One of our families donated the logs, sand, and time to make a beautiful sandbox for our school, and the children have been eagerly digging, creating, and mud making in it. But some of the original load spilled outside of the box made by the logs. This spilled bit hosted a fairy house, a city, and a monster truck race track this week. I asked some of the children about why they were building there, and they told me that the sand "feels different. It's different when you have a thin layer instead of a thick layer." "I like being on this side of the logs. It feels more protected." So they literally built outside of the box, and I thought about some of the other ways we work outside of school's typical boxes.
We used some different books to think about issues of fairness, fault, and punishment this week. On Monday I told the traditional fable of The Tortoise and the Hare. Then we read YeShil Kim's version of the story that imagines a rematch of the original race, only this time Hare tries to cheat to make sure he can win. It worked as a jumping off point to talk about what is fair. We talked about how judges can help to figure out the punishment for someone, and they discussed possible punishments for Hare. We used The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight to practice taking sides, arguing on behalf of brother or sister bear. I also challenged the children to think about the giant's wife from Jack and The Beanstalk. Jack had murdered her husband and stolen from her family. What, if anything, did Jack owe her?
We enjoyed the chance to visit a local pond with SUNY Cobleskill students and their professor to learn about healthy fish populations. They told us that a healthy population of fish includes babies, parents, grandparents, and great grandparents all in a balance. The children watched and helped to set out the nets, pull them in, and then catalog the fish. They were eager to learn how to hold them and had lots of observations about their eyes, fins, gills, and scales. We'll be getting the data from the college students so that we can graph the different lengths and make some conclusions about the bass population.
Our PreK Class with Cheryl
Our youngest ones enjoyed a hands-on week: touching fish on a pond research field trip, scooping out pumpkin seeds and grinding salt onto them, using a mortar and pestle to grind nuts from outside trees, squishing play dough into the letter 'F', coloring and painting, building with blocks and gluing/stapling homemade books, and, placing felt pieces to create a new nursery rhyme or story to tell each other. Our heads delved into books discussing pumpkins growing from seed to plant and our hearts explored sharing, using our words, taking turns, patience, and taking a breath when frustrated. What I love about our school is that we think outside of the box- literally! This week we left the lunchroom and went outside to eat in the beautiful weather, we played with the sand outside of the sandbox if it was more interesting for us, we took the ride-on toys away from the concrete and up on top of a grassy hill, and went out of the classroom to learn hands-on at our classmates' home. These experiences modeled the awesome power of being flexible, saying 'yes' when possible, and physically experiencing something - it can lead to pure joy and learning that sticks.
Math Week with Theresa
Math week was an unmitigated success. All of the children were excited to explore all the new materials and activities. They were able to work at their own pace and self-correct most of their work.
The kids counted, wrote, calculated and sang math songs. I introduced and we practiced the concept of Math Free Time. During this time, they are responsible for choosing, engaging in, and cleaning up their own math learning activities. Starting next week, I am going to be meeting with small groups during this time, to make math instruction for K-1 even more perfectly tailored for each child.
Whatever you can do at home to support their understanding of the 100 number chart is welcome! Also, be sure to ask them to sing one of our skip counting songs.