Mild weather had all of us anticipating spring this week until Friday's snow storm and snow day. The children keep learning more about the different springs and waterways that trickle across our land. They are intrigued by how they "hide" under the leaves and then pop up again further down hill. Our adventure walkers found some of the first wild chives of the season and noticed how the buds on the trees look like they're starting to open. Learning about maple syrup was the perfect mud season activity.
Cheryl's PreK Reflections
Our littlest ones are awakened to the fact that Spring is on its way (with perhaps a nudge from an overly optimistic teacher). Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure illustrated how a young boy explores nature as winter slowly turns to Spring (and then Summer) and The Sugaring Off Party by Jonathan London got them ready for our field trip to our schoolmates' family's maple syrup production site. A Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman jumpstarted us into creating our own stick rainbows that can dance in the March winds with us (a trial out on the school deck had to happen). Outside, recess included rolling down grassy hills and sitting along the creek. Like a swarm of bees, the youngest joined the older students in large groups running back and forth between the two gardens playing 'Horses.' I witnessed a 9 year old scoop up a 4 year old and help them over the fence to the 4 year old's delight. Mud and grass cupcakes were delicious I tell you and the love for rushing water led to a water sensory table inside.
We rocked out with instruments to the nursery rhyme 'Pease Porridge Hot' which had a fantastic rhythm and the letter 'V' got us excited about 'violet' flowers. Tap the Seed by Christie Matheson was an interactive picture book that got us talking about our own classroom grass seeds we planted in a glass mason jar. "What do our seeds need in order to grow?" "Sun!" exclaims one. "What else?" I ask. "Love!" exclaims another.
Our scientists will be watering and peeking in on our seeds each day as well as in our vase with buds we are trying to force...just like Spring itself. A little loving and hopeful nudge is all it takes and they grow wildly. In just two days we ran over to yelps of "a sprout!" There may be lingering snow trying to get in our way, but the beauty of it all is that you can never hold back Spring (or a young child)!
The children ran up the driveway in search of the sugar shack and followed their noses to the steamy goodness of boiling sap. It was a treat having two of our students share their family's maple syrup operation with us, explaining everything from the taps and lines, to the pump that brings the sap into a tank, to the reverse osmosis machine, to the evaporator itself. We talked about ratios of sap to syrup. The children witnessed the steam from the evaporator condense on the metal roof and "rain" back down on us, prompting a mini lesson on the water cycle (evaporation, condensation, precipitation). We got to taste fresh sap, sap that had traveled through the osmosis machine (much sweeter), finished syrup, and maple cream. I love it when learning tastes this good! Everyone got a little silly with all of that tasty sugar zinging through our veins, and tag let some of that energy burn off.
Theme: Revolutionary War
Hopefully writing and performing our play is helping all of the children to internalize a few of the lessons we've learned about why the colonies decided to fight for the independence. They're all learning the first part of the declaration of independence, and we've pulled apart lots of complicated words. "What does 'unalienable rights' mean?" "That aliens can't take them away?" That's a place to start from. We use context and our knowledge of similar words to help draw our the meanings.
We've also been working on general public speaking and play rules. Slow down, speak clearly, and give your audience time to react. They're all making progress, and I'm looking forward to sharing our play with everyone this week!