Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our Day at the Preschool

Lately I've been rereading many of our old blogs for many different reasons. Nostalgia over the kids who have graduated this last summer and the ones who graduated the year before... Reflection on the ways we have grown since we first embarked on a journey that took us away from the infant house and into our own space... Curiosity over what topics I might be able to build on from past blogs... All of this was on my mind when I stumbled over a blog Bee wrote just over a year ago.

With an eye on our past and another on our future and my heart in the now, I'd love to show you all what a day in the life at TPH looks like these days.

We Greet Each Other.
As the children arrive in the morning, teachers are available to chat with families and help kids say goodbye. Sometimes we have sad drop offs. I strongly believe this is because Tumbleweeds is a place where we are free to feel and just sit in an emotion. Even after tearful goodbyes, children begin to engage in the day and find their role in the school. This may look like reading a book with a teacher, enjoying a table provocation, helping out in the kitchen, or happily greeting another friend as they arrive. Each child has their own way to come into our day and the diversity among us all is inspiring.

AS: CE's here! CE's here, Melinda Belinda!
Melinda: You see CE through the window!
AS: Me say hi.

We Talk as a Group.
Once most children have arrived and we've cleaned up our table provocations, we come together at circle. The morning circle is a time where we all talk as a large group. We sing "Who's Here Today?" and sometimes also sing our Family Song. After singing, we talk about whatever topic we are exploring as a large group. Lately this has been the idea of travel and the concept of countries such as the United States.

Rio's here today!
Rio's here today!
Let's all yell hooray
Because Rio's here today!

We Eat Together.
After group we share our first meal together: Morning snack. Often the children offer up suggestions to me of what I should buy next time I get groceries. We also tend to talk a lot about who had what for breakfast and compare what our mornings look like before school. Children serve themselves from large serving dishes- family style- at each of the four tables. Tables that are without teachers often have one child who takes on the role of making sure everyone else is heard at their table.

TB: I hear J asking for more pear!
LC: Pear!
TB: I can help!

We Play Outside.
After eating, we head outside for the rest of our morning. One teacher takes the first group outside while the second group helps to clean and tidy the snack area and work on keeping our school beautiful. Outside is primarily a time of free play, though provocations are often offered. Some of our favorite provocations over the past few months have been flax seed, soap, water, paint, and shaving cream explorations. Sometimes we explore only one medium at once and other times we explore mediums mixed together. Often, the children tell me what they'd like to do next or take it to the next level on their own. Outside the children's imagination runs wild. Often we hear snippets of conversations amongst dragons, families, doctors, or limitless others.

WK: It hurts.... right.... here! (WK points to her arm)
MR: (MR inspects the spot closely) Hmmm, it looks like a bug bite. I have some medicine!
WK: Give me the medicine!
MR: Okay, wait right here while I find my nurse.

We Break into Small Groups.
As our outside time nears the end, Rio quietly invites his Body Group to join him in cleaning up a few things and heading inside. Typically, if a child is very engrossed in something he lets them continue to play and invites someone else in their absence. Body group usually includes four to six children. Occasionally, Reiko conducts the small group instead. The rest of the children and I play a little longer then work to clean up before we also head inside. We have a small circle together and talk about whatever topic we are currently interested in. Most recently we've been discussing the United States, just like at morning group, with a lot of help from our state map.

Melinda: I'm noticing that Oregon is right here! Below it is California and above it is Washington. (I point to each state).
MaR: I go to California!
Melinda: Ma says she's been to California! California is this long, long state right.... here!
JK: I live there!
EF stands up and points with me to the state.
Melinda: We live right here in Portland, Oregon... (I point to Portland on the map) and California is right here.
MaR: How can we get to California?

We Nap!
After small groups, we eat lunch together then transition to nap. Not everyone at Tumbleweeds sleeps (certainly not the teachers!), but every child rests during this time. We have two rooms for napping: the front room and the back room.The back room consists only of children who sleep and it stays fairly quiet and dark throughout nap time. I play a song on repeat that typically has some vocal element to it. Before we turn out our lights and turn on our cd, though, we always sing a verse from The Beatles' Blackbird as I help each child make sure they are covered up and cozy. In the front room, children read a chapter book with Rio before settling into nap. The children who only rest during nap all do so in the front room. After they've rested for a while, books are offered and they read quietly on their mats.

We Head Back Outside!
Once children begin to wake up from nap, Rio takes the early risers outside. I clean and ready snack as we wait for everyone to be awake. Rio sometimes stays in the front yard and as a group the children work on a project like covering the driveway in chalk or painting pumpkins. After everyone is awake we bring snack outside and eat in the front yard picnic style. This is usually a busy time of talking, eating, and enjoying being together in the late afternoon sun we've been getting! We'll be sad when the rain begins to drive us inside to eat.

We Dance Together.
After snack, we have stretch circle. Sometimes we do it outside and sometimes we go inside before starting our circle. Some children choose to not participate and might read books or play while the rest of us enjoy stretch circle. We have two different songs that we might sing during this time and many of our parents have probably heard the words for them at home! The first song is "Jump Jump":

Jump Jump Rio!
Jump Jump Reiko!
Jump Jump Amy!
Jump Jump Melinda!
Jump Jump Briana!
Jump Jump Elizabeth!
Jump Jump Everyone!


Shake it Rio!
Shake it Reiko...

Jump Jump can go through many different movements. Often after stop, I invite the children to choose the next movement. Our second song is a song we learned from Iris long ago called "What's Your Stretch Today?"

Rio! Reiko! Jump up and down!
Rio! Reiko! Spin around!
Rio! Reiko! Dance your own way!
Rio! Reiko! What's your stretch today?

We Enjoy Afternoon Provocations.
Before the day draws to a close, Rio sets out table provocations for the afternoon. He often does this as I'm running our stretch circle. The children focus on a variety of activities, much like the morning arrival time. Provocations build on what we've been talking about (perhaps a provocation offers the chance to build skeletons out of different materials to build on body group discussions), a process we've been doing for a while (making soap dough to build off of explorations of how soap and water interact), or simply reflects the changing of the season (painting with leaves or gluing leaves to canvas). Regardless, the table provocations allow children to focus and engage in a meaningful way before they leave for the day.

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