“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero
Dear Community Member,
Home-school folders will be given to your children this week. For returning families, we called them green folders last year, except we have gone the more sustainable, environmentally friendly route this year with a biodegradable plastic folder that will last the year with your child. These folders will be filled with resources to use at home to extend your child’s classroom learning and keep you connected to the curriculum.
Our First Field Day
What does our Field Day look like? Some of you have had the pleasure of joining us on a field day and some of you are brand new to the concept. Since we had our first Field Day of the year this week, we thought we would pull back the curtain for you to catch a glimpse of the nature-full day that greets us every Monday. See lots of amazing Field Day pics, here.
EXT – PICTURE PERFECT FIELD
It is early morning depicted by a sweet cloud cover, warm air, slight breeze. The teachers are feeling connected and lucky, children are filtering in, saying hello and good-bye.A relaxed exploration time begins: students connect with each other, wander under canopies of leaves, run in the grass in our “meadow”, play soccer or kickball, look for interesting insects to inspect
Our time at the park is designed to enhance our classroom learning specifically in the areas of: math, engineering, art, physical education, play and science. We call it M.E.A.P.P.S.
Children proceed to M.E.A.P.P.S. time (Math, Engineering, Art, Physical Education, Play and Art) focusing on Physical Education and Play: The whole group breaks up into 2 groups- The “pine” group consists of the 5-7 class and a few 7-9 and 9-11 year olds and the “maple” group, consisting of the rest of the 7-9 and 9-11 class. The focus is physical skill building in smaller groups, leveled developmentally to maximize fun and focus. A quick moving game of “Dead Bug” is played, encouraging students to quickly form groups to act out scenarios and then fall to the ground to mimic a “dead bug”. Laughter is heard, connections are made, coordination and stamina are increased.
Choose your activity for the day!
Continue with M.E.A.P.P.S. time focusing on Engineering, Art and Science: Michelle, Lena and Yvette each lead an activity. Student names are written on sticks and as each stick is pulled the student chooses their activity for the day. See delayed gratification and flexibility develop as activities fill up with an 8 student limit and students must choose their second choice. Teachers wonder how things will flow for students who may not have grouped with their first choice activity. They notice that all students exhibit a “go with the flow-ness” that allows them to see each activity as engaging and interesting. Notice all students participating enthusiastically in the activities!
Migration of birds!
YVETTE, the enthusiastic 7 to 9 teacher, comes in to focus as she entices students to notice the birds in the habitat, soon students are having a lively discussion. There is a mountain of materials adorning a picnic table, ready to be used to make a bird and then send it whizzing down a zip line to see how their creation “flew”. Smiles and tweaking of designs to maximize “flight” fills the time.
This scene opens with the gathering of natural materials to “paint” with. MICHELLE, a kind and loving presence, leads several students as they discover the sounds of wonderfully round rocks hammering leaves onto watercolor paper, transferring their pigment onto a keep-able piece of art. Smashing brings concentration and experimentation as children avoid their fingers and try to transfer pigment from sticks, leaves and berries. The miracles of pigment are noticed as beautiful designs emerge.
Let’s engineer a shelter.
LENA, a thoughtful guide to students and teachers alike, leads a conversation about low and high pressure systems in our environment. LENA inserts just the right information to the discussion leading children to question the possibility of an El Niño rainy season and the impact it could have on Field days. They explore an array of materials- tarps, rope, bungee cords, fabric and sticks- along with the open ended question: How can you build a shelter to keep your team warm and dry from the rain? Knot strategies are shared and older and younger students work side-by-side to tie, knot, fling, soar and arrange their materials into effective shelters. Teamwork, encouragement and laughter is heard as shelters are formed.EXT. UNDER A CANOPY OF SHADY TREES
(tummy rumbling ensues)
Time for the 3Rs!
Bodies are cared for at a community lunch. Everyone rests on blankets for 30 minutes, doing the 3 R’s: replenishing, rehydrating and reapplying sunscreen. As students finish lunch, they transition to card games, books and building games to foster connection and rest.
DEEP LEARNING TEACHERS
Play! Experiment! Make mistakes! Children learn by doing, making new connections, making mistakes and recovering from or resolving their challenges.
The next part of the day is filled with Deep learning, an open exploration time where children choose their own activities and teachers join in their fun. We see a giant nest emerging from pine needles, an exuberant game of tag on the playground, insect and lizard discovery, a hike down into the “outback” and much more as students create connections, repair connections and grow their social intelligence skills in the midst of trees, rocks, dirt and sky.Hear the quiet of the afternoon, the wind in the trees and feel the sense of unlimited time, giving students permission to work on whatever is most present for them. It may be connecting with friends, finding a time to explore nature solo, working out social challenges with the help of an adult nearby or just gazing into the clouds. This is when nature becomes the cradle for our shared energy, encouraging us to slow down and attend to what is most important.
EXT. TKG GATHERING SPOT
Good bye – thank you for sharing this day with your community.
The day ends as everyone packs up, returns to the pick-up spot at the top of the park, listens to a read aloud book to create a calming transition and then… says good-bye!Parents, care-givers and family friends greet each other, laugh out loud or exchange their challenges of the day just before they direct their attention to reconnecting and saying hello! to their students.
We love our field day and as you may have expected, everyone is hungry and tired at the end of the day.
Fade into a lazy afternoon of rest and replenishment so students can continue the week, leaving our outdoor park classroom and getting ready for our campus classroom. What a gift to learn in and out of doors!
(The sun sets on a bright blue horizon)