Up to the Bell Tower - going all the way to the top
Dress like a rat day
Field Trip to Key Bridge - All together!
We have the most wonderfully cohesive, loving group of children. They know each other so well, and have truly embraced the process of birthday committees. Just before our FaceTime interview with Lucia, her friends shared a few ideas and things that they already knew about her:
"Lucia likes kitties and pink." - Audrey, 5.2 years
"Maybe she likes dolphins because that's her symbol." - Nora, 5.8 years
"First things first, what are we going not make her?" - Sylvie, 5.4 years
"What do you like? What's your favorite color?" - Nora
"Pink, purple, brown, and blue." - Lucia, 5.0 years
"What's your favorite animal?" - Nora
"Unicorn and kitties." - Lucia
"Bingo!" - Nora
What's your favorite kind of white paper?
"A white piece of paper." - Lucia
"What's your favorite thing in the classroom?" - Nora
"Cozy corner because there's lots of books and puzzles." - Lucia
What's your favorite material?
"Stickers." - Lucia
"What's your favorite classroom?" - Sylvie
"Outdoor." - Lucia
What is your favorite thing in the outdoor classroom?
"The slide and bouncy balls." - Lucia
"Do you like clay?" - Audrey
"Yes." - Lucia
"Do you like transparency paper?" - Nora
"Yes." - Lucia
"Do you like hanging things?" - Nora
"Yes!" - Lucia
Brainstorming and creating a plan
"I think we should make a mobile!" - Sylvie, 5.4 years
Sylvie, Audrey, and Nora each took time to draw their thoughts and ideas. In the end, they all agreed on Sylvie's plan for a mobile that included some of Lucia's favorite things. Sylvie asked to add color later on, so that she could "add more detail".
Executing the plan
The committee had such a solid plan, that it only took us one meeting to make it ALL happen! They designed and shaped clay pieces, made hand-sewn books, and collaged on transparency paper with loose puzzle pieces. Later, the girls decided that the confetti should be created using the "confetti string" that we found in Tucker Closet!
Truly, the longest part of our process was waiting for the clay to dry and be fired! They were SO excited to see it out of the kiln!
"My favorite color is pink-purple, and I love cheetahs. And my favorite shape is a square." - Violet, 5.0 years
"I thought you would say Kitty." - Lucia, 4.11 years
"Cheetahs are kitties, just big." - Jack, 5.10 years
"My favorite kind of paper is a pink piece of paper and flat." - Violet
[conversation about the nearby tree ensues]
"My favorite tree is a persimmon tree." - Violet
"I thought you would say cherry blossom." - Jack
"That's my favorite too. I like to plant flowers and plant trees." - Violet
"What's your favorite kind of flower?" - Elle
"Roses." - Violet
"Do you like to sew?" - Jack
"Yeah, I like to sew." - Violet
"What's your favorite kind of wire?" - Elle, 5.4 years
"Gray wire." - Violet
"What's your favorite snuggle friend?" - Lucia
"Two kitties." - Violet
"My favorite kind of book is Lucia's books. She gave them to me for my birthday." - Violet
"I want a flower." - Violet
When Violet stepped away, with the promise that she wouldn't "peek", the children immediately began brainstorming how to use Violet's answers to create the perfect gift just for her.
"Oh, I know! We can make a garden!" - Elle, 5.4 years
Elle's suggestion was met with a lot of enthusiasm:
"Are you all up to the challenge?" - Elyse
"I'M UP!" - ALL
As we sat down to brainstorm what Violet's paper garden might look like, the children began to imagine the kind of flowers they might create or where the trees might be found. Sitting down to draw is always a great way to share ideas with each other, begin to visualize their thoughts, and they inform our 3D work.
Techniques we know
Throughout their time at St. John's, and in life, the children build a repertoire of skills, materials knowledge, languages, and shared ideas. When the committee gathered to think about a garden, they instantly began to employ knowledge and techniques for paper that we have previously learned and used.
For both Janie's birthday gift, and our stop-motion "Rat world", they've referenced an artifact left behind from a previous Tucker Class who also made paper grass [as seen in the left hand photo]. By looking at this former Tucker Room work, we discovered that there are many ways to represent grass by curling paper, cutting it, bending it, and even using wire.
They measured out the size of the rectangle that they would need so that it would cover the whole cardboard base that would support the garden. They counted inches and centimeters, and Elle decided that she liked centimeters best because "they are smaller".
The whole committee back together again!
The children were thoughtful about the arrangement that they were creating in the garden. They were careful not to "block things" and they wanted to spread out the flowers so that the whoooole garden would have some.
With all of their thoughtful additions, the garden was complete.
Violet's family came to celebrate today! For snack we had cake pops and some special "unicorn lemonade" (Butterfly pea powder tea mixed with lemonade). When the lemonade mixes with the blue tea, it turns pink! Very magical!
After snack, Violet's mom and dad joined us to shared a beautiful photo book of Violet's 5 years! They also shared a book that has ALL of our symbols in it! How fun and special!
Giving the gift
Around the sun!
Happy birthday Violet! We love you very much!
A very happy birthday to Audrey! Sarah and Dan shared three years of video memories and a well-loved book. This was followed by presenting Audrey with her special birthday gift, thoughtfully created by many children who participated in the making of it. Lochie, Nora, and Reed were primarily behind the idea of a creating a "tablet" as Nora put it, which if we know Audrey, we know that the digital language comes naturally to her. So the gift idea of making her an iPad/laptop/tablet just made sense. Inspired by a sparkly blue box, Nora proposed the idea, Lochie supported it, and Reed added to it by suggesting the accordion folded paper for the keys on the keyboard.
"You could draw pics of kitties for me. One each of the color go the rainbow and don't forget indigo; indigo is a dark purple. ... Each of you will do one or two or three colors of the rainbow. One or tow or three, even Melanie has to do now." -Audrey
"A cherry blossom tree, that's what I can do." -Reed ... "I made a green kitty floating in the sky." -Lochie
Instead of adding all 26 letters plus symbols for a complete and accurate keyboard, we created a message that symbolized the gift in a sentiment which reads: " Cats love Audrey, Happy Birthday." Below that is a space bar of cats. The rest of the gift was remains equally, or more so, interactive with replaceable backgrounds and moveable cats for Audrey to pretend Google search her "rainbow cats."
Twelve monochromatic cats was a lot of cats so more people, friends, were recruited to draw cats giving Audrey a plethora of cats to play with on her analog iPad. Thank you to all who contributed. We love you Audrey!
A Turn in the Tunnel
As we were wrapping up the work on our clay rat tunnels, Giacomo suggested that we needed "a real turn" in the tunnel. After studying the clay slabs he had rolled out and cut, he shared that he did not know how it would work; how would the clay roll and twist into a turn (curved piece). After a few attempts, we collected the curved pipe from the white area. Giacomo initially added that to the tunnels and proclaimed it to be finished! Not so fast though, it needed to be made out of clay in order to complete our clay tunnels, which will remain here at St. John's! At this point, I reminded him of our new paper armature technique, and this created a spark within him. He was enthusiastic and immediately set to work.
Clay Messages for the new children
"I love to draw." - CC, 5.7 years
Today, at the beginning of morning meeting, Melanie read a book called Ish by Peter Reynolds. It's about a boy who loves to draw and gets frustrated with his work. The children began having a conversation about how they love to draw, and what they love to draw. The first answer we heard when we asked, "What do you love to draw?" was, not surprisingly, "RATS!" This comment sparked a conversation about what kind of rats they love to draw.
1. Unicorn Rats
2. Mermaid Rats
3. Banana Rats (revisiting Janie's idea from February)
4. Cherry, Kiwi, and Watermelon rats
5. Mermaid Unicorn Rats
Naturally, we shifted our plans for the morning and invited the children to the low table to draw these ideas!
Below you will see some of the things we just discussed with you at classroom stories: the imaginative/mythological nature of the rats, drafts of their drawings, versions of rats (particularly on the same page), and the contamination of ideas!
"Airplane Rats" by Giacomo, 5.5 years
CC and Audrey were sitting next to each other at the low table. You can see the contamination of ideas and even similar drawing styles. They also seemed to draw from our previous work and conversations by adding the stars and constellations.
Below, you can see Elle's drafts for her Mermaid Rat
"The Mermaid- Rat with the rainbow paws." - Elle, 5.5 years
Collaborating with Brown Room
Brown Room has been making plaster collage messages for the new, incoming children. Today, a few of the Tucker Room children were invited into the atelier to learn the process from the Brown Room who have become experts.
Update on the messages for the new children
"I think they will like St. John's. They won't want to leave because I don't want to leave." - Lochie, 5.6 years
An update from next door
"There's an excavator!" - Sylvie, 5.3 years
The children were eager for an update on Monday morning, and concerned that the landscapers weren't there right away. They did eventually come, and they brought a mini excavator with them! The excitement was HIGH! When the Rainey Room came outside, we were still watching the work, so they decided to join us! It really can be the little things in life that bring us great joy!
A new way to climb the tree
Sing-along and Happy Birthday to George!
Happy Birthday to our sweet George!
Our birthday committees have been so beautiful and lengthy this year! We appreciate everyone's patience as we take the time to give thought and time to these gifts. We will certainly be celebrating everyone before the end of the year!
We're headed towards Classroom Stories night, and we cannot wait to see you all! Thursday night, May 5th, we'll be sharing so much of the children's work!
Tucker Room has been a busy, buzzing space this week! We've discovered a mommy robin in our climbing tree outside, landscapers in our neighbors yard, making messages for the incoming children for next year, building our stop-motion setting, making birthday messages for Brigitte, discussing our characters for the rat story, imagining (through the language of clay) what is happening underneath the rat holes, and visiting the newly green Gingko trees!
"They're speaking another language! When they speak to each other, it's another language. When they speak to us, it's our language." - CC, 5.6 years
"What's your name? What are you doing?" - Giacomo, 5.4 years
We're putting a new grill here and some landscaping here. - Kevin, our new friend
"They are speaking Spanish." - CC, 5.6 years [after we asked them about which languages they know how to speak]
Getting to know the incoming children
"We could write messages in clay." - Sylvie, 5.2 years
We've started thinking about our incoming Brown, Rainey, and Tucker friends. We'll post more information about this soon! Based on Sylvie's idea, the children rolled slabs, and we are using a variety of techniques to create beautiful clay messages. Here is a sneak peek!
Who are our characters?
Please take a minute (or a few because they love the rats) to chat with them about the characters of our Rat Story. We are curious to hear what they are saying at home. Who are these rats? What are their names? Where do they live? Are they named after someone or something, or does their name come from a characteristic of their body? This is based on a specific discussion we had with the children on Thursday! Please feel free to send us an email with any insight that you may gather at home, and thank you in advance for collaborating with us on this!
Imagining our underground world
There will be so much more to come on this, and of course, it'll be in Classroom Stories!
""We need turns so that the rats don't get stuck at the bottom." - Giacomo, 5.4 years
Our beloved Gingko Trees!
"Gingko!" - Giacomo, 5.4 years
It's Friday! We made it!
We love that no matter "how big" they get, they still love to sit in our laps, get and give amazing hugs, and snuggle with us! Our Tucker Room family is so loving, and we love them more than they know!
Classroom Stories Night
We cannot wait to see you all next Thursday, May 5th for Classroom Stories Night. Sharing this work is going to be meaningful and exciting. All of our Tucker Room children are invested in "The Rat Problem", and we know that they'll be excited for you to know more about it!
What is classroom stories night?
"When all the parents come. I think my parents will be freaked out." - Nora, 5.7 years
What should we tell them?
"How we're going to solve the rat problem, and about our 'character, plot, setting'." - Nora, 5.7 years
Tree Climbing Turns to Bird Watching with Rainey Room
Reed makes a cake!
"Then we serve ourselves and then take, then say the maximum. You can get lower than the maximum or the maximum, and you pass the bowl around so each person can get as much as they want. So they can go up to the maximum." -Lochie
"And if one of teachers says like you can get three apples, and you don't want apples then you just pass it to another person. Or another person wants two apples..." -Reed
Rat Dental Office Calls for Knowing More About Rat Teeth
"Gnawing, that means chewing. They use their incisors for gnawing, and gnawing helps them get out of their holes or something in the way of their holes." -Lochie
We brought out some of the collected animal bones we have here at St. Johns to provide a tangible experience for which to compare to our photographs of rat teeth and their overall dentition. Some rat teeth facts: They have sixteen teeth. Four front incisors. The bottom incisors are usually double the length of the top two incisors. The remaining twelve teeth are molars, (also called "cheek teeth"). The word rodent stems from the latin word rodere meaning to gnaw. Healthy rat teeth are yellow unlike the case for human teeth!
Thank You Messages to Our Guest Storyteller
There are so many different ways to tell a story. Books and film are probably the most popular these days, but oral storytelling is a tradition as old as time. It requires a different type of engagement for the children because there are not any illustrations to look at, and you must employ your imagination in new ways.
Last week, we shared with the children that a special storyteller would be coming today to tell a story about a rat that he knows; yes, he really knows the rat! With some hints (e.g. his last name is Crown), I eventually told them that he is my father-in-law (or according to them, my grandfather).
Today we welcomed my father-in-law, Steve Crown, into the Tucker Room to tell the story of "Rocks the Rat". My husband, Nick, also came to support the storytelling. Rocks is a character from a long series of stories that he used to tell my husband and siblings when they were young. Rocks was initially played a supporting role in these stories, but quickly became the star. There are stories of Rocks running the London marathon, meeting his girlfriend (Rhonda) at the Yale golf course, drinking soda at a pizza parlor, and more. Today we heard about Rocks and his love for soccer, watching tv while the humans sleep, sneaking into Nick's backpack to go to school, and how Rocks learned to speak English.
The rat’s name is Rocks. We live out in Seattle. Rocks lived near our house. I didn’t know anything about rats until I met Rocks. Rocks was really good at sneaking into little holes, little crevices, little cracks and things. He managed to get into our house. I didn’t see him, but he was in the corner watching me watch tv. He saw the remote control, and he taught himself how to use the remote control. When we were all asleep; I’d already put him to bed. Rocks was downstairs in the tv room watching television. You know what he watched? Soccer! Rocks watched soccer, and he’d never seen that before. He decided that he was going to teach his friends, the other rats, how to play soccer. Once he taught them how to kick something around, he decided that he needed something to kick around. He came to get our soccer ball, but it turns out that Rocks is only about this tall [gestures], and the soccer ball is that tall. Rocks is clever. One of the things he decided was that they couldn’t play with real soccer balls, they needed rat sized balls. There weren’t any balls quite right for them. Maybe you know that rats like to eat anything, but Rocks liked to eat chocolate. - Steve
“Why didn’t they just kick an acorn around?” - Reed, 5.1 years
“They also eat through wood and bricks.” - Elle, 5.3 years
“And trash.” - Reed
Rocks liked pepperoni pizza. That was one of his favorites. - Steve
These are the rocks they ended up using. [passes them around] If you look, they aren’t perfectly round. - Steve
“I know what they are! They’re m&ms!” - Lochie, 5.6 years
They really are, but he didn’t know that. He couldn’t read. When he found some of those, he thought they were rat sized soccer balls. They were really hard to kick.
“Is this a true story?” - Reed
It’s a story I know about Rocks. Rocks told me it happened. I didn’t actually see it, so I have to believe Rocks. - Steve
In soccer you can’t use your arms, and that’s really hard to do. He doesn’t have arms, just four legs. They decided to use all four legs. They didn’t have nets, so they used chalk to to draw it. They had to kick the m&ms, because they are really m&ms, from one side to the other. They developed a tournament, and Rocks always wanted to win; sometimes he would even cheat. He made soccer shorts for his team. He had a secret plan that when his team was down two goals to nothing, and only two minutes to go…he called his team back to the goal. When he said, “now”, all of the little rats on his team pulled m&ms out of their pockets and put them on the ground to kick all of the balls into the goal. The only rules had been not using hands, but only heads and feet. Rocks reminded them that there wasn’t a rule about not having extra balls. So, Rocks crowned himself king of the soccer tournament. - Steve
“The king of soccer?” - Reed
“But how did Rocks talk? ‘Cause it talks in rat language.” - Reed, 5.1 years
As it turns out, he’s a really smart rat. - Steve
“Did he speak sign language?” - Elle, 5.3 years
He spoke English. He learned English. - Steve
“How did he learn English?” - Lochie, 5.6 years
I”m not sure, but I think it was from watching tv because he used to sneak in every night and watch so much tv. - Steve
“But how did he reach the doorknob?” - Reed, 5.1 years
He snuck in through a hole. There was a hole in the garage; a crack between the garage and house. He snuck in that way, and didn’t have to use a door knob. - Steve
“He can reach the door knob because rats can jump this high.” - Nora, 5.6 years
Rats can jump high, swim, and hold his breath under water. Rats are really amazing. - Steve
Do you know how else Rocks learned English? He would get in my backpack and come to school with me. When I would open my lunch box to eat, it would be gone because Rocks was in there and he ate all of my lunch while we were learning English. He would just snack on my lunch and learn English. - Nick
See, I didn’t know how he learned English. I thought it was tv, but it was because he was going to school. Rocks, like most rats, likes to sneak into things. I used to travel all over Europe, and Rocks would sneak onto the airplanes with me. I’d always have a bag packed, and I’d check to make sure there was no rat in my bag when I got on, but when I opened my bag, Rocks would stick his head out and say, “Hey! Where we going this time?” - Steve
They were eager to ask questions and share what they know about rats!
“We went to a library, and we already funded out that they can jump high, and really good climbers, and could swim.” - Lochie, 5.6 years
“Maybe they can climb the stairs.” - Reed, 5.1 years
“We also didn’t figure out if rats like rainbows.” - Nora, 5.6 years
“Do you think rats can swing on a trapeze?” - Sylvie, 5.3 years
I bet they can because they can grip on things very well. - Steve
“On the playground we find rat slobber.” - Nora, 5.6 years
“That’s rat spit.” - Janie, 5.2 years
You guys know a lot about rats. - Steve
Where is Rocks? - Multiple children
I don’t know. I guess he’s in Seattle because I didn’t see him in my pack when I opened it yesterday. I think he must be in Seattle. I can’t be sure. Maybe he’s at my hotel. - Steve
“Or maybe in your backpack again!” - Sylvie, 5.3 years
“What if he sneaked today with you to school?” - Reed, 5.1 years
He might be in my pocket. Rocks might have come with us, but jumped off to find the local rats. He likes to make friends with rats. - Steve
Could he be with our rats? - Elyse
“We have lots of rats in the playground.” - Lochie, 5.6 years
“How big were they?” - Giacomo, 5.3 years
He was about this big. Rocks wasn’t too big, but rats can get really big. - Steve
“Did he get as huge as a house?” - Sylvie, 5.3 years
No. Not that big.
“How long ago was this story?” - CC, 5.5 years
The soccer story was probably 20 years ago.
We've been epxloring different ways to illustrate stories - drawing, watercolors, pencil, collage, colored pencil (layered), ink, etc. After our storyteller(s) left, we asked the children to illustrate "Rocks".
"This is Rocks. He's sitting on his throne because he is the king of soccer, and there's a rainbow above him. These are pizza in outer space because he threw them up in the air. These are the rats playing soccer [right hand side]. [pizza at the bottom] They're real pizza, and then he eated them." - Reed, 5.1 years
"He's laying down watching the stars with his soccer balls made of M&Ms." - Audrey, 5.1 years
Other work from today
Sharing Company, Holding Space, and Participating through Dialogue
Reviewing Our Morning Meeting: What are Our Morning Meeting Instructions?
Together at Chapel