With the first week of March behind us, we begin to look forward to welcoming spring in a couple of weeks. Our Robin is continuing his/her long journey north and getting closer and closer to New Jersey. Last week the Robin passed over Washington DC with its majestic white monuments, enjoying the view from above and seeing his/her reflection in the reflecting pool. There are more special attractions to see at the next “layover” in Philadelphia including the Liberty Bell with its permanent crack, the cobblestone streets, and the beautiful and historical Independence Hall. With the Robin’s arrival in New Jersey, which should be by the end of March, we will hope that spring has really arrived. This month we will start to observe the gradual changes that accompany the new season. During March we may not necessarily feel markedly warmer temperatures or see greener grass and tiny yellow buds on the trees near school, but we can anticipate the sprouting of our first bulb…the crocus.
Our bird exercises and baskets from last month remain in the classrooms as the children are still enjoying them, but, as always, each month we move on to a new theme. This month, as we continue to look upwards, we are just beginning our study of the planets, complete with inflatable hanging planets in the classrooms, rotating and lighted models of the solar system, and baskets of toy replicas of the individual planets. Our hope is that the children will come to understand in some small way the vastness of the solar system as well as our place in it as we study the individual characteristics of each planet. We will talk about planets made of rock (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) and the planets made of gas (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) the great differences in the temperatures and surfaces of each planet, and of course the huge fiery ball of gases which is the center of it all, the sun, that giant star around which all the planets rotate. By simply looking up to our classroom ceilings, the children will be able to see the configuration of the solar system. We will also discuss comets, meteors and asteroids. Our new planet puzzles, matching games, books and art projects are enhancing our planet study. We have some fun singing and moving games (some created by teachers) which hopefully will contribute to the children’s understanding of the “Family of the Sun”.
In Practical Life, the children are continuing to be busy washing dishes, color whisking and mixing in sudsy water, and color mixing with an eyedropper. The children in the older classes have been polishing the mirrors, and now that exercise will come into the younger classrooms. A follow-up to the mirror polishing is silver polishing which has already been in the older classes and will be brought into the younger classes after they have practiced polishing the mirrors. Shoe polishing (kind of a lost art) is in, and we will have some seasonal pouring, spooning and object sorting. But perhaps the most popular Practical Life exercise this month is coffee grinding. We have wonderful small and colorful old-fashioned hand grinders (not the electric Braun!) which we purchased years ago at Anthropologie of all places, and the children pour the whole beans with a tiny coffee scoop into it and grind away with the hand crank on the side of the machine. Our students have always loved it, so hopefully they will this year as well. Again, as with all Practical Life activities, the enhancement of fine motor skills, sense of order and concentration are some of the benefits, but, for the children, it’s just fun. In Sensorial we will add the sound cylinders to the shelf. It is a challenging and interesting auditory discrimination activity, and as with all of the Sensorial exercises, the purpose is to develop and refine the senses…in this case the sense of hearing.
This past week marked the 117th birthday of Dr. Seuss. We celebrated by reading his books of fun and silly rhymes from our Dr. Seuss collection. His themes include the importance of taking chances, facing and overcoming challenges and difficulties, taking care of our environment, celebrating our individuality and being all we can be.
Despite the long weeks of snow on the ground and being indoors, we are fortunate to have been able to use the large church hall upstairs where the children have been able to participate in teacher-led moving games, running, jumping, and in general really enjoying the freedom of moving around in a large indoor space. We are grateful that the pastor and staff of PCUM have graciously encouraged and accommodated us. It is so needed for all. We are also grateful to Kyle and Ginny Laracy, parents of Clare, who have been shoveling our playground by hand along with a couple their older girls. We are hopeful that the long weeks indoors will soon be replaced by a return to our playground as we work hard and stay positive in meeting the challenges that we have all faced this past year as caregivers of young children.
“The more that you Read,
the more Things you will know,
the more that you Learn,
the more Places you’ll Go!