A day in the life of our joint Chestnut Tree/Apple Tree kindergarten
At the moment we have a combined kindergarten group, of star children and key worker families from both Apple Tree and Chestnut Tree kindergartens.
At the moment we have a combined kindergarten group, of star children and key worker families from both Apple Tree and Chestnut Tree kindergartens. It was been wonderful to see the children adapting to these changes so readily and forming a new collective kindergarten. We are following our daily rhythm of coming inside at the start of the morning, for creative play alongside the domestic work of peeling and chopping vegetables, baking, and churning butter. We are learning from each other by observing different approaches to the same task, and discovering new songs from our Apple Tree friends to sing while we work.
We are adapting our ringtimes to meet the needs of the younger children, as the majority of the group are stars. We are missing having our moons and suns with us for the younger children to follow, but those older children who are with us are stepping up to the task of supporting the others and rising to the challenge of leading some of the finger rhymes for us. We are trying to make the most of the opportunities afforded by the smaller group. Our stars have more space at the moment and their play is flourishing, building elaborate dens, boats and marble runs together. We are really encouraging the stars to master dressing themselves for the garden. We are learning how to put on our coats by lying them down on the ground, hood facing us, sliding our arms into the sleeves and then flipping them over our heads. The suns are helping with zips – starting off the zip (preparing the train in the station) and then the stars zip up their coats (the train rides along the track). Giving the children these mental pictures can be very motivating!
We are being as resourceful as we can in the garden. One family kindly brought us some long bamboo sticks and we made a house and covered it with fir branches left over from the Advent spiral. We’ve also made a chandelier from the top of a Christmas tree, attaching brightly coloured berries for decoration. We are practicing our sawing, cutting branches into round disks to become coins for our shop, once they are sanded down and oiled. The children love the challenge of sawing, which really engages their will, and are so joyful when at last they cut right through the branch. Some love to watch the sawdust falling and gather it up carefully when we are finished. Yesterday we found a family of ladybirds and made a tiny house for them and we are feeding the birds. On Fridays (cleaning day) we clean the buckets and spades and trucks, making a car wash and enjoying the water.
This week we are celebrating Candlemas, chopping up our candle stubs to melt and form into an earth candle in the garden. This is lit, to warm the earth and help wake up the seed babies, ready to emerge as spring arrives. There are many green shoots in the garden and every day we look out for the first snowdrop. We enact this waiting for the spring flowers to emerge in our ringtime games. Two children lie under a cloth, fast asleep, until Spring arrives to wake them and they jump up out of bed. This game allows the children to embody the dormant energy within nature, waiting for Spring to begin. The game also gives them a chance to practice their impulse control, waiting until it is time to jump up and appear from under the blanket.
Two little brown bulbs went to sleep underground
In their little brown nighties, they slept very sound
King Winter he roared and he raged overhead
But the little brown bulbs did not move in their bed.
But when Spring came tiptoeing over the lea
With fingers to lips, as soft as can be
The little brown bulbs just lifted their head
Slipped off their nighties and jumped out of bed.
Here are some photographs from our Candlemas festival – our earth candle surrounded by a nature mandala and the first shoots appearing in the garden – planted in the autumn during our Michaelmas festival. Families with children at home have been sharing images of their handcrafts – here is one of the snowdrop folk we have been making. When we made these in kindergarten, they inspired some beautiful drawings.
We are holding the children who are at home in our thoughts and hoping that we will be able to see them soon. In the meantime, we are sharing kindergarten activities and stories with you each week. You may like to try the little brown bulb game at home? If you have made a bird finger puppet, you could find some twigs next time you going out for a walk and add them to your nature table in some water, then rest your bird in the branches. Having a nature table brings a seasonal focal point to your home and any treasure you discover on your walks can be added. Last week we found a tiny bulb had been unearthed by the squirrels and this was put in water on our nature table, along with a hyacinth bulb that is slowly unfurling and some hazel catkins. If you find a little branch with buds emerging, these will gradually open in the warmth inside, bringing hopeful little leaves as signs that spring is coming. If you find any willow branches on your walks, these can be woven into nests and lined with moss or grass.
Spring is coming, spring is coming, birdies build your nest.
Weave together straw and feather, doing each your best.
This week we will be sending home a Candlemas story, for the sun children this is a traditional Irish folktale of Brigit and Cailleach, representing the seasonal cycle of the spring arriving and the winter drawing to a close. We are starting to bring the sun children together from the four kindergartens, and will be sharing this story with them this week. The suns are also with Mita in a collective group, working in the garden each week. Last year, one of our parents shared with us the weaving of Brigit’s crosses, 4 pointed stars representing the turning of the seasons that he had made as a child in Ireland. We will be making these again this week in the garden. Next week, we will be celebrating Chinese New Year with the story of the twelve animals after which the years of Chinese Zodiac are named. This year is the Year of the Ox, and one of the Chestnut families has shared an idea for making an origami ox which we will send to those at home, and make in kindergarten. We are so appreciative of parents sharing their stories, handcrafts and festivals with us to enrich our curriculum and reflect the diversity within our community.