As autumn continues, so does our work with leaves, trees and bulbs. Our bulbs are now safely planted in the ground around our entrance and playground, and we have explained to the children that we will not see them bloom for many months. The winter elements of snow, wind, rain and frigid temperatures will not hurt our bulbs. And now that we have spread our pine straw over our flower beds, the hungry squirrels will be deterred from digging them up and munching on them…the most interesting part of the lesson for many of the children.
On our walks to the playground, we have noticed the color changes in the leaves, and how many have already fallen. The leaf colors have been somewhat less brilliant this year, probably due to a warm, humid and often rainy September and early October. The kinds of leaves that we have discussed, those coming from the oak, maple, sassafras, gingko, sycamore, tulip, etc., are all from deciduous trees.
We will add to our understanding of trees by talking this month about the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees, and we will be showing the children different examples of evergreen trees and bushes, using actual branches of them as we used actual examples of deciduous leaves. Again, young children are careful observers of nature, and so it is beneficial to point out to them the differences in the look of the trees, the sky and the grass around school, and perhaps in the parks or in their yards.
In Practical Life we are continuing pumpkin scrubbing, and we will be making beaded bracelets in fall colors. Other fun activities will include tweezing dried flint corn, commonly known as Indian corn, and grinding large kernels of corn. We will also add more water exercises such as ladling and funneling, and we are continuing napkin folding. In preparation for Thanksgiving, we will be making placemats using our already demonstrated fringing with a scissors. Sensorial will feature our Geometric Cabinet, a large and beautiful piece of equipment which has 6 drawers of different size shapes (circle, triangle, rectangle, square, etc) with its many sets of cards for sizing and matching.
Our Peace curriculum continues in November. Again, in its simplest form, Peace is being kind and caring towards others, sharing, having fun with friends and family and feeling happy. This month we will be talking about how each of us has a “Love Light” inside which shines when feel happy, when we are busy, and when we are being kind and helpful. Sometimes our light dims a bit if we are sad, angry or tired, but it will always return to full brightness. At times like this it helps to take a few deep breaths, to talk to a friend or to sit quietly with a teacher, parent or caregiver. We have a flashlight game where the children tell us if their lights are shining or maybe a little dim, and they enjoy telling us the reasons for their feelings. Sometimes those reasons can be quite dramatic. Often we hear that their lights are bright because they love their mom, dad or sibling, or they have received a new toy, or they have visited a special place. And sometimes they will share their sad or angry feelings that usually relate to a problem with a friend or sibling, feeling tired or hungry, or just missing a family member or caregiver. Descriptions are of course very simplistic when we start. But gradually this sharing of feelings is something they become more comfortable with, and we as teachers listen attentively to what they want to share with us and with their classmates. Each time after the children in a class take turns expressing their feelings, we sing “This Little Light of Mine”. And if they do not care to share, that’s fine too.
This month, with the approach of Thanksgiving, our circle lessons will include lots of discussions about the importance of gratitude and the ways to express what we are thankful for…even the simplest of gifts (my mommy, my friend, my baby, my light-up sneakers, my special stuffed elephant, my new Spiderman, my Pretty Pony, etc.) We all also talk about the meaning of the harvest, and then the kinds of harvested foods that were perhaps part of the first Thanksgiving including corn, squash, potatoes, beans, cranberries, etc., and we will have baskets in each room with real samples of theses foods. We will be having simple Thanksgiving feasts for the children on Monday and Tuesday, November 22 and 23. In preparation for those, at the art table the children will be making placemats, autumn crowns, horns of plenty, and paper and glitter turkeys. We will be asking parents to bring in small amounts of foods that are associated with the fall harvest such as carrots, corn, beans and other vegetables, fruits such as blueberries, apples, strawberries as well as turkey (perhaps small rolled up deli-style using toothpicks). We would also welcome foods such as cheese and potato chips or sticks. For children who have food allergies and/or restrictions, we will let you know what to do regarding the feast. More information will follow on this.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a
Very Small Heart, it could hold a
rather large amount of Gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh