Corn on the Cob

Now that Applefest has wrapped up, we are finding lots of treasures left behind on the playground.  Yesterday morning, the children discovered a few dried corn cobs that had fallen off of the decoration stalks.  The cobs moved to the outdoor Maker Space where a makeshift factory was set up.  Small fingers patiently and diligently removed every kernel.P1270130P1270131P1270136

This activity continued in the afternoon.  Sadly, we discovered that our original corn collection had been accidentally misplaced by the older students.  (Chalk it up to practicing perseverance.)  No worries! We found more ears of corn to work with and many more classmates joined in on the project.  In addition to the kernel factory, an airplane was built nearby where corn kernels could be delivered via leaf plates for hungry passengers.

As we worked, a few of the children came up with a plan for the corn.  One child wanted to know if we could cook it.  Hmm….we’ll see how that experiment works a  bit later. (Don’t worry, we don’t plan to eat it.)

The Science Lab

One of our centers had a makeover recently.  Due to the sharing of nature collections from both at school and at home, the children have created what they call “The Science Lab.”  We have ample acorns, plentiful pinecones, noodle-like nests, and one slightly dead, but way cool, cicada.  The children have created their own experiments involving buoyancy, auditory tones, and habitats.  Collections are also a great way to practice our math skills.

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The Art of Fine Motor

Our invitation activity this week has been fine motor based.  The table is set with a choice of squiggles drawn on black paper.  Two bowls of dragon tears, otherwise known as flat glass beads, sit to the side.  This invitation is open to interpretation by the children.  Some choose to use the dragon tears to “follow” the line.  Others create their own designs.  Either way, little finger muscles must grasp each tear and place it in the desired position.

P1260623Just another fun way to exercise some very small muscles.

Play is Practice

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Three children play in the sandbox.  Two are pushing trucks, moving sand out of the way as a road is formed.  Another child stands nearby with an excavator.  He watches the other two and tries digging where they have cleared.  One of the bulldozer drivers is frustrated and tells him he can’t play with them.

Remember how we spoke of misunderstanding communication at this age?  The bulldozer child sounds as if he’s being mean and the excavator child seems to be being destructive.  However, neither of these is the case.  The child with the excavator was carefully watching the other two children.  He wanted to join in but didn’t have the language to find out how.  Our friend with the bulldozer had the language to tell the excavator that he didn’t like what he was doing, but didn’t understand what the excavating child’s body language said of his motives.  Neither child is yet adept at viewing a perspective beyond their own.

This is where play comes in as practice.  An observant adult can join the group and help each member find out what they want from the situation.  We can discuss together what the problem might be and find solutions.  Practicing these conflict resolution strategies in play builds the communication skills children will need as they grow.

One of my favorite ways to help children communicate their needs while including others in play is by adding one word to a very common question. Instead of asking, “Can I play?”, try

 “How can I play?”

Adding “how” creates a completely different dynamic.

 

***Note: The picture at the top of this article is from a previous day.  It is not of the three children referred to in the story.*

Forest Fours

Yesterday was our first official Forest Four Day.  Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten spent about two hours exploring our Northbound Trail.  The undergrowth sprouted up beyond our knees over the summer, leading to a lovely, wild excursion.

We made collections:

 

Tried some problem solving and teamwork:

 

Repaired forts:

 

Took on some challenges:

 

 

And searched for wildlife:

 

How are you feeling?

Now that we are wrapping up our first full (ish?) week of school, we are beginning to see commonalities in our child scientists.  Communication skills at this age are branching out.  Attempts, missteps, and assumptions guide much of their experiments. Often the children become frustrated, sad, or confused based on some age-appropriate miscommunication.

For instance, we have children in our class who are exploring the different expressions their faces can make.  It can be exciting to see the reaction they can get from flashing a “grumpy” face at a friend for no apparent reason.  Other children are attempting to use their bodies or words to make another laugh, yet miss the cue given when their counterpart is frowning or returning an angry look.  All of the children are learning to “read” body language and expressions.  Hand in hand with this, they also are often unsure why another child is not simply picking up on the signals they are attempting to send.

Angry Eyes

Fostering this need, while building our new community, we have begun to look more closely at feelings and moods.  We asked the children to explain what a feeling is.

  • Something you have and get all the time
  • When your brain tells you not to do something and you do it
  • Something that you get and when you feel it, you feel it in your body
  • Not getting sad
  • Brains sometimes get mixed up with feelings
  • When you feel happy or sad; when you feel happy, it makes you feel happy; when you feel sad, it makes you feel sad
  • When anyone yells at you, it makes you run away, cry, and feel sad
  • Something inside your body and when you feel it, you get that feeling
  • When your brain wants to do something and play
  • Sometimes you get sad and mom and dad get sad and you talk to each other and watch TV together

This week, we’ve been talking about sad and angry.  We shared situations that lead us to feel both ways.  Next week we’ll add more to our repertoire and then we’ll practice identifying them as we see them on our friends, in pictures, and even on the faces of older children on the playground.  We will become facial expression detectives and see if we can’t make some headway with this confusing topic.

We will also be talking a lot about how we can (and should) speak our feelings, stating exactly what we need.  “You’re being mean!” is a common comment in Pre-k, as well as, “Stop it!”  While both of these comments adequately express frustration, annoyance, or anger, they fall short of informing the recipient of what the speaker actually needs or wants.  We are working on statements that define why you are upset.

“Stop putting blocks on my tower.”

“I want more cars.  You have lots of cars.”

“I was playing with that toy.  I want it back.”

Our next step is to model and practice collaborative problem-solving.  It looks a bit like this:

Mrs. Forst:  Terry, what do you want?

Terry:  I want that baby [doll].

Mrs. Forst:  Pat, what do you want?

Pat: I want that baby.

Mrs. Forst: Oh, so what is the problem?

Terry or Pat: We both want the baby.

Mrs. Forst: Hmmm…so the problem is that you both want the same baby.  How can we solve this problem?

The children involved take turns offering solutions.  For any solution, both or all parties must agree before play can continue.  I do not give solutions and try not to judge their ideas.  Their solutions are not always designed the way I would have done it, but that’s not the point.  We are practicing talking about our needs while coming to a mutual agreement about how to get those needs met.  This is not a skill I expect Pre-Kindergarteners to master and is one they will continue to practice throughout their lives.

One Little Pigeon and the Big, Bad Spider: The Final Draft

Last night we shared our movie with family and friends.  We rolled out the red carpet, enjoyed pizza and salad, and smiled for the paparazzi.  This project couldn’t have been possible without the children’s creative ideas and the help of Mrs. Haluszczak.  Filming in the past, we discovered that attempting to film the story straight through was a painfully long process.  This year, we tried arranging filming day a bit differently.  While Weird Eric and I worked with current scene actors, Mrs. Haluszczak took the remainder outside.  They spent the morning exploring Spring as it presented itself that day.

For those that are intersted, our final draft follows.  I’ve also attached some of our shot notes and the storyboard if you are curious to see how we organized ourselves for this process.

2018 Pre-K Movie_Final

Scene I: Pigeons’ House, exterior

Narrator:  Once upon a time there was a little pigeon playing basketball.  A Big Bad Spider came along.

BBS: “What are you doing?”  

Pigeon: “I’m playing basketball”

Narrator:  Then the pigeon ran into his house.  The BBS was very hungry and now he was grumpy and lonely.  He knocked on the door.

BBS Knocks

BBS: Pretty please, can I come in and get some food?

Pigeon:  Not by the feathers of our feathers, feathers, feathers!

Narrator: The BBS tries to wrap the house in a web.

BBS tries to throw a web on the house

Narrator:  The police officers came.  

Four police officers and two police dogs enter the scene.

Officer X: Halt in the name of the stars!

Officer R: Halt in the name of the star loft!

Officer N:  You’re going to prison.

Officer F:  I’m going to capture the Big Bad Spider

The BBS is hiding from the police.

Officer N: The police dogs can sniff out the Big Bad Spider.

PD V:  We’ll find him, sir.

Police dogs run back and forth sniffing for the spider.  Eventually, they find him and go get the police officers.

PD Kate: Woof Woof! We found him!

PD Victor:  We found him! Can we have lunch now?

Officer R:  Yes, you may.

Officer X:  Good job, doggies!

Officers F & N:  Good job today!

Police give the PDs dog bones.

PD K:  Woof, woof! Thank you!

Narrator:  They captured the BBS and took him to the police car.  

Police take BBS to car and drive away.


Scene II: Pigeons’ house, interior

Narrator:  The pigeon decides to watch tv.  

Pigeon W: (turning on the tv using remote) I’m going to watch, “The Unicorn Drives the Bus” show.  


Scene III:  On the TV, Unicorn driving a bus

Narrator:  The Sparkly Unicorn decides to drive somewhere.

Sparkly Unicorn:  I’m going to have some mac and cheese and some Brussels sprouts.

Narrator:  Then the Sparkly Unicorn gets dressed in pink stuff.  Then she puts on some make-up. She begins to drive.

Sparkly Unicorn: I have to pick up White Cat on the way.  

Pick up White Cat on the bus.

Sparkly Unicorn:  Come on, let’s go to our meeting.

White Cat: I hope we have fun at our meeting.

Sparkly Unicorn:  Sparkle Butterfly and Rainbow Butterfly are going to be there.

White Cat:  Ok. Well, that sounds fun.

Narrator:  They drive to the meeting.


Scene IV:  An office or meeting place

Narrator:  Rainbow Butterfly and Sparkle Butterfly are at the meeting.  They are all talking about work.

Improv “work talk”, Sparkly Unicorn, White Cat, Rainbow B, and Sparkle B.

Narrator:  Rainbow Butterfly and Sparkle Butterfly accidentally end the meeting by being too silly.  

Rainbow Butterfly and Strawberry leave scene.

Sparkly Unicorn & White Cat: What in the world!!!!


Scene V: The bus

Narrator:  White Cat and Sparkly Unicorn get back on the bus and leave.  After they drive for a while, they stop and go to sleep.


Scene VI:  Pigeons’ House, exterior

Narrator:  The pigeon goes back out to play basketball again.  

Everyone that isn’t BBS or police slowly comes over and says, “Can we play, too?”  All play basketball for a bit.

Order:  Rainbow G, Sparkly B, Sparkly Unicorn, White Cat

Narrator:  Then they all get tired and fall asleep in a heap.


Scene VII:  Police Headquarters, interior

Narrator:  The police officers drive the BBS to jail.  

Police taking BBS through the headquarters.

BBS:  “I just wanted some food!”  

Officer X:  We have some spider webs in the closet.

PD V:  They are really yummy.

PD K:  They are super good for spiders.

Officer N: They are very healthy!

Officer F:   “We have a web cage that can help you with that!”  

Officer R:  You have to keep eating it all day because we have lots.

Narrator:  The cage is made out of webs.

BBS: This cage is GREAT!

The BBS eats the web jail.  

Officer R:  “We’ll drive you back if you say please.”  

BBS:  “Please drive me back.  I want to make new friends.”  

Narrator:  The police drive everyone back to the pigeons’ home.  


Scene VIII:  Pigeons’ House, exterior

Narrator:  Everyone was inside when they arrived.  

Officer F:  Go knock on the door, spider.

The BBS knocks on the pigeons’ door.  

Pigeon:  “Who’s there?”

BBS:  “The Big Bad Spider, can I please have some webs to eat?”  

Pigeon:  “Sure! Here’s a web.”

Pigeon hands BBS some web.

Pigeon:   “You can have as much as you want.”

Rainbow B:  Let’s make a cake for the spider.

Officer X:  We’ll make it banana flavor

Sparkle B:  Let’s have a party.  

Narrator:  Everyone has a party at the pigeon house.

Dancing and partying ensues.


If you are curious about organizing an amateur shooting schedule here is how I did it:

Play2018_Storyboard

2018 Movie_Shots-character

Shooting_Order_2018 Movie_Shot List