The Knowing Garden

From under our big tree…

9 June 2012
Week 35: Highlights & Important Information
Discoveries at TKG
“Look beyond methods, though, and consider goals. What’s the point of educating students in the first place?…we have reason to worry when schooling is discussed primarily in the context of “global competitiveness” rather than in terms of what children need or what contributes to a democratic culture — and, indeed, when the children themselves are seen mostly as future workers who will someday do their part to increase the profitability of their employers.”

– Alfie Kohn

This week was all about…

• Library Time: We’ve been revisiting some of our favorite books. Yoko, Stop That Pickle, The Little House, Rhyming Dust Bunnies, Flying and more poems from Where The Sidewalk Ends. We also read I Like and continued with our own likes.

• Choice: The meeting leader chooses the book to be read, if others wanted another book we discussed and made sure all books were read.

• Scooter City: Student used their fine motor skills and space awareness to create their city.

• Mouth School: I am currently attending student led “mouth school” where I learn if I’m saying a word correctly or not. Some students write words for me to read, others create boxes and either check it or x depending on my response. Their journals are quickly filling up!

• Clay and Lego building: both help strengthen our fine motor skills

• Map Making: students collaborated on a map, including a checklist

• Math Workshop: Early in the week students omitted math workshop from their schedules, but Thursday we briefly did some shape building.

• Student Lesson: Build a shape ship that you can fit in. We measured ourselves and skip counted by 10s. We followed each step until we saw the measuring tape retract. Then we experimented with it! They wrapped it around items to see if they could move the items. They began planning ways to use it as a tool to make their lego kitties fly. The rest of the day was spent building gliders, testing up and down steps, making longer wings, etc.

• Farms: We continued to add more animals to our farm. Students also explored dry clay; how it feels, does it crumble, what if you smash it? A student added a tractor to our farm. I brought in some sheep wool and we briefly explored.

•Ride-On Day: We picked “hay” from the church planters and used it for our Berry Farms.  We discussed  animals that eat hay and others who do not eat hay.  We gathered it and planned to take some back to our farm.

Social Studies/History
• Scooter City: Students, teacher, and parent volunteer collaborated and created a city. Many of our paths and buildings were still visible from last week. We added an airport, shoe store, grocery store, repair station, gas station, stop lights, and each drew our own “Berry Farm.”

• Map making: While some students went on a hike, other buried treasures and made a map so those returning can find the hidden items.

Emotional Intelligence
• Personal Schedules: While we are working on autonomy, we have also been coming together as a group more often and flowing through our day as a whole while still expressing different ideas. Students have been using the Cozy Corner or hallway when seeking a quieter space.

• Leading Meeting

• Responsibility: Cleaning up crayons after schedule is made, snack pack up, eating at snack table, checking in with the teacher, etc.

Physical Development
• Park Day & Outside time: hikes, climbing, map making and treasure hunting

• Ride-On Plan: a blend of gross motor skills and fine motor skills, safety concepts, problem solving, and cross-curricular goodness!

Social Development
• Taking Turns: Some students have been thinking about animal check-out: the challenge in switching up the routine, trying new things and trust.  Some have been working on what ownership means and establishing boundaries for “finding” and borrowing.

• Sharing Ideas: clay animal creations, math workshop, Scooter City

• Divergent Thinking: looking at things differently, making different versions

•Perserverance: supporting each other on sticking with a task…even when it is long or difficult.  At Park Day we had a lost crayon that required extra attention to find.

• Personal Space: Observation of spatial relation to other students, safe distance for ride on plan.

• Yoga: meditation, breathing, stretching (I’m trying to implement more often; we are full of energy most of the time so this can be challenging for some.)

• Physical Needs: Moving outdoors to release physical energy

Creative Arts
• Crafts: Student led lesson on painting shirts and fabric. Drawing farm features. Clay.
• Music: Nick Young visited our class for a music lesson. We danced and moved to music, acted out songs, and played instruments.

Overheard in our Classroom/Play Yard:
In response to a page in the book Flying I asked what students do in the car so you don’t get bored? Watch a movie, play video games, read, annoy my mom! How do you do that? Say “are we there yet” over and over again. Repeat the same thing. Keep tapping her shoulder. I think they could have gone on forever!

I wonder what this (plastic) knife is for. Maybe it’s for what’s in here. A hot dog! I get to put on my own catsup!

I’m saving up for fishes. Four regular and four cleaner fish so I never have to clean the tank.

S1: What’s that? An earthquake. (students look out the window for clues) S2: I guess you are right. S1: Yeah, but we are so far away so we can only hear it and not see it.

Things to reflect on over the weekend- in preparation for next week:
• Monday park day: Which trails do you want to take? Rope swing? Meeting tree? A new way?!

• Thursday: pajama day! A student mentioned this idea; we discussed and picked “the last day before the last day” for this plan. Your child is welcome to wear their pjs (still non-branded please) and bring in any blankets, pillows, animals, etc.

• Friday (whole week prep): It’s carnival/party time! For our last day students would like to have a carnival in our classroom. All family members are invited. We will be working on invitations, tickets, rides, food booths (making ice cream) and so much more this week. Your child is welcome to begin making items at home as well as bring in any items they may need for their plan.

• Tours and visitors: We will be having guests in our room most of the week.

• TKG memories: anything your child may want to revisit in our last week!

• Minimizing branded toys, items during school time

• Working on going outdoors or play area when physical energy is bubbling up

For your reference, below is our key to planning lessons and scaffolding emergent plans:

  • CONSTRUCTIVISM(expanding existing knowledge)
  • WHOLE CHILD (emotional/cognitive/social/physical)
  • BRAIN FUNCTION & DEVELOPMENT (developmental readiness and willingness)
  • CAPACITY BUILDING (critical thinking, skills for the global marketplace)
  • CO-OPERATIVE LEARNING (learning from one another)

If you have any questions, please reach us as follows:


Growth: News, Needs and Important Info


We will meet at the Trail this coming Monday, our last of the year.  See you at 9am!

Please contact Michelle with any questions.


Our students are creating a Carnival.  All families are invited.


We are planning a Carnival Day on Friday (all families are welcome to join us) but Ride On agreement shall be honored for any students wanting to bring their ride on.  Don’t forget: scooters, helmets, sunscreen and sturdy shoes.

Please contact Michelle with any questions.


As Summer sun is peeking out sooner in the day…please lather up before school begins.


We need your help on Wednesday 6/13 (4pm) or Saturday 6/16 for pack and clean up days.  Please do not plan to bring students or siblings.

Please contact Trish with any questions. more TKG pictures are available at our Flickr Stream!


We look forward to seeing you! Our end of year celebration will be this Friday starting at 4pm.  Please come at your convenience.  Thank you.  Please contact Trish with any questions.

Garden Maintenance:

Friendly reminders from the TKG Office:

  • Work Days coming Up: Please sign up for one (if you haven’t yet)- Wednesday June 13 and Saturday June 16.  Email Trish to confirm your work day.
  • Sign Up for Summer Play dates!
  • First Month’s tuition is due on Jun 29th.
  • Mark on your Calendars! Family/Book Garage Sale has been scheduled for June 30th.  Sorting party will be on Friday June 29th.  More details to follow, please contact Seth Kaufman with questions.
  • Don’t forget to sign up for FARM FRESH TO YOU and enjoy fresh Summer produce!  Sign Up here.

Thank you Families!  Admin Questions, please email t.valdez(at)knowinggarden(dot)org.


Don’t forget to shop our store for great deals!  A small fee is raised for each purchase.

We love our Parent Volunteers!

Tips for the Classroom:

  • Meeting: goal is to meet within the first hour of class and after clean up.  Attendance is requested.
  • Schedule: Students are crafting their own schedules.  Support them by checking in on their plans and progress.
  • Bathrooms: Sink or Sanitizer!  Please do not use the bathroom if children are present.
  • Body Check In: Bathroom anyone?  Snack anyone?
  • Snack Table/Restaurant: In keeping floors clean, we have a snack table and gathering place. Volunteers, please feel free to bring a snack to share with all of the students.
  • Outside Time: Always available, please check in with Michelle.  We encourgage students to release energy when they want or need.
  • Agreements: Please become familiar with the agreements.  Safety and freedom are priorities.
Thank you for sharing your time with us.  Our parent volunteers for the coming week:MONDAY – MJ Garcia
THURSDAY – Trish Valdez

“Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist and co-author of the parenting guide “The Whole-Brain Child,”…said there were three others R’s (in addition to the ‘3Rs’): reflection, relationships and resilience — and schools should teach those, too.

Kids who learn social and emotional skills do better academically,” Dr. Siegel said. “They are happier, and their emotions are more rewarding.”

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