November seemed to pass very quickly – probably because it was full of learning. We experienced such a wide variety of conditions, from beautiful blue sky sunshine, to torrential rain, to frozen frost-kissed days. This month many children experienced, maybe for the first time, being uncomfortable – be it when wet or cold – and learned how to overcome this discomfort and in doing so, grew stronger in spirit! Having the shared experience of enduring tough weather has helped the group grow even closer, and it has been fun to watch as budding friendships deepen and new relationships spark up as well! This group is full of heart – they care for one another, help each other, and notice when a friend is missing – it makes my soul sing! Of course, not every day is perfect, and we are all still learning, but at this point, the positive interactions fill the majority of our days.
What I noticed this month by Heather:
Honestly, I find it easy to overlook the glory of November sometimes. With shorter days and colder weather it can be harder for me to be excited about going outside. Thankfully, when you’re well prepared and get to enjoy the changes that each day brings, November can be a truly wonderful month. The children have shown intrepid hardiness and curiosity. We are learning how to overcome the daily struggles of cold hands, runny noses, minor disappointments and the likes. It is empowering for both kids and teachers to know how to cope and use strategies so we spend more time learning and playing. The group spent more time contemplating nature’s marvels; weather, water, frost, ice and owls were captivating subjects. Meanwhile, imaginative play helped children navigate “real life” subjects like dogs and animal care, mechanics, digging and domestic life. I am truly amazed at the breadth of activities and topics we cover in any one day – never mind a whole month!
Themes from November:
At the beginning of the month, we began to play with numbers and with shapes of things we see around us. We spent many morning expanding on this theme, bringing learning from recognizing and finding shapes and numbers, to creating tracings individually.
We started off by introducing numbers and place counters – those little circles where children put small things until the circles were full. Then we brought in numbers for tracing.
The next step was for Heather and Alix to present a “puzzle” of items and their shapes on the morning table for matching, which led to children tracing their own shapes. This started out with sticks and leaves and grew to include hands.
After tracing natural elements, we moved to drawing them free hand. Here some leaves and pinecones are arranged into a bears claw and represented on paper!
We were lucky this month to be visited by a very special guest, Sawyer the Saw-whet Owl from MARS. This visit led to plenty of owl-themed learning, which also furthered our work with tracing and drawing free-hand alike.
We loved meeting Sawyer, a Saw Whet Owl with only one wing! We learned that not all owls go “hoo, hoo” – this one says “beep, beep” like a truck in reverse!
This story about an owl getting ready for the bird ball, offers an explanation as to why owls are nocturnal. Ask your child to tell you the story.
Here Trevor has made some owl art, by tracing various object and is now gluing feathers on to complete his project.
It was around this time that the Cumberland Community Forest became a frosty wonderland! There were so many discoveries and changes to our environment each day, that frost and ice became a natural theme. We created art pieces around it, did experiments with it, and learned about safety too!
What is all this white stuff? When the frost first started showing up we could only find it on sticks
Using white paint rolled on to plastic sheeting, we were able to make some prints that looked like the frost we had been seeing each day
After rolling the paint, the next step was to draw with a cotton swab, and then place a piece of paper on top to transfer the print
When ice started showing up near the pavilion, we were all eager to check it out – to test its strength by hitting with sticks, and as it got harder, stones.
Despite talking about safety near the ice, we had an incident where Delilah slipped and fell into the icy cold water. She was whisked away to the van, stripped down, warmed up and changed into spare clothes. She remained with us for the remainder of the day!
Here Nolan is running Delilahs pack up to the van with dry clothes for her. This incident solidified the need for safety and listening to teachers, and definitely was one of the shared experiences that brought the group closer together. As Delilah was getting warm and dry in the van, there were many other children who insisted that they too had fallen into the water – classic 4 year old empathy!
One of our first experiments was to make frost. By stirring ice cubes and salt inside a metal container, we created frost on the outside of the container
More work with the rollers – this time to make prints of ferns and leaves that looked like the frosty world around us. In this photo it is hard to believe that it is not snow on the bushes – the frost crystals grew very big!
Another experiment involved a big slab of ice, a sprinkling of salt and liquid watercolour paint. Science, or art?
We went for an explore and found even more ice. Here Aloe is throwing a rock onto the ice to see what will happen. Although the rocks just slid across the pond, we decided it wasn’t yet thick enough to walk on.
James discovered the remnants of the Seeds group experiment – they froze leaves and sticks and other interesting things in different sized containers. It is in moments like this that such questions as “what do you think happened” are asked by Heather and Alix. It has been amazing to hear the different ideas the children come up with – sometimes they are bang on, and other times they are still figuring out how the world works. For instance, the children know there is a correlation between the frost and the ice, and even the cold, but are not sure why the bushes in the shade have frost on them, but the ones in the sun do not! Heather and Alix like to keep these questions hanging – the learning is so much more meaningful when the answers are not handed to the children.
During journaling time, the group was asked to think about what they know about ice, which produced interesting results.
This theory shows that the child already knows quite a lot about ice. Heather and Alix can see where the group is at in their learning through journaling, and generates ideas of how to guide children to fill in some of the blanks.
Jared was happily surprised that the class had made an ice ornament for him too. This experiment demonstrated how water turns to ice, and now that they are hanging in our classroom, we will observe as they turn back to water.
After hanging over the weekend, the children noticed that some melting had occurred, both from the drips and also because the foam letters were almost falling off of the ice.
Juniper is slowly crawling along the log to access the frozen pond further away from the shore where the ice was more testy. She guided the other kids behind her who were a little nervous about travelling on the log and the ice about how slippery each one was and how to safely navigate across them.
It was likely our last day with ice for a while – with rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, we decided to take advantage of the thick ice and enjoy some play time on the marsh.
Theo is “ballet skating” here. Allowing children to move on slippery surfaces like ice and snow builds physical literacy that will last their whole lifetime!
We are looking forward to another great month with December ahead. It is a shorter month (due to the winter break), but it will be filled with more amazing exploring, learning and of course, fun!