Leaving Behind the Given: Searching for a room that isn't there anymore

CeeCee's parents came to school with a question she had been asking at home; Where is the Meadow room? Her (now first grade) brother was in the Meadow room when he was in preschool. But where did it go? CeeCee wanted to know because she is in the Rainbow room, and the Meadow room would be next. But if it's not there anymore, would there be a classroom for her? This is a really knotty problem. Where does something go when it's gone? The four walls that held the Meadow room still exist. Yet somehow the Meadow room isn't there. The problem encompasses time, because brothers and sisters used to be in the Meadow room, and children will be going somewhere next. The Meadow room is a permanent thing in our ideas about preschool, yet it has slipped out of the physical space. That is how we started looking for the Meadow room.

When Hermann Weyl wrote that, he was talking about asking questions in physics and mathematics that are beyond the 'given'. As near as I can under…

Magical Thinking and Alternative Facts

 The 3 and 4 year old children made up a game of 'powers' in which two children stand on a carpet square and then 'psh psh psh' their powers at each other. Other children sit to the side and often draw the action and cheer. After they had been playing this game for a while, we teachers began to wonder how to take the thinking further.

We came up with some questions; What color are your powers? What sound do they make? Could I borrow your powers? We encouraged each child to make a mask, cape and a pocket to hold their powers.

"Real animals don’t have any powers. Stories have powers. Yeah, in stories they have powers. Not any kind of real animals can’t do stuff. Can’t do stuff that powers can do, no. We play stuff but it’s not powers."
Anna Hart, you have powers, don’t you?
Hart "No. I have pretend powers. Just when I freeze stuff, and when it’s dark. It only comes out when I’m mad, or scared."

The back and forth between magical thinking and theory making …

Thinking About Martin Luther King

Last year about this time, Elaine and Lisa sent some (4/5 year old) children from the Rainbow room to the studio because they wanted to make a birthday song for Martin Luther King. Here is a little bit of their conversation as they made instruments to accompany the song:

Charlie "He (Martin) used to be a good-est person of all and he said
'It makes no fair that some children be in a bad school and somebody else’s children be in a good school. I want all my children to be in a fair place. Not a bad place'!"

Anna "What if you grow up and you make speeches into a microphone?'”

Kirsten "I would say ‘Everyone!, you should eat fruits and veggies, and not too much candy, and listen to what Martin Luther King says! No, people! Do not hate people! Love everybody, don’t hate anybody! It’s fair!, it’s fair!"

Sammy "And also ‘don’t kill anybody'!"

Kirsten "Don’t shoot them with a gun!"

Sammy "Don’t kill anybody with a gun!"

Kirsten …
We are pleased to open registration for the 2017 Spring Symposium of
The Sabot Institute for Teaching and Learning!

April 20 - 22, 2017
Keynotes by:
Lella Gandini, the U.S. Liaison for the Dissemination of the Reggio Emilia Approach
Susan Harris MacKay, Director of Teaching and Learning, Opal School, Portland, Oregon (a public charter)

Presentations by:
Teacher-Researchers & Consultants Anna Golden, Sara Ferguson, Andrea Pierotti, Mary Driebe,
and Pam Oken-Wright
CEUs are available from the Center for Leadership in Education at University of Richmond.
April 20th, April 21st, and April 22ndThis three-day option includes: A school-day observation of Reggio-inspired Preschool, Lower School, and Middle School classrooms on ThursdaySpecial session with Lella Gandini who will speak about the fundamentals of the Reggio ApproachTwo days of Symposium events (details below)L…

Research in childhood

Research is Sabot school's umbrella project this year.  It's one of the 5 Rs that guides the school. This project will look differently in each group, influenced by the personality and interests of the children and teachers. Some things I am wondering about have to do with children's inborn ways of researching. Is there a methodology children use that I haven't noticed? We know what research in school typically looks like, but what is beyond that? What is behind and underneath? What is research like in its wild state- on the playground or in the forest? Does research ever wear a cape or twinkling crown?

Here are a few pictures that show what research is looking like in some classrooms that I am collaborating with..

"Cal: Right when you’re born is when you become a person. And a person is just one person, but a people is more than one person.
Annabelle: You’re always sort of a person
Kate: When we wer…

The Free Kids Art Studio 2016

Two years ago when the Kindergarten children were writing letters to Mayor Jones, one of their suggestions to him was to make studios around the city of Richmond so that:

The next year, in first grade, the children took up the free kid studio idea and worked to figure out how to make it real. At first they tried to design some buildings or vehicles that could carry materials around the city.
Eventually the children designed and built a table, and took the Free Kids Studio around to parks and childcare centers.

Yesterday the now second graders brought the free kids art studio to RVA Makerfest, so even more children could play and work with ideas. Hooray for the Free Kids Art Studio!

Small stories of discovery

New ways to paint! Messing about with a stamp and mixing colors.
Learning to use the hand drill!

Planning the work before making
(a bear)!

Messing about with materials. "It's a toothbrush!"