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Seeing and Celebrating Each Other

One recent morning I came over to a group of kids building towers out of Kapla blocks, and they told me they were building them for one of our PreK kids to knock down. They explained, "He really likes to knock them down. It makes him really happy, so we let him know as soon as he can knock them over." I loved their willingness to let this happen to their creation. Our older kids look out for the younger ones. It doesn't always work out that well. We had an afternoon recently when I watched three of our older kids take a stab at helping two students come up with some solutions for a problem. They each took a turn listening to both sides, tried to offer some constructive suggestions, and eventually gave up. I ended up jumping in when tempers really started to flare, but I was proud of their recognition of a situation that needed support and their attempts to help. We want our kids to really see each other, listen to each other, and find ways to celebrate each other.

Cheryl's PK Reflections

The February Snow Moon was introduced, and a new month brought an "eye" spy game of what was different in our room. Although Valentine's is next week, the love was all around as Rebecca and I saw children including others, whispering birthday wishes into a gift, and pretending with one another. We recited our "12 Months of the Year" song (ask your child to sing it to you) and loved up the letter "S".

Imagination and storytelling seemed to be a theme for us this week and "Harold and the Purple Crayon" was the perfect story to get us in the mood to take a purple crayon of our very own on a journey. We got to enjoy the story (and taste!) of the K-2's very own rendition of "Stone Soup" and were also treated to storyteller Nancy's mouse tale inspired by "Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse" (who generously left behind some beautiful tools to practice storytelling with).

Outside we were always up to something using our imaginations: fairy house building, dragon riding, "putting dirt into the creek," and of course, rolling down our huge beloved hill. The return of that fun white stuff inspired snow cupcakes, angels, and a snow tower that you can (of course) eat!

Finding Our Drama: On-going Work with Nancy and Our Erie Canal Play

Nancy has been helping all of us hone our storytelling skills both through example and through lots of different activities. She gives the children opportunities to use their bodies, faces, and tones to help make a story sing. She helps them to recognize their moments of brilliance and to identify those moments for each other. This week she had our prek through second graders, practicing telling a story with a feltboard to help them remember the order or events. She shared the first part of one of her performances that she brings into schools and other places in the community "How I Came to Dowagiac," a story from the perspective of one child brought on an orphan train from New York City to the midwest.

We used some of those skills this week as we started to improvise different scenes that might end up in our Erie Canal play. We read The Erie Canal, Joshua the Giant Frog, The Book Boat's In, and The Erie Canal Pirates. After pulling a section apart for information, characters, and setting, we tried mini scenes in pairs where the students took on different roles (a grumpy librarian, a giant frog, a mule pulling a boat). Theresa's writers have then been taking these scenes and translating them into dialogues they can write down. They've also been doing more research to learn the important details about the Erie Canal that will let them write a better story.

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