Sunday, August 30, 2015

I have my own solution!

Coming to a solution to a problem takes a very specific skill set that many preschoolers are working hard on perfecting.  They are balancing the strong emotions related to their age, negotiating interactions with their teachers and peers, as well as being away from home.  Through this all, their resiliency, intuition and drive to constantly be learning the best solution to their problem is never ending.  By giving preschool aged children daily opportunities for problem solving, we are preparing them for the big things in life, such as Mathematics, Geometry, Social Situation, Job Seeking, Traveling, and so much more!

Here are few examples of how we share this space in a loving way throughout our day.
"I want to swing but I don't want Q to hit my leg!" -CE. What can we do? "I have an idea! Lets swing back to back!" "Yeah. we wont bump each other that way!" -QM.

I dont want you to come up!" -EK. "Well it has to be available for everyone." -QM. Well, do you want to play sisters with us? -EK. "Ok." -QM.

"I want to get in too." -EK. "This is a space ship! We are going to outer space!" -IG. Well I still want to get in!" -EK. "I have an idea. You can get on when its the next stop and someone gets off." -HR.

"I'm using those! I am building a castle." -EF. "Well i want to build too." -LC. "You can build with me. I need more of those squares." -EF. "Ok great!" -LC.

"V, We have a line here! You are behind SC. If we take turns then we can all use it!" -AK.

I am the doggy! You can come in and play with me! -SC.

Growing bodies, Fruiting Minds

We fill our minds with lots of pictures in preschool. These pictures begin as symbols representing the many academic and social skills we are exposed to in preschool. As we become more and more familiar with a symbol we take ownership of it and add it to our knowledge pool. In this way, we are always looking for ways to express and show what we have just learned. Lately the new name tags have sparked a new passion for showing our letter knowledge. Often a child will be seen pointing out the letters of his/her name but then move to every other name and do the same. Sometimes two or three children with join in this search collaborating to find letters and read names.

A white table clothe elicits an excitement for all ages to show our unique drawings and talk about them. "I am making a castle" -EF.

"We are climbing so high! We can touch the sky!" -AZ. Doing a challenging balance move is much more fun when shared with another.

"I want to go really fast!" "Who wants to go really fast?"-RM "We need a helper to push here and here!" -LC.  This teeter totter quickly became fast moving train that needed lots of helpers, 

Storytelling gives the chance to build public speaking, communication and leadership skills. EF shares a story while others actively listen to ask questions and join the conversation.

Music circle is a great place to communicate knowledge with a different language. Here the students learn how a drumbeat is like a heartbeat. What other sounds communicate things or events in real life?

As we see children grow their bodies and minds express their change in very different ways. The mind grows much like the fruit of a tree. Little by little knowledge grows until it is so big it shows itself off like beautiful ripe fruit. Many times throughout a year a preschool their seem to be explosions of knowledge and excitement about a certain subject. This part of year we are working hard on our communication and social skills.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Garden and Time

Our garden, watched and tended so carefully by the children, has served all season as a way to learn about the passage of time.  Watching things grow slowly (and, sometimes this summer, quickly!) has helped us to mark the passage of weeks and months and to connect past events, like planting seeds, with what we experience in the present, like growing fruits and vegetables.
The garden has so much to teach us about time.  We have watched tiny zucchinis
 become giants like the one LP is holding in this photo, and after waiting for our basil
seeds to sprout saw them become giant basil bushes!

MH monitored our broccoli and cauliflower plants closely
over the course of weeks, watching as florets appeared and grew.
He was so excited to pick them and eat them, but understood that we
were going to wait until they were "big enough to share with everyone!"

Waiting and waiting for our cherry tomatoes to grow and ripen took patience and
persistence.  We checked on them every day.

Our diligence paid off with our harvest of sweet, juicy tomatoes!

Last year, it was hard for the children to conceptualize waiting for the tomatoes
to be ready, and many green tomatoes were picked, bitten, and discarded.
This year, as two-year-olds, the children were able to better understand how to
recognize when the tomatoes were ready, and how waiting and giving time for
plants to grow could be important.
The broccoli is growing!  These two gardeners checked on this favorite food, fascinated
by how broccoli growing in the garden is like the broccoli we eat up at lunch, and how it
might be different as well.

Pumpkin plants have been especially exciting to grow from seed - a tiny seed becomes
a big plant, becomes a round, orange pumpkin - if we give it enough time.

Our big slicing tomatoes took a lot longer to ripen than the cherry
tomatoes.  Why might that be?  Why do some things take longer to
grow than others?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How We Sleep

Recently Cohort 8 shifted from a two nap schedule to one nap.  The new sleep routine has me thinking a lot about the routine we follow surrounding sleep.

Here's a peek into our sleep routine:

Before we even get mats out, we've already been talking about resting our bodies - we start having the conversation at lunch time, continue it through diaper changes, and conclude the conversation as we start getting ready.  These pre-conversations help everyone get ready for the transition and keeps them aware of what is happening throughout our day.

Now that Cohort 8 has moved into wobbler/toddler age, everyone is given the opportunity to help get the room ready.  We pick up toys together and put the mats out in the different spots.  Sometimes this turns into a pile up, everyone wanting to snuggle on the mats, but eventually we sort out ourselves and the mats.

Once our sheets are put on the mats, I do a quick finish of getting the room ready - curtains drawn, music on and lights turned off.  Our nap music is the biggest clue that we are getting ready to rest and often once it gets turned on, Cohort 8 is looking for a spot to snuggle in - even if sometimes the couch or a friend's mat is chosen over their own mats!  This is another point in the routine when we do a lot of observation and talking about where each mat is and who will sleep there.

"G, your mat has the green sheet.  You can grab your blanket and lay down here, on your mat."

"T, your sheet is green, too, but also has polka-dots.  You can rest here."

"I notice J is lying down.  Let's give him lots of space to rest."

Than we all settle on our mats!  I once read that it takes the average adult 15 minutes to settle in before falling asleep.  Since hearing this, I try to take the first 10 minutes of being on our mats as a settling time - moving, shifting, soft sounds, crying - with one stipulation, we need to stay on our mats.  After about 10 minutes, I may move close and help settle restless bodies or give gentle reminders that it is time to rest.  Sometimes 10 minutes is enough, sometimes it takes longer.

And soon, Cohort 8 is fast asleep in their own way - on their back, side, stomach - all the way on the mat or halfway off.



Recently, we have been dipping our toes (and hands and paintbrushes) into the world of painting.

We sometimes start very slowly, feeling the paint on skin or paintbrush...
Sometimes we are focused on the marks the paint makes on the page...
And sometimes we just really enjoy feeling the texture of the paint on our hands and skip the paper...

Movement in Cohort 10

F crawls over to E outside
Cohort 10 is on the move! Over the past few weeks, we have discovered ways to move and explore our surroundings. Each child has been experimenting with how they can reach a specific person or object, or just move about the room, in their own way and at their own time.

The babies have an open space on the rug and wood floor throughout the day to inch, roll, turn, scoot-- or any other way they choose, to move freely. Appropriate climbing pieces are also available for when they feel ready to pull their body up onto a low wooden box, a ramp, or through an open-ended cube!

L rolls on her side to see what our neighbors are up to!

L loves holding on to her toes!

F explores the hallway outside of our room!

F crawls through our cube

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Toddlers Are Doin' It For Themselves Part 2

Continuing with the theme of toddlers trying things on their own, I documented more simple tasks we do throughout the day that are becoming habits for Cohort 11.

We practice really hard at putting our shoes on by ourselves multiple times a day before we ask for help. As we walk to the porch, I say "Go find your shoes!" Sometimes we get our own, and sometimes we help our friends find theirs. J has his shoes in his hand and is ready to give it a try.

He starts with his right foot and slides it in to the shoe, though it is tricky.

Once he finds the right angle it goes right in.

After figuring out the right shoe, the left shoe is a breeze. He's all ready to go!

Since meals are served family style at snack and lunch, we like to try to serving the food by ourselves. This involves pouring water or milk, and choosing the foods we want from the bowls.

B starts by pouring himself some milk.

Then he goes for the pasta. 

And some corn!

By giving toddlers the opportunity to make their own choices at meal time, it allows them to feel more involved in the whole process and helps them to understand what went in to making their meal.