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Experiencing ticket rolls

When I go shopping, I look at things differently than perhaps many people do.

For instance, for several years I've eyed the ticket rolls at various stores thinking to myself "oh my goodness...I would have LOVED playing with those as a child. I should buy them for the preschoolers." Somehow though I've talked myself out of that purchase at least one hundred times by saying back to myself, "how on earth do you expect 16 children to use a couple rolls of tickets?! They will just unwrap them and be done." I somehow told myself that the value in the ticket rolls wasn't great enough to justify the purchase.

Well I finally stopped listening to myself and went ahead and bought some ticket rolls.

Here is what happened...


It's hard to tell what he is doing exactly, but look at this...

 I had no idea they would think to find such a tiny little space to use as a ticket sales distribution slot!

And what must one use in a preschool to purchase tickets?

Flowers seemed to work as payment!

All of the ticket rolls were in use, and this girl wanted a roll of her own so...

 She found a way to make one herself.

These tickets enjoyed a life in the hands of these children for many days. Some were even sent home with friends in little ticket envelopes with ticket cards made by little hands. 

The uses for these tickets were uncountable...from a sensory experience piling up strand after strand of tickets and jumping or sitting on it to carefully placing tickets one by one in a hole-in-the-lid yogurt container to fill the entire thing!

The learning here was TREMENDOUS. So very many opporutnities to practice fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, conflict resolution, problem solving, creativity, and SO MUCH MORE!

I'm so so glad that I finally followed that instinct of "I would have loved this as a child" and allowed these children such wonderful opportunity of experience!


A preschool without water...

Yesterday morning I happened upon a sign on our street that said, "Avion water on your street will be turned off Thursday at 9:00am".

"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!" I thought to myself...

16 preschoolers and three teachers...no flushing toilets...no running water...

So I set out to assess the situation we would face on Thursday.

After many phone calls the job supervisor at the water department told me he thought the job could take only 15-30 minutes, but that it could possibly be an hour or two. That sounded GREAT to me after having initially heard that it would be a minimum of 2-4 hours!

So we decided to take the risk of staying at the school, instead of the suggested idea of a spontaneous field trip...which would have required MUCH scrambling for transportation and would have been quite costly.

Our licensor recommended (as did the water company) that we stock up with plenty of water to manually fill the toilet tank, run over washing hands, and use for drinking...just in case.

So this morning started with this...

I filled all those jugs and buckets with water and placed them in strategic locations (orange jug for drinking water remained on the kitchen counter)


(these buckets remained behind the gate, out of reach of children...for dumping into toilet tank as needed)


(water jugs set up as a hand washing station in the bathroom...table tied to back of bath tub so as not to tip...toilet and bath faucet taped off)

At 8:30, we started the process of "everyone gets a turn to use the toilet", which is extremely far-from-normal for us...we prefer to allow the children to use the toilet as needed.

At about 8:45am, N exclaimed, "K...You're in luck! The toilet still flushes!" as K set off to use the bathroom! 

At 8:50, I received a call from the water company, "we will be turning off your water in ten minutes."

This was my cue to cover the faucets.

That was pretty much all the excitement once the children realized, "It's 9:00, and the workers don't look like they're doing anything." 

Around 9:20, R's curiosity overcame her as she asked, "Stephanie can we go out there? I want to see it!"

So she put on her boots and we grabbed our jackets. She and I headed outside while the other teachers stayed in with the rest of the children.

We examined the area, looking down into the trench just as the men put the final pipe fitting together and began shoveling some dirt over the top.

R glanced across the street and exclaimed in an awestruck voice, "WOW.......that is a BEAUTIFUL hose!" (see below) 

Yup...that's not your average garden hose!

The men from the water company told us the water was back on, so R and I went back inside to tell the others the water was on.

Upon hearing R's excitement about what she'd seen, three other groups of two asked to go see for themselves.

They all looked down in the trench to see the pipes...

but their attention was more readily attached to the roof...where the real intriguing work was now happening...


All in all this entire "water off" deal only lasted an hour (with mini field trips out to see the work included).

Even though we didn't need all those jugs and buckets of water, I'm thankful I was prepared for "just in case"! And no...that water did not go to waste...it added MUCH excitement to our water play in the school yard after the running water was safely running through our pipes again!


Exploring "The Holes In Your Nose"

We got a new book in the school last week.

As we explored all of the fascinating details within the book, Lola rested on the couch.

Suddenly we noticed....

...the holes in Lola's nose are a different shape from ours!


Experiencing Death and Grief

One of our very favorite early childhood educators Bev Bos has been known to say that songs and stories about death MUST be in the child's life BEFORE death happens. I think she is right. I think that in order to draw strength from such songs and stories, one must have them already in the mind and heart for access in time of need. I also think experiences with death are equally important.

Two of our favorite stories to read with children on the subject are...

Goodbye Mousie by Robie H Harris

and Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas

We read these books frequently, and I've often loaned them out to families who find themselves nearing the end of a pet's life.

Our society often does a very strange thing by avoiding the topic of death. Adults often find themselves at a loss for how to handle the topic of death with their children because they haven't properly learned how to handle it themselves...and how to grieve.

The above books do a great job at addressing common thoughts and feelings when a loved one is dying in a very simple straight-forward way for children (and adults too).

This week, our very last preschool pet snail died. The children knew exactly what to do.

They gathered outside and dug a hole in which the snail would be buried.

The snail was placed in the hole. I was helping children who were not directly involved with the burial, so I didn't hear all of the conversation surrounding the burial. As the conversation seemed to be winding down, I overheard the question raised, "does anyone else have something to say about the snail before it is buried?" (note: this is a sign of a FABULOUS teacher!)

Next thing I knew, that same teacher was writing something. The children had selected a stone and asked her to write a note to the snail on it so they could use it on the snail grave as a marker. 

I have absolute faith that when the death of a loved one (pet or human) is near for these children they will have stories and experiences from which to draw strength in guiding them through the grief process.

"I'm sorry you died. I want you to stay there with your family."

I think this is an example of a time when we adults would do well to follow the children's lead!

(It is worthy noting that when asked who the snail's family was, a little girl immediately responded "the other dead snails of course!") 


Valentine's Day...modeling love and generosity...

Whithin in the context of authentic play-based learning, we must think consciously about what lies beneath our special holiday traditions. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, we have a momentary lapse of focus...we can mystake what is important to US with what is important for our children. We ask our children to do things for others because that's what is important to US...the adults!

Enter Valentine's Day!

Valentines day is a day in which we relish showing our love by doing special things for others. BUT...does directing a child to give something to someone else (such as a cute little card or candy) really teach them to love and be generous to others? I think not. It's just not an authentic act of love from the child.

Authentic love and generosity expressed by a preschool child does NOT come as a result of giving the child cards that they must give to others, or suggesting or encouraging the child that perhaps they should make or give something to others.

Authentic love and generosity is something that emerges spontaneously with preschool children. I'd even venture to say that preschool children practice "Valentine's Day" every day! In our program children make cards and gifts for others almost daily, and do so VERY creatively! 

Now watch this...THIS is what authentic love and generosity looks like in preschool...

A special note from a child to a teacher made just before graduation...spontaneously...holding hands under a rainbow...

A seemingly random drawing made and labeled (on back) from one child to another...

 A birthday card made by one child for another...because the birthday girl missed school on her expected day of birthday celebration due to having a "pink eye"...


This is why we don't plan to do a Valentine's day party. The love and generosity found in pieces like the examples above is so much more authentic than anything we as adults could suggest for a child to do!

So...what will tomorrow (Valentine's Day) look like here at Bloom? I'm not exactly sure. I know this...we will follow the children's lead in their learning just like any other day, because THAT is what is important for them to experience!

If in their play the children come up with the idea of a Valentine's day party...of their own accord...without the direction, guidance, or suggestion of an adult, we would absolutely honor the children's ideas and inspiration...and probably end up partying like rock stars!

So how can we keep those Valentine's Day traditions alive and well for the adults who care about them without pushing them on our children? How can we instill in our children an authentic love and generosity for others?

Let's MODEL it for them! Please spend your Valentine's Day showering others with love if you so choose. If you would like to show your child that they are special and that they are your Valentine, go ahead and do something special.

Make a special Valentine's breakfast...

Prepare a special surprise treat...

Plan a special Valentine's date...

Pick some special people and do a little something to bless them...

If you think the children your son plays with deserve a special little act of love, do one for them YOURSELF. Preparing a little surprise for the children yourself will be so meaningful to your child. Imagine the example you will be setting...you will be literally SHOWING (not just telling) them what Valentine's Day means.

RAMBLING NOTE: if you are preparing goodies for people and your child wants to join in on the giving...let them...just don't EXPECT for them to do so...just don't instruct them to do so...and if (heaven forbid) they only want to help with SOME of the goodies because those are the children they "like"...let it be so! You are perfectly capable of simply completing the rest of the goodies yourself, and it does NOT mean your child is an unkind person...it simply means "I am a preschooler...this is how my mind works!"