The big day has finally arrived! The children are beside themselves with excitement. I suspect that along side the excitement, some children may also have reservations or concerns. At our morning meeting, I draw a table on the whiteboard and invite the children to come and record how they are feeling. We talk about how people often have a mixture of feelings when faced with a new situation. Hal says that he has ten feelings, and begins to lists them:
- one, I’m feeling excited
- number two, I’m feeling happy- happy about the picnic
- three, I’m feeling scared about sleeping
- my four feeling is happy again but a different happy, happy about going home
- and my five feeling is … I don’t remember!
There is a hum of chatter as the children begin to talk about their own feelings. To help the children process their thoughts, I suggest that we do think-pair-share which is a thinking routine that we often use in class. The children spend a few moments in quiet reflection- the think part of the routine. Then they find a partner and begin the pair part of the routine. Over the year we have discussed in depth the roles of both listener and speaker in partner work. The children quickly decide who will be partner 1 and who will be partner 2. Today partner 1 listens first, asking questions to help their partner clarify and expand on their thinking. Then the partners swap roles. After a few minutes, we come together as a group and begin the share part of the the routine. Children begin by sharing interesting comments their partner made and a discussion develops. By the end of the thinking routine the children have explored some of their conflicting emotions regarding the sleepover and I feel I have an insight into how each individual child is feeling.
We agree (I enthusiastically, the children more reluctantly!) that the rest of the day will be a school day as normal and that the sleeping bags and suitcases will remain un-opened till after school. The children successfully negotiate to have the teddies be part of the school day as the teddies, who are also excited about the sleep over, are doubly excited because, for the first time ever they can see what happens in school. Together we make a schedule for the rest of the day and then everyone buckles down for “school as normal”.
The weather forecast for the day is not looking good. A few weeks back, I taught the children a good luck ritual of crossing fingers that we use (ineffectively) in Ireland for all sorts of things, but particularly to ward off bad weather. The children have been monitoring the weather closely all day. After a particularly heavy downpour accompanied by crashes of thunder Olivia interrupts a writing session and gathers everyone together to, “cross fingers everyone, and hope for sunny weather.” The children form a circle, shut their eyes, cross their fingers and imagine sunshine. Clearly the weather gods can not resist the fourteen earnest little faces, scrunched up, deep in concentration as they will the sun to shine on their picnic. By picnic time, the weather is glorious. The children are ready to burst with excitement and anticipation. We pack the picnic and off we go. The sleepover has started!
One night in Kindergarten … on PhotoPeach
As happens so often, I am inspired by the independence and initiative of these five and six year olds as they manage their belongings and take responsibility for their needs. And I am humbled by the empathy and compassion with which the children treat each other and the way they comfort and care for one another. The sleepover has been a bonding experience for the children and an important part of their personal and group learning journey through Kindergarten.