Please enjoy what the Eagles class at the Church location did in the 2013-2014 school year!
Prior to last month’s holiday, the Golden Eagles developed a long-term interest in crafting with natural materials. This took the form of several nests made of sticks, leaves, and clay, as well as “magic” sticks, which were incorporated deeply into the students’ dramatic play. This new month and new year at school has already brought out the Golden Eagles’ penchant for crafting in all new ways.
On January 6th, our first day back at school, Eli, Camerina, and Riley played with yarn, stretching it and tying it around the entirety of the loft. Eventually, Camerina began dangling lengths of yarn over the balcony of the loft, saying she was “fishing”--at this point, I noticed that she had tied feathers to the bottom end of the yarn, resembling a fishing lure. Eli saw this too, and remarked, “You need a fish hook!” Upon reflection, Eli added that Camerina “was not real fishing”.
The following morning, Ms. Rahnum and I tried provocating “fish hook” play by setting the yarn beside some (blunt-tipped) metal hooks. Camerina, Riley, Catherine, and Ellie took to giving this work a try, and ended up dangling the “fish hooks” over the loft just as Camerina had the day before. Ellie also used our classroom’s blank postcards as “fish”, laying just below the dangling hooks. Finally, Zoe added to this play by cutting out fish on paper to join Ellie’s “fish”, and then “fishing” for these from above the loft herself.
After Camerina and co. had moved on to other games, Eli, Ethan, and Carlos were hanging out “in the big boat” on the top floor of the loft. When the seas became rough, the boys sang “WHOOOAAH!”, swaying this way and that way. Carlos and Eli tied yarn and plastic string around the boys’ waists and secured these to the bars of the balcony. As they swayed back, pulling the string with great pressure, Eli said, “It’s almost like we’re breaking it [the string]!”
It was beautiful to see Camerina spontaneously turn the yarn play-which already seemed to appeal to her immensely--into an intentional fishing activity by crafting a fishing lure. Furthermore, we watched Ellie, Zoe, and others spontaneously take part in and add to her work, as well as Eli, Carlos, and Ethan taking the strings and the overall concept of being on the water in a whole new direction. It is this sort of creative flux that I watch for when I document the Golden Eagles’ play, and which points to the potential for an ongoing, in-depth investigation, which could shape the classroom culture for weeks and months to come.
Later this week, our school’s pet goldfish died, and the Golden Eagles took it upon ourselves to walk to the pet store to purchase new fish for the school. Whether or not this activity informed this week’s “fishing” play is difficult to say for certain. Perhaps we could ask what would happen if we accidentally went fishing for “Jessica” and “Lilly” instead of wild fish on the sea!
In the coming weeks, we will have to see how “fishing” continues to be a part of the classroom culture. Furthermore, I would like to tease out which specific aspects of this game appeal to the students--is it a game of great heights and lengths of string, is it the dramatic play of “going fishing”, or do they simply love the chance to craft with yarn, paper, and feathers? Ms. Rahnum and I will continue to provoke the play in different ways to see how it transforms.
Until next time,
The Golden Eagles are a class of storytellers, as demonstrated by their work on the Candy Town/Spiky Room project, et cetera. They are also expressing a long-term interest in crafting with natural materials, such as last week’s nests made of sticks, leaves, and clay. I have been watching patiently for a moment where these two threads would tie in together; today I got my chance.
This morning, Ms. Gina brought in sticks with the intention of creating Holiday-season-themed decorations with the students. As expected, the students took this work in an unexpected direction.
The sticks were decorated with tinsel, plastic flowers, strings, and more, then became objects of storytelling and dramatic play. For instance, Eli’s stick “destroys werewolves, because of the silver!” He explained, “They come late at night and try to take the silver, but it hurts them--they can’t see!”
Riley’s “magic flower” was “for Pinky-Silly--that’s her silly name--Princess Barbie Rockstar makes her invisible! And her clothes were still there! Hahahaha!” She went on, “That becomes invisible, but not the petals.” Also, “When she’s invisible, Pinky-Silly just tricks people and sneaks around!”
Sonya’s creation was “really magical. It makes people invisible and kills Eli--only for pretend. I’m invisible while I kill Eli.” Zoe became “a grownup wolf” on Camerina’s “leash”. Louis’ stick had “magic in it. You pull this string and then there comes shooting out magic. First you need to breathe in air. Here!” He handed me the stick to try blowing air on it. Ananya was blowing air into her “magic” as well, explaining with a stern face that this was “for bad guys!” Lastly, Rayden’s stick had “fire”. The red and silver strings wrapping up the length of the stick were apparently the “pumpers” for the fire.
The students’ dramatic play with the sticks pointed toward the use of “fire” and other types of “magic” to hide; becoming or making things invisible; taming, “killing”, or “destroying” wolves; or otherwise playing into a world of magic, “bad guys”, and heroes. It was certainly a broad, open-ended experience, but the common threads of storytelling and crafting were clearly there.
In just a few days’ time, we will be going on holiday for the rest of the calendar year. It will be interesting (to say the least) to start up again in January and see where the Golden Eagles take their storytelling and craft work.
One general direction for the Golden Eagles’ work could involve the recording of their stories. Many of our Eagles will be moving on to Kindergarten in 2014--to help elevate their natural abilities, I would like to help the class in the creation of story books which build on themes like Candy Town, the Spiky Room, eagles, falcons, nests, and magic sticks. These books could live in the Candy Town library and chronicle the cooperative adventures of a fantastically creative group of storytellers.
I hope you all have a magical vacation,
For the past several weeks, the Golden Eagles have been thinking as a class about the natural world of birds--drawing birds on our walks, discussing where birds live and come from, and pondering the importance of eggs and their nests. The particular bird behavior that we have explored this week has been nesting. Ms. Sonia and I are curious to see what aspect(s) of nesting appeal to the students, and how this could lead to a new avenue of investigation for the class.
On December 2nd, Zoe, Riley, Camerina, and Sonya joined our atelierista Ms. Gina out in the Garden to gather leaves and twigs. When the girls came back into the classroom, Ms. Gina encouraged them to build ‘nests’ with these materials. They took to this project with apparent zeal. Eventually, Riley asked for feathers to add, Zoe suggested sand, and Camerina requested “mud” (Ms. Gina brought out brown clay for lack of true ‘mud’). The ensuing project saw the students filling paper plates and wicker baskets with their choice of a range of materials.
The following day, our other atelierista Ms. Debbie repeated this nest experiment as a communal project. Ethan, Riley, Rayden, Camerina, Louis, and Ananya came together to invent and reinvent a “nest” structure made of twigs and bricks, and adorned with leaves, feathers, yarn, clay, and glitter.
On the third day of this project, Ms. Gina added hard-boiled quail and chicken eggs to the mix of previously used materials. These were invariably shattered and smashed, leading to a very different sensory play experience.
The ways that the Golden Eagles approached the materials in this 3-day project indicated a process-(rather than product-)oriented experience; the emphasis seemed to be less on comparing "my nest" to "your nest", and more about an open-ended exploration of the twigs and leaves, and on how they behaved, looked, and felt together.
Exploring natural materials is always an illuminating and enriching experience for students and teachers alike. This week’s nesting work indicates that this path will be a rich one for the Golden Eagles’ class work. Perhaps we will also begin to see a bit of the class’s proclivity towards dramatic play and storytelling seep into this work as well.
Until next time,
Starting on November 25th, the Golden Eagles have had Candy Town and the Spiky Room all to themselves! We have been using this space, although it is still quite cluttered, as a meeting room and activity space. It already seems to be a treasured possession of the Golden Eagles--Ethan refuses to leave the doors open to outsiders, and Rayden once remarked, "I like this room better than the other room!”
As a teacher, I am most interested in how this space shapes and is shaped by the Golden Eagle class culture. What stands out immediately to me is the dual nature of the Spiky Room and Candy Town. From the past two months' notes on the subject, there emerges a diametric opposition: Candy Town feels like a "fluffy" and "sweet" place to be, whereas the Spiky Room is "mean" and "scary". How can these conflicting feelings be at play in the same space? What will this look like in the weeks and months to come?
This week, I wanted to learn more about Candy Town and the Spiky Room by playing a game called "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Candy Town?". Zoe responded, "First, cross the bridge. If you see a candy cane line, you have to follow it. If you see a cupcake, pass it, then you're there!"
Riley answered, "You go through a candy tunnel made of chocolate and candy, then you have to do a treasure hunt. Once you've found it [the treasure], that's Candy Town! "
Carlos said, "You go over a glass bridge, and when the water came it was slippery. And he sees 3 cupcakes and 2 candy canes, and then he was in Candy Town."
Sonya said, "First we were in a car and there were cupcake bumps on the road and a big sign with letters made of candy that says, 'welcome to Candy Land'!"
On the 4th, I asked, "Can You Tell Me How to Get to the Spiky Room?". Rayden said, "First go over a spiky bridge, then you go in a car and there's a troll under the bridge!"
Daniel said, "There's a Batman that throws books. Everyone passes by and he throws books. Also there's a monster that bites!"
Zoe answered, "First you cross a spiky bridge, and another spike, then there's 5 spikes and a dark cave with spikes inside, and then that's how you get to the Spiky Room. "
Catherine said, "First you cross the bridge and then you go through Candy Land, then you're there!"
Carlos said, "You have to cross the Milky Way!"
Riley explained, "You have to climb over apple trees that are never spiky cause there's no path around them. Then you go in a spiky tunnel and some mud trees."
Sonia said, "First you have to go through Candy Town, then there's agents! They're a secret! One is a platypus!"
On the 5th, I tried out another game called "Candy or Spiky?". We ran down a list of words and the Eagles called out whether they thought the terms were 'candy' or 'spiky':
Cupcakes - candy
Rainbows - candy
Monsters - spiky
Mummies - spiky
Lollipops - candy
Sunshine - candy
Rain - candy (Rayden said 'spiky')
Snow - candy (Rayden said 'spiky')
Superheroes - candy
Dragons - spiky
Fairies - candy (Rayden said 'spiky')
Love - candy
Scariness - spiky
Hot - spiky (Sonya and Riley said 'candy')
Warm - spiky
Cool - spiky
Cold - spiky (Rikey emphasized, "spiky spiky spiky!")
Later that same morning, Zoe told me that if she were in Candy Town, she would wear "a candy cane dress", and in the Spiky Room, "a dress with spikes on it". She added, "In Candy Town, one person tells you what to do. In the Spiky Room, everyone can do what they want."
I found it interesting that bridges and tunnels featured prominently in the directions both to Candy Town and the Spiky Room, and enjoyed the differences between a “road” with clear “signs” to Candy Town and a route with “no path” to the Spiky Room. These responses seem to describe an orderly Candy Town in contrast to a chaotic Spiky Room.
The “Candy or Spiky” game brought out mostly predictable answers (e.g. ‘superheroes’ are on the ‘candy’ side, while ‘dragons’ are ‘spiky’), although a few were surprising: ‘rain’ and ‘snow’ were seen as belonging to Candy Town by the majority of students, even though ‘cool’ and ‘cold’ were decidedly ‘spiky’. This information further informs my perception of this rich and nuanced cultural product.
In the next two weeks before Winter Break, we will continue to use Candy Town and the Spiky Room in new and richer ways. For starters, each Golden Eagle will have the opportunity to sew his or her own pillow to play with and make meeting times more comfortable. The teachers will also support this by clearing out many of the remaining unused items which are taking up significant space in the back of the room (especially the large bathtub), as well as sliding the Blue Rug into this space to make it more officially our new meeting room.
Until next time,
We were hoping that the new classroom would be available for the Black Eagles one week ago (October 28th), but due to some technical delays, we are stuck waiting for now. This means, however, that the Golden Eagles get a little more time to enjoy the daily company of their Black Eagle friends! We are using this opportunity to remind the students that whether they are Black Eagles or Golden Eagles, they are first and foremost part of one big class of Eagles.
At our morning meeting on November 6th, Mr. Jake said, "We have two groups of Eagles now. ALL of us are Eagles--what do we do that's the same?" Charlie answered, "All the Eagles play!" Kiichi said, "They play at home AND at school." Julian Bowen responded, "They eat breakfast!" Charlie again chimed in, "We eat lunch!" Gael said, "They draw." Eli said, "Draw with chalk." Adam added, "Play policeman and fireman." Sonya added, "All the Eagles sit in circle." Charlie said, "Play games like '3 Little Pigs' and play house!" Riley said, "We go outside." Rayden said, "They all have some fun!"
Mr. Jake and I then introduced a drawing and block-building activity related to “Eagle City”--a place where Black Eagles and Golden Eagles all play together. Julian B., Adam, and Carlos drew “train tracks to Eagle City”, while Riley drew a “Sandwich Shop” and constructed a “Eagle Castle in Eagle City”. Several Black and Golden Eagles also constructed an “Eagle Tower in Eagle City” in the block area together.
A few weeks passed with the Golden and Black Eagles spending the majority of their days together. Finally, our school got the official permission to open up the new classroom for the Black Eagles. We decided as a staff to open up the new space on Monday, November 25th.
At Morning Meeting on November 19th, we discussed the following Monday’s final split. Mr. Jake said, “On Monday, the Black Eagles will be starting their work at the new classroom.” He added, “They will still be a part of Amazing Magic Beans. How can the Black Eagles and Golden Eagles still be friends?” I shared some notes from a Golden Eagle meeting on October 22nd, when Zoe asked, “What if we write Mr. Jake a note, ‘Can we come visit the new space?’” Julian Bowen added, “We could write a card!” Carlos said, “We can make it with sprinkles!” Juliette added, “Put it in a envelope!” Lauren said, “A mailbox.” Gael said, “A mail TRUCK!” Riley suggested we “send a picture of the Golden Eagles to the Black Eagles.” Charlie summarized, “The mail truck could deliver the mail to our old classroom!”
On our final morning together, we reminded the Black and Golden Eagles of what their days would be like from now on. Zoe replied, “Not EVERY day!” And Mr. Jake reiterated, “Yes, starting Monday, all day, every day”, the Black Eagles will be in their new classroom. Camerina said sadly, “I wish I could go to the new classroom”. I took this opportunity, saying, “Camerina reminds me what the Golden Eagles get that’s just for THEM. What is it?” Aki (a Black Eagle) raised his hand, answering emphatically, “CANDY TOWN!”
We once again reminded the Eagles of their ideas regarding mailboxes. I asked, “What could we decorate our mailboxes with?” The students answered “trains, feathers, paint, rainbows, chalk, birds”, and of course, “eagles”.
The Black and Golden Eagles had a wonderful morning, sharing their love of painting and playing “Eagle nest” in the loft together. And so we closed our last morning as one big group of Eagles. While Mr. Jake and I are eager to get started with each of our classes’ investigations (e.g. the Black Eagles’ High-Line and robots, and the Golden Eagles’ Candy Town and Spiky Room), it was also wonderful to have an opportunity to build unique culture as Eagles in the form of Eagle City and the mail project.
While there is still some lingering confusion over whether this change will be “every day” or not, we are confident that with time apart, the Black and Golden Eagles will grow to love their new identities, as well as cherish their time together--which is now all the more precious.
The next time that the Golden and Black Eagles play together, we will have to try bringing up Eagle City again. It will be interesting to ask questions such as, “What does Eagle City need?”, “Who lives in Eagle City?”, and “Can you fly to the High-Line and Candy Town from the Eagle City, or is it too far away?”
In the meantime, we will write letters to each other and deliver them to each of our classrooms’ specially-decorated mailboxes! This will be a powerful literacy tool, a lesson in patience (mail is slow, after all), and a reminder that we can always stay friends.
Let us know what you think,
The Golden Eagles have expressed an interest in birds. This first took shape on November 6th, when they stopped to document birds on our Adventure Walk. Ms. Sonia and I agreed that this spontaneous and unanimous behavior was intriguing--the next step would be to find out why the Golden Eagles are interested in birds!
On November 8th, I thought I’d ask the Golden Eagles for prior knowledge. I asked, “What do real eagles do?” Zoe said, “They stand and look for food”. I introduced the term ‘roost’. Camerina said, “They stand in the woods and look for bats to eat.” Carlos said, “They keep a nest.” Riley said, “Their wings make a sound: ‘whoosh-whoosh!’” Sonia said, “They fight!” Ananya added, “Eagles eat flowers.” Louis said, “They eat fruit.” Eli rose from his seat, saying, “No! They take the pigeon away, but the falcon took it away first!”
On November 13th, preparing for our next Adventure Walk, I thought I’d ask the Golden Eagles what they would hope to see this time. Carlos answered, “Giant birds in the clouds!” (He said ‘Big birds in the clouds’ exactly one week ago!) Ananya answered, “Little tiny birds.” Catherine answered, “A chick in a nest!” Rayden answered, “A pigeon driving the bus!” Our walk turned out to be too cold to comfortably pull out notebooks, but we did count 30 pigeons on one fire escape, and Louis noticed a small songbird WAY atop a distant roof.
On November 15th, we asked the Black AND Golden Eagles, “Where does an Eagle live?” Sonia answered, “In a forest, in a nest.” Eli answered, “In tunnels.” Julian Bowen said, “In trees--that’s where they stay for sleeping.” Carlos agreed, “In the tree.” Kiichi said, “In water!” Gael added, “They need a cactus.”
Mr. Jake next asked, “What is a nest for?” Charlie answered, “To lay their eggs.” Adam said, “To keep eggs safe.” Julian Bowen said, “They stay safe to sleep.”
Just a few days later, I asked the Golden Eagles where Eagles come from. Camerina said, “In Mexico, Germany, and Queens--where all my family grew up.” Ethan (a new addition to our class) said, “In the sky!” Zoe said, “They live in a tree by my house and lay their eggs.” Sonia responded, “Eagles just come from an egg!”
I then told the Golden Eagles a story from my childhood:
Once upon a time, when I was a little boy, I grew up in a town called Seattle, where big bald eagles live every day! On this day, I was driving with my daddy on the freeway when I heard a ‘whoosh-whoosh’ sound. I looked up, and I saw a huge bald eagle flew above the car! And guess what--it had a salmon fish in its claws! The salmon tried to escape. It wiggled and wiggled, but it couldn’t get out. The eagle was going to eat the salmon for his dinner. The End.
I asked, “Why couldn’t the salmon fish escape?” Riley answered, “Because the eagle was GRABBING him!” Camerina added, “Because his claws are SHARP!”
During our morning activities, Ananya and Camerina painted an ‘eagle’ at the easel. Zoe drew several eagles on paper. Riley and Sonia drew ‘Eagle City’ (a place that Mr. Jake and I invented to keep the Black and Golden Eagles together). Louis glued and painted a similar ‘Eagle City’, then suggested that the girls tape their work to his (this request was unfortunately denied).
Lastly, at nap time, I asked Camerina, “Where do feathers come from?” She explained to me, “Birds have feathers that are little when they are born, and they get big feathers when they growed up. They have them to keep their babies safe. I don’t [have feathers]. I have hairs on mine head, on my other body, and little hairs on mine skin.”
There is clearly a great depth in the Golden Eagles’ thoughts on eagles, and birds in general. Some of their interest seems to come from the behavior of these birds, such as ‘whoosh-whooshing’, hunting pigeons, or roosting in search of food. Rather than discussing bird characters in fiction stories, a lot of this interest seems to come from observing birds in real life, or at least hearing stories about observing real birds. This is a potential place to explore the Golden Eagle’s scientific knowledge beyond the realm of books.
The particular bird behavior that we will begin to explore next will be nesting. It will be interesting to see whether the Eagles most relate to the protection of babies, the construction of the nest, the keeping of secret things, or some other unanticipated aspect of nesting.
Until next time,
This November, the Golden Eagles are settling into their new separate class with its own set of passions and investigations. One pattern which seems to have emerged is an interest in birds. I first took note of this shared interest on a long adventure walk on a crisp autumn morning.
Before our adventure walk on November 6th, I noticed that many of the Golden Eagles had come to our meepting with little spiral notebooks and pens which we had discovered hiding in the Spiky Room that morning. Rather than force these new items to be put away, I asked the students if they would like to take the notebooks on our walk to draw and write about what they find. There was universal approval of this suggestion.
To keep their observations pointed and purposeful, I asked, "What would you like to see on our walk?" Carlos answered, "Big birds in the clouds!" Catherine added that she wanted to see, "the little birds." Rayden suggested, "an egg in a nest."
Eli said, "Grown-up dinosaurs." We had previously shared a private conversation in which Eli used this term, but I asked him to explain what he meant to the group. He said, "Grown-up dinosaurs are just birds!"
On our walk, Louis stopped us, pointing out a large falcon perched high on a rooftop. I invited the group to take the notebooks out of their pockets to write and draw for 5 minutes. Remarkably, the entire group joined in on this activity spontaneously.
As we left, a flock of pigeons zoomed by, and the falcon soared after them. Eli later explained that he had ‘written’ a story in his notebook which ‘read’, "The falcon grabs the pigeon, and a eagle grabs the falcon!" Later on in the walk, Catherine pointed out a pigeon similarly perched above a building, which the group again stopped to draw and write about together.
The spontaneity of this group's shared interest in both talking about and stopping to draw birds makes my feathers stand at attention--clearly, there is something important to investigate here! We are seeing some discussion of different bird species (e.g. “falcons”, “pigeons”, “small birds”, “big birds”), and Eli explained their role in a simple food chain. Perhaps there is an interest in documenting the interactions of a community of birds (sounds a bit like the role that teachers play at Magic Beans!).
Ms. Sonia and I will continue this investigation by searching for bird-related books on our library walks, giving the students ample opportunities to reimagine birds through various art media, and continuing to discuss birds at our meetings. We will peer into what birds mean to the Golden Eagles. Is it flight, feathers, some other feature or behavior, or something else completely unexpected that makes their hearts soar?
Until next time,
The weeks move on and we continue our separation into two Eagle classes. This week, we have started using the terms "Black Eagles" and "Golden Eagles" to more easily distinguish between "the group that goes with Mr. Jake" and "the group that stays with Mr. Sam" (respectively). We are also hoping that this practice eases the students' understanding of their place in our plans each day--most importantly, that they have one, and that their work is always very important to us.
We began this Monday’s Morning Meeting with a review of last week's work on ‘Candy Town’ and ‘the Spiky Room’--two ideas for the new studio space which the Golden Eagles have worked very hard to define these past few weeks. I then invited the students to raise their hands for a discussion on this work.
Louis expanded upon an idea he gave last week regarding "little hotel room bottles", saying, "Superman has really little houses made of really little bottles, and around it are really big bottles with tornadoes in them!"
Zoe added, "One time I saw a man with a Superman costume and he had big strong arms so he could lift up things and save the people."
Riley said, "The Spiky Room has scary seaweed and then it has nice seaweed. It's always changing!"
On Halloween, we tried having our Morning Meeting inside of Candy Town. Ms. Sonia and I were curious to see if and how changing our surroundings to the new space would change our conversation on the topic. Camerina said, "Nobody knows where I am!", her face full of excitement.
Riley said, "I really wanna buy candy and build a city in this studio, like Candy Town."
Carlos added, "When all the kids are in Candy Town, we make a present and then it will rip with candy!"
Eli said, "Candy Town is special and that's where those zombies and swords came from," he pointed to the Halloween tablecloth that had been left in the room, adding, "All the kids were alive and the zombies used the swords and bumped them."
Zoe explained that in Candy Town, "You get candy canes and then you take em apart and then use em to build Candy Cane Town. It's next to Candy Town." Sonya added, "it's in Florida!"
When asked what she would want to do in Candy Town, Ananya responded, "I wanna sleep in candy!"
Our visiting Black Eagle, Aki, pointed to the bottles of colorful liquid and said, "We could use the colors of the bottles to make candy canes." Sometimes it takes an outsider's perspective to make connections like this!
The Eagles then spent a large portion of their play time in Candy Town. Riley strung lengths of white yarn through cardboard tubes, which Aki and Louis incorporated into their "bridge" building project. Zoe found a cardboard jewel box hiding in a wicker basket. She presented it to Sonya, saying, "Look what I found!" Zoe eventually left a small length of yarn in the box and hid it back where she found it.
Aki, Eli, and Louis discovered a sheet of sparkling rainbow stickers, which they stuck to the colorful bottles and other objects in their "bridge" construction. Aki explained that the stickers show "it's from Rainbow Valley". Louis said, "This means it's done!" At one point, Eli declared, "I'm going to stay in the new room forever!"
This week's discussions on Candy Town and the Spiky Room seem to show a bit more cohesion to the students' conceptions of the new space. It was also valuable to gain a bit of insight into their actual use of the space, if only for a brief part of one day. Particularly, the thoughts on and use of bottles stood out. In general, the Golden Eagles' ability to riff on each other's thoughts is outstanding and exciting to document.
Next week, we will continue to push into Candy Town and the Spiky Room, observing the Golden Eagles’ choices in this new space. Rather than continuing to have focused “design”-centric meetings, we will plan activities in this room as part of our regular morning play. For starters, we will provide the students with “little hotel room bottles” and colorful liquids to give them a chance to recreate the found objects they seem to be so curious about.
What are your thoughts on how the Golden Eagle culture is taking shape? What do you think of ‘candy’ and ‘spikes’ specifically? What do you think these ideas mean to your child?
Thank you so much for reading,
Last week, the Eagles began to share ideas on the new classroom space. Our second Morning Meeting on this topic took place on October 17th. Entering this meeting, Ms. Sonia and I wanted to review the students’ previous work, and then build upon it by thinking up new ways to share ideas for this big project.
I read back the words from the students’ note cards, including Eli’s “Rain Window” and “Fire Room”, Carlos’s “Dragon Place”, Riley and Sonya’s “Candy City”, and more. I then asked the students, “Besides talking to each other, what are some ways we can share more ideas about the new space?” The students came up with “drawing”, “drawing with chalk”, “drawing with crayons”, and “drawing with paint”. Carlos added “paper mache”. Ananya added “folding paper”. We then took a vote and decided upon “drawing with chalk” as our next step for this project.
We taped a large black sheet of paper to a work table and set out chalk for the students to work with. Riley used the chalk to create “hills and mountains with holes”. She explained, “The holes grow grass in them. It’s a big forest with tiny spiky white trees.” This comment reminded me of Rayden’s idea involving grass in the new space. She added, “There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 guys that are very mean in the forest. There are aliens that live in the forest. They’re kind of a lot real.” Eli and Catherine joined in on the chalk drawing, each separately drawing “the biggest forest ever EVER”.
At another table, Carlos was drawing with markers and paper. He explained one particular drawing as a “Candy Bus”. Catherine came over and drew a “Candy Store”. Riley moved to this table and switched her focus to “candy” as well. When asked if she was drawing something from her “Candy City”, she clarified, “it’s Candy TOWN, not Candy City”.
My immediate takeaway from this second day of work is that this project seems to be flowing down two very different channels: one, a “spiky” place with monsters and other “mean” things in a big “forest”; the other, “Candy Town”, where things seem somewhat like our town, only with all things “candy”. I wonder how these two very different ideas will continue to develop alongside each other.
At our October 22nd Morning Meeting, our investigation was interrupted when our group of Eagles sat staring at Mr. Jake's group as they put on their coats to leave for the new school. Sensing that we were unable to carry on a design-related discussion at that moment, I instead asked the Eagles to share what they were feeling.
With folded arms and a beet-red face, Zoe explained, "I feel bad cause I wanna go to the new school.”
Riley shared, “I feel a little bit mad, and a little bit sad."
Catherine said, “I want Juliette.”
Carlos lamented, “I wanna’ go to the new SPACE.”
Ananya said, "Me too!”
Then all of a sudden, Zoe's eyes lit up. She raised her hand and asked, "What if we write Mr. Jake a note, ‘Can we come visit the new space’?” The group then voted that this would be a good plan to help us feel better. However, the Eagle teachers clearly need to try a new approach to this separation so that our students are able to move forward together.
I finished the Morning Meeting by asking what we could do in a place like "Candy Town". Zoe said, "We could make candy canes, split ‘em apart, then use them to build the town.”
When asked how Candy Town might feel to them, Sonya said, “I think Candy Town tastes sweet, and it feels fluffy like cotton candy!”
Lastly, Eli shared that in Candy Town, he wants to "buy some candy. You can get it from a man--from a man at the store… at the CANDY store.”
For our October 24th Morning Meeting, I shared the students' thoughts from the 22nd on Candy Town, then asked them to tell us about a place called the "Spiky Room". Eli explained, “The Spiky Room has fire and hard rocks.” Camerina, who was new to the class and to our project, nonetheless added, “Fire and aliens!” I reiterated Riley’s comment about “mean aliens” from the 17th, and she clarified, “Some aliens are nice, and some aliens are mean, and there are scary MICE.”
When asked what else lives in the Spiky Room, Sonya replied, “Giant whales and bears.” Catherine added, “Sharks that are mean and poisonous.” Rayden said that the Spiky Room is “in the ocean. FISH live in there.” Eli vocally disagreed with these statements. I asked the group if there could be an ocean sometimes, and sometimes no ocean in the Spiky Room, and the consensus seemed positive among the students.
Lastly, Louis threw us a curveball by adding, “There should be Superman and little hotel room bottles in there.” I asked for clarification. “Little hotel room bottles that you find in a hotel room.” So now that’s in the mix, too!
After this meeting, Ms. Sonia and I invited the students to make things from the Spiky Room out of pipe cleaners. Riley created three pieces which she called, "a black widow”, “dragon”, and a “red-eye monster”. Camerina made a “very long, very tall dragon”. Eli independently brought down his Fire Room drawing from last week and attempted to reimagine it in the medium of pipe cleaners. He held the two pieces up together and explained, "This is the Spiky Room; this is where the whale-stink is!” Using multiple media to reimagine this space seemed to be a powerful tool for solidifying and expanding upon the students’ ideas.
It now appears very clear that we've got strong ideas flowing about our new classroom space being used as both "Candy Town" and "the Spiky Room". Based on the students' work and words, this space of dual identities will be a place for open-ended, unbridled imagination. We will do dramatic play, construction, and art as needed--at times this work will "feel fluffy like cotton candy", and at others it will be "mean", "poisonous", and "spiky". Either way, the Eagles seem very excited to be defining this space, and at the same time building new culture together. I am very excited as well!
Next week, we will try to push our way into the new space to actually see what sorts of activities the students bring in there. We will also start using the terms "Black Eagles" and "Golden Eagles" to help explain this confusing transition in a way that may allow both groups to feel proud of their new identities and the important work they are doing together.
Thank you for reading,