The other day I found something exciting while walking in the woods.
One of our trees blew down many years ago. This treasure-trove was easily visible inside. I had to share it with my class. I wondered what questions they might ask. “How did those get there?” “Who lives here?” “Why are there so many?” I imagined our next research project drifting into animals in winter or animal homes.
I forgot that children bring their own perspectives to all experiences.
Yes, they looked inside this log and said, “Hey, there’s coconuts in there!” However, that was as far as their interest led them. Instead, they were very concerned about the “mushrooms” growing on the outside of the log.
They decided the log provided a great place for some large motor practice, climbing back an forth across the large tree. A few investigated the jump-worthiness of the stump.As we were about to leave, without any interest in the stash of nuts, one of the children felt the tree had not been fully explored. So he went in.
Obviously, some things are much more interesting than talking about some old nuts. Reminder to self: trust the children. They will find what they need.
Side conversations in Pre-K can often illuminate quietly held misconceptions. The other day, three children were talking about whether or not a particular playground item was alive or not. Piquining my interest, I tuned in. The debate brought in neighboring children and it became obvious that each had their own rules for what might prove a thing’s “aliveness.”
Things the children thought might be alive:
Bugs People Cats Rocks Water Toy Cars
The next day, we set this as our Morning Message.
How do you know something is alive?
You see it moving.
It has eyes.
It can move.
It moves with its whole body.
It is crawling.
It’s moving its arms and its legs.
It can be alive because it moves and tries to crawl around.
They go poop on the potty.
If their mouth has a bubble coming out of it with words.
Collating this list, there was some confusion as a few children felt there are things in the world that are alive, but do not fit these rules. Instead of refining our rules, we had many more questions.we asked the children to draw a picture of something that was alive and something that was not alive. The assignment for the day was for the children to find something outside that was either alive or not alive for me to take a picture of.
The next day, we decided to try approaching this topic from another angle. This time, we asked them to draw a picture of something alive on one side of a piece of paper and something that was not alive on the other. This task was much easier for the children. Every single one drew something that is certainly alive on one side and something that is not, on the other. However, we realized that we, the teachers, had made an erroneous assumption. Although we meant “things that can be alive”, that is not what we said. When a quarter of the class identified their non-living things as things that have died, we realized our mistake. The children weren’t wrong, but we’d missed the concept we were trying to help them process.
As we continue to follow the questions, we’ll see if maybe we can agree on a more inclusive list of rules that will inform us if something is alive.
We spent the morning in the woods on Friday. After a summer of heavy rains, our fort was certainly worse for wear. After removing all of the fallen logs and sorting them by size, we were ready to rebuild.
I put up the first few large logs, building the base, but after that, the children took charge of collecting sticks and deciding on placement. A few of the larger logs were farther from our construction. Team work was required to move these behemoths through the undergrowth.
One of the largest logs provided us with an addition, almost doubling the size of the design. While we built, the children used their forest journals for the first time. Many drew our new fort.
Once the children deemed the building complete, a few chose to add small details to decorate the inside. Flowers were added as well as a phone. Some of the leaves were swept away revealing a carpet of soft moss inside.
Last night, we held our seventh annual Movie Premiere where we debuted the masterpiece: The Pre-K Movie. Our stars arrived in their fancy garb, walked the red carpet, had their picture taken by the paparazzi, ate pizza and popcorn, and even received their very own 3D printed Oscars. We could not be more proud of all of the creativity and hard work this class put into this movie!
We discovered so many new kinds of art today. One of the activities Mrs. Allan introduced to us was using a journal to record the exhibits we saw. You will find these journals in your child’s backpacks today.
We have a nice selection of liquid motion bottles. The children call them potions. One day, a few became curious about what the potions could be used for. (Think magical potions.)
They decided that the best idea would be to label them so they could remember their magical powers. This one informs us that it is a “Sparkle Potion.” According to the author, this puts sparkles inside you when you shake it.
Brr… Yesterday it was 2 degrees with a wind child of -10. This morning it was 40 degrees. We took advantage of the much warmer temperatures and headed outside. Although it began to rain, we still enjoyed sledding for the first time this year. The children also became very curious about a large section of the field that had iced over. They decided it made the perfect skating rink.