I love the winter holiday season, but I admit that I hit a moment near the end of the whirlwind of parties and family and friends and food where all I want to do is get back to school. A bunch of our kids mentioned similar feelings as we settled back in this week. We like the daily routines, familiar faces, and songs. We like waking up at a similar time each day and knowing what's coming. Sometimes I expect the transition back into school to be a little rough as we move out of holiday mode and into school mode. But this transition has been a lovely one - we're happy to be back in our regular grooves.
Cheryl's PreK Reflections
After our winter break, preschoolers came back not only remembering all of our rhythms and routines but so happy to be with one another again! January, our new month, was celebrated with a Native American poem 'Wolf Moon' which of course led to howling outside at recess. I couldn't help but notice how our igloo had melted and how the youngest (and oldest just a bit higher up the hill) naturally got to creating and rearranging 'homes' of all sorts - some for themselves, some for fairies, and, some for animals.
We read and reread a story about a polar bear who has strong feelings re: a surprise new baby brother and all were riveted. They came up with ideas themselves on how even when sometimes others frustrate us, we can be kind to them. We went on a 'hunt' for animal tracks and noticed the bare winter trees in books and during our daily weather report. Little hands relished in creating a bare winter tree of their own, placing masking tape to block out a form and then water coloring the winter sky.
Besides the letter of the week (ask about Ozzie the Octopus), we began our new theme of our '5 Senses' with 'Taste.' Cutting skills were practiced as they raced to hand over magazine pictures to glue onto a big sheet including things we can taste. We acknowledged how grateful we were to feel the few rays of sunshine this week, but with all the giggles and fun taste testing (ask your child what they thought about our sour, sweet, bitter and salty samples!) the light they themselves brought to school was infectious.
Our Theme: Science Projects
"Where does the light come from when you shock someone with static electricity?"
"Can you jump higher barefoot or with sneakers on?"
"What ingredients make for the stickiest slime?"
"Is it possible to get better at doing splits just by practicing for a few weeks?"
These are just a sample of the questions asked by our kids this week as we started our science projects. We brainstormed so many interesting "I wonder" statements, and then everyone picked a few that were especially intriguing to them. Pairs (and trios) were made based on those interests, and now they're off and running. We talked about what made a good question for an experiment and how we can limit variables. Everyone started developing hypotheses, and many children developed a materials list. This whole month we'll be re-learning about the scientific method while engaged in some real, child driven experimentation. We'll share the results with our school community at the end of the month.
Drawing on Some Expertise
We are lucky to have some very talented individuals in our community, and this week we got a special art lesson from one of them. The children learned about perspective, drawing 3 dimensional images, and horizons. They practiced with our magical "shrinking sticks" and noticed that there is a direct correlation between how far away a person is and how big they appear on the shrinking stick. We even took on some big ideas about how we see the universe from our place on earth.
Theresa's writers (currently working with Tracy) are delving into the world of opinion pieces. We listened to a few different episodes of the podcast "Smash Boom Best" to help us figure out what makes for a strong argument. We listened to the debaters take on thorny questions like "Which is better cats or dogs?" We took notes on the facts that stood out for us and paused the podcast to share what we had written. By the end of each episode, we were ready to write an opinion piece to reflect what we had learned blended with our own ideas and knowledge. We'll be taking one of our favorite pieces and working on it more to make it as compelling as possible.