This morning in the outdoor classroom, Sam decided to collect white blossoms that have been raining down from the tree (which we’ve been trying to identify but now think is probably a huge shrub) that’s been in bloom the past week or so. We happened to have a donated shoe box on hand, so Sam used it for his project: collecting flower petals for himself and his classmates to use in the message center. Sam was a study in concentration and perseverence—noticing and selecting the most beautiful flowers, but also determined to collect as many as possible. After he’d already been at it about 20 minutes, Sam exclaimed, “I’m gonna make a message for my mom and dad, and for my sister with these flowers. I’m gonna collect a lot of these so we can use them.”
Sam was so thoughtful, generous, and flexible in his project that he was happy to let Grace and Louise use some of the flowers—though not all of them—as ingredients in a fruit salad they were preparing. Sam developed the strategy of using a shovel to shuttle the flowers from the ground to the table more quickly, and he occasionally enlisted friends.
At one point as Sam was placing flowers into the box, he commented, “Some of them have three petals; some of them have four; and some of them have five.” Finding two with different numbers of petals, he pointed out, “This one has one, two, three, four, five. And this one has four. That’s so weird.” The he raced off to collect more.
While Sam occasionally took a break from his collection project to run around and play a bit, nothing else could hold his attention for long until Sally showed him a bright pink rose in bloom, inviting him to take a whiff, and saying, “It smells like candy. I love smelling flowers. Especially candy flowers.” Right around that time, Molly passed by and stopped to smell the roses with them. The children were interested in adding rose petals to their collection, and as it happened there was a spent flower way up high—with a little shake from Molly, the petals came raining down. Back in the classroom, Sam did in fact start the first of what may be many projects using his flower petals and he invited friends to use them as well. It will be exciting to see what they all create.
Las week, the children compiled a list of things we harvest from trees and decided we should eat all of them, so we did. Here was the list:
Cherries (out of season)
We introduced our fruit collection at morning meeting and for many of us, fruit consumed the rest of our day. Elle, Charlie and Sam helped gather images of the different trees our fruit came from. Will offered his friends a book he found in our library, “This is a book for tree foods, and you can look at it.” Grace was eager to use the book as tool and find out how different fruit grows. While some children were more interested in origins, others preferred a sensory approach. Children considered, smelled and squeezed the fruits, making associations and comparisons along the way.
“This is very big and giant. It even has two colors.” Elle holding a mango
“It looks like a biscuit!” Austin looks at picture of an almond shell opening
“I’m afraid of limes cause I don’t like the spots.” Grace
“It’s like cheese!“ Rowan looking at coconut pieces
The real excitement came when we started to prepare our fruit salad and everyone wanted to contribute. The children peeled, chopped, juiced and more. More meaning: finally getting into the coconut after several knives and techniques. Margaret was the one to bust it open and the class was rewarded with fresh coconut water! They also made guacamole for our picnic and as an extra special treat they shaved some chocolate onto chunks of coconut.
Our day was a little like Thanksgiving on a gorgeous spring day. The rain held out so we could have our tree food picnic under our favorite tree. The children set the table and were eager to try new flavors, fruit salad, guacamole, lemonade and coconut water, and banana maple walnut bread. Consider thanking a tree or two for everything they give us!
As we began to make plans for the rest of the morning, Lisa and Rachael shared another surprise: yesterday Jen found a bee outside and its legs were covered in bright yellow powder. We all looked at the bee under the microscope and wondered what that yellow stuff was. Someone suggested camouflage. Others suggested honey, or nectar. There was a discussion about whether bees eat honey or flowers. When we asked where else the children had see bright yellow powder outside recently, Austin remembered, “pollen!” We wondered some more about the connection between pollen and nectar, and what exactly nectar was. Rachael started to describe where you might find nectar in a flower, and Jack remembered, “Like a honeysuckle! I drank the nectar once, in the woods. It was delicious.” From there, we went on to talk more about bees, sharing stories of bee stings and thinking about different types of bees and whether some were more likely to sting than others. It seemed that everyone had been stung or knew someone who had been stung, but most of us agreed that (for the most part) if we don’t bother the bees, they won’t bother us. As for our little friend, we don’t know what happened to her (we know she's a lady carpenter bee because males don't have stingers) but we hope he can help us learn more about flowers and trees and pollination.
We started off the day with Chapel! The Rainey friends were very familiar with the story Ginny read, Too Many Mangos by Tammy Paikai. A family has too many mangos from their tree and decides to share with their neighbors. Each neighbor gives them a “mahalo” or thank you gift in return. The trees gave fruit to the family, the family gave fruit to their friends, and their friends gave them a gift in return. So much to give!
We were thrilled to welcome Will back to school as he shared stories about the jungle in Costa Rica. He did not miss a beat in the classroom and helped us come up with some ideas on how we can hang our paper ornaments and flowers in our classroom tree. A team got together and created designs for the flying device.
Will: I have to make the flying motorcycle. There are two fronts and chairs in a line.
Or we can make a ladder made of wood.
Lisa: Can you make a design for the flying motorcycle?
Will: I can draw it.
Margaret: How can we get up to the flying bike?
Sam: We can use an airplane to get to it.
Will:It doesn’t have wheels. Or wings. It just flies itself.
Jossie:It has propellers on the sides and top. Will said it just flies itself so you don’t even go inside. You can sit on top. But the propellers there…you have to hold onto the propellers.
Last Thursday, Rainey Room children spent a lot of their backwards day unclogging the pump in the outdoor studio. Today at drop-off Margaret was excited to try the pump, but discovered it didn’t work. After a little inspecting and troubleshooting with her dad--and observing at the new pump compared to the old one--it appeared that maybe something was interfering with the pump’s range of motion. We suspected a blockage, so Margaret enlisted Jossie and Austin to help fix it. They disassembled the pump, cleared out the large debris using pliers and paintbrushes, washed the pump in the sink to clear out all the sand and small debris, and carefully re-assembled the pump. Unfortunately, the pump still didn’t work after all this, but the process was pretty satisfying and they learned a lot about tools, teamwork, and mechanics.
These are soooo old. You have to plant them before the die.
During morning meeting, Margaret shared a box of treasures she collected during a recent camping trip in the woods. She showed us some rocks that she found, as well as a very unusual stick, and change she collected when she happened upon a trail of coins buried in the dirt in the woods. This was Margaret’s first time tent camping, and Rainey Room friends were just as intrigued about her camping experience as they were by the objects she had collected.
Elle: Did you see the stars and the moon?
Margaret: I saw the stars out my window. And Hadley and Campbell were all squishing me.
Louise: Did you see a rainbow?
Margaret: No, it didn’t rain during my camping.
Grace: Did you sleep with a pillow and have a blankie?
Margaret: I had a new sleeping bag. I didn’t have a chair for camping so my mom buyed one.
Elle: Did you see bugs?
Jack: Did you see insects?
Lou Lou: Did you see deers?
Louise: Did you see magic?
This week, Sam brought in a small lemon tree he found recently while digging in his yard. This morning, he shared it at meeting, explaining to the class why he found it fascinating. When we passed it around, Kian noticed , "The points are super pointy." Sam mentioned that when he found the tree it had one leaf left, but it has since fallen off. We wondered why it had died, and Sam said he thought "Because it was so so so so old."
The children recalled seeing the big willow tree (from which the branch was cut) in Austin's yard last fall. If our baby willow is going to get that big, it clearly can't stay in the classroom, or as Grace observed, "It will break the ceiling." We're going to have to find this willow tree a new home!
Pieces of Tucker Room experiences.