In true Seattle fashion, now that we’re in the last calendar month of the season, it seems to have almost arrived. Not that I mind, I think of every cloudy summer day as a promise of October sunshine and there is nothing like starting the school year with long sunny afternoons!
As for summer, it’s been a blast. With four to five adults in the classroom and somewhere between fifteen to twenty children most days of the week, it’s felt much more like camp around here than school: afternoons in the grass watching creepy crawly things, afternoons in the grass staring up at the sky watching swooping, flying things, afternoons in the grass playing sound games.
Basically, we go outside, guys! A lot, it’s been amazing. Using the playground as an extension of the classroom fit our July themes of Insects and Birds. But, I like to think our themes fit the season and the children’s interests.
Those of you who’ve read a few of these posts know that I’m really big on language enrichment as an extension of every day life. I believe in language as the capacity that makes us quintessentially human. It’s not just a tool we use to communicate ideas, but the clearing in which we have them, we can only have ideas for which we have the words. Language is the structure to which we hang our perceptions of the world and this is the age when that structure gels. I’m always amazed at how children this age perceive the world. They look, hear, and taste more sharply for their lack of experience and language is what fixes those perceptions into place.
At the end of our practical exams one of my examiners, a Montessori trainer and lecturer, and I talked about language and I’ll never forget that she told me to talk to the children. It seems silly but it’s so easy to get caught up in delivering lessons, managing behavior, and letter/numbers learning that we can forget a conversation is a lesson too. Aside from the emotional value of feeling heard, understood, and listened to we get the chance to model sentence structure, vocabulary, grammar and metaphor.
Summer’s been great for conversations. Especially the theme related ones. For instance, one thing I’ve learned through my many conversations this month is that our class loves bugs! Like, really, we love bugs here.
All through Birds and even now that we’ve moved on to Sea Life, the children keep coming back to the tiny world of insects. And now that they have so much more language to describe, classify, and understand the tiny critters it seems like half of what happens on the playground is insect hunting.
The picture below is a great example of what happens when interest and language match up. It was taken about 10 minutes into a game that I think all children play, I certainly did, pass the ant. Two vital, talkative, energetic girls, Ember Thompson (4) and Sophie van Loon (5), spent about 30 minutes focused and practicing incredible control of movement to stare and study the experience of six tiny legs moving over their skin. They pointed out the abdomen, thorax, and head, marveled at antennae and managed to control their giggles when the ant went over their ticklish wrists!
I felt incredibly privileged to share that everyday moment with them and in that spirit I’ve started this month’s theme by asking the children what they want to know about Sea Life and thought I’d pass along their (somewhat humorous!) wonderings to you. I’m sure you’ll be able to tell but this list is unedited. 🙂
Our Sea Life Questions
- How do fish move without gas?— Grace L.
- Which animals eat seaweed? Do sharks eat seaweed?—David A.
- What do fish eat?—Sophie V. & Ember T.
- What do dolphins eat?—Nat H.
- What do otters eat?— Nat H.
- What do turtles eat?—Lucy P.
- What do stingrays eat?— Owen Z.
- What do seals eat?—Audrey C.
- What do sharks drink?—Owen Z.
- How do dolphins turn pink? —Lucy P.
- Where do sharks live?—Julia W.
- How do sharks pee?—Owen Z.
- How does a whale’s blow hole work?—David A.
I was struck by how this list confirms the idea that we view the world through our own experiences. Notice how the bulk of these questions seem to be about similarities between ocean animals and themselves?
“I eat, drink, live and go to the bathroom, how do they do it in the ocean?” Seems to be the underlying question here.
Man your children are cool, thanks for sharing them with us!
On the Horizon
August 17th–Aquarium Field trip (Classroom open at 12:30pm)
August 24th– Summer Session Ends
August 27th-31st- Summer Break (no school)
September 5th —Fall Session Begins