Apples and Pumpkins and Grapes, oh my!
News from the Afternoon 440 Classroom
Highlights: Apples and Pumpkins and Grapes, oh my!
The past few weeks have seen the shifting of the seasons and the children discovering the abundance of life in our yards and neighborhood. On their way in from the back yard each day, Cooper and Harry say hello to the spider who resides on a playground window ledge. Hanna collects pretty leaves that float to the ground. Addie and Estelle check the vegetable gardens for newly ripened treats. Walks around the block instigate excited conversations about flowers, thorns and berries on plants, sun and shade, wind through tree leaves, worms on sidewalks, and a cat in a window.
As a group we experimented, starting with gifts from the land, we enjoyed tomatoes plucked straight from the plant as soon as their rosy glow developed. The Concord grape harvest from our own vines earned us sweet juice made with Beverly and a grape stomping experience with Angelina, both in the studio. A large basket of freshly picked apples from the twin’s family tree served as not only a tasty snack for a day, but a jumping off point for studying this ubiquitous fruit of the season. We counted them, drew pictures of them in the studio, cut them up and discovered seeds – which in turn led to the story of Johnny Appleseed. We compared them in color, size, smell and flavor with an array of store bought varieties, making a graph of our favorites. We painted with them and of course ate them – freshly sliced; cooked into an apple butter to spread on crackers; and finally baked in a delicious apple pie that Hanna’s nanny Becca graciously helped with. Along the way, we shared opinions and learned that our inclinations are not all the same. For instance, Copeland loves the smell of sweet apples but is not interested in pie.
Large droopy sunflower heads have also found their way indoors for taking a closer look. The multitude of seeds are pinched out one by one with tweezers, making this a excellent activity for working those writing muscles, as well building concentration and counting practice. Some of the seeds were then ground to a tasty paste and spread on crackers.
The interconnectedness of plant and animal life has begun to reveal itself to the children as well. The bees on the flowers at the start of school sparked an early conversation about the work of bees pollinating flowers and making honey – which of course inspired a honey tasting. The wasps however skip the flowers and go for the dropped and rotting fruit. Desmond found an apple on the ground with mysterious gouges in the flesh. After much speculation – could wasps or ants, a puppy or a lion, have been nibbling on the apple? Marshal suggested a squirrel, which he had previously seen on a tree in the backyard, could be the culprit. As usual, the studio and classroom studies overlap, and Angelina creates interesting opportunities for further discovery.
In our wonderings about our surroundings, the talk turned to what is alive and what is not. Our classroom pet rats, Lightening and Slow Poke and Emily’s bunny have had their turns wandering during group time so we could closely observe living animals.
These wonderful experiences present themselves daily and we draw the children’s attention to details, building awareness and honing observational skills. We have tuned the discussion to think about differences and similarities of things and categorizing – living vs. non-living, plants and animals. Soon we will look at breaking down those categories as well.
These are a few of the highlights of happenings during our class time. In the midst of these discoveries, the children are also quite busy working and learning throughout all the areas of curriculum materials indoors and out. We are witnessing their burgeoning independence and ability to follow their interests.
Jamie and Emily