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The Swing of Things

All communities have rituals that help to keep them grounded. When we come back from a break, I am thankful for all the routines that help to shape our days and weeks at school. The transition back to school after two weeks of vacation can be a little rough. Singing and dancing together in English and Spanish, checking in to hear a snapshot of what we each did over break, and just following our daily schedule all help to re-ground the children and get us back into the patterns of school. One tradition that we started years ago is that each child shares a "thankful" when we sit down to eat on Fridays. I happened to have the chance to listen to both our preK and older children follow this ritual this week, and I was struck by the sorts of things they pick to be thankful for - they are thankful for good food, sledding with friends, hugs, clean water, the earth, and their families. I am thankful for these things they value and the learning community we are growing together.

Rachel's PreK Reflections

It’s the first week back to school after winter break, and our preschool children are getting back into the swing of things!

We enjoyed seeing the winter tree fingerprint paintings we did the last day before winter break, now hanging on the wall in the “main room” of our school, and we did another winter-themed painting project using polar bear templates. A lot of dancing to music happened, including to our favorite songs about pirates and dragons! We were introduced to “Mozart’s The Magic Flute,” which the children were captivated by both for dancing purposes and also for listening to while eating lunch on Friday.

Everything cumulated with the thrill of discovering that a tree on the property had been taken down, leaving the trunk and cut branches in a circle shape on the ground. This made for lots of climbing, crawling, “caving” and sliding adventures in their new fort.

We’re excited to continue our learning, exploring, and growing next week!

Theme: Science Fair

Every January each of the children has a chance to pick a science project that is particularly interesting to them, one of our yearly rituals. It's a great opportunity for us all to review the scientific method and to talk about variables, controls, careful observation, and recording results. To get some inspiration, we read Charolotte the Scientist is Squished, Professor Aesop's The Crow and the Pitcher, and The (Mostly) Ture Story of the First Hot Air Balloon Ride. Doing an experiment that someone else has planned can be interesting and instructive, but developing your own experiment involves a whole different level of work. This week we focused on developing a testable question, coming up with a hypothesis, and starting to develop our procedures. Children are studying everything from how different flours change the qualities of a pie crust to finding out how different thicknesses of wood impact buoyancy. I look forward to seeing how these project develop.

Writing Workshop: Alphabet Books and Opinions

Writing time is a ritual where we are working to develop the habits of authors, including a daily writing practice.

Our younger children are working on developing alphabet books. It's a great chance for them to focus on the sounds that each letter makes and figure out how those sounds help to make words.

Meanwhile, the second through fourth graders are working on opinion pieces. We began with a definition of an opinion, and wrestled with the differences between an opinion and a fact. Then we started a book review as one way to let our audience know our opinions. We talked about the different elements of a book that might make us like it including aspects of the plot, setting, characters, and illustrations. The children mentioned humor, vivid descriptions, and exciting plot twists as being elements they liked in books. We read a sample opinion piece written by a second grader and identified the opinions and supporting details in it. When it came time to actually write their own opinions, many of the children ended up giving a synopsis of the book. We'll be working to refine these pieces so that we can offer opinions and recommendations to our friends about some favorite books to read from our library.

We're settling into one of my favorite times of year when all of the patterns of our day are established well enough that we can really delve into some deep learning. Keep your eyes out for some fun academic jumps!

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