Based on observation, Melanie and I realized that the doctor play area was ready for a change. Yesterday Melanie had a fantastic idea for a new provocation: travel play. It connects well to our discussion about Alexandra moving.
With that in mind, new materials were added to the shelf: purses, wallets, money, cell phones, walkie-talkies, cases, bags, baby dolls, chairs and a map. Many children played with the new provocation today and their dramatic play incorporated interesting schema about travel/what you do on trips and maps/navigating.
The first group to play was Wolf M, Olivia, Fletcher and Evelyn.
The second group was Palmer, Oliver and Wolf B. For this group, the walkie-talkies were the catalyst that helped the travel narrative morph into police play. This has been an area of interest on the playground and connects with the ongoing theme of superhero play and the concept of good versus bad.
The third group was comprised of Cannon, Maren and Emilia. Towards the end, Lane joined as well.
As usual, travel play was one of just many things happening in the Rainey Room today. The children also began sewing projects, worked to glaze Kurt's Christmas gifts, painted at the easel, created Christmas messages, read books and much more!
Last but not least..... the children have been working in small groups to create a goodbye gift for Alexandra.
For now... It's top secret! Photos have been censored accordingly and only those with top secret clearance are "in the know." Eight children have participated already... (Maren, Wolf B, Grace, Ellie, Gigi, Cannon, Lane, and Emilia). We can't wait to reveal the finished product next week to our friend Alexandra... then we can share some of the photos from the process of making it.
Alexandra's actual birthday is in April, but we celebrated it early so that she could have her birthday gift to take with her to Germany. It was so fun to celebrate this friend that we are going to miss so much.
We started off by reading a book that Alexandra enjoys very much, Miss Rumphius.
Alexandra opened her gift (more details on that below), walked around the candle, tried to blow it out (got some help from her friends), we sang happy birthday and finally we watched a slide show of some events that have happened in the last year. For snack we enjoyed some homemade cookies as a treat.
Alexandra's birthday gift involved many steps.
The committee: Grace, Wolf, Wolf and Ellie, worked very hard on it.
Step: 1: Decide to cover the white canvas in fabric or paint. (The vote was split so we decided to do both.)
Since the fabric swatches were mostly pink-based, the group decided to mix their own pink paints to use on the canvas.
Step 2: Pull the feathers off the feather boa, paint glue on the letter A and stick the feathers down.
The next day (once the paint was dry)...
Step 3: The children painted glue onto their fabric swatches and glued them on top of the painted canvas.
Step 4: Glue the letter A onto the canvas.
Step 5: Add red gems and embellishments as per the birthday girl's request.
Happy early 4th birthday Alexandra!!!!
The "Trash Receiver"
Fun in Kinetic Sand Making "Cakes"!
Exciting Updates on the Fairy Village 2.0
Children added even more materials to the top level of the fairy village today, using clips and wire. Lane added a black netting to the top, like a tent. She said, "It will make the fairies go to sleep and then they will get more shade so no one gets the fairy’s house. Because it’s more black and black is a color of shade."
She then began using colorful beads as "eggs" and leaves as "burls". She said, "These are the burls where the baby fairies get born - out of these little burls. The mommy fairies drop their eggs inside these burls and then in the nighttime they hatch from the burls."
Fletcher said, "That’s not easy! They’re supposed to keep the eggs warm until they hatch."
Lane: (pointing to white mesh netting on top) "That is what this is going to be. It’s going to keep it cozy. And this purple burl (showing a leaf) is for the girl babies. And these orange ones are for the boy fairies. (She picks up a spotlight) I’m using this light. You know why? These little eggs grew SUPER tiny. And I put them on the burls so they’ll hatch. I’m using this light because I need to find the eggs, they’re somewhere in this fairy house."
It occurred to Fletcher that spiders could help them build the roof, but then he realized they might pose a threat to the fairies. He became engrossed with the idea of building a trap using a small basket, cardboard, and clips. "He's gonna fall in, and when I pull this over, he can't get back out. He's coming, hurry, hide!! What do we do?" Soon after, he updated us, saying, "There's a spider in the trap. The studio is safe."
Thank you to Oliver and Alexandra for setting up our plates and placemats today!
It was chilly this morning during Backwards Day but the children had fun playing superheroes, soccer, digging, building and playing the YES/NO game together as a class. In the YES/NO game, the players gather in the middle. One side is designated for yes answers and the opposite side for no answers. After hearing the question, the children race to their answer side. Here are some of the questions asked during the game:
Do you like broccoli?
Do you have a big brother?
Do you like the beach? (everyone said yes!)
Do you like pineapple pizza? (a very evenly split response)
Did you walk to school today?
Back in class, the children continued working on the Fairy Village 2.0. Today's work was around Lane's idea of shade. The children used leaves and pine branches to add shade to the village. They also incorporated their shrinky dink fairies.
Lane: We should use this to hold the shade up.
Olivia: I might tie it.
Palmer: They'll get sunburned!
Lane: We need to get them some sunscreen!
Melanie: Do fairies like to be hidden? Do they like to be cozy at nighttime?
Grace: Yes! I have an idea. We have to run everywhere, we have to look look look for the fairies. Let's go look now!
Cannon: They don't want to be sunburned or lost.
Palmer: They want to be hidden to escape big people like us.
Other happenings are the room: Emilia and Evelyn worked as vets taking care of sick animals, lego building, tracing fairies on the light table, construction and puzzles.
FAIRY VILLAGE 2.0
With our clay fairy houses and new shrinky dink fairies, we were ready to make our second fairy village this morning. We used our fairy books as a resource to gather ideas. Nearby we had inspiring materials like pinecones, moss, rocks, and gems.
Emilia: Wooden pine cones. How do we find pine cones? We need this wood. Wood is the best! Stones are next. We need more than that! (We fetch small pebbles from the Tucker Closet)
Palmer: That's a lot of rocks!!
Emilia: We definitely need this rock because it's a wish rock. When a special day comes you get to wish on this rock, and it will come true, and if it t doesn't come true, then you just have to wait until another holiday.
Alexandra: I need the shrinky dink to live inside. (Tries to fit her fairy shrinky dink into her clay fairy house)
Maren: I put some water in the bathtub. (pours small pebbles into the clay bathtub Grace made)
Palmer: I'm making a fairy castle. That's the canons. (he places all the shrinky dink fairies onto a tall tower) They're queens and kings and knights.
Lane: (looking at fairy book) We should get shade. We need leaves... and sticks.
Emilia: Okay everyone let's get busy!
Some other great moments from our day:
Olivia turned 4!!! To celebrate Dan and Mandy came in to share some photos from the past year. They included photos from her 3rd birthday, Christmas, the Easter Egg roll at the White House, her cousin's first communion, a beach trip with the extended family, and Halloween.
Olivia opened her birthday gift made by Palmer, Evelyn, Maren and Emilia.
Olivia walked 4 times around the candle, blew it out and then we sang Happy Birthday.
HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY OLIVIA!!!
Thank you to Danica, Less Bieligk, and Lizanne for coming to help chop veggies!!!
Quick Note: We were going to have a visit from a team of DC paramedics and/or firefighters today. Unfortunately, they were not able to come because of a higher volume of emergencies elsewhere in the city. Is there anyone who could get us in touch with a an experienced paramedic or firefighter? Even if they are retired or in a new line of work. Thank you.
Olivia's birthday committee!
New Studio Provocations...
In the Reggio Emilia approach, we use the word "provocations" to describe an experience that will provoke children's creativity and thinking, usually through a variety of exciting materials.
One example is a new area for building with cardboard, tape, paper strips, and other diverse 3D objects. With open-ended prompts like this, we hope to allow children to engage with the available tools in whatever way suits their ideas. For instance, Lane made a small umbrella, while Cannon and Ellie focused more on attaching materials to the corrugated cardboard. Ellie has gotten very good at snipping the tape with scissors, so she gave some pieces to her neighbor Lane when needed.
Next up, there's a new provocation where children work within small windows and doors.
At another studio table, there's a provocation where children collage with magazine cutouts. (P.S. We could use parent assistance cutting out images that provoke creativity!) Our plan going forward will be to paint around the images.
As teachers, we have been working towards diversifying the opportunities available in the studio so that no child feels bored or aimless at school. We also want to catch the interest of some children who typically avoid the studio, so that every child gets a well-rounded experience at school.
Now that we've covered how much we value the studio, let's address...
Construction: Why is it important to build in preschool?
Building with blocks and construction materials is an essential part of a child's experience at St. John's. We see the construction area as a place which is incredibly rich with learning possibilities. While a child is building with blocks, the following developmental skills and concepts are being strengthened:
Fletcher: It's a visitor, and it's grandma.
Palmer: Baby Ena's inside.
Oliver: (as he builds the walls up) We need that so none of the furniture can collapse.
Fletcher: The visitor's gonna go inside the house now.
Palmer: Yeah, come in. But she has to climb the staircase. (He searches the furniture basket, retrieves items, and puts some back). We don't need a stool.
Oliver: We do!
Palmer: Where should it go?
Oliver: It should go... right here. (points. Palmer agrees)
Fletcher: I think I found one more lantern.
Palmer: One lamp downstairs... Two on top? (He waits for Oliver's response, then places them close together on the second floor)
Fletcher: The house is done!! That took a lot of building... and build and build and build. We're gonna leave it here for a little bit and then we're gonna knock it down on Friday. We can do that. Is that a deal? (He smiles, touches teacher's cheek happily)
Palmer: What about we should cover the roof here. After I cover this - no, no.
(Fletcher keeps trying to add pink rug but the roof is not done yet. He understands what Palmer is doing and waits excitedly nearby.)
Oliver: (As he is building the roof with Palmer) Two more.
(Fletcher dances and sings with happiness as the roof is completed, and finally tops it off with the pink rug)
Palmer: It's Baby Ena's. It's the giraffe. She's in there, you can't reach into her.
Lane: (Observing their work) She's in the shade.
Palmer: Now let's make a antenna.
Today, we were thrilled to welcome Art Kahn, a fairy house expert. Art enjoys creating fairy houses outside his home near 14th & R. He very generously donated his time and some materials to help the Rainey Room children create fairy houses in glass jars. If you'd like to see more of Art's work, you can follow him on Instagram: @fairygardenonr.
Here are some excerpts from our conversation and question/answer session with Art:
Grace: Are they (fairies) fake or real?
Alexandra: Are they real?
Art: I don't really know. I've been trying to answer that question for many years. All I really know is that it's hard to know if they're real because no one ever sees them because they are so tiny.
Grace: I've seen one!
Art: You've seen one? Wow, because no one else in here has seen one.
Art: Fairies change size. They can fly. Some of them come out at night. Garden fairies dance in the garden at night. What else do you know about fairies?
Evelyn: They use magic.
Art: What is magic?
Grace: Fairy dust.
Emilia: Fairies use fairy dust to make the flowers bloom.
Art: Sometimes they make themselves change into a flower if they want to hide. Which makes it really hard to find them.
Art: Where do fairies live?
Grace: Under dirt.
Oliver: In the fairy house.
Palmer: Why do fairies need mushrooms?
Art: Fairies love mushrooms just because they are so pretty. They're in nature and fairies love everything about nature.
Art: There's lots of different kinds of fairies. Fairies that live in the ground, fairies that live in houses, some live in trees. My fairy garden has a whole bunch of fairies living in trees. I've never seen them but I know they're there because I see things change at night. And there's a door that's a magic door. I think there's a thousand fairies that live in my tree.
Brooke: That reminds me of when we left the jam out for the fairies. Where did the jam go?
Palmer: In the fairies' tummies.
Art: I heard that if fairies eat too much jam or tasty stuff they lose their wings and can't fly for a long time - like a few days. They get sick and lose their magic powers.
Our fairy houses: photographed looking toward the front door (hover on image to know its creator).
And we had a Mystery Reader!!!! Thanks Sarah!