What a wonderful morning of nature play today! We started easing our kids into the upcoming rule "no character play during class," and Kimmie, Laura, and Liam* all seemed fine with setting aside their personas once class started. It had the desired effect of allowing them to notice and engage in the nature things that Teacher J pointed out during their explorations.
I was thrilled that after five less-than-successful attempts to interest the children in building faerie houses over the last year, the children really latched on to the idea today and collaborated on the beginnings of a faerie village. It was difficult to leave, but the faeries can't come until we leave, so we said:
Come and play,
We'll go away,
And come back another day."
The tree shelter we found was full of interesting discoveries and experiences, including more forest "candy," branch bouncing, tree climbing, and many varieties of moss and lichen. While most of the children explored this area with Teacher J and the other grown ups, I got to help Mari with the snack store and visit with a grandmother who was taking her toddler granddaughter on the trail. They stayed to socialize the little girl for a bit and I was happy to give her the chance to experience some positive interactions with strangers.
Grandpa Sam and I had brought up the rear on the way to this spot, and had a chance to discuss the value of singing and moving to a beat through regular activities. A walking gait, engaging in a conversation, and even putting on clothes are examples of things that we do in a rhythm, measured by beats or moments of time. Those who have trouble processing their environment or finding a way to engage in it often benefit from simple time-keeping exercises, like picking up or putting down objects on a beat. In this case, I simply modeled the exercise near his granddaughter Lisa while she was playing.
Teacher J saw more of the social interactions than I did, but I got to witness Liam and Kimmie reach consensus during a territory dispute, and was honored to witness Evie's foray into a climbing tree, complete with pokey, uncontrollable twigs, sappy branches, and uncertain footing. She accepted help from a friend's mom (thanks, Shari, for the awesome "I'll show you how to get yourself up" when she asked you to give her a boost!) and walked away smiling and proud when she slipped all the way down (3 inches).
At the snack store, Evie and Mari communicated effectively enough that they were able to negotiate the appropriate trade without a grown up to translate! I thought that was impressive on both ends.
We started our class with our gathering song, including the new sign-only version, and ended with circle games using the 'W' Kimmie requested. Most of the kids came up with their own words, without too much deliberation. This is about the time of year that we saw an academic leap last year, and I'm not surprised that they are suddenly becoming aware of the sounds in the initial, middle, and terminal positions of words.
Tonight I'll ask my kids questions like:
What kind of path did we explore at preschool today?
Did you touch anything interesting?
Tell me about your friends; was there anything new that one of them tried today? Did anyone show you a discovery?
*Pseudonyms are used throughout this post.