Today we celebrated Will's third birthday. His parents shared photos and really wonderful funny stories. Just before Will was due to arrive three years ago, a big snow storm was coming--the forecast called for a foot of snow! Will's parents were really excited but also nervous because Will's grandparents were planning to drive down to Washington and they needed to adjust their plans due to the coming weather. Will's dad explained, "We were expecting Will, and we were expecting a snow storm." Will's grandparents decided to come early so they would arrive before the storm. It turned out the snow storm didn't come and neither did Will--at least not while they were in town. He made his appearance a couple of days after they went home, so they hurried back. . In addition to the photos of Will in his mom's belly, of Will as a newborn in the hospital wearing a funny hat, and Will with his big brother Max (who was three years old when Will came along), Will's family showed a great video from his third birthday party at home, including lots of his Brown Room friends dancing up a storm. That was then, This is now.
After Will circled the candle three times, we sang Happy Birthday, and he blew out his candle, Will received his card from his Brown Room friends. Will's card was really funny and fun to make--and he got to play a role in helping to create it. It was fun to tell the story behind the card, which featured photos of Will on an airplane with some of his favorite toys. Kian also gave Will a special gift he knew Will would like--trains from the middle room, which he spent lots of time carefully wrapping. Thanks to Will's family for celebrating with us, and
Happy Third Birthday, Will!
The past few days Toniann has received flowers and the children just love smelling and looking at them. They are such a beautiful display of color and shape, so it was decided to use them for inspiration in exploring paper today. Tearing was the objective. Austin, Will, Lou Lou and Jack worked with Toniann to achieve the task. Austin enjoyed the process of tearing and made a great contribution to the supply. Lou Lou placed her design first and then after thinking about it went to task with the glue. Will worked whimsically adding his pieces while observing the still life. Will, "Look at that color. It's long. Like this!" Jack preferred applying the curls and rolls technique that he has been practicing from a previous experience.
There were also great moments of sharing and collaboration.
Will walked excitedly over to Austin:
Will: Can I see that?
Austin remains quiet but open in his body language.
Will : Can you show me the sound?
Austin turns toward Will, showing him the object.
Will: How do you make the sound?
Austin: Like this.
Will: Like this. Can I hold it?
Austin: Yeah, but don't break it.
Will: I won't. Wow! Is this how you do it?
Will: Thanks! (Handing the motorcycle back to Austin)
Margaret and Austin made a course for the animals and Austin found out that you can make a circle by placing the 2 blocks (the 2 rectangles with semicircle shapes in the center) together. Jack used the long rectangles as trains and made tracks and bus lines with them. Will and Jack had a long discussion about the trains and what they were doing.
It was a very busy day. In the Brown Room studio, we continued our paper exploration by manipulating strips of paper in different colors and textures. We used our hands and tools to fold, crease, and roll the paper, creating lots of interesting shapes. Margaret recognized triangle, circle and square shapes in the paper as she folded it. Manipulating paper this way is hard work and takes lots of fine motor strength. It also takes a lot of practice and patience. We’re building all of these skills in the course of our paper exploration.
Down the hall, other Brown Room friends were building relationships (among other skills) in the Tucker Room. Will worked beside Bruno while Elle worked alongside Jay to create beautiful watercolor paintings. Later, Ellee and Lou Lou worked together on a partner painting while Tucker Room children and teachers helped Will to create a large easel painting before he took the Tucker Room construction area by storm. The Tucker Room children shared their knowledge with their Brown Room friends, helping them to select brushes and find just the right paint colors, and by demonstrating techniques they have learned over the years. They also learned by observing the Brown Room children's uninhibited creativity and playful imagination. Everyone has loved these collaborative exchanges and the friendships that are developing in the process.
We celebrated Sam's birthday today! His mother and father joined us in school and shared wonderful stories about Sam. Katherine shared that Sammy was calm and happy in her tummy and that he was born at Sibley Hospital. She shared that Sam was so happy and calm after he was born, as well, that the doctor had to tap his foot to get a cry. Sam met his older sister, Claire and she held him. Sammy's Dad shared that he would turn all the wheels of his toys, the wheels on the stroller, his trains and his trucks. He always wanted to check everything, even things that didn't have wheels just to be sure. They shared that on his first birthday there was a huge snow storm. The people looked like snowmen and they couldn't tell they were people until they were very close. Sam's first word was "Mamma" and his second word was "Dog". We lit the candle and then he walked around the candle 3 times for every revolution he has had around the sun and then Sammy blew it out. The birthday committee gave Sam his present. During the interview process the committee learned that Sam loved rainbows, trains, and tracks. His present encompassed all of those things. The children did a color study inside to mix rainbow colors, and the train developed in the tool and wood exploration process. Happy Birthday SAM!!
Then the class work began and we broke into our groups. Toniann brought a group to explore the school. Lisa worked with Will's Birthday Committee and Kate worked with a group to continue the exploration of paper.
The group exploring the school were looking & thinking about what we wanted to learn more about. Austin and Sally noticed the stained glass windows. They were curious about the colors and why there were people in them.
Austin What are those pictures? Is it Jesus? What are the pipes for?
Sally I see them. So many colors. So pretty.
They noticed the pendulums and the pipes, too.
Austin What are those? What are the pipes for?
Sally They play. Its very very loud!
Austin What about the bell?
We walked to the Bell Tower. Gini shared information about it when she visited. We learned from her that the design changed twice.
When we got to the stairwell leading into the tower Sally decided she didn't want to go but Austin did. So we brought Sally to Lisa and Will's birthday committee. Austin and Sally shared some of their findings with the group.
Austin We saw the pipes. We went to the dusty stairs!
Sally We saw the church. I didn't like the stairs.
Austin and Toniann returned to the Bell Tower and went up the dusty stairs. They found the light box gift, a rocket ship and another set of stairs.
Austin Is the Bell up there?
Toniann It is. Should I go? I will take a picture so we can show everyone.
We talked with Marley before leaving her office and learned a lot about the bell, the stained glass and the pipes.
We had just started to eat snack, when it grew quiet and we heard noises outside. A few children wondered what the noises were.
Jack: It’s a jackhammer.
Louise (going to the window): It’s a truck. The trucks are back!
Jossie: We didn’t see them for a long time. Now we can see them.
Louise: There’s a dump truck.
Jossie: Lots of trucks.
Louise: They’re building a playground.
Austin: They were going there because something was broken so they taked off the playground. Something broke and now they’re fixing it.
Toniann: What’s that truck there?
Will: It’s a dump truck.
Jossie: A new dump truck.
Jack: A new excavator.
We watched as an excavator filled two dump trucks, and then as each dump truck left the construction site. It appeared there was only the excavator left, then we noticed a small green vehicle that none of us could name. We watched as the truck tried over and over again to pick up a fence, and talked about whether he would give up or keep trying. He did not give up. After he moved the fencing, the truck quickly spun around several times.
Margaret: He’s dancing! He’s dancing!
Lisa: It did look like he was dancing.
Lou Lou (giggling): He did. He’s dancing. He’s dancing to the music.
Then the truck stopped and we noticed a man get out of the truck and walk around the outside, picking up debris and putting it in the scooper by hand.
Lisa: Was the truck dancing on its own? Or was someone making it dance?
Louise: It’s the worker.
We watched the worker for a while. Then he got back in the truck.
Louise: He’s going. He’s going.
Lisa: He’s back in the truck. He’s driving again.
Louise: And him dancing.
We watched the worker drive back and forth with his loads, waiting for him to make the truck dance again.
Lisa: Do you think it’s hard to drive that kind of truck?
Lou Lou: My car is faster.
Lisa: True. Cars move differently. Have you ever seen a car dance like that?
Lou Lou: Cars don’t dance.
Just as we were preparing move on to our next activity, the driver of the green truck drove closer, right up to the fence. We could see him drinking his coffee from a thermos. We wondered if he could see us too. Everyone waved hello to him, then we watched him get out of the truck and walk away, and we waved goodbye, saying “Bye-bye worker!”
At morning meeting this morning Toniann revisited the documentation from where the research question emerged - the debate over whether it was trucks and workers together or separately and the research team's visit to Marley's office. Toniann announced that Gini, The Rector, would be visiting the classroom later on in the morning and asked if there were any other questions that they can think of to ask her.
Austin: Why did someone make a window?
Lisa: A specific window?
Toniann: So, there were no trucks when St John's was built. How did they build it? We learned from Marley that there were no trucks when it was built so long ago.
Austin: The workers are tough making it. They can hold bricks. They can climb the houses with ropes so they can't fall down.
Lisa: What's the school made of? That's a good question.
Then Gini visited us while we are at snack.
Gini sat down with the children at the snack table and Toniann filled her in with where we are in our research with the documentation gathered to this point.
Austin: Who built the school?
Gini: Books are where I go to when I ask big questions. This book was in my office, The Changing Face of St. John's. This book is the story of how St. John's started. It might tell you how it was built. Here is something. They made drawings first.
Austin: Do you know who?
Gini: I found something so interesting here. A letter to the governing board from William Thornton. William Thornton was the architect. He is also the same architect who built the Capital building. Some of your parents might work there or near Capital Hill. The letter goes on and see this. Do you notice anything? What is missing? (Gini shows a picture of his drawings and a later image of St John's.)
Austin: Where's the bell?
Gini: The whole bell tower is not in the drawing. The letter explains that he wanted them to decide that part.
Toniann: How did they build it? If they didn't have trucks how did they build it?
Gini: When the church was built they had wagons and horses.They did not have trucks. They had wagons and workers carried the bricks.
Toniann: Is there a bell in the tower? A real bell?
Gini: Yes, I have some ideas about the bell, but I know someone that has lots and lots of stories. He is the church historian.
Gini: Everyone is curious. Do you know how you keep notes? Mr Al Laporta, the church historian has some old pictures and drawings and the notes about the school. For people to learn about it. Just the way your teachers take notes to learn. They didn't have cameras when they built the church. They had to make drawings.
We thanked Gini and gave her a message from the Brown Room.
What a great day!
Today, Sally's family came to share stories with the class as part of our Family Traditions Months. They brought a panel of photos and told stories about a recent to trip to Guatemala, where Sally's father was born. Sally told her friends about the special places in the photos, and amazing things she saw during her trip. These included a beautiful parrot, a merry-go-round, a trolley train, and most exciting an active volcano! Sally described seeing the volcano a lot, even while she was swimming in the pool. We learned that Antigua, where they visited over the Thanksgiving holiday, is surrounded by three volcanos. One of them, Fuego, is active and you could see smoke and steam rising from its mouth.
Sally also showed us a photo of the church where her parents got married, and photos of relatives who live in Guatemala. We learned that Guatemala is a country where people speak Spanish and there are rain forests; and, because of its warm climate, Guatemala is often referred to as "the land of eternal spring."
The first step in our birthday committee work is an interview with the birthday children to learn more about them. Asking about their favorite things and materials helps to guide the design of our cards—and to learn more about our friends. Today, Will’s birthday committee decided to start in his absence by talking about what we know about Will and what we’d like to know.
Lisa: Ask him if he likes ambulances?
Rowan: If he likes police.
Lisa: Ask him if he likes police?
Lisa: Police officers or police cars?
Rowan: Police cars.
Kian: And phone too.
Lisa: Ask him if he likes phones?
Lisa: Like a phone like we have in the classroom, or a cell phone?
Kian: A train phone.
Lisa: A train phone?
Lisa: Okay, ask him if he likes train phones.
Sally: He like train phones.
Lisa: Okay, Sally, what do you want to know about Will?
Rowan: He likes headphones.
Lisa: Does he like headphones?
Louise: I got purple headphones.
Lisa: What do you do when you wear headphones?
Louise: I wear them on the plane because I’m listen to my iPad.
Lisa: Do you watch movies or do you listen to music?
Louise: Frozen on the iPad.
Lisa: Do you want to ask Will if he likes Frozen?
Louise: Um, no.
Lisa: Do you want to ask Will if he likes any movies?
Lisa: Sally and Sam…
Lisa: You think he likes blocks?
Lisa: Okay. Louise has just told us she thinks he likes blocks. Have you seen him play with blocks?
Lisa: Okay. What else have we seen Will play with?
Rowan: Him likes flashlights.
Kian: He likes tractors.
Lisa: I think you’re right. I think I’ve seen him play with all those things. Sally and Sam, what does Will like to do in Early Birds?
Sally: He likes that one (picking up a flashlight).
Rowan: He likes microphones (picks up a microphone).
Lisa reads the list so far, then asks “What are his most favorite things? What else do we know about Will? Sam, what do you know about Will?”
Lisa: He likes trains?
Sam: And turtles.
Lisa: Does he have a favorite animal? Do you know what Will’s favorite animal is?
Louise: He likes cats.
Kian: He likes phones.
Lisa: Okay, he can like cats and phones.
Louise: I love cats.
Lisa: What else? Do you know what Will’s favorite food is? Should we ask him?
Lisa: You think his favorite food is bread?
Lisa: Okay, we can ask him. What other things do we want to ask him? Do you think he has a favorite book?
Kian: He likes cheese. And those and those (pointing to a sand table on the floor with rocks, tiles, trees, and stones).
Lisa: What are those and those?
Kian: Walls and mud.
Lisa: He likes walls and he likes mud. Okay…
Kian: …and cheese (pointing to wooden trees).
Lisa: Trees! He likes trees! Okay, we’re gonna get ready to go back to the classroom. Is there anything else we want to know about Will? What else are you curious about?
Just then, a group of Rainey Room children come in with their teacher to conduct their own birthday committee interview. We ask them for suggestions for questions we can ask Will.
Elena: Maybe trees, or trains, or rocks.
Sally: Remote control (picking up a controller from the dramatic play area).
Melanie: What are some questions we’re going to be asking Kate?
Rowan: Him likes this (bringing over an airplane seat belt).
Lisa: What is that?
Elena: It’s a seatbelt for the airplane.
Lisa: Should we ask him if he likes flying on airplanes?
Louise: Yeah. Pretend.
Lisa: We’ll ask if he likes to pretend he’s on an airplane?
Melanie gave us a few more ideas. Sometimes the Rainey Room children ask about favorite books, any lovies the birthday child may have at home, or just favorite things in general. At snack, we revisited our discussion and Rowan added one more thing to the list: flowers.
Whew! Get ready, Will. This is going to be quite an interview…
by Lisa & Rachael
Pieces of Tucker Room experiences.