Settling In and Looking Around the World
We are settling in and exploring this new space. For many of our children, it's novel to have this big piece of pavement to play on. Drawing with sidewalk chalk, riding scooters and trikes, and bouncing balls are new favorite recess activities. We have also been starting to explore the woods around our school, following deer paths and collecting lots of feathers. The children have found a few favored forts and fairy houses. We discovered one of our pears deep in the woods and had an interesting conversation about who all might have eaten it. Silvery slug trails were evident, but clearly a slug couldn't have carried it that far, right? The children had lots of suggestions for solving this mystery. Cheryl and her class have been reveling in the abundance of apples, making apple prints and pulling apart these fruits from the inside out.
Theme: Community Around the World
Each September we start our theme studies with an aspect of community. This year we are looking at communities around the world. I asked the children what they wanted to learn to help understand children's lives in other parts of the world, and their list included: how they live and act, the houses they live in, foods they eat, games and play, schools, what people look like, weather and geography, and everything! I told them I was pretty sure that we wouldn't get to everything, but that we could try to hit some of those topics.
We started with homes, and I read The Big Orange Splot. While this story doesn't necessarily come from another country (I explained that Daniel Pinkwater is an American author), the themes in the books of neighborhoods, fitting in, and following dreams felt like a good place to start our conversation about home. Each child made a house of dreams. The next day we followed up with Homes Around the World. We talked about how materials and location help to shape the houses that people build. The children were curious about mud as a building material, so we started some experiments with mud building using different types of soils. We'll be following up with some more testing of materials next week.
Then we spent a few days reading This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World. Before we even started reading the book, I did a little survey to find out what everyone had for breakfast. We talked about how following one child doesn't really show the true diversity of a place, but it can show some trends or likely possibilities. We established that while not everyone had the same breakfast, no one had eaten rice or fish or hamburgers for breakfast. Learning about the daily routines of these children led us to realize ways that we are different and we are the same. One student studied all the pictures of school, and asked, "Do children raise their hands all around the world?" It wasn't something that the words of the book even touched on, but she was reading the illustrations and making conclusions.
I Iove all the ways that parents help to make our classroom richer each week. This past week we started our Friday guest reader. I try to keep it a mystery (though with the sign up sheet on the wall it's only a matter of time before that gets discovered and I have to get more sneaky), and the children like to guess who might be coming in to read. I love the chance to sit and watch them listen to a story from a different perspective. Parents and other volunteers come on our afternoon adventure walks with us, lending a helping hand and a ready ear and set of eyes for all of the discoveries. This week I also had a parent ask if she could bring in her juicer to use some of our fruit explosion. The children enjoyed the chance to mix and create different juice combinations, and you'll have to ask your child for the favorites.