We want the children in our school to be critical thinkers, using careful observation, reflection, and research to help them form their ideas. We also want them to feel comfortable in their bodies, knowing that they are strong and able individuals. Much of their best learning comes when they can bring these two together. This hands-on learning can be (okay, very often is) messy. We made puddles while testing boats and there were some tears when a few of our scientists got frustrated in their process. But we have lots of rags for messes, friends and teachers to offer support, and eventually everyone had a boat that could float and hold weight. We take the time to talk about the process, and when appropriate, write about what we noticed and what we think that means. We give the children space to come up with more questions to pursue, and let them immerse their bodies and minds in that process.
Rachel's PreK Reflections
The cold weather that’s blown in has provided all sorts of wonderful things to discover for our Preschoolers! Our learning was focused on leaves and Autumn last week, with lots of exploring and hands on activities involved. After reading Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert, our students gathered their own nature items to construct “leaf man” art pieces of their own. On the way, they took time to examine the ice particles that were covering many of the leaves, and a few had fun trying to lick the ice off (don’t worry, the children know they must always ask an adult before putting any plants near their mouths)! The children are having fun identifying colors on nature walks, practicing phonic sounds with things they see, and have also realized the thrill of using sticks to draw letters on the forest floor.
Our Theme: Physics
Our physicists were experimenting with buoyancy this week. They started with some predictions and experiments about what would sink, float, or "flink" (have neutral buoyancy and sort of hang in the water). They had some great observations about density, size, and shape. They noticed that for lots of objects their ability to float depends on how you place them in the water. "If I put the spoon in with the scoop part up, it floats, but any other way it sinks." We then worked to make boats out of six inch square pieces of tinfoil. "I need to figure out how to close my corners better." "Wow! My boat held 63 pennies!" "Do we have some pictures of boats so that I can get some ideas?" "On my next design, I want to close up the top, and the put the pennies in from the side." "When I use wet pennies, it doesn't hold as many." Our scientists also experimented with marshmallow and toothpick boats. Finally, we took our design, build, and modify skills from the water to the air and made "straw rockets." We talked about the force of our launch (a quick blow on the straw) and the flightpaths of our rockets. Children tried adding everything from fins to wings. They soon discovered that adding too much paper (and the tape needed to hold that paper on) really limited their rockets' flying abilities.
Meanwhile, some of our ramp learning from last week, led to recess experiments with trucks and slides. Their were some important lessons learned in momentum, friction, and acceleration.
Dancing (and Rolling and Climbing and Running) Through Our Days
The fall sunshine had all of us cavorting on the hillside this week. Our orchard offers lots of small trees that are great for climbing practice, and the mowed pathways between the trees offer a space for everything from hide and seek to simply rolling downhill. The children brought the same energy inside to our songs. The older children really helped to model and guide our younger students in "Alabama Gal" this week. We tackled some challenging clapping patterns in "Four White Horses." Everyone worked on their Spanish as they moved and sang to Los Pollitos, Paz y Libertad, Izquierda/Derecha, and Tocar Las Maracas.
We shape each day at school to have time in our hands, in our heads, and in our hearts. We honor the rhythms of the children, having space for bounding energy and space for quiet reflection. Hopefully this balance leaves all of us in a place where we can truly learn.