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Cultivating Community

We do lots of little things and big things to help cultivate our school community. We sing, dance, and play together. We sit down together and talk out our problems and brainstorm solutions. When someone is having a tough time, we try to support her with a hug or with some space, depending on her needs. If our emotional lives are in order and we feel safe, it is so much easier to tackle new ideas and work hard to figure out problems.

Cheryl's PreK Reflections

Looking out for one another is what we cultivate in our school community. Feelings matter, and we check in with our classmates, solving conflicts with communication and possibly rebuilding a block tower together. It is a magical thing.

"The Three Billy Goats Gruff" was a fun felt board tale this week for illustrating brothers looking out for one another (silly troll!) but also great to get lil ones labeling feelings. Hands practiced cutting out their own bridge while they water colored and stamped their own version of the tale. You can ask your child to tell their own story. Are your animals happy? Scared? Silly? Angry? How does it end?

Magic starts filling the air around this time of year, especially for our youngest. We had a parade around school with some amazing instruments to celebrate Fall. Nature treasures - acorns, hydrangeas, sumac leaves, moss, etc were passed around to smell. Fall smells quite "Earthy!" they agreed. Those treasures were attached to a special stick gathered with wool to make our own "wands." We discussed how ancient people believed trees held magic. Full day preschoolers got to dive more into this with our storyteller Nancy. The story Nancy told us was of trees using their roots and branches to notify other trees of dangerous plant eating locusts coming near which in turn made the trees make their leaves poisonous just in time. Pure magic! And looking out for one another!

Nancy's Visit

"Do you think trees can teach us things?"

"Yes!" came the eager chorus.

"What do trees teach us?"

"How to climb!" "They give us oxygen, so they help teach us to breathe." "They teach us how to bend." "How to grow!"

Nancy honored all of these answers, then passed out tree "cookies" for close examination with magnifying glasses. The children learned how to use the rings on the cookie to tell the age of the tree, or if it had a struggle growing a certain year. They could even tell if it was leaning in a certain direction. Nancy's story about how trees communicate had great chemistry and community connections as well.

Our Theme: Chemistry

"Back up! It's exploding!" Adding Mentos to soda had some exciting results. While many of our older children knew about this reaction, most of them hadn't experienced it firsthand. Two different groups had experiments related to Mentos - comparing the amount of Mentos added to the soda and comparing two different sodas to see which one had the bigger reaction. There was some discussion about how to define and measure "bigger." Is it the reaction that pushes the highest, moves the greatest amount of liquid, or goes on the longest? There seemed to be some consensus, and the experiments were done again to see if the results were consistent. We have some more experiments to conduct next week, conclusions to draw, and new questions to ask.

Theresa took the children on a journey through the Big Bang, using balloons, bouncing and spinning, and a book called Older than the Stars. Children had the chance to be a proton (pink balloon) or neutron (white balloon) traveling around. If they bounced into each other in certain ways, they got to become hydrogen or helium. We did not make every element in the periodic table, and we only talked briefly about electrons, but the children were pretty excited about all of these big ideas about very little things. I love the thought that when they take chemistry in high school or college, they might think back to bouncing around our classroom with balloons.

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