Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Forest is in Our Hearts

Annie is standing on a tree and Peyton is climbing up the log and they are both looking at a bird.
In Kindergarten, we often say that a child has entered the "Reading Zone" or the "Writing Zone". These  are words that we adopted from Nancy Atwell. Children are in the zone if they are engaged in their reading or writing and are no longer aware of their surroundings. We have all had this experience...leaving the present moment to be an armchair traveler.

On Friday afternoons, we create the same culture of quiet engagement and thoughtful reflection. Each child selects a piece of paper and their tool of choice; crayons, Sharpies, colored pencils, thinking pens and pastels. We ask the children to represent their morning experiences in the  forest. 

Later, we sit as a class and notice the work of the artists. We realize that each sketch has a unique perspective. One artist caught the wind as it blew through the trees in the Forest. The bridge crossing the stream was the focal point for another group of children.  Small but significant details are often pointed out. We notice the suddenly blooming daffodils and large swooping birds that grace our campus.

There are things to learn in the forest but each Friday as we walk paths that are now well worn, pass familiar trees and return to places that beckon us as a nest might a bird we begin to realize that our heart is filled with a peace that is rare.

This is a picture of me standing in the forest by the creek. My friends are on the bridge. We hear the wind in the trees.

                                        This is the bridge down in the forest.

We are at our winter place in the forest and I am balancing on the log.

I am walking through the tunnel and I hear echoes .

The bridge is down by the water next to the fort and a large climbing rock.

My Love is a Special Package

We continue to debate the shape of the heart. What does the heart look like in our bodies?

an excerpt from a conversation:

On the heart (our model of the heart that the middle school provided us with)there are numbers and it may be how a heart is inside our body.

Those things are the veins and they are for pumping blood.

The red ones are veins and the blue don’t carry blood. Sometimes they are called arteries but I don’t know what they do.

They carry it for oxygen. It is air! We need to breathe. They travel through the heart and then to the lungs.

Anna reminded us that last week we had read a poem about the heart. The poet had written words stating that he carried love and a song in his heart. Anna asked if anyone sees the love or the song in the model of the heart?

 The love is inside of your heart.

This is showing the outside of the heart only.

It is in your heart and it just comes out of your heart when you love someone.

When you are inside your mommy you are born with love.

No.  You have to get the love from somebody.

When you are born you don’t know your mom.

That is why you need to get to be friends with your mom when you get out of her tummy.

You have to listen to see what your mom’s name is when she is talking to someone and then you can  be friends with her.

The mom has to say "I am your mom".

You have to get to know your mom first to feel love.

You don’t understand your mom when you are in her tummy.

Babies  don’t know anyone so they can’t love anyone.

Anna asked: Can you hear your mommy when you are in a tummy?

I could not hear my mommy when I was in her tummy.

I knew my mommy when I came out and I knew Ivy would know me and Lydia when she came out.

You can definitely hear your mom talking but you can’t understand her because you haven’t learned a single word yet. You recognize her voice but you don’t know what she is saying.

Anna asked: How does Annie’s love travel to Saudi Arabia (where her Daddy lives)?  When you are not with someone how does your love travel?

Maybe love comes in a special package that is invisible and you gets in your heart.

We doodled the inside of our hearts.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Friendly Signs Spotted

Martin Luther King said to take care of each other every day. Is it possible to do this with friendly signs?

When we returned from our Martin Luther King Celebration we found these star signs posted throughout our classroom and school.

I saw a star on someone’s desk.
I found a star in the bathroom.
I found a star in the kitchen. I think it is a scavenger hunt.
I saw the  one in the bathroom too.
There was one in the bathroom?
I think it says brave.
Why are those going around?
Maybe it is Pippin.
Why are they around though?
It is because it is MLK day.
Anna, our studio teacher, mentioned that she had a dream to post friendly signs that show kindness throughout the city of Richmond. Several children expressed their interest and began the process of  researching signs.  The children realized that some signs use only symbols to tell a message.
We saw a sign that says a fire truck needs to park here. It does seem a little grouchy but it is important.
Anna also shared that the group discovered that signs share safety concerns. There is a 3-way sign and it tells drivers that there is an intersection approaching with three roads that come together.
Anna laid a few signs out in front of the children. "Do these signs seem like friendly signs? Are they easy to read?"
I notice that a sign says silly.
Stop at the stop sign and stop at the light. That is a safety sign.
The pictures are nice so they feel friendly.
If someone was walking past the silly sign they might start to feel funny.
If you want to be happy you have to be funny.
A lot of these signs are about safety. Does safety make you happy?
Yes. If you are safe you are happy.
Yeah, but if I was grumpy then a safety sign would not make me feel better.
We could write one that says "Make Friends"
I am wondering if you could make a funny face and then post them.
My sign does not say Be Happy because that would be bossy. It is not a nice thing to be bossy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Shape of Our Heart

Roman and Noah were interested in the human body. They were tracing the systems of the body and swapping their knowledge and understanding. The middle school had a model of the inside organs of the chest of a person. We brought it to the Kindergarten for a provocation.

We brought the model to circle one day. We examined the heart  in the chest cavity.

Noah: I thought the heart was this shape (placed his hands in the shape of a symbol of the heart)

Ian: It is a heart in the body.  It might not be the same. The heart in our world is up, down, up, down, back and curve.
Caleb: The heart in our body is red but the hearts in the world don't have to be red.

Annie: The lungs protect your heart.

Noah: They don’t just do that. They help you breathe

Caleb: If you didn’t have one you would suffocate and die.

Tanner: The heart could help you live.

Noah: If you didn’t have a heart you would die right after you were made.

Matilda: Your heart pumps blood in all the parts of the body.

Caleb: The veins suck your blood. They are like cords they bring your blood up to you heart. Your lungs go like this (everyone tried this)

Tannin: I wasn’t taking deep breathes and my heart was still pumping blood

We all experimented with this.  

Caleb: Mine stopped breathing.  It was like when I was running really fast and it beat really fast.

Peyton: Why does that heart not look the same as their heart?

Acadia: The shapes are different.

Do the children perceive the symbol  of a heart as the heart that beats in their body? If they are currently accommodating this new information how will they reconcile the heart as a symbol of love? Will the newly acquired representation of the heart have a place for love to be held?
Is there a place for  love to be held in the heart in our bodies?


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


After  commemorating the work of Martin Luther King, the Kindergarten had a conversation.

Did you know that MLK said that if someone is mean to you just have to talk nicely and not hit them back.

He wants us to do it every day and not just on a holiday.

He wants us to bring peace to the world.

We have to be nice to everyone.

We should water the plants.

We could sing songs to each other.

I would sew something to someone that doesn’t have something like a blanket or a stuffed animal.

We could make stuffed animals for people that don’t have stuffed animals.

The animals help you sleep if you don’t have a nightlight or a dream catcher. All the kids should have a stuffed animal.

We would put a heart inside to show love.

We could put a zipper on the animal and fill it up with paper hearts.

Fabric hearts would work. You could put so many hearts in there that they are squeezing to get out and when you open the zipper they fly out.

The stuffed animal would be fat with hearts.

Our intention is to make stuffed animals for children who do not have dream catchers.
The animals are fat with hearts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Martin Luther King Day of Service and Remembrance

We recognized Martin Luther King Day with reflection, community outreach and community building experiences. It was a day that cemented both memories and friendships.  

As we read books commemorating the day with our eight grade reading buddies,  we asked many questions and offered our thinking. The eighth grade responded with answers that both satisfied and made us think about words like justice, fair, equal, freedom and slavery.

We liked the words that Martin Luther King choose and placed together to express his vision and ultimately change the world. Words are powerful and are best used carefully.

I have offered some brief descriptions of the photographs but the best narration to capture the spirit of the day are the words of Martin Luther King.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
Martin Luther King

The Kindergarten had made some hearts using collage materials earlier in the day. Many of the children asked their reading buddy to create a heart collage with them.

Renee, our PE teacher, offered more experiences that strengthen the heart of a community.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
Martin Luther King

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
Martin Luther King

The time is always right to do what is right.
Martin Luther King
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
Martin Luther King


Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
Martin Luther King

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. 
Martin Luther King