Another week with everything falling into place, ending another year, where everything fell into place.
The students at Country Classroom are getting ready to celebrate the end of the school year. We have been remembering and practicing our favorite songs, so that we can share them with our families at the Gallupville House on Thursday. We finished up this week with a work party in which parents (and grandparents) showed up en masse to help us get out school ready for the summer. It is all coming together as it all winds down.
Tree Time with Scott
Monday and Tuesday, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders got special lessons with Scott. They were provided with the advanced class on Tree Identifications, when they surprised him with all of the trees that they already knew. The following day, they learned about and drew watersheds. These careful observations go along well with the work that the kids have done with Taza. This week, they learned about identifying characteristics or field marks. Using size/shape, color, and beaks, Taza gave us all a lesson in bird identification. Then we headed out for some quite field journaling. The children enjoyed their first chunk of quiet sitting so much, they begged us to do it again. How could we say no? We are so very lucky to have so many generous and talented adults to guide our kids.
Cheryl's Pre-K Reflections
June has been especially filled with community. In a world where some feel more isolated, I am joy-filled to reflect on the community that has been so much a part of our children's growth this year. Neighbors stopping in to be guest reader, local ornithologist reaching out to share her bird knowledge, parents bringing their own wisdom and arts to the classroom, local herbalist sharing hands-on learning, nature educator coming weekly to bestow immense wildlife knowledge as well as the art of story-telling (and listening!), grandparent showing chainsaw safety and pruning execution, and, father/nature educator/board president taking to the woods for tree identification, families working alongside our students on our school work day to construct a compost bin, tighten screws on our swingset, test markers without caps on them, haul wooden chairs to the woods to make us our very own outdoor classroom and collect grapevines to use as banister spindles...this community is what makes our school special. Time given by you all, no matter how, serves our students' holistic learning through hands, heads and hearts. Thank you.
In our last days of pre-K we continued work in the garden (ask your child to recite our last nursery rhyme: Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Pickle Peppers), noticed our fruit trees ripening in our school yard, and observed the star in the center of the apple just like we did in the beginning of the school year in Fall. They were expert "noticers" and explorers of their five senses all school year; this last week they so appreciated the smell of the fragrant peonies blooms passed in circle. We completed our number books, read Eric Carle's The Lonely Firefly and made firework paintings for our Father's Day cards. There is much anticipation for the end of the year ceremony at the historic Gallupville House where our community of family will cheer us on. A school like ours thrives and will continue to thrive with this dedication and community believing in it. In people showing up and giving in so many little and big ways (and behind-the-scenes ways). This magic sustains our students and our school's mission, but also, supports one another. Thank you.
As an early childhood teacher, my work is to seek ways for learning to unfold, following a child's lead so that a love of learning has a sound foundation. I am filled with gratitude for the honor and time to serve your children, helping them to have courage to tackle something new, to embrace challenges, to take a breath, to be silly, to ask questions, to learn from mistakes, to grow in their empathy, and to delight in the world before their very own wide eyes. I was also served, growing and changing and learning wisdom from them and the other teachers. Thank you.
I wish you a summer filled with cooling waters, cooling breezes, evenings of fire-flies and fireworks, and time to become connected with the earth and one another. And to your children, I wish them continued play, continued joy in learning and joy in the little things, and more wishes on more dandelions.
As part of our study of plants, the students designed their own air-born seeds. Using a tiny pompom as the center, the kids designed different structures to see which would most effectively propel a seed through the air on a breeze. We read about different types of seeds in Seeds Are Sleepy and Soy Una Semilla, and used some of the characteristics of actual seeds for inspiration for our designs.Tissue paper parachutes, thread tails and dandelion-inspired puffy fibers were all appended to the pom-pom. Kids observed, "Mine's too heavy. I need to figure out how to make it lighter." "I want to try putting the seed in the middle." "I wonder if it would work better with an extra couple of legs." Like so many good engineering and design projects, building a wind born seed involved lots of questions, observations, and modifications.
When the kids were happy with their designs, we brought out the math. The students "released" their seeds four times in front of a fan. The distance that seed was propelled was measured. The older kids helped the younger kids calculate averages.
We also learned about some of the amazing ways plants move to adapt to changes in their environments in Plants Can't Sit Still. We watched a series of fantastic time-lapsed videos courtesy of Roger Hangarter of Indiana University that show morning glories reaching for a structure to climb and seedlings responding to light. This site is called "Plants in Motion" and is definitely worth the time to check it out.
Masses of things were accomplished at our annual work day. The art bins were tackled and organized. Walls were painted. Shelves were de-cluttered. Grape vines were collected to make new spindles for our front porch. Kids even got an introduction to the chain saw courtesy.
It was a wonderful reminder of the power of community, and a chance for our children to see just how much we can do when we all work together.