This last week we had the chance to gain some insight into ourselves as we were introduced to some different perspectives from some pretty incredible visitors. Linda shared her experiences navigating the world as a person who is blind with the help of her guide dog. Rick came and helped the children to, literally, look at a fish from different perspectives. Nancy shared a story that included an unlikely hero. Meanwhile, our geography theme has us looking at our place in a diverse and changing world.
Rachel's PreK Reflections
So many fun things happened this week for our Preschoolers! Experiencing the ice and snow outside, being covered in more mud than not (sorry, parents), and enjoying the changes that have been happening outside every day have allowed for a lot of experimenting and nature play. Inside, our children started using some of the wonderful items given to our school by the Hebrew Academy in Albany. The most used thing was a large wooden “boat” that flips over to create a few stairs. You can see in the photo how much joy they get from using their bodies to propel the boat to rock back and forth! I’ve been able to use this opportunity to practice phonics by way of having “tickets to ride” be letter cards that the kids have to read to “start the boat.” They love this new game, and some of the older kids have even been joining us for the fun!
Seeing the World from a Person Who Is Blind
"Find the chair Ada," Linda directed her dog. All the children sat in wonder as Ada quickly brought Linda to the open chair in front of the room and helped orient Linda next to it, so that she could find it and sit down. Linda explained some of the ways that Ada helps her and what it means to be a "service dog." Linda shared a few of the many adaptations that she uses to make her life a little easier from a gadget that can identify colors of clothing to a Braille "Cooking Light" magazine. The children were intrigued to learn how Linda navigates the bus system and walks safely through the world, that she is a mom and lawyer, and that she loves to cook. They had questions about her schooling, how she had become blind, and if she had any sight memories. I am so grateful for Linda's honesty and forthrightness in answering all of their questions.
Inspired by her visit, many of the children were curious to see how they might manage without sight, and they were playing "guide dog" on the playground and experimenting with eating their lunches with their eyes closed. As I watched some of the children stumble around the woods with eyes tightly shut, I showed them how they could ask someone if they would like help and offer an arm. Then the person with their eyes closed could take the sighted person above the elbow and use their guide. "That works a lot better than holding hands!" remarked one student. We stressed that just like with school work, you can offer help, but it is up to the other person to accept or decline it.
An Artist's Perspective
Rick came this last week to give an art lesson to the children. He brought a 3D model that he had constructed with his grandchildren of a fish. It was a useful too as he led the children in a series of drawings of the fish. He helped them answer the all important question "But where is the other eye?" when drawing from the side. The children got a frontal view and saw how the shape of the fish changed. They all drew, largely quietly, for a good 45 minutes while Rick introduced them to the names of all the various fins and body parts. He asked and demonstrated about relative size and distance in a drawing, and the children followed his modeling. Everyone wanted to know when he could come back, so they could draw some more.
I feel so lucky that we have this richness in our greater school community to draw on (pardon the pun), and I treasure the chance to watch our children learn from others.