Sugaring with Friends
March seems to be showing off both its "lamb" and "lion" sides. This week I had children asking me if they really had to wear snow pants. Then we got hit by a blizzard. When we have had school, the children caught snowflakes on their mittens, cracked the ice in the creek, and noticed how the mud had frozen. We have on-going conversations about why certain parts of the creek freeze first like around the rocks and near the edges. I love watching them develop their understanding of the water's motion through these observations.
Focus on Friends
We are at that magic time of year when all of the children know each other so very well. When one child was sad to be leaving school early on Friday, he was immediately offered hugs from two friends as comfort. This closeness can also lead to a certain "sibling-ness" where children find ways to drive each other to distraction and use words to manipulate each other. It felt like a good time to reinforce our social curriculum from earlier in the year. Theresa and I led the children in a series of discussions about behaviors we should expect from a good friend. We also talked about what to do when a friend tells us to do something we know we aren't supposed to do. Everyone had a chance to role play a variety of friend challenges and figure out the words and actions they needed to deal with the challenge.
I love maple sugaring. Ever since I first tapped trees with children at the Farm School 16 years ago, I admit that I'm hooked. It's been fun talking with the children about the process as well. Many of them do at least a little sugaring at home, and we had lots of solid information to talk about how maple sap turns into maple sugar. We're lucky to have one of our school families with a much bigger operation as well. It was great hearing that child explain to the class about their new reverse osmosis machine. We did some maple math as well, talking about ratios and finding different ways to physically represent the 40 buckets of sap that will turn into one bucket of syrup. I told one of my favorite Woodland Indian stories about why it's sap that comes from maple trees instead of maple syrup. Nancy offered a different maple story about how careful observation led one little boy to discover the "sap-sicles" that maple tree branches make in the spring. We took all of that background knowledge to the farm and got to see sugaring in action. The children tasted the sap fresh from the trees, tasted it again after it had gone through the reverse osmosis machine, and then tasted the finished product. We all enjoyed the chance to lick some of the steam out of the air, and I was tickled to hear one child tell another, "See how the steam is collecting on the roof and then dripping down. That's what happens in the clouds like the water cycle."
Our eggs should be hatching this next week, but we had the fun of candling them a few times in the past two weeks. It was very cool to see the air sac at the top of the egg and the developing chick. We had one egg that wasn't developing normally and used that as a point of comparison. I love how by letting all of the children pick different projects we're all learning more about each topic. We're experimenting with ice, color, rocks, egg hatching, animal food preferences, and mold. It's a fun mishmash of topics, and the children are looking forward to sharing their results next week.
It's a pleasure watching all the different ways that our children communicate each week. They solve their problems, discuss scientific procedure, and tell stories. I enjoy hearing their voices in so many different ways each day.