Symbols at St. John’s
It is tradition at St. John’s that each child chooses a symbol to represent themselves during their time with us. Choosing a symbol that represents them is a step in each child developing a personal identity amongst their classmates. It also helps them develop ownership of the spaces that we call the “Brown Room” and “school.” Once children choose their symbols, their symbols become part of the school environment; used to label our mailboxes at the Post Office, our cubbies, our portfolio drawers for our work and our cubby bags. Our symbols will also be part of our “Message Center” so that children can use them when making messages for friends and family.
First Exploration of Symbols
For our first exploration, children had an opportunity to explore a variety of symbols in small groups in the studio. Here's a brief look into our first exploration.
At our second Morning Meeting about symbols, Elena and Karen shared their symbols and why they chose them. Elena shared that she chose a seahorse because she liked the turquoise blue color of the picture. Karen chose the sea turtle as her symbol because it is her favorite animal.
Second Exploration of Symbols
For our second exploration of symbols, each child tried out symbols from a carefully curated selection. Karen and Elena examined their first attempts to determine which symbols each child showed a preference for in their work. Each child had a personalized box of their preferred symbols with which to work.
Inspired and encouraged by his older sisters, Ford was eager to choose his symbol. Ford picked up each symbol and said: “Is this my symbol? Yeah!” He eventually picked the scallop shell after trying each stamp individually. As Ford deliberated, Ramsey and Cal looked on curiously. Once one child made a decision on their symbol it seemed to catch on with the rest of our class.
More Symbol Choices
The Brown Room's Symbol Box (Tuesday)
Since Ford was the first to choose his symbol, he was able to place his symbol in the Symbol Box which will become part of the Message Center. At our meeting after snack, Ford ceremoniously placed his symbol in the Symbol Box. By the end of the day on Tuesday, more children had made choices about their symbols.
More Symbols! (Thursday)
Today more children joined Karen in the studio to choose their symbols. Seon and Isabelle joined first. As Seon tried out her personalized box of symbols, she exclaimed, "Fly! Balloon!" She then used a pencil to circle the butterfly as her choice of a symbol. Pointing the the light bulb, Isabelle declared, "This one. This one!" Charlton and Ellie entered the studio next. Charlton had a tough time, debating between the crayon and the whale, but ultimately chose the whale. Ellie was interested in a few symbols, but is still thinking her decision over. To make their choices official each child stamped their symbol on their drawer in the symbol box and then placed their symbol inside.
Symbols, Symbols, Everywhere!
Our symbols are starting to appear all over our classroom and our school!
Watercolor at the Light Table
While we have previously worked with watercolor in the studio and outside, today we decided to elevate our watercolor exploration with the addition of light. With everything arranged on the light table, children enjoyed watching the watercolor fall across the illuminated paper. As the exploration continued, two children noticed that they were able to control the light using the switches on the side. For some time, both Emma and Seon delighted in the experience of turning the light on and off, and watching it change the composition of the paint on the page.
As referenced on yesterday's blog, Brown Room children are beginning to choose their symbols. After their first encounters with the symbols, we offered the children a curated selection of the symbols the children used the most for their second exploration. Children then chose their symbol and had the opportunity to place it in our symbol box for easy accessibility. While not every child has chosen a symbol yet, we just wanted to highlight some of the discerning processes we observed today.
As children select their symbols, they are also adding them to cubby bag tags, the mailboxes, portfolio drawers and more as a method of self identifying. Once each child has selected, we will post a complete list on the blog if for everyone to see!
Yesterday we began the long awaited sharing of our summer memories. As we’ve added them to our summer memories shelf, children have noticed them and taken moments for some informal sharing, but yesterday each child had a chance in the presence of a friend. To encourage a dialogue, we paired the children up and filmed their interactions. What follows are images and snippets from their conversations.
Ford and Seon
Fay and Cal
Isabelle and Emma
Mimi and Ellie
Louisa and Charlton
Elsewhere in Brown Room, children enjoyed construction, dramatic play and reading.
Wrapping Up School Tours
On the last day of "School Tours," Ellie and Isabelle explored new areas of the St. John's. Their curiosity led us to discover the Choir Room in the basement of the church and the elevator nearby.
Introducing the Message Center and its Materials
Back in the Brown Room, we focused on intentional use of the Message Center and its materials. At morning meeting, Cal helped Karen demonstrate how to use paper and envelopes to create messages for our friends and families. We also learned how to take care of our markers. Children enjoyed making messages for each other and their families. We are looking forward to introducing and choosing symbols soon. Once symbols are chosen, they will become part of our Message Center and the School Post Office.
Spells Emma. Spells Emma. That’s mommy. That’s daddy.
Isabelle: Have this. (handing a green envelope to Emma).
Emma: No pink. I did not chose green. What about that pink? I drawing. I drawing.
Seon made messages for Fay and then delivered them to her in the cozy corner.
Read it! I’m writing it down for you.
A New Scene in Dramatic Play
The children were excited to discover new materials in Dramatic Play and enjoyed meals together.
Continuation of School Tours
Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio pedagogy, once wrote “children have the right to be recognized… as both source and constructors of their own experiences, and are therefore active participants in the organization of their identities, abilities and autonomy through relationships and interactions with peers, adults, ideas and objects”. Following this, it is our intention that the children develop trust in each other, the materials and the school space. To facilitate this, we continued with our school tours this week. Children went in groups of two and chose what in the school they wanted to see. For some it was the bell tower and the church and for others it was the elevator and other classrooms.
Cal and Ragnar
Ford and Rawls
Rawls and Fay
Rawls offered to accompany Fay on her school tour today. They began exploring the hallway and eventually found the elevator. When they exited the elevator, both noticed the skylight on the ceiling. Rawls reached for it and upon discovering that he wasn’t tall enough to do so remarked “ I not reach high”. He noticed “rectangles!” in the window pane pattern and was excited about this discovery. Fay enjoyed the tour, and shared Rawls’ observation of the rectangles.
Charlton and Ramsey
Charlton and Ramsey shared an interest in the church, particularly the sanctuary space. They began with an exploration of the balcony, but quickly decided they wanted to be on the church’s ground level. Charlton, speculating from the balcony what might be downstairs suggested, “There might be Spider-Man down there. There might be Leonardo down there from ninja turtles. He can stay late with his brothers”. Below is a conversation between Ramsey and Charlton as they plan how to get down to the sanctuary.
Let’s not go down there. -Ramsey
But, this is the church -Charlton
How do you think can we get down to the sanctuary? -Karen
I think we need stairs.- Charlton
After the two of them returned back upstairs from their explorations:
Let’s go back down again. - Charlton
What’s that noise? Check it out. - Ramsey
Ragnar and Mimi
Please enjoy this slideshow that contains pictures from the rest of our day!
Our First St. John's Singalong
Today, the Brown Room children participated in their first St. John's Singalong. Everyone was excited to sing songs, play musical instruments and see their family members who were able to join on Zoom.
Experiences in the Outdoor Classroom
The Brown Room children love spending extra time in the Outdoor Classroom on Backwards Day. Starting our day outside is exciting for everyone.
Charlton: Run Isabelle, run! The dragons are in space!
Ford: I'm driving my boat!
Isabelle: Want on the boat.
Rawls: You can on mine (to Isabelle)
Charlton: You are the captain. (to Rawls)
Rawls: There is the treasure.
Charlton: I'm am the pirate, ha ha! Captain, captain, move.
Seon and Louisa investigated gravity at the slide. They took turns seeing what would happen when they placed different types of toys at the top of the slide.
Children had their first experience with watercolors on Thursday. Today, some had the opportunity to experience painting outdoors.
Tap, tap. Painting, painting the mulch. Paint the mulch.- Ellie as she used mulch to add texture to her work.
I’m making drops! I want orange. There’s orange. Swishy-swashy. - Emma
Tackling Physical Challenges!
Ford began the day by asking about the swing. With encouragement, he tried to climb up several times. He didn't get discouraged and by the end of our Outdoor Classroom time, he was able to swing on his own! For several days, Ragnar has been working on climbing up and down the cargo net. Today he was successful in getting to the top and back down again!
Back in the Brown Room, Ramsey, Ellie and Seon created geometric designs with the magna-tiles.
I build it again!- Ramsey
A Look Ahead for Brown Room:
Ellie: Other color. Look at my rainbow. Put mine on the rack.
Ford: I got blue. Look! I making a rainbow. I making green, yellow, and this (pointing to the pink paint jar). I used 2 hands. Look at my rainbow!
Isabelle: All done (when finished with the yellow paint). Isabelle then chose green and motioned to Seon for her to sit next to her.
Seon watched Isabelle and Rawls paint for a bit and then she began painting, first using blue, then green and finally red. Seon also experimented by placing the paint jar lid on her paper to make circular prints in the paint.
Emma: Emma paintbrush! Orange. Seon handed Emma the paint.
Emma: Thank you. I want red. Seon handed Emma paint. Thank you. It’s special. I’m getting my paper out. As she painted, Emma sang Swishy Swashy, Swishy Swashy over and over.
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Today was Isabelle and Seon’s first experience painting at the easel in Brown Room. Isabelle confidently chose yellow and then pink as she practiced the one-color one-brush system for the first time. Seon carefully observed Isabelle’s efforts for a few minutes. When Isabelle noticed Seon watching her paint, she encouraged Seon to join in.
As Emma returned to the studio today, she experimented at the easel, trying out the paint brushes in both her left and right hands.
Where’s my paper? I do yellow. -Emma
Ellie has been interested in painting at the easel from day one. As she made swirls across her paper, she exclaimed:
Pink one, now yellow! Orange! Red! Oh...brown. Blue and purple! Pink one! Yes, pink! I’m done...no one more! -Ellie
Fay gravitated toward the easel when she saw Mimi enjoying it and talking about her paintings from the previous days. Fay began with a turquoise color paintings lines and swatches, and she was particularly mesmerized when the paper became saturated and paint began dripping down the page. She carefully chose colors stating “I want purple” and “I want green” as she switched out her paints.
Mimi, enjoying paint for the second time, started with big green swatches, eventually channeling her movement into smaller dots. About these she said “it’s like pom poms when i do this! I like it”.
Cal enjoyed some painting at the table yesterday as he acclimated to the classroom space, but was initially hesitant to try the easel painting. After watching several friends try it for themselves, Cal decided he’d like to give it a go before snack started. He was particularly keen on all the color offerings and looked at each before remarking “uhhhh green?” as he selected a deep moss tone.
Ford and Emma shared an easel during their painting exploration. Ford started with purple and red, painting in a swirling motion, while Emma opted for yellow and turquoise lines. When Ford finished painting, Emma happily spread out to the available spot, making a masterpiece that stretched the width of the easel.
“Can I paint? Not on mine. Don’t paint on mine…. Please" - Ford
“I want Yellow.” “Look it drops!” Shhh...it’s dripping” “I’m making big blue, I’m making drops”
Ragnar spent most of the morning very interested in the painting. He would peek in every so often from the playground to see if there was an available spot. When he had the chance, he began with yellow and purple and painted in alternating circle and line motions. When he finished, he declared “I drawed a monster, a real monster!”