January 2019 - Beckham, Westley, Eamon, Miles and Eoin When our families brought boxes we wondered what to do with the larger ones. We decided to offer a building activity in the block room, in order to foster collaborative creativity. Teacher:“Working together, I wonder what you would like to make with these.” The children were eager to shout their individual ideas: “We could make an airplane!” “No, I want it to be a dino, it needs to be tall!” Teacher: “Let’s all draw our ideas and then as a team, we will come up with a plan.” Beckham draws a dinosaur, Westley draws a panther and Miles designs a plane. Gathering our drawings we talked about how we could choose one idea and all work together as a group. We recognised that two friends were interested in building a plane. Teacher: “Would it work to build a plane and decorate it with a dinosaur and a panther?” The children welcome the suggestion with great cheers.
LOOKING AT OUR DRAWINGS AND DISCUSSING COMMON DESIGNS The children agreed that their plane will have wings and jets. They have come together as a team and collaborated in the drawing, cutting and attaching the wings to the main box.
Eamon has just arrived and joins the engineers in adding what he calls; “A rudder”. He has found a pizza box and seems inspired by the narrow side which he folds back and forth. He shares that real wings have these. He knows exactly where his rudder should go and proceeds to tape it on. Beckham; “Yah! That looks really good!”
Miles: “The top is open!” Teacher: “What would happen if the top of the airplane was open?” Westley: “The pilot would fall out.” Eamon: “He would have to use his parachute.” Eoin: “We need more jets!”
The capacity to explore and create is vital to nurturing the zest for life that is the basis of all learning. (Early learning framework. Page 23)
RELATIONSHIPS AND SPONTANEOUS CREATIVITY This group of children have built strong relationships with one another. They enjoy spontaneously drawing together. Their unique creativity enhanced and inspired each other. At first, it was the details of their airplanes that took precedent; the children seemed focussed on describing all the bells and whistles and performance of their airplanes! As they became more confident in their personal style, the children went on to incorporate old favorite ideas as well as new components in their pictures. Their drawings no longer stood alone but became adventures to be shared with friends in rich narratives taking birth as they drew. The children developed a reciprocal interest in their friend’s skills and stories, they felt valued and a sense of belonging in knowing that their ideas mattered.
REVISITING AND PROCESSING When Rosa finished her picture, I asked her: “What would you liketo tell me about your plane?” Her reply came quickly; “The plane floatedon the water and flew back.” Later that week, Rosa revisited her picture at group time; however, her narrative had expanded into a tragic story; “The plane fell in the water because the wing broke off. They never came back alive, the wind broke the wing. The people died and went to heaven.” As I reread her group sharing it dawned on me that it had a striking resemblance to a tragic plane crash in our community. Was Rosa bringing this subject in her story? My next step was to ask her mom if Rosa had been to the plane crash shrine at Rebecca Spit. This is what Amy replied; “Yes, she had been there several times and it made an impact on her. She is very intuitive and sensitive.” “Play is the work of children…through play, children make sense of the world around them.” (Early Learning Framework p15)
On January 10, 2019 it snowed! At first the flakes were small and as we watched it fall from inside, we wondered if it would cover the ground. The snow kept falling and falling. When we went outside to play, the ground was covered with a thin layer of snow. It took a lot of time and a lot of work to roll the balls for a snowman out of such a thin layer of snow, but we worked together. We found salal branches, rocks, and pinecones to make the features of our snowman. When a pinecone was used for a nose our snowman was transformed into a snow penguin. The snow kept falling. But then it rained, and rained, and rained. Soon there wasn’t a trace of snow or a snow penguin in our yard.
On December 6th 2018, we had some special visitors, visitors with feathers! Aedon, and his family, brought some chickens to share with us.
First, Aedon’s mother, Yvonne introduced us to Charleston, the handsome rooster. Everyone had a chance to hold a handful of grain and feed Charleston. Although it doesn’t hurt, sometimes it is a surprise to have a hard beak come pecking down on your hand.
Then Yvonne brought out Skye, the hen. Aedon showed us how to hold her so she felt secure. Skye was very calm as she got passed from child to child for a hug and a snuggle. Both Charleston and Skye were calm and gentle and did so well being handled by the children. They must get a lot of love and care at home. Three cheers for everybody who met Charleston and Skye! Although everyone was excited, the children were considerate of our feathered guests. Thank you, Aedon, Yvonne, and Isla for this up-close and personal visit with Charleston and Skye.
‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through the Centre The children did share excited Christmas banter Ribbon, glitter, paper and glue Playdough center pieces given their due
The children were settled shoulder to shoulder in their cubbies While grand attempts were made to put on their muddie buddies The teachers went about splitting the large group Organizing activities for the enthusiastic troops! When out in the hallway there arose such a clatter, The children ran to the “kitchen room” to see what’s the matter The families arrived in groups large and small They took to the seats one and all
In through the door the band did appear Carrying their instruments, welcomed with cheer The reading corner stage they did fill And treated the children with various a trill
Now Gina! now Martha! now, Donna and Matt! On, George on Caroline! On Gordon and LISE! Lise, who welcomed the band with joy and glee The performance was grand, the children on key
As the week moved along the children got productive Secretly making presents, colourful and creative Honouring the natural materials they had collected Pressing nature’s treasures into the item to be gifted
As Christmas approaches we wrap up the goodies Choosing just one, from a plate full of cookies We say our farewells to families and friends And wish them a peaceful and cheerful year’s end
November 2018 Finger painting has many developmental, educational and creative benefits. Research has shown that art activities are important for brain development in early childhood. One of these is sensory play where kids learn through their senses. Sensory integration is a developmental process where touch, taste, hearing and vision are part of brain development for later spatial, math and language concepts. Messy play like finger painting is important to every child’s development. It helps the body and brain integrate information as well as being relaxing creative way to express feelings.
With warm weather in sight, we were happy to move our explorations out to the side deck. Out came the pools and tubs of water, and one day, dried water color pucks were offered as well as big syringes. How would the children use these materials to create?
To redirect away from the temptation of shooting water at each other, and the conflicts that ensued, I quickly painted a happy face on one of the circles on the fabric backdrop, and invited the children to aim at it. As the streams of water hit the freshly painted face, the happy face disintegrated and disappeared. This act of destruction was greeted by glee, as everyone joined in the thrill of making the faces disappear.
Deck Adventure: Charcoal
At a staff meeting we talked about this delight. What other materials and experiences could we offer that could give the children a similar sense of glee of boundary pushing within the safe confines of the deck? We first gave them the freedom to experiment with the messy blackness of charcoal.
Two themes emerged in their play with the charcoal. Eamon poured the black mixture into the clear water and delighted in the spreading blackness. He called over the other children to witness the darkening of the water, and his excitement was contagious. Now the group had a goal. Let’s pollute the clear water with blackness. The goal of dirtying what was once clean was repeated over and over in our deck explorations always accompanied by a mood of elation. Then their play turned imaginative. They started making poisons and potions for the teacher. A container filled with black water was offered to the teacher. Everyone watched with barely suppressed anticipation as the teacher pretended to drink. Then gleeful shouts of “Its poison, its poison. ” erupted. Making poisons is a recurring and popular game and is a clear example of children delighting in “badness “ within the safety of play.
Deck Adventure: Nasturiums
On another deck adventure day, nasturtiums were floated in a water table and pool as well as set out on a table. So often the children are directed away from picking the flowers with gentle reminders to “Let them grow,” or “leave them for everyone to enjoy.” Would access to flowers be engaging for them? I also set out some mortar and pestles, and some plastic frogs so that the play could turn imaginative.
The children went directly to the mortar and pestles. Dylan grabbed a sifter, and caught a flower that was floating in the pool. With exuberance, he declared, “I catch flowers and tear them apart.” As he used the mortar and pestle to grind and crush the flowers, he declared “I am killing flowers.” This was taken up by the other children. They marched back and forth between the pool and table, scooping up flowers, and then crushing them in the mortar and pestles while repetitively chanting “We are killing flowers, We are killing flowers” As the chant filled the air, I was reminded of our staff conversation and the observation that adults can control children’s play out of a place of discomfort and a desire to keep things nice. I stepped back and let their mood of elation and exhilaration fill the deck, and then they shifted focus to imaginative play with frogs on their own
Deck Adventure: Clay
On another day, we set out lumps of clay and tools for rolling. As the group was busy with rubbing, pounding, and squeezing the clay, they came up with ideas together about their play. As they narrated they hit on many boundary themes; making things dirty, death, poop, and destruction.
“We are doing a job,” declares Miles, Beckham and Eamon. “What job are you doing?” I ask. “making the water dirty ,” is the answer. Then their narration takes a turn towards death. “We are getting blood so that the bad guys die… How about we have to pound the blood out … It is actually poison that kills the bad guy.” The theme turns toward poop. “It is actually bad diarrhea that we are making. How about we are making diarrhea in a factory? … Look how much diarrhea we are making in the factory … How about the poison is actually made out of diarrhea?” They describe their ideas with relish and look towards each other for confirmation. One of them gets carried away and attempts to throw nudity in the mix. He hooks his thumbs in his underwear, puts an excited grin on his face, and looks back and forth at the other two boys in an attempt to generate excitement of doing something that is usually not allowed. “I am going to take my underwear off,” he crows. “We keep our bottoms on at the children Centre,” is my response. It is not the response he is looking for and he abandons the idea.
Do we stop children’s play when we feel uncomfortable? Do we ask ourselves why we are stopping children’s play. If we are stopping children’s play because we are uncomfortable with its niceness or appropriateness, what happens to that sort of play?
Throughout our experiences staff were observing how children communicate their consent to each other, and how they ask permission from the teacher. We noticed that children often signalled with body language. For example, Griffin approached Isla with his hands up as claws and with a roar. She turned her body away, her expression was downcast and she looked away. Griffin stopped what he was doing and gave her space. Minutes later he approached, again in a similar stance. This time Isla mirrored his gestured, and soon they were deciding on their roles of Mama and baby cougar. With a teacher they would look at the teacher for a reaction, before acting. Sometimes they asked each other verbally. “Can I paint your toes?” and sometimes they made a move and were met with either acceptance or cries of protest. We stepped in only when needed to smooth interactions and make their communication clear and respectful of each other.
As educators we were exploring knowing when to step in and when to stand back. Sometimes we were guiding the children to a deeper understanding of the boundaries they were exploring, and how it was different from what they were allowed to do “in the real world,” We also needed to highlight that these explorations weren’t a free–for-all, and that the children also had responsibilities. When the clay came out a popular activity was smearing the window with clay to make it dirty. The intention was announced. “ We are going to rub clay on the window,” “ What will happen if you rub clay on the window?” “It will get dirty! ... No one will be able to see!” “Would you be allowed to make the windows dirty like this at home? What about at the library?” The children responded with a chorus of No’s. “If you get the windows dirty with clay here, what do you need to do after you are done?” No one had an immediate answer. “What do you think these cloths are here for?” We need to clean it up!”
We started with the intent of offering activities that would spark a similar joy to the glee when allowed to destroy something. We discovered together how to talk about and give form to our activities, so that the group had a deeper understanding of when and how they can step outside of regular boundaries.
July brings field trips for both our Quadra Kids and Preschool programs. Tuesday's outings were spent close to home enjoying our beautiful Quadra Island; it looks like the kids are ready for Summer and all it has to offer!
We respectfully acknowledge that our encounters with paint have been inspired by the book, “Material Encounters” a catalogue of a project under taken by Capilano University Studio Art Gallery and curated by Sylvia Kind. How else could we offer the paint to slow the children down? How can we help them join with the paint in different ways?
Children use many different materials (languages) to express their ideas and theories about the world in which they live. We believe that children are intelligent, curious, imaginative, intuitive individuals capable of discovering the properties of each material by creating their own experiments suggested to them by the materials themselves, thus formulating their own theories on how they might use said material to represent their ideas. Instead of thinking of materials as having predictable properties such as colour, shape, density etc. and using them as inanimate objects, what might happen when we consider this: "What if the human role in shaping materials is not as central as we believe? “What if materials shape us as much as we shape them? How might we experience materials differently if we acknowledge them as joint participants in our interactions with them?" (Material Encounters. Kind, 2014 P.3) “Experimentation opens up worlds, creates new venues for thinking and doing. It actively extends experience.” (Kind 2014, P.3) With this in mind we embarked upon our exploration of paint.
“These as all the teeth. They are sharp and spiky.” Dylan
The children experimented with the paint, discovering how it worked in relationship with the movement, tools, paper and how it all fitted together.
“It's turning orange.” “It’s rainbow.” “Woe! Mine is way darker than yours!” “You think it's ready?” “Something makes it really dark.” “The blue does.”
Harmony, “I have never done this before, this is fun. This was our experiment. Wow, I made a great idea right? This is so fun. I'm not grinding, I'm just making goop.' Jari, “What about if I am the grinder and you take care of the goop?” Harmony, “We didn't mean to do it, we just added water and we made our own paint!”
Our interpretations of the children's encounters have led us to believe that the children display an intuitive interest in flow, fluidity, transporting and feeling the paint. To extend this we wondered, what can hold, carry, and move paint?
“(Children)...join with materials...Every mark, gesture, and actions becomes a question. What can this material do? What can it become? How can I join its becoming? (Kind, 2014)” In most of their encounters with the paint the children moved as individuals, as though their experiences and experiments were personal to them. How can we use the paint in a way that would encourage collaboration and a shared exploration of the material? We created the painting area in response to this question.
Within this space your children have experienced paint in a way they have never experienced it before and the paint has truly become a joint participant in it's interactions with the children.
We have observed the collaboration we were seeking between the children and it is beautiful. The paint is a full body experience, a sensory exploration which jives with their natural tendency to explore the world using their senses. They have an unspoken collective understanding of respect for each other and acceptance. With no direction or restrictions from us, they feel free to express themselves and include their friends in their expressions.
They are amazing, in this small space we see them moving quickly in excitement and joy as the paint says, "Spread me", and they do so all over their body. It oozes harmony, the paint is their friend and with it they are building relationships with their peers, the space around them and themselves.
The paint is shaping the children, and their experiments with it are opening new experiences to them. As the paint flows so does their collaboration with others. The paint transforms them and when they look at themselves in the mirror it is as if they are meeting themselves for the first time.
How else could we offer the paint to slow the children down? How can we help them join with the paint in different ways?
When small amounts of paint were offered with small scale tools the children were more deliberate with their movements, swinging, dipping, and observing. They tolerated their friends painting on their backs which they found to be an odd sensation.
The children join with the paint as it slips and slides over surfaces. “If materials are not just static, … but are always already in the midst of becoming something else” (Kind 2014, P. 9) have we given the paint time to react to the children? If there was no time limit would we see a change in the paint? Would we see a change in the children’s movements?
When all the paint was gone, the children showed no signs of being done. As the paint dried the children began scrunching up their faces and opening their mouths wide.
The children and paint slowed reflecting the rhythm of the material itself.
By giving the children multiple opportunities to explore the paint they were able to repeat their previous experiences with it. This repetition strengthened their relationship with the paint.
By giving the children multiple opportunities to explore the paint they were able to repeat their previous experiences with it. This repetition strengthened their relationship with the paint.
Using the tools, they observed the paint. With their bodies, they felt the paint.
They affected the way it moved and were affected by the paint.
The paint transformed them, and the play was imaginative.
We observed their relationship with the paint growing and strengthening, we also observed collaboration between the children as they had these paint events together. The paint binds them together, it is a teacher, it is the instruction of how to be. If this is so, will their bond extend beyond the paint area? Will the children build upon the harmonious experiences they had with their friends with the paint to other areas of the Centre?
A Provocation for Connection
January 8th, 2018 - In our continued effort to provide opportunities for the children to collaborate and strengthen relationships with each other through paint explorations, a long banner was taped to the wall and a group of children were invited to paint with watercolour.
Titus initiated the painting by choosing yellow paint and connecting the experience to the song “Yellow Submarine.” The other children recognized the song and joined together to make a submarine. They talked and laughed and added details. As they dipped their brushes in each colour, they quickly discovered that this created a brown and of course the submarine needed a bathroom. The focus shifted to “bathroom talk.” This attracted Beckham who had been observing from the outside who then joined in. With paint brushes in each hand, the children made fast strokes and sang fast songs to match. Eventually, Eamon and Beckham were left in the paint room alone, a pair not typically seen engaging together.
The boys moved from the mural painting to the mirror. Back and forward they went from the paint pucks and water to the mirror, singing, laughing and communicating with one another through movements and silly noises. The play was long, and what interested us was how the bond they created in the paint room transferred to the sand table where the two engaged further, happily connecting with one another. "What concerns us as educators and researchers are relations: the dynamic relations between and across various elements,” (Ketchabaw, Kind & Kocher p.54) In this case, we have been intrigued with the relationship between the children themselves. A previous wondering has been proven; yes, the children can and do transfer their harmonious experiences outside of the paint room confirming that these experiences truly are bringing the children closer together with one another.
Participating; In, Out, and Around the Paint Corner
When Isla, Eamon, and Rosa were in the paint room together I wasn’t expecting to see the collaboration and shared vision that the group of older children demonstrated while creating the submarine. But I was interested to see how they expressed the shared experience of being in the paint room together. They took cues from each other, built on each other’s ideas and imagination and worked co-operatively with the materials. But what I was really interested to see was when the shared experience jumped the boundary of the painting corner and included the children who were observing. As they made their first explorations with the paint, Dylan who was outside the paint corner watched, and cheered them on; “Good job painting your foot, Isla.” As their explorations with the paint and their bodies became bolder, it went from cheering on to egging on as three boys took to chanting. “Paint your hair, paint your hair.” It was time to redirect this group from egging on, but the participation between the two groups continued.
.After painting themselves and peering at themselves in the mirror, Isla, Rosa, and Eamon became paint monsters. Once they roared to each other and the relationship among monsters was settled (Isla declaring, “I am the Mommy monster.”) their attention turned to the group of children gathered to watch them. They menaced them with roars and hands outstretched into claws
Once again, the painting activity was drawing more children into participating.
There were several times when children came to quietly observe the activity. As I looked at them observing intently with smiles on their faces, I am reminded that there are other ways of participating in an activity besides directly participating, or interacting with the participants, and that is a type of inward participation. This goes beyond watching and waiting outside for a turn. Seeing their complete engagement and the smiles on their faces, I imagine that they are able to project a part of themselves into the paint corner with the other children. As they watch I wonder if they can feel the smooth, cool paint on their own skin, and I wonder if they are making decisions about what they would do if they were the ones with the paint brushes in their hand.
Inward participation can be over-looked as a form of participation, but it can also be a rich way of experiencing. When an activity like the painting corner is offered at the Children Centre, the learning, the relationships, and the participation stretches beyond the corners of the painting area and grows to include more than just the children painting.
March 2nd, 2018 Cleaning up after a paint experience becomes an event in itself.
“Back to normal. Taking off my suit, wash off my Black Panther Suit.” Said Finley. The children strip themselves of the personas they layered on with paint. They take their time to notice the water dripping onto their skin, making the paint run into the tub. Everything a child does deserves recognition. They notice, feel, and experience everything.
Taking care of themselves and the paint room after an event gives the children a sense of well-being and belonging. By helping to clean up gives them confidence in their ability to contribute to our community and an awareness that they are valued.
The Paint Room has inspired so much joy in both us as teachers and in the children. As we have shared this experience with one another, we have discovered endless value in allowing relationships to build in such raw and uninhibited explorations. As the children and the paint mingled, their bodies often became a canvas that brought life to their imaginations. We watched as the children surprised us with the way they inherently “wore” the paint, as if it was dress ups from a tickle trunk. Each instance provided an avenue to safely express and process everyday happenings in their lives. As a group we transformed, morphed and reformed in the whirl of activity that the paint room gave us. This exploration has demonstrated the idea that the materials are our partners with mutual offerings in our encounters with them; the paint affected the children as much as the children affected the paint. The children’s undivided presence with the paint as they engaged with it created a strong foundation for the relationship between themselves and the material to continue to grow. With this authentic exposure we have not only became familiar with the many properties of paint as it reacts with our own interpretations, we have practiced how to share ideas, how to be heard in a group and how to honour and support the positions of our friends. It was with satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment that we dismantled the paint room. Although this ends the first chapter of our relations with paint, we will continue as we shift our environment to include the outdoors. As we move forward, we will keep in mind what we have been taught thus far and look for ways to enhance and expand on this learning.
With a great deal of emphasis being placed on literacy and young children, we would like to make visible how we support children here at the Centre develop those skills. It is known that children get ready to read for many years before they are cognitively mature enough to learn to read.What children know about reading and writing before they can read and write is what is known as “Early Literacy”.This is where we place our attention in our pre-school program. We hope to create opportunities to develop an understanding of, and encourage an interest in, communicating through the written word.
The Rock 'n Roll Band February 2016
The three boys prompted by Finn formed a Rock 'n Roll band. Finn had a wooden plank Emilio a frying pan and spoon Maddox had a computer keyboard.
“Then they went home.” said Finn abruptly and the others followed him to the house keeping corner.Then back to the band area........ “ 1,2,3,4, YOW! YOW!
Finn spontaneously cried, “We late for the band! Rock 'n Roll camel.” Maddox picked up a computer keyboard and said, “This piano is an electric piano.” “I've got a electric guitar.” said Finn Emilio joined in and said, “This is an electric drum.This is my drum stick. Finn offered Jason a ride.Jason refused by saying, “No, I don't because I hate music.” Finn was not deterred, “Come to my band, you'll really like it.Hey, you've got star shoes, you like music.” “No I don't, I hate music.” Jason became the guy who stayed at home where he offered the band members food after their gig. A video was taken and unfortunately lost.It was a joy to hear them whooping and creating the sounds of their band with their voices.
Some of the areas that need to develop before children are ready to read are the following:
Vocabulary:This is done through conversation and reading to your child.Many hands on experiences help connect words to the real object or idea.
Awareness of print:At a very early age children learn that the printed word carries meaning.When you read to your child they become aware that it is the words in print that tells the story they are enjoying.Street signs labels and even store logos and names become recognizable to children at a very early age.
Narrative Skills:Everyday conversation is an early form of story telling.The answer to “What did you do at the Children’s Centre today?” is a form of story telling.The more children are engaged in talking and sharing experiences the more they become aware of the “order” of story, beginning, middle and end.
Phonological awareness:Nursery rhymes, silly songs, games and rhymes make children aware of the sounds of language.Children need to be aware of the sounds that letters make, but need to learn it in a fun and meaningful way.
Letter Recognition:Children start to learn to recognize the different letters.They usually start with their own name and the letters of people’s names who are important to them.
Here are some of examples of Early Literacy that we have seen in our classroom. Message Centre: When I use the message Centre I am learning how to:
become aware that messages can be sent to friends and family to communicate feelings.
draw pictures to convey messages.
write my own name.
write my parent’s name
write friend’s name on message
write To……, from…….
Names - The children’s names are in several places: in the attendance basket; on the mailboxes; on the cubbies and on name cards.When I see my friends names in these places, I am learning:
that the letters mean something.
that letters represent their name.
to recognize the first letter of their name.
recognize their name and my friend’s name
Sequencing - When I am sequencing, I am learning:
there is a beginning, middle and an end
we read from left to right
how to predict what comes next
Puppets - When I play with puppets, I am learning to:
tell a story (narrative skills)
be aware of the “order” of story
role play characters
Felt Board - When I play with the felt board I am learning to:
master a story
re-enact and become confident in storytelling
build a loving relationship with stories
make up my own stories
Singing - When I sing I am learning how to:
develop auditory memory for sounds
Dramatic Play - When I play in the house keeping corner, I am learning to:
make up stories with the telephone
make up stories with friends over a cup of tea
be aware of the “order” of story telling through my game which has a beginning, a middle and an end.
make signs which send messages to the group
e.g the restaurant is “Open” or “Closed”
Scribing Stories - When you scribe my stories and read them back to them, I am learning to:
link my storytelling to written words and will see that you value what I am doing.
Story Time -
Everyday we have a set story time for all the children, however stories are told all day long in different ways:
books; orally; felt stories; tape stories; and everyday conversations