Tag Archive | birds

Little Moments – Little Joys

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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

Making Art and Memories

Image

We called it an art show but the gathering that took place on Friday at the Hanna Fenichel Center for Child Development could have been called a “Family Reunion” and the title would have been just as appropriate!

Image

For those of you who have children enrolled in the school or have visited the Garden Classroom, you know that my little bit of paradise is situated up a level from the other classrooms. The place was JUMPING and filled with many kinders, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders and all siblings of our current students and thrilled to be swinging on “their” tire swing under the fabulous Mr. Tree, or roaming up and down on the slides. I had a throng of children in the Art Cottage and on the deck reliving their cherished memories of spending time at Hanna.

Image

Image

They used the same materials that their younger siblings have used to create our two rainbow pieces (still works in progress) and view the pumpkin plants (and sunflowers) that have sprouted from the seeds taken from the donated pumpkins left over from the Halloween pumpkin patch. (These pumpkins brought to us by KK and Eli are the pumpkins that “keep on giving!”)

Image

While not discovered by our older siblings, one little sister enjoyed “painting” with the slip (a liquid mixture of clay and water that is used to help weld clay pieces together) in our clay display. She was using it in the proper context as one child discovered while working on the sculptures that were featured. (After seeing how children began painting leaves found on the ground with the slip, I used Mod Podge to protect the clay covered leaf and punched a hole in it and created a mobile with them.) I eventually enticed several of the older children to paint some of the leaves so they could be added to our mobile

Image

Image

Another display featured our attempts (SUCCESSFUL!) to entice the birds to visit the Garden Classroom. Besides various artifacts I have collected and our beloved “bird family” (that gets played with almost daily), the Bird Journal that tells the story that started last year was also on display.  (I’m not sure what it means if the photographer is caught in a mirror while taking a photo. I certainly didn’t do it on purpose!

Image

Visitors to the Garden Classroom can view the beautiful  sign inviting the birds to “come and eat” created by several children and displayed at the Art Show. The story of how this sign came to be created can be found in the Bird Journal.

Image

Even after putting the art and displays away, the parents, who seemed reluctant to acknowledge that the “Art Show” was over, joined the children under our sheltering pepper tree and enjoyed the lingering sunshine and each other’s company while the siblings continued to play, laugh and make new memories of being together at Hanna!

Image

For the Birds!

Image

For months, our beautiful, tranquil Garden Classroom has been overwhelmed by  the terrible noise coming from road work being done on Highway 101 that backs up to the school property. As we approach spring, the noise has finally dissipated and we have heaved a great sign of relief! We are particularly grateful because many children have been working on several projects to welcome the song birds back to the Garden Classroom. Although a couple of crows show up regularly scrounging up leftovers from the children from the transition class who eat lunch in the Garden Classroom while waiting for their brothers and sisters from the 5 day class get out of class, we have not seen a single sign of any song birds nibbling from our feeders.

Image

To help the birds feel welcome, I have offered several resources to entice the children to learn more about birds and their behaviors and invite them to create some amenities to make the birds want to visit and enjoy their stay.

Image

A favorite book, Smithsonian: Bird Watcher by David Burnie has provided many ideas for attracting birds and inspired our young naturalists from the 3 Day afternoon class to create a simple bird bath. This book also inspired several children to create hanging bird feeders using plastic water bottles. .

Image

I have invited the children to take a close look at several bird’s nest I have collected and invited them to create a list of materials the birds used to make their nests. We have started to gather similar items and put them in a metal suet holder as a way to provide nesting materials for our new (hopefully!) birdie friends.

Image

One of the more ambitious and creative projects is creating a welcome sign for the birds that lets the birds know that food is available. This sign will include messages such as, “Birdies! Have food there!”, “Eat it! It’s good for you!” and “Only birds!”

Image

Besides providing food, shelter and water for birds and butterflies we have met the needs to qualify to be certified as a wildlife habitat for the National Wildlife Federation! I will be filling out the form and in the process, provide pictures of our beautiful environment and tell the story of how the children of Hanna have created a lovely, TRANQUIL refuge for the wildlife AND people!

 

 

Coaching Children to Learn

 

 

IMG_7900

 

While setting up the Garden Classroom each day I don’t always know how the children will interact with the materials or where an investigation will go or what the outcome will be. Really, each day could be compared with a birthday party filled with surprises! As the children arrive and look around for what is familiar or new, I am eager (as any of the wonderful teachers I work with) to support or challenge the children to gain new skills or reach another developmental milestone. The greatest thrill for me is for a child to get excited about learning.

IMG_7574

As two of my mentors have reminded me through attending their workshops, reading their books and even an onsite, Hanna Workshop with one of these amazing educators, Deb Curtis and Margie Carter really emphasize that school is for learning and it is not a teacher’s role to be passive. While not enough can be said about the importance of giving children time to have fun with open-ended materials, and being successful at playing well with other children for an extended amount of time (authors and educators Betty Jones and Gretchen Reynolds call the children who have this ability, “master players,”) it is still important to step in at the right moment and do what Curtis and Cater call “coach children to learn about learning.” *

IMG_8143

As I watched one of our bright, young learners enthusiastically illustrate his building after being offered a clipboard; I was reminded of other incidents where a child went deeper with his or her thinking, was able to solve a problem or make a new discovery after being given a tool or coached by a teacher. I was able to capture several of these instances that illustrate some of Curtis and Carter’s principals and make my days more satisfying and fulfilling.

 

IMG_8151IMG_8154IMG_8159

Help children use reference materials to support their learning After the “Rainbow Committee” decided which color chips should represent the colors of the rainbow based on personal knowledge and supported by research, the next step was choosing the appropriate tint for each color. Avery compared the selection on the red chip and to the picture of an actual rainbow in the book. After choosing the correct shade, she added white to lighten our paint sample.

 

IMG_7917

Teach children to look closely  I have been inviting children to take a closer look at the hummingbird nest that I found in the Garden Classroom after the pepper tree was trimmed to see what the nest was made out of. The next step will be to provide the birds with some of the items to help them make  new nests.

 

IMG_8106

Teach children to draw in order to see more clearly When asked how we can entice the birds to eat the sunflower seeds we provided, Luella suggested that we make a birdhouse and create a sign that would say, “Birdies have food there!” I asked her to draw the birdhouse that she had in mind, and interestingly, it looks like it could be made out of a gourd. We happen to have several that dried out since we received them in November!

 

IMG_8022

Support children to learn from their friends Bennett knew that birds need food AND water. He discovered a plan for creating a simple bird bath in a book on bird watching. After I brought the needed items from home, he proceeded to set up the bath but couldn’t quite get the pan lid to sit on top of the bricks. We invited Nathaniel to look at the book and he helped Bennett place the bricks closer together to support the pan lid. This coming week, we will work on placing the bird bath in a safe place where we can watch the birds.

With Joy!

Francie

 

*Curtis and Carter, Learning Together with Young Children (2008)