From great painters to the wonder of science, our students are skilled at finding inspiration from the world around them. As their teachers, we have the chance to both let them follow their passions and point them in directions they might never see without a guide. Through it all, we ask questions, listen to the children's answers, give them new information, and ask more questions.
Rachel's PreK Reflections
The last few weeks have been busy in our Preschool! The children learned about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and work, and expanded on that to include a week of meaningful children’s stories about equality and the beauty of our differences. Together, the entire class made an MLK book and each child shared his or her “dream” for the future.
We are beginning to move on to the topic of Nighttime, including the moon, outer space, and bravery! One of our first lessons was to learn about the famous painting “Starry Night” along with its artist, Vincent VanGogh. Famous artists are routinely covered in our Preschool-Kindergarten classes, and always feature a hands on playset of the artist. Reprints of some of their famous pieces are also available for the children, and they were especially interested in all of the styles Van Gogh used in his different paintings as they studied his works!
Weeks of careful planning, research, writing, and of course, experimenting culminated in our science fair. The children shared their findings with each other and our greater school community. They were interested to learn more about what their peers has been doing. Many of them gave thoughtful consideration about how to make their presentation memorable and their information clear. I was proud to hear one student report, "Well, my hypothesis ended up being wrong, but it was because of the way we made our procedure." She then launched into a detailed explanation of how she would try the whole thing again but with a few key modifications. She clearly had a solid understanding of the steps of the scientific method, and all that understanding came from following those steps carefully in an experiment she designed herself.
We got another art lesson from Rick. He brought in a wide range of different tools he uses when painting and shared how some of them work. The children experimented with value, using both pencils and paints. They also used the primary colors to mix the secondary colors. Finally they used their experiments with value to begin a painting , paying close attention to the lightest and darkest parts of an object. At the end of the lesson, I had a moment of dismay as I took in the mess coupled with the knowledge that it was time for lunch to start, but our incredible children swung into super cleaner mode and had everything to rights in a short time.
Taza came back to talk to us about the black-capped chickadee. As always, she offered some unique information and a willingness to field all the questions and stories of our eager birders. Inspired by the knowledge that chickadees will sometimes eat directly from a human hand, our students made a "Bird Club" that involved them spreading some of our sunflower seeds around various parts of the playground and trying to stand still long enough for the little birds to come visit. We haven't had any direct contact, but the children have been able to watch our regular flock of chickadees in very close quarters. Taza also took another small group of children to experiment with using her tracking equipment.
New Theme: Haudenosaunee
This month we are studying the Haudenosaunee, or "People of the Longhouse." We are delving into the history of people in our area, and we started our study by making a timeline. The older math students put together a timeline for the past 6,000 years where each strip of paper represented 100 years. They carefully labeled the dates, and we used this to think about how there is evidence going back that long of people living along Schoharie Creek. We placed some other key dates on our timeline including when Europeans first came to the area, and our presence at Country Classroom.
We'll be exploring lots of stories this month, and Nancy got us started by sharing one version of the Creation Myth of the Haudenosaunee. We talked about some other stories that we have heard about how the earth and people began. By the end of the month, the children will be performing a favorite story for our school community.