After the New Year and after all of our sickness, we have continued our architectural study. The kids have all chosen a structure they are interested in, learned facts about it and have been writing stories (fiction and non-fiction) based on their structure. Josephine and Coho chose the EMP and the Space Needle respectively and we are going to take a field trip to the Seattle Center.

We have been focusing on measurement and geometry to add to our architecture project. It’s been an active and fun part of our project. Learning new ways of exploring the world and the structures in our world and how to explain them with the tools we have on hand. You will be seeing some of the work we’ve been doing come home. We’ve been talking about terms and symbols such as feet = ‘, inches = “, yard, cm etc. This perfectly lends itself to addition and multiplication including finding square footage.

We have also begun a study into the Bunnicula Series. The kids are so excited about this series. They webbed the story on their own and have begun story boarding, which includes the study of character, story line, set up, conflict, conclusion, comedy, drama. The vocabulary is pretty complex and they are wanting to know the definition of everything. Some of the kids are also able to read to the class from the series. There is a play/movie also in the works. Ah, the second half of the year is such a spring-board into more complex thinking and study and reading, reading, reading.

In the last few weeks we have had the great pleasure of having Lukas’ baby sister come in weekly/bi-weekly as part of Roots of Empathy. Through this model of experiential learning, the baby is the “Teacher” and a catalyst, helping children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.  Lukas’ mom is phenominal at this social and emotional work and the kids are so gentle and mesmerized. They are touching,observing, asking questions, comparing her growth and development from visit to visit, forming hypothosis about what developments will happen next. Siitting down with the kids and puting this all in context is so helpful for the kids to actually slow down and take note. We have done this in the past and it always gives me that fimiliar feeling of just how gentle and nurturing we all can be given the tools and information along with the ability to observe so closely. Thank you Lukas and family for sharing your girl with us! We so appreciate it.

Some information from the Roots of Empathy Site:

  • Teachers reported a significant decrease in aggressive behavior by students in Roots of Empathy programs, in contrast to an increase in such behavior by members of the control group over the same period.
  • Children who completed Roots of Empathy were much more likely to report prosocial behavior in their classroom peers, recognizing acts of kindness such as sharing, helping and understanding.
  • Roots of Empathy participants significantly improved in their ability to understand the baby’s emotions, independently generating possible causes for the baby’s crying.

We have also been working on big yard skills and what is okay and what is not okay.  Not everyone is too pleased about it but through conversation, practice and working on different ways of large motor play, we are working it out. We have had a time of no bodily contact and the kids are really wanting to add back some sort of contact play, so today at circle we worked on trust building activities such as falling back into each others arms. They thought it was so fun. Finding alternatives to direct tackling, no matter now fun it may be, takes our entire class to figure out. And we are doing it with all seriousness and with open minds. It’ so awesome to see them doing this type of work as a group and really wanting to figure it out so that eveyone feels comfortable.

Below are some of the trust activities we are working on:

Mine Field Objects are scattered in an indoor or outdoor place.  In pairs, one person verbally guides his/her partner, a blindfolded person, through the minefield.
Willow in the Wind In groups of ~8, a person in the middle closes his/her eyes, does a “trust lean” and is “passed around” the group.  Requires good facilitation and fairly mature group.
Trust Lean In pairs of similar size, one becomes a Faller and one the Catcher.  Teach methods for spotting, falling and catching.  Start small and build to bigger falls, then swap.  Debrief – what made you feel more or less trusting?
Running Free In pairs, one person is blindfolded.  Holding hands, the blindfolded person is lead gradually from a slow walk up to fast running.  Swap.
Slice ‘N Dice A dramatic trust activity for a large group.  Group forms a gauntlet, arms out in front.  As a person walks down the gauntlet, people raise their arms.  Build up to people down running the gauntlet through a sea of chopping arms!
Hug-A-Tree In a forested area, pairs take turns being blindfolded, lead to a tree (for touch and feel) and then lead away.  After removing the blindfold, the tree hugger tries to locate his/her tree.
Eye Contact Illustrate the importance of eye contact by having people in pairs stand facing each other and staring into each other’s eyes for ~60 secs.  Remove sunglasses.
Eye Contact with Touch Illustrate the importance of both eye contact and physical touch by having people in pairs stand facing each other, holding hands, and staring into each other’s eyes for ~60 secs.
Proximity Illustrate the importance of physical proximity by having people in pairs stand facing each a comfortable distance apart.  Then ask people to move a little closer and feel what its like.  Then ask people to increase the distance apart and notice how it changes one’s feelings.