Having the opportunity to engage in creative play, independently, with peers, and with caring adults, is a vital building block that enables children to develop into healthy, integrated adults. Allowing ample opportunity for this sort of activity in childhood as part of a safe and loving life is a powerful gift we can give our children.
Welcome back! The kids were excited to be at school which warmed my heart. They were especially excited about playing together. Especially in our building area. As I was observing I started thinking about how children learn through play. I think it goes without saying that we all value play and the small magical window of childhood, but in a society of increasing pressure for academia, I think it's important as an early childhood professional to point out that play IS how children learn academic subjects. For instance, while observing block play I saw early math skills such as sorting, classification, and measuring. I witnessed motor skills and cognitive thinking as they built higher. I saw creative expression and dramatic play with people and animals and cars. They worked their social/emotional muscles by playing together and problem solving, not to mention impulse control!
Children's brains are hard wired to learn... when given the opportunity. When encouraged to explore and think, to play and experience, and to feel joy, there is really no limit to the human experience.
Speaking of, we continue to delve into what it means to be human. Our discussions at morning meeting have become more thoughtful. While some have come around to saying they are human, others are steadfast that they are not! So, we continued to read "Where the Wild Things Are," casually noting differences between Max and the wild things. Both have faces, but Max does not have hair or horns and his nose is different, for instance.
I don't know, maybe some of us aren't ready to be human yet. Maybe we want to be a fairy or a unicorn or even a wild thing! That's not the point. We've got time. For now, I'm just enjoying the discussion and hearing their ideas of what human is.
It's wonderful to be back!
For the past two weeks in the Summit room we have been exploring bones. It all started with the ritual of Halloween! The children were sooo excited about Halloween they were telling me weeks in advance what they were going to be!
We read Skelly’s Halloween by David Martin. It’s about a skeleton who takes a tumble that leaves him in pieces. All the different critters try to put him back together again but it just wasn’t him! Until a girl dressed like a skeleton said, “We can make you look like me!” And that’s exactly what they did!
After reading the story, the children enjoyed the loose parts Q-tip skeleton provocation. Their skeletons were quite unique! They now call our skeleton Skelly!
We have also read Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler and Our Bones by Charlotte Guillain. This led to discussions about:
What do bones look like?
What do bones do?
How do we keep our bones healthy?
We felt some of our bones and could see the shape of some of our bones! The children looked at x-rays of animal bones on the light table. On Friday our friend Bryn brought in x-rays of her brother’s leg. That was really cool! Thanks for sharing!
I wish you all a joyous thanksgiving with your family and friends! See you all in a week!
This week was all about more sensory activities as well as the children’s own continued self exploration.
The children took it upon themselves to mimic one another by scooting across the floor on their bottoms and playing follow the leader by going up and down the steps in turn, one at a time (which doesn’t happen often because they are all so excited to go!)
We were able to suit up and get outside to enjoy the snow earlier this week. Outside time is always welcomed by the children- no matter whether only 5 minutes or much more.
The children were able to make and decorate their handprint turkeys using glue- which confused them. Sticky fingers made for lots of raised eyebrows. It doesn’t make sense! Why is it still on my finger?!
We will miss them next week and hope you all have a splendid week away and a more wonderful Thanksgiving Day. See you all again on Monday!
-Ms. Shanla and Ms. Margita
"Good evening it's the mooon!"
We are continuing to dig deeper into our interest in space, and the moon in particular. Today we made moons (sorta). :D The way the children have expressed interest in some sensory "pre-writing work" on the light cube gave me an idea for some more fine motor work with this project as well. Squeezing the glue/paint mixture and then using sticks to "draw" in it. And I think they turned out quite majestic! I can't wait until they dry and I can hang them.
As I reflect back onto our over-arching inquiry (what does it mean to be human) in the context of building our community, I think this interest in something so much a part of our existence, yet distant and unfamiliar, is a safe place to explore for them. Exploration, gaining understanding of things about life and who we are in it, is everything to children, but wow! I bet it is overwhelming. So, why not start in the outer reaches of our experience like space? Also, the moon is just super intriguing!
I hope you take a moment over the coming weeks for some moon gazing with your child. Don't have answers ready, just experience it through their eyes. I'd love to hear how it goes!
We have had a very fun week inside and outside the classroom with so many opportunities for sensory exploration! This week we focused on the natural wind outside, as well as the artificial wind we created inside with the fan. The children enjoy watching the wind pick up the dry autumn leaves and blow them around the playground, as if inviting them to play. We enjoy watching the children express their excitement and delight at this natural wonder.
-Ms. Margita and Ms. Shanla
“In play a child is always above his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form; in play it is as though the child were trying to jump above the level of his normal behavior”. -Vygotsky
Dramatic play is a big hit in the Summit room!! Dramatic play provides opportunity for children to experiment with different roles and materials to explore what is familiar to them and also the unknown through pretend play. They use their imagination and creativity. They exercise social and emotional skills to make sense of the world and so much more. When they are playing grocery store, I observe and listen to the children as they negotiate roles. Who is going to be the store clerks (sellers), shoppers and baker. They are using math to determine how much something is going to cost. They use language skills to communicate what items they would like from the shelf. They are also practicing listening skills, getting the items that were asked for. Dramatic play is very important in a child's life.
It has been a busy and exciting week up in the Summit room. We made bread and shook heavy cream in a jar and turned it into butter. We practiced and listened to the songs for the fall Festival. I can see the children's excitement as they explore new materials and their new space! Talking about our new space… I asked the children what they would like to see in their new room? It was unanimous, they all wanted more room for dancing! We will have to do a little shuffling of furniture to make that happen. Then we started talking about the rug that we don't have yet, which led to choosing what color we would like!
The children said:
"I think it should be red!"
It's still up in the air! More on this later! We now have two curtains for the door entrance. The curtains now form a V in the middle of the doorway, making it easier for our taller parents. One child said, "my dad is tall!" They are all super excited about designing our loft area into a quiet and relaxing space. This is a work in progress.
The children like playing the musical hand bells. We have just started using this new instrument. There are a few rules and directions they have to follow when using them. Like not to touch the bell, when I point to them, they ring their bell and when I am not pointing at them they stop ringing their bell. They like it when I point to them really really fast! They giggle and think it is hilarious! It's all fun and games to them, but what they are working on is critical learning skills. They are learning to self-regulate, sustain attention and follow directions, which are very important skills to develop. On a side note, if anyone has access to some color coded hand bell sheet music, it would be greatly appreciated!
We are also exploring pattern blocks. We are hearing new words like hexagon, trapezoid and rhombus. They are enjoying making designs with them, as well as making 3D structures!
We have been reading a lot of books about Fall. My favorite is Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. We have been looking at leaves and talking about how they are the same and how the are different. Some of the children noticed the lines in the leaves. We are going to explore that further. If your child would like to bring in leaves, that would be awesome!
I look forward to seeing everyone at the Fall Festival!