Monday, September 28, 2015

A Metaphor for Relationships

During morning experiences, a group of students picked up the hula hoop and played a game they learned during PE. The game was initiated and sustained by the children. As one child left the game to head toward a new experience, another child would join into the game and be assimilated. I stood and watched the ease in which the game proceeded. 

Children are always seeking connection to each other. Even children who may need quiet time to refuel desire connection to peers and their community. Often the behaviors that we see or the strong feelings expressed by children occur when  they feel disconnected from friends or the community.
 We use an image of a string connecting children, teachers and the community together. All relationships encounter hurt feelings, misunderstandings or even fatigue.

" You cut my string when you  made that face at me."

Mistakes launch learning. Problems are opportunities for discussion and growth. We capitalize on these moments and ask children to consider how to reconnect strings that have been cut.

Eve's sketch captures the image of the string connecting two friends. The knots imply that the string has been cut and reconnected several times.  We experience many feelings while relating to others.

 We create a web of connections when we are a part of a community. Our strings cross and often become entangled. If too many strings in a community are cut it becomes difficult to move forward and maintain stability. A thriving community takes care of the strings,securing the string and repairing it when it is frayed.


Children may on occasion require scaffolding from the adults to navigate their social lives BUT support should be provided with the intention to build resiliency not to save the children from hurt or frustration. I find this easier to offer my students than my own children.  

"If you don't play with me now I will not invite you to my birthday party." The child wants a playmate but is not finding success. She tries on a strategy she has witnessed. This may be a moment to scaffold  using inquiry.

Who would you like to play with and what would you like to do with that person?

Lets brainstorm some possible ways to achieve this.

Role play the scene and create a social story or comic strip.

Role play the obstacles that might occur.

Most importantly always keep it  humorous.

 The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends Cover               

Each year we read a book with the class and offer a time in the Spring to discuss the book.These are a few book suggestions but please offer your book preference. This reading is a starting place for discussion and problem solving for all of us. Just as our children rely on connection we like to feel solidarity as parents or at the very least.........

                                                                 enjoy a good laugh.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Co-constructing in an Atelier

         The atelier is a rudder that gives direction to our work. 
                                                                                                      Vea Vecchi
                                                            a well respected atelierista working with Loris Malaguzzi

The atelier and the role of the atelierista developed in the late 1960s in Reggio Emilia.  The culture of the school established a philosophy where the aesthetic dimension and the search for beauty were welcomed.  Beauty is defined as a way of seeing the world with intention, respect and wonder. 

Our preschool classrooms are deeply committed to the languages of the atelier and have full access to the school studio and the support of Anna Golden, our atelierista.  As the children move to Kindergarten this access continues. Anna is also with us each day for more than an hour as we begin to strengthen our thinking and collaborative work during Investigative Research . 

This year we are joined during our afternoon and morning experiences by Cheri Wolff.  Our commitment to the hundred languages is a priority so Cheri is always present in our Kindergarten studio providing scaffolding to the intentions of the children and also creating provocations  to ignite interest and illuminate possibilities

An Intention
Fairy houses and stories were evolving on the small building table.  The children connected to the magical elements of fairies and with this connection felt compassion. They visited the studio to sew pillows and offer comfort to the fairies. 


As is often the case in our classrooms, the children look to each other for inspiration and so contagion spreads when there is an engaging experience. After pillows were sewn, the children looked for sewing that was more complicated and layered. 

A convention is shared

It was determined by the children that drawing directly on felt was risky because if they felt dissatisfied there were not options. Cheri shared that when people sew they sometimes draw a pattern. This was appealing to the children and many incorporated this strategy as they worked.

One idea leads to another.

"Take an object. Do something to it. 
Do something else to it."
Jasper Johns

When questions arise solutions and answers are co-constructed together as a community.

 E. announced that she wanted to make a dress but noticed a mismatch between her dress designs and the anatomy of her body.

 "My head is oval. It would need to have a V in the neck."


Sh. draws a neck straight across the dress and shares it with E.


Charlie designs a dress with a different neckline. 

E: "Oh, that is good. My neck looks like that."

E draws the top of her dress but feels dissatisfied with the sleeves. The sketch looked more like a tank top than a dress.

S. listens to the question and then offers her thinking for sleeves.

"The arms go through like this." S. draws lines at the end of the sleeve to indicate the end.


The photograph on the left demonstrates the progression of the co-constructed design for a dress pattern that fits the anatomy of a body.
One of the completed designs revealing a neck line and sleeves in congruence to the body. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

We have been waiting for you.

We have been waiting for you. 

 "Waiting" conveys expectancy.  Each August, we anticipate greeting the children as they enter the classroom to begin our journey together as a community.

As we wait, we prepare and plan. We want the classroom environment to feel welcoming.  Does the space provide flexibility and an aestheticism? Will the children have the resources to express their ideas and collaborate? 

We reflect on the rhythm of our day and week. We anticipate the needs of a five year old. What do we know to be true for children and where in our day do we need to be more intentional. What works in our schedule and what triggers fatigue?

As we wait for the children to join us, we deliberate the careful balance between collaborating and time to reflect as an individual. How do we preserve time for introspection as we co-construct meaning?

As we anticipate the arrival of the children, we prioritize the intentions of the classroom. 

How we spend our days is how we spend our life.
Annie Dillard. 

We turn our thoughts toward the  children who will soon be Kindergartners.  During our first month, we spend time trying to get to know the children and observe their interactions with each other and the environment. How do they adapt to the rhythm of our day? What parts of the day and work come easily and what is challenging?

Stand aside for awhile and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do and then if you have understand well perhaps teaching will be different than before.

                                Loris Malaguzzi

Each day we wait for our Kindergartners to arrive. We are getting to know them as individuals and as a group of learners. 

We are learning that some of the children like cats and others prefer dogs. Many like to weave stories with their classmates and others go directly to the studio.  A few of the children want hard math problems. Two friends are content to play at the light table each morning. All of the children dislike long circles but love recess and lunch.

We are learning more each day about this year's Kindergartners and they in turn will learn  more as to who they are and how best they learn in the midst of a community. 

" I have been waiting FOREVER to get my feet wet in Rabbit River."