Archive | January 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

For those of you who follow Reflections of the Garden Classroom, you are indeed getting another email featuring the same story that I published yesterday. After I published the story, I realized I that I had not included the title. Somehow, when I went to correct it, I managed to lose the complete post and had to do it all over again. For those of you who know me well, you know how much I love technology. Grrrrr…..

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Do you remember the ad on television featuring a parent pushing a shopping cart down the aisle at Staples Office Supplies and gleefully tossing school supplies into the cart? Meanwhile, a couple of kids are walking behind the parent all glum faced, with the classic holiday song, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” playing. I laughed every time I saw it! As a parent with teenagers at the time, I will admit I was a bit relieved they were returning to school. Now, you may be wondering how a teacher feels about returning to school after a break.

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September is exciting. While I am, personally, a bit reluctant to leave my lazy days of sleeping in and lots of opportunities to go camping, I really look forward to reuniting with my co-teachers and welcoming our young students back to our beautiful, clean and organized classrooms. But let me tell you what “the most wonderful time of the year” is: RIGHT NOW!

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Every teacher I have ever worked with will agree with me that welcoming our students back to school in January, after the holidays is the best time of year. The children are all feeling confident and demonstrating a huge leap in abilities and skills. Nowhere is this more apparent than with our current group of 5 Day kiddos!

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First of all, this group of children resides in a special place in my heart. They are the very first group of Hanna students to have have experienced the Garden Classroom in Transition, and 3 Day, and now in the 5 Day program. They not only know the Garden Classroom, they OWN it! So it is bringing me such pleasure to be looking around each day and see that these children are totally engaged and learning and, and many cases, showcasing their abilities. I wish I had thought last week to take a picture looking across the entire Garden Classroom, so you could see how there were small groups of children engaged in every center and activity.

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So here’s to the most wonderful time of year, where the children are not only busy building, creating, experimenting and communicating, but also exhibiting the skills that come from our having given them the time, materials and belief that play is essential to a child’s growth and development.

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 With Joy! 

Francie

 

This entry was posted on January 28, 2014. 3 Comments

Little Moments – Little Joys

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I think I can speak for everyone here at Hanna Fenichel who returned to our daily routine after the holidays: it was filled with cheerful   greetings of “Happy New Year” and pleasant reunions. We shared stories about our travels and adventures, family gatherings and the delicious calories consumed. I will be honest- I did not return to school filled with a great deal of energy or any creative ideas  What activities that did  take  place in the Garden Classroom had a common theme: easy and fun!

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I set up some  attention-getting/no-fail activities starting on Monday with what my young scientists called, “purple,” “explosion,” “volcanoing,” and “volcano eruptions” science.  In laymen terms, colored vinegar and baking soda. This has to be the BEST scientific experience for young children. They never tire of the seemingly magical, colorful bubbles and exciting eruptions.  Unfortunately, I ran out of baking soda, but that wasn’t the end of the excitement or learning possibilities.

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I filled up our “lab table” with a ton of corks and water and outfitted the center with some tools that the scientists called, “pinchers,” and “catchers” and some nets. Again, simple ingredients combined with the joyful curious minds of young learners created an opportunity for learning AND they had a blast!

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This science was called “up science” by Cameron. Which makes perfect sense. He and his fellow scientists experimented with the corks and water displacement. While using the scientific method and learning about water displacement and buoyancy, they got so excited when the corks popped up!  I think I will be adding some metal items to the corks on Monday and see how our scientists react to these new properties of density and weight.

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Along with the excitement happening in the Science Lab, several of our nature lovers helped me fill up the birdfeeders and made sure the birdbath was filled with water. (This is a very simple birdbath using a lid from a pot and placed upside down on some bricks.) I assured everyone that we get feathery visitors every day.

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I have seen lesser goldfinches, house finches, dark-eyed juncos, a dove, hummingbirds, sparrows, and the most common of all- crows, after the children leave and the Garden Classroom gets very quiet.

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Wyatt enjoyed looking at my favorite book for young birders, Smithsonian: The Bird-watcher and saw where former student and artist Livvi Belle got her inspiration for the birdfeeder we are still using. It uses a plastic water bottle. Wyatt drew a design for the decoration he will add to the birdfeeder he is looking forward to making. He also shared with me how he has a birdbath at his home and how his mother fills it with a hose.

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After we hung up the birdfeeders, one last chore remained. Luella needed to hang up the sign she created last school year (with the help of some friends) that invited the “birdies” to come and eat.

As the week concluded and the creative juices started kicking in, I began to see where we can begin to build on these little moments of joy as we start to think more seriously about our annual Art Show and what kind of lasting memories these children will leave behind as they move on to elementary school. I see the possibilities of a book featuring our favorite science experiments to share with future students. I would LOVE to make a more permanent and beautiful birdbath for our lovely, feathered visitors.

I am NOW filled with energy and my creative juices are running, thanks to my wonderful, exuberant students! Happy New Year!

With Joy!

Francie