Many might argue that Maypole dancing is not a crucial life skill, and I would agree with them. But when we are dancing the Maypole, we need to listen to the music, move together, cooperate (or else possibly end up with a ribbon to the face), and shake off our mistakes. I do think these are all useful life skills, particularly the last one. Whether we are square dancing, freeze dancing, or doing a hand-clapping game, I want all of our children to find the ability to laugh at a mistake and then join right back in. I want them to be able to go to a performance and have some sense of the work that went into it. I want them to be respectful audience members, and I want them to let themselves be swept up into a performance whether it's a puppet show of "Rainbow Fish" or a Shakespeare play.
I also want them to understand a little bit about how the Earth is changing over time and a basic understanding of geology.
And finally I want them to know how to grab opportunities that present themselves like the chance to take a trip into town.
Rachel's PreK Reflections
We started off our week by attending a performance at The Egg Theater in Albany on Monday. The children saw an engaging rendition of “Rainbow Fish” (and other stories) performed by The Mermaid Theater Company of Nova Scotia. The production was a black-light puppet show, complete with recorded narration, music, and lots of excellent puppeteering and prop craftsmanship. It was a wonderful opportunity to expose them to the world of theater without having to be quiet (it was a “shush-free performance”), without having to sit still for too long, and with the added benefit of a Q&A session with the performers afterward.
During the rest of the week, we finished up our studies of North America with the “tall tale” of Johnny Appleseed, worked more on our body parts and animal names in Spanish, and focused a lot on how to be safe with our bodies . Much of our time was also spent on strategies for processing emotions, including mindfulness activities, yoga, expressive art opportunities, and children’s books on emotional processing themes. The kids do so well with these activities, and I continue to be impressed with how much growth they’ve shown in their social-emotional development this year! They are truly developing skills even in Preschool that will benefit them for the rest of their life.
Our Theme: Rocks
There are so many different ideas to learn when you're learning about rocks. We had an expert visitor come into to share her rock collection and some of her knowledge about erosion and rocks. She shared models of how a stream begins, how it grows, and how it can become a river. The children peppered her with many of their questions. We read Rocks Rocks Rocks and played rock detectives, trying to sort rocks and to come up with the describing words that would help someone else know what rock we had picked. We read How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World and made models of the inner core, outer core, and mantle. We also talked about plate tectonics and the idea that these big plates move over time causing mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes. We used maps, the fossil record, and key rock types to try to figure out the puzzle of how the earth used to be. We read The Rock Cycle and acted out the different processes that shape rocks while repeating some key vocabulary. The words sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic don't immediately trip off the tongue, but the kids are becoming more comfortable with these words and knowing what types of rocks they describe.
On Monday with the PreK and K kids off to The Egg and an illness knocking out another couple of kids, we found ourselves with a very small group of children. Small enough for a little extra adventure. After getting permission from all the relevant parents, we headed into town for a Middleburgh Day. We started by hiking a section of the Long Path that affords some pretty spectacular views, a vernal pool, and some very interesting rocks. We encouraged the children to notice how the tree types changed as we gained elevation, discovered salamanders and eggs in the pool, and looked at how the rock formed some interesting layers. "It's sedimentary!" declared one student. At the top of the hike, we tried not to blow away in the wind. The children enjoyed spotting some well known landmarks in town: the elementary school, the Methodist church, the high school, and, across the valley, Vroman's Nose. We bounded down the hill and headed for pizza lunch. Then we read The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth to reinforce some of our rock study themes. Everyone headed into the library to work on some math we brought from school just before the skies opened up and poured down. We ended the day with a little "Relax and Read" time, pulling from all the great books the Middleburgh Library offers. It was such a fun combination of comfortable routines and new adventures!