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!
Note: Tomorrow is our monthly school maintenance day and there will be no classroom blog.
Yesterday, we made a stop motion video of a tree growing. Nearly everyone played a role in creating the animated illustration. It took lots of time and patience to draw and photograph frame-by-frame, but we had lots of fun learning this new technique.
Today, we watched the movie together and the consensus was that our creation looked like a lot of things but not necessarily like a tree.
Sally: It looks like a monster.
Will: It’s like a dragon.
Rowan: It looks like a bird.
Sam: It looks like a chicken.
Sally: It looks like a flower.
Other suggestions included a tiger, an eagle, a frog, and a monkey--though it did have a few tree-like elements, thanks to Sam’s idea to add branches and leaves. We then talked about what we do know about trees and what we could do to make it more tree-like.
Louise: You put lots of leaves on it.
Austin: Trees have stumps, sticks, leaves. There’s nests on there.
Grace: Trees are real because they have leaves falling down.
Kian: They have chocolate on the top.
Several children started a new drawing on the dry-erase board, just to map out what we know about how trees grow. We started with the ground, then added grass. We agree that the tree starts from a seed in the ground, but then we weren’t sure what happened next. Jack suggested it came out of the ground as a stump. Austin said that, “It starts skinny, but it gets fatter and fatter” though he couldn’t illustrate how this worked and the others didn’t quite agree. The form of a tree as it come out of the ground—and how it goes from a seed to a stump—was really hard to resolve, but everyone was intrigued, so we decided to do some research online. We found lots of different images of baby trees and were surprised at how small some of them were. Then we found an image of a sapling growing out of something round-ish. Austin guessed, “it’s a seed!” Jack found other similar images, observing “this could be the seed.” A little while later, Will joined the group and noticed a different image: "This is how plants grow. That is the root. The dirty part."
We finished our mosaic heart, made dozens of flower and wire flowers, and now we are getting ready to create a tree for our garden. Before we begin building, we want to learn more about the children’s understanding and feelings towards trees. The children have also been creating drawings of trees, photographing them, but most importantly, noticing. Kian noticed the tree in the outdoor classroom has leaves on it's side, where ivy is growing, but not on the top of it. Many of their drawings focus on the tree trunks, and often include a big hole. Sally made families of butterflies and birds living in the hole, while Grace filled her tree with "balls that came in through that hole."
Conversation while reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein:
Rowan: Trees can’t be happy. They aren’t alive.
Will: I don’t think trees can be happy, they can only be still.
Jossie: If they don’t have eyes they’re not alive.
Since the children have a firm grasp on the trunks of trees, that will be the first part we construct. As the children continue to express their ideas through conversation, construction, and drawings, we will flush out the other components of our classroom tree.
Today is Elle's fourth birthday! Her family joined us for her birthday celebration and read a hilarious book titled The King Who Rained. After we enjoyed the story, Elle walked four times around the candle, we sang happy birthday, and blew out her candle, Then the birthday committee presented her with a beautiful wishing rock that truly reflects Elle's personality. They custom-mixed three favorite colors she described for her rock, and hunted down the perfect light blue sparkles. The result was a wishing rock as colorful and dazzling as Elle is. Later in the morning, we had a group snack including delicious cookies from Elle's family. Everyone thanked Elle for the delicious treats. It was a beautiful day and we were so happy to celebrate Elle's special day.
We noticed the children were referencing specific cities, states and countries when talking about their collections, so we introduced some maps to the room. Our conversations about maps have strayed from collections, and children focus on ways they travel, people they love who live in far away places and locations they have traveled to. They are also interested in the shapes of land, Grace observed the United States and commented, “That’s a whale, him have a tail.” Will has repeatedly referenced “going to number 5,” a highway marked on the map of the US map. They are using numbers to identify locations on the map, what other ways will they be able to read and recall areas of importance?
"If we don’t know where were going, after we’re done with this island, that we're already on, and we don’t know where we’re going next, we can look on a map." Jossie
And now for a little dose of joy (and relationships)....
Last week, noticed many children were painting daisy like flowers. Maybe all of our garden exploration was an inspiration, or perhaps flowers are so captivating, it’s just a matter of time before we recreate our own. We brought some flowers and created a palette so the children could consider different shapes of flowers, take a closer look at the way the colors change on the petals, notice how some flowers feel soft while others are more firm. And of course how they smell. We want to focus on getting to know the flowers and only after we have been properly acquainted, then we begin to create our own. We are taking time creating drawings, then building upon those with paint throughout the week.