This week was all about finding ways to care for ourselves, one another, and our space.
We began the week by learning to care for one another with the telling of an oral story that has become quite familiar to the children. Miss Michelle's oral stories always begin with the same familiar scene set up of little dolls sitting in a circle in the woods, just as we begin each of our days. Each story begins with the children finishing their snacks and getting ready to play. And each story moves through some problem that the Roots are currently encountering. What changes in these stories is the the nature of the problem, and the tools and language the Roots are given to help them resolve their problems. Social stories such as these help children understand expectations, work through interpersonal issues, practice conflict resolution, and understand others perspectives.
In this week's story, the children encountered a problem where two friends both wanted the same stick. At first, one friend tried to grab the stick. This ended with the children feeling upset. As the story progressed, the child tries two different strategies that both work much better. In one, the child asks, "Can we play with the stick together?" In the other, the child asks, "When you are all done can I have a turn?" After hearing this story, we had a wonderful discussion with the Roots about what it feels like to want a toy someone else has, and what if feels like to wait for a turn ("It's hard to wait!" said one Root). We reviewed the language the children can use with each other to ask for a turn. Throughout the week we practiced this language and heard the children using it with one another. We will continue to tell this story again in the coming weeks. The next time you have an opportunity to play with your child, it would be great for you to model asking them for turns using this same language!
As our week continued, we learned to care for ourselves. We began by reading a book called, Sweep by Louise Greig, about a little boy with big emotions. This led to a discussion about how we all sometimes have big emotions that can feel like they are sweeping us away. We talked about what we can do when we have big emotions, and how breathing can be so helpful. Breathing is the core of mindfulness, so In order to help us practice effective mindful breathing (rather than quick and shallow breaths), we brought out bubbles! Blowing bubbles requires a deep breath in and a slow, long, and gentle breath out. Blowing bubbles also helps to improve hand/eye coordination, fine/gross motor skills, and language and cognitive skills. The children absolutely loved blowing bubbles! They practiced with Miss Michelle using big bubble wands, and on their own using little wands we made out of pipe cleaners. The Roots were so proud of themselves when they were able to blow a bubble, and one Root noted that, "I blew not too soft and not too hard, and I got a bubble!"
Finally, we learned about caring for our space by ending our week with a visit to Fallen Forest! Many children in the class had never been to this part of the woods, but ever since our discussions about being community helpers, and our work on building new and exciting spaces in Fallen Forest for our Community Day, many children have been asking what it looks like and where it is located. So, we built up our stamina as we took the long hike to Fallen Forest! Those who have been there before took on leadership roles as they guided around those new to this space. The children's confidence soared as they made their way through the obstacle course and climbed the climbing tree. "This is SO fun!" said one Root. "Look! I'm balancing!" said another. We ended our day by talking about how we are a team that cares for each other ("We take care of each other in the classroom too!" said one Root). We ended our week by leaving Fallen Forest how we always do...with our faces pointing toward the treetops and howling like wolves. This is our way of saying thank you and goodbye to the forest, in recognition that we are both a little more wild and a little more peaceful, than when we came.
Michelle, Patricia, and Tracey