Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stream + Sticks = Science Experiment

What happens when you put 12 little children into a stream area? They make up games and try out experiments. As one of the teachers, I wondered outloud what would happen if I floated a stick downstream. How big would it be before it was too heavy to float? Would it float all the way from here to there? Pretty soon there were kids with little sticks and big sticks-doing a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT-all on their own.

Some of the little sticks disappeared downstream. Some of the big sticks sunk. Some got caught up on the sides. 

There were deep holes in the stream to watch out for and holes in the ground too. Some kids fell into the holes in the stream and some into the holes next to the stream. But everyone was ok.
Sometimes its just time to sit and watch. Especially after a boot has gotten so full of water that you can only dump the water out and squeeze out the socks.

Everyone was very excited to see that the stream wasn't overflowing its bank anymore-it was down to a managable size. But who knows how it will change with the next rain?

FYI-Please tell your friends that there is a TOP Open House on March 9th from 1030-1130am. The Open House is for new parents. We will have a mini-class so parents are encouraged to come and bring their child if they want. Sign up for the open house online at https://www2.redmond.gov/eConnect/Activities/ActivitiesAdvSearch.asp Class #45364.

Also-There are only 3 spaces left for the spring session of TOP. To sign up-call the main office - 425-556-2300 and if you are already enrolled they will sign your child up for spring. Class # 44030

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Learning to share

Learning to share is a lifelong pursuit. It is very evident when children don't want to share-not so much with adults. We watch our children find a favorite game, toy, log and they say out loud "I don't want to give it to them." As the adults we stop and explain why they need to share. Why they need to help, give, hand over the object of their affection. And many times we can see that the child has seen that it is better to share. All of a suddent they aren't playing alone-but with a new friend.

As adults, no one tells us to share. We have to figure it out for ourselves that there are people who need and that we have an abundance. Is it time? Food? Clothing? What can we share with others that they need. As we raise our children we hope that we are teaching them to reach out to those in need. We tell them to "help your friend climb up beside you." We tell them to "make room for your friends." I guess when we hear that we should remain "childlike" this is what people mean. To remember the joy you can receive from others when you share your life with them.
There was a lot of new playing going on today. A game of "pass it to me!" was played with balls on the sidewalk and another sidewalk turned into a racecar track. Another child made the smallest hopscotch board with chalk. We had "soup" cooking in the favorite puddle and some working hard on decorating their valentine bags.
Snack ended up in the shelter as we had too much fun playing on the bricks. We read a favorite book "The Kissing Hand" to celebrate Valentines day. Also "If you give a Pig a Party" ; a very silly book indeed since we know what a pig is like and her name is Sunny!
The blue group found a new and unusual place to play near the stream. There was an exciting log to walk across with Teacher Jen's help and lots of splashing that went on right before lunch. The yellow group played baby birds in a boat and "floated" down a "stream" in search of fish to eat. When a cut log presented itself, Noah scrambled up on it and everyone wanted to follow suit. And that's when the lesson on sharing came into play!

Remember that thursday is Valentines and to bring enough for all 12 children. See you then!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Karate Chopping the mud

It was an unexpected sunny day so we had fun digging in the puddles left behind by last nights rain and digging in the prodigious mole hills around the farm. We always spend time teaching the kids how to know where their body is in space, along with whatever tool they are using at the time. The kids learn pretty quickly how far away they need to stay from each other with their sticks and shovels and rarely are there issues with kids hitting each other. I'm not saying it never happens, but I think because we let the children use tools, it teaches them how to be safe with them-versus not letting them play with sticks. Is that clear as mud?

Speaking of mud-there has been so much of it around lately. The kids made up a game of "karate chopping" the mole hills with their shovels. In spite of playing right next to each other-no one was hurt.

We had snack together out in the meadow near the big tree. We read about animals that hibernate; bats, bees, earthworms, frogs and chipmunks. I didn't know all of this either! We found a curious inch worm on Conrad's collar and everyone got a good look at him.
The main activity today was that the blue group was going to take the yellow group to the flooded stream. The stream has over flowed its bank there and in between dried weed stalks the mud and water flow. After exploring for a few minutes the kids all decided they wanted to use their shovels there. So they ran back to the picnic table and each got a shovel. This was self-directed as each child looked up and decided, they too, wanted a shovel. There is a lot of good sand there deposited on the banks of the stream that was crying "dig me!"

Just about everyone managed to stay out of the really deep mud and not get water into their boots. The picnic table for lunch began in the sun, but the sun moves quickly during the winter and soon kids were in the shadow and asking for their mittens and hats again.

Looking forward to Valentines day next thursday! Please don't put names on the cards-the kids will each be able to hand out their cards-put one in every bag-but not if there are names on them! And please no candy! Thanks!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Doing things the hard way.

I follow a blog written by an alternative preschool teacher in Seattle, Teacher Tom. http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/ Just the other day he was writing about how kids sometimes choose to do things the hard way-not the easy way. And that is just what my yellow group did this Tuesday. It began with the hilliest part of our hike. The oldest child in our group chose the “hard” way down the path. He thought it would be fun to roll down the hill instead of walking or running down. After his successful roll down the entire hill, the younger kids one by one laid down in the trail and began to learn how to roll their bodies. They found out it wasn’t easy to keep the roll going. You have to keep adjusting the roll. Your head and arms get in the way. But they kept at it until they were done working on it. My guess is next time we come to this hill they will work on it again and again until they too can roll their way down the whole hill.

A few scant yards later we came to an uphill climb and again the oldest kids decided to go the hard way. By-passing the trail that winds up-they climbed over branches, between the bushes and over logs to get to the trail above. As the eldest child led, one by one they peeled off the trail and began to pick their way up the hill. They got trapped and had to double back, pulled back branches for their friends and got stuck on logs. But they persevered. As each child reached the trail above, they cheered! For themselves and for others. The littlest ones called “Teacher Ann-I need help!” So I helped them by showing them where to put their hands to pull themselves up. How to step around a vine or scramble over the log. I didn't pick them up. Instead I repeatedly told them to “use their hands” and that “dirty hands are great!” To my amazement, kids who had never used their hands for climbing at TOP, who didn't like getting their hands dirty, grabbed mossy branches and pulled themselves up. I think it was because they chose the hard way. It was of their own volition that they ended up on that hill with vines and branches. And it was their adventure alone. All for an exercise they chose themselves.

Did I mention that we also went in and fed the sheep and goat? We compared their coats-which ones were softest and which seemed warmer? During circle time we talked about how to keep our bodies warm and learned a new song. So the kids petted Santa Fe the cat first, then the sheep, then the goats and some even reached over and petted Sunny the Pig. Each animal's coat felt different, but they all keep the animals warm.

The blue group had a fabulous time in the water flood over near the tire swing. There is always a lot happening at TOP!

Rain pants, Boots and your jacket
Rain pants, Boots and your jacket
Put on your hat and then you’ll see
With gloves or mittens you’re as warm as you can be!


PS Information about signing up for the next session: Registration officially begins on February 20th. You will need to call the office to sign up. Just tell them that your child is already enrolled so you have authority to sign up early. That should do it! 425-556-2900.