Today, we had our first family tradition experience! Jossie’s mom Katherine brought in oranges and cloves to make pomander balls. The children stick tooth picks into the orange to create a hole and then inserted the cloves. Eventually, we skipped the cloves and made spiky creations with toothpicks in the oranges. Thank you Katherine for spending the morning with us and making our classroom smell amazing!
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Now that our collections work is winding down, we are clearing space on our collections shelves for new work. Today, children began taking photos of the collections still on the shelves before packing them up to take home. The children were excited to bring their collections home before winter break.
Margaret: I can’t leave them. If I leave my baby clams here, who would take care of them?
Jossie: Yeah, no one would be here.
Margaret: Only the baby clams and the school.
It was a nice time to revisit and reflect on our work with the collections. Margaret said that her favorite part about having the baby clams at school was arranging them to look like butterflies and then drawing and painting them. Jossie noticed that someone had drawn a rainbow on one of her rocks from Maine. At first she was disappointed, but then she decided, “It’s okay. I really like rainbows.” Lou Lou was excited to bring home her rocks as well; it's been a very long time.
The collections have been such a fixture in our classroom, the teachers are going to miss seeing them everyday. But the children are ready to bring them back home where they belong. We are grateful to all of the children and families for lending the Rainey Rom their precious keepsakes this past semester, and we're excited to see what new work will take their place in the spring.
As our focus shifts from gardens to trees, we've had many discussions about trees--during morning meeting, informally, and in focused small groups. Through these conversations, we can see what the children know and what they are curious about. Below are just a few excerpts from these discussions; they are already beginning to give us a sense of the big ideas and questions that will guide our research and propel our work forward in the coming weeks.
Margaret: Christmas trees never die, because we water them every day. They die after it’s Christmas.
Rachael: What would happen if the leaves just stayed on the ground?
Jossie: They would just die. That's why they picked them up. Before they die.
Rachael: So they're not dead when they're on the ground?
Jossie: They died from a long time ago.
Jack notices a tree in the Tucker room, “What if it just growed and growed and growed all the way to the roof and broke it?”
Kian: And there’s leaf dust. Leaf dust blows all the leaves out of the tree.
Grace: [Trees] say hello every day when people climb on them. Sometimes trees die in the winter. Trees want to say bye-bye to people. The trees get older.
Jen: Why do the trees fall?
Rowan: Because of the wind.
Leigh: Because of the storms and the wind gets very strong.
Will: Because of the wind pushes them away and they fall down. Not because they fall down by themselves.
Jen: So how come some trees have leaves and some don't?
Will: Some trees have leaves and other ones doesn't because [the leaves] don't know how to fly.
Elle: If you put plant food in and then they eat it through their trunks.
Lisa: Can you describe plant food?
Elle: It makes it really strong. It’s how it makes it bigger. It tastes like our food and it's plant food and it's a seed and it's like … and the tree eats a lot of food and it grows real big.
Sam: [The leaves] are sliding down the slide.
Lisa: And what are they doing when they get on the ground?
Sam: They start all over again.
Louise: I catched the leaves all the time and put them back on the trees.
Will: How do you put the leaves back on the trees?
Louise: With a ladder and glue them.
Sally: Wow, a rainbow leaf!
Grace: Because it's rainbow because it turns different color by winter. Then it blown away cause it’s Magic! My elf is magic.
Margaret: Maybe if a fairy changed it rainbow colors. A rainbow fairy!
More and more the children are relying on each other for help. Kian struggled to pull a pipe from the shelves and shouted for Austin across the playground. Austin called back "I can help!" He was already working on digging some rock out of the sand box but when a friend needs you, you come. Charlie saw Kian struggling and stepped in to lend a hand, and together the friends pulled the pipe loose.
When they were younger they knew adults would anticipate their needs or maybe they would have to ask, but adults provided everything for them. As they assert their independence, they want to complete tasks on their own. Some challenges are too big to conquer on your own, and knowing you have friends who will be there to support you is joyful and comforting.
Children talk about lots of things while they’re working. Some conversations are mundane. Some are profound. Some are silly. Some give us insight into children’s hopes and fears, and how they’re organizing ideas about themselves and the world around them.
Today, while Rowan and Jack were building paper sculptures, they had a long and winding conversation that touched on favorite toys, parents, holidays, and more. There was a brief exchange in the middle that was very sweet and gives us a peek into the special nature of their friendship as well as their questions about what it means to grow older and bigger.
Rowan: [holding up four fingers] On my next birthday, I’m gonna be this many.
Jack: Yeah, me too. We’re gonna be big buddies.
Rowan: But we’re gonna keep snuggling, right?
Jack: I don’t know if we can.
Rowan: Why not?
Jack: We’ll be too big. Well, maybe we can bend our legs to make room for other people.
What first seems a question about what give up as we get older, turns out to be a question about what it means to get bigger—and whether they will still fit into the Rainey Room cozy corner. As the children are becoming increasingly aware of their growing strength, size, and independence, there is excitement but also uncertainty. How do things change as we occupy more space in the world? What do we gain and lose? Only time will tell. Of course, it helps to have good friends by your side (and in your cozy corner) as you navigate this big new world.
Our study of gardens led us to trees, yesterday we looked out the window and had wonderful conversations about the trees we could see. Today, in the outside classroom we made rubbings of the different tree barks. The children noticed the lines were “bumpy” when they rubbed charcoal and pastels over the bark. Austin asked what charcoal was, and we explained the process of turning vines of willow trees into charcoal by burning them in a fire. Later this week, we will compare our rubbings to see what the children notice about the different barks and learn about the children's understanding of bark.
Sally : That her parents can love her and I can be her best friend also.
Louise: She can have ballerina toes. And a ballerina dress!
Lou Lou: She can have a sweater and a unicorn.
Sam: That she can have a dinosaur.
Happy Birthday, Leigh! We love you!
by Lisa & Rachael
Pieces of Tucker Room experiences.