Archive | November 2012

More Adventures with Pumpkins

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Pumpkins!? Still?! Yes! The pumpkins continue to enchant and inspire our young investigators.  It has been my objective to provide a variety of activities to fulfill our need for a variety of learning styles and what Howard Gardner describes as “multiple intelligences.”* But what is so interesting is how an abundant variety of pumpkins and gourds in itself can fulfill the need for a rich learning environment for our children.

Here are some examples of the many activities and discoveries that continue to stimulate the learning and imagination of the children of Hanna.

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Children love to climb on top of the larger pumpkins and show off their great courage and ability to balance on such a massive orb. .

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More fancy tricks!

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One of the most surprising uses for the pumpkins and gourds was how several children incorporated them into their play. This fine specimen turned out to be a wonderful stand in for a baby.

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This scene is the beginning  a very deep and prolonged story acted out by several girls in the 3 Day Class. They used the pumpkins to represent a family who were going on a trip “very far away on a different planet.”

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At one point, a pumpkin was used to “put gas” into the dinosaur.

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In this scene,  the family had arrived at the planet and were being settled into their beds. What a wonderful adventure!

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Another interesting use for pumpkins came about while Kendra was watching the 3 Day afternoon group rolling pumpkins down the slide. She gathered paper and taped it to the slide and positioned bowls of paint at the top of the stairs. This activity garnered lots of excitement and was a natural extension of what the children had been doing with the pumpkins.

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Another example of a negotiated curriculum was a project that Lori (student teacher) initiated after watching the children paint the pumpkins. She recalled a favorite activity from her childhood where she paper mached small balloons that were filled with such things as beans or rice. After they dried, the  finished products could be used as musical instruments. This project would end up (we hoped) looking like the dried gourd we use as an instrument.

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Our pumpkins continue to entertain, inspire and offer opportunities for learning. One of the things we are curious about is the sprouted seed that was pulled out of the inside of this cracked pumpkin!

I hope that you feel the same sense of wonder that I felt as you look at how the children engage with mere vegetables. The great varieties of pumpkins and gourds that lie around the pepper tree and under the climber have brought a storybook feel to the Garden Classroom. Yet, it is the children who bring the magic and make the Garden Classroom so enchanting. It is their curiosity, vivid imagination, inexhaustible energy and  developing intellect that fills us with gratitude everyday and especially in this time for Thanksgiving. As for the pumpkins, I believe they will continue to inspire new adventures and investigations when we return after our holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving! With Joy! Francie

* “Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified seven distinct intelligences. This theory has emerged from recent cognitive research and “documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways,” according to Gardner (1991). According to this theory, “we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences – the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.”

The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide, by Carla Lane /tchweb.org

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A Blustery Day!

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Now one autumn morning when the wind had blown all the leaves off the trees in the night, and was trying to blow the branches off, Pooh and Piglet were sitting in the Thoughtful Spot and wondering.          

“What I think,” said Pooh, “is I think we’ll go to Pooh Corner and see Eeyore, because perhaps his house has been blown down, and perhaps he’d like us to build it again.”

“What I think,” said Piglet, “is I think we’ll go and see Christopher Robin, only he won’t be there, so we can’t.”

“Let’s go and see everybody,” said Pooh, “Because when you’ve been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house , and he says, “Hallo, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.” 

Chapter VIII IN WHICH Piglet Does a Very Grand Thing                                                                            The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

As I walked towards Hanna on Friday morning and greeted Evan’s mom as she was putting baby Phoebe into her car seat, she described the cool, breezy weather as a “Winnie-the-Pooh” day. That thought stuck with me all day as the children seemed super-charged by the wind. They ran up and down from the lower playground to the Garden Classroom, and around the climber, reminiscent of the Indianapolis 500. The highlight of the day for me was seeing the children in the 5 Day program flying their “kites” from the highest reaches of the climber.  The look of joy on their faces as their papers punched with a hole and tied to a string actually gaining height because of the wind was contagious. I felt their exhilaration! 

So, it was only natural that I pulled out my beloved copies of A.A. Milne when I got home and researched what Winnie-the Pooh had to say about a windy, blustery day. The fact that a windy day inspired Pooh to seek out his friend, Eeyore to inquire about the condition of his house in order to remedy the situation makes my memories of reading this sweet tale as a youngster more meaningful, especially because of the present condition of our own “neighbors” on the East Coast. And of course, I had to chuckle when it was revealed that Pooh is happily anticipating being warmly greeted and offered a “smackerel.” Who doesn’t want that?! Best of all, going out and calling on neighbors, inquiring about their welfare and perhaps being warmly greeted and being offered a goody, is what Pooh calls a “Friendly Day.” 

While our bit of stormy weather was mild compared to what people experience in other parts of the country, it is good to be like Pooh and welcome the little storms with the possibilities of friendship, caring and a little hospitality. I think it is quite reasonable to say, that every day at Hanna Fenichel is a Friendly Day. I invite all of you to have your own Friendly Day! Go fly a kite, check out the welfare of a neighbor or share a tasty treat with a friend!

This entry was posted on November 11, 2012. 6 Comments

Pumpkin Extravaganza!

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As I was approaching the front gate to Hanna on Friday, I was greeted with some big smiles and several comments such as, “Wait ‘till you see!” and “Lots of pumpkins!” So I was not too surprised, but still thrilled to be greeted by the happy faces of Katherine and Eliana as I approached the entrance to the Garden Classroom. What was all the excitement about? Well, the twin’s mother Suzanne repeated her generous gift of time and muscle from last year and loaded her vehicle with free (to schools) pumpkins and gourds from the pumpkin patch the day after Halloween.  What I missed out on but heard about, was how so many of you and the children helped Suzanne get the pumpkins unloaded and carried up to the Garden Classroom. It must have been a wonderful sight! So I am very happy to report to you the happy results of our “2nd Annual Pumpkin Extravaganza at Hanna Fenichel!”

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The 3 Day class enjoyed moving the pumpkins around and onto the climber. They started by working together and placing some of the larger pumpkins up the stairs and into the tunnel. Then they placed as many of the smaller pumpkins and gourds on the steps. It was all about the abundance. These hard workers were pleased by the sight of so many pumpkins! Meanwhile, several boys were busy trying to move the giant pumpkins. While not having much success working individually, they started pairing up and were able to move them forward but not onto the climber where they really wanted the pumpkins to reside.

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A few children wandered over to a table where I had place several of the smaller pumpkins and soft, balls of clay. There was a little bit of experimentation but time was running out. I’ll bring the clay out again on Monday.

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The 5 day children entered the Garden Classroom with great enthusiasm and with what I believe some memory of last year’s encounter with the dozens of pumpkins delivered by Suzanne. One child did a exuberant dance that he called, “a happy pumpkin dance” and several children and teachers joined him.

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Others grabbed the pumpkins that had been gathered and lined up on the steps of the climber and finished their journey by pushing the pumpkins down the slide. Quickly, a protocol was agreed upon by calling, “Watch out! Pumpkin coming!” so everyone would remain safe. Our wonderful intern from UCSD assigned to Room 4, Caitlin, was quick to step in and protect the rolling pumpkins from smashing into the wall of the Art Cottage. Later, she arranged tires to do the job.

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The clay proved to be very inviting to this group of children. Clay was applied to the pumpkins themselves. Various seeds and seed pods were added to the pumpkins to create facial features. What appealed to me the most was the collaboration between the artists. Two children worked together to apply clay to a larger pumpkin and two boys joined their pumpkins together. One of the artists called the conjoined pumpkins “a space ship” and the other called it “a monster.” Neither one was bothered that they didn’t agree on the end product’s official identity!

Well, the festivities are not over! I’m sure that we will be having lots of fun and certainly some learning will occur as we continue to explore and interact with the pumpkins over the coming weeks. Thank you Suzanne, Eli and K-K!