Yesterday, we offered a construction provocation involving light and color. Louise created a blue ocean, and others added to her beach scene, making elaborate structures and combining the materials in novel ways.
Today, we were without internet service, so we continued the provocation with an overhead projector instead of the video of alternating colors that was looping in the background yesterday. After some initial interest, the construction area went largely unused until one of the teachers placed a plastic bug on the projector bed and one of the children added more bugs.
A few children noticed the giant bug projections and were thrilled by them.
Eventually, this turned into a game in which one child manipulated the shadow bug while the others chased it. The first person to touch the bug got to manipulate the projector. This game picked up momentum (and players) until the end of class. It was fascinating to see the children see the children respond to these provocations and take the action in different, equally creative directions. It conveyed a lot about their interests and about different group dynamics. It also reminded us that the absence of technology often creates opportunities for creativity and imagination.
Rowan: We’re feeling all our feelings today!
Some days just have more feelings to them, and today was one of those days. There is always joy, silliness, excitement and love, but we also saw frustration, sadness and at times anger. The more we talk about these feelings, the better equipped we are to process them. It’s helpful to practice our calming techniques before we get overwhelmed so our tools are familiar when we need them. At meeting we asked the children:
What are some things we can do to calm down when we feel angry?
Elle: I do volcano breath.
Jack: When I’m too mad, and my dad says to do volcano breath, I say ‘No!’ There’s another way to calm down when I am angry. I punch a pillow.
Rowan: ...Or kick a pillow.
Sam: I have a big stuffed animal turtle and it calms me down.
Lou Lou: You can go really far under your covers and turn on a flash light.
Joslin: I tiptoe to my mommy’s bedroom. Sometimes, when you feel scared, you may want some company.
Louise: You can put on pajamas and feel cozy!
When we asked the children about when they felt angry, they also shared experiences of when they felt sad and scared. Later, we read called “I’m Not Scared” by Jonathan Allen. A little owl emotions quickly change from being scared to becoming angry. We talked about how quickly our feelings can change, and that feeling angry usually comes after a different feeling. Someone might be sad they are not included in a game and that sadness can turn into them feeling angry with their peers. A parent may feel scared when we do something that isn’t safe, and that fear can cause them to shout or become angry. Usually our feelings give us clues to something we may need. We all want to feel safe, loved, and heard, so it's important to listen to our feelings to try to understand what we need in that moment.
In addition to our work on patterns, insects and music, we will be diving deeper into our emotions and how we express them. Do you have favorite books or songs at home that address feelings?
The week before Thanksgiving, we had an impromptu discussion about lightning at morning meeting. The children offered several theories about what it is and where it comes from, and these theories inspired more questions:
Lou Lou: At Gibson Island, we go to the beach and lightning moves the water. And then lightning makes the sky turn different colors.
Grace: Lightning comes from clouds.
Austin: I think it’s from heaven. I think it comes from space. I think it’s very long and tall. I think it may look like it’s coming from clouds but it goes through clouds.
Sally: When lightning is a baby it’s that small, and then it gets bigger, and then it can move lightning speed.
Elle: What does it do when it dives down to earth? And where does it come from in outer space?
We missed Lisa today but the children were excited to spend time with Caroline. They presented her with a thank you card and showed her the beautiful centerpieces that were inspired but the metal insects she sent us in a special insect themed package last month. Caroline always has something special for us, and today was no exception. She brought us two books with no words, and the first book she learned to read. Thank you Caroline for your thoughtfulness, and please visit us again soon!
Yesterday, while the children were at the magnet wall, they spotted our collection of musical instruments. They began to explore our drums and tambourines, but we had to play softly since we were inside. Today, we brought our instruments outside so we could shake, drum and shout to our heart’s content. Sally began playing “The Ants Go Marching” on the recorder; Leigh played “Twinkle Twinkle”, Margaret serenaded us with Hannah Montana. On the pirate ship, Kian, Rowan and Charlie began to play Jingle Bells on the drums. When Sam changed his instrument to a chime, Kian chose a recorder and Charlie chose small cymbals. Did they feel the drums would drown out the new instruments? Soon, more and more children joined in and we started to notice different ways to play the instruments and combine sounds. Jack first beat a drum with a mallet but then alternated between the drum and tambourine, creating a musical pattern!
The children’s interest in music growing, so if you have any musical talents, connections or ideas to share please reach out! We expect the concepts around sound and music to project into the New Year, so stay tuned to see where our musical inquiry leads!
We heard our mystery guest before we could see them. A warbaly sound came down the hall…but what and who was it? It was Louis and Reed Sterchi making turkey calls! Louis demonstrated how to make the call of a female turkey to attract males when going hunting. Then we learned that Tennessee bluegrass is a very popular and lively genre for Tucker room dance parties. Thank you so much for bringing southern twang to St John’s!
The past two Mondays, children have been making plaster molds with Jen in the atelier. Today, Austin wanted to use our blog post to share the process, which he describes below:
"You put designs on the clay, then you put it into a box. You get water first, then you sprinkle in the plaster. Then you keep sprinkling and sprinkling and you mix it. You have to get the clumps out. Then you pour the plaster over the clay thing that you made. Then you wait and it dries." - Austin
We were so excited to celebrate Elle's birthday today with her family! Friends presented her with her magnet made by the birthday committee and Elle walked around the candle five times! She chose a very appropriate book about a tree through changing seasons and we enjoyed a special birthday snack of cupcakes and persimmon bread baked by KW. Happy Birthday Elle, we love you!
And many thanks to the parent volunteers who helped chop vegetables today and who will be hard at work preparing our Thanksgiving Feast soup tonight and tomorrow. Our compost worms are already enjoying their thanksgiving feast. We'll have to wait a while longer.
Today is the last Friday of the month--school maintenance day--so today's blog is just a quick snapshot of vegetable chopping day one. Thanks to our volunteers and to everyone who sent in veggies for the feast. Have a wonderful weekend!
Some big ideas have been going around the Tucker Room and children have been sharing stories and asking questions about birth, life and death. We encourage you to listen and explore these concepts with your children at home to understand what your child may be thinking and feeling. Here is an article to help get you started, "Why Do 4 Year Olds Love Talking About Death?". This is part of the conversation that started while children were working on their Thanksgiving centerpieces Monday morning:
Sally: When grandma and grandpas are really old, they die. Did you know that?
Elle: Grandmas and grandpas die first. Right? Cause they are really really really really old. Cause they last a long time.
Louise: My nana’s really old but she didn’t die yet. When nana dies we won’t have any more sleepovers. That’s sad.
Leigh: Sam just said to stop talking about dying cause he’s getting scared.
Louise: But guess what? You’ll meet them up in heaven.
Elle: Yeah it makes me sad cause it makes me feel like I’m gonna die right now.
Austin: My nanny’s dad died before she even got born.
Louise: That’s really sad.
Elle: I wish nobody didn’t die before.
The children identified feeling sad or scared but kept asking questions and sharing stories and the conversation lasted another ten minutes. They wondered about children and parents dying, and debated if heaven has magic or not. Our primary focus was making sure the children felt safe and respected, this was not a conversation with questions directed at teachers, but demonstrates the advanced dialogue the children have amongst themselves. Thankfully, the next day came with a focus on life. The children were very curious where everyone was born.
Where were you born?
Sibley Hospital : Sam, Jack, Austin and Lou Lou
Georgetown Hospital: Joslin
Near her ballet house: Grace
DC Hospital: Margaret
Dad’s Hospital: Louise
California: Rachael & Lisa
New Jersey: Ali
by Lisa & Rachael
Pieces of Rainey Room experiences.