What a glorious autumn week! To celebrate October, we added a new song to open circle and a new poem to close our day:
Little leaves fall softly down
Red and yellow, orange and brown
Whirling, twirling round and round
Falling softly to the ground
Little leaves fall softly down Red and yellow, orange and brown
(sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle)
Just Me (from Lady Bug Magazine)
where I want to be,
We spent the first part of the week up at Hilltop Home, where all kinds of magic happens. The Oaks gathered and mixed magic potions in their bamboo potion bottles (seeking out a few of the coveted bleeding fairy helmet mushrooms, which might make you invisible if mixed with the right ingredients), experimented with bamboo music on an improvised xylophone, continued working on forts (one now includes a special room for “dangerous things”), sawed tiny fairy tree cookies so the fairies could hold their own circle meeting, and played ever-changing versions of insect family (small-world play) and fairy family.
This social dramatic play is so important to the development of the robust oral language and other building-block skills needed for reading. The children make their own stories, figure out characters/roles, invent troubles and how to solve them. It is also how the children connect to one another, learn to negotiate and solve problems, practice flexibility, and develop empathy. You can’t play these games alone.
Some of the children gravitate towards projects, either alone or in pairs. If you watch a child totally absorbed in this kind of activity, it’s clear that it is serious work. It requires creative thinking, invention, and the ability to focus on a task. One of the most important goals of education is the development of executive function, a set of cognitive skills that include the ability to plan, organize, and make decisions. You cannot build a “dangerous things” addition to a stick fort without all kinds of design, planning and decision-making.
On Thursday, we left the wagon at Hilltop and headed out into unknown territory. Our goal was to reach the Far Corner of Woodend. “Do you think we are we lost?” asked one child to another. “I hope so!” the second replied. Adventure can be created so easily. A large depression in the ground could be a giant footprint, but it can definitely be a great hidey-hole if you are really still and quiet. We found several hollow trees, including one we could see straight through. At Far Corner, we played Meet a Tree. In this activity, one child leads another blindfolded child carefully through the woods, talking her over obstacles, until they reach a tree. The blindfolded child feels the tree carefully. After being led back to the start, she must remove the blindfold and find her tree. Integration of the senses, awareness of the sizes, shapes and textures of trees, and so much fun.
We spent Friday morning at Hilltop. The Oaks found golden nuggets (painted acorns and chestnuts) hidden all around the site. Maybe pirates lost their treasure? Maybe fairies hid the gold? Either way, the Oaks have been needing money for their games. Loose parts like these are super tools for sorting, counting and imaginary play.
The six-legged team did journals. The building crew worked on a mini-shelter out of bamboo, which we’ll continue to shore up next week.
Other treasured moments – the finding of a toad in a stick fort and sneaking up on a young buck on our way back to the school.
Books this week:
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
Iktomi and the Boulder by Paul Goble
The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis
Have You Seen Trees? by Joanne Oppenheim
Oaks Class Book by the Oaks