My first post...

...about Outdoor Kindergarten will actually be about how much time we've spent inside in the last two weeks, because of the extreme cold!

So what did we do with - 35 windchill day after day? We made the best of it, and enjoyed some extra centers time, more stories even than usual, and daily dance parties before lunch in an attempt to get in at least some of that physical activity that the kids are so used to!

Since we've been inside so much lately, I thought I'd take it as an opportunity to highlight some of the great learning that happens during our daily indoor period after lunch. As the students trickle in after recess, they find their name card on the table use it to “sign in” to the center of their choice. My co-teacher Miss K. and I change the centers monthly (roughly), and choose/create them based on student interests, our inquiry theme, and our targeted areas in math and literacy. This month the students can choose from the following centers: blocks, writing/drawing (where they can also cut/paste, and send “mail”), the whiteboard, playdough, library, light table, and patterning.

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We are most excited about the light table center and the patterning center, because they involve “loose parts” or open-ended “provocations” – a term/idea we’ve drawn from the Reggio philosophy of early childhood education – which the children are free to use, play with, and explore however they like. Then we watch and marvel! At the light table, for example, we put out different prisms, glass “jewels”, sea glass, coloured glass discs, a mirror, tissue paper, and the lenses from broken binoculars. Some children used the objects to build settings - “castles”, for example – and imagined stories while they played. Others were mesmerized by the prisms. One child created a sort of kaleidoscope by putting the glass beads inside the binocular lens. There were bursts of amazed laughter coming from the light table all week!

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Being inside so much these last couple of weeks was a good experience in that it revealed some of the things we have all come to take for granted here in our K-pal community: space – unlimited amounts of it, and the freedom of self-direction. This is in contrast to our inside play, which necessarily has to be much more prescribed; specific objects have to be used in specific ways and at specific times. We had a chance to discuss together these changes and how they were affecting us, which helped to maintain spirits and friendships!

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