Tag Archive | math

A Winter Wonderland


It may not always be appropriate to add “snow” to an emergent style curriculum such as we use at Hanna, since snow really isn’t a part of our landscape, but considering that nature inspires so much of what we do in the Garden Classroom, I did think it would be appropriate to spend our last couple of days before starting our winter break celebrating the winter’s solstice. With some help of several girls from Room 3, we experienced some seasonal changes in the much beloved “deer” play tray. (While it really features lots of forest animals, it is the little deer family that gets the most attention.)


The little colored, plastic leaves were raked out and some faux snow was sprinkle on to the forested habitat. The children were invited to paint and glitter some pine cones as a way to enrich and personalize the forest.


I also turned the sensory table into an Arctic play land for little plastic polar bears and other animals that reside in the North Pole. Two of my mentors, Deb Curtis and Margie Carter taught me that something “sparkly…or wondrous and magical” (Designs for Living and Learning, 2003) should always be included, so sparkly silver and blue pom-poms  and glittered,  silver spirals (I cut them off floral picks)  were added along with some blue and white florists stones.

To top it all off, I included a large plastic, party tray that had the appearance of a sheet of ice. This created a whole new level of interaction! The polar bears, seals and whales had parties “underneath the ice.”


While looking at these photos, I can’t help but smile. I know that playing with this material is nothing like playing in real snow Yet, the children’s interactions with the fluffy, white stuff caused a flurry of falling flakes and piling drifts. While this play could certainly be described as educational, (For example, math skills are being strengthened as the children sort, count and create patterns and sets while playing with the plastic animals and social-emotional development is occurring through conflict resolution and negotiating taking turns.) what I find so delightful is that these children are experiencing the same kind of joy that a child might experience on opening the front door and discovering a real winter wonderland while living in say…New England. Their faces shine with a look of wonder and their laughter rings with joy. Children everywhere recognize this weather phenomenon and understand the magic of snow!


New Pets in the Garden Classroom


We have spent the last 5 weeks contemplating what kind of pet we should get for the Garden Classroom. We had the empty tank to look at for inspiration and books to ponder featuring possible pets such as reptiles, amphibians, snails, and even dogs and cats. There are many things to consider when making such a decision: such as size, temperament, and food source. Several friends really felt an appropriate pet would be a crocodile. Really?!! Just for comparison, a plastic lizard was placed in the tank. Hmm? How long would a crocodile stay that size? After writing down the children’s suggestions for the last few weeks, a graph was created featuring the different possibilities. One child added “CTA” (for cat) and dinosaurs weren’t included since they are officially extinct although they were suggested!  A “meeting” was called and about 10 children gathered in the Art Cottage to tally up the votes. Frogs were the clear winner! Hooray! I’m not a huge fan of snakes, spiders are best kept in the garden and I am quite done with snails for the time being. Then there was that “crocodile” situation. Two boys were clearly disappointed that they weren’t going to be seeing any crocs in the Garden Classroom. They were reminded by me AND several other children that, “Crocodiles bite!” Fortunately, our three new fire-bellied toads are VERY cute and interesting. The croc fans were won over!  Image

A “pretend frog” says hello to the “real frog.”

The Pet Graph

The Pet Graph

A “meeting” was called and held in the Art Cottage where the children were invited to vote for the pet of their choice. “Frogs” were the clear winner. Most of the children were happy with this decision.