We were exploring water and its various forms and states, observed the details of the frozen Seberak pond, pictures drawn by morning frosts and snowflakes under the magnifying glass and we got inspired to make our own art projects. We colored snow and ice, weighed, measured, rationed, mixed, warmed, melted and froze again, shortly, tried various kinds of experiments with water, and also again traced animal footprints in the snow. During spring holidays, both Primary and Toddler children did many artistic activities together and created two lovely large pictures that now decorate the walls of the Primary class instead of the walls of a modern art gallery. Than we welcomed „Masopust“, the traditional Czech Carnival, discussed how, why and where it originated from and how it was celebrated in the past, talked about carnivals in general, masks and also theatres, and played various drama games. We celebrated our own Carnival Day and gathered as clowns, astronauts, pirates, princesses, fairies, ladybugs, witches, a tiger, an Indian girl and a Japanese lady, and tried to improvise acting each of our roles. We also celebrated birthdays of Toník (5), Jirka (6), Kristýnka (4) and Varvara (5).
January has started by common sharing of Christmas experiences and remembering The Three Wise Kings when children created and wore the crowns of Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, and recognized their valuable gifts, gold, incense, and myrrh, their origins and use. We focused on exploring our senses, worked with old and new sensorial class materials and played various sensorial games. We caressed and paired rough and smooth gradation tablets and various fabrics, compared baric tablets, pressed pressure cylinders, touched thermic bottles and tablets, identified tastes and what parts of the tongue recognized them, smelled different spices and enjoyed tastes and scents of different food, listened to sound boxes and Montessori bells. We explored what we were able to do with blind eyes and how it changed our other senses, how we could suddenly hear, feel or smell differently – we worked blindfolded with various class materials, walked blindfolded on our ellipse, and tried how it was when one was blind relying on another one leading. The perfect winter weather has finally allowed us to enjoy the snow and playing in and with it, to compare temperature differences, and to trace animals in the snow (we found footprints of dogs, cats, squirrels, a hare, a pheasant, ducks and other birds, and also studied other animal footprints in books). We have visited a theatre to see a classic Czech winter tale and at school, have also received a visit of policemen who told us about their work and where and how they helped, discussed with children some rights and wrongs and how to handle them, and who were very surprised how well-informed and eager to speak up loud our great children were. We celebrated Valentyna´s birthday (5) and also the third birthday of our school.
Christmas Party 12.12.2012
We were happy to meet most of you at our Christmas Party where you could try few hints of the Christmas traditions of other countries that we were playing with the whole week. And we were delighted to see that the children were eager to form a little choir and that they actually liked the everyday choir gatherings. We hope that you had good time with us, despite the freeze.
This December, we were travelling – literally a bit, and a lot in the imagination. After our homes, streets, and quarters, we explored Prague and took a long tram trip along its quay and wandered in the Christmassy Old Town. We recognized the state symbols of the Czech republic, interesting places, landscapes, plants and animals, people, food, traditions and customs, of course mainly the Christmas ones. We decorated the Advent wreath, baked cookies for the Advent calendar and for our Christmas Party, built the crib, and talked about how each of us would spend Christmas, why we celebrated it, where which traditions came from, what was the meaning of Advent, and also who was Saint Nicolas who had visited us at school on December 5th (and again, we admired toddlers carefully watching their older friends, first doubting, but then one by one bravely walking towards St. Nicolas). As it often happens, children surprised us by knowing nearly all about the Czech Christmas, and thus we had to surprise them by something else… After Prague and Czech republic, we skimmed through Europe and also other continents and learnt that Christmas was not the same everywhere or even was not at all in some parts of the world where people celebrated other festivals. This was really an amazing finding for the children and they loved imagining Christmas on a hot African beach or a Greenland ice floe and they were excited about the Chinese New Year celebrations. We discussed Christmas stories and customs mainly in the countries of origin of people from our school – U.S., Britain, Germany, Russia and China, and we were very happy that some parents came to school to let us hear, see, touch and taste them. Besides the traditional Czech carols, we learnt also few English ones, including the Good King Wenceslas, a carol from the U.K., though about a Czech king, an ancient French carol and even an African one from Kongo that you have heard at our Christmas Party (and much as the children love it, you may hear it again and again in the next weeks). About the Chinese New Year song – we still keep trying! After our Christmas Party, we tuned in the Czech Christmas again and explored various Czech customs, we saw a concert of a children´s choir at the near church and at last, prepared Christmas for little animals in our forest where we decorated a tree with apples, carrots and nuts and sang carols for squirrels. And we had another visit at school – a theatre group that used anything they could find around for their play, and children were so taken by that we are wondering if they would become actors and musicians at home too and what instruments they might play for you during Christmas…
In November, we talked about the upcoming winter, and especially about how animals prepare for and what they do during winter. Due to the strong inversion, we unfortunately could not take the planned trip to the forest zoo in Zbraslav, but we at least well explored the near little forest and the pond surroundings, watched their changes, searched for animals´ winter hideaways, observed birds and squirrels who became more and more courageous in visiting our garden, tempted by the wide offer of nuts. We have found out which birds migrate to the south in the winter, which stay, and which migrate down here from the north to warm up, which animals sleep during winter and what this sleep is like, and what the not sleeping ones do, how they live on the snow, what they eat. In the second half of November, we have celebrated the Thanksgiving Day that had become an important feast for us thanks to our two lovely American teachers. We have been discussing how we live, what nice people and beautiful things we have around us, whether we are lucky and have reasons to be thankful; and also how other, less lucky people and mainly children live in our country or in other parts of the world. People of the humanitarian organization Adra visited us at school and described life in Africa (of course without the most frightening details, hardly bearable even for adults) by telling a story of an ordinary little girl Latifa. Now we can thus imagine a bit how African children live, what they eat and play with, what their school looks like. We also talked about other less lucky people – abandoned children, ill or handicapped children or lonely elderly people. And we have also welcomed our seven years-old friend who has just had his own experience with long days spent in a hospital, so we could learn much funny and sad about how a day goes in a hospital or how a little boy feels there. We were amazed to watch how deeply children can perceive, understand and think about such heavy matters. Actually, children were the ones who had lead us to viewing the Thanksgiving Day in this way when during the last year celebration, they spontaneously came up with the idea to share our food with someone in need (at that time, after a debate on why we could not send it to Africa, we agreed to share with the Sue Ryder Home for Elderly People). This year, the Primary children have done an even greater step: while at the beginning of the week, they could not really imagine doing it, at the end of the same week, they all decided to give one (some even more) of their own toys to ill children hospitalized at the neurological department at the Thomayer´s hospital. We have delivered the gifts together, so children could give them personally and feel their first, unique joy of true sharing and making someone happy, their first strong experience of loosing, but gaining at the same time. We could see how hard the goodbye to their own toys was for them, but also how they felt great, strong and important in the big world. All of us adults who were there were crying. We would like to thank you for your support and help to your children in such a difficult, yet beautiful decision. We believe it was worth and none of them regrets. At the end of November, we built on the previous discussions about our living with the theme My Home, and everything it meant to us. We have heard many interesting and surprising words, sentences and even whole stories from the children. Together, we looked at photos of our homes, shared who and what we liked there, how our homes looked and smelt, we also discussed what were the roles of different people at home, and how we could help. We learnt our addresses, searched for it at the map of Prague, and identified who lived near and who lived far, who was who´s neighbor. We also explored origins of street names and some children now think of what they will do in the future in order to have one of their own once.
After September adaptation time, we began to look around more, undertook various expeditions “into the wild”, and enjoyed autumn, which, despite occasional strong cold, has brought many beautiful days. We observed changes in autumn nature – wind in the trees, its swishing, foliage colors and their changes, birds migration, insects hiding. We observed the effects of wind and tried various experiments with blowing. We were collecting, studying and naming leaves of all shapes and colors and all sorts of autumn fruits – chestnuts, acorns, walnuts, pine cones, rose hips and more, we assigned them to the right trees or shrubs and talked about for which animals they were important in the winter. We classified the coniferous and deciduous trees and through puzzles learnt to name their parts, we sorted leaves by color and shape and used them for various art creations, we read tales about trees and also worked with the associated sensorial materials for distinguishing colors or shapes (botany cabinets, geometric cabinet, colors and shades matching, color mixing etc.). We also learnt about autumn fruits and vegetables, how to store and preserve them for the winter, we touched, smelled and tasted them. We have again collected our garden harvests and used them within our afternoon cooking classes – this time hokkaido pumpkins and different herbs. We have cooked soup, baked pumpkin muffins, nut cookies and made pumpkin jam that will well serve us for sweet winter snacks. We have also explored the theme of the human body and health, named body parts, but also senses and feelings, trained distinguishing right and left sides, weighed, measured our height, length of the foot, hand, head perimeter and other things that children had thought of, and wrote every measure down, which the children enjoyed immensely, we dealt with what is healthy and what is not (not just to eat) and worked with class materials for distinguishing dimensions (tower, stairs, rods, cylinders etc.). We have celebrated the birthday of Ema (4). October has ended up with the „Halloween pumpkin fests“ – just as last year, pumpkins and its seeds were truly everywhere in our school. Children organized pumpkin rolling races in the garden, used them for building and creating statues, gouged them to create lanterns and bowls, and carefully lit candles inside. With the Primary class, we have also visited the nearby cemetery, and thus tried how we could handle traveling by bus – we came back all, whole, healthy and happy, so we can now expand our radius!
After summer holidays, we welcomed all the well-known and new children. As usually in the beginning of every school year, we were getting acquainted with our school and together developing our common rules. We were exploring where we could find everything we needed, and learning about spatial concepts. We were learning how to roll and walk around carpets, silently move chairs, prepare our table, cut fruits and vegetables for our snacks, butter our bread, serve food and drinks, sweep and mop the floor, wipe tables, wash dishes, sort pencils according to their colors, arrange work materials after finishing work,… We were getting to know each other, talking about who we were, what our families were like, what we enjoyed. We were learning about polite and friendly behavior, and about helping each other, how we could welcome someone or say goodbye, introduce ourselves, kindly ask for help etc., of course both in Czech and English. We played silence games, and games like „I do like this / I dislike this“. We also learnt about the basic time concepts and worked with the calendar of days, months and seasons that children now use daily to find out about the date and who came to school. Every week, children also choose what they want to help with at school (such as watering plants, caring for our rabbits, cleaning tables, ranging bookshelves, calendar update etc.), and they do it with great joy and responsibility. We have also celebrated birthdays of Viktor (2), Ota (5), David (6) and Ondra (4).
Year-End Party 21.6.2012
Before the start of the summer holidays, we said goodbye to our preschoolers, created a colorful mandala from prints of our hands and sometimes even feet, played theatre, danced, practiced yoga and aikido, arranged an exhibition of our art works, and above all, we all gathered and spent nice time together. Lovely summer!
We have turned again to the theme My place that we had started in autumn, and this time, we travelled from our houses up to the universe. We talked about our homes and what „home“ meant to us, what is it like, who and what we like in there, what we do when we come back from school, who we play with, how we help at home. We also talked about our other homes (grandparents and other loved ones we like to visit) and also about our school, how do we feel there, what we like and dislike, who our friend are, who and what we look forward to… We learnt and repeated our addresses, and we were surprised how many children know their address now, talked about travelling home from school, and how we recognize our district, our street. We learnt about known places of Prague and also about nature, animals and products, art and traditions typical for the Czech republic. We read Czech fairytales, sang Czech songs, including the anthem, cooked, smelled and tasted Czech foods. We worked with maps of Czech republic and Europe and quickly ran trough all of the continents that children already know a lot about thanks to the last year themes and the summer program and thanks to the loved „sensorial“ continents´ boxes always present in our class. Most children really liked the them Universe (even though it is quite abstract even for us - adults). We started it with the Big bang at the circle time (blowing up and cracking a balloon with pasta shaped as little stars), we worked with the Solar system model, talked about different planets, and tried to image „life“ on them, and played various games involving orbitting or imaging distances of planets from the Sun. We experimented with air, water and earth, and demonstrated where day and night or yearly seasons come from, using the Sun and Earth model and a flashlight. All children created their My Place Books once again – this time more creatively in trying to imagine and paint all our near and distant homes. At the end of the month, we talked about Safety, learnt the emergency phone number 112 and how and when we can use it. We explored first aid and on one day, we all looked almost like war heroes with band-aids and bandages everywhere. We spoke about police and firemen, how to act when meeting strangers, seeing an accident, hurting or a fight, we lighted and extinguished fires, and explored what burns how fast. In this theme spirit, we also celebrated the International Children’s Day with a small traffic playground were children drove their mini cars, while we were surprised how orderly they could follow all traffic signs and rules, and with and obstacle race for walking „a blindman“ where the children have amazed us again as to how responsibly they could guide a friend with tight eyes. We also celebrated birthdays of Anička (6), Kryštof (4) and Julinka (2).
We continued observing the spring nature – growing plants, insects reappearing, animals awakening, their cubs… After having visited the eco-farm in Toulcuv dvur with the Primary class, we learnt about farm animals and their families, how they lived, what they ate and what they provided us, sorted them in different groups (such as vertebrates, birds, mammals, herbivores and carnivores etc.), and recognized sounds they made. We explored spring flowers and trees sprouting, recognized various sprouts and gemmas, trees and flowers body parts, watched seeds germination and its growth from a sprout until a tree, and used many practical experiments to verify that plants needed the sun and the water, that a real sprouted seed looked inside just like the one on our wooden puzzles, we studied plants cells and vessels under a microscope, and even experienced how plants produced oxygen (experimental proof of photosynthesis). In order to remember and celebrate the Day of the Earth, we also learnt why and how we should sort waste (we have also burried different materials in our garden, and will regularly control how they decompose), why saving water, and how all living creatures depend on each other (using the Montessori „sun game“), how we could harm the nature (using a project based on the famous American animated movie The Lorax – if you are interested, you can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23lHvYfaENw), and how we could serve the nature, and finally planted a small tree in our garden, and will watch and measure its growth from now on. We also celebrated many birthdays – Matěj (5), David (6), Sofie (4), Adam (3), Betty (3) and Max (2), and said goodbye to Justýnka. We have very much liked our Easter workshops with you, and hope you have enjoyed being creative with your children.
We have continued in exploring our senses. We worked with many sensorial materials in the class – caressed touch tablets and fabrics, pressed pressure cylinders, touched temperature bottles and tablets, identified basic tastes and what parts of the tongue recognized them, smelled different spices and enjoyed tastes and scents of different food, listened to sound boxes, Montessori bells, and animal sounds, and played various sensory games. We explored what we were able to do with blind eyes and how it changed our other senses, how we could suddenly hear, feel or smell differently – we worked blindfolded with various class materials, walked blindfolded on our elipse or holding a rope stretched between the trees in the forest, and we tried how it was when one was blind relying on another one leading... Together we have welcome the spring by an old Czech tradition – making the winter symbol, Lady Morana, from branches, straw, old fabrics, and blown eggs, and then letting her sail away with the river. We prepared a flower bed in our garden, and sowed the first seeds and planted the first spring flowers. We have also started with animal taxonomy and learnt to recognize different vertebrates. We have watched the return of migrating birds, and discussed what was common for all birds and how they differed, recognized different kinds of birds that we could see in our neighbourhood, their feathers, way of flying, and sounds, and worked with puzzles to learn about their body parts and development stages. We have celebrated the birthdays of Tomáš (4) and Jasmínka (4), and welcome a new friend, László, in the Toddler class.
After experimenting with water in January, in February we could finally enjoy some snow drifts, enough to build a snowman and to snowball, and we have added few snow experiments (temperature measuring, weighing, coloring, melting etc.), we observed snowflakes under a magnifying glass, and looked for animal traces in our neighborhood (squirrels, hares, birds, ducks, and of course cats and dogs), we learnt to recognize them in the snow and to follow and map their routes. Then for many days, most children were interested in just one and only theme: our rabbit family that has moved back in the class with seven baby rabbits after a short calm time when we were only visiting the newborns one by one at the office. We watched mother rabbits taking care of their babies, and learnt how we could take care of them, investigated and talked about all that concerns rabbit life, and observed “in practice” what being a mammal meant. From cuddling rabbits, we have then moved to the planned theme of human senses, and explored how we are able to use touch, smell, and vision. As we have not yet looked into all our senses, we will continue to develop this theme in March. On February 21, we have celebrated the traditional Czech Carnival Day when dressed as princesses, pirates, fairies, oriental dancers, Bob the Builders, wild cats, bees, ladybirds and many other creatures, we have enjoyed much fun playing various simple, but always popular creative, sensory, and sport games, also together with some older children from the Toddler class who have bravely joined their older friends in the Primary. We have also celebrated birthdays of Toník (4), Jirka (5), Kristýnka (3) and Varvara (4). The Toddler class has also welcomed new friends: Viktor, Max, Julie and Anna.
January has started by a little celebration of the Twelfth Night, when we remembered the Three Kings visiting the new-born Jesus with gifts. As the New Year had started, we were also reminding children of the caledar, repeating seasons, months, days of week, how to set a date, and also working with the clock and the concepts such as morning, noon, afternoon, evening etc. Than despite lack of snow and with a great deal of enthusiasm we explored the theme of water and everything related with it. We carried water at our circle times, poured it, spilled, measured, weighted, explored and compared its states, melted snow (there was at least a little bit in our garden for a short time) and ice, colored them, explored steam. We detected water features, what and who needs it, who lives in it, where in the nature we can find it, where it comes from. We have built a watercourse from its spring to the sea from string and cloth pieces, worked with the land and water forms, classified water and land animals, fresh water and marine animals. We experimented with capillary action of water (string between two bowls), and with the surface tension of water (needle on the water surface), we tested what can swim and what sinks, we watered stones and beans to see what will grow, we have verified that flowers drink (colored water colors the flower), and tried a new experiment showing the water cycle on Earth. We used water for our art creations at the afternoon art classes, and at cooking classes, we made delicious ice cream (besides other goodies such as pancakes, Arabian pudding, or Indian sweet chickpeas balls). If you feel like, you can try one of our simple experiments that was fascinating even for our littlest children at home: cut a paper flower, fold the petals, and place it on water surface… We have also celebrated the birthday of Valentýna (4) and together the birthday of all of us – Willowtrees (2).