February 27th, 2020
Why is the Rainey Room making a rainbow hopscotch?
Much like our fairy project earlier this year, rainbow hopscotch is becoming a class-wide project investigation. At St. John's, children and teachers build the curriculum together. The children give us clues about what they are interested in all the time - at meeting, on the playground, during dramatic play, etc. We as teachers use their ideas and hope to create opportunities for deep, rich learning experiences that involve a wealth of different materials. When children had the idea to make a hopscotch game for the children across the street, we knew this project could allow us to introduce valuable learning opportunities. The glue that holds it altogether is the children's motivation to give the gift, and to make it beautiful. We keep giving children different "languages" with which to express the game of hopscotch. Tape, carpet squares, watercolors, sharpies, numbers, patterns... these are all different "languages" that children have been exploring. We take this terminology from the poem by Loris Malaguzzi (excerpt below).
"The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking. A hundred, always a hundred ways of listening, of marveling, of loving, a hundred joys for singing and understanding, a hundred worlds to discover, a hundred worlds to invent, a hundred worlds to dream."
-Loris Malaguzzi (Founder of Reggio Emilia philosophy of teaching)
TODAY in the studio...
More children had an opportunity to reflect on the hopscotch that we constructed on the studio floor. Some were able to draw a hopscotch with a consistent one square/two square pattern, while others focused intently on drawing and numbering squares. Afterwards, most had time to add watercolor paints (to actually make it a rainbow hopscotch).
The first group was Maren, Lane and Grace who were finishing up their work from yesterday.
Oliver was keen to join and worked diligently. He chose to add the numbers 7, 8 and 10.
Next Palmer and Wolf B had a go. They were very focused on the one square/two square pattern.
Later Wolf M came over. He also focused intently on the pattern.
The last to go today were Ellie and Olivia. We ran short on time so they didn't get to water color yet. Both girls were extremely focused on writing the numbers.
Tomorrow the friends who haven't yet had a turn: Fletcher, Gigi, Cannon and Emilia will get one.
Also there is no blog tomorrow because it's the final day of the month and teachers will be working on school-wide clean-up and organization. Have a nice weekend!
February 26th, 2020
Today Maren, Lane and Grace worked on trying to draw hopscotch again.
First they reflected on the first drawing a small group had made:
Next they reviewed the large format drawings that kids had completed in Blake Hall and compared those to the hopscotch that was constructed in the classroom.
Then they tried to draw new versions of hopscotch that would address some of their concerns about the one on the studio floor.
One big take away from today's work was the one we constructed on the studio floor needs revisions. Maren noted that the 4 and 5 squares, as well as the 14, 15, 16, and 17 squares don't follow the pattern because they are single squares one after the other. We need to ensure we can correctly depict the hopscotch board before beginning to create the final gift for Hyde Addison children.
More friends had turns with tracing today. Emilia opted to trace an elephant while Palmer and Fletcher traced trucks. Evelyn had another turn with tracing today as well. She noted, "Tracing is better than drawing unicorns."
At the easel, Wolf B and Cannon decided to have a go at painting gorillas. They used the image Cannon had traced yesterday for inspiration.
February 25th, 2020
Tracing with Pen and Watercolor
We are building our skills of tracing around the outline of an image using tracing paper. We are hopeful this skill will come in handy within our hopscotch project. Brooke printed out images that she knew children would be interested in - particularly, a gorilla for Cannon. At meeting, Cannon smiled and said, "I always don't know how to try a gorilla!" But he gave it his best effort and it turned out beautifully. It's great to try new things, even if you're not sure it will work!
A Hopscotch Surprise
Today we began solving the problem: How do we send our hopscotch to the children at Hyde-Addison?
We realized we might need to reach out to them and let them know a surprise gift is coming. At morning meeting the children dictated this letter:
Dear children across the street,
This is a letter from Grace, Palmer, Wolf M, Lane, Evelyn, Ellie, Wolf B, Cannon, Olivia, Oliver, Emilia, Maren, Gigi, Fletcher, (and Alexandra and Ada). What are your names? How many kids are in your class?
We have something to give to you. It's a secret.
The Rainey Room, St. John's, DC
Children brainstormed ideas of getting this hopscotch game out of our studio and delivering it to the other children. Wolf B said, "How do we take the whole thing off?" Lane said, "The problem is the teachers don't have carseats." She thought we could drive it over. Palmer said, "The school is close to us!" Meaning we don't need to drive. Maren suggested, "Probably just put it in their mailbox." Wolf B had the idea, "It has to be a secret."
Then, in small groups, we discussed more logistics. Palmer said the first step is to "Un-tape it." Lane recommended that "100 people can help." Grace agreed saying, "Molly, Jessica, the other Jessica...."
Palmer understood how long the hopscotch has become, going all the way to 20, and said, "We need a big door to do this. Bigger door. If we want it to go through the door, then we have to turn it sideways." Lane responded, "We could just fold it in half like a taco."
Ellie: "We lift the hopscotch up and then we'll take the tape off the ground and then we'll tape it onto the street. ...But where will we park if we put the hopscotch on the street? ....We'll just do it on the sidewalk!"
We began trying out our idea of using cardboard as a way to carry the numbers. Ellie and Fletcher helped to fetch the cardboard from the closet, and put the boards in a long line to measure if it was enough. Ellie could visualize the next part of the process in her mind...
Ellie: We have to put a line with the boards and then put it on. And then we tape the boards to the hopscotch.
Another hopscotch note from today:
Grace, Evelyn, and Gigi created a beanbag to give to the children at Hyde-Addison so they can play hopscotch! They used the sewing machine, then carefully put the rocks and beans inside!
February 21st, 2020
Here is a breakdown of the last two days building a hopscotch game in our studio:
Some great hopscotch quotes:
Gigi: I like jumping over things and in the middle.
Oliver: (after laying down a piece of tape) One... two... three... four. Four inches long!
Wolf M: (after figuring out how to use the tape dispenser) We are DOING THIS! Nobody will ever slip. Tape it together guys, because tape it together means we have to DO it! We can do it as our own.
Palmer: (singing as he works) I got to move it move it!
Cannon: (also singing) Then we get to try it out!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
No Journal today! (Feb 20)
Since our school hosted visitors during and after school for an ECES presentation/workshop (Early Childhood Educator Series) we will not be having a journal today.
It was a very eventful and fun day!
See you tomorrow!
February 19th, 2020
As a result of soaking the clay this week, this morning we had a lot of dirty clay-ish water we needed to discard outside. We mixed it into our sand pit and it became and wonderful muddy mess. We added more water and put the tub onto our bridge.
Some Clay Work >>> slideshow
The Mini Animals in the Nursery
We have even tinier animals now - so small they can fit in a little box. As we looked through the supply we were delighted to find a variety of species.
Wolf B: My dad likes shrimp. You can cook these.
Palmer: Shrimp can really sting. They can kill you!
(Cannon has begun assembling a long line of his favorites)
Cannon: Look at my big happy family. Do you wanna come over to my house?
(Oliver has made a house for Baby Ena, her mom and her sister. They're in their beds.)
Oliver: Do you wanna take a picture when they're out bouncing?
(Palmer builds a tall building with criss-cross method)
Palmer: There's a nursery inside. There's a little teeny tiny penguin.
February 18th, 2020
Taking Good Care of our Clay
Clay requires a certain level of moisture in order to build with it properly. Not too dry, not too wet. Recently we learned about how different levels of dry and wet can transform clay. Some of our clay supply had gotten so dry that it was like a hard brick. Some of it had been reduced to crumbs. On Friday, small groups of children used pitchers to pour water back onto the dry clay. Sometimes the clay would bubble, showing that the water was working its way in slowly. Teachers explained that it would take all night, perhaps all weekend for the water to really penetrate the clay fully.
(The White Clay dissolved almost right away)
Olivia: It's feeling so, so, so squishy, so hard.
Fletcher: Look at my hands. They look like mud.
Olivia: It's like a swimming pool. A clay swimming pool.
Maren: Our hands are inside the swimming pool.
Fletcher: It's making a little waterfall.
Olivia: It's getting higher and higher. All the way up to here. (she has noticed the water level change as Maren added a couple pitchers of water) You wanna try it? Try it!
(The Red Clay was hard like a brick, and brittle)
Fletcher: It cracked... like train connectors.
Olivia: Someone leaved it alone so so long.
(They all begin cracking small pieces on the side of the container like cracking an egg)
Fletcher: I see little rocks coming out.
Maren: I know what we should do. (She lets hers fall to the ground... it doesn't break)
Melanie: What will happen when we pour the water on?
Fletcher: Maybe it will erupt like a volcano!
Olivia: It goes up, then it will land on our heads.
Melanie: Will it stop being so hard, and be mushy?
Olivia: Yeah, like the other. Like the other one.
Gigi: I think it might need a LOT of water.
Maren: All the way up to there. (points to "1 pint" mark on pitcher)
(We begin pouring water, several pitchers worth)
Olivia: ...THE CLAY IS STILL HARD. We need more, more, more, more.
Fletcher: It will erupt.
Gigi: This is really fun.
Maren: I think we need a little more.
Today, our clay was extremely moist - way too wet to build with properly, but better than before. Children worked hard to lift the clumps of sticky wet clay into a bag so that the clay can be used again when it dries back out a bit. Lane said it was "like glue."
After all that work, we had some time to play with our normal, right-amount-of-moisture clay. (See photos toward the bottom). Wolf B, Palmer, and Fletcher had the idea to add red clay and white clay together on their "cakes".
Grace: I made a butterscotch cake.
Wolf B: Cakes are flat.
Palmer: Cut it, cut it.
Grace: I made a smooth cake.
Fletcher: I made the perfect cake. This is a itty bitty cake. This cake is for... for... for you!
Wolf B: It's raw still. It's gonna turn white. It's gonna be messy. I wonder how you will like it.
Palmer: It's a brown cake. For me and Wolfie.
Fletcher: Look at my messy cake! Mine is getting really messy.
Wolf: Look how round it is. And it's heavy. You have to keep your hands in the oven.
Palmer: It'll burn your hands off!!
Our Giant Weaving!
Now that our weaving is complete (with the help of many many Rainey Roomers), maybe we can weave even more strips in? Thinner strips, or multicolored ones? Stay tuned this week to find out...
"Dramatic Play"... What do we mean by that?
At St. John's, like many other schools, we have an area for "dramatic play", which is where children can play pretend. It has had many evolutions in our classroom... Travel, Doctor, and Kitchen to name a few. But the umbrella term "dramatic play" is an important one that ties back important findings made by early childhood scholars. Research over the last 100 years tells us that children's pretend play helps them to build countless cognitive skills.
"Sociodramatic or make-believe play, according to Vygotsky, has three features: children create an imaginary situation, take on and act out roles, and follow a set of rules determined by those specific roles. Each of these features plays an important function in the development of higher mental functions. Vygotsky associated the creating of an imaginary situation and the acting out of roles with children’s emerging ability to carry on two types of actions, external and internal, internal actions being a defining characteristic of higher mental functions. [...] The very emergence of the internal actions signals the beginning of a child’s transition from earlier forms of thought processes—sensory motor and visual representational—to more advanced symbolic thought. At first more stimulus bound, preschoolers gradually learn to transcend ostensive reality." (American Journal of Play, 2015)
Read more from this article: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1070266.pdf
Now that our dramatic play area features food, travel, and doctor elements, children have more control over the flow of play. Below, Cannon and Wolf M have taken on roles of gorillas. Lane prepares food nearby.
Cannon: We're eating green gorilla food. Gorillas like apples. Guys, let's play family gorillas.
Wolf: I'm the mommy gorilla and you're the baby.
Cannon: I'm the dad. The dad is the king.
HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY CANNON!!
This morning we celebrated Cannon's 4th birthday!!! Cannon was very excited to show his friends some toy gorillas that he loves to play with and then his dad read a book called , Go Go Gorillas. It was a funny story about some gorillas who love to boogie at night - that's why they sleep all day.
Later at snack the friends enjoyed some Valentine's themed cupcakes. What a treat!
Speaking of Valentine's Day... your child is bringing home a bag of Valentine's from Rainey Room friends. The children had fun passing them out this morning! :)
February 13th, 2020
Hopscotch Work Continues
Excerpts from Construction today:
Cannon: Neighhhh! Son, it’s time to go home!
Wolf: This is my home, here.
Cannon: But this is my hideout.
Wolf: They go up the ladder. We need blocks to slide down.
Cannon: I have a lot of babies. There’s a big happy family.
Palmer: Yeah I have a big happy family too.
Cannon: And yours is a small happy family, right?
Wolf: Mom, time to go for an adventure!
Cannon: I need to stay here. Sharp tooth is coming! It’s a big happy family.
Wolf: We have to kill that Sharp Tooth.
Cannon: No, he’s nice.
Wolf: I’ve got some blocks for you to take. I need this. And you have that. (mini cooking pots/pans)
Cannon: How bout… I can have the bucket.
Wolf: And I’m having a pan. Okay… your food is cooking. Oh, food is ready. They all ate all -
Cannon: I’m done with the bucket.
Wolf: Now let’s switch.
(Lane and Gigi arrive)
Cannon: Lane, you can work with me.
Lane: I will put a shower… will you get some room for the shower to go?
Lane: This could be a shower.
Cannon: Guess what… one is on top, and one is in here. (Shows her lower level of building)
Lane: Do you want to put animals and dinosaurs both?
Cannon: No - they are gonna eat the people.
Lane: Okay we’ll put some people so they can eat the people right?
Lane: He ated me.
Cannon: Sleepy time guys.
Lane: Every small dinosaur take their baths with me!
Wolf: The dinosaurs taking his bath. And then he’s going to watch TV.
Lane: Dinosaur, come slide with me.
On backwards days we often have whole group snack on the carpet (there's not enough table space to eat altogether there so we opt for picnic style instead). Today we used snack time as an opportunity to "read" the ongoing documentation about Rainbow Hopscotch. Even children who haven't yet had direct involvement in the project were invested in our discussion and shared their ideas. Some concepts that emerged during the discussion were: shapes, numbers, size/scale, rules, and patterns.
A small group comprised of Cannon, Emilia, Grace, Gigi, and Evelyn went down to Blake Hall. The children worked individually or in groups to create life size hopscotch. First they watched a short video of some children playing the game and discussed the design of a hopscotch board and how someone jumps across it.
Cannon was the first to make an attempt. He drew a square and then tested the size of it against his own foot. But it wasn't quite big enough.
Soon Evelyn was drawing one. Cannon helped her test the size and then she checked with her own foot.
Emilia then explained how she could use her foot to help ensure the hopscotch square she drew was large enough.
Emilia, "To test it out, to see if it's big enough, I just put my foot on the paper and then I just go around my foot. That's how I do it."
Gigi was meticulous in drawing her shapes and then using the image we had looked at on the computer to help herself write the numbers inside each one.
Later Grace helped Emilia and their board included numbers and then some letters. It turns out that the image we had for reference on the computer had a strange looking 7... one that looked similar to the letter F (backward).
Emilia was reading her hopscotch and said, "Zero and six, F"
Grace," No that's F."
Emilia, "No but it's supposed to be just like this." (she indicates the 7 on the computer screen)
Grace, "That's a F."
Emilia, "No that's not a F."
Grace (pointing to the screen), "F"
Brooke, "What do you think Emilia, is that F?"
Emilia, "It is F but it's not supposed to be in hopscotch."
(So we discussed how there are different ways to write the number 7.)
Cannon, "That's a lowercase 7."
Brooke, "Actually numbers don't come in uppercase and lowercase."
Cannon, "Yeah, only letters."
Brooke, "Lowercase is a small letter."
Looking back at their hopscotch we noticed that it has numbers and letters.
Brooke, "Does hopscotch have letters?"
Cannon, "Only numbers."
It was a SUPER productive and exciting day for our Rainbow Hopscotch project. See some more photos of the children working below, along with the finished drawings. We'll use this research as we move forward.