Gingerbread magic hit again this year! We told them not to, but they ran away anyway. Believe it or not, this happened 41 years ago when I was a preschooler and every year since I've been at Preucil! Those darn gingerbreads!
"It has little points. They’re leaves. Leaves from the wild."
Why do they get to keep their "leaves" and the other trees don't? "Because they are the protectors of the forest."
The "prickles" offer protection (put there by fairies), seeds make them grow, wizards take care of them, dragons eat their beans, and the snow doesn't go on them because it (the snow) knows they wouldn't like it.
Protection, growth, and magical creatures (good and bad) are recurring themes in our discussions. I'm thinking about those concepts a lot and how they relate to each other and to childhood.
We started out in four project groups—plant caregivers, stuffie caregivers, cutting practicers, and artists. After group meetings, the groups evolved and through discussion, goals emerged. After our meetings, the groups presented their activities and thoughts to the class. Input from others was given and help was offered. Now we have the plant caregivers/planters, stuffie caregivers/makers, and mosaic makers (the cutters and artists combined). After more work and more presentations, we are now all involved in all of the projects, but each project is guided and led by that particular group. As a teacher, this is not easy to maneuver, plan, and carry out. It would be easier to have everyone doing the same project--I would make a plan and get the necessary supplies; then I would get a few children to the table, do the project in a timely manner, and repeat (like an assembly line). But this process involves deep listening by 4 teachers and finding the questions that will help us understand what is in their minds and hearts. It means going to Pleasant Valley on Sunday or Michaels on Wednesday evening to get supplies because the project was not planned conveniently ahead of time, but rather just emerged during our meeting. So, why do I do it this way? Because the journey we take together is about so much more than the project. It’s about thinking and caring deeply about something. It’s about having ideas, sharing those ideas, and listening to others’ ideas. It’s about having your ideas respected and valued by both your peers and adults. It’s about making a goal with others, carrying out a plan, and feeling good about an accomplishment. It’s about finding out, researching, and making conclusions. It’s about self-discovery as you decide if you are patient enough to enjoy sewing, are good at cutting or need more practice, realize you care about the natural world and want to help care for it, or decide that you’d rather mosaic in the art room than care for plants. For me as a teacher, it’s about developing a love of learning, promoting exchange of ideas, and building a community of thinkers.
5 day teacher