Spring 2020

Sunflower

The spring of 2020 was probably the most uncertain time of all of our lives. I felt like I was waiting for something but didn’t know what I was waiting for nor when it was going to get here. It was an eerie feeling.

Kind of like that feeling before a snow storm. Although the spring of 2020 gave us so much to consider, I noticed it was a breathtakingly beautiful spring. The most beautiful spring I can remember. Unfortunately, our springs in this area have been reduced to a couple of weeks at best. This spring the colors were vibrant and vivid. The blooms were heavy, long lasting and big. The pear trees didn’t shed nearly as quickly as they usually do.

The sky was even bluer. We had a LOT of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. This resulted in a technicolor spring. There are so many lilac bushes in Miss Amy’s neighborhood I could smell them every time we went outside. The tulips, daffodils, dogwood, red-buds all the early bloomers, really showed off. It gave me some comfort.

Getting to know the upstairs children took me out of my comfort zone and kept me on my toes as they are not easily impressed. We turned everything into a project. How many buckets does it take to return the sand to the playground from the dump buckets? The answer was 87.

We documented new birds that came to the feeders we made.

Mr. Peanuts, our squirrel, does indeed like peanuts although it took him 11 days to find them. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were very social, they made some duck friends and they all slept in the puddles outside.

We learned the Hand Jive – Bob Bop Clap Clap Side to Side. Everyone is very coordinated except for me. I made Bananas Foster French Toast with whipped cream. It was delicious! Now we are all back where we are more accustomed to being. It feels like home. We planted some impatiens but they failed to come up. We planted basil instead. We also turned grass seed, selfies, and plastic cups into a “Chia Pet”. We continued our seasonal tree art collaboration that was inspired by a project from a few years ago.

Seasonal Tree

Until next time,

Ms. Micha

THE BABY CARRIAGE 2000

Yesterday had all appearances of being an unremarkable day. It was a rainy and somewhat chilly day, so we opted to spend our morning indoors. Of course, we would rather be playing in the fresh air but we were determined to not let an indoor day dampen our spirits.

As the morning unfolded, the imaginations of our young friends began to engage in dramatic play. They discovered a couple of babies and proceeded to imitate life and the world around them in the shape of family. Almost immediately they began to collaborate by assessing what these babies needs will be. They shared their thoughts and ideas and they strategized what they would need and how they would go about caring for these babies.

Their problem solving paid off and it was decided that a baby carriage would be a good start. So “C” flexed his excellent engineering muscles and set about designing the perfect baby carriage for their new little ones. As everyone made suggestions, “C” incorporated them into the plan and had me label all the ‘important parts’. Let me tell you this carriage has all the bells and whistles. It is a two-seater with lights, a phone charger, and a drink holder. It also has music capabilities with some pre-recorded songs ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Rock A Bye Baby’. It will even include assembly instructions. After completing the specifications “C” dubbed his creation “The Baby Carriage 2000” and everyone applauded their approval.

“A” found a telephone and called in the order to ‘Amazon’. After the order was placed, she proclaimed “Maybe it will get here today!!” which made us all very excited and happy. My gears were quickly set into motion as I thought of a way to take this idea a bit further. I quickly sent Miss Jasmine downstairs to retrieve our baby carriage. When she arrived at the door with the carriage in hand our girls were so thrilled, they cheered in excitement and “C” stood with his hands on his hips nodding and smiling.

The remains of our day were spent taking turns with the carriage and taking care of our very happy babies.

Miss Stephanie

Is It Dead?

For the first time in a long time, there was a chill in the air, a nose nipping cold that warned of the impending winter. The wind blew restlessly through the crystal clear sky causing Camille to scrunch tighter into herself. Though the sun was shining down from the cloudless heavens, she had no hope of warming her skin in its rays. She was simply too small, her legs too stubby, her limps too frozen to make the long journey to the sidewalk where she would find the balmy sanctuary. So instead, Camille curled up into a little ball. She was determined to outlast the cold. Surely, given enough time, it would warm up and she could gather the strength to make the trek. Settling in, Camille had just accepted her fate when the ground started shaking. Giant feet fell from the sky, stamping all around her. It was terrifying! Fearful for her life, she rolled herself into the smallest ball she could. She was trying to look dead, trying to hide in plain sight and at first, it seemed to be working.

“Look! A caterpillar!” Blaire yelled, stooping down to prod the little ball with his fingers.

When Camille didn’t move immediately, Blaire grew concerned. Poking at her again, this time with more oomph, Blaire vocalized, “Is it dead?”

Becoming aware that there was a potential pet caterpillar in the works, another child ran over to see what was happening. Falling to his knees by Blaire, the other child, named Lenny, watched as Blaire nudged Camille a third time.

“Maybe he got stepped on,” Blaire announced, a sense of prideful satisfaction lacing his tone.

In Blaire’s mind, there could be no other solution. The caterpillar was curled up and not moving. Death was the answer.

“Let’s step on him more!” Lenny replied enthusiastically, thinking that if Camille was already dead, squishing her guts all over the floor wouldn’t matter one way or another.

“NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!” Camille screamed in her tiny caterpillar voice, trying to wiggle out of her ball. But, before she could manage that much movement, another voice echoed her sentiment.

“What?! No! Don’t step on it! That’s not very nice. How would you like it if someone came out of nowhere and stepped on you?”

Lenny looked back over his shoulder in the direction of the voice with an apologetic and simultaneously guilty face, putting his foot back down on the ground without crushing Camille. Breathing a small sigh of relief, Camille relaxed, but only a little. She still had no idea what the two boys hovering over her had in store for her.

“Please don’t hurt me,” she whimpered.

Meanwhile, above her, the boys were oblivious to her pleas and lost in their own world of deduction.

“Maybe he’s sleeping,” Blaire said, rolling her over to see if she would move at all.

“I think he’s dead,” Lenny disagreed, “But, he can still be our pet caterpillar. Let’s go get a bucket.”

“Okay!”

Running off to get a bucket, the boys left Camille to herself. Not sure what being a “pet caterpillar” would mean and already concerned given that just moments ago they wanted to step on her, Camille tried her hardest to unravel, but she was just too weak. Before she knew it, the boys were back and had scooped her up into a cold steel bucket. Thankfully though, they didn’t do much to her. Most of their conversation was still centered around whether or not she was alive.

“I’m alive! I’m alive!” she yelled, but to no avail.

“Hey, let’s go put some sand in the bucket for him,” Blaire decided, already up and running off to the sandbox with Lenny in tow.

When they got down to the sunny sandbox, they plopped the bucket down and started sprinkling sand on top of her. Spluttering, Camille ever so slightly shook off the granules. It was the smallest of movements, but it was enough to get her moving. Down here in the sandbox, she was bathed in sunlight. Its beams were soaking into her body and it was like waking up after a long long nap. Little by little, she started to stretch out. Despite her squirming though, she was still being drenched in sand.

Suddenly, the same voice that saved her life from earlier appeared again, “Blaire, hand me the bucket for a minute. Are you sure the caterpillar is dead?”

“He’s not moving,” Blaire answered.

“Just let me see the bucket for a sec, buddy.”

Reluctantly, Blaire handed over the bucket and a giant brown eye swam over its rim, staring down at her. Knowing that this person was the only one who thought she wasn’t dead, Camille renewed her stretching efforts. Slowly she unfurled her whole body and made a show of shaking herself off.

“Blaire, look! See? It’s moving. The caterpillar’s not dead,” the voice announced, letting the boys peer into the bucket as Camille danced away to prove the statement true.

“Yeah!” Lenny yelled enthusiastically, “Caterpillar’s alive!”

“Come on! Let’s go play with him,” Blaire said.

“Okay,” Lenny nodded, following Blaire back up to the porch, musing about the caterpillar as he went, “Maybe he likes the sun…”

From that moment on, the boys and Camille had a lot of fun together. Warmed from her time in the sun, returning to the porch was not a problem and the boys were much kinder to Camille once they knew she was alive and crawling around. All day they played together, Blaire and Lenny making sure nobody stepped on Camille. It was so much fun! And at the end of the day, the boys let Camille loose and everybody went home to sleep soundly and play again another day.

 

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher

Problem solving.

Over the last few weeks I have been observing the children in my care a little more closely than I usually do. I was looking for something to write about in this blog.

As I was watching the children play outside in our large sandbox, I soon realized that there is a whole lot of problem solving going on. I do of course realize that a large part of growing up is solving problems, in order to move forward and grow, both mentally and physically, but I don’t think that I had quite realized just how much problem solving there really was going on!

A lot of the time, we adults just act without thinking about what we are doing or why we are doing what we are doing. When a child asks us for help we are quick to do for the children what they need to figure out for themselves, not because we do not care, but because it is quicker or because we are tired and don’t want to deal with problem solving ourselves.

Oh no, the wagon wheel is stuck! How do we get it unstuck?

Oh no, the wagon wheel is stuck! How do we get it unstuck?

My first observation in our sandbox was a 3-year-old boy on a tricycle who pretended to be stuck, and who wanted me to come to his rescue. We have a concrete path that goes all the way around our very large sandbox, on which the children ride their tricycles, run or walk. We call this path the sidewalk. The boy had managed to get one of the tricycle wheels stuck between the sidewalk and the sand. My first impulse was to go over to him and lift him and his tricycle back up on the sidewalk, problem solved, quickly! Then I paused and thought to myself, no I will try something else. I asked the boy what he could do to get back up onto the sidewalk himself. He just shrugged his shoulders and told me that he didn’t know what to do. I was not convinced that he had even stopped to consider any options at all in that short time of space. I waited, giving him some more time to think about his problem and then I wondered out loud what could be done to solve his dilemma. By this time, several other children had gathered around us, curious to see what was going on. I explained what the problem was and asked them if they had any ideas on how to help our friend.

How can I get my trucks unstuck? Perhaps a bucket and a shovel will help?

How can I get my trucks unstuck? Perhaps a bucket and a shovel will help?

After some serious contemplation, several suggestions were offered: “We can put the tricycle back on the sidewalk”. “We can push the tricycle back up onto the sidewalk”. “I think that he (the boy on the trike) should get off first”. During the discussion I had taken a step back, both to observe the situation but also not to interfere with their young minds in problem solving mode. Before long, both tricycle and boy were back on the sidewalk again. Now the boy pretended to get stuck every 10 feet or so! When he asked me for help, I just smiled at him and said “What shall we do?”, and several children would offer both advice and help. All of a sudden, toy trucks and toy wagons had their wheels stuck in the sand and needed rescuing! Children’s feet got buried and needed digging up!

Where is that cup?

Where is that cup?

 

Buckets from our outdoor kitchen were lost and needed finding! There were problems everywhere and the children were eager to find solutions to them all!

Another day, again in our great sandbox, our director had put several tree stumps in the sand, for the children to climb and balance on. One of my 2-year old students loves these tree stumps! He is very agile, very determined and unafraid. As soon as we go outside he runs to these tree stumps, to climb and balance on them. Two of the stumps were positioned a little farther apart from each other than the rest, so my young friend was not able to walk from one to the other.

Balancing on tree stumps.

Balancing on tree stumps.

He reached for my hand, to help him. With my help, he was now able to jump from one stump to the other, with great delight, I may add. I was a bit concerned about his safety, knowing that he was going to try to jump between the stumps without adult supervision, as soon as I turned my back to him, something that was unknown to him, beyond his capabilities. The next time the boy reached for my hand I told him that he should try it on his own. I stayed nearby to observe him and to make sure that he didn’t jump on his own. When the boy got to the gap in the stumps he stopped and tried several tactics. He somehow realized that he was not going to be able to just walk across. He tried to touch the stump with his tippy toes. He got off the stump and into the sandbox and climbed up onto the next stump. He tried crawling across. Once he had tried all these techniques, he was able to reach his leg far enough in front of himself that he only needed to make a small jump to get to the other side. Problem solved. Success!

Jump for joy - the problem is solved!

Jump for joy – the problem is solved!

Children are natural problem solvers. By giving them time and opportunity to solve their own problems we are actually helping them to grow. Children’s ability to do things for themselves will give them the self-confidence that they need in order to tackle bigger and more complex problems all throughout their lives. We all have to start out small and build on what knowledge we have. Our job as adults is to help children become independent and we can do this by helping them feel competent and confident that there is a solution to their problem and that we are confident in them that they can find this solution for themselves. Of course, from time to time, we can all use a little help from our friends.

– Miss Maria, Teacher for the 2’s Class.

Let’s try this together

It’s so nice to see everyone from our classes work together. I tried to capture a few of their moments from this week.
One of the boys from my class was helping a new friend from Miss Maria’s class work on a puzzle, she loves to work on puzzles almost daily.

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Later I found two from my class working together to build a tower using our cardboard blocks. Then it became a challenge, one of our new friends kept running over, knocking the tower down and running off squealing. We finally had to block her from doing this. They had to recruit Miss Jess to help finish the tower once it got too tall for them to add the blocks.

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After the tower fell they began to build a fence using the same blocks. The friend that kept knocking the tower down decided she wanted to help them build a fence, they were hesitant at first but gave in and she helped.

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This morning while we were outside two from my class worked together to fill buckets and a wagon up with water from our rain barrels. It was a challenge at first between them to let the other help but they were very successful at making it work and amazingly they stayed fairly dry this time!

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Have a great weekend!
Miss Susie

Tis the season of growth.

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                    Happy Arbor Day!
Here at Miss Amy’s we have planted several saplings. Pictured, you can see from left to right; Washington Hawthorn, American Redbud and Sargent Crabapple. We made wire cages for our young trees to protect them a little until they are big enough to fight for themselves, so to speak.

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We have also planted a garden; carrots, onions, Swiss Chard, beets, peas, potatoes and spinach. Next month we will plant even more crops and add an other garden. As you can see, there is a path right through the middle of the vegetable garden for easy access by all. The children are enjoying this new adventure and are eager to help.

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Here is a close up of some of our seedlings. From left to right; cauliflower, broccoli and kale.

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We also have a strawberry patch and a black currant bush which are both in bloom at the moment.

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On our porch, a Robin has decided to nest and she is now lying on her eggs. We are all looking forward to seeing the little chicks in the not too distant future. She may be a little surprised at the noise level in the coming weeks though. When she built her nest the weather was a lot cooler than it is now… We will all do our very best not to disturb her or her chicks.

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Speaking of nests and birds… We have our very own pet chicken! Her name is Minerva Louise. We have raised her since she was just a few days old, which is now several years ago. Minerva Louise has been very busy these last couple of months, laying about one egg every single day.

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Plants and birds are not the only things that have been busy growing here at Miss Amy’s. Several of our children have been asking to be measured to make sure that they are actually getting taller. Some children check their height several times a day, just to be on the safe side. One girl wanted me to measure her with the yard stick and we concluded that yes, she was in fact taller than the yard stick itself, and she would never be smaller than it ever again! She was not quite convinced so she came back several times to compare herself next to it. To her great relief she had not shrunk one little bit! We talk about growing taller and growing bigger a lot, as you can probably imagine. I tell the children that they all grow a little bit taller every day. This is very exciting to young children. The older kids are not quite so sure about that, so I like to add that they may only grow a very small bit every day, so that they may not notice it. This reassures most of them. Many times I have heard that “You are growing taller too, Miss Maria!” I try to explain that you will eventually stop growing, when you have reached the hight you are supposed to be, and after that if you keep growing it is just your waistline that grows a little wider but that is usually something we adults do not really like so much…

Let’s hope that we never stop growing, socially and emotionally and that we learn something new every day, for as long as we shall live!

Have a great weekend and plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day!

– Miss Maria

Take Flight 

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it. – Peter Pan

Every year around this time my class becomes obsessed with flight. They talk about it, they try to do it, they draw it. Their entire day seems to become centered around flight.  This year is no different. A lot of my kids this year are more technical, scientific, and hands on as opposed to my class last year that dreamed of fairies and caring for birds.  

Lego planes are quite popular with boys and girls! 

 

 Our recycled art is taking off too! They have found ways to use old cardboard and marker lids to create planes and space satilights. 

 

  

  The block center is being used to make gigantic satelights that are ready for orbit.   

Even the fish aren’t exempt… 

 

“Miss Amber the fish aren’t swimming they are flying through the water!”

-Miss Amber

Up-cycling Spy Gear

The children often bring their current fascinations and ideas into the atelier to seek space and means to give them form. With spy gear being the rage right now, we spent the morning fashioning binoculars, telescopes, spy watches, spy belts and special spy phones from the cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towel rolls and just a bit of string. It is a wondrous thing to watch what they see in the ordinary and discarded….endless, limitless possibilities

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