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Ann Guthrie

Ann Guthrie

Wednesday, 02 January 2019 21:40

"Oh, I Guess the Show is Over"

It's always so interesting to see how the Nurseryers take on the challenge of more and more complex group process to match what they want to accomplish together. Lately they have been using our set of hollow hard wood blocks as a backdrop for their plays. One afternoon in December, while the others finished eating lunch, one child used all of the Nursery big blocks to build a huge stage and announced that there would be a play after lunch. Later there indeed was a play and and one that they wanted me to write down.

Included here are not only the written words of their play, but also notes recording some of their process as they worked out the rough spots. First the process:

Child 1:     It's called "Mighty Pups Ready for Mighty Action!"
Child 2:     playing piano accompaniment
Child 3:     announcing, "I'm Sky."
                 "Mighty Pups ready for mighty action!
                 We're here to save the world!"
Child 4:     singing and dancing….
                 "And now we begin!"
Child 1:     "No, no. You don't sing… you just play!"
Child 3:     "Oh… I guess the show is over….
                  pausing she begins to leave….
Child 2:     "Ruff-ruff, ruff-ruff, ruff-ruff…."     
                 barking insistently to bring them back together….
Child 3:     returning...
                 "Ruff-ruff."
All:            joined in pup chorus…
                 "Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff…."
Child 5:     "Tornado… take cover!"
Child 3 and 4 and 5:     
                 dancing….
                 "Ready to dance, ready to dance…."
Child 1:     "No. Don't dance. No, it's a show that talks."

At this point, one-by-one, the other actors simply leave the stage for the circle table where one other child has been observing. They all quietly begin drawing.
Child 1 has lost his players.

I watch him as he makes the realization that, in order for the show to go on, he will have to let go of the kind of control he would like. He begins to work hard to get them back.

"Guys guys... come back... come back!"

He begins enthusiastically talking about the play, focusing on the story line that they were all developing and on their characters.

This whole time, I have been sitting watching and taking notes in the chair they gave me to be part of their audience. As they come back over, they notice that I have a pencil and paper and ask me what I'm writing. I tell them I've been writing down some of their ideas. Child 3 suggests I should write down their words for the play. I tell them I could do that. And if they want me to I could be the narrator in their play.

"What's a narrator."

I tell them it's the person who reads words the actors have written in order to tell their story while the actors act and say their lines. They think that is a good idea.
The child who had been observing from the circle table comes over to join with the rest and be in the play. I ask who they will each be in their play so I can write that down too. They already have the title!

Here is their play… these are their words written in fine collaboration. It was enthusiastically performed two times on the afternoon of Thursday, December 6, 2018.

Mighty Pups Ready for Mighty Action

CAST:
Child 1………………. Chase
Child 2………………. Zooma
                               also plays music for the play
Child 3………………. Sky
Child 4………………. Another Sky
Child 5………………. Another Sky
Child 6………………. Marshall
Teacher/scribe  …. Narrator + Rider
*Note: Rider is portrayed by a picture posted on the wall

PLAYWRIGHTS:
The Nurseries…
*Note: Child 1 suggested playwrights should be written down as all of them… The Nurseries... and this was agreed upon by the entire group.

Narrator:         "The beginning of the story is when the pups are playing on
                         the field. And then the tornado comes and Rider calls the
                         pups."
Narrator/Rider: "Paw Patrol to the look-out."
All the pups:    "Rider needs us. All pups into action!"
All the pups:    "Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff…."
Narrator:          "Paw Patrol was playing volley-ball and lava comes and Rider
                         called the pups.
Narrator/Rider: "Paw Patrol to the look-out."
All the pups:    "Rider needs us. All pups into action!"
All the pups:    "Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff…."
Narrator:          "The pups went out at the playground one day and there was
                           a terrible storm and they had to go home."
Narrator/Rider:  "Paw Patrol to the look-out."
All the pups:     "Rider needs us. All pups into action!"
All the pups:     "Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff. Ruff-ruff…."
Narrator:          "The robot shoots the metal net on Chase. Chase gets out of
                           the trap with his super speed."
Narrator:          "Sky finds a shovel and when Rider calls the pups, the robot
                           traps the metal net on Another Sky. She got a sword and she
                           flies back with her mighty wings."
Narrator:          "It ends when the robot has no use for the powers and the
                           robot breaks apart. Mayor Humdinger's nephew Gerald was
                           controlling the robot."
 
The End

This is their process and their play... with the rough spots, limit setting, problem solving, compromise, and collaboration along the way!

Remarkable.

Enjoy!

Ann

Sunday, 02 December 2018 18:59

Blast Off!

Projectile points, arrow heads, atlatl (spear thrower), archeological sites, tools, stone tool making, debitage, excavation, discovery, chemical reaction, bones, burial sites. The Nurseries are expanding their vocabularies and minds while they take part in some wonderful experience with Jeff White, our resident archeologist.

On Monday, there was a lot of looking, listening, and handling of artifacts plus some archeological basics. On Tuesday, each child excavated artifacts (m&ms) from an archeological site (chocolate chip cookie) with a tool (tooth pick). They also each excavated an actual stone projectile point from a ball of play dough. Brian and I labeled sandwich bags with their names to help them keep their personal artifact safe.  Later, back in the Nursery room, several children tested out their projectile points by carefully poking the points through a series of circles they had drawn on paper.

"Look it actually pokes through."

"It saws!"

On Wednesday morning, Archeology was put on hold for the Nursery while the Dayton Philharmonic's String Quartet performed "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" in the Art/Science room. The Kindergarten came, and the parent volunteers, who were in the hallway helping with the school mailing, got to listen to the fine concert as well.

On Thursday, and back to Archeology, Jeff had bins of sand marked off with grid lines ready for excavation. Projectile points and some pottery artifacts were found. After they finished with that, on the floor on a blue tarp there were two much larger bins of mulch also marked off with grid lines for the Nurseries to excavate. They found bones (molded blue plastic) and many other artifacts in each. One child even found a golden earring in one of the bins (burial site). Jeff asked lots of questions and here were lots of answers.

On Friday, Jeff talked about chemical reactions and escaping gases. The Nurseries watched some chemical reactions and beautiful changes happening in their individual home made lava lamps: water and oil and food color in a small mason jar to which Jeff added a half a tablet of alka seltzer. Afterwards, Jeff set up another experiment with small cylinders with lids (film roll sized), water and (drum roll please) more alka seltzer! Jeff asked questions about what they thought would happen. People thought a long time and then one child smiled, his arms shot up into the air and he joyously proclaimed, "Blast off!!"

That is exactly what happened.

Sunday, 18 November 2018 04:50

A Thanksgiving Invitation

From the Nurseries:

Dear Moms and Dads and Grammas and Grampas and Sisters and Brothers and Cousins,

Please come to the Feast.

We love you with all our hearts. We want you to come to the Feast. 

It's for Thanksgiving.

Please come to the Nursery room.

The food will be in the Art and Science room! We're making it! Turkey, pie, cranberries, mashed potatoes…. You can bring something too!

Love,

Nurseries

Saturday, 06 October 2018 19:34

Halloween Approaches

Halloween approaches in all its glory: candy and costumes, ghosts and goblins, doorbells ringing in the night. When you’re around three and four and five, when even a walk in the dark sometimes requires a certain courage, it’s an awesome mixture. For young children especially, Halloween can make quite a powerful celebration. It has elements that can be truly frightening as well as truly wonderful, often all at the same time.

Anticipation/excitement/tension/anxiety usually begin to build about this time.

In an attempt to keep it more manageable for all the children, I ask that Nursery Schoolers not bring masks to school. For children these ages, friends can literally disappear behind a mask.

Toward the end of October, the Nursery Schoolers and I will plan some sort of special snack in honor of Halloween. We will keep things as simple and low key as possible. If the Trick-or-Treat candy stays at home, I know the children will be able to stay on a much more even keel!

 

Saturday, 15 September 2018 19:24

Planning Color Days and Setting Times

Nurseries are already beginning to work together in group planning sessions. This Thursday they dictated a long list of yellow and red foods for our Color Days coming up next week. I took down requests for yellow and red apples, red and yellow peppers, yellow cheese, yellow melon, bananas, pineapple, lemons, corn, strawberries, raspberries and watermelon. I couldn't find one or two things, but I did add in red grapes thinking that they would approve.

They are still enjoying trading knock-knock jokes plus "Why did the…." jokes. They love the hilarious group laughter that follows. Mostly this is at snack and lunch times when we are gathered around the table. They do love it!

We had our first Music time with Dennis Farmer. He led us over to the kindergarten room to gather up with all the Kindergartners… the first time for many of the children to actually see the room. Kindergartners have already begun a Nursery Visit list. Seeing the Kindergarten room may inspire Nurseries to do the same with a Kindergarten Visit list. We shall see…. 

Some Nurseries have stepped into the next level and have begun to set times with each other for turns on the swings and trikes, etc… of course, with me there to help them with the process. They all have had practice setting their group transition times… for going outside and coming back in, or to gather up for a special group meeting…. and I think that their setting their own time taking is a natural extension of this. Setting times with a peer to get a turn or to relinquish a turn can be a little more complicated, personal and difficult though. However, they are beginning to want to take on the challenge of doing it!

When they set times with each other, each person gets to say how many minutes — from one to ten — that they want. We find-the-middle. If they agree on that, I can start timing. But if one or both disagrees, then we restart the process until they can end up with the number of minutes that they both can agree on.

In the midst of all this, I explain, and they come to understand, that the time has to feel fair to both.

At the beginning of the year, each time setting can be a rather lengthy process requiring a lot of support from me. Of course, they are all observing each other doing this and along the way, learning how it works. And, of course, with more and more practice, they become more and more confident. They become more and more independent. My presence is needed less and less. Later in the year, they will simply be coming over to me to announce the minutes they have both agreed on! Over the years, I've found that some Nurseries begin to understand the concept of finding the average as well as the negotiation of what feels fair. There are many years that several children want to add the concept of zero into the process. It's all very rich and also an incredibly useful social tool for them to have.

Sunday, 09 September 2018 20:38

Goofy Jokes and Ants in the Sand

In the Nursery, the first week can be a bit like a tea party while the children get to know one another and the room and routine and boundaries — and of course their teachers. Everyone can be just a little cautious. They are a bit careful to put their best face forward, and are a bit on their toes, while they take in all the amazing detail and nuance of their experience.

Even so, with these people, I can see that they are already feeling comfortable and relaxed. Even if a people are having a difficult time getting over the hump of goodbyes in the morning, they have let me help them with a cuddle or reading them a book… pretty remarkable!

We've had lots and lots of goofy, silly, inventive jokes — especially at lunch time — with laughter to match. There has been a great deal of cooperation and collaboration. Getting things that have dropped for the others. Watching out for people who maybe didn't know how to get down the loft ladder. Helping someone find the scissors. Letting me know if they thought someone needed something. Figuring out how to have one more person be on a trike. That kind of thing.

They love books and story time: Quick as a Cricket, There are No Cats in this Book, Mouse Soup, Frog and Toad, The Pigeon Needs a Bath, Knuffle Bunny, Theodore, A Smudgie Bear…. to name just a few that we've already read.

They've been getting lots of practice with setting times together and using our sand timers, which is our method to decide on when to go outside and to come back in. This will help them gain a foundation of how to reach a compromise for taking turns… with swings and trikes and other equipment or supplies.

I think because so many of these children are already practiced and comfortable with solving problems informally, they haven't needed many meetings as yet. I'm looking forward to when they do so we can practice this very useful process.

Here is a great anecdote from the very first day of our first week. The group was out in the morning on Tire Swing Side. One of the children from last year found a large segment from the trunk of an ash trees that had to be taken down a few years ago. Last year it had ants living in it. This year it wasn't hard wood any more; it was spongy. He began chopping it with a scoop taking off the spongy wood. Eventually he came over pretty excited to tell me that he had found the ants, "Ann, they're still living in the hard wood!"

Of course, the ants were looking pretty frantic running this way and that.

He watched for a while and then this Nurseryer began scooping sand over the ants and their home to replace what he had removed, "That will help them get their roof back."

Two other Nurseries came over attracted by the chopping/scooping activity. Not knowing the back story, what they wanted to do was to remove the sand, and so they did!

The first child returned to with another scoop of sand, watched for a moment and then objected telling them he wanted the sand to stay. They objected telling him they wanted to take the sand off.

I did my sign for "Pause," for everyone and then I asked him, "Are you comfortable when they take the sand off?"

He looked at them and said, "No, I'm not comfortable if you take the sand off.

I said, "Can you tell them why?"

He went into a very clear and succinct history of the ants and their stump.

The two girls listened and then began adding sand instead. The three worked together. One girl found another chunk of ash for the ants if they wanted to enlarge their home, "It's hard wood!" she announced.

She cheerfully got busy finding sticks that would serve as bridges for the ants.

"Ann, they're starting to use the bridges!"

Several more children spontaneously joined in, picking up on the ants' story as they went along.

Remarkable!

Sunday, 11 March 2018 20:21

And Do Unicorns Have Wings

This past week was very active. Spring is in their legs! There were lots of big energy, big voices, big plans, big thoughts, and big discussions. They set up the water table, plus lots of arts and crafts. The imaginative play was rich and sustained. There was a huge beautiful play house in the hall with a ceiling, a family room, a dad, several moms, a baby, many siblings, toys and mail deliveries. Another day there was a carnival with tickets, money, games, and a concession stand with actual real muffins to eat. There was a play room with chairs, toys, and construction. We also had a den which morphed into a zoo with many animals in a large circle around and all of them being fed. One afternoon, starting with unicorns and whether or not they had wings, they also had a long, thoughtful, serious discussions about their beliefs about unicorns, dragons, Santa, and heaven. They expressed many different, and often times adamant, beliefs about whether these things existed, or didn't exist, what they were like and also whether or not they personally wanted them to exist. On unicorns: two said they knew they existed because they had seen them… one said, "in my very own back yard," and the other said, "at Gaunt Park." Because all of this was a very long, very serious, at times quite adamant discussion — in certain respects, four and five year old theology — I was there to say that they all had their very own beliefs that were sometimes the same and sometimes different. And that is one of the things that is so interesting… wonderful… amazing about all of them! They have also have begun to dictate their plans for Name Days. I have gotten four peoples' ideas down on paper so far. We should have it all down and ready to schedule by the end of this coming week! We've been talking about how we would check with parents about certain parts of their plans just to make sure those parts would work.
Sunday, 25 February 2018 00:14

Rain, Water, Mud & Visitors

We should be returning this week to a nicely spruced up school after our Open House on Sunday. It's designed for families that might be interested in learning about the Antioch School. Nurseries and I talked about this since we needed to bag up their saved arts and crafts projects and other collections to go home in preparation. One Nurseryer said, "I probably won't come. I know all about the Antioch School." 

The Nurseries do know. They have been fine and very natural hosts for the several visitors we've had now and then during the past several weeks… there was a teacher from the Portland, Maine area, two prospective families, and then this coming Monday, a graduate student from Antioch Midwest.

On Thursday afternoon, in celebration of mud and rain, the Nurseries excavated in the sand box on Tire Swing Side. They dug several holes and bucketed water from scattered puddles to fill them up. One child realized that they could dig channels between and create a flowing water works. Everyone joined in the process, draining all the available puddles in the forty five minutes that were left before we had to call in for our cleanup meeting. There was some concern that it was… "oh no, drying up." We talked a lot about how there was supposed to be more rain and how the puddles would fill up again by morning.

There was a lot more rain that night and on Friday morning, they joined in again adding more channels, carrying water in scoops and buckets and cauldrons. They were inspired by their rivers, truly satisfied with their teamwork, and deeply engaged by their discoveries of the physical properties of water and wet sand.

Now that the weather will be warming, we will be following up on these explorations and use our water table to fit in with their mud-time interests.

Let there be water! 

Sunday, 18 February 2018 21:37

Spring Is on Its Way

Valentine's in the Nursery was a lovely celebration with mail deliveries in the early morning, strawberries and half a dixie-cup of ice-cream to eat along with their snack, plus practice with delayed gratification while they waited until after snack to see what was in their mail boxes... and then the grand opening of their valentines! 

Our sugar maples have their drip buckets installed now for making maple syrup. But even before this, Nurseries seemed to know that spring is on it's way. We had one amazing shirtsleeve afternoon last week with more promised this coming week. There's more cold on its way too, but the new energy they feel in their bodies is telling them it's spring.

Several days last week Nurseries decided to dance in the open space of the block corner and since I was unable to get the music on our CD player fast enough, they came up with the idea (after Ben's example) of providing the music themselves. They took turns on the piano with their own solos and set their dancing stage for everything from slow ballet to a raucous stomp. It was a wonderfully inclusive, imaginative, musical celebration.  

On Wednesday, a parent and grandparent in the Nursery will be sharing the Bahai celebration of Ayyam-i-Ha with the children. There may be a story, music, dance,  cookies… we shall see.

By the way, family celebrations that you and your child would like to share are most welcome! When I first started teaching, I asked a friend from Iran if there was some sort of spring tradition she remembered from her childhood that she thought would fit with the Nurseries. She said in anticipation of the spring in Tehran, they always started a little planting of grass in the window. We have made our own plantings in the Nursery ever since. Last year another parent in the Nursery let me know this tradition is Zoroastrian in its origins and is one piece in the celebration of Nawruz, the Persian New Year. It is celebrated in many different cultures and countries around the world. 

Spring is on its way!

Sunday, 11 February 2018 23:49

A Good Luck Dragon

Nurseries contributed jasmine tea to the Lunar New Year Feast on Thursday. Early that morning, I explained to a little group that we needed to cut the bags out of the plastic wrap and then cut each little paper tag off its string (but not the little paper bag with the tea in it!) I showed them the red bowl for the finished tea bags. I also demonstrated what to do with a single tea bag and then the little group of five started in. I turned around to talk with another Nurseryer and then when I was able to turn back after a few minutes, all 25 tea bags were processed and in the bowl. They were on an enthusiastic roll and so we added in several more each! It was amazing, quick-processing team work!  We smelled the rice and stir fry, egg rolls  and spring rolls being made all morning.  Right before lunch, the Kindergartners appeared together as the good luck dragon, and then led the whole school on a firecracker (bubble wrap) path to the feast!

Zach, an alum of the Antioch School and a senior at YSHS, will be in the Nursery each week on alternate Thursday and Friday afternoons as part of his high school program. I explained to the Nurseries that he used to be in the Nursery a long time ago, that he is a friend of mine, and that he is very, very tall. They wanted to know if he is taller than me. I said he's a lot taller than I am. Taller than Nathan? I said I don't know, we will have to find out. One child trying to process time and growth adamantly proclaimed, "No! That's just not possible!"    

This seems to be a winter in which the snow may come, but it doesn't last long. So last Friday we waited for the typical warm up to begin and then, in the afternoon, took spray bottles filled with red, yellow, blue, purple and green, outside to give the world color again. They shared the bottles around, sometimes made cooperative snow paintings, explaining their ideas to one another. They sprayed snowballs with color and then skipped them along the ground leaving colorful skid marks. Zach was there and they reintroduced him to the Nursery room and then the Tire Swing Side.

Valentines are coming....

 

 

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