Bringing Plans to Life
The children found a piece of hose this week during recess. The hose was attached to a nearby tree, buried under the sand, and then they brought water from our little stream. They modified their design over a series of days, making the hose come out near the base of the sandbox, and then adding bridges, different paths for the water, and a "chocolate milk maker." Different children migrated in and out of the play, and there were some heated discussions about where the water should really go. Again and again they had these "Wow!" moments as the water brought their designs to life.
Cheryl's PreK Reflections
A Time to Keep is a Tasha Tudor book that took our youngest literacy learners into a beautifully illustrated journey, focusing on the new month of May. Celebrate we did - because instilling a sense of joy about the little things (Buds on trees will become leaves! Flowers will turn to fruit!)- and big things we have accomplished (I can pump a swing by myself and I couldn't before! I can write my name! I can snap my fingers! I didn't grab that toy-I used my words! I took a moment to cry and came back to the group when I felt ready!) - really are important social and emotional skills. This week we took the time to pause and revel in the joy: Tuesday we danced around our own school's Maypole in the warmth and sunlight. I saw pride in their small faces as they kept up with the older kids and gleefully skipped and danced to the beat. Learning came naturally as they pointed out the number of the week '4' with the four forsythia flower petals found in their crowns. They collected coltsfoot by our classmates' rushing creek and gave them as gifts (how kind to share their joy!) and crafted their own May Day baskets to stuff flowers into/hang on their families' doorknobs. I have a lot of favorite books, but one holds a special place for me personally: My Mama Has a Dancing Heart by Libby Gray. I was excited to see what the children would take from this seasonal celebratory story, and I was not surprised when free play included taking their herb this week (fresh mint) and placing it in glasses of water for special tea parties and flying their ribboned balloons in the air whilst belting out spring songs and nursery rhymes we have been working on (Hal an Tow and Shoo Fly). From indoor (spotted) somersaults, to en plein air painting on our upper deck, to running down the hill repeatedly to a made up song 'fly like a big kid/fly like a butterfly' and flinging themselves tummy first onto a swing, our youngest are celebrating all that they have become through practice each day in little ways, and the world's small (but glorious) wonders around them.
How can we measure the strength of the wind? How can we build a device with materials we can find at home and around the school? This question led the children to design and write about an anemometer. The original design was explained to a small group of friends who asked "clarifying questions." Some modifications were made to the design, and then we set up our maker space with hot glue guns, string, yarn, cardstock, paper towel tubes, plastic bags, blocks, rulers, meter sticks, ribbons, balloons, and all sorts of other useful bits. The children built their anemometers, tested them, made modifications, and tested them again. "The wind by the ground isn't very strong. I need to lift mine in the air." "The wind mostly comes from that direction, so I need to put mine here." "I can tell when the wind is blowing, but I need to make my string longer to see how strong it's really pushing." It was a fitting end to our study of the weather.
Math Outside of the Box
We took our math work outside, literally, this week. As part of our May Day welcoming of Spring, we had almost a whole day out of the classroom. Math lessons, snack, and lunch were all outside. We had a math games day on Friday. The first, second, and third graders got to pick from a menu of games that build on number sense, fact practice, and money skills. They were so engaged I was fairly certain I could have left the room and no one would have noticed.