The farm has been beyond beautiful the past few weeks and our days have been filled with appreciating fall in all of it's glory:) - from the vibrant colors to the falling, blowing leaves, black walnuts and pine needles, to the variable temperatures that are so typical in October - layers on, layers off!
But, before we dive into what we've been up to - we want to WELCOME our newest Sprout, Melayna, and her mom and dad - Dashe and Michael. Melayna is 3 and lives in Sharon. She comes to Sprouts on Mondays and Thursdays, so if you haven't met her or her mom, please keep an eye out for them. Melayna has settled right in - you'd never know she hasn't been here since September:) I've added them to our directory. Please add them to your email group list - or just use the addresses on the email I send out tonight for future emails so they are included:)))
So here goes -
Leaves- We read a few great books featuring trees/leaves and heard an autumn leaves poem, looked closely at the colorful leaves Christine collected on her weekend in VT, collected our own leaves and glued them, made rubbings with them, used them to make prints and painted on them
Some of us piled up, kicked, swooshed, smelled and got buried in the leaves up by Mr and Mrs Ts house.
And we started gathering the kids' impressions, observations and other interesting musings for the Tree/Leaf 'chapter' of a Fall Floor Book we are making.
Pumpkins/squash/gourds - We read Pumpkin, Pumpkin, sang some pumpkin songs, looked at all kinds of squashes- talked about how they are all different but part of the same family, carved our pumpkin, scooped slimy seeds ( Liz roasted for us savory (salt) and sweet (maple syrup), cut open the gourds and squashes and saw how similar they all are on the inside, and then collected some of their observations, reflections, musings about all things pumpkin/squash/gourd to create our Pumpkin 'chapter' of the Fall Floor Book
Ropes hit the scene the past few weeks. We've had them available in our silks and fabric basket since last year, but this week a few kids found them and they are now an engaging element in the yard:)
We moved the Bog Bridge! We started the week before Family Friday, forging a trail with the kids through the bog where we wanted the bog bridge to be. On Family Friday, some of the farmers came down and moved the big section that spanned the Frog Creek segment of the bog down about 20 feet away from Frog Pond. Christine and her husband Tommy finished the job on Sunday - Tommy moved the rest of the pieces!!! And then he fit and screwed them together so now it looks like it's been there all along! Amazing:) We had more ground (bog) to cover and just as our luck would have it, my neighbor had a section of plank, just like our bog bridge, leaning up against her shed where I could see it. I asked (strange request!), they were happy to get rid of it. Perfect!!
Applesauce over the fire- first fire pit days of the year went well! We got to talk about the fire, prep the apples and eat the applesauce at slunch. Smokey applesauce:) Yum. Thank you so much Karyn, Stephanie, Tanya and Scott for spending the mornings with us and playing with us so we could add the fire pit to our experience and make delicious applesauce with the Tangerini's apple drops!!!
Chores - model it and they will come!! We've been purposely holding off on bringing our chore clips back since the group is much bigger than last year. Instead, we've (adults) been doing the jobs that need to get done and..... lo and behold..... somebody always asks if they can help:) Wiping tables, setting tables, helping get snack prepared, sweeping the carpets, sweeping the deck and patio and washing dishes. We may use the clips as the year moves along, but we like how they spontaneously want to do what has to get done. The same holds true for helping around your house! They are born designed to learn from doing what you do - the trick is to make it look fun:) and let them participate as much and for as long as they are interested. We sent out a chore list in the last blog post with chores for kids at different ages. It's a great investment now to make helping you out around the house be fun and helpful, rather than jobs they are expected to perform and disappoint you if they don't. Chores will be much easier down the line if they feel like they are a big help to you now. Basic self care, and space/toy management are exceptions but even with those, it's easier if they are following your lead at this age.
Visitors! A preschool teacher, a graduate student, and an early childhood shop class (2, actually) from TriCounty Vocational Technical School. Some of them came during Sprouts, some came on a Friday. All of them in LOVE with what we all are doing!! Our intention is to create ripples in as many places as possible, so these visits are an essential part of advocating for a reframe of Kindergarten going forward:)
The pond- is now a beautiful mirror reflecting the brilliant leaves near our yard!! We are working with Brian (Caleb's dad) to put up a split rail fence as a visual boundary between our yard and the pond. We created a branch boundary when the big digger and dump truck were there and it remains in place and completely effective as a boundary. The kids rarely talk about, focus on or interact with the fact that we have a pond next to us. It's as if an invisible wall has been erected! We continue to give them the illusion of non-engaged adult supervision, but one of us is always in close enough proximity to step in if anyone decides to breach the boundary:))
Bad guy/Weapon play-
2 good blog posts about gun/weapon play in early childhood:
Our philosophy at Sprouts:
All play has its purpose. Children use play to explore their power and to work out and work through the myriad of sensory input they process each day. When kids play, whether it be weapons/guns, pots and pans, shovels and excavators, baby cheetahs, etc., they are experimenting with being, and practicing a wide range of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. All of what shows up gives both of us (Christine and Lisa) lots of opportunities to help the kids learn the impact their choices have on themselves, and in the group.
We typically give them some space to explore and experience whatever comes up and weapon/gun/bad guy themes came up early. We had a group meeting about how it made each person feel (Sept) and found many kids didn't like it...but most said they like to play it sometimes. In other (adult) words, it's fun to a point, and then it's not. We agreed that most of the kids don't like it and decided you have to ask before you play a weapon-related game with other kids. It abated, for the most part it went away and the kids morphed and meshed through infinite other scenarios, for a month, and last week it was back! We reminded everyone that they need to check in before playing bad guy games, and of their right to say no and to change their minds if they decide they don't like it mid-game, but by the end of the day Thursday it was clear we need another group meeting on the subject. We'll be starting this week revisiting how people feel and revisiting/making some more group rules about what we play and how so that everyone can have fun and not feel scared.
Here are some foundational rules around play in general at Sprouts:
- sticks need to be the length of your arm or shorter (so cool to see them picking up sticks on the fly, putting them under their arms and breaking off extra length mid-play scenario.)
- it's not OK to point a stick at someone to shoot at them.
- you need to ask if it's OK/if other kids want to play bad guys/weapon games with you
- Others can change their mind at any time by saying 'I don't want to play that game!' and when they do you have to stop including them in the game.
- if someone falls or gets hurt while you are playing (whether you caused the fall/hurt or not), you need to check in with them, help them up, ask if they need anything
- This is how we play at Sprouts. There are different rules at home and in other places.
The process of establishing how they feel, and how others feel, in a variety of play scenarios is extremely important in the development of self-regulation, empathy, self-advocacy, emotional intelligence, and so much more. It's tempting to use our adult filters to analyze a child's behavior, choices and play, but all of what young children do....all children do...is their massive, constant work of processing and making sense of an infinite flow of sensory stimulation and experiences. Have no doubt that the examples we set with our words, choices and behavior, within and outside of out families, are the guiding model for choices, decisions and behavior they will copy as they grow up. (but all bets are off from age 12-18...!!)
There's a peek (or a bit more) at what we've been up to. Looking forward to more great days at play this week:)
This week had quite a few out of the ordinary things going on. We took school pictures on Monday/Tuesday, which included a musical parade and a silly song. We played a hide and seek game with instruments, noting how we can make music with things in nature (gourds, sticks) followed by a parade up through the barn and a funny song about putting a baby to bed while the kids waited to get their pictures taken. We had a group birthday celebration for all of our summer birthdays on Wednesday. Everyone got their special birthday crown and we shared a delicious fruit and apple crisp snack up in the woods. The big news (and noisiest part of the week:) was the big trucks that worked all week finishing up the irrigation pond that will be fed from the natural spring in Frog Pond and provide much-needed dependable water throughout next year's growing season and beyond. Our landscape has changed quite a bit and we spent some time watching what the trucks were doing and redefining what our boundaries are with the pond now part of our magical Sprouts space. We ended the week with an incredible spread of delicious food as it poured outside on a chilly fall evening at our Harvest Dinner!! It was nice to have Laura and Charlie join us for a bit and Laura Sullivan was a special surprise, playing her sweet music for the kids. A special night for sure! Looking forward to another adventurous week ahead!