Saturday, 31 May 2014

8 days left...

I can hardly believe it... just 8 days left of #Blogg100 - despite doubts of not wanting to continue I am just about there... and I am so looking forward to not "HAVE" to write everyday. I guess, though that I will miss it too. But probably not that much.

It has been interesting because I really have not lacked things to write about... but there again I have an amazing job where so much happens all the time, and there is always something new to learn and discover.

What I am looking forward to is having more time to check other blogs... yes it has been a fun experiment... although I am not sure that it has helped me connect with other Swedish bloggers as I would have hoped - at the same time it has given me little time to explore the other blogs participating, (I managed a few) so I guess they have experienced the same problem...

Anyway I am going to keep this post short and sweet - and no time for photos either... I want to order some books (when I have time to read all these books properly, I don't know - but I like to use books as referneces, picking them up, reading something relevant, picking up another to read another view on the same thing... so I sort of read 10 books at a time in pieces)

So until tomorrow...


might have time to make one of these tomorrow!!


Friday, 30 May 2014

Outdoor action art...

On National Preschool Day we took the art out... a continuation of Together Paintings, a continuation of the art from last year's National Preschool Day where we created art with coloured ice, and a continuation of projects done by the various groups... hands, birds and Together on the Square - the paint flying onto the paper was supposed to be the bird part of the art, but as it was rather windy that day it made controlling the paint very difficult, as the paint flew everywhere... so something to save for a less windy day...

BUT there was plenty of action even if the children were not squeezing the paint onto the paper themselves...

the idea was for the childrento dip their hands into the paints on the paper, to mix and blend and then create handprints on the cloth... of course this would create many artworks... on the paper and on the cloth as well as on hands...
handprint making
and then the chance to inspect what has happened to your hands...


of course not everyone likes to get their hands messy, and the brushes being used for water painting on the square found their way to the paint...


shoes were also used


and bikes too... so of course the wheels became small works of art as well... at this point the cloth had bee taken inside as the outdoor hands-on exhibition was coming to a close.





Thursday, 29 May 2014

Thinking about the competent child again...

Looking in several dictionaries... they all said that...
Competent means
sufficiently qualified, capable, efficient - having ability or capacity
Etymology- from Websters Revised Unabridged Dictionary -
"to strive after together, to agree with; hence, to be fit. See compete"
from Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
"to seek, to strive after"

"Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. "Leadership qualities" are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders. "
~John Holt~ Teach Your Own
 
So as a  teacher if I am not helping the child to become self-sufficient then I am not doing my job properly... 
I do not think that means that I should let them do everything themselves, but giving them the opportunity to learn so that they are capable... is allowing them to take too much food so that more than half a plate of food is wasted every day a way of teaching them to be competent? Or do we need to intervene and show them how to take an aoppropriate amount of food, and if still hungry to take a little more? I feel that sometimes there is a confusion between allowing children to be competent and allowing children to do everything themselves... we would never let someone get into a car believing in their competence to drive... they are required to pratice and prove their competence first - they are driven around from place to place until they have that competence... the same for doctors, teachers - for just about all professions - there is a requirement that competence is proved before we allow them to get on with their work...
Why?
Why is there this difference between children and adults?
I am by no means saying that we should be doing everything for the children, but maybe we should be enabling them... before giving them tasks that maybe they are not physically/socially/emotionally prepared for .. because as Dr Laura Markham writes
"Rescuing children can prevent them from learning important lessons. But research shows that children who see their parents stand by and let them fail experience that as not being loved. Instead of learning the lesson that they should have practiced that clarinet, or read the directions on that science kit, they learn the lesson that they are failures, that they cannot manage themselves, and that their parents did not care enough to help them not be failures or teach them to manage themselves."

So how does that relate to the plate of food or preschoolers in general... should we allow children to make the same mistake over and over and over again... because serving themself makes them competent... should they be allowed to think it is OK to waste food in this way? Is it Ok that they fill their plates with food they are not keen on because they like the senstation of pouring and serving themselves, depriving the other children who DO like the food from eating as much as they would like? OR could we provide these children with the need to pout and serve play opportunities to pour and pour to their hearts content so that when it comes to food they DO have the competence to make the decision about how much food they want to eat and take an appropriate portion, rather than focus on the wonderful sensation of pouring?

Does the action of small children serving themselves make them competent... or is it the opportunity to be able to do this that allows them to be competent... afterall taking a portion yourself requires understanding how hungry you are and taking the appropriate amount of food, it requires an understanding of what foods taste like and understanding that sometimes a very small portion of something new can be a good idea to test whether or not you like it (the number of times I have seen children not able to eat any of their food on the plate because they have put too much of something they really don't like on their plate smothering everything they usually like), it requires hand strength, it requires hand and eye coordination, it requires an understanding of mathematics and how the food can be shared between everyone on the table, it requires empathy so that food is shared fairly (and that does not mean that everyone gets the same amount, but everyone gets what they need - and that is advanced thinking indeed)... serving food offers a great amount of learning opportunities... so I am all for it... but not to expose the children to making the same mistake EVERY SINGLE TIME, and there are no problems with mistakes, mistakes are there for learning, but if there is no learning happening then there has been a stage missed somewhere. I think it then means we have to back a step or two and allow the child/ren to develop the skills required, at their pace, and through play. Through sharing games, the pouring games, through tasting games - through a whole variety of play and learning opportunities we can allow the child to be competent - to be "sufficiently qualified, capable, to have the ability".
I believe in the competent child... but I do not believe that we help children to swim by throwing them in the deep end... I want them to feel confident, to explore and play before THEY feel ready to swim in the deep end.

"Modern children were considerably less innocent than parents and the larger society supposed, and postmodern children are less competent than their parents and the society as a whole would like to believe. . . . The perception of childhood competence has shifted much of the responsibility for child protection and security from parents and society to children themselves". David Elkind

So what does this mean? For me it means that maybe in our efforts to see the child as competent we are forgetting that we still need to scaffold them... the children learn with us and that we should not be afraid of our role supporting the children... we have to find a balance, which will be unique for each child, and for each group, where they get the support they need as well as the space, opportunities and time they need to develop the skills they need to try everything out themselves... to make mistakes and learn from them... and that if they are not learning from mistakes to not let them stay there but to work on what is it they need to move forward in their own development...

David Elkind writes in "Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk" that without giving the children time to reflect and talk about their experiences that they are unlikely to learn from them... how often do teachers take the time to talk about lunch time and snack time experiences and serving food themselves...? Are they being given the time to reflect on what they are doing? Are we just expecting them to be competent by letting them serve themselves, expecting them to learn everything through just doing? Is it not possible for a child to learn by watching an adult too, so that they can see what an appropriate portion looks like so that they can then give it a go themselves? The appropriate portion being based on the adults knowledge of how much the child eats and what the child likes to eat...



He also writes that young children do not retain skills in the same ways as older children and adults, and that teachers of young children should be looking out for children's welfare as this is something that young children cannot do for themselves... I interpret this as that there are skills that they are going to not master until later so adult support is important to ensure that the children never feel like failures, that they are not exposed to doing things outside of their capabilities, with the understanding that they have the potential to to all of this, and that each child is unique and will develop the skills to complete tasks at different times in their lives.
As Laura Markham writes it is important that we focus on the process and their enthusiasm for learning... and to support the children... this though I do not think means that we let children do anything they want to ensure that their enthusiasm is maintained... for example when the children at my work start blowing bubbles in their drinks at lunch I make sure that the afternoon is filled with bubbles blowing exploration fun and play so that they have the opportunity to explore the science and social interaction and motor skills of bubble blowing - while also allowing them to focus on eating their food at lunch... because for some children they get so distracted by the bubble blowing that they are unable to eat, and I know that later they are going to regret that decision of not eating as their hunger makes them more irritable than usual... so for the sake of the children's well-being I will restrict exploration at lunch and move it to a more appropriate time where they are able to explore more fully... just as I would provide pouring fun opportunities for children who simply like to pour and not eat/drink what they serve themselves...

The competent child...

defining what that means... not just for me, but for everyone, so that we can all talk about the same thing... not that I am writing here the definition, but simply my (current) definition so that when other talk with me, you have a better understanding of what I mean when I say competent child... so that there is the opportuntiy to listen to other defintions and not just talk about the competent child thinking that we are talking about the same thing...

I do believe in the competent child. I believe that my role as teacher and care-giver is important to find the balance between support and letting the children children work it out for themselves... scaffolding
getting to know each child to understand what they skills they have and what they are already capable of, and what skills I can provide opportunities for them to learn, discover and acquire so that they become more cabale and can exercise more autonomy over their lives.
This is not the first time writing about "The Competent Child" and exploring what It means, and I doubt it will be the last either... but there are now 60 posts dedicated to the competent child... check them out if you have the time and desire to find out more about the competent child through my eyes!!


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Let there be light

Sometimes the simplest of things can really transform the play.
The magnetic tiles are well liked and well used... and by adding just three submersible battery t-lights the children started to extend their play and explore ideas within their play...

the changing of colours,
the positioning of lights on vehicles
that light has a shape which can change as you move it... and looks different on a mat than on the floor
lighting up the inside of the houses to turn it into "Christmas"

Ropes of lights are fun too... but the t-lights enable so much more mobility into the play... oh yeah and putting a t-light inside a curler made a great chimney, especially with a pink drawer-knob on the top!!


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Dinosaurs and fossils... life and death

This morning we started the day off with images projected onto the wall of dinosaurs, skeletons, fossils of dinosaurs and their footprints. The children talked about what they saw and discussed with each other about whether or not theu agreed with each other, and why they did or did not... suggestions were made that they were dragons and lizards, that they could be found on the other side of the wall they were projected on and be eating children there (no it can't a skeleton can't move or eat - and a discussion about whether or not a skeleton could move or not, and what ideas they had about this... lots of interesting ideas... but I would like to try and experiment with a different wall to project on so that the children can go to the other side and see if there is a dinosaur there if one is projected on the wall). There was talk about dinosaurs being alive, and being dead, being long ago and living now - having long necks so that they could reach airplanes...
We have plenty of fuel to move forwards with...

In the afternoon we used some white air-drying clay to make some home-made fossils... either a head, or fottprints, or a tail... four children tried this out today in the short time between waking up from rest and naps and snack being served... three sets of footprints (3 different dinosaurs) and a head (the same as one of the footprints). My son has been kind enough to lend me his dinosaurs for the project... and they are being much appreciated by the children.

We also had time for some small-world dinosaur play - where the dinosaurs kept dying and turning into skeletons and then coming back to life again... some got buried in the sand, others received elaborate graves...
applying great pressure and concentration to create footprints in the clay.

Triceratops footprints

Triceratops head

small world play - real fossils being a part of the play...


Monday, 26 May 2014

Dinosaur shadows...

Today we started the dinosaur project... or at least what could devlop into a project... the interest is there... we will see if it develops... and it links in with death, something that has been pre-occupying the children's play for the last few weeks... so hopefully we can meet two interests at the same time...

We explored shadows... using dinosaurs figures and the overhead... there was lots of energy - and we were joined by the same age-group from Filosofiska's sibling preschool in Skarpnäck... so it was double the fun. Most of these photographs come from the short time Vinden children explored the shadows by themselves. Once there were 18 children in the room it was much busier and harder to focus on the stories of the children's learning... it was an experience of children meeting each other and exploring the shadows together... which sometimes meant that a child blocked all light in their discoveries right as I took a photo...
BUT the photos are there to serve as a memory of the learning, exploration and the meeting of these two groups... not as being amazing images that stand as works of art... but sometimes I do think that photographs are very special and beautiful (but maybe that is because I feel the story behind the photo too?)

is there anyone who is as big as this dinosaur... exploring size (moving the dinsoaurs closer to the wall, they discovered created a smaller shadow)

climbing on to the back of the dinosaur (which was making noises very much like a horse)

playing on the OH surface - dinosaurs interacting with each other, children watching how their dinosaur created shadows... and placing on the OH did not gurantee you kew exactly whwre on the wall the shadow would fall... especially as the light fell on the floor and the roof!

creating dinosaur shaped shadows with their own bodies...
more dino inspiration outside

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Snail park again

On Thursday the Snail Park got a bit of a make-over... I noticed it when I was out on my break and when I went back in, asked the children if they wanted to go out and meet the gardener... afterall we spend so much time in this small space of green life nature that missing the opportunity to see the process of change in action would be almost criminal.

The children were eager to go out and see and meet the gardener... they were amazed about how much the snail park had been cut back, and the piles of "weeds" on the pathways... they looked carefully to see if the snails were OK... and we saw a few quickly and there was a sigh of relief.

We talked briefly to the gardener... I realised that this was not a man with great enthusiasm for this patch of green... he found it troublesome and full of weeds... I tried to share our joy at the wonder and beauty the children and myself have experienced in the Snail Park... but I feel it fell on deaf ears...

Maybe a small book full of the children's joys here might help him see the glory of this space? Because visiting and tending to the garden a few times of the year means he is foucssing on the negatives and not on the wonders...


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Dandelion Death

Death...

maybe not always the most comfortable of topics to talk about, but it has been on the minds of the children for quite some time now. And really peaked when one of the inhabitants in the sheltered housing died not so long ago... a person who always waved, always interacted with the children - and was probably very much a part of the children's daily routine as lunch and rest is.

The children have been playing death

Yesterday two of the children "killed" me and I lay on the floor dead. I wondered what would happen if I played dead for longer than they expected (being careful to listen out for any stress). One of the children kept hitting me (not so hard - but on occasions a bit too hard) and the other kept telling them to stop that it would hurt me... after a while the other child answered "but it won't hurt, because she is dead"

They tried to work out if I was really dead and decided that they should listen for a heart beat. They lifted up my top looked at my stomache and said "no, no heart beat" - then decided that maybe they should listen. They put their head to my lower right rib cage and came to the conclusion that I was dead... they could not hear my heart.

Then, they realised they needed to bring me back to life, and since they magicked me dead, they tried to magic me alive. I let the first spell not work. Not deterred they tried another spell, which was interrupted as the other child did not think it was going to work... and the third spell worked... I opened my eyes and the children laughed... including a few more who had come to see what was happening. Within 30 seconds of being alive I was killed again... this time they were quicker to magic me back to life... where I put on my magic shield so that I could not be killed again by their spells.

A few minutes later one of the children came over to me and asked if I had really been dead
"No" I answered "I was playing dead"
"Oh you were dead for real - I put a spell on you"

Later in the morning we took our dead dandelions to the graveyard - to spead those that had gone to seed (flying like small angels) and lay to rest the stalks... the children then played a game of putting dead spells on each other and then bringing each other back to life. The graveyard is a huge forested graveyard with lots of green areas... the area we used is visible from the entrance of our preschool.

The children are taught respect for the graves that are there... they also learn that you do not die in a graveyard, but that it is a place for those AFTER death... before visiting the graveyard (we have done several times over the year) most children were a little afraid because they understood the connection of the place with death as the place where you die... so we have helped the children overcome this fear).


Next week there will be a mini-dinosaur project (how it will develop I do not know) - partly as several of the children were expressing their interest in dinosaurs and the other children said they would also like to find out more... and partly because I see this as an excellent way to explore death some more... the dinosaurs are dead, there are just fossils left... how will the children react to this?


Friday, 23 May 2014

reading stories

Sometimes the best thing to do is to just hand over the book and let one of the children read for the group.. especially a book that we have not read since last term... a book that the children knew inside out last term... but now required more interpretation of the pictures to be able to tell the story... with the occasional line being totally intact (and not always the line you expect either) - and the best part is seeing yourself in the children, seeing my deliveries and my enthusiasm for stories being captured, and interpreted by the children "reading" for their peers. It was a humbling experience.



But my favourite part is when children look at the pictures and interpret them totally their own way... I am, secretly laughing at the funny but logical connections, but glowing with pride , that the children don't feel inhibited by not knowing the story, but can create their own... and when you get to this page (below) and look at the picture of Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson I bet you never expected that "...and then her legs were magicked away... "where are my legs, they have gone?"" would be what you get to hear. It took me totally by surprise but made perfect sense...




A bit like yesterday when we were rhyming with names... not with real words, just rhyming for fun... and I told them how at another prechool the children rhymed my name Suzanne with Lasagne (no "e" sound at the end in Swedish) -
Suzanne-lasagne
the next thing I knew was one of the children rhymed his friend's name with "meat"
name - "meat"
- of course it didn't rhyme at all... but he had made the food connection.... it was one of the highlights of my day.... and yesterday had quite a few highlights!!

I love how children can make connections that we forget to make. I hope I stay open to them and get to share them and never lose that ability to see life from many perspectives... (and hopefully get to learn many more perspectives on the way)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Perspectives... art and philosophy, life and philosophy

Yesterday as we were walking past the horse sculpture I made the comment that it was broken... from the angle we were at it looked like a leg had snapped off... but when we came closer we sw that it was not broken but just folded underneath the horse... it got us thinking about how things look different depending on where you were standing... I asked the children if they were interested in returning to draw pictures of the horse sculpture... this was positively met by all the children...

Today we returned to the horse armed with pencils, paper and a watermelon picnic.

We began the session by standing around the horse and atlking about what we could see...

On one side you could see all four legs, from the other, just the one that was up in the air (the horse is lying down) - only some of the children could see the tail, and not all of the children could see the eyes...

What was interesting that for some of the children when I asked how many legs the could see automatically answered four - so I had to repeat - How many legs can you SEE, not how many legs does a horse have... this turned out to be tricky for a couple of the children who instead of observing just picked out the number four from their knowledge bank of horses. (Which makes me realise that we need to practice this skill of observing so much more)

The children were then asked to walk around the horse until they found an angle they felt happy drawing... each child found a spot quickly and with ease.

The drawing session did not last long (and for some was VERY quick) - some really enjoyed the challenge of looking closely and capturing it on paper... others just liked to doodle.



Afterwards we ate the watermelon and then went onto one of the local playspaces. There I was totally amazed by how the children had come up with a new strategy to use the zipline (as you know I don't help the children much more than encouragement and ensuring safety) - last week they struggled and struggled trying to get the zipline up so that they could ride it... Today they used a totally different technique - and it worked - they could play TOGETHER with the zipline. (apparently earlier in the week when I was sick the children had watched some older children use the zipline and seen how they solved the problem of getting the line to the starting point). Obviously their observations skills are working fine in this area of their learning!!


In the afternoon one of the children challenged the fact that the teachers had (birthday) cake in the staff room (they saw it) when the children are not allowed cake and sweeties at preschool. I asked if they would like to discuss that together... and they did... so we sat down and took it philosophically...

"Why are adults allowed to eat sweets and cake at preschool and children are not?" (thinking pause)

O - because of... when teachers say that one can't eat sweets... sometimes adults give sweets to the teachers and don't know that sweets are not allowed.
(does everyone understand what she means? - half nod, half shale their head)
S - she means that only adults can eat chewing gum, sweets and ice-cream - and the others want to eat sweets
(is this what you meant? - shakes head)
A - she means because adults are allowed to eat sugar
(O shakes her head again)
O - I mean that preschool teachers say that we cannot have sweets and cake at preschool, and then comes people that give them sweets and cake - maybe they don't know the rule or something. Then the teachers should say stop or something - or ask the children if they want some.
(does everyone agree - all do except for one child - why don't you agree?)
Sa - because.... I don't know
O - I think it is mean
(we talk about what does the word mean ("taskigt")  mean and if everyone was in agreement... everyone was)

"Why do you think the adults do not offer you sweets at preschool?" (thinking pause)
Sv - because then - because one is allergic and then you can't eat
Sa - but I am not allergic to sweets actually
S - me neither
(no-one was allergic to sweets it turned out. Sv looked sad... you came up with a thought which we have explored... its good to have ideas and to think about them - Sv looked satisfied - we returned to the question... was there another reason?)
A - because we don't eat sugar, because schools don't eat sugar
O - why can't we eat healthy things that have a little bit of sugar in them?
D - (talked in a mix of three languages, Swedish, her native tongue and probably some made up... it was beyond my translation skills today - so I asked (rather nervously) is anyone else could explain what she meant)
O - I think that she said ornage - and that she thinks that there should not be so many sweets - and that its just that way
(is that what you mean... D nods with great satisfaction, O grows three sizes bigger with pride for understanding)

At this point I ask if the children would like to continue the dialogue another day... as I start to see restlessness. I had been "tough" with the children keeping them to topic, interrupting when they started to talking about something else, saying I would listen to that later, but for now we were exploring these questions... I also insisted that the children talk to each other and not to me - this made a HUGE difference for a few of the children who really directed their words to their peers, rather than me.

In the afternoon we went back outside into the sunshine and I got to see the delight of a one year old (non walker) exploring sand - and the beauty of being quiet and just watching the very many different ways that it could be picked up, held, squuezed, run through fingers under close observation

the one year old exploration of sand can teach you many things...
to see the complexity of sand... the many coloured individual grains...
the speed sand can fall depending on the angle of the hand...
the temperature of the sand depending on the weather (today it was lovely and warm)
can it be squeezed and made smaller?
and why does it stick to fingers covered in drool?
Slow careful observations by child and teacher...

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Indoor mini-beach

When the weather is warm and summery outside it also inspires play inside... a very mini-beach was created today.
glass to create the see... lots of shells and stones and even bits of coral that had been washed up on the beach in Australia (I "make" my husband collect things when he is away on conferences)

the children wanted more and more, so we started checking all the loose parts for more...


and the sea smooth glass from Canada got put to good use... after all it was all found on a beach!!

I am wondering what will happen with this now... will the children just leave it? Will they want to re-arrange it? Is it a good idea to put some animals in a basket next to it - or should I wait a bit before then to see if they make their own connections?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Canadian Light...

How to start sharing the images from my trip to Cananda... there are so many, and they all tell very different stories... and sometimes there is frustration because when I look at the photograph it does not tell the story I thought it was going to... or I have not taken photographs of my experience as I was too involved to think about documenting it... but here comes a start... focussing on light from all the places I visited...
Acorn School.
The Lab School at Seneca College.
Thornwood School Kindergarten Class

There is a huge thank you to all of those who warmly welcomed me to their settings and allowed me to learn and be inspired.

So I will let the photos do the talking... (grouped by setting)

light from the airplane... Toronto below ... maybe the ultimate light-table?

messing about with light at Thornwood - the empty plastic box for the mood cubes on the overhead

mirrors - how many, what position and how can this add to the experience?

mood cubes... these were bought from a dollar shop in Canada (I am already trying to keep calm at the prospect of living a month in Boulder, Colorado during summer with access to a dollar shop there... I mean getting resources that cheap here in Sweden is something I am still searching for) it was interesting watching many cubes together and seeing if the colours were ever the same at the same time...

more dollar shop finds on the overhead... looking for interesting shadow on the wall

adding torches to plasticine play allows another way of looking and exploring

materials on the lighttable at Acorn School.
more loose parts - transparent and mirrors

loose parts... sea göass, stones and agate (did you know that if you angle agate right on a Overhead that you can create a rainbow prism - see if you can... I could at least...)
more loose parts for lighttable and overhead


usinf light as part of the documentation display

a documentation of children playing in a fish-light bathed room at Seneca Lab School... for a more atmospheric fishing experience...


links....
Laurel Fynes blog "This Kindergarten Life" (Thornwood)
Facebook page of Acorn School
I found no great link to the Lab School that would let you see more images and be further inspired... the information was writen only and directed for parents and students...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Through the Eyes of the Child online Gallery

I have created an online gallery for Through the Eyes of the Child photographic project...

Here is a link to all my previous posts connected to the project Through the Eyes of a Child on Interaction Imagination

On the new gallery website there are links to register and also the e-mail of where to send your photographs and text if you choose to participate.

The project has been a bit slower than expected due to the technical side of things not quite flowing as hoped... so now I have created this website to ensure that soemthing happens this year... and the orginal website will continue to develop and will hopefully be up and running for a more time-limited photo project next year.

Projects like these are process... big fat learning processes for everyone einvlbved... myself included... and creating a website gallery was fun, and it was a first... but I was itching to give it a go as well, as I am interested in documenting a project this way in the future... as a way for children to interact with the project at home, to deepen their understanding, support their language and communication skills by sharing their days with their parents...

Vinden's photograph of the project is at work... and as I am off sick with fever and sore throat it will be first Wednesday at the earliest before I can get that photo uploaded...

So why not take the time to check out the project... and see if it is something you want to do... as it will be up and running until December 20th 2014... plenty of time...


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Day Two of Philosophy

A slightly shorter day... but still a full on mind-extending experience...

Today we talked about how strict Bo had been yesterday, and the learning experience we had from that. That even though it made us feel uncomfortable (which was the aim, to push us out of our comfort zone) we were grateful of the learning experience... and of course that this strictness is not something that would be done with children.... but the discomfort we experienced could be the same kind of discomfort children experience when they have their thinking pushed/challenged. I think it is healthy that we also are reminded of how this discomfort actually feels...

The work of Sara Stanley was shared with the group and her use of story books as a opening for philosophical exploration with children. Last Tuesday I participated in a twitterchat lead by Sara via #EYtalking on the topic of Philosophical Play, that was intensive and rewarding. And there are plans in the works for Sara to come and visit us at Filosofiska - which we are all very excited about...
I recommend that you go to her website (using the link on her name) and check it out for some philosophical inspiration.

To give my brain a chance to rest I will end this post with just a few quotes from today...


Lipman - philosophy is to teach children to fight with words rather than fists

philosophy - it is not about winning but about building bridges

If we teach children to think we also create problems for ourselves... as they will start to challenge you

There is a difference between acceptable and unacceptable discomfort.

Children are not in school/preschool of their own free will (how will this affect how engaged they are/react to what we as teachers say/decide/arrange?)

Philosophy with children needs rules just as playing a game needs rules.

Does the size of the group affect how children participate/prioritise their thoughts?

The question board... today we watched a film about The Question Board from Sara Stanley, where parents and children went to the board and the children put their name on their decision (these were colour coded, and to help children remember later they took a piece of paper of the colour that they chose to aid the discussion later) When I was in Laurel Fynes classroon in Canada I got see a question board in action... this time it was the children helping and discussing with each other about their choices... those who could read helped out those children who could not. The children picked up their lid with a magnet on the back and a photo and their name on the front and placed it under the word they agreed with. The questions came from the children.... and on the board (just off shot to the left) children could write their questions to save for another day to be used on the Question Board.

I did not go deeper into how these question boards were used in Laurel's classroom... there was so much to see, to experience, to learn and to be inspired by, that the few hours I was there was too short to be able to soak up the wealth of inspiration on a deeper level. I rather hope that Laurel might add a comment here and share some more wisdom with us all. Laurel has a blog that is worth checking out... This Kindergarten Life.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Philosophy for children course... day 1

Today was a full day of deepening our understanding of philosophy for/with children with Beate Børresen and Bo Malmhester...

I have been given the chance to think and reflect... hear phrases that have helped in my own reflection process and had my thoughts challenged again...

What I have come away with the most from this session is two things...

1. That we as adults/facilitators need to understand the rules/structure of philosophical dialogue so well that we can experience a creative freedom with it... just as a teacher we need to understand the curriculum so well that we can also have creative freedom... ie that we are not limited by the curriculum but supported by the curriculum.
Just as when we are learning to dance... a waltz, a tango, line-dancing etc etc in the beginning we are focussing so much on the steps, on the rhythm that we cannot have creative freedom to develop and experiment with the dance (and to also still keep its form/essence)

2. That we need to be challenged as adults with this process so that we can feel that uncertainty, the uncomfortableness of not knowing - just as the children must feel. To also feel what it is like that someone else decides over you... as Bo Malmhester was the facilitator in our dialogue... to the extent that it did not feel like a dialogue but a dictator who said how much you could talk and when you could talk and what words you should be saying...

So how is that relevant to what we are doing with children...?

Well, how do the children feel when we are facilitating the dialogue (as a philosophical dialogue is not just a conversation, it does have rules) - well today I felt frustration... for me it felt like my first ever twitterchat... where I was so enormously frustrated by the truncated sentences being used... the over-thinking for every sentence to try and get the essence of what you want to say in such a small space, the fact that you had to decipher everyone elses truncated sentences too...
Over time I have got used to this form of dialogue... but I am still not over keen on it... especially as so much is happening at the same time and that five threads flow and trying to keep to one of them all partake in all of them is mind-blowing (both good and bad) - but afterwards there is time to go back and read, and discover where the threads went and reflect and continue the threads with more considered answers , statements and questions...
Today our philsophical dialogue did not feel philosophical as I felt there was so much focus on the structure... (which is not a bad thing, it is merely a sign that there was a need for that) - one of my coleague said that it was hard because there had not been clear rules before hand about the structure... which we got ansered by Beate... that yes, they had given us the two rules...

OK, I have looked back on the two rules, which I wrote down (one given at the start of the session, the second shortly before the dialogue) - and to be honest these rules did NOT prepare us for the structure of the dialogue and the behaviour of the facilitator... again this makes me think of us as children and teacher... how hard it is to express instructions so that others do understand... especially when you yourself understand extremely well and maybe take for granted this knowledge...

Here are the rules that we were given
RULE 1: to always say when you do not understand - the language and the idea, so that there is the opportunity for explanation - since philosophy is not about being afraid of looking stupid but the path to wisdom... we cannot achieve wisdom is we are afraid of asking for clarification.
RULE 2: write a question (max 10 questions) about what has been said. And a statement.

I keep looking at those rules and try to work out how I was supposed to understand that Bo would say "just one sentence/question" and controlled the dialogue to the extent that you became afraid of talking because expressing correctly was often incorrect. That it was so controlled that ideas could not be followed up fluidly because we were continuously explaining each others sentences and questions to the extent that sometimes you did not know whose sentence was being discussed and on such a level that to be honest at times i lost total interest in the conversation and it became hard work to listen.
I really wanted to be like my son and call out "BOOORRRIIING" at parts of the conversation... not because what my colleagues had to say was boring, on the contrary there was lots of interesting things being said, but that the form/structure of the conversation was soo controlled that it did not interest me...

AND that is something new for me... that the structure of a conversation has such an impact on how we interest ourselves... and how do the children react to the dialogues we have with them?

Did the structure mean that everyone participated... well yes and no... I feel that those who usually participate in these dialogues still did the most talking... but the form did mean that those who do participate big and with lots and lots and lots of sentences learned how to curtail and how to be succinct - myself included... afterall it was why the twitter chats were so hard in the beginning because I had to focus so hard on being to the point all the time... whilst writing posts for my blogs allow me to waffle on (and on and on) - as you might well know. These posts are organic, they are my train of thoughts, and sometimes loses the "red thread" as they say here in Sweden.

Beate and Bo said that the first session is  usually the hardest, that it is a process... just like the first dance lesson is the hardest as it about counting steps and learning shapes and body positions and terminology. Just as I said in the workshop in Canada... doing philosophy with children is a process... it is not something you can do over night, it is something that has to be worked on, reflected on, challenged and worked on some more...

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow

Listening, of course came up as something we all need to be able to do to partake in a philosophical dialogue... to not be in a hurry... to not listen to answer, but to listen to understand...

before the dialogue began, one day the children explored the chairs their own way... the lighting of the candle was the start of the converation... not the arrangement of the chairs... the arrangement is to facilitate listening.

Another reflection is that by having philosophical dialogues like this with a very decided and more "powerful" facilitator (ie Bo is seen as knowing more than ourselves so we give him more power) - gives us the opportunity to "mess about" with philosophy (David Hawkins)... to be able to understand the children's processes by experiencing it ourselves. If we gain a better understanding of the feel of the process then we can attempt to apply this new knowledge to creating dialogues with the children that are better able to meet their needs...

Friday, 16 May 2014

Sunshine and tomorrow...

The delights of walking a little further afield and discvering a HUGE open space generously sprinkled with dandelions...

We have been having a no picking rule whilst at the Snail Park... as it is a garden... and also in early spring we want to give the best start to the years with access to as many flowers as possible... dandelions included...

So when we got the stray - a huge open expanse of green and gold the children were offered the opportunity to pick dandelions... as we could see the next batch were soon on their way...

(...and my daughter reflected as she looked at this photo this evening of the feeeling of magic and wonder of picking flowers ... "juts picking them... I loved it, picking picking picking... I was not so bothered about the flowers, but I LOVED to pick them")

As we took the flowers back we talked about what we would do with them... how they would die once they were picked... and one child suggested that we put them in water once back at preschool so they would not... all the children agreed that this was a good idea...

Friday I finish early... so I am not sure what the fate of the dandelions in water became... I guess I will find out on Monday...


Tomorrow will be the first day of two meeting with Beate Børrelsen and Bo Malmhester to deepen our understanding of philosophy with children...

Thursday, 15 May 2014

National Preschool Day

Just a few quick pictures from today... as it is late... I went out and have a marvelous time with a friend instead of fixing all the photos!! I have a life too! LOL

making handprints on the cloth that we made the coloured ice art at last year's National Preschool Day - I loved watching the children marvel at their handprints on the cloth and the colours on their hands.

this is how it was set up... coloured squirted onto a paper for the children to explore and get their hands covered and then create prints on the cloth... there was LOTS of action.

water beads... one child was asked by their mother "How does it feel" - "It feels REAL" was the reply. All the beads were mushed by the end of the afternoon!! And boy do they ever bounce well on concrete!!

on another table there was clay... with water next to it to wash hands... without a shadow of a doubt the water became the biggest attraction...
I had a funny feeling that the water would be a big attraction so I had come prepared with mugs and brushes for outdoor ephemeral art...

outdoor baking - playdough style...


Happt National Preschool Day... 30 years of celebrating Preschool in Sweden!!

and the art on the paper became an opportunity for decorating wheels!!


More photos and more description of our day will come tomorrow... but just had to share a few today!!