As May began and we entered our final 6 weeks of school, spring finally arrived. The children have enjoyed watching our bulbs and bushes bloom when we are outdoors on the playground, and at the art table they have reproduced pussy willow, crocus, forsythia, daffodil, hyacinth, tulips and cherry blossoms and violets. Projects still to come include geraniums, irises, and rhododendrons, and perhaps lilacs.
We began May by talking about the Maypole and its European origins. May 1 was a day designated to celebrate the start of the season of spring with its beautiful flowers, budding trees, and green grass. The children were encouraged to participate in the celebration by going outdoors and dancing around a Maypole in the fields and forests near their homes. We have our own Maypole, expertly constructed by Annie’s husband many years ago, and it can be used both inside and out. The children also made their own rendition of the Maypole at the art table.
This month we have begun our study of the human body, that very “special machine” whose parts each have an important job to do. All of the systems work together to allow us to move (bones and muscles), to eat (digestion), to breathe (circulation), to think (brain) and to understand the world through our five senses. We begin by discussing the bones, and our old friend Clifford Skeleton will reemerge so that the children can actually see how bones fit together, large and small, to make our skeletons. Then we will move on to the other body systems. We have some concrete learning aids to explain the various body systems. What will naturally follow later in the month and into June is our study of nutrition and the importance of strong healthy bodies. The Food Pyramid/Plate which we use in class has changed over the last few years, but we will be learning about the foods that are the most important to consume, and those that should be consumed in moderation. We use a large variety of plastic foods which we put in baskets. The children place each food onto the correct section of our large and colorful maps of each food group e.g. breads and grains, fruits, vegetables, foods of protein (meat fish, eggs, beans) and foods containing fats, oils, and sweets. This exercise hopefully will help them have a better understanding of foods that are healthy and those that are less so. As always, we have a good selection of books and puzzles about the body parts and nutrition.
Another popular event in May is the introduction of our classroom caterpillars. Over the latter part of May into June we will be watching them evolve into Painted Lady butterflies. The children will be able to observe first hand our caterpillars as they grow, form chrysalises, stay dormant inside the chrysalis for a couple of weeks, and then emerge as beautiful butterflies. They are fascinated by the entire process and enjoy watching each phase as it happens in real time. The language shelves will contain many colorful books about metamorphosis as well as several exercises illustrating with concrete representations the various stages of the butterfly’s development. At the end of the process we will release our fully grown butterflies from the playground and watch them fly away. On the math shelves we will be counting and sorting butterflies, and at the art table there will be several caterpillar/butterfly projects.
As we near the end of a very unusual school year, it seems like a good time to reflect on the successes we experienced as well as the challenges. One of the most significant successes of course is the fact that we were able to remain open for the entire year. This is primarily because you as parents were incredibly cooperative, open, honest and diligent about reacting to all of the Covid guidelines and restrictions even with the family and personal difficulties these may have caused. Our teachers also did great job remaining positive and hard working despite all of the classroom changes and challenges including unusual scheduling, different classroom structure and set-up, endless hand washing for all, and of course the constant cleaning and sanitizing of materials and equipment both inside and outdoors. For all of their and your extra efforts, we will be forever grateful.
Of course, more importantly, we are proud of all that the children have accomplished this year. They have shown significant social, emotional and cognitive growth and have continued to be busy, happy and productive learners to be respected for the fascinating and unique little people that they are.
We hope you enjoy the upcoming summer and that it will feel more normal than last summer. For those who are leaving us, we hope that you will visit in the future. For those who will be back in September, we look forward to having you with us for another school year (our 35th!).