Children in the 5-Day class come to Preucil Preschool every day. They have musical activities every day either in small groups or in the classroom. The art studio is available with endless creative possibilities and with the opportunity to extend projects day-by-day. It is open every day for creative expression and guided exploration. We know children learn best through play, and so classroom play, investigations, and discovery happen continuously. Mid-morning we come together for a meeting to discuss our projects, read and share stories, and learn about each other. Outdoor time is an important time for children to use their big body movements or to daydream under the tree we've named "Opportunity." Because we are here together every day, strong friendships and bonds are built and there are ample opportunities to develop the social skills of negotiation, compassion, empathy, and community building. Our time together also allows us to dive into projects and inquires in an in-depth manner, extending learning over time. Ideas are acted upon and projects emerge that involve either the whole classroom, small groups, or individuals. We become a community of learners, all actively participating. Please browse the posts for documentation and reflection on some of our whole class projects.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff became a 5-Day class favorite instantly in the beginning days of the school year. We read several versions, comparing them with each other. I could often hear, from across the classroom., "Who's that trapping over my bridge?" as the preschoolers retold the story in their daily play. We soon started acting out the story ourselves, our classmates as our audience.
Bridges became a focus as we studied famous bridges, the different materials used to build bridges, and the different shapes/forms of bridges. We learned that the designer of The Golden Gate bridge wanted his bridge to be useful AND beautiful. We got busy designing our own bridges.
Field trips to Hickory Hill Park offered the chance to cross real bridges. We looked at the materials used to build them, their shapes and design, and what was underneath. But the best part, it gave us a real bridge to act out our story!
We continued keeping the billy goats and the mean ugly troll in our days at Preucil through art work and storytelling.
One day in late November, our friend Calvin came to help us think about how mean and ugly trolls would move their bodies. Calvin, we know is good at moving (he has a dance background and was Max a few years ago in our popular showing of Preucil Preschool presents Where The Wild Things Are )
When he left, we documented what we learned so that we could remember the moves later. As time went on, we would pull out our 'directions": and do our moves.
One January day, I read another troll book, this one titled Troll Wood. It starts with a human family entering Troll Wood. The viewer can see the heads of giant trolls peeking out over the trees. The book asks, "Will you enter....Will you find the path....Will you climb the mountain....Will you stay the night?" To these questions, the children responded "NO!" There were gasps as the family continued. We stopped on one page and I asked them how they were feeling.
"The trolls are going to trap them!"
"They want to eat them."
"The people aren't seeing the trolls so they don't know they shouldn't be in those woods."
As the book ends, it becomes apparent, that these particular wood trolls are not interested in eating humans. They are just...interested in humans. They wave to them, and we imagine them saying hello.
Me: We thought these trolls were mean, but we found out they are not. What happended to your mind during this story?
"It turned on!--Thor
"It like, started at red but then it turned green.:--Orion
"My mind changed what it was thinking."--Brooks
Yes, our minds CHANGED. We discovered, that just because we only knew trolls that were bad, that doesn't mean ALL trolls are bad. It was a valuable lesson learned, on a storytime carpet in a preschool classroom.
"You might think you know something, but then you find out out you didn't really know it very well and your mind changes." --Teo
We drew some troll pictures again, this time thinking about how our minds had changed about trolls.
4 years ago, a little girl told me she wanted to make a story, so I got busy writing her words. This is her story:
"Once upon a time, there was a troll who walked through 100 forests for 1000 years. His name was Charlie. Then another troll came out of a cave. Then Charlie said, "Well, we may not be alike, but we are both trolls." they became friends. They were brothers then. Then two more trolls came out of another cave...they met Charlie and became friends. .All the trolls lived together happily ever after. "--Louisa
I shared this story with the class. Charlie troll quickly became a class icon.
Our class decided to see if we could change other people's minds about trolls. The way to do this, they decided, was to show people two troll stories. The first would be The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Then, we would show them Charile troll and Charlie's friends. Surely that would change people's minds. We got busy making plans. Everyone signed up for a character. Mindy, one of the preschoolers' mom and dance professional, came to visit us. We came up with a lot of ideas about how to move our bodies to show all of our characters.
We decided we needed a stage, a set (things that show the audience where we are pretending to be), an audience, and costumes. We signed up for committees and had some meetings to make more plans. We even started working on the stream and grass for our set.
Sadly, our show has been put on hold while we all stay safely in our homes during the 2020 Pandemic. While I write this, I'm uncertain as to whether we will be back. But the lessons learned here, in our preschool classroom, are too important to be lost to a virus. If the first troll you meet is bad, it doesn't mean ALL trolls are bad. And most importantly....minds can be changed from red to green. Minds can be changed. And so, somehow, someway, this show must go on!
We baked some delicious gingerbread boys and girls. We decorated them, ate them, and sipped on warm cocoa.
They were SO good, we decided to bake one more. A big one that we could all share. We all decorated it together.
And put it in the oven to bake.
But when we opened the oven....the gingerbread baby was GONE!
We quickly got busy looking for clues and followed the crumbs outside.
We never did find that Gingerbread Baby!
Run Run, As Fast As You Can.....
I took my preschool class on a field trip last week. You might be thinking, the fire station or a museum. No, we went to a plant shop. I know, perhaps not the most engaging of all places for young children. But as we walked into the beautiful little shop, adorned with cute little plants and breathed in what seemed to be air filled with eucalyptus, we were immediately entranced. Suke, the shop's manager brought us down the stairs to an empty room save for a table of interesting green things of all shapes and sizes. Suke enthusiastically told us about each one. There was the pitcher plant that EATS BUGS! EATS THEM DEAD! This had our attention. We were allowed to touch the softest leaves ever on the Polar Plant, were amazed by the air plants, loved talking about the spiky prickles on the cactus--really loved talking about those. On it went with the Zebra plant, the Watermelon, Heart, and finally the Pepperoni. What made the Pepperoni so special is that Suke had one for each of us. Our very own to take home and care for. We got just a little distracted by a spider, but after a bit, Jasper asked, "Can we get back to talking about plants?" After over 1/2 hour of plant talking and learning how to care for them, we pulled on our coats, gathered our plants, and said goodby to Suke.
Back at school, we remembered and continued talking about that bug-eating plant, the cactus, and all the others. As we took deep breaths, we remembered the gift that plants give to us.
And then it was time to receive our own. One by one, children spent a little time getting to know their plant--touching, smelling, looking, and listening. Finally, they gave it name. All the plants are in their new homes now.
So, while perhaps not as exciting as a shiny red fire truck or enormous sloth, the little plant shop proved to be magical.
Look! Look! Look deep into nature and you will understand everything. Albert Einstein
Three small groups of children set out into the woods this fall. Each group took the same path around the same set of trees, grass, fallen logs, and creek. But they each saw and experienced something different. The first group saw a million different shades of green, the second group saw leaves glowing with sunshine, and the last group saw the leaves dancing around them as they fell to the ground. Some saw chipmunks, others noticed the swishing giant cottonwoods, and others heard/spied a woodpecker. We sniffed and gathered walnuts and honey locust seed pods. Alice told us to put the seeds in our pockets, because if we do then we are REAL explorers. And so, we all stuffed our pockets with seeds because we were not pretending!
We stood among the trees and breathed the air they created. We stopped and listened to the Earth around us. We examined the forest floor and took notice of the small. We ran along the path and experienced freedom and joy that can only be found in such spaces.
With our pockets stuffed, our lungs full of forest air, and a spotted creature or two, we headed back to school to tell our stories about what we saw and heard. The others listened eagerly, wanting to know what it was like in the woods on that day.
As the adult in the group walking with small children at my side, I could feel the wonderment and magic of a familiar yet unknown space. I was the lucky one who got to go all three times and see the changes. I was better able to notice them myself having been accompanied by young eyes and minds. I am told it is my job to teach them the ways of the Earth. But on such days, I realize we walk this path together.
Go out, go out I beg of you
And taste the beauty of the wild.
Behold the miracle of the earth
With all the wonder of a child.
While playing in our backyard (i.e. playground) this year, we've spotted some friendly little frogs. At first it was a novelty, but now frog-rescue-and-release is just a part of our time outdoors. Even so, each one discovered brings new joy, wonder, and curiosity.
We have been very careful and gentle with them. The person who catches the frog is the only person to hold it (because passing it around might harm/scare it). After taking a good look at it and documenting through a photo, we take it behind the fence to the prairie and creek where we release it.
Our backyard frogs
1. Date: 9/3 Location: logs
This was our first one. We released it to put it to its home so it could see its parents.
2. Date: 9/4 Location: stage steps
That was a little cute one.
3. Date: 9/9 Location: behind the garden bricks
This one is scared and he wants to go to the creek. His eyes are on the top of his head.
4. Date: 9/9 Location: under Opportunity
This one we started noticing the black spots. It has them on his back.
5. Date: 9/11 Location: Sandbox
He looks grumpy.
6. Date: 9/12 Location: sandbox
It looks like it’s itchy because of those bumps. It was camouflaged in the sandbox.
7. Date: 9/16 Location: stage steps
Look at his tummy! It's all spotted too!
8 Date: 9/16 Location: sandbox
Look how fat it is! It's a little darker and bigger than the other ones we caught. I don't know why.
9: Date: 9/16 Location: prairie outside of the gate by the creek
We found his friend when we were releasing the big one! Maybe that's his baby.
10. Date: 9/20 Location: sandbox
It's covered with sand. These frogs mouths look like a frown. It has tiny dots on its chin.
Blog written by Brody (age 5), Briar (age 5), and Tricia (age ?)
We took some time to get to know our backyard trees. We introduced ourselves. Then we looked at, touched, smelled, and hugged our trees to get to know them better. We compared their trunk sizes and bark texture. We examined the shapes of their leaves. Then we picked our favorites and drew them so we could always remember what they looked like today.
We could fit our fingers around Heart's trunk. Crystal's trunk need both hands to fit around, but Opportunity needed our arms! Baby is only just a little taller than us. Crystal's trunk is so smooth and Opportunity's is rough. Crystal's and Tulip's leaves are way up high, but we can reach Baby's and Heart's. Opportunity's branches hang low, but she is still tall and big.
Opportunity is our oldest tree. She was planted in 2002, when our school was first built. She was named "Opportunity" by a preschooler. She is our biggest tree and provides a lot of cool shade. She even was a home for Word Bird. She is a favorite and well loved by all the children. She is located in the far corner of the playground.
"She's so fat and you cannot shake her because she's so strong. She's tall and big. "
"She gives us lots of shade and she has kind of like a point at the top."
"We like to just sit under her and talk about random stuff like talk about her leaves, talk about her bark, stuff like that. And we talk about all kinds of other stuff too. She's a good talking under tree. "
"She can clean our air in like 2 minutes because she's so big and she has a lot of leaves so all the leaves can work together and just do it in 2 minutes, or maybe it takes 5 minutes for them to do it . Who knows."
"She's growing acorns so other trees can grow."
This is our newest tree. Over the summer, we lost Sweetie Pie and the tree guys brought and planted this one. She is located on the patio.
"Heart is really really new and we don't know what to call her yet. Her leaves are shaped like hearts, so we call her Heart and we love Heart so much because she's really new."
Crystal is 3 years old and was planted with the help the preschoolers. She is tall and skinny. She is located next to the tire swing.
"Crystal is good. She's a bigger tree than baby. She's really skinny. Her leaves look like crystals."
Baby is our smallest tree. She is 3 years old and was planted with the help of preschoolers. She is a sassafras tree.
"Baby is really small, that's why we call her baby. She might start growing like Opportunity one day."
"She's our smallest tree on the playground. The top of her leaves look kind of like forks. She has tinier leaves at the bottom and bigger leaves at the top."
Tulip is 3 years old and was planted with the help of preschoolers. We hope that some day Tulip will be able to provide shade for our sandbox.
"Tulip is a medium tree. Her name is kind of like lips (two lip)."
Our song, Opportunity, written by J, age 5.. While J is no longer a preschooler, we still sing her song to our trees.
These are the 2016-2017 preschoolers who helped plant Crystal, Tulip, and Baby. (I see some older siblings of our current preschoolers!)
This blog was written by Teo (age 4), Orion (age 4), Zoe (age 4), and Tricia (you'll have to guess her age!)
The beginning of school is one of the most exciting (and perhaps frightening)—for both children and teachers! As teachers, everything is unpredictable and we don’t know what to expect—tears, screams, rolling on the floor shouting “no,” laying frozen on a pillow and refusing to move–believe me, we’ve seen it all. Even for those returning, first days can be weepy as the uncertainty of new faces and the loss of old friends bears down. We also see children bravely waving goodby, making new friends, and joyfully shouting “see you tomorrow!” We get through it all, together as a community of beginners, beginning our new year.
Thanks to parents, we learned interesting details about our friends very quickly. Just ask any of them who in our class learned how to jump off the diving board this summer. They might even be able to demonstrate his technique. We know who catches fish THIS big, who to go to if you need a playmate, who loves his brother, who to ask if you are looking to play soccer, who to ask if you need to know about planets, who loves splashes from the lake, who loves superheroes, who loves pandas, who is funny, we know twins like some of the same things but also different things, we can hardly believe that a kid can make eggs by himself (well almost), who to talk to about nature (and boy can he you tell you all about it!), who are cousins and who misses James from last year (don’t we all?).
While getting to know one another, we are also learning about our SELF—who we are, what we like, the ideas we have, the feelings we hold. Children are just at the beginning of self discovery. Imagine for a moment if you could start your self discovery over again from the very beginning—what would you see? When these small children look in the mirror they see their physical self, the physical traits that make them unique and beautiful. When they pick up the paint brush, sing their hearts out, dance and skip, they are discovering their internal qualities that make them who they really are and who they will become.
We are a community of beginners, beginning school but also beginning life, self discovery, and exploring the larger world. Yes indeed an exciting time!
I loved watching this cooperative problem-solving unfold. At quick glance, one might think that the children are practicing ABC's through a puzzle--and that would be true.. But look more closely and you will also see cooperative problem-solving,. It truly took this whole group to get the puzzle done.
This is what I observed:
1. Children practiced letter recognition. None of the children, it seemed, knew all of the letters. But they put their knowledge together and learned from one another.
2. Children practiced alphabetical order skills.
3. Children listened to each other and worked together to problem-solve. They tried different methods for how to find the next letter/piece. Some worked, and some did not. In the beginning, they were focused on what letter comes next. They figured out how to determine the next letter--"let's sing it," Callum suggested. At one point, Lucas shortened the task by suggesting they start at "L" instead of going all the way back to "A." They often got ahead of themselves when singing, and seemed to discover that saying the letters worked better. Near the end, with fewer pieces, the task shifted and became about the puzzle--which pieces fit together.
4. Kind cooperation; "Thank you!" "Good job!"
5. Notice Teo holding the "T" (of course, his name starts with T so he knows this letter well). He held on to this piece throughout and knew the exact time to slip it in, after "S." He quietly waited for that moment of expertise.
6. Focus and perseverance: the children were extremely focused and didn't give up when they ran into mistakes. Lucas tried, without success, to talk the group into "taking a pause" for snack. But they were focused and wouldn't pause even for muffins and apples!
7. Playfulness: this learning moment happened in the middle of playtime. The children were happily completing the task and it was their choice to do so. No frustration, tears, "I don't know," or "I can't do it." Just a group of friends happily learning together.
5 day teacher