In the beginning there were turtles and birds and rocks…

Well, week one is safely behind us.  There were some tears, some tantrums, and some temple massages (that would be me) but there were lots of interesting threads that might actually turn into something really exciting.  Carol Ann Wein (2008) writes in her book Emergent Curriculum in the Primary Classroom: Interpreting the Reggio Emilia Approach in Schools:

When we attempt emergent curriculum in classrooms, we immediately find it is more difficult than we expected; it doesn’t happen just because we want it to.  It is more troubling, uncertain, anxiety-producing.  But then we notice that we feel fully alive, bursting with higher, positive energy that feels like life itself.  It traditional teaching can feel like a rehearsal – like waiting to live one’s life – both for children and teachers, then emergent curriculum is living life at full throttle.  Teachers say it is so exciting that it is like being on vacation every day, or so exciting you can taste it when you enter a classroom.  (p.13)

I really felt that this week.  I felt like a detective, a sleuth, trying to sneak up on the kids so that I could eavesdrop on their play without disturbing them.  It was exciting and challenging.  I often find the minutiae of school difficult to handle: the paperwork, the twice-a-day attendance, the fundraising campaigns, the pizza orders (the humanity!)… it gets me down.  It seems like there’s so little time to think, to reflect, to do the real business of investigating with kids and, you know, teaching.  But this week felt different.  I felt more alive to the possibilities, more awake to the magic that was happening in their play and more in charge of how much of the marginalia I allowed to enter our little universe.  There were moments when it felt – dare I say it – sacred.

Some of the threads that emerged from the week…

puppet show
There was a lot of dramatic play going on. They made costumes, they built homes for the puppets, they built cars and thrones and towers, and airports. Definitely something to pursue. What can I add to this area to keep it interesting?
Turtle sorting, turtle graphing, turtle mania!
I have two sets of tiny turtles and these were a big hit all week. There was even some fighting over them on Friday. Some children used them for dramatic play, others sorted and counted, some used them in the sand table. I think I’ll grab some books on turtles this week and see where that leads us.
Birds
I had hoped that birds might be an area of interest. I had a book about birds in the art studio and an art print of an Inuit artist’s painting of owls. This was the first indication that at least one student was thinking about birds. We talked about it a bit in our morning meeting on Friday and hopefully I’ll be able to get a bird feeder up on one of our windows early next week.

The children were also very interested in rocks and got very involved in sorting them later in the week.  At one point they were using them as currency in their game.

French vocabulary for the week:

  • roche (rock)
  • éventail (fan) – it was hot!
  • oiseau (bird)
  • nid (nest)
  • oeuf (egg)
  • tortue (turtle)
  • marionette (puppet)
  • bonjour (hello)
  • fontaine (fountain)
  • salle de toilette (bathroom)
  • puis je (may I)
  • lave (wash)
  • table (table)
  • chaise (chair)
  • boîte à diner (lunch box)
  • sac à dos (back pack)
  • Madame (me!)

 

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