Playful Directions

Mrs. Forst's Pre-Kindergarten Blog

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Water from the Sky

At Morning Meeting today we were discussing the upcoming change in weather.  For those of you not in our locale, it is 56 degrees here today with rain.  Tonight, this will change drastically.  We are expecting up to a tenth of an inch of ice this evening with 3-6 inches of snow tomorrow and a high of around 17.  I posited the question, “Where does the ice come from?” (They weren’t too keen on my idea that the ice came from trays in the sky.)

When they decided that it came from the sky and the rain, I wondered where the rain came from.  One of the children offered that it happened because of the water cycle.  She then explained to us that the water cycle meant that the water on the ground evaporated, went up into the sky, made clouds, and then fell back to earth.  We tried to find an explanation of “evaporate” and only came up with “you need to have something yellow, like the sun” to make it happen.  Finally, another child explained that the sun made the water hot and turned it into vapor.  The vapor then goes up to become the clouds and the water vapor parts bonk into each other and get heavier, making it rain.  (I still think my idea that there is a big watering can sprinkling water on the Earth is more interesting.)

Then I began to wonder where the snow came from.  It took a bit of thinking, but it was finally decided that when it is cold, the water “melts” and turns into ice which turns into snow.  I foresee some experiments in our future.


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P1220904Questions certainly arose when these small, round marks were found in the snow.  Many had the idea that they must be tiny footprints made the night before.  A host of animals were put forth as the culprits.  We’ll have to keep an eye on the phenomenon and see if we can gain more clues.

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Welcome back to school! I hope all of you had peaceful holidays filled with rest and joy.  During the vacation, I was reflecting on some of the play I’d noticed appearing repeatedly in various parts of the room.

Many months ago, two children created a “boat” using wooden arches and blocks in the construction area.   I’m sad to say, I can’t seem to find a picture of this creation.  Allow me to explain that the arch was set on the curve so that it would rock sideways if pressure were applied to either end.  The rest of the boat balanced in the center of this waving contraption.  At the time, I didn’t realize that this would become an activity captivating most in the class.

Since, I’ve noticed balancing fanciful creatures, other balanced block structures, and lots of experiments balancing bodies throughout the playground and forest.  I’m looking forward to directions we might take as we play we these mathematical, kinesthetic ideas.



The children were trying to figure out how they might convert our loft into a more comfortable spot for hibernating or adapting through the winter.  A few ideas sprang forward including making a burrow under the bottom, creating cave walls on the lower portion, and making beds in all areas.  While a few debated the possibilities, another group began scouting out the top of the loft.  They explained that they needed to find materials to make a nest that they wouldn’t fall out of.  Their plan was to create a nest and suspend it from the balcony banister. Thankfully, they realized the trouble with flimsy grass-like materials in creating suspension beds before any human trials were put forward.

Feeling that I might be able to provide them with some more safe examples of nest building, we pulled up good ‘ole Google images and perused nests of all sorts.  Now our interest became more fully grounded in materials.  Our quest to create the perfect nest began.


This project is not yet done, but if you’re interested in making your own, here are the materials we used so far:

  • straws
  • brown paper (grass)
  • yellow paper (sticks)
  • many colors and lengths of raffia string
  • white and red Basket Box & Bag shred
  • twine

We moved it into the box as none of the children have yet come up with a plan for “sewing” (their words) or sticking the nest together, yet.  Although one enterprising student did suggest that I could tie all of the pieces together….  I think we’ll see if they come up with another suggestion.

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Caves and Burrows

Looking more closely at the winter homes we saw illustrated in yesterday’s book, we decided to try our hand at creating our own.  Today we explored creating caves and burrows using supplies in our block area.



Child A: “We almost had the same idea, but then we didn’t.”

Child B:  “Yeah, but we were building the same thing, but I didn’t have enough blocks.”


“Now….how do we make roofs?”


Child A: “Oh my gosh! I know how to make this!”

Child B:  ” Me, too!  I have a great idea!”

Child A: “No, no…I have a great idea.”

Child B:  “We need a little help.  It’s like, falling over.”

Child B:  “How about we slide it in and it holds it?”

Child A:  “There we go!  And put these here.”

Child A and B: “Yea! We did it!!!!”



Child A: “We need that roof on there.”

Child B:  “We need something to block them.”

Child A:  “We…..aaaaaaaaa [blocks fall down]…That’s ok!”

Child B:  “This is the shelter so the relaxing place doesn’t get rained on.”

Child A:  “This is where the garage is and this is where the balance beam for them to walk on.”


“We have two animals and they are separate.”


“I’m making a nice cave for my bear to live in.”

“I’m going to change my burrow, now.  My cave is going to be different from my burrow.  Caves are on the Earth, up top, and burrows are underground.”



Nurturing the Whole Child




As a parent, it is easy to get caught up in the readily noticeable achievements of my children.  I can see if they are able to identify all of the letters of the alphabet.  I can hear their attempts at reading or watch them playing with symbols on paper.  Yet, I could be unsure about where my child fits into the “normal” range.

Playing at the park, I might hear another mother speaking to her four-year-old and requesting the proper spelling of the word swing-set.  My sisters, brothers, and cousins might unconsciously (hopefully), frequently boast about how “far ahead” their children are.  The stories I hear on the news and from co-workers can even scare me into worrying about my four-year-old child’s academic readiness for college.  All of these pressures and fears are normal.  You might feel a few of them, too.  It can be overwhelming.

What subjects should I be working on with my young child? When do I need to start? How will I know if they need a tutor?  What if they aren’t as far ahead as their brother/sister/neighbor/friend?  How can I make the whole process go faster? Do I want to?

Now, take a deep breath.

Another one.

Let’s figure out what a young child’s  important skills actually are.

A person’s brain controls an almost innumerable collection of processes.  Each process has a vital role to play in our lives.  Some are required for our physical health, our emotional well-being, our cultural connections, our logical understanding, and even an over-reaching ability to orchestrate all of these processes in a connected, moderately well-ordered manner.  A few processes (those unconscious orchestrations that keep us alive; breathing, heart rate, nutrition extraction) are present fully formed at birth.  Most of the others need to be discovered and practiced.

Young children’s processes develop in a myriad of directions:

  1. Language Development
  2. Emotional Development
  3. Social Development
  4. Executive Function
  5. Large Motor Development
  6. Small Motor Development
  7. Cognitive Development

just to name a few.  While there are connections between all of these, some relationships may seem obvious and others elusive.  Either way, each process takes its own time to develop.  Sometimes one (maybe language) appears to be taking off and becoming an obvious strength for a child.  Two years later, that area of development may seem to pause while another shoots to the forefront of growth.  It is quite common for children to develop in this “sling-shot” manner.

We can also expect  our children’s development to look different from their brothers and sisters, cousins and friends.  Each brain builds up different areas at varying times.  One of my sons was able to throw a ball with accuracy at 18 months.  His brain was focusing on motor control and hand eye coordination.  My oldest wasn’t able to throw a ball with accuracy until he was about 2.5.  However, the oldest developed language much more quickly than our ball thrower.  They developed at different rates, but ended up at the same point. They are currently 9 and 12 and can both throw a ball and have excellent language skills.

The point is that it doesn’t largely matter which portion of their development blossomed first. There are multiple shoots off of the same plant.  Some grow first, some grow later.  They all grow.

Your cousin’s neighbors’ boss’s kid may be reading at an eighth grade level in second grade.  It doesn’t mean that that child will be smarter, have a better job, do better in school, have more friends, be more popular, make more money. It simply means you have two separate children.  They have two different brains.  Both will learn and both will grow into an adult life.


Building Connections

We love blocks in our classroom. We have large blocks, small blocks, magnetic blocks, wooden blocks, plastic blocks, sometimes we even make our own cardboard blocks. We tote them around, build them out and up, design rooms and spaces, use them as imaginary tools, and create intricate structures to support our stories. Sure, they’re fun, but why highlight them as a major part of our daily life?

Experimenting with blocks engages our children’s physical, social/emotional, cognitive, and language development.  While building in a group, a child will engage in dialog regarding sharing, shape usage, design planning, and idea exchanges. A quick article explaining more about the learning behind block use can be found in the Community Playthings Resources

At this time of the year we usually see much of the second stage of block building, creating rows and stacks.