Items filtered by date: January 2016
Sunday, 31 January 2016 00:00

Heading toward Thanksgiving

Halloween — and all of the building anticipation and tension it brings — is over. Our trip to Peifer's Orchard for cider and pumpkins and the relaxed wagon ride we took out to the apple trees to pick (and eat apples) made a low key antidote for some of the Halloween excitement that overwhelmed the Nurseries from time-to-time over the last number of weeks. My child self says, "Oh, what fun it is, too bad it's over." My adult self says, "Oh, thank goodness we are on the other side and heading toward Thanksgiving!" Halloween can be a tense time for many children.

This past week we finished up our Color Days celebrations with Rainbow week. We had a rainbow of glitter paint appear along with shapes to paint and to glue onto  a length of foam core for a rainbow display.

Nurseries made a delicious Rainbow soup on Wednesday. Even the self proclaimed non soup eaters said it smelled good. There were a number of soup eaters and several Nurseries had seconds and thirds.

We made a Rainbow fruit salad on Friday. There was much activity cutting the red, green and purple grapes, plus cantaloupe pieces that the Kindergartners shared with us. They added pineapple and blueberries to finish up the rainbow.

Now that Color Days are over, there is discussion about other things we could plan. People talked about different ideas; Name Days was one.

They have also begun to really use the Big Blocks for construction and there are several Nurseries who are truly inspired by the challenge of clean up when it is time to put them away. The blocks are big and these children are strong.

Sunday, 31 January 2016 00:00

Back Together after Winter Break

Playdough and silly putty, big block construction, paper and scissors and tape, paint and markers, endless games of Kitty or Baby or Puppy — add in Bad… (…Kitty …Baby …Puppy) for the thrill of added tension to the story line — favorite songs and stories, dressing up, making cozy spots, trikes, skates, sand, mud, snow, working out plans and problems and ideas, add in friends, friends, friends, mix it all up together and you get a sense of the Nursery in winter. It's busy and rich.

We all had a lovely time getting back together after our long Winter Break at the end of December. I always consider those two weeks that we are away from the day-to-day of our routine and one another to be an essential part of the Nursery program. It's family time, of course, and also processing time. They come back together again after Break, eager to return and I think with an understanding that they have missed being with one another and the amazing things they can accomplish together.

Earlier in January, the Nurseries planned for Shape Days. They immediately came up with Squares, Circles, Triangles, Rectangles. A pause to think and they added Octagons, Ovals, Stars, Crescent, Hearts, Diamonds, Flowers, People…. I asked if they knew Semi-circle which some did and after actually seeing the shape they wanted to add that in. They continued on into puppy, kitty, horse…. I suggested that if we added Line to our list then they could draw any shape they wanted which they decided to do. And so there we are Squares to Lines with a lot in-between and All Shapes to end with.

Name Days have been brought up from time to time all year long and I know we will begin to do serious planning later in February as we finish up Shape Days. There is a lovely story on the origins of Name Day to be shared as we get closer to the celebration. There will also be our maple trees to tap and pajamas and pancakes and school-made syrup again.

More to follow....

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:00

Mid-Winter In Kindergarten

     The Kindergartners have had several wonderful winter mornings in our forest classroom in January.  We've had snow twice!  The children have loved observing animal tracks, as well as making many tracks of their own.  They requested a hike down to the creek, so that they could slide otter-style in their snow pants.  They've been able to check their theory that "moving water doesn't freeze".  We hiked to the cave and found icicles approximating stalactites and stalagmites.  We've had fires each Forest Kindergarten morning this month.  The children collected and sharpened marshmallow sticks and roasted marshmallows to celebrate our first substantial fire.  We have cooked oatmeal twice on our camp stove.  Most recently, a parent helper tended our fire, while we were hiking, so that we had enough coals to cook over on our return.  We made bannock bread and cooked it on sticks, which the children helped collect and whittle.  One Kindergartner declared it "the best thing I've ever eaten!"  Everything really does taste better when you cook it yourself outdoors!

     The children have also been enjoying the start of our celebration of letters with Letter Days.  So far we have celebrated Tt, Mm, and Bb.  The group decided that they wanted to merge name days with our letter days, so when someone's name starts with the letter we are celebrating, that person gets a day to plan a special activity and snack for the group.  For Bb days, in addition to the wonderful bannock bread they made in our forest classroom, the children have been working with fuse beads and decided to have a bear and babies day.  Children brought bears or baby dolls from home or borrowed one from our collection at school.  We chanted "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" and sang "The Teddy Bears Picnic".  We also read Beady Bear, Corduroy, and Brown Bear, Snow Bear

     If you've been to the school lately, you may have noticed our word collections on our classroom door.  The children are beginning to notice and think of words that start with the day's letter throughout the day, so look for ever-increasing numbers of words to be appearing in our collections.  The children are looking forward to ice skating next week for Ss days and are beginning to talk about Valentine's Day and Lunar New Year, which are coming up in February. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:00

YG Moves with Dimi Reber

This winter the Younger Group has been moving their bodies with local dance veteran Dimi Reber! While dancing children notice different ways that their bodies are moving and how that feels. "Straighten your spine, feel it. Now move like you are a snake. How will your spine move if you dance like a snake?" Dimi gives interesting prompts which create opportunities for children to interpret music, give illusions of interesting actions, dance to fill various parts of dancing space or move to create wide open places. We "fly", we find rhythm, we dance with partners and we dance alone. 

Today we danced a "mystery dance". With closed eyes and gentle movements, each child moved and danced to interesting music created with a fog horn, a rain stick and a beaded gourd rattle. The plan was to create a mysterious dance, illustrate a mysterious story with movements. If one dancer should happen to touch a second dancer then they must either slowly dance away from each other or slowly begin to dance together. Children shared their stories and visualizations after we ended the dance and opened our eyes:

"I was stuck in a void."

"I was in the Titanic and went into a trap door. The Titanic was sinking!"

"My dance was in a mysterious place. I didn't know where I was."

"Mine too. I had to keep dancing to find out about the room I was in."

Thank you to Dimi for moving with our class! We look forward to dancing with you again in just two weeks!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:00

January Blog

January is always such a good settling in time in the Older Group. The build up and excitement of the fall and winter holidays is behind us, the room feels cozy on chilly days, and it is much easier to stay focused on ideas and tasks.  


When we return from vacation, the children are enthusiastic about choosing parts for our spring musical, highlighting their parts, and beginning our read-throughs. This year, choosing parts was a very smooth process. After reading the book, The Phantom Tollbooth, most of the children really knew who they wanted to be, so casting went quite smoothly. Now that the OG has chosen their parts, it is time to bring the thirds in for a read-through so they can figure out which parts they would like to have. Fortunately, there are a lot of juicy roles in the play because there is quite a large group of 3rd grade children joining us for the production.


We have begun working on geometry in math. There is quite a bit of overlap in what we are doing; the younger children are finding the perimeter and area of squares, rectangles, and triangles, while the older children are additionally identifying and measuring angles, naming triangles by sides and angles, and computing the measurements of triangles using 2 given angles. We will soon be moving on to working with circumference and area of circles. 


There is nothing like settling in to some good literature during the winter months. We have started some reading/discussion groups so the children can enjoy sharing what they are reading with each other. In addition to their group reading, they have books they are reading independently. I read aloud to the class almost every day. The most recent book they have requested is The Transall Saga, by Gary Paulson. They are entranced.


The class is reading about and reporting on the presidents for social studies. At this point, we are selecting the first 15 presidents to research. Already there have been some great questions about such topics as what the Whig Party might be.


While we started working on cursive writing earlier in the year, it is finally coming together for the children who are new to cursive.  I love the way their artistic sense kicks in with cursive; the children want their cursive to look nice and take pride in how their writing looks. This year, I have had quite a few graduates thank me for teaching them cursive. It is great when they can see the value of their time spent learning it.


Dennis has been working with us on some really fun new pieces to perform for the Spring Concert coming up in March. Everyone is pumped!


Monday, 11 January 2016 00:00

winter Notes

I am happy to be back at at school. One of the things I have always loved about teaching, especially as a specialist teacher are new beginnings. The beginning of the school year in the the Fall, new seasons throughout the year, new units, projects or subject  matter to explore and of course the new year. Entering deep winter, I was delighted to go exploring with Younger Group and Older Group children this past Monday, our first day back after the holiday break. It was particularly fun to meet the Forest Kindergarten group on the snowy, covered trail.

2016 brings a number of fun activities to art and science. The older group began work on stained glass projects, while younger group children has started a unit on mosaics. Over the next few weeks every student at school will spend some time making observations  of the natural world, recording changes in the increasing amount of daylight, phases of the moon and and the weather.

As we move into February Kindergarten children will start tapping some of our campus’ Sugar Maple trees for sap, which we will then boil down to create delicious Antioch School maple syrup.

A special event to put on your calendars is Science Night, Tuesday, February 2, 2016 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. This has proven to be a fun event with a variety of science activities put together from traditional science activities, parent volunteers and guest-friends of the Antioch School. If you have a science related activity that you would be willing to share that night, please let me know.  

Happy exploring…

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