Our children began the school year in September with schedules that were full days as opposed to half days. With this new style of schedule, all of our children participated in lunch/rest/every part of our school day. The first few weeks were definitely a transition for the children, getting to know us, our classroom, and each other. As the weeks progressed, we really began to notice a sense of belonging that each of the children had in the classroom and a sense of community that the children felt. When new children come in each morning, everyone goes to the door to greet the children. When children are picked up at the end of the day, all of the children run to the window at the front of the classroom to wave goodbye.
We have also noticed that the children really are understanding the personalities of each other. Many of our children have a special blanket from home that they bring to school as a rest time/comfort item. The children recognize that and if they see another child’s blanket, they will bring it to the child to hold. Some of our children even look for those comfort items for other children if they are upset. The sense of empathy, handing another child something they know will help comfort them, is really incredible to see with such young children. They are even able to identify each other in photos on the wall and around the classroom.
As the children have gotten comfortable with each other, they have also become very interested in exploring. They explore the materials we have around the classroom, and have also begun to branch out to new materials we have brought into the room. At the beginning of the school year, the children were very interested in popping bubbles, reading books, and moving around cars. As the semester continued, the children became more confident with paint, drawing, and clay.
We brought different kinds of fruits in for the children to explore. The children had the opportunity to feel the outside of a pumpkin. We guessed at what could be inside, and upon opening it, noticed there were seeds and a gooey substance inside. Some of the children were even brave enough to explore the seeds and goo with their hands, while others preferred to explore using tongs.
One of the teachers in our building brought in an Osage Orange from U of M’s campus. The Osage Orange was green and bumpy, and the children enjoyed smelling it – there was a strong citrus smell. Upon opening it, the children were able to feel the juices, the sticky texture, and were invited to explore it. Some did not want to use their hands, so they were given tongs.
Painting, water movement, and texture explorations have been a large part of our semester so far. Ms. Ali has been exploring the movement of water and sand as the children use different tools. We also have two strategies students this term who are just starting to plan lessons. One student is working with the children on bubbles, how they can be moved, and how they feel. Our other student is working with the children on imprinting. How do different materials make different prints in play dough and clay?
While thinking about all of these things the children were interested in, we noticed that the children were really exploring their surrounding environment and how they were able to have control over it and manipulate it. Knowing this makes a lot of sense for the children in our room, especially based on their ages and how young children explore.