Planning and Spontaneity
Beautiful spring weather had all of our children literally jumping for joy, and rolling and leaping and running. It is such a gift to be able to head outside with only a jacket and not have to deal with the extra process of snow pants, mittens, and hats. We took advantage of the sun (or partial sun) and had math class outside. The children also re-discovered our gardens and started to make those spaces their own. Still others were busy creating not so much a fairy house as a fairy village complete with hot tub and sunning rock.
Rachel's PreK Reflections
Nature and social-emotional development are the two main focuses of our Early Childhood program at Country Classroom. Research shows that these two things can really impact a child’s academic and overall success long term, and we listened to that research when carefully crafting our program. Our approach is a mix of active pre-planned learning opportunities for the children and also spontaneous lessons that organically occur as each day unfolds.
One particular day this week, many of the children were exhibiting “negative” emotions, such as sadness, anger, and overall grumpiness. We stopped and did a focused activity using a Mindful Kids Card Deck we have which teaches mindfulness activities to kids, and then added in a spontaneous craft project. Each child created a wall hanging that displays a smiley face on one side, and then flips over to showcase pictures the child drew of what makes him or her feel happy. The idea is that the children can use this as a personal resource at home to refocus their emotions into positive ones when they identify sad or mad feelings. The kids enjoyed sharing their pictures and then posing with their new “faces!”
I admit to being a bit of a special month skeptic. African American history should be part of American history lessons not just during "African American History Month" but throughout the year. We look at poetry as another literary form and read poems about many of our themes, seasonal changes, and even math. But I do enjoy the chance to bring some extra focus on poetry during April.
Getting a handle on what makes something a poem is often challenging for kids. We've been reading lots of poems and trying to pinpoint what makes them different than other types of writing. One student noticed this week, "In poems, the words become bigger." "Bigger!" I said, "How does that happen?" "Each word is special because there aren't as many," answered a student. Others noticed how some poets use unique comparisons while others use repetition. "It makes a really good picture in my head" was one response to Valerie Worth's poem "Dog." Students are experimenting with their own poetic voices, writing poems about animals, themselves, and their feelings.
New Theme: Rocks
As we stepped into a new theme this week, I asked the children to tell me some cycles they know, and we acted out a bunch of them including the butterfly life cycle, water cycle, frog life cycle, flower life cycle, and laundry cycle. Then I asked if any of them had heard of the "rock cycle?" No one had, but they had some interesting guesses about what that might mean. We tapped into their prior knowledge by working in small groups to make a list of things they already know about rocks. We read "Let's Go Rock Collecting." A few students brought in some personal rock collections from home, and the observations started flying. We'll be digging deeper over the next few weeks and learning all about rocks.