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.