Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recognizing the Heroes on the Other Side of Our Forest

A worthy objective to pursue

At Sabot at Stony Point, we recognize the spirit of  Martin Luther King each year in a day of service to our community. We learned that Mr. King rallied for citizens to unite and work together to build a more gentle world. The Kindergartners considered their community and a worthy objective to pursue.  

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. ” 

Martin Luther King

This year as a part of our Umbrella project, we explored our city of Richmond on several occasions and returned to school with new understandings of the way a city works.  We noticed that there are people who offer help to the people living in the city.  We identified many community helpers including policemen, firefighters, hospital workers and ambulance drivers. We were told that the firefighters serving our school community  lived at the end of a path in the forest.  The children were eager to find them and bring them gifts. 

We began our long hike through the forest wearing party hats with the intention to celebrate our community helpers.

Service to others cannot  wait.

“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service."

Martin Luther King

While many of us still plan to be a princess or a race car driver when we grow up several of us are beginning to think that it would be nice to be in a position to help others someday. We were about to realize how serious firefighters are about helping other people.

After walking forty minutes through the forest, we arrived at the firehouse  only to hear the sirens blow, the doors open and the firetruck race out. The children were both mesmerized by the trucks departure and also in disbelief that the firemen left as we arrived for the celebration.

The event made a big impression. Service to others occurs when there is a need or  a person requires help. The fireman have a duty to the community. This duty takes precedence over all other commitments that they might have at the moment....like having a celebration with a Kindergarten class.

 Practicing Gratitude

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

 A group of children wrote a letter to the Firefighters expressing their hopes for the day.

Dear Firefighters,

We are the kindergartners from Sabot at Stony Point. We are going to give you a gift and a party on Martin Luther King Day. You are a hero. We want you to “Keep the job up”`. Thank you for saving our community by putting out the fires.

We want to take a tour, too. If we come would you show us around the fire station and fire trucks? May we go inside the fire trucks? Please tell us yes.

Kindergartners spend a large amount of time pretending to be superheroes. They fight against bad guys and protect people. Riding in a huge red truck with lights and noises fighting fires and saving people is not far from what the children play each day on the playground. The Kindergarten recognizes this work as important and dangerous. Medals are awarded to heroes so it made sense that medals be made and presented to the firefighters. They also brought a basket with fruit, cookies, popcorn and cards. 

Firefighter Boomer commemorates the celebration with a picture. The Kindergartners continue to wear their celebration hats after presenting Boomer with his hero medals.

The Firefighter Heroes shared their house and big truck with us. We saw their tools like the jaws of life and an ax. We sat in the big truck and were surprised to see that they have television sets in the firehouse. 

We left the firehouse feeling like we understood the life of a community helper a little bit more and gave these heroes a reason to smile for an hour.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

An Attitude of Gratitude

  "When I hurt my collar bone I had to see a doctor. If there was a fire in cupcake store we would need help."

"We need parents because they could say no more toys and no more ice cream. It would be hard to stop without parent telling you to stop. I have another question. If you don’t have parents you would need community helpers to stop you."

As we study the city, we are coming to the realization that community helpers play a critical role in keeping our city safe, healthy and protected. We are realizing that people have needs in their lives including water, food, shelter and clothing. The firefighters, ambulance drivers, doctors, police, volunteers at the pound and water company provide services each day that take care of us and the world that we live in. 

One day we spent time talking  about a man named Martin Luther King whose work made his community a better place for people to live in. We learned that Martin Luther King inspired service to others. 

He had a dream that we would all help each other despite our differences. 

We considered the idea of celebrating the people in our community whose job and life work is to help others.

Volunteers are helping the cats. We could bring food to the SPCA to show our appreciation.

The firemen are putting out a fire and saving a cat.

Mary Tobin offered the idea of appreciating the fireman who are stationed at the firehouse in our school neighborhood. She had heard that the firehouse was at the end of a path in the forest.

Sabine raised her hand and said that she had seen the firehouse one day when she was walking her dog in the woods. She described a big bridge that we would need to cross to get there.

The prospect of walking through our forest on a path to the firehouse was exciting. We asked the children to consider what we should do when we reached the firehouse.

How can we celebrate the firemen?

We could make a cake. We could make cookies. Or we could drop cookies from the sky.

We could drop confetti.

We could give them a medal.

Yeah that would be a good idea.
We could say thank you and then leave.

The medal would say Good Job, Your Awesome or Keep it Up.

We need to have party hats.

Monday of this week was a very chilly rainy Monday. We had decided to venture into the woods, find the trail Sabine described and search for the firehouse.  Six  courageous, energetic, and determined explorers stepped forward. We gathered together for a photo opportunity to document the adventurous expedition.

As we hiked through depths of the forest we could be heard shouting, "We are the Explorers"!

So I must offer my teacher perspective that these moments are very reaffirming. As we walked through the woods I observed the group take ownership of our intention  and remain commitment.  This groups was not deterred by the distance of the hike, the mud, the spitting rain or the temperatures. They did not get discouraged when it seemed that the trail might never end. Instead the were exhilarated at every turn and twist in the path.

The adventure really begins at the bridge crossing the stream where we play during the warmer months of school. We did notice that the stream was heavy and flowing after a very dry fall season.

                           Is this the bridge that Sabine referred to when she described the path?

We locate a bench and a steep hill. The
Explorers do not use the word landmarks but they
do feel it is important that we note these "clues".
"We can find our way with our clues."

We think that this is a forest planted by Dr. Seuss. The trees are "wobbly and wibbly" like a Dr. Seuss tree.

The holly tree presents a problem in that the path takes several directions. We debate the direction that will lead us to the fire house. 
"It is a trail marker."

Finally, Sabine's long bridge through the evergreen forest.

When the children spy the watertank  they are certain the  firehouse is near. 

Dancing in the rain to record the joy of  a victorious explorer.

Our last piece of business is verifying that this was the correct firehouse. This is indeed firehouse Number 25. 

These are our community helpers and we will recognize them with medals, an appreciation basket and thank you cards on Monday, Martin Luther King's holiday.