Not only do we learn about fruits and vegetables, but we also try to teach the children about common herbs. After planting a rosemary bush in the yard, we began to learn a little more about the herb. The kids enjoyed cutting the leaves and talking about how it smelled and tasted in its raw form. One day for lunch they harvested some rosemary and we made rosemary garlic fries which they devoured. Later in the week we made sugar scrubs and the kids harvested their own rosemary springs, cut them up with scissors, and mixed all of the ingredients into a bowl before scooping it into their jars. We were able to use the scrub on our hands at school and they wanted the director to feel how soft their hands were. They could not wait to give the jars to their parents when they showed up. They all ran to their cubbies and yanked them out every time.
For the last two week we learned about two fruits that seem very similar, the apple and the pear. We had a lot of fun learning about both of them. When we studied the apple, we looked at the different colors, compared tastes, explored the parts of the apple, made apple juice and apple sauce, and even read a story about a star being inside of an apple. The story about the star in the apple was great because it was a build up to where you can find a star. When the teacher cut the apple in half and showed the children the star, all of the children yelled, "Oh my gosh!".
Though the sun was in and out this week, we still had a great time learning about it. We talked about how it is a star, why we need it to live, and how to protect ourselves from its powerful rays. In art, we made sunset water colors and created sun mosaic art pieces. We love to use our local library as a resource for great books and managed to find a handful of interesting stories and educational books about the sun.
Over the weekend the schools owner and her family dug out our huge natural sand pit and we had the sand delivered this week. The kids worked hard helping to load the sand into the wheelbarrow and into their little buckets and towing them back and forth. When they saw the entire thing completed they screamed in excitement and dove in. They are enjoying the space this large natural pit is giving them and all of the neat things they are making. We were really glad that we were able to get them involved in filling the pit as it gives them a sense of ownership and it shows. We are covering it up when not in use with a tarp to keep out the cats and critters.
Playing with play dough is always a favorite for sensory activities. Earlier in the week we made some homemade dough with the children from common household ingredients. Using recycled items, like columns from old trophies, and natural items the children made all sorts of creations like cookies, rockets, and houses. We also used some of the natural elements and made prints in the play dough to see what it would look like.
One of the joys of watching the kids play with same materials everyday in the loose parts area is watching their "light-bulb moments". Seeing their faces and hearing their "Oh my gosh, did you see what I just made?" statements is awesome to witness daily. It is amazing that after several months of having the same materials, they still manage to come up with new ideas on how to use the tires, boards, and blocks. The bridge they created weeks ago is still in place and they run to this loose parts area first everyday to walk it and see what else they can do. Above, you can see one of the students has elevated there bridge and has made it level to create a sturdier bridge to cross.
The last week of 2018 and first week of 2019, with all of its missed days from school due to the holidays, still proved to be very fruitful with discoveries and new creations. Since the school was closed for several days and children were in and out with family traditions and illnesses, we spread out our nature and edible food topic over those two weeks. As we had been seeing a lot of lady bugs lately and one of the students had requested that we choose them as the next nature topic to learn about, we decided to learn a thing or two about them.
We did a lot of jumping around this week as we made up a new game and traveled like the grasshopper. Nature has an endless supply of lessons and things to share with us at Pebble Pond Preschool. The children found a grasshopper in the yard and asked to learn about it for this week's topic. After catching it, they went into our outdoor classroom and grabbed the observation tube and magnifying glass to get a closer look. After everyone had a chance to gently hold the tube, we let it go back into the wild.
On the first school day in December, the children made a few exciting discoveries in our small schoolyard. I am always amazed at the new things the students find. When I think of them and their constant discoveries in this small space I am reminded of a quote by Marcel Proust, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." It started with one of our new students finding a small snail shell in a tire on Monday. He was super excited and showed everyone in the school. Seeing the excitement on their faces, we asked if they wanted to make the snail their nature topic of the week and they all yelled, "Yes!" We found several more later on in the week and even found one that was out and crawling. The kids screamed with excitement when they saw its eyes pop out and loved the feeling of it crawling on their hands.
With such great weather this week, it made the kids strip away those winter layers and even kick off their shoes. This week was full of dirty feet and fresh nap-time air. When children attend Pebble Pond Preschool, they can choose to sleep inside our outside in our designated napping area in the shade. At first they were a little distracted by the wandering squirrel, the bright sun, and the outside noises of leaves rustling in the wind and birds chirping. But after about 10 minutes, their excitement of sleeping outside lost to their sleepiness. When they awoke, one student said, "Man, I feel so rested. That was some good sleep".