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Ending a Year

It's never an easy thing for me when a year ends. There are always a few more projects I hoped to squeeze in, and a skill or two I wanted to spend more time on. I know that a few students are moving on, and each moment with them feels extra important. All the children write careful appreciations of each other, recognizing the strengths and talents of their friends

Rachel's PreK Reflections

What a great last full week of school! In preschool, we used the opportunity to explore, create, question, and play. Our students finished their Father’s Day projects, which were green handprints that got turned into trees. Their pictures were coupled with an interview about their dads or grandpas, which are always really fun and humorous for the teachers to work with the kids on!

We used the warm weather to our advantage, doing math outside using chalk and “math mysteries” that the “class gnome” left for the students to complete. This led to the children tracing each other’s body outline with chalk, which proved to be a great exercise in teamwork and also a lot of fun!

As much of the programming at the preschool/kindergarten level follows the children’s interests, it’s not uncommon to deviate from my plans for the day so that we can instead follow the path the children decide on. A great example of this happened after our Morning Circle one day, when a student picked a wooden Clown Anemone Fish anatomy set off of the shelf. More children gathered as we discussed the outer and inner anatomy of the fish, which led to them wanting to compare a human heart to the Clown Fish’s heart. Next thing you know, we had a human heart model that comes apart being touched and discussed by the children. They weren’t done yet, though! It wasn’t until after they’d practiced finding visible arm veins and finding their own pulses—as well as standing upside down to test their heart valves—that they were willing to break for snack time.

It’s incredible to see what each child has absorbed this year. How they work together. The curiosity that’s built. The community they’ve created together. It’s all a beautiful sight, and we will all surely miss it over the summer!

Celebrating Nancy

"I invite you to dinner Nancy!" The cry started months ago with one child, but soon all the children chimed in. Of course, they would all like their favorite storyteller and naturalist to come to dinner with them. It became a part of the weekly visit. First we'd all make a certain type of face for Nancy to discover when she came around the corner (sleepy, excited, thoughtful). Then all the children would fall under Nancy's spell as she told a story or two and shared some part of her wonder with the natural world. Then she would wrap up, we would say, "Thank you!" and then the voices would chorus, "I invite you to dinner Nancy." Theresa hatched the idea, "What if we actually invited Nancy to dinner?" All the kids were completely on board. They came up with a menu, checked in with their families, and brought a feast to school for Nancy's last day. Place cards were designed and lots of thank you cards were made. Everyone worked together to bring tables and chairs outside to set up on the grass under our maple tree. Tablecloths were spread, place setting made, and food carefully arranged. Then we had a "progressive dinner" with all the children moving their settings from the fruit salad table to the barley soup table and so on. Nancy stayed in her seat of honor, so that everyone had a chance to eat with her. The children were totally tickled and so proud of their efforts. They were rewarded with a final story for the year, and we all looked forward to the fall and Nancy's return.

Our Theme: Birds

Thank goodness the weather was mild this week because when you have 22 children in the midst of a huge paper mache project, it is very convenient to be able to do it outside. Everyone had checked and re-checked pictures and information about their birds. What's the beak's shape? How wide is the wingspan? What does the tail look like? The bird "mummies," newspaper shaped by lots of masking tape, were all done. We put on smock, pulled out the goop, and we all got busy. The end results are pretty impressive, and I can't wait to see them this week when we get the paint on them.

Our Bird Fair will happen this week at our end of year celebration where the children will share some of their favorite songs and dances. We'll take a moment to share a few of those appreciations for each child. Everyone will eat and talk, and I'll probably get a little weepy. But, as I tell the children, they're the good kind of tears that come from deep connections and a rich year of learning together.

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