Fire Drills and Shooting Stars

TulipTreeElm House Blog, tuliptree1 Comment

By Bee

Yesterday I spent some of my planning time refreshing our Studio space with Mage. The Studio presents a special sort of conundrum because it is where the children work after nap while there are still friends sleeping below them. Finding materials that are both engaging and quiet…that support inquiry without inviting full body play…well it is tricky with toddlers to say the least.  Anything that delights them almost DEMANDS that they effusively jump while ululating their joy to the roof. Full body excitement is certainly one of our favorite languages at Elm House, and yet we must also hold space for one of the most important types of self care out there: sleep.

The stars aligned yesterday afternoon, and we ended up spending two lovely hours with seven friends working companionably in the Studio.

It started when one child noticed that the afternoon sunlight was catching the sequins on a pillow, and casting them across the walls like a net filled with star dust.

“Look, look!”



“Me! Me! I want that!”

The children picked up the pillows and took turns rotating them in the sunshine, relishing in the way the light frolicked at their invitation.

Bee: “The lights give me lots of feelings. It looks like a nebula. Mm. So beautiful. What does it look like to you, OC?’

OC: “It looks like…um…like fire drills!”

Bee: “Like fire drills? Oooh! Wow!”

LR: “And it looks like shooting stars.”

Bee: “And shooting stars? Sooo beautiful.”

The children calmly look turns in front of the window. Alternating both who was casting the reflection, and which pillow we were using. They noted that the lights from the purple pillow were much more crisp and clear, while the lights from our rainbow pillow were muted, “like underwater.”

The children then experimented with both pillows at the same time, and companionably shared the small strip of space in between the windows.

“Whoa, it’s bright!”

“Look! So many!”

We were then presented with a perfect opportunity to add in artistic expression as we noticed that the lights were being cast all along the far wall. We quickly unrolled a giant piece of butcher paper, and allowed the children to color over the lights as they appeared on the paper.

As you can imagine, with seven children collaborating on one piece, the initial prompt was quickly forgotten, and instead of tracing lights the children used color and motion to capture the joy and enchantment that the experience with the light had given us.

As the children finished drawing they walked over to hand back their markers, and sought out new work. AB chose to read a book by the window, and the light let us know it wasn’t finished showing us how magical our world is.

“Look, look! AB! So many sparkles”


First we were engineers, then artists, and now we had become the canvas.

One by one the children and teachers found a spot in the light and allowed it to gently dance across us.

As you reflect on these images I will leave you with a quote by Alexandra Elle, that our afternoon brought to mind for me:

 “The Sun will rise and set regardless. What we choose to do with the Light while it’s here is up to us.” 

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