Early Elementary update for December, 2011

We are now engaged in our second thematic unit of the year, “How My School Works”. The children have been working to achieve a few understandings: their school is a system, they are part of many interconnected systems, when something happens in one part of the school system, it affects other parts of the school system, and that improving one part of the school system can improve the dynamics of the whole school system. Again, to aid in the children’s understanding, we chorally read and sing the “How My School Works” song:

How my school works, I have a hunch It needs people, play places, and hot lunch Being fair, taking care of our school Learning to follow rules
When all of us at school cooperate, The school system will work really great!

A big part of this unit is careful examination of our school and how it works. We have walked around the building and playground to make observations about things in our school that might be improved if we cooperate. We turned our observations into questions and discussed possible answers to our questions. The question we ended up focusing on was “Why does the edible garden on the playground look bad?” We discussed that the fence had been broken because people weren’t being careful when playing around the garden. We also discussed that most of the plants had already been harvested, which is why the garden looked empty or dead.

Making the garden useful during the colder months was one way to cooperate, so we discovered that we could plant garlic for next year’s spring and summer harvest. With the coordination of Deb from Tantre Farm and hard work from the children under Barbara’s guidance, we fixed the fence, pulled plants, prepped the soil, planted garlic, and covered the garden with straw.

During this unit we also talk a lot about rules, why they’re important, and how rules help make things fair for everyone. We have additional explanation of and practice using S.O.S. to solve problems and using our I- Statements to tell others how we feel. We’ll spend more time discussing the concepts of fairness and responsibility. Fair is defined for the children this way: fair is not everybody getting the same thing; fair is everybody getting what they need to be successful. Our exploration of responsibility and what that means includes discussion of some of our responsibilities at home and at school and why it’s important to demonstrate self-discipline and responsibility. We’re learning that a smooth running school system really does need cooperation!

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