Friday, 30 September 2016

It's not supposed to be easy...

With this group that I am working with right now (a group of 5 year olds) the easy option in the atelier this week would have been to give each child a piece of paper and let them get creative with their own ideas about creating backgrounds for the film we are making together.

This though I did not feel would be beneficial for the children in the long run... partly because they have long afternoons to do individual art work if they please and partly because this group really needs to work on their collaboration skills.

I knew that by asking the children to work together that the experience would not be a purely positive experience... for the children or myself... but I also knew that they were capable of this... with support... and yes they needed quite a bit of support.

We decided that two backgrounds could be created... a map of "fairyland" and also an image of "candyland". The children could decide themselves which group they went into...

Five children chose Candyland and three chose to do the map... Both groups were given pictures and maps to inspire them in their drawing... different kinds of candyland representations (so that they could see that there is not one way to draw it) and various kinds of maps... from real to pretend fairyland maps...

I gave both groups one large piece of paper and two pencils... letting them know that they needed to collaborate... they needed to talk about what they were going to draw, how, who and also what side of the paper was going to be the bottom and which would be the top...

The map group chatted and got going quite quickly, taking turns with the pencils...

The candyland group did not start off as well... Two of the children picked up the pencils and started drawing... another child pointed out... "but we have not agreed yet as to what we are doing". The two children continued to draw... the other three children repeatedly pointed out that they needed to talk first to no avail...

I stepped in... and asked the two drawing children if they had heard the others... yes, the had. I asked why they chose not to answer... they did not know... I asked what they were drawing and if it was a part of the plan they had made together... both said they were drawing a castle ( ie two castles). I asked if it was the plan to have two castles... they finally put their pens down, as they did not know.
I pointed out that they needed to talk and make plans together...

The five children all started to talk at the same time...
I then decided to record what was being said... and for 7 minutes I documented what happened.

It was clear that it was hard for the two children with pencils in their hands to listen to the other children... as they repeatedly picked up their pencils and started to draw again.
Since I felt it was the LISTENING that was the most important process of this session I removed the pencils and paper pointing out that I had observed that they were making it hard for them to listen to the others...

The ensuing discussion needed a great deal of scaffolding from me. I kept asking questions to enable the children to expand on what they were saying. And also to question their need to police others...
they kept citing rules all the time... like "you are not allowed to whisper"... so I challenged them and asked why are you not allowed to whisper... and they did not know...

These rules without an understanding of why they are there was not helping these children to communicate with each other... especially as they are those kind of rules that all children are going to break without thinking about it, but love to police others when they break them. It does not create a positive atmosphere... it does not create a community of learners.

The group made their plans... I used my computer to help them with the idea of size and perspective... so that they would be able to fit all their ideas onto the paper...
I also made the decision to re-introduce only one pencil... this group was not yet ready for two pencils at a time... they needed all their focus on practising turn taking and listening to what is going on. It might have made the process longer but this was the process that they needed most time with.

The castle was drawn first... it was to be the biggest building on the paper... despite talking and reminding each other about this, the children found that all the building were the same size. The aim was to make the castle easy to spot by its size... (like the image of the Royal Palace in the Old Town of Stockholm I showed them). The did make some adjustments to make the building slightly smaller. For me it was important that they tried to keep to the plan that they had made TOGETHER.

The map group discovered, with a little help, that the map (which they had drawn as a picture with houses etc) did not have one bottom and one top of the picture. They had made the decision to get drawing and decide afterwards which would be top and which would be bottom. In this process they learned that it is much harder to make that decision afterwards sometimes... This had been a part of their plan... they had made this decision together... and they learned from it. Sometimes it is better to make such decisions before you get started.

I put out a box of oil pastels to colour in their background pictures... the idea again is for them to share and to collaborate with each other. There was plenty of colours, so this part went very smoothly. Although for the candyland background it was a bit more tricky as so many hands colouring in at the same time caused some space issues which they needed to have patience with... and some reminders of being patient.

When they had filled all the colour they needed a blue wash was used to fill the paper with colour... it added a bit of magic to the process as of course the oil pastels repelled the water of the thin, watery blue paint.


Yes, it would have been so much easier to have let them do their own thing... eight versions of the map/candyland... the children might have been happier... I would probably not have felt the frustration and need to exercise lots of patience ... but that would have been rather shortsighted. This group need to be exposed to activities that allow them to practice their listening skills, their negotiation skills, their planning skills, their conflict resolution skills, their talking with each other with respect skills, their understanding of rules...
all of this we need to continue working on in many different ways... so that my role as facilitator becomes less and less as the children are more practiced in these skills and can manage on their own.







Candyland

the map of fairyland


Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Fourth International Fairy Tea Party...

The International Fairy Tea party has been something rather magical for me...

It started 4 years ago when I saw a photograph of a shoe that had been turned into art by children... and I had incorrectly read that it was a fairy house (that was on the next image)... but it got my imagination going... could a fairy town be created by turning shoes and boots into fairy houses?

Then I started thinking bigger... could it be possible to link up with other children around the world... that we use our imaginations and play together - but in our different ways and in our different locations.

I am one of those people who strives for equality... I want a fair world, where everyone is equally and fairy treated... not that we get exactly the same amount of everything... but that we have the right to have our needs met.

I am also a person that has a "save the world" complex... yes I know that I am just one person, just one drop in the great ocean of people and ideas... but I feel that I still need to do my part... cause a ripple... and see what becomes of it...

The International Fairy Tea Party I felt should be held on a day where we all had something in common no matter where we are in the world... and the equinox gives us that... we all have 12 hours of daylight no matter where we find ourselves on the planet.

The ripple of the fairy tea party started small in 2013... with just over 50 celebrations in Europe, North America and Australasia... this year there have been at least 111 celebrations - and Asia and Africa have joined in...

The point of the celebration is to allow adults the chance to step into the world of play and imagination... to be able to see the world with a new perspective... a chance to look at nature in a new way... a chance to see play first and the learning that happens within it...

Anyway, here are some images from the celebration I took part of this year...

While the children sang together at the preschool myself and another colleague took all our fairy equipment to the nearby patch of forest and set up everything, ready for the children to come.

When they arrived we stood in a large circle and grape wands were handed out... to the great joy of the children. We then informed the children of what activities were available and where in the forest they could find them.

Closest to the circle was bubbles and fairy music... for fairy dancing and imagination.
I took several films of the party, and the music sounds absolutely fantastic in the background... sadly I cannot share these films... as I do not share images of the children's faces here on my blog (except for my own children... and one or two where the parents have specifically asked me to share)

Two more activities were face-painting and wand-making. Both fairy close to each other and right where the forest meets the little opening where the dance was being held.
This year instead of the children painting their own faces they could have their face painted for them...

Wands were made my winding wool around sticks they found in the forest.



Under the hanging tree was the Fairy Tea... cups of fairy tea served with a small owl cookie (fruit leather for those children who are sugar free). A place to practice pouring, taking turns, chatting with each other about everything that was happening....



Potion making is always a popular activity, lots of jars, bottles of coloured water, berries and other natural materials to create potions with...


Magical painting - plastic hung between two trees, with the light pouring through it - greens, blues and yellows to paint with...  I shared a film in facebook from the reverse side of the plastic, where you could just see the paintbrush moving across the surface.

Later we moved the plastic into the opening where the sun was stronger so that the children could make shadow dances and stories...


All in all there was plenty for the children to experience and to immerse themselves in imagination. The play was rich, deep and joyful...



Sunday, 18 September 2016

Professional Development of the Third Teacher. 5

This week I am going to write about space.

One of the things I have noticed by my trips to USA, Canada and Uk is the smallness of the space available to the children's play (indoors) compared to that here in Sweden.

Where I work right now has huge rooms... but in all the places I have worked here in Sweden there has been more space. It is the first thing I react to when visiting abroad... the space made available to play.

Sometimes rooms can be huge... but they are divided into so many small spaces that there is no BIG space for play... no huge area of floor space.

Now I feel there can be benefits of these smaller spaces... it can create a more peaceful/quiet play (at least on the surface) but it does not lend itself to big play... the children are compartmentalised - as is often their play... construction in one area, role play in another... small squares of play.
In big areas... with a large floor space, the room tends to say RUN... and that can have its downsides too in the midst of role-play and constructions etc...

and the question is what sort of play do we want... do we always want that peaceful play... or are we going to invite chaotic play too... I aim to write a post about this in the future...

So I always find it hard to try and find that balance that says... play big... without it saying play so big you disturb everyone else's play. After all we need to create a space where everyone feels they can play.

This is how our yellow room used to look... before we divided it up to create an atelier here... this room was supposed to be an area for quiet reading in one corner... and for drawing in another... and construction (my back was to the construction area)
Of course all that space meant that the children just wanted to run... and as we had a large empty room for that purpose we did not want this to happen in every room... we felt we needed to give the children options in their play diet.
As teachers we were failing to encourage the children to play without running here... so we needed to change the space... the third teacher needed to inform the children of other play options...

This is how the Yellow room looks now... the area to the left of this image... is the same area as the cushions on the image above this one... there is now a half wall dividing the space of the atelier from the rest of the room (between the two pillars... almost). It needed to be a half wall... as the setting is located in an old post office... and there are HUGE large windows onto the square and then lots of space going deep into the building without windows. So we have to work hard to allow natural light into all areas.

The rooms are still large... and still afford the children the space to play big... but there is not the same amount of running any more. (and yes we are outside 1-3 hours a day - depending on activity, weather etc - when it is well below zero the very young don't move enough to keep them warm).

In my post about Empty Spaces(from my visit to Iceland as part of Play Iceland) I wrote about how space was created by not having lots of things on shelves... there was space for the children's imaginations.

This is something that we have utilised in this year's arrangement of the rooms... as I described in the first of this series, we wanted to re-look at the third teacher... to see how the children played... so we took away the toys and just left loose part...
So far this has been working well... the children have filled their time with play, and there has not been any longing for the lego or other toys... something we hoped would happen, but were not sure if it would.

Creating space for children's play.
It requires floor space... carefully considered... not too big, not too small... and then think about how play areas can be combined... role-play and construction are always two areas we have close together so the children can mix the materials...

We now have documented the space for a second week.
I have decided not to look at them yet... waiting to see them at the end of the collection period.

The Lead up to The International Fairy Tea Party 2016

Time flies by... pun intended with my fairy wings!!

The equinox will be upon us during this week... that time of year where no matter where you are on this planet of ours we all have the same number of daylight hours...
It is by no accident that the fairy tea party is held during this week.
Around the world there are many differences... cultural, religious and also what resources we have access to... even how much play children have access to...

So the fairy tea party is about celebrating play... it is about celebrating imagination and creativity... and it is about doing this despite all of our differences on a day that unites us with daylight hours...

As of now there are over 70 celebrations that will occur around the world... USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Germany, Bermuda, Pakistan, Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, The Bahamas, Spain, Egypt, South Africa and others... all will celebrate in their own unique way...

This is a chance for adults to immerse themselves in the world of imagination together with the children... to play.
For some this can be a challenge. Pretend play does not always come easy to everyone.

the magic of finding a leaf with a message on it... I told the children that I could not read it, as it seemed to be written in some other language, maybe fairy language... and asked if they could translate it... they could... and their imaginations kicked in big time... amazing wonderful translations about shy fairies, and how noisy we were and how we could get to fairyland
What I have found with fairies is that it allows children and adults to mix reality and imagination... to explore many areas... this year my preschoolers have been looking for evidence of fairies... a scientific approach... looking for clues and analysing them...

I held a workshop in Ontario... held by York Region Nature Collaborative with the aim to enable the educators to see the forest from a new perspective. The educators were sent out with the task to find evidence that fairies existed... they were then to present this at a dialogue circle and to decide together which piece of evidence could prove that fairies existed.
There were many wonderful ideas presented... a rich imagination of possibilities...
There was also a consensus that they had indeed been given a new perspective of the forest ( I had not revealed that this was my aim)... this did not surprise me at all as it is what I have observed with my preschoolers over the last four years..
Looking for fairies has allowed them to see things they would have missed... they see small details... they have used their imagination... and we have also learned a great deal about nature.

The children also have learned about taking care of nature... not just for the animals but for the fairies too...

bags filled with rubbish that we had collected in the forest.

I have also seen how it has been a great way to challenge gender stereotypes... that fairies are not just cutesie pink things... but can be warrior fairies, sea fairies, with wings, man fairies, baby fairies, scary fairies... with wings without wings, pretty, cute, ugly, old, skinny, beautiful, fat, mean, kind... there are so many different kinds of fairies...

During the last week my group of 5 year olds ordered a series of c.20 images of fairies from most fairy like to least fairy like... my motives are not just to see about gender and how the children think, but also to see their aesthetic and understand that... to allow them to explore the terms more, less, most, least, as well as to work on their reasoning.
At first some of the children had difficulties distinguishing between most beautiful and most fairy-like... so we talked about whether beautiful and being a fairy was the same thing... it was not according to the children... so we could move on... and after that there was a greater freedom of how the fairies were being placed.
In the end three fairies we placed as MOST fairy like
see the image below... where you see the top four most like a fairy

As you see two of the most fairy like are male fairies... I had not really expected this... but I knew my group enough to feel that male fairies would be in the top ten... in fact male fairies were spread out amongst the line of fairies...
My aim is to normalise everything... that male fairies are just as normal as female fairies, that old is as normal as young, that fat is as normal as thin... and that beauty is not just one kind.
Exploring fairies in this way empowers the children to accept differences.
It also empowers girls... in the sense that vey often fairies are seen as a girl thing... and therefore not at all suitable for boys... but I have found boys just as interested with the magic, with the flying, with the imagination, with the search for is this real, as the girls... it opens up a new world for the boys too.
Suddenly fairies is not just about pink... where often the phrase pink stinks is used as a girlie thing as if we should avoid it.
I believe we should embrace it... celebrate it, empower it... so that it is available for boys and girls.

here is the line of fairy images... the least like a fairy is a skeleton... because it is dead... because it might not be real... and the next least is a girl dressed up as a fairy, that many thought was beautiful, but came to the conclusion that it was not a real fairy.


My group of 3-4 year olds have often made decisions as to which (of 4 images) was most like a fairy based on "it is beautiful". I did this exercise three times with them over the last 3 weeks... each time different images... the last one being a focus on scary or ugly fairies. Even then the fairy they chose as the most fairy like was often because it was "beautiful".
When I asked what they meant by "beautiful" I was given the answer... "beautiful is that what I like"
Which opens up a whole new way of understanding children's concept of beauty...
I am now eager to explore...
is it beautiful because they like it
or do they like it because it is beautiful?
I am leaning towards the first option, due to how the children have been reacting to the images... But will stay open to see what happens...

This coming Friday we will celebrate... and the weather looks like it will be on our side... and we will be out in the forest... with wand making, potion making, painting on a plastic easel between trees, dancing, drinking fairy tea, fairy face painting (we let the children paint themselves)...

If you want to join in the fun and imagination... and a way to explore the world in a new way... what is real, what is pretend
"It is real by pretend" one of my children once said...
Then join up by using this link
International Fairy Tea Party
and sign up by writing your name (setting name, school name, family name or fairy tea party name) and your location... it is enough with the town, street etc is not necessary... then I will add you to the fairy map...
Then after you have celebrated please add a photo or two of your celebration... if you do not want to share images of your children, then please share an image of the set up or the aftermath... this is so that children can look at the images afterwards and se similarities and differences in their play around the world... it allows the children to come closer to other children in the world...

Of course I realise that a Friday might not be the best day for everyone... so if Thursday or Saturday is a better day, then please do play and imagine then instead... the idea is we share our play during the week of the equinox.








Sunday, 11 September 2016

Professional Development of the Third Teacher. 4

This last week we have started to collect data on how our space is being used.
The information will then be analysed in many different ways to support us in our development of the third teacher...

Of course this is a little extra... and we have not bee totally efficient at collecting the data... we are not in the habit of doing it...

So instead of two weeks, we will collect for three weeks... and see this incomplete first week as a test run...
Only two complete days were completed. Two partial day and one day without any data collection. But it has been a week with staff illness... so this could have affected the outcome of data collection efficiency. The children should always come first.

This is a floor plan of the preschool - it also includes a small amount of space that is not ours for play, but an entrance hall for us AND the boxing club that is above us...
But basically the idea is that four times a day... at specific times (times we have talked about as "problem" times... as in what are the children doing where are the staff kind of thing) - so writing up our times is of no benefit for anyone else... they are specific to our context...
If you are to do something similar then it is important to evaluate what times of the day do we need to learn more about?

At each time one person goes around the preschool and writes up where the children and teachers are - it takes about 5 minutes to complete.

The idea is that we can then analyse where the children and teachers are... by age, by gender by group... as all the times chosen are times when all the children in the preschool have access to the whole setting (and not times when we are working/playing in our groups - which is between 9 and 12).

We can see if any areas are frequented by certain children... is it because it is too noisy, or not interesting enough... or maybe we are not present there as teachers enough.

We want to be able to provide experiences for all the children in all areas, regardless of gender, age or personality type etc.

We can also see if any area is more popular than another... are there enough educators in that area?

Since we have not yet finished collecting the data yet, I cannot make a comment about how I think it will go... as I want to remain as open as possible to the results. Although of course that is almost impossible to do. I do not feel like we have a problem with the fact that boys or girls dominate a specific area, or that the youngest children do not have access to the whole preschool... but I do want to be open to the fact that this data collection could tell me there is a problem...

So by the end of September we will be able to start analysing the data... I am very much looking forward to that.

it might be that this is not the best way to collect data... but that is something we will learn in the process. We might learn that the time span is too short... and that we need to do a longer study. Thisis all part of OUR learning journey as educators - so that we can become better at adapting the indoor environment to meet the needs of the children... their need to play, their need to learn, their need to explore, their need to interact with the setting, each other, themselves and the world... as well as with us...



Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Rhythm of Learning

I have been thinking over the last week or so about how we use philosophy in our work with preschoolers...  the philosophy that we are doing NEEDS to be meaningful, needs to be a part of what we are doing and not a stand alone thing... a space/time for the children to learn to think deeper, reflect as a community, learn to ask each other questions, and challenge in a respectful way... not to learn how to have a philosophical dialogue...

Over the years working at Filosofiska I have been testing out different ways of being philosophical with the children... not learning about Plato, Socrates etc... but more of a sustained shared thinking. There is a structure to support the dialogue, it's a framework to support the children to learn to listen to each other, also to challenge each other's thinking in a respectful way, and to become more precise in explaining your own theories and ideas to others...



the fact that I am Malaguzzi inspired means that I want to explore being philosophical with the children in many different ways... through all our learning and expressive languages. Its also needs to be done with joy and should be a meaningful part of our experience together at preschool.

For some reason there can be an apprehension about "doing" philosophy with children... and maybe it is that word "doing"... the idea that it can be done right or done wrong... and there are methods out there that are VERY specific in how you should be doing philosophy with children... eg Socratic Dialogue method and P4C (Philosophy for Children) - and even within these two methods there seem to be different schools of thought... I have done quite a few courses over the years with various amazing educators, as well as meeting others to talk about philosophy with children... I have seen that there can be quite an enormous span between how one person has interpreted Matthew Lipman and how another person has interpreted it.. 

For me, as a pedagogue inspired by Malaguzzi, I like to take the bits that suit me, the children and my context and mash them together with my own thoughts and theories to create something unique and appropriate to my preschoolers... this means that it is an ever evolving process... as I learn more, not only from research and methods, but also from the children, with the children and about myself....

But that problem about not doing it right... how to get over it?
Well the more that I have reflected over it the more I realise it is about letting go... about daring to test, daring to be wrong and learning from mistakes... it's not about learning through theory (even though that is important) as theory can only take you so far... you have to learn by doing... through practice and reflection and tweaking and more practice.



Its all about daring to communicate with the children, about being ONE with them, about learning to really listen, to reflect on how you ask questions, on your own tone of voice, on your choice of words, on how invested you are in the subject... the willingness to learn more about yourself... and not just do things for the children...
I think when you work WITH children there is always a sense of abandon... you have to accept a different rhythm and learn to dance and sing and express yourself to that... and there are many rhythms to learn... the individual ones and the group one, the project one and the collegial one... and I feel there are too many that are always marching to their own rhythm and not prepared to move to another... if you know what I mean... there are plenty of educators .. that will feel the rhythm and can move to it... its just within most preschools I have ever worked (and schools) there has been a bigger percentage of adults that are not prepared to truly let go..
This does not mean that I am not aware of the power that I hold as an adult in the group... being aware of it helps me to make sure I do not abuse it. Its is about balance... about listening to the many rhythms, being aware of my own rhythm and then creating a musical score... an album... where all these rhythms can feature.



I do not strive to be a friend to my preschoolers (or students when I worked in school) but to be their educator... and to be good at that... to be what they need me to be to be able to learn... yes supportive, but not as a friend, as an educator... I need to be able to direct the music to create a kind of harmony... I need to be able to listen to the children, to the setting, to the learning and ensure that all voices, all rhythms are being heard... not just by me, but by each other too, and also by the parents and society.

I have been reflecting on Play for Peace all year. I feel that using philosophy with children as a natural part of their play and learning gives them the tools to truly listen to each other which makes their play deeper and more meaningful... and also gives the ability to resolve their differences in respectful ways...
Of course children are children/people and things get heated sometimes... but the philosophy with children sessions also enable me as the educator to be better at listening to what is really going on, and to be able to intervene with questions and support, as a facilitator that allows the children to find the answers, rather than coming in as the "all-knowing adult".

I look forward to keep on evolving as an educator.



Professional Development of the Third Teacher. 3

Its been interesting to have been away from the preschool for a couple of weeks and to return to it again with eyes that have been exposed to settings in Canada.

I can very much see our "Swedishness" in the rooms. Which is a good thing. We should reflect our own context.

For me the biggest difference between the Canadian settings and my own setting is the fact the space is used differently in the sense that we have chosen not to have a room for each age group where each room is then divided into areas of rooms within rooms, but that the whole preschool is available to all the children, resulting in a large atelier, a large construction area etc... I feel in this way there is more space to play... especially for space to spread out the play on the floor.

On Monday we visited Ekudden preschool in Uppsala... this was my third visit, but the first time for my colleagues. It also has that Swedish feel... I have sat here paused for a while trying to work out what that means exactly... and realised that in Canada there seemed to be so much on the walls that was not about the children and their learning but all about HAVING to have that stuff there due to regulations. For me it was visual clutter... but of course they have no choice... this is their context.


Third teacher needs to give space for children's play.. like we as teachers 

need to be quiet for the voice of the child to be heard.



Due to sickness this post has been on hold for an extra week, which has meant that I have watched the third teacher interact with the children for a little longer and there have been further reflections... but it also means there is more distance between now and my visits to both Canada and Uppsala. Although the impact of these visits have not diminished in any way. BUT to sit here and write this post, without dipping into my notes from the visit... something I like to do... to let the most prominent memories step forward... I realise that SMELL had an enormous impact on me.

I think preschool's do tend to have a special sort of smell... all those children together... the smell of nappies, the smell of childhood, the smell of play, the smell of cleaning, the smell of food, the smell of activities...
Smell is an important part of our memory trigger... it is also an important part of belonging (social bonding)... after all each home has its own smell too... smell can trigger strong emotional responses - where it is not just a case of a smell being pleasant or unpleasant but the experience connected to a particular smell.

"The one trillion is probably an underestimation of the true number of smells we can detect, said Vosshall, because there are far more than 128 different types of odor molecules in the world. 

No longer should humans be considered poor smellers. In fact, new research suggests that your nose can outperform your eyes and ears, which can discriminate between several million colors and about half a million tones. “It’s time to give our sense of smell the recognition it deserves,” said Vosshall." brainfacts.org

 Over the years I have visited many preschools... some have stood out due to their smell... and I think if we are concerned about creating space for the children we also need to do this with smell... some places I have found the smell to be overpowering... it did not smell like children and play or food. Some places have not worked out how to deal with the nappy changing/potty/toileting situation so that the smell does not over-power the setting.... it simply smells of old nappies/daipers. For me that got in the way, and I can't imagine how that can be an acceptable odour to play in.
In other places they have used artificial smells to make the preschool smell better... for me this was overwhelming too... how are the children to make their connection to each other, through smell, to smell the wood of toys, or the waft of food coming form the kitchen. Sometimes that smell is so strong that it is overwhelming... but that can be just me too... smell is a very sensitive area... people wearing perfume are headache inducing, or can totally throw me off my game/my train of thoughts. But I am positive that I am not alone with my sensitivity with smell... and if we are subjecting strong smells into a preschool how are we making the space inclusive for everyone?

I enjoy adding odours to activities... creating fragrant play-doh, adding spices and scents to paint etc... but only to add odour to the activity... not to fill the room with smell, but to stimulate the more of our senses... so that there is space for the odour stimulation, but also space to move away from it.

Food smells can fill a room... baking is a wonderful smell (although I can understand that maybe for some even this could be connected with negative emotions)... but food is seldom a day long olfactory stimulation... it is there during the food making and the food eating.


Once my sense of smell has returned (after the children have shared their delightful snottiness with me)... I am keen to explore this more at my own setting... how can we enable scent to stimulate the children and their learning without overpowering them?

Here are a few photos and comments from the last few weeks...

the drawing/writing area has a board for the children to attach their work themselves. At the moment I am trying to wrap my head around how can we make this aesthetic as well as handing it over to the children... or do we learn to adapt a new aesthetic through the eyes of the children? That there is beauty in the randomness of how they put up their drawings? I will take images of this space regularly... do the children stop putting up images, do they rotate them... or do we as teachers need to help them out with this more actively?

the fairy house for Pommitt has taken a whole table... and often it looks like a jumble of things that are being re-arranged. Again there might be that need to step back and let the beauty of the children's construction re-new our idea of what is beautiful, but at them same time we need to keep an eye on how this space is allowing children to maintain their creativity. How easy is it to keep adding on and re-designing? Or should we tidy up and sort and let the build start afresh? This has now been here for 2 weeks, adapting slightly over time.

I am all for mess... I think it is not important to keep the preschool immaculate... there needs to be space for a creativity that is not tidy. BUT I do think that at the end of the day we should clean up... not only so that the space is inviting for the children the next day, but also for safety. Sometimes the floor can get slippery with sand, flour, beads etc on the floor.
This is something we have talked about as a team... and we also want the children to be a part of this... not to simply tidy up, but to be a part of the process of preparing the space for play for others...