Saturday, March 29, 2014

Inspiration from Norway!

What path is this?

Teachers Roo and Ann had an amazing week with a continuing education seminar at UW.  There were 2 professors visiting from the University of Queen Maud in Trondheim Norway.  We had about 30 professors, preschool teachers and students come and visit TOP last week.  We got some great feedback about our program.  People were impressed with our kids and all that they get to experience with TOP.  They loved our circle time and how the kids use the forest as their playground.  It was reassuring to get this good feedback and now we are invited to come to Norway to see their program there!

So you can see what they do in Norway, here is a fun video of preschoolers in an outdoor preschool in Norway.

So, you ask: What did we learn at this seminar?

1. Risk taking is good for children.  It is important that children get the chance to try and sometimes fail at climbing, hiking, running, exploring.  This way they learn how far to push themselves and what their limits are without someone telling them.  They learn intrinsically in a way that is a much deeper learning.

2. In Norway babies are put outside to sleep, even in the extreme cold weather.  They believe that the fresh air is important for their health.  They put them in very warm sleeping bags and put them outside under a covering.(!!)

3. In Norway the preschools have cross country skis to use and sleds play with.  (Too bad we don't have more snow!)

Roo and I ended up inspired to let our kids do lots of exploring and climbing.  Of course we already do this!  But some of the things we are trying that are new:
  • The kids are making their own rules during circle time.  We vote on the new rule to see if we all agree whether it is a good rule or not.  They can also be revisited in the future if we need to. (Just so you know-the kids restated all of the rules we already have and voted they were all good ones.  The only one we changed was letting the kids hike with sticks.  We will revisit this rule if it doesn't work out.)

  • We are letting the kids have more autonomy in their choices and decisions of where they want to explore for the day or what they would like to do.

  • We are letting the children work out their differences more.  We will be intervening less to see if they can figure out what is going on with their friends.  More speaking to each other about what they are unhappy about or how that person made them feel and less coming to us and telling us what happened.  We will help to facilitate the discussions as needed but be stepping in less.

And to you parents: Thank you for letting us have your children each week and letting them have these amazing outdoor experiences with TOP

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Littlest Explorers!

Scrambling off trail.
The kids this week were so adventurous and ready to explore everywhere in the park.  Here we are after scrambling under and over branches and bushes to find this new spot for snack.  As I stumbled through the bush trying to keep up the kids kept saying "can we have snack here Teacher Ann?"  and  Flora said to  "This is so fun!"  They carefully balanced on this log to eat their snack and hear a story about Curious George and There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.

Exploring the new swampy area.
 There is a new swampy area at FM Park that we had lots of fun exploring this week.  There was good deep mud to squish in and get stuck in.  It is an area we haven't explored this year (isn't it great that we still have new areas to find!) plus since there has been so much rain the grass has turned to new streams and squashy-ness.
Getting through the mud by climbing on the log.

 And I can't end this blog without mentioning the physics lesson we worked on while swinging.  Conrad asked why the tire swing didn't stay as high as when I first pushed the swing.  We had a lively discussion about what that might be. We did an experiment-Conrad thought if I pushed the swing more than the usual 10 times-we might get the swing to stay high.  So I pushed 15 times and the swing again gradually slowed down.  Conrad thought and thought and then decided the tire "gets too heavy."  We didn't get into gravity-but that was pretty close!
A lesson in gravity.
If you plan on coming back to TOP in the fall of 2014-Sign up for fall is March 18th. There is no preferential registration for current TOP families.  The registration turns on at midnight (March 17th).  It may behoove you to sign up then-or at least first thing in the morning of March 18th.  We have a number of new families who are ready to join us in the fall!

There have been requests for the Water Cycle Song.
Here are the words and the link:

Clouds fill up and the rain falls down
Water fallin down to the ground
Big drops small drops all around
This we call precipitation

When the water hits the ground and runs off to the sea
Fill the water way past your knees
Sunshine comes and heats it up
And this we call evaporation

It is a perfect cycle
And it happens every single day and
its called the water cycle

When the mist rises up from the sea
It goes against the force of gravity
Lots of drops and Great big clouds
And this we call condensation

When the Clouds get heavy with all those drops
The cloud will fill till it pops
Clouds burst open and the rain falls down
This we call precipitation

It is a perfect cycle
And it happens every single day and
its called the water cycle