Thank you for this school year 2015-16 filled with much learning and joy. Please enjoy a wonderful holiday!
At the end of the day, as a tool for reflection, we often ask the children “What did you learn today?” We have listened to many reflections from the children, some specific to the experience of a particular day, and some referring to past experiences. Many of the reflections refer to an aspect which involves another, such as ‘I learned to play nicely with…’ This year has been another rewarding year to reflect upon the trajectory and construction of our learning, not only of learning, but also of understanding. Learning is never linear, but complex and connected to all aspect of our experiences, where the path of learning is ever engaging, ever enchanting, marked by creative agency.
The teachers foster an appreciation for natural materials as a value and this value has been transmitted and constructed with the children over the course of the year. We collected autumn/winter leaves, dried them and pulverized them. Acorns and pinecones were always special to the children. We’ve made dried flowers after we enjoyed fresh flowers in vases. The children often brought in flowers, fruits, branches and other natural materials they found on their way to school and said, “This is for the Atelier!”
This week, dried flower petals sorted by color were added to our materials on the shelf. They created beautiful decorations using these materials with care. Interestingly, many of them liked the idea of using Styrofoam balls and attached natural materials on them.
These could be lovely ornaments for the big branches we’ve collected and saved in the Atelier. The Atelier space will be decorated with their creations to warmly welcome the new children who will join our ELC after the summer holiday.
Looking into a mirror, we wonder what the children see… how do they view themselves as their images bounce back to them, what features do they choose to focus on, what do they notice about themselves that they did not see before? The trajectory of each child’s self portrait has been both illuminating and interesting to follow and to accumulate over the course of this school year, a tool for reflection on our ever evolving understanding on the identity of each child.
We are approaching the end of the school year. One morning this week, the Atelier was alive with many children actively creating with their hands and minds. I realize that some of the children are leaving Japan and not returning to the ELC after the summer holidays. I began to think about how much I am going to miss having them and seeing their creations. The children express themselves in many different ways through various media. This E2 child has expressed her inner emotions as well as displaying her skills through painting or making designs with different materials since she was in E1. When she is creating something we observe her releasing any qualms or tensions she may have to focus and to be in the moment of creating. She expresses herself in a unique and beautiful way. One feature common to her creations is happiness with the use of bright colors. Her recent painting is filled with many hearts. It’s full of love, hope and joy an expression, perhaps, of her optimistic outlook towards what awaits her as she moves back to her home country.
The weather was perfect for our much awaited field trip to Children’s Natural Park and to visiting the petting zoo. Riding on the bus, being outside in nature, having a picnic lunch and exploring the playground will be a recyclable memory of our beautiful time together in ELC 2015-16.
“It’s moon!” A child exclaimed. She was exploring with Kinetic Sand and made a moon shape with a petri dish. She then made a crescent shape by cutting it with the dish.
The children in the Atelier and I naturally began to talk about the moon. Then one E1 child, listening to our conversation, drew two moons.
“Moon in Mumbai,
Baby moon in Japan.
Mama moon came Japan,
See baby moon.
They go together, Mumbai, Japan, Mumbai, Japan…
We see moon in the morning and night.”
Her drawings and words are simple yet beautiful.
Knowing her move from India to Japan a few months ago, her words touch my heart ever more. Two moons in Mumbai and Japan might be a way for her to stay connected to her life in Mumbai and help her to adjust to a new environment in Japan.
From mark making to communication
Over the months, we have observed increased interest within the children to communicate through the alphabetic code. As a provocation, boxes for each child were set up in the classroom with different kinds of paper nearby, with the intention of the teacher to see what interests this may stir within the children. Some children showed interest in these boxes and asked what they were for. When we asked them what they thought they might be, several children thought they may be boxes to put toys in.
Little notes with a message were secretly put into each of the boxes…
There’s something in my box!….
Over the weeks, some children begin to put pieces of paper into their own boxes…but one day, a child makes a card for three of his friends, with a message written inside and secretly places them in his friends’ boxes. The ‘secret’ is the key as there is an element of surprise for the receiver, and the thrill on the side of the giver/maker. When this is revealed at our morning meeting, there is contagion within the children how they all want to surprise their friends! It is a joy to witness and share in the moment the emotion within the children their desire to surprise, create and give to another, as much being able to appreciate the receiving of gifts and thoughts from others.
One morning it was a good opportunity to offer a different material to the child who has been making various types of crowns with papers. She happily accepted wire as the new material and tried to create one, and she ended up making four crowns, one for each member of her family. Then she skillfully and beautifully decorated them with twisted ties.
On a different day, she challenged herself to make a crown with white paper clay. She struggled a little because it couldn’t form a loop shape and broke easily when her crown was too thin. However her attitude was calm all the time, never frustrated, and she persevered to successfully create one.
Through the observation of her crown making, I was deeply impressed with not only her attractive crowns and her sincere effort but also her respectful manner towards materials.