Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday SOL: What can you do with a cloth?

I am participating in the
Tuesday Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day.
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

What can you do with a cloth?
Well, what do you imagine?
If you are a preschooler, there's no end to the possibilities.

Why not make a fort?
Or a gown?
How about a cape for a superhero?
Let's be robbers and bad guys.
No, how about Mommy?
The baby needs to be swaddled in a blanket.
The baby needs a crib!

I'm making a bear cave.
It's a lake!
There are dolphins in the water.
All the animals live in this part of the zoo.
We could pretend they are rocks on a mountain, and go for a hike.
You might slip and fall!
It could be ice.
It's my sled.

A bed for me.
A hospital bed, because I am sick.
We can all have ballet clothes!
Remember, at Halloween, there was a ghost?
If you sit in the barber's chair, you need one of these.
I'm going to be a firefighter.
No, a policeman!

It could be like walls of a house.
Or the floor.
It might be the window, maybe the curtains.
Or the door.
You have to come in this way.
It is a very soft place.

A few years ago, a family gifted me a large bag filled to the brim with cloths...a big bin of fabric, each piece measuring approximately 1 yard square. Honestly, there are probably three dozen pieces of fabric...I've never counted them, and I suppose I should, one day! I think these cloths might be my favorite element in my preschool classroom. They bring endless fun!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday SOL: Can you help me?

I am participating in the
Tuesday Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day.
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

"I am here with you."

A short happy piece about preschoolers' social growth at this time of year...

We were working with cardboard recyclables, trying to create a device that was powerful enough to move a huge boulder, just like Abiyoyo in the book Abiyoyo Returns. Jamel is mesmerized by tape and could not cut enough...actually, he simply could not cut. But, try again and again he did. He is entangled with bright green tape, he cannot separate his scissors from the ever-spiraling, confused tangle. Exasperated he calls out to no one in particular and everyone at once, "Can you help me?" - up jumps Tiffany, "I can! I can! Let me help you!" And she does! She moves quickly to his side, and works his scissors out of the sticky trap. But she's not done yet. "Here, let me show you how." She stretches out a new length of the tape, takes her scissors and cuts it for him. "Now, you try it." He says, "Oh, I see. Okay." They work alongside each other, learning to cut. 
"Let me show you."
Am I even needed?

We are mid-year and I am surrounded by helpfulness. Children's friendships have grown, their understanding of the school routine is absolute, and there is a burgeoning clarity about their own strengths. They know that they can do. It is a beautiful thing.

I see it when they are lining up to go somewhere new...that one child who is always a little bit tentative, afraid, uncertain about going...immediately, a supportive hand is stretched out -"I'll go with you."

I see it when we are at Morning Gathering and a more shy student doesn't budge from her seat when the dance tune is sung for her...right away, two, if not three, children will jump up at once and beckon her, "Come on! I will dance with you."

I see it when one gets an unexpected boo-boo and another runs over to her side, taking her hand, and says, "Here, let's show Ms. Ingram."

Everyone has helpful hands. 

"Let's show Ms. Ingram."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tuesday SOL: How's it going, two days in?

I am participating in the
Tuesday Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day.
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

Black Lives Matter Week of Action is underway! Just completed day two...I want to share a few extraordinary, beautiful moments...of which there are many. Let me begin with the "piece de resistance," our whole school banner - 

We worked on this fabulous banner throughout the school. Each floor of our school had one word, painted large on a 6 foot by 30inch piece of black banner paper - and each floor was expected to interact with their one word in developmentally appropriate ways. Everyone had special silver and gold Sharpie markers! The early childhood classrooms (PreK-3 through Kindergarten) worked on the word "Black," and we invited families to to work with their child at morning drop-off or evening pickup; some signed their names, others drew handprints, and some adults left special messages. Our questions were simple - What is Black? What is special about Black? What do we love about Black? Upstairs, on our elementary floor, students in grades 1-4 worked on the word "Lives," thinking about What do we need to live? What makes us feel alive? What is most important to life? Finally, on the third floor, our middle schoolers (5th grade through 8th) reflected on the word "Matter," and wrote messages in response to such questions as What matters to me? How will I matter? How do my actions matter? How do I make change that matters?

This afternoon, my colleague Monisha and I hung the three words together in our Commons, for everyone to see - creating the large vertical message Black Lives Matter.

It is breathtaking. I am so proud of our school!

Also hanging in our Commons are the 13 principles of the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the past several weeks, our middle schoolers prepared beautiful posters focusing on each of these. I am in awe of these students! They are our future.

Of course, preschoolers are not being immersed in these 13 principles...
my classroom has been both ordinary and wonderful these past two days.
As I said, we must be developmentally appropriate.
What have the preschoolers been up to?
Well, yesterday we created skin color handprints of our class community –
using multicultural paints, we worked with children to add their handprints
to a large circle of handprints. We asked, “Which color do you think most closely
matches your skin?” and preschoolers chose the paint that (s)he felt most closely
matched her/his skin, without correction by the teacher.
Skin color discussions are often fraught with tension for adults, something we would
never dare to speak about. Preschoolers are a refreshing change from this, so literal
and clear in their observations, noticing the variations and finding them to be simply
that, variations, nothing more – here are the children’s words:
I’m brown
I’m pink
I’m pinkish
I’m really light beige
I am red
I’m peach
I am brown
I’m tawny
I am silver
I am pink
I’m really light pink
I’m really light brown
It’s just peach
I’m pink, but I want purple
I’m a yellow pink
I am brown.
We've read two special books. Our first was Each Kindness by Jacquelyn Woodson, a story about a new girl coming to school and trying to make friends. This is a very long book for preschoolers and therefore, we began with a quick dramatization of the plot. Drama helps preschoolers get “into” a book, to feel it with their bodies. We had a lot of fun with this! As we acted out the plot, and reflected throughout –
What do we think new student is feeling?
What is her face telling us?
Think of things to say to a classmate when their face looks like that.
Have you ever been to a new school?
Have you ever been somewhere where kids were playing and you were not?
What did it feel like?
Is there anything the new student should say or do?
What are some kind and welcoming things we can say or do?
Then, we read the story…and it turns out, the children in the book were not
nearly as kind as our Big Cats. Jacqueline Woodson writes, “Each kindness makes
the world a better place.She shared the metaphor of dropping a stone into water
and seeing the ripples it makes - each time you are kind, it sends ripples out
into the world.
Of course, then we had to get out a bowl of water and have the children
drop in pebbles, one by one…I asked the children, What is something kind
you have done, that ripples into the world?:
I play with my brother.
I share with somebody.
The kindness that I share.
I like the new friend.
Kind is being kind.
Play with friends.
Say hello to people when you go to school.
If you share, that’s nice.
Sharing is caring.
You can ask nicely.
I shared my toys with others.
I play with my brother a lot.
Mommy, she kiss me.
I love to hug with my Mommy and Daddy.
Share something with somebody.

The world is in good hands with these sweet preschoolers!

Today's special book was Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan.

Black is beautiful mural in process

This book led to a "black is beautiful" mural...the preschoolers love a process art project, especially one that involves glue! We have a white banner paper mural that students have painted with watercolors and oil pastels. Today, we began to cover it with all sorts of beautiful black materials, using glue – black construction paper, felt, sequins, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, fabric, pom poms...yes, a zillion different materials and textures for the children to explore. They are loving this!

Only two days in, we are off to an amazing start on our Black Lives Matter Week of Action.