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
Story and Illustration
What is a story, what does story mean?
"It (a story) means like you tell somebody what happened." -Nora
Our interest in stories along with our investment in exploring rats has invited and inspired the idea of creating a story about our (beloved) rats. Working toward this aim, we have been focusing on elements of books and stories and illustration is integral to creating a story book. We set up our low table with a variety of books to highlight a variety of illustration styles, techniques, and materials used to make the image.
"They (illustrators) draw the pictures. You can illustrate with collaging." -Lochie
"First I want to color it in and then layer it with a bunch of colors." -Sylvie
“I already know what her favorite color and animal. Pink is her favorite color, and flamingo is her favorite animal.” - Sylvie, 5.2 years
Is that true Reed? - Elyse
“Okay, so Sylvie was right on the animal. Pink is also my favorite color. Blue is my favorite color and purple.” - Reed, 5.0 years
Do you have a favorite kind of paper?
“Watercolor paper.” - Reed, 5.0 years
Do you like things that hang? Like our rainbow [in entryway].
“I don’t like rainbow things that hang down. I like those things that make babies go to sleep. They’re like hanging down.” - Reed
“It’s called a mobile.” - Sylvie, 5.2 years
“It has like little decorations on the bottom that sing songs. I like those thingies.” - Reed
At this point, Reed returned to the classroom and the committee began to brainstorm how to use this information.
As we always do, we sat down to draw our ideas [from memory] about the shapes, colors, and features of a flamingo.
"What's a draft?" - Audrey, 5.0 years
Throughout the classroom, and in all of our small and large group work, we have been discussing and exploring the idea of drafts/versions/prototypes. Frequently, the children express discouragement or concern when their first drawing (or creation in any language) is not what they want it to be on the first try. We want to build a culture of trying (again), exploring, learning, adding new details, or even returning to remove something we do not want in our final draft; it's all about the process.
The tray of materials that was presented for first drafts; wire and additional paper were added to the children's collection.
A new approach
For the next meeting, the atelier was set up with a few areas for working on flamingos. Adding complexity sparked additional enthusiasm and creative problem solving among the children. Each of them entered, observed the set up, and immediately made a plan for themselves.
Audrey and Jane chose drawing and watercolors as their first plan. They used photographs (as Sylvie suggested) as inspiration for their watercolor flamingos.
Sylvie chose wire, which had been part of her initial plan on the first day.
Jane quickly moved to the light table and Audrey decided to join her.
On the light table and off.
[left] Audrey, 5.0 years [right] Jane, 5.3 years
[below] Sharpie and watercolors.
Sylvie's wire flamingo (and photo she was referencing)
Putting it all together
"I thought we could make a pattern: flamingo, strip (of paper), flamingo, strip. Mobiles have like ten things on them. I think Reed is really going to love this mobile." - Sylvie, 5.2 years
"This is the best committee ever!" - Audrey, 5.0 years
Getting to Work: The Birthday Committee Makes a Gift
Come on in! The Tucker Room is open for arrival.
Following our research field trip to the library, we referenced our rat "study" books and collectively worked on drawing a more realistic representation of rats. Paying attention to detail and emphasizing the importance of practice through revisions or multiple drafts/versions of drawings has been integrated into our daily language and work approach. Focusing more on the realistic form of rats held the intention of supporting our clay work planned for the following day. Several children who had not yet made a clay rat had verbalized interest in making their own clay rat after seeing the glazed rats that had previously been created.
A brief morning meeting conversation discussing the form of the rat to help inform our work with clay.
Elyse: Is the tail as thick as the rat's body?
Maxon: It's (the rat tail) thick here, but when it goes more out, it's more thin.
Maxon: Actually, people don't have whiskers. Rats are similar to people, but they have four feet. See?
And people don't have whiskers they have hands.
Lochie: And people don't have tails. ... We would look weird if we had tails.
Audrey: But we used to...
Janie: It (the hump in rats' backs) like a humpback whale!
"I want to work on my rat." -Janie
Reunited - Sing-along
It was so wonderful to be all together for sing-along this morning! It truly felt like "the old times", and there was so much joy in the room!
A special snack- Early birds with Janie
Janie and Jordan made a delicious, special snack for the Tucker Room today. Together, they made fettuccini alfredo with Parmesan cheese.
"There was salt, cheese, and pasta!" - Janie, 5.1 years
"This is the best snack!" - Reed, 5.0 years
During snack, we also read some new rat information from one of our "research books". We learned about their "beady eyes", hearing, whiskers, and tails (they use them to balance).
Reflecting on our trip to the library
BOOKS COLLECTED AND CHECKED OUT AT THE LIBRARY
"I saw a rat book that I liked." -Violet
"I'm double thumbs up because guess who was there? My mom." -Giacomo
Some of our questions were answered. We, of course, now have the books and will give time to reading them.
Some excerpts from our notebooks
"It started to rain when we were about to have snack." -George
Happy, hungry, and dry. What a great field trip!
Thank you to Sarah and Carola, and we missed you Sylvie and Elle!
After our field trip, we found (most not all) our rats were waiting to be admired, out of the kiln and looking great!