Submitted by ilana.friedman on Thu, 04/18/2019 - 11:33am
We hope you are enjoying your break!
When we were exploring the Purim story we noticed the children using the phrases, "Long, long ago" and "Once upon a time" with gusto and intrigue in their own story telling. We set up the classroom for more storytelling opportunities -- in the block area, at our book-making work table, in our puppet play area, and so on. But right in our meeting area, in the branches hanging overhead a story started to emerge that took over all other stories!
Once upon a time, it begins, the winter days were dark and cold, and the branches were bare. One day the spring equinox arrived and when the children visited the garden they discovered leaves had formed on the branches!
At this, the children took over. A crocodile came and climbed up onto the branches with a big ladder, and it ate all of the leaves! It didn't like the leaves and it spat the leaves out.
[Left: Diana reveals the outcome of our bean experiment, in which we tried to germinate bean seeds with and without light, soil, and water.]
Each day the story grew and the accompanying play and art-making evolved and deepened.
Many children pretended to be the crocodile hungrily attacking the leaves, others rendered the croc in paint and several made monster puppets, joining the crocodile in a horrible, leaf-eating brigade. The monsters also chewed up the beautiful blossoms that bloomed on the spring branches, and the children formed patrols. Leaf Patrol, Flower patrol, Seed Patrol... they all tried in their ways to fend off the crocodile and other monsters.
They built a huge city out of blocks and filled it with food and beds for the monsters. They locked the monsters into the city with strong gates but escapees sometimes returned to the tree and did more damage.
[Left: Monster City took required days, lots of collaboration, and ample fine motor skills in its construction.]
Finally a fleet of birds took over the branches as a united force, singing their various songs and building their various nests in such magnitude that the monsters simply stood no chance and had to take up permanent residence elsewhere.
Along the way, the children scrunched painted coffee filters into frilly blossoms and twisted wire ties on them to attach then to our branches. They adorned the block city in tiny parts, delicately lining the city walls in colorful beads. They built and rebuilt towers out of blocks, and also recyclable containers, and to top it all off, they explored watercolor pencil, finger paint and different tools for scratching through the paint to create interesting marks as they decorated bird silhouettes and portrayed the birds in their nests on large easel paper.
[Left: we used finger paint as well as watercolor pencils to bring bird silhouettes to life.]
This story and the Exodus story associated with Passover came together by happenstance! The noisy bird songs of persistence and freedom from monsters meshed with the tambourines and jubilation of Miriam and her entourage after they crossed through the Red Sea, escaping slavery under a cruel Pharaoh. Cantor Ellen taught us Dayenu, as we each shared things from our lives we are grateful for.
Telling the Passover story became another point of intrigue for the children. They immediately went to work in the side yard, digging a River Nile and filling it with water, lining it with wood and rocks, and finding animal figurines to be crocodiles! Recently we planted clover seed in an effort to stabilize the banks of the Nile, and create some stand-in reeds.
[Left: Construction of our River Nile involved laborious digging, collaborative decision-making, and integration of topographic and historical information.]
The children continued to make nests indoors and out -- with found objects like straw as well as classroom materials like play dough and yarn. We conversed with a pileated woodpecker, Pilly, who we spotted in the canopy of the side-yard trees.
Happy birthday to Amit who turned five in March, and to Avi who celebrated her third over a week ago.
Aside from birthday cake baking, we also completed our maple syrup making and cooked up pancakes to enjoy with it. We also made delicious gluten free matzah and charoset for Passover. Next week more Passover cooking is in the playbook!
[Left: Here we are making bird nests! The children scavenged for fibrous material from the outdoors.]