This week, we had the opportunity to introduce the Fairy Tale Trail to the Pre-K students. It is one of our smaller trails, but has been beautifully embellished with a variety of whimsical decorations from the older students. Today, we were able to spend an extended period of time exploring the ins and outs of the Fairy Tale Trail on our Forest Fours day. It didn’t take long before the children made an exciting discovery! Someone had taken three of my painted “Story Stone” houses (that were meant for the small world table) and placed them on the Fairy Tale Trail! They naturally thought that I had placed them there but after learning that I had nothing to do with it, they had decided that fairies must have used their magic to put them on the trail and turn them into fairy houses. Fairy magic is some pretty amazing stuff!
Now, they are commissioning me to make more fairy houses that can live on the trail. After all, winter is coming and every fairy needs a place to live. So don’t be surprised if you show up to school only to find me stealing rocks from the playground or covered in paint in the classroom. It’s messy job but someone’s gotta do it!
With our haul of freshly shucked corn, we headed indoors to see what uses we might find. Although I cannot say which (I’m sworn to secrecy), one of the children already tasted the cobs and found them wanting. Edibility out of the question, what DO you do with a large batch of corn ears?
How about [butter] knife handling skills? Everyone needs more practice cutting up their own food. We wondered what strategies the children would use when given this common tool. We witnessed sawing, attempts at slicing and valiant efforts to hack the corn to pieces.
Of course, there’s painting. I mean, it IS pre-kindergarten. Add a bit of science experimentation, two colors of paint and some ears of corn and you get instant fun with secret learning. We saw patterns, comparisons and new language to describe the wet corn and the paint. A few of the children quickly dispensed with the corn and dove right in and began drawing and mixing with their fingers.
Finally, we had a few students who chose not to use the paint at all. Rather, they went for a more sculptural approach. Available husk pieces were tied around corn, used for “bedding” and added as shims to hold more vertical structures.
Our dinosaur environment mural has grown in-depth this week. Two more sets of children worked on different parts of the picture during center time. The first group added all things green in our world for dinos. They began with green paint with a small amount of yellow floating on the surface. I was curious to see if they would blend it together or simply allow it to streak through the green as they painted. Instead, one child carefully dipped a paint brush in only the yellow and made a sun slightly above the tree trunk painted by the last group. Then he mixed in the green and painted more of the picture. The yellow sun was later painted over with green while I was told that, “sometimes the sun is green when it goes down in the morning”. (Note to self: Let’s talk about sunrise, sunset, and morning vs. evening.) The other child methodically painted tree parts with her green paint. When the first child created green dots on her end of the paper (flying leaves) she took it with great calmness and simply made her tree taller and wider.
Our next group was in charge of the lava. This was a much-anticipated section of the mural. At first, lava began streaming from the top of the volcano. Then, one of the children decided that the nearby tree trunk should really be red, not brown. Thus adapted, the trunk now looks as though it is heated in the glow of the hot lava. Some of the lava made it into an arc above the volcano. One of the children is hoping that he can eventually finish it off with the rest of the colors of the rainbow. As you can see, by the time this group finished, almost the entire volcano was covered in red, hot lava. We’ll have to work together to come up with a plan for where the dinosaurs will be able to stand safely. We wouldn’t want them to get toasty feet!
Our dinosaur research has begun! Now that we are learning more about these amazing creatures, we are designing a place to showcase our knowledge. Our new mural began with a discussion about environments and what we might see surrounding our dinosaurs. The children decided that our picture should include a volcano, plants, trees, dirt, mud, water, and lava. Painting began yesterday.
The paper we chose for this project is very large, so we had a difficult time finding room to paint on it. We settled on a section of wall that we covered with drop cloth and scrap paper. Painting the sky was a very large job, so we used traditional wall paint brushes to cover the area. Today, two children were in charge of deciding where the brown paint should go. They sketched in the volcano first and then painted it in. Next, they chose to paint trunks for trees. Finally, they added some “mud” along the bottom.