15.12.2011 Christmas party
We talked about the meaning and purpose of Advent and Christmas traditions, we baked Christmas cookies, made our Advent calendar, recognized mistletoe, and smelt frankincense, decorated our Advent wreath together, and learnt to strike matches and light candles, built Betlehem cribs, and made Christmas presents for you – lanterns and Christmas tree decorations with wires and beads. Together with Megan and Michele, we also shared Christmas traditions in the USA (and naturally got to discussing traditions in other countries, even the ones that do not celebrate Christmas at all), and children really loved the symbolic story of Santa´s Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer, who was mocked by other reindeers until his difference saved them all in a snowstorm. We also talked about nature and animals in the winter, and decorated a Christmas tree for animals with fruits, vegetables, and nuts in our forest. On December 5th, St. Nicolas and Angel have visited our school, while children from both classes enjoyed common circle time, and we were happy to watch the Toddlers carefully observing their older friends, thinking, and then one by one bravely walking towards St. Nicolas. Shortly before Christmas, we have visited the local church with the Primary class children to see its cribs, and unexpectedly happened to hear a concert of old English and French carols, sung by a children´s choir. We also said goodbye to Adam who has moved to Australia, his father´s homeland, but keeps sending us letters and photos, and therefore we can now better imagine the Australian Christmas on a sunny beach with exotic birds singing. We have very much enjoyed sharing our Christmas Party with you that happened to be a spontaneous reunion, a ‚Christmas Eve trial´, as the children had wished. Instead of rehearsing shows, long before we were enjoying the traditional Christmas preparations, and the looking forward, and then together with you the Christmas feeling, customs and especially the time to play together. We hope that you have enjoyed yourself as much as we did.
We were looking forward to water all around us, but neither rain, nor snow have come, while children, well-adapted now, were enjoying the many new class materials that they found at school after holidays. We have thus skipped theme projects this time (except for a few one-time works such as dressing up a paper figurine including naming winter clothes in English that children liked a lot), and instead focused more on working with the class materials that children were the most interested in – especially sensorial (pairing of touch tablets, color tablets, taste bottles, sound boxes etc.) and math (counting rods, quantity splitting box etc.). It has been great to see how children could become even more silent with these works, how they could focus on enjoying their senses, touching, tasting, listening, or even cooperate on group searching for the second sound box to the pair without saying a word. We have introduced a new rule in the class – weekly duties to care for our rabbits, plants, cleaning tables or updating the calendar that children like so that they ask for their favorite every Monday, and we do not have to select them or draw lots. On the 24th of November, we have celebrated the Thanksgiving Day in both classes. Together with Megan and Michele, we baked delicious American chocolate cookies, plum muffins, and cranberry walnut bread, and also tasted various delicacies from your homes (great thanks to all of you!). We learnt to prepare a celebration, to treat and host each other, to share. Primary children have greatly surprised us, when within a discussion about the purpose of Thaksgiving, they proposed to share some of our food with the ones in need – they wanted to send a package to Africa at first, then of course figured that „Africa is too far behind the sea, and it would take too long to bring it there by a boat“, so we kept thinking and proposing until we agreed on sharing with lonely grandmas and grandpas in the Sue Ryder House nearby, where they were excited and pleased with such lovely present from children. We have also celebrated the birthday of Terezka (2).
We have continued our autumn themes, watching and exploring autumn all around us, its effects, and what they actually mean, and how the nature and some animals (birds and insects) prepare for the winter. We were collecting and recognizing different leaves and needles and matching them to the corresponding trees, working with the puzzles of a tree and a leaf and learning to name its parts, and creating various leaf art works. We were also recognizing autumn colors, mixing them on paper and in test-tubes, and working with the class materials designed to teach pairing of the same colors and discrimination of color grades. We were fascinated by the wind, exploring the effects it can create, and experimenting with blowing (how far we can blow away different objects, blowing up a balloon in a bottle, blowing of colors through a straw, blowing a „storm of leaves or feathers“). We have watched the birds leaving, and were learning to recognize the ones we can see in our neighborhood, what they have in common and how they differ, how they fly, which ones migrate and which ones stay and how they survive our winter, and we were also working with the puzzle of a bird´s body parts and skeleton. We were observing insects disappearing, and looked for its winter hideaways. In connection with the celebrations of the establishment of the first independent Czechoslovakia, we have also dedicated some time to the theme My Place. At first we were mapping our school and its nearest surroundings and learning spatial concepts, and also learning the principle of creating a map (by reducing a drawing of our hand on a small piece of paper), and then we gradually progressed from my house to my country, the Czech republic, a map of which we have made together from farina at the circle time. Some children were so taken by mapping that they kept copying and drawing all maps they found at school, and creating „secret treasure maps“ for many days after. At the most, children liked creating their own My Place books that reminded them where they lived (from their house to the continent), and helped them remember their home address. We have also learnt to sing the Czech and Slovak anthem (just like the last year, kids have again preferred the faster Slovakian one). We have welcomed our new English speaking teacher Megan and learnt to introduce ourselves both in Czech and English. It was great to observe that even the youngest children, inspired by their older friends, were able to speak loud about themselves at the circle time. We have also celebrated the birthday of Matias (6). October has ended up with the „Halloween pumpkin fests“, and pumpkins and its seeds were truly everywhere in our school at that time. Children were organizing pumpkin rolling races in the garden, used them for building of huge garden pumpkin pictures, gouged them to create lanterns and bowls, and carried them perfectly slowly and silently during the circle time.
After summer holidays we were again getting to know our school, and developing our common rules. We were exploring where we could find everything we needed, learning to roll and walk around carpets, silently move chairs, prepare our table, serve food and drinks, sweep the floor, arrange work materials after finishing our work,... We were getting to know each other, learning polite and friendly behavior, and playing silence games and also the game „I do like this, you can do it to me, or I dislike this, please, stop“. We were collecting, examining and denominating various autumn fruits important for animals during winter – tree cones, chestnuts and other nuts, acorns, wild-rose fruits and different seeds, we were matching them to the right trees or bushes, and discussing who needs and eats them. We did not forget about people while exploring edible autumn fruits and vegetables, talking about how to conserve them for the winter, touching, smelling, and tasting them, and we have got in our garden harvests (pumpkins, tomatoes, herbs and others) and turned them into a delicious autumn soup. We were also exploring different kinds of cereals and what we can make of them, and in order to see it and believe it, during our circle time, we have threshed out grains from spikes, pounded them into flower, made salty dough, and baked rolls. We have also introduced our new beautiful wooden calendar of days, months and seasons that children now use daily to know what the date is and who came to school. We have of course dedicated some of our circle times to our common class materials, mainly from the practical life section, and the children very much liked common creating of pictures from “layered shapes”, and working with “red rods”. At the cooking class, we have cooked soya milk puddings, and baked nut cookies, and corn bread. During art classes, we were focusing on creations from natural materials – cones, nuts, acorns, wild-rose fruits and corn. We have celebrated birthdays of Adam (5) and Ondra (3).
22.6.2011 School Year-End Party