"... because it's like mud!"
We continue to incorporate birthday discussions daily in the Brown Room. Our goal is to have every child participate in the planning, process, creation, and celebration of our classroom birthday's over the course of the fall season as we continue to celebrate.
Each child's birthday gift, although focused on a message in a specific color to represent each child, will be slightly different in the way it is constructed. The process of how the birthday committees create each gift coincides with our current interests and materials being explored in our classroom. Finlay's birthday message was a blue message made of collage materials because as a whole, our class was currently exploring glue and collage.
Both Michael and Remy's messages will be made using different types of printing with objects in paint as we have spent this week learning block printing skills to personalize our cubby bags. Since many of our children have recently expressed interest in collecting natural materials in our outdoor classroom for further investigation, we decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to use items collected for printing and mark making on Remy's upcoming birthday message. She was very much so involved in the planning process today! We are so excited to begin using these natural materials in our printing process.
"It says happy birthday."
The topic of birthdays continued during some dramatic play between Remy and Jade today. They were celebrating Auz's birthday! Auz is Jades monkey from home and he frequently visits our classroom so we all have become very familiar with him.
Remy: It's done. It says Happy Birthday. (Remy creates a birthday message for Auz the monkey)
Jade: He's five. We need to send a present in the mailbox!
Remy: Sandwiches, cake, muffins. (Remy adds drawings onto the message to represent the food)
Jade agreed that Auz would absolutely love to receive sandwiches, cake, and muffins for his birthday.
Our Wednesday, Thursday, Friday pod visits the school Post Office.
And even begins to create their own messages in response to those that they received today!
What is the post office?
Have you found messages in your child's cubby bag before? The Brown Room is busy creating lots of beautiful messages these days. Sometimes they are for a friend at school and stay in the friend's mailbox and sometimes they are for mommy and daddy and they go home in cubby bags. Check your child's cubby bag after school and you might find some mail. Thank you to all the family members and family friends that are sending in mail for our Brown Room children! They are always beyond excited to see mail in their mailboxes and to share cards, pretty stamps and envelopes they have received with friends. Maybe we will receive another feathery hello from George, the peacock... :)
We are diving deeper into the idea and concept of messages and exploring the post office at school and want to share a few thoughts about it with you:
Hugh taped a smaller piece of paper to an envelope and 'wrote' on it.
This is my notebook. This is where I write stuff. - Hugh
As a continuation of our paint explorations we used paint and different objects to personalize our cubby bags.
On both days small groups of children transferred the content of their cubby bags to plastic bags (if you were wondering why your child brought home a grocery bag, this is why) and explored the process of block printing. Even though similar materials were offered on both days, we noticed differences in processes. The first group on Monday (Hugh, Daniel, Jade, Bea and Lily) decided that every 3D shape or item belongs to one particular color and has to get washed in the sink in-between colors and after you are done using it. The group today (Remy, Cate, and Finlay) chose a different approach. After an object got used it stayed in that paint and was left there for the next person to use. In the very end Finlay decided to mix colors and use "All of them" by dipping the same object in each of the colors before stamping onto his bag.
There are three blue - Daniel
We will celebrate Michael's birthday this weekend. Last week Hugh was already eager to find out his favorite color. Looking at a color wheel they discussed different colors and while Hugh mentioned that he would choose red and blue, Michael let us know that his favorite color is also blue!
We remembered how we personalized our cubby bags. Lily found purple cellophane paper next to the light table and said "We can try this. It looks like blue-ish purple. Can we make a stamp with this?". Daniel responded by "I see something. Bricks." So we looked around the classroom for items we could use as stamps to create Michael's birthday present. Lily was very interested in round items, while Daniel explored long chains or necklaces. Jade found a blue heart made out of glass we had also used for Finlay's celebration and Bea found a wavy blue vase. We collected a big basket filled with all kinds of interesting items. On Thursday the second committee group will then continue the process. We are already very excited to see how they will use and respond to the items the first group of children had picked out for them.
What an exciting Friday!
Wow! Let's start with a summary of our extra special fun Friday.
We started our backwards day with a sing along this morning. We stayed in Blake Hall after arrival and projected the sing along onto the large shadow screen. This was so exciting! Before sing along started, we even had time to do some dancing, singing, and instrument playing of our own around the shadow screen to some really fun music by Laurie Berkner. Have you heard of her? She's great and her songs are so fun!
After sing along, we were able to start our day outside because Friday's are our backwards days. Guess what we discovered in the outdoor classroom today? The sink is not just for washing toys, but can also be really useful when we want to add water to our sandbox! This morning, in the middle of playing in the sandbox, Daniel said, "I need agua." He then carried a bucket over to the sink and began to fill it. So clever! After modeling this method, many other children became interested in collecting water as well. So, if you noticed your child changed clothes today or had a pair of shoes sent home soaking wet, now you know why! As a class, we are also continuing to emphasize the importance of caring for our environment, materials, and cleaning up after ourselves. We take pride in washing our own toys in the outdoor sink when our play time is over. Because we're working so hard, we tend not to notice that we are getting our clothes VERY wet while washing. Oh well! That's what extra clothes and shoes are for, right? Thank you to our families for understanding.
When it was time to come inside, we knew that we would be gathering to celebrate our friend Finlay's birthday. We have been working so hard all week discussing birthdays, how we will celebrate them throughout our school year, preparing a birthday gift for our friend, and practicing so much patience as we waited for Friday to finally arrive. Finlay decided that he would share a favorite snack of his with us today - Trail Mix! Children were able to mix up their own personal mix with ingredients that Finlay brought to share with us. This included popcorn, frosted mini wheats, m&m's, and goldfish. Yum! After we finished our snack, we transitioned into the classroom to prepare for our very first Brown Room birthday celebration. Finlay requested that we sing Happy Birthday to start and then we also learned a new birthday song that Ines taught us how to sing. Finlay's mom, Camille, joined us for the celebration and was able to help us sing birthday songs for Finlay.
Here at St. John's, there is a tradition of circling a candle while we count your age and the birthday child gets to extinguish it. The engagement of each child and the participation of the collective group was so beautiful to witness as our class is learning these traditions for the very first time. Finally, children presented their gift to Finlay. As you have seen from previous blog posts this week, our class has decided that each child will receive a birthday "message" in a box on their celebration day. The message is created and decorated with materials that are chosen based on the favorite color of the birthday child. Finlay seemed beyond pleased with his special gift and there was definitely a sense of pride emitting from the children who put so much effort and intention into creating the gift for their friend Finlay. What a wonderful first birthday celebration experience for us all!
FYI - typically on the last Friday of each month, the staff at St. John's have the responsibility of doing some housekeeping around our school. Because we will be busy on these days cleaning and caring for our space, we will not be creating a blog post. That being said, today was much too special not to share and recap for all of our families.
Please enjoy the following photos from our day. We hope you can see the joy in all of your children. Today was so special!
Sing-Along in Blake Hall
+ Laurie Berkner songs we learned which included "we are the dinosaurs", "I know a chicken", and "the goldfish song".
Working with water in the Outdoor Classroom
Celebrating our friend, Finlay
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
I'm having a birthday in there. - Finlay
In order to find out when our birthday is we can look at the birthday calendar in our classroom! The children found their picture and made connections to the color on their "birthday box" on top. "Where is me? There is me! I'm having a birthday. Red." (Daniel) "And so is Lucas' birthday. You and Lucas are born in the same month. You are the same color." (Sam). We named everyone who has a birthday in September. When Hugh heard that Ines' birthday is coming up he asked her "What color do you want?". Referring to Finlay's birthday present that was focused around his favorite color, blue.
After morning meeting the children chose between different activities. Hugh, Lily, Bea, and Lucas continued to work on Finlay's secret birthday message, while Cape, Wilder, Daniel, and Finlay created different cakes with loose parts.
There is so much blue that we found. - Hugh
The final birthday message.
Created by Remy, Wilder, Bea, Cate, Hugh, Lucas, and Lily.
When he was finished Hugh wrote his name on the collage - "I'm writing my name. So you know I made it". Lucas got his symbol from the message center and added it to the collage as well. That sparked Bea's interest and started a conversation about symbols. Lily and Finlay showed her their symbols and where she can find them. She was asking where her symbol is and we after looking at the symbols she can choose from, she decided to choose the spider as her symbol! "Because I like spiders. I like to look at them. And the webs." (Bea)
Congratulations on choosing your symbol, Bea!
Let's pretend it's a eating cake. - Cape
A birthday cake created out of loose parts. Conversations and collaboration:
Continuing Collage Work.
We welcomed a new friend to the Brown Room on Monday! Bea (Beatrice) joined us and had a fantastic first day. She remembered seeing Jade and Finlay before and was excited to sing our morning meeting song together with everyone else. Welcome Bea, we are so happy that you are part of the Brown Room!
And we started our first birthday committee for Finlay's birthday celebration on Friday. Hugh, Bea, Cate, Lily, and Finlay discussed how we can make Finlay's day very special.
After learning that Finlay's favorite color is blue we looked in the classroom for blue items which we could use to make him a present. We found markers, pencils, tape, paint, paper, a block from the light table, ink pads, and magna-tiles. We also used this opportunity to explore the Tucker Room closet for the first time. It is a magical place, let me tell you...
Lily: It's getting so full and heavy. Wow look at all this blue.
How is it already Friday? Wow, this week went by fast!
And Fridays are special days in the Brown Room. Because Fridays are Backwards days, which means our schedule changes and we get a long time in the outdoor classroom right after drop off. Usually our outside time is between 11:30am and 12:00pm but on Fridays we are outside from 9:00am-10:30am. The children noticed immediately that something was different and had lots of questions.
Do we not change shoes? (Lily) Are we going home then? (Finlay) Going outside? (Daniel)
That shows us that even though we are just finishing up with week two of school, the children are starting to remember our daily routines and question actions that are different from the usual. It was wonderful to start our morning outside and lots of great things were happening. Cape, Lucas and Wilder used shovels in the sandbox to create different things (dig holes, build towers, move sand). Hugh and Finlay were busy cooking for everyone.
Finlay: I'm making poison soup.
Molly: What happens if I eat the poison soup?
Finlay: No! It's for the bad guys.
Back in the classroom we continued to explore collage making. During this process we focused on how much glue to use for different items. The children experienced that some larger pieces need a bigger puddle of glue while smaller pieces only need a dab of glue. Depending on the amount you would like to get onto the paper you need to squeeze harder and/or longer. Michael enjoyed dotting the glue on to his paper and moving it around before adding a silk flower. He then flipped the board over and continued to work on the other side as well. Lucas started by selecting, grouping together and prearranging a small amount of different materials before moving on to arrange his favorite items, the film squares, around the cluster of smaller items. He was very focused and paid close attention to his individual placements. He also moved down his head to watch the glue come out of the bottle. Finlay, similar to yesterday, preferred to explore the materials on their own and only glued a few pieces to the board.
First Painting Experiences
A few children explored the medium paint for the first time at school today. Before we started we put on aprons to protect our clothes from paint and discussed that each jar/each color has its own brush. Everyone was very eager to pick their first color.
I need paint. I like pink. (Wilder) I want red. (Hugh) When are we gonna start? (Lily, while she was holding the brush about 2 inches away from her paper, looking at the paint brush)
The children chose their own colors and were free to switch paint colors at any time by replacing the jar/color they were using back on the tray before choosing and a different jar/color. In the beginning everyone announced whenever they switched colors.
Lily: I'm done with the color. I'm getting a different color. I think I will choose this. (pointing to the yellow paint jar)
Cape: Look at my painting. I want another color.
Lily: Did I already use this color? I think so.
They started to create a story together about a monster and its house. Lily was painting the monster while Hugh was painting the monster's house. (Hugh) "Guess what, the door is all the way down here. The ladder is going to be pink." Cape was painting at the table next to them and was very interested in the story and for some time he got a chair, placed it behind Lily and Hugh and listened. He then went back to his painting and said "I'm making a monster, too."
Hugh: My monster's grumpy.
Lily: What is your monster? (walking over to Cape's painting and looking at it)
Cape: My monster is good.
Hugh: (about his own painting) Wow! Do you see his eyes? (about Lily's painting) Hey! You're making a cute one. My monster's belly is green.
Lily: Mine is named Saria. His monster's name is house. That's a silly name. This is the mommy monster.
Hugh: Mine is the daddy.
Lily to Cape: Yours can be the grandma.
We want to share a short excerpt from Lily and Hugh's conversation towards the end. Lily is mentioning the different colors they create again and Hugh describes his monster's house more detailed and how he is painting.
Thank you everyone for a wonderful week and we are excited to welcome Sam back to the classroom next Tuesday.
Have an amazing weekend!
Today started with a question : Where is Sam? During drop off and our morning meeting the children noticed that she was not at school today and that we had a new teacher in the classroom.
Lily: Why did Sam not want to come to school today?
We missed having Sam but we are so thankful that Jennie was our wonderful substitute teachers today. Her son Palmer is in the Tucker Room with Jill and Brooke and some children already knew her.
Finlay: My mommy knows her name.
Sam will be out until Tuesday because she will get married this weekend. Yay! After learning about her plans to get married the children had lots of thoughts on what marriage is and who can get married.
Hugh: Wedding is many presents.
Cape: Big presents.
(In response to the question who can get married)
Daniel: And me.
Wilder: Wilder, too.
Hugh: I think Lily.
Lily: One day my mommy and daddy got married. My mommy and daddy all big. This is my picture. Look. Mommy and Daddy. (pointing at her family photo on the wall)
Hugh: Sometimes you miss someone.
Jennie: What is glue?
Finlay: It's this. It's sticky. It's in a bottle.
The materials first got introduced on their own and then in combination with glue. Finlay and Hugh both used materials to create a story or patterns. Hugh alternated between adding glue and materials to his board. Finlay decided to not use glue on his board but on a piece of paper next to it. When he flipped his board upside down he was surprised that everything fell off. Lily chose to create two different boards, one for mommy and one for daddy.
Lily: Since I know my dad likes these stuff, flowers, I'm using flowers. This is for daddy. Do you have a daddy?
Daniel and Cape added a larger amount of glue to their boards first before then adding materials to it. Squeezing the glue bottle was hard for Daniel and he kept saying that they are not working. Wilder experimented with mixing different types of glue (first liquid glue and then gliding the glue stick through it) and preferred adding paper.
We would like to share a few conversations that happened in the process.
Lily: Can I use the sparkles?
Hugh: These are blue ones.
Finlay: Can I use all of them?
Hugh: Can I feel the blue ones? Guess what I'm gonna do with them? I'm gonna build a fire truck hose.
Lily: Hugh, may I take some?
Hugh: Well, I don't think so. Just one.
Lily: They are squishy. (about small rubber headphone coves)
Finlay: What are these rocks for? And what are these? These are buttons. And what are these? These are white.
Lily: (counting blue gems) Now I have one, now I have two. (noticed Hugh using sequins) Hey, can I try that?
Hugh: I can't give you because it's out of glue. (he referred to the glue being out of the bottle and that it can'y be put back in for Lily.)
Daniel: This is hard! This one is hard, so I need to use some scissors. Wilder's using glue.
Cape: I'm using so many glue. Look at my collage! My collage is good.
Daniel: What are these for? (pointing to the styrofoam pieces) Are they for ripping? (proceeding to rip them into smaller pieces)
Collaboration and Problem Solving Skills
It is very exciting to see more and more collaboration happening and the Brown Room. The children are still learning each others names and are now using them more frequently throughout the morning. Learning how to communicate needs and interests to other children is a big and important part of our day. Getting adjusted to a group setting takes time and continuous guidance. Currently we are working on ways to communicate interests (wanting to be on your own or to join someone else) and sharing ideas about the materials and process.
Multiple children worked on building, dissembling and rebuilding a tower out of magna-tiles.
Cape and Finlay started to build the first tower.
Cape: Is this how we do it?
Finlay: No, no, no. Put it here. See this is a box.
Cape: Good job, Wilder.
Ines: You are building together with Finlay. Did you mean Finlay?
Cape: Good job, Finlay.
Michael joins the group and at first knocks down the tower, after guidance they work together on rebuilding it.
Michael: How do you build?
Cape: He (referring to Finlay) is showing Michael how to do it.
Hugh joins the group and continues with Michael to build different towers. Lucas showed interest to add some different materials he had brought over from the light table.
Hugh: Yes. Put it here. In the roof. Up here.
The tower kept falling over. Hugh then added blocks to two sides of the tower.
Michael: It's gonna fall.
Hugh: No, it's not. because it's very tall. I'm saving it. I saved it.
Ines: How did you save it?
Hugh: I know. I have an idea.
Michael: We make a house.
Lily, Daniel and Wilder were working on building a long line with the wooden blocks.
Lily: Can I please help?
Daniel: Yes, of course.
Wilder: Can I please help?
Daniel: But I am helping her.
Jennie: Can more than one person help?
Today we want to end the blog by sharing a wonderful example of problem solving in the Brown Room:
Lily noticed that her larger block doesn't stay on top of the smaller ones.
Lily: Why is it falling down?
She then tried out different ways of adding and removing blocks in order for her larger block to cover the structure.
Lily: Now. It works.
Who has chosen a symbol?
Here are some conversations that occurred during mark making and symbol selection today -
Ines: I see you used these two a lot. The bird and the birthday cake.
Cape: These are the birdies.
Ines: Is that the symbol you would like to keep?
Cape: Yes. Because I like angry birdies. Fly up top. They fly up high. They fly down, they play in the sand, they eat the sand.
Ines: Which one are you using?
Ines: I see you made a lot of squares.
Michael: Haha. Yeah. I like square.
Ines: Which one do you want to sign it with? (speaking about Wilder's paper after he said he was finished and ready to choose a symbol)
Wilder: This one!
Ines: What is that one called?
Wilder: The hand.
Who is George?
While some children prepared for snack, others read some unopened messages in their mailboxes! We noticed that some children prefer to quietly look over their personal messages in their own space to themselves, and other children want all of their messages read out loud! One message in particular stood out to the rest of the group today. Wilder received a message from George. Who is George, we all wondered? Well, George is a peacock who Wilder knows from a family members farm! Cape made a connection to the name George and we had a discussion about how some people (and also animals) might share the same name. Do you know that there are two teachers at St. John's named Melanie? Now we know!
Wilder: I got a feather. Look. A peacock feather. A peacock! Another one!
Ines: Can I touch it? Oh it's so soft.
Cape: Can I please touch it?
Wilder: That's from George. (spoken before Ines read the letter aloud)
Ines: How do you know it's from George?
Wilder: Because of the feather. There is a spot.
Cape: George came to paint our house.
Wilder: George came to paint his house?
Cape: Yes, the roof.
After reading the letter, from George the peacock, we came to the realization that Wilder and Cape were referring to two different Georges!
Accepting new challenges; A display of self-confidence.
Half way through our second week, we have noticed such progress in the Brown Room as a collective class group. Children are gaining a better understanding of the daily routine, communicating more effectively with both teachers and peers, and accepting new challenges with a greater sense of self-confidence.
* Reminder - Sam will be away from school Thursday, Friday, and Monday.
Our first time leading the all school sing along!
In preparation for today, we spent time using instruments and singing our selected songs yesterday during our morning meeting. Our song choices were "The More We Get Together, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", "You Are My Sunshine", and "Two Little Blackbirds". Maybe you'll hear some of these being sung at home now that we have had some practice both learning and singing them.
"Oooh, that look good." - Finlay
The majority of us have chosen our personal symbols and have begun to recognize their use in different areas of our school environment. We have also started to identify our peers by their chosen symbols. When speaking about symbols yesterday, Hugh said, "Mine is a present. Forever!"
The children are now showing a sense of ownership over their chosen symbol and are becoming more interested in using them for identification purposes.
This sense of identity connected to our symbols as well as great enthusiasm surrounding receiving and giving messages both to and from our families when utilizing our school post office proved that this week we needed to take a deeper look into message making. What does it mean to make a message for another person? How do we go about creating these messages? What materials can we use?
When asking the children to share about the messages they were making -
Hugh: I'm making one for all my family.
Jade: For Mama.
Finlay: I'm making a map. This is a house. Another house. I'm making a house for Halloween. Look at all these houses!
Daniel: I'm making a dinosaur.
In the Brown Room we prefer to introduce materials slowly and embrace the process of learning how to best use new materials to our skill and comfort level. The quantity and variety of materials may be introduced slowly, but opportunities to use these are encouraged consistently and frequently.
We learn how to work with these "new" materials through exposure, trial and error, problem solving, and using lots of critical thinking skills. Once a child becomes familiar with using a tool or material, then the ways in which they may be used for self-expression is endless!