Friday, March 28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
After getting down, the child hugs Elizabeth, and they both connect over the strong feelings that came up through this process.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The work went quick as we all grabbed a tool and set to renewing our beds. Each gardener was so intent and focused on their work that we only had words to trade tools or admire beauty around us. When we got to sowing seeds we all huddled around to study the different shapes and sizes of seeds. You could see in the eyes of every child that the magic of gardening had taken hold. This feeling will only continue to grow and deepen as garden group and Summer become a regular part of Tumbleweed culture.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
We often reflect on the outside world in our group time. We talk about our weekends, use the map to discuss places we've been, and, of course, we talk about our families. Family, in fact, is one of the most common themes of our large group time. We sing the Family Song which has been a long time favorite of my cohort even before we joined the Preschoolers.
Something that I love about the Family Song is how adaptable it is. In our preschool, we love discussing differences and similarities. The Family Song gives us an opportunity to discuss things that are the same and that are different in each of our own families. For example, we have families with a mom and a dad, families that live in two homes, families that include grandparents, families that have two moms, families that include an Uncle, families with or without pets... the list goes on and on. It also gives us a chance to relate to one another. The kids often ask Rio or myself to sing our own family song. They love to think about what our lives are outside of the preschool walls, too!
Look for more posts on how we discuss family at the Preschool House! We are excited to be introducing the Family Song in Spanish, working on drawing Family Portraits, and making our own Family Books!
This question was how we began our recent body group. I started by approaching our circle time and explaining that I will invite children to body group who are listening and sitting. I then invited one by one by playing the "if you can see me, touch", using different areas where we have skin; eyebrow skin, foot skin. Once we were lined up at the back door we all sat down on the rug and began are warm-up songs. Next I repeated the first question and the children were ready and replied quickly. M said "what is an organ?". I explained that they are very important and we need all of them to live. Then I asked what things pump our blood, help us breath and give us energy for food? The class responded with the heart, lungs and stomach(intestines). "Do you think those are organs?" "Yes" said AK. Then what does skin do thats so important? I asked.
We went over all the functions that skin could have. "It protects from the sun" said T. We talked about how skin could be similar to the heart and other organs. We also worked out that the skin, the heart, and all of our other organs all have a very special job. The discussion first led to how skin can be many colors. Why? We rolled up our sleeves to find out and began comparing arms. "You're darker than T" W told me. I explained that people are born with different melatonin that makes skin darker and protects us from the Sun. "Yeah I get darker when I lay in the sun in the summer" M said. T mentioned using sunscreen and I said, "I don't often wear sunscreen when T needs to use it."
Next we talked about hot/cold. I passed around a bowl of ice and we took turns putting our finger on it. We discussed what it felt like. "It hurt" said AS. I explained if we touch a stove skin allows us to feel so we don't hurt ourselves. "It protects us", said W. Yes, and it also keeps our body the perfect temperature!
Last I had everyone find their elbow and pull the skin. Some kids were grossed out and we asked why can we pull our skin. We came to the consensus that skin is stretchy and flexible. Then we all did our best stretches to prove the point.
We ended by drawing what skin does with a little flip book. Everyone excited to express what they had just learned.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
The conversation that happens once we reach the front porch is always pretty much the same but here's the conversation from one particular afternoon:
WK: I'm here! I'm the winner! I was FIRST!
MR: You were first but you're NOT the winner!
WK: I'm the winner because I was first!
MR: No! Everyone is the winner! We all ran so we are all the winners.
WK: Well, I got here first so I'm the winner.
MR: That's not how it works! We ALL win!
Usually this is about where I step in...
Melinda: What I'm hearing is that WK really feels like she's the winner because she was here first. MR, you feel like everyone wins because they all participated.
WK and MR nod slowly.
Melinda: So one thing that's really interesting about our community is that we all get to choose what we think. MR feels really strongly that everyone wins and WK feels really strongly that she got there first and that's what makes her the winner. You both get to have your own truths.
This typically changes the tone of WK and MR's conversation and they begin talking instead about other truths that aren't the same for them. It's amazing work and it's something I'm so glad they are able to do together- but the entire exchange and how often we have it pushed me to think about something else all together: Are we really all winners? What does everyone being a winner teach our children? When did healthy competition become participation is winning? I don't disagree with this idea- and I fully believe what I told MR and WK: We all get to have our own truths. However, the other great thing about having our own truths is that we also all get to challenge each other to think deeply about our truths, to investigate them, and- when they no longer fit us- to discard them in favor of a new truth.
So my question is pretty basic: Are we forgetting to let our children fail when we always tell them they succeed? Yes, trying is its' own type of success but failure is a very real part of life and failure is not the horrific monster we make it out to be. It's painful. It's full of struggle. It's difficult. These are all things we should want children to feel comfortable in. We want our children to be able to sit in struggle and to know that they can come out of that struggle stronger. We want them to know that if they want the experience or the end goal bad enough to try, it will be okay if they fail. We want them to know how to face adversity.
Paul Tough writes on the differences between economical classes when it comes to facing adversity. One reflection I had after reading his article in the New York Times resonated with me as I was fairly poor growing up. The profile of Kewauna is full of hope. It doesn't matter how many obstacles stand in her way, how bad things seem on a certain day, or how many times she might fail or feel like she's drowning- she knows that the far away goal she's set for herself if bigger and more important than a few failures along the way. She can face the challenges because she trusts that she will- one day- succeed. This is a powerful thing for Kewauna to know and, as Paul Tough writes, it's not just that she is poor that creates this sense of resilience.
Allowing children to fail, to struggle, and to delay gratification allows them to build will power, resilience, hope, and all the other emotional tools we need to process and face failure. So as we all turn back to our classrooms, our own children, and our own lives I ask that you reflect on what ways you let yourself struggle, your children struggle, and your classroom struggle. How do you invite failure into not just the lives of the children around you, but into your own life? After all, we all know that practice
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
We eat fruits and vegetables everyday. Its important to me that the children are familiar with the changing properties of the foods they eat and what food is all about. Sometimes a carrot is crunchy and others it is soft. Sometimes apples are round and other times they are flat. Whenever possible the children are present when I am preparing food. I talk about what I'm doing, chopping, mixing stirring, and cooking. Often during this time they also are given options about what we should have for a meal.
During a meal I bring in whole fruits and cut them with the children. Eventually they will be assisting more and more.
Today we have a cantaloupe.
We start by passing it around the table. Everyone gets a chance to make observations while touching.
"Seeds inside. Brown inside. " says C as she touches the rough skin.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
TUS: What is life, Rio?
Rio furrowed his brow for a moment then answered.
Rio: Life is kind of everything. Like our food is life. This is life... Insects are life... That's all life.
VR: Spiders are life?
WK: Living is life.
TUS: Yeah and skeletons are life.
MR pointed to me: You are life.
TUS: Earth is life.
WK: Hair is life.
JK: Poop is life.
AS: Bees eating is life!!
LC: Everything life!
TUS: Yeah, everything is life!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Often when we are outside then children are very aware of the nuances in our outdoor environment. This something that I have fostered from infancy and the first times we ever went outside. Their eyes would focus on a bird flying by, they would deeply inhale when the wind blew on their face or they would startle as a loud truck drove by.
With each tiny way they would react to their environment I would label it:
"You saw the bird fly into the tree!"
"The wind is blowing! I wonder how it feels on your face."
"You heard a loud sound. It was a truck?"
This statements give labels to what the children are hearing, while regulating the fact that our outdoor environment is ever changing and full of life noises, movement and textures.
Today we heard then call of a flicker. It is a common bird that lives in the neighborhood, and as spring is approaching the males are beginning to call for their mates. We often identify things by their sounds, including pigeons and crows, so today I drew everyone's attention to the sound.
"Oh listen! Do you hear that sound?"
"Its a flicker. Its a kind of bird. That sound means it's calling for another flicker. It is high up in that tree over there. We can't see it. But we can hear it. Its a flicker.".
My goal is to keep the facts simple, concise, and few. That way the children are able to focus and retain the new information I am offering and be able build upon it later. Usually I would stop with these few tidbits of knowledge (bird called flicker, calling for friends, high in a tree) but I had this gut feeling that I wanted to cement this information using another sensory input. Toddlers and all children under 6 are highly sensorial learners, so I did a quick image search on my phone for a flicker. Now typically my phone is only used for documentation purposes: taking pictures , writing a quick note, put quickly away when it's noticed by a child. Today I said, "I want to show you a picture of a flicker. I'm going to look it up." I took a moment and then showed them a picture.
Monday, March 3, 2014
We only had pea seeds to plant today. I have been talking about the seeds of things for quite some time during snack. Apple seeds are found hiding within the core, as well as avocados, mandarins, grapefruit and pomelos. When I opened the package of pea seeds everyone understood what they were. We dug a trench then carefully placed them in the dirt. We talked about giving each seed space for growing, then we covered them up.
"Bye bye peas!" EK said and so on everyone was saying bye as we tucked the seeds into their dirt beds.
"See you soon! They are going to grow into plants!" I explained and we walked away.
These connections are important as we begin observations in your yard. Flowers are starting to bloom and the children have already noticed the plants growing leaf buds.