Last Tuesday we welcomed two very special guests to our morning circle. Not only are these people parents in our Tulip Tree community, they are also a doula and a midwife, and they are also both expecting to give birth in a few weeks. We are welcoming 3 new babies in our community this spring and there has been a lot of excitement around babies and pregnancy among the children. Our special guests last week gave us special insight to how humans start, and grow, and the role of a midwife.
The children got to try a stethoscope, a fetoscope, and we even used a doppler to listen to different heartbeats including the growing infant’s! We used our new baby dolls as models to measure a baby’s head and use a scale to weigh it.
We talked about being born in different places and how some babies are born at hospital, some at a birth center, and some at home. Some babies are born on a bed, or in the water, and caught in someone’s hands. The children were all excited to chime in, “I was born at my house!”, “I was born at the hospital!”, “I was born at my house, and my sister was born at our old house.”
The children love to think about their own birth story. The day that they were fought for and welcomed; their birthday! We would like to start a wall of baby photos to support their enthusiasm. So bring us your baby pictures (if you don’t mind a preschool smudge on them) of parents and students and we’ll bring in ours too.
I’ve introduced the children to a song over the past couple weeks about witches. It is not a scary song, and no one has green skin or warts, traveling about on a broom. The song is called, “The Witch Song” by Bonnie Lockheart, and it is a song about historical witches. Here is a clip of the children singing the chorus:
The verses go on to explain that, historically, witches were wise people who knew about using plants to heal, about giving birth, and were people that shared their wisdom to help others. We have had a lot of discussion around witches because of this song and today talked more in depth about differentiating between a historical witch and a commercialized idea of a witch. We have explained that witches were actually quite like doctors. We also discussed examples of different plants we know that help our bodies- lavender being a present example in our classroom.
Today some friends sat together and we read “Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons” by Tomie dePaola. These books portray a witch (or in Italian, a strega) in a way that is closer to a historical image. While we read, we drew pictures of what a real witch might look like versus a witch that we might see in Halloween decorations.
ER : “A green witch in black clothes”
“A brown, nice, real witch”
AS: A scary witch with a ghost and pumpkin and a spider”
” A witch who is a doctor with a stethoscope and one of those things they look in your ear with.”
GF : A scary witch
A nice witch
ASY: “A big scary witch saying, ‘bleeeegh.’, and a witch that says, ‘I’m happy to help you.'”
CW: “This is a witch on a broom in dark skies”
“This is a nice witch.”
KM: “This witch is bad with bad books and is not a doctor witch.”
“This witch is good with good magic and good books and a house that’s littler than mine.”
The song also says in brevity that people were scared of their powers. We won’t be getting into any stories at school of exactly how this frightful image came to be, or the persecution of a group of people. We have simply repeated the song lyrics that “some people were scared of the power they had, but power to help and to heal and to care isn’t something to fear, it’s a treasure to share.”
Outside we made magic potions to help our friends and the children have continued to sing the song the whole week long. The children also shared about herbs and remedies they use at home when they have a problem with their body. Many children shared that they have band-aids to help them, SH said that she drinks tincture in her apple juice when she is sick, and CCJ said that her special stuffed animal is a witch because it always helps her feel better.
Do you use plants and special wise remedies at home to help your family? Your children may be interested right now in having this wisdom passed down to them!
This week we looked at a photo and asked three questions:
What do you see?
What do you think ?
What does it make you wonder?
I learned about this thinking routine through Harvard’s Project Zero, that works to promote visible thinking in the classroom. This exercise helps children develop a framework for their thoughts and ideas and create clear differentiation between what we are experiencing with our eyes and what things are our thoughts and opinions. There are some things that we can experience visibly and some things we are experiencing in an invisible way- through our thoughts. By making our thoughts visible, we promote metacognition in the classroom- an opportunity to think about our thinking. This can serve to help us understand our own biases and help us think about the difference between what is a tangible fact and what is our opinion, or wondering.
Rose joined us at circle again today to tell us about something that happened at her preschool and to elicit some help and advice from our preschoolers. The following is a transcript of the circle time discussion. Even after only meeting her a couple times, it is clear that the children feel connected to Rose and can empathize with her feelings, recognize when something is unfair for and brainstorm a variety of ways to change the situation. Hopefully this low-stakes rehearsal with a the persona doll will help them stick up for their “real” friends and themselves in the face of unfairness in their own lives…
Alisha: Rose has a story about something that happened at school that she wants to share with you guys. To see if you have any advice for her, or her friends.
One day Rose was at school and it was morning free play time, just kind of like how we have here, before circle. They were inside. Just like we have before circle. There were two girls sitting at one of the tables and they were drawing with markers and pens. And Rose was like, ‘Oh, I would love to draw right now with markers and pens.’ And so she walked up and she was about to sit down and one of the girl’s, whose name was Beth, said, “You can’t sit here, this is a girl’s table. You’re a boy, so you can’t sit here.” And then she looked to her other friend, who was named Kate and she said, “He can’t sit here, right? ‘Cuz he’s a boy and this is a girl’s table.”
OR: But she’s actually a girl.
Alisha: Is there anything you notice about that story?
OR: It hurts her feelings!
WG: Yeah, because you know what? She’s not a boy, she’s a girl.
DH: Markers is for everybody.
KM: A boy, or a girl . . .
DH: Those girls aren’t very nice.
Alisha: They are still learning how to be friendly to everyone I think.
KM: So E, my sister, has a book, The Magic Bunny, the person, she has a friend named Beth.
Alisha: Oh, Beth. So you recognize that name? It’s not the same Beth, it’s a different Beth that goes to Rose’s preschool. SS, anything you noticed about the story?
I continued our investigation of robots this week with another small group. I’ve really enjoyed learning children’s ideas about how robots are similar and different form humans, how they interact with people and how they express their emotions. Here are some snippets from our discussion today.
VG: Do you want to see my robot? This is the body. . . . And the head.
Laura: Does your robot have any buttons? Sometimes robots have buttons.