each day to explore their own identity, the identity of the other preschoolers, and the identity of others whom they only see in pictures. It makes us aware of who we are, not just physically, but emotionally, psychologically, and socially, and how we are each one unique being intertwined with others throughout our community and the world.

Wednesday at the Preschool

A conversation about neighbors and neighborhoods during group time this morning, setting us up for talking about what makes a community and who we are in that community.  Also a rough diagram for our community map that is in the works.  We learned new song that was a favorite of mine when I was younger and a huge fan of Mr. Rogers.

Later, the children led their own group time before lunch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vroom Vroom: Vehicles and Movement

Recently Cohort 5 has been interested in movement. Vehicles of any sort have been a chief focus in our movement explorations.LC is especially interested in the wheels of cars. She carefully holds a car in one hand while using her free hand to move the wheel around and around. Occasionally she pauses to lift the car up and show it to me, sharing her knowledge that the wheel turns as she moves it. Meanwhile, VR and HH love to explore how vehicles move when they roll them down slopes such as the wooden slide outside or the small ramp in our classroom.

IS loves to crawl alongside a car or train as he pushes them about our classroom. He's very focused on getting from one side of the room to the other as he moves the car along.
To support this interest we have begun making some changes in our classroom. First we moved all of our furniture around to give the room a fresh look and a large space for using cars. The PSers were kind enough to lend us their car rug to put into this space. This has inspired HH to drive cars along roads and park them in various places such as the mountains or football field. VR has been very keen on building train tracks on top of the rug as well.

The ramp moved to the center of our room and became a major focal point. It is regularly used for sliding cars and other small toys down, including our animals which now live close to the ramp itself. Having it in the center of the room has led to all four children having an interest in utilizing it during their focused play with vehicles rather than just VR and HH.

We have also been using the silks during the afternoon. There has been a great interest in how the silks fly through the air and move with us as our bodies move. As we move forward, we will be implementing much more to support our continued exploration of cars and movement. A trip to the library will bring in books about travel, vehicles, and movement.

The Ice Cream Shop

Over the last few weeks, one theme of play has been revolving around this table that we placed outside.  It's somewhat broken, so we propped it up between two trees, creating a cozy spot behind.  We have used the wooden surface as a canvas for many layers of paint or a place to drape a fresh canvas for even more color mixing opportunities.  It has been a hiding place, a fort, a house and now an ice cream shop.  Almost constantly outside someone is on the back side of the table announcing, "Who wants some ice cream?!?"

Because it is so frequently used, there is often too many children behind the table.  There was often many struggles over space and who should be where and even injuries resulting from the table falling apart from the heavy usage.  It became apparent that we needed something better, more sturdy and easier for us to use. 

Our first step was to spend some time thinking about not just the design of our new structure, but our plan.  We decided the old table needed to go, but where?
"Let's break it!" suggested K.
"Yeah! It's old and dusty."  TLC commented.

"We could make something that could be an Ice Cream Stand and then something else, like a rocket ship." suggested SC
"Or a race car!" M added.
"Or an ambluence." said SJC.
"And maybe just another house," said W and J.
Now I was getting really excited.  We made a list of what our plan was: 1. Break the table; 2. Use the pieces to build a new structure; 3. Throw any extra parts away.
Then we made another list that outlined what parts we might need inside the structure.
Everyone took turns drawing their ideas.  Many people stuck around and watched as the one clipboard and pencil circulated.  Everyone who was interested drew their designs and talked about the parts they were drawing.
There was a sense of satisfaction as our design session ended.  Next: Demolition!

At night - J
Rocket Ship - SC

The parts we need - K
A guy using a screwdriver - W

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Exploration of the Slide

Both in and out of the classroom, cohort 5 has become a group of movers and shakers. We are working hard to explore how our bodies move: how they climb, how they slide, how they walk, how they crawl, how they bend, and more. To support and encourage this exploration outside we have been utilizing our wooden slide. The wooden slide has been a beloved structure for all the cohorts that came before us and we are happy to report is has quickly become a great source of inspiration for moving big among our own cohort. Below are some photos tracking LC's recent exploration of it. She had been working for a while to reach the top of the slide. Once she accomplished getting there, she was quite proud but still had much more to explore from her new vantage point. 

LC works hard to climb up the steps of the wooden slide. Once she reaches the top she looks back down, contemplating her journey upward.

Next she looks up to make eye contact with me. She wants to make sure I am noticing her accomplishment of reaching the top of the slide. She's been working on climbing up the steps for about a week now so this is a big moment for her.

She carefully moves her feet as she stands on the platform of the top of the slide. To make sure she doesn't step off she watches her feet as she moves them. She's getting a feel for how much space she has to move around on the platform. After standing sideways for a bit, she moves to stand facing me again. She carefully scoots her feet backwards without lifting them off the platform itself.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Explosions in the Concoction Station

There is something really beautiful and attractive for me and the children about the sunshine as it filters through the trees in the morning.  I think this becomes even more intensified when it shines on the concoction station when vinegar and baking soda are available.  This area has become more and more self sufficient as the children gain confidence in their knowledge of the materials and how they can be used and more importantly how the chemical reactions can be used.  

Our goal with this area was to allow the children to learn the properties of different mediums, so that they could skillfully and seamlessly integrate them into their play.  The brightly colored vinegar has become tea for tea parties and the resulting foam is often mixed to create new flavors of ice cream.  Even though there is a limited amount of materials to use, the children have figured out ways to take turns and use them together, often collaborating on ideas on how and when things should be used.