Nancy asked our children, "Do you know what's the wonderful thing about questions?" They had lots of ideas for that one. "Once you ask one, you come up with more and more and more!" "You get to look for the answers!" "They're fun to think about." "Sometimes you just can't figure out the answer, and that's pretty cool." "Maybe you can study them when you're big." We nurture so many questions here and give them the respect they need. I'm glad that our children can tell, value questions so highly, and are always willing to ask more (and more and more).
Cheryl's PreK Reflections
Inch by inch and row by row, we are going to make our garden grow! Thank you to Taza for coming to talk to us more about birds and habitats this week, but also for our seedling gifts that were then planted by our pre-k students in our garden. Our youngest have been immersed in nature and everything that stirs up excitement and curiosity: from a bird walk on Monday around our school to notice and map different habitats for animals ("Hawks are circling overhead! Look at these pinecone seeds that a chipmunk may like!") to a Forest Friday recess that extended into a lesson on the woods as a habitat ("I found a salamander! I wonder why they like to live under rocks?"). Our littlest helped the older students make their own 'human' habitat in the woods - bringing logs and leaves to insulate a tree fort as well as add important details like a compost chute.
Excitement (spring fever still!) was in the air inside as well as we gleefully licked honey and nibbled on garden peas as per their request following one of our favorite nursery rhymes. The number nine was explored through nine rhythm shakes, nine fingers held proudly out, molding and coloring. We listened for rhymes with our song 'Hush Little Baby' as the felt board weaved a story in order from beginning to end. We delved right into talking about habitats for not just birds, but other spring creatures we are finding such as bees, frogs, caterpillars and butterflies. On Meadowview Street was read and re-read to a captivated audience loving the idea of a young person able to influence change in adults (a girl created a meadow and pond in her front lawn, and thus a habitat for creatures, which then inspired her neighbors to do the same instead of mowing the grass). Practicing for a puppet show was going on during free play which led us to creating our own clothespin butterfly finger-puppets adorned with nature treasures students collected themselves. Just like our garden, we are slowly growing each day in our learning as we take the time to richly explore a topic and the natural world around us.
Our Theme: Plants
We started to examine plants pretty carefully this week, starting with digging up a bunch of weeds in our garden. It had been awhile and some of those roots were pretty huge. Everyone looked at the variety of roots and tried to sort them into different types - hairy and like a carrot were the big categories they found. The children noticed that some went sideways and seemed to have different sprouts coming up from them. We drew the roots, wrote about them, and learned the official terms fibrous (for the hairy ones) and taproot (for the ones like carrots). We read Growing Vegetable Soup and talked about what plants need to thrive. We also read Planting the Wild Garden and made some observations about seeds. All of this plant work had us singing "Inch by Inch and Row by Row."
Taza led the children through a habitat mapping activity this week. Everyone put the school on a map and then used careful observation to note the types of plants, sources of water, and potential homes or nesting material in each part of our school yard. They were noticing how our woods moves back and forth between stands that are mostly conifers and places that are mostly deciduous trees. The biggest part of the lesson was being careful observers and thinking about connections between plants, animals, and their environment.
We have an on-going conversation with Harold T. Gnome at a special place in our woods. There's a notebook that the kids write in, and we get letters back from Harold T. and some of his friends. Sometimes we come to our fairy houses and find an added present like a special feather or an abandoned wasp's nest. This week we found a tea party waiting for us complete with cookies, flowers on the stone table, and tasty tea. The delight of the children was real, and of course, they had lots of questions about how it came to be there.