Lindie's Blog
Lindie Keaton

Lindie Keaton

Saturday, 11 September 2021 01:25

Beginnings

     I'm really enjoying observing this group of children exploring their environment and getting to know themselves and each other.  Here are some highlights from this past week.

  • The children have asked me to tell a story each day at snack time, so we are part way through the Gray Cat stories--a long time Kindergarten oral story tradition.
  • Some children are visiting the garden and the chickens daily--checking to make sure the hens have food, harvesting cucumbers, green peppers, and tomatoes, and planting radishes.
  • The children are already advancing their knowledge of problem solving--how to share a scarce resource; how to deal with bawdy humor (aka potty talk); how to use a wagon to move a heavy item when there aren't enough friends willing to lift it; and a novel solution to how to break a tie vote when deciding on activity plans--everyone's stuffy or stuffy substitute, which was anything from a drawing to a back pack, gets to vote also.  In case you're wondering, the tie was broken when a stuffy voted differently from their Kindergartner:) 
  • The children are learning the routines and taking on responsibilities--remembering to tell me their plans when they go into the building, the meadow, or anywhere that is out of bounds from where we currently are; figuring out the timing of the walk to the bathroom; reading the job chart to find out what their jobs are today and tomorrow; and learning to stuff hammocks back into their stuff sacks.

     They have made hike and shape day plans for next week, and even have field trip plans made for later this month and beyond!  I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out!

Thursday, 10 June 2021 21:24

Kindergarten Remembers--our year in the pandemic!

      At the end of every school year, I ask the children to complete the sentence "I remember. . ." with what they remember from that year to create a group poem and record of their time in Kindergarten.  I write down exactly what they say. I do re-order it to follow the flow of the year.  Hearing the words and memories of this year's group, I really know that despite everything, we did it--we had a successful year together outdoors during a pandemic!  Here is their poem.  Enjoy!

Kindergarten Remembers

I remember when I first came to school.

I remember when we were down in forest classroom.

I remember sticks.

I remember my friends.

I remember lunch.

I remember when we went on hikes.

I remember we saw that bunny.

I remember when we saw that snake.

I remember when we saw animals in the Glen, like the box turtle.

I remember when we builded nests.

I remember that snowy day it was a little hot, and the snow all melted.

I remember when we saw the first cicada.

I remember when we went to the Nursery classroom to see the tadpoles.

I remember the tree falling down.

I remember when I started smelling the stinky smell of the cicadas.

I remember every sunny day was the best day ever.

I remember every rainy day was the worst.

I remember every school year is the best school year.

I remember the good times of the school being the greatest place and the greatest time of my life.

By Kindergarten 2020-21

June 9, 2021

Monday, 31 May 2021 18:40

3 Princesses and 30,000 Cicadas

     Two major events happened recently in Kindergarten.  First, Kindergartners performed an original play they wrote together.  Initially, inspired by the Older Group (OG) musical, they re-enacted Alice in Wonderland on the stage in art/science.  They had me write down the cast and scenes.  They did a run through.  The next time they were in art/science, they got dress up clothes out for costumes and acted out a play they called The Four Princesses.  Later, when some children wanted to practice Alice in Wonderland again, other Kindergartners wanted to do The Four Princesses.  Their solution was to combine the two plays into a new play they entitled Alice and the Three Princesses.  They had a long meeting about who the audience would be.  Some children wanted a small audience, so eventually they settled on inviting Younger Group (YG) to a dress rehearsal and inviting OG and Kindergarten families to a performance the following day.  The dress rehearsal went wonderfully.  On the day of the performance, though, one child, who had a major part, was out sick.  After much conversation, they determined that the show must go on and arrived at a solution--one of the princesses would step into the part of the super hero, and another princess would take over the missing princess' lines, as well as deliver her own.  In that way, Alice and the Two Princesses was performed.

     The second major event was the emergence of the cicadas of brood X (ten).  We had been reading about this 17 year cyclical event, but it was still other-worldly to see thousands of cicadas crawl from the ground, shed their nymph skin and emerge as winged cicadas.  Kindergartners held handfuls of nymph shells and sometimes handfuls of winged cicadas, as well.  They dubbed each other "cicada whisperers" and marveled at each new cicada hatchery we found.  In about a week the males started to call.  There are three types in brood X, and we've heard all three calls in various places and times.  The ones that sounds like a UFO landing have been an almost constant background noise and like a rainbow seem to always be just over the next hill.  We can hear them especially well in the bottom of the valley (drainage swale) between our forest classroom and the cycle circle side of the playground.  Early on the laser sounding ones would crescendo in the afternoons in our own forest classroom.  Later that transitioned into the ones that sound like a sizzle, think water in hot oil, becoming the dominant afternoon voices.  17 years ago my son was in Nursery here at the Antioch School, when the cicadas made their last appearance.  This year he graduated from college.  Likewise, this year's Kindergartners will be young adults when the children of these cicadas emerge.  Kindergartners have been enthralled with this unique phenomenon--the visible life cycle of the cicadas this spring and the way they function as insect time markers for our incremental human growth.  See you in 17 years brood X!

Sunday, 18 April 2021 14:35

Rabbits and snakes and chickens--oh my! from the Glen to Agraria

     Kindergarten started the week with a hike in the Glen all the way to Meatball Rock.  The wildflowers were plentiful and gorgeous.  We are learning to identify as many as we can--spring beauties, violets, cut leafed toothwort, dutchmen's breeches, wild ginger, blood root, toad shade trillium, May apples, and twin leaf were all spotted.  This group loves names and naming.  If it has a name, they want to know it.  If it doesn't, they will name it! 

     It was a great hike for wildlife viewing as well.  First we saw a baby rabbit--just old enough to be on its own--hiding along the bike path.  Just inside the cave, a black rat snake lay on a rock shelf.  Amazingly it didn't slither away upon our arrival.  A parent consulted with a snake knowledgeable cousin and determined the snake was likely getting ready to molt making it too lethargic to get away quickly.

     Mid-week the Kindergartners celebrated Nn days by learning about how birds build nests.  Then they tried their hand at building their own bird nests--some hand held, small enough for a songbird, and some large enough to accommodate a Kindergartner-sized bird.  This traditional Kindergarten activity here has been a favorite of groups for decades and predates my time as Kindergarten teacher.  One Kindergartner declared, "I love birds!  I love this day!"

     Kindergarten ended the week with a long-awaited trip back to Agraria.  They spent an extended time in the morning in imaginative play in the wooded thicket behind the Persimmon Circle.  We visited the small, feeder creek before lunch.  After lunch, the children spent some time exploring a trail they call the obstacle course, which ends up at the end of the small creek.  The children also visited with the hens, who they discovered love dandelions.  Though we've been told the hens are all named Prudence, I over-heard Kindergartners looking for their favorites, who they've named Julia and Chloe.  We finished the day at Jacoby Creek, where some children are still working at how to extract a large piece of what appears to be quartz from between tree roots that have grown solidly around it along the creek bank.  It was a glorious day for the children at what has become one of their favorite places!

    

Saturday, 03 April 2021 20:46

At Home in the Outdoors

     The children smiled widely as they arrived last Monday.  We were back in our forest classroom!  Immediately, they requested to set up hammocks.  For several days this was how the morning started, with children taking turns in hammocks for up to an hour of imaginative play as caterpillars, then chrysalises, and finally butterflies, before starting the cycle over again. 

     We now have a lockable storage chest to keep items like our hammocks in, so that we don't have to transport them back and forth each day.  The children dubbed it the treasure chest.  We also have wood chips on our entrance path and in our fire circle area in anticipation of spring rains that would otherwise turn those areas into slippery mud.  We've given up our pocket charts, as the wind would blow the labels away, and now have smaller, magnetic charts to keep track of our jobs and the day's schedule.  Other than these small improvements, our forest classroom is much the same.  We're home, it seems.

Sunday, 07 March 2021 13:28

Back Together Again!

     The Kindergarten children are delighted to be back together again in person!  It's interesting that the random passing of turns in news that happened in Zoom meetings, as opposed to the around the circle method we used in our forest classroom this past fall, has continued, so that everyone has to pay close attention to who has had their turn and who hasn't.  The children have enjoyed using the indoor room and materials.  They have figured out that the lofts, alcove, and library are places they can play together as a group by having one person in each area.  Lots of mail has been sent back and forth using the pulley that goes from the ground floor library to the lofts.  So many paintings have been done and placed in frames that the room has a whole new look!  By the end of the week, the children were planning hikes, time in our forest classroom, and looking forward to returning to Agraria and to full days in our forest classroom. 

Sunday, 22 November 2020 17:42

Kindergarten Savors Time at Agraria

     Kindergartners love the Fridays we have spent at Agraria, because it combines the best aspects of our hikes in the Glen and the freedom to explore they have in our own forest classroom.  Due to rising numbers of viral cases in our community, Agraria is closing to group use, so this past Friday was our last visit for awhile.  The children made a morning hike plan that included all their favorite stops--the garden, where there was still dill, basil seeds (they taste like candy!), and sage to experience; the maze, where they can find their own way to the trail to the Persimmon Circle, where we had snack; the feeder creek, which was still running and finally yielded a shell find; and the chickens.  In the afternoon, we hiked on a new trail to Jacoby Creek, where the children found fossils, quartz, and an old farm wheel.  The children and I are hopeful that we can visit again this spring and observe these familiar places in a new season. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020 16:36

Creek play at Agraria--"It's like swimming with your clothes on!"

     Kindergartners made a plan for a second visit to Agraria.  The day was one of those unseasonably warm Ohio fall days--windy and with clear skies.  The children wanted to visit the chickens, hike again in the maze (an area just past the big barn) and visit the creek.  Along the way, we discovered an area that had been cleared to make space for a persimmon tree to get more sun.  Someone had arranged log pieces like benches around the persimmon circle--the perfect place for our morning snack.  The children explored the undergrowth, mostly honeysuckle, and began clearing dead wood to make space for club houses and to hang our hammocks on a return trip.  The rest of the morning the children spent along and in the creek which was no longer dry!  Kindergartners discovered which rocks were best to step on for keeping dry feet and which parts of the creek were deep enough to go over a Kindergarten rain boot.

     In the afternoon the children were able to divide their time among several places--the garden, where there was more herb tasting; the barn, where all the tables and chairs had been put along the walls, leaving an immense space for running; and of course, the creek again, where one intrepid Kindergartner decided to remove her boots and socks, roll up her pants and go wading.  Soon many children were barefooted and wading in the creek.  "It's like swimming with clothes on!" declared one Kindergarten wader.  We made sure to walk by the chickens, who we were told are all named Prudence, to say good bye, until our next Agraria visit!

Sunday, 04 October 2020 19:54

Kindergarten visits Agraria!

     Last Friday Kindergarten had our first visit to Agraria, Ohio's first center for regenerative agriculture. Agraria, a project of the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, feels like a sister to Antioch School, also founded by Arthur Morgan. From their website: "Agraria is an educational and research center that explores and demonstrates the benefits of regenerative practices at multiple levels—from the environmental, economic, psychological and social, to their impact on human health and well-being. . ."

Plans for our visit there began, after our hike to the creek in Glen Helen, where the children found shells. Some of them wanted to keep the shells, but because the Glen is a nature preserve, we don't collect items there. Agraria has natural areas that the children can explore and (within reason) collect items to bring with them. We hiked through fields, gardens, meadows, and woods. The children spent a long time in the morning and the afternoon exploring a mostly dry creek bed. They collected interesting rocks, flowers, and hedge apples. They smelled and tasted herbs from the garden--basil, dill, and oregano. They are already looking forward to a return trip!

 

Sunday, 27 September 2020 13:30

Blazing new trails in forest Kindergarten this fall

     Kindergartners are in our forest classroom 100% of the time this fall.  It's the best place to be, as we are working extra hard this year, due to the pandemic, not to spread germs.  This group of children is helping establish our routines, our use of space, and ways of adapting our traditions.  For color days the children have signed up to create a poster for each color to display at the entrance of forest classroom on the appropriate days.  Once the color day has past, I'm then hanging the posters on the windows facing the cycle circle side of the play ground, where everyone at school can see them. 

     This past week the children made plans for two hikes.  On the second hike they went all the way to Meatball Rock, which is one of the longest out and back hikes we generally do in Kindergarten.  This is definitely a hiking group!  A Kindergartner made a request for a lesson on pocket knife use this week, and a small group joined for instruction and then whittling time in our fire circle area.  By the end of the week, the children had gotten interested in constructing shelters in the forest classroom, using sticks, an old wooden pallet, some twine and cord, and wood planks Brian had in the art/science room.  MJ brought a child sized saw that several children used to cut some larger branches to more manageable sizes.  The structure, which they call a fort, can only fit two children.  There are several ideas on how to accommodate more--make it bigger, add more rooms, build a neighborhood.  It's an ongoing project, and I'm very interested in where it will take them. 

    

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