Change and Choice
Change is coming, oh yeah! Everyone has eagerly been noticing signs of spring around the school from melting snow to our first red-wing blackbird call. Mud season is upon us, and oh, the lovely mud is working its siren call on many a child. Even those children who don't want to squish it through their toes and fingers are ready for this seasonal change. The elementary age students have been thinking about changes on a different scale as they study the Civil Rights movement.
Rachel's PK Reflections
It started to feel like Spring for a few days last week, and the Preschoolers took full advantage of it. Mud play, dancing under rain sprinkles, and building a “bug graveyard” to bury a Wooly Bear were activities they managed to pack into their outdoor free play time.
Inside, we did a lot of learning about St. Patrick’s Day. The children discussed Ireland and identified it on a map, also checking the proximity of it to where they live. We read children’s books about Leprechauns, which brought up great learning points about rainbows, greed, and what’s truly important in life. They decided it wasn’t gold, but rather that the important things are family, that you have a home, and food to eat. The week ended with a special rainbow crown craft, complete with gold pieces at the end of the rainbow.
3/14 - Pi(e) Day
"We are on the search for pi!" I told the children on Thursday. "And if you can get close to pie, we'll celebrate tomorrow with pie!" After a quick review of circumference and diameter, the children were off. They worked with a partner and recorded their results to the nearest 1/2 centimeter on their papers. A few of them noticed as they were working that the circumference always seemed to be about 3 times as big as the diameter. With a little help from some calculators, the children divided the circumferences by the diameters. We rounded to the nearest tenth, averaged all our answers, and they estimated pi to be 3.2 - not bad for a first attempt. Pie was definitely on the horizon!
Every day our children have choice time. On Friday, I walked from room to room and saw our kids so very actively engaged in a wide range of choices. One group was planning, rehearsing, and performing a puppet show. Another group was building a lengthy domino chain creation. Still others were cutting up pie - talking about fractions, counting pieces, and adding the different types of pie for a total pie count. Every single child was actively engaged in their learning. I loved watching them at work: negotiating solutions to problems, using mathematical thinking (and vocabulary), and making plans that they modified as their projects progressed.
Nancy and Plants
Nancy had everyone getting sticky Thursday afternoon. She brought in aloe and spider plants for the children to study, and we all got up close and personal with sap. The children related her teaching about sap to the story she had told last week about how maple syrup came to be and their own experiences with sugaring. The lesson culminated as we looked at the "straws" that run along a piece of celery to allow liquid to travel from the roots of the plant to the leaves.
Theme: The Civil Rights Movement
This month, we are studying the Civil Rights Era, from the Montgomery Bus Boycotts and through the Assassination of Martin Luther King.
We talk about how MLK got a lot of his ideas from Gandhi, Thoreau and thinkers before him, and how his ideas continue on in people everywhere who are working for a more just and loving society. We want the children to understand that they are a part of a continuum of thought, that influenced us and that we influence.
We want our students to understand how they can change their society, by electing leaders, talking to leaders, striking, boycotting and protesting. We also want them to understand how they can nourish themselves, through song, comradery and collective action. Studying the Civil Rights era gives students a rich understanding of the power of people.
This week, the older students discussed Jim Crow south. Some of the kids were outraged at the way blacks were treated. We talked about how, while the actions were horrible, most of the people discriminating against the people of color were motivated by fear and a lack of understanding of people who look differently than they do. We are working to help the kids understand that the issue is more complex than it initially appears, and only by working, reading and reflecting upon a situation can we approach an honest understanding.