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Thursday, March 21, 2013

One Morning

"Respect all the reasonable forms of activity 
in which the child engages 
and try to understand them."
Maria Montessori

On Wednesday of this week, I set Erin and myself the task of recording every work every child did through two hours of the morning.  It's actually a valuable form of observation for us, drawing our attention to both predictable and unpredictable patterns and so many interesting moments.   My intention this time was simply to write this blog for you, before Spring Break.

So hey, we tried!  Here is one morning, like every morning in its uniqueness.  Erin was in the art room, I was in the main room (we trade days in the two rooms, pretty consistently), and Noriko went back and forth as needed.   I have woven our notes together as best I can. This accounting does not, however, include snack, so you can add to your mental picture as you read, each child getting snack (brown rice, apples, seaweed) and all the process that unfolds around their eating food and cleaning up.  This accounting does not include conversations either. That would be a separate and wonderful post indeed.

Isabel and Cara were both absent.  So this is a glimpse:  thirteen children, two hours.

*We begin here, with Noah, who started his day with his first biome reader, "The Vine that Chokes." Erin read the little booklet to him, one page at a time, and he put the pictures in order.  He was so inspired  that he proceeded to draw a story page and asked Erin to help him write down some words.

*Lucas started his day with a line drawing of one of the elaborate Czech eggs which Ava brought in to share.
*Seamus helped Noriko get snack ready and carry it out to the cubbies.  One or two children help her every morning, and it's a matter of pride for them.  Noriko simply looks for a child who isn't already engaged.
*Charlotte chose the hard-boiled egg slicing, with the slices served on crackers to the children.  Then she had a big clean-up, with lots of egg and some shell on the floor.  She needed Noriko's help.
*Brady was the first to do the miniature Easter tree decorating, a little set which I got out the night before (you'll discover here that it was in constant use.)
*I encouraged Leo to get out the "egg sentences" for the first time - six simple sentences about spring, the words on separate slips of paper, inside plastic eggs.   Leo read each word and put them in an order that makes sense - thus, a sentence! They were a perfect level of challenge for him.

*Rex chose the egg tree next.
Seamus watched Rex.
Leila watched Rex and Seamus.
They tried to keep their fingers off his work.
Meanwhile, Lucy painted at the easel.

*Lucas got out the last page of his hand-written vertebrate book.  He drew a ground squirrel yesterday, and was now copying the accompanying page, some simple facts about mammals.  He and Leo have done similar pages for fish, amphibian, reptile, and bird over these last many weeks of vertebrate work.   This project kept Lucas busy for the rest of the morning.

*Brady and Collin worked together on sound box 2 (c, g, h, r, i)  for a short while.  They were not really motivated, and put it away as soon as I turned my head. 
*Morgan did the binomial cube (I asked her to, because I had a lesson in mind).  She hadn't worked with it for quite a while, and had to practice for a bit.  She reminded herself how to do it.
*Noah served himself some bread and peanut butter (a one-person, free-choice extra snack). 
*Brady got out the geometric solids and the flat shapes which go with them, and proceeded to do some interesting building.
*Lucy did a story page about a penguin mama and chick, inspired by the beautiful paper collage penguin she created the day before.
*Charlotte worked with the rubber band design board, and then the screwdriver board.
*Seamus did some careful pouring of rice, very intent on not spilling a drop.

*Leila was next with the little egg tree, as soon as Rex put it away.
*Ava chose a biome booklet, reading many of the words on her own, and asking for help from Erin when she needed it.
*Collin painted at the easel.
At about this time, mid-morning, Erin noticed a familiar,  restless energy, and put on our music for "walking on the line."  Seven of the children joined in.  We tend to cycle in and out of regular walking on the line, and I was grateful that Erin thought of it this morning. They had fun walking while balancing simple trays and objects in their hands.

*Meanwhile, Noah did a new sorting work with Noriko, a set of cards about the five senses with words and pictures (eye, ear, nose, mouth, hand)  and lots of photos to match up.  He was very engaged, and they had a lovely, quiet time together.  

*Leo did the rubber band board (he'd been watching Charlotte earlier).  His designs were elaborate.
*Charlotte and I got out the small number rods. I sat on my new stool while she matched the rods to the cut-out numerals, and then I gave her a first lesson in number rod addition.

*Erin invited Rex to do his painted-paper collage bird; he chose a heath hen from the cards.  He worked on it carefully for a long time, drawing, cutting, and gluing, with Erin nearby to guide and help as needed.

*Morgan did the little egg tree.
*Lucy chose the hard-boiled egg serving - like Charlotte, she loves peeling, slicing, and sharing with friends - she has done the egg work every day this week.

*Morgan had finished the binomial cube, and I followed it with a lesson with the trinomial cube.  She was especially interested because of the special "trinomial cube story" she had heard me tell Cara the day before.  Once she can do the cube, with all the pieces mixed, and without any help, I will tell her the story too.

*Leila painted an egg.
*Brady worked with the dodecagon (12 sided) design puzzle.  This open-ended puzzle is very popular, in use every day. Some of the children, first inspired by Lucas and now including Brady, have started doing 3-D designs with the pieces.

*Ava played with the playdough for a while.
*Leila got out the metal inset work.  For a young three-year-old, she is quite skilled at tracing these shapes, and she's already been doing them for some months.
*Julian arrived about now, quite late (a sick mama), and began his day the way he begins almost every day - with free drawing.  Both he and Leila, our two youngest, are determined "pencil kids," with excellent fine-motor control.  Julian is consistent:  first he draws, then he eats snack, then he moves on, if there's time, to new and different activities.

*In the last half hour, Leo got out three of the colored, knobless cylinder boxes, and proceeded to build a magnificent tower. He drew quite an audience during his several attempts, first on table, then on chair, finally on floor, trying to get it all to balance.   That afternoon and again today, I saw one child after another getting out these cylinders, inspired by what he was doing. 

*Noah did the egg tree.
*Seamus played the lap harp.
*Julian painted an egg.
And then there we were, almost 11:00, the transition time for putting away work, helping hands, and gathering to sing our current spring song, then the ritual pulling on of rain pants, and the joyful heading outside.  All this during one morning, March 20, the Spring Equinox of 2013.