Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Together painting on the Square

All year we have been making Together Paintings... working together, painting together, creating together - learning to collaborate, learning to listen to each other and learning to appreciate each others abilities and to learn from them...

If you are new to my blog you won't know about our project... "Together on the Square" where we are focussing our attention on the public space right outside the preschool. The children have been learning about design, they have been learning about their own wants and wishes, and those of their peers... we have also been asking those living in the sheltered housing /retirement home what they would like to see on the square... in an aim to design a square for EVERYONE - to be "Together on the square"...

Today we were visited by Karin and Anna who are responsible for the redesign of the area - Anna being the lanscape architect I mentioned last week. We got to share our ideas with them, and they listened enthusiastically to our ideas and wrote them down. It feels so important and so wonderful that the children's opinion are being listened to and given value... this is how it should be! ALL the time... a city that listens to its children... to all of its citizens...

Two of the recurring themes that everyone has mentioned, regardless of age, has been more colour and more flowers/green/nature...

So this afternoon we carried a table out into the middle of the square and started painting flowers ... adding lots of colour...

We used watercolours cakes directly on the paper with brushes and a spray bottle so that the water would stay clean, but also to add an experimental dimension to the whole Together Painting... and it certainly worked as I hoped... there were those children that just sprayed on the cake of paint to get their colour and those that sprayed everywhere and let their colour flow... in the end the spraying became the most important part of the process... so the flowers that had been painted became "rained" on and became blurred as they flowed into each other... the children ran back and forth to the actual flowers growing in the flower displays newly placed in the square - and the fact that they wanted to make purple involved expanding the number of colours available by adding a blue to mix (and to get to hear that wonderful tone of surprise as a child discovers purple for the first time by mixing... a new discovery, a moment of true creativity and learning)...

Before our outdoor art session was over the children started to use their hands and create colourful handprints on the ground...

This was a session where we became a part of the square - people came up to us and talked about how the square needed more colour and how wonderful it was to watch the happy creative children interacting with each other and the paint.

The wind blew a little chilly, despite the glorious sun... and a half an hour was long enough with wet colourful hands before we needed to go inside and warm them up again!


it was actually a good idea to have a little distance between the table and the flowers... the little run back and forth helped keep us warm...

lots of experimenting... it was fabulous watching the colours flow in the puddles that collected here and there due to lots of spray action.
many wishes for a colourful square coming true!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

upside down...

So funny - yesterday I mentioned how Michael seemed to want to test out being upside down on everything at the Fruit Park... and today i got to see how the children in Vinden was testing out the very same thing... hanging upside down...

Is it the weather... the sunshine makes you want to test out new things, the warth makes you feel positive and optimistic and more willing to challenge yourself.... or is it the fact that everything becomes so much easier to try when not encumbered with the layers and layers required to keep you warm... because 7 days ago we were wearing hats, mittens fleeces jackets and fleece lined raintrousers... today it was t-shirt weather...


 The snail park, as you can see is turning green - tulips are budding and there are small spring flowers everywhere - and the magnolia trees are just starting to bloom.
And yes - some children wanted their winter layers on... and had to peel them off while we were outside and they slowly cooked!! Tomorrow though it will be colder again... and no doubt the children will be learning about layers again...


Monday, 21 April 2014

what are they thinking...?

Today I sat in the sunshine reading "making Thinking Visible" (Ritchart, Church and Morrison) as my son played in the fruit park (think giant banana slide and giant strawberry spinners), every once in a while to look up and wonder about what was happening in the playspace...

I mean there seemed to be more adults than children... or was that just because the adults take up so much space? There were children being lifted and being aided everywhere and being told to be careful to sit down.... and then there was my son acting like a lunatic hanging upside down out of the strawberry trying to make it spin and making wierd noises... in fact he approached every bit of play equipment and challenged "how-it-should" be played with... upside down, being on top instead of inside, going up the down and down the up etc etc... but there seemed to be a focus on upside down... he had also decided (I later discovered) to walk around the playspace like he was a character from Minecraft (he is VERY into minecraft... and rather excited by the fact that for his 10th birthday next week he will finally have access to his own account - we have avoided it for some time as his diagnosis has involved that managing gaming has been hard and sometimes an area of aggression - but we have a strategy for that and it has been working for the last year, and now it is time to really put it to the test)... any way back to the playground...

Of course I was somewhat pleased with the fact that my child was playing creatively, was taking risks that were not beyond him, but still a little challenging, that he reached out and played with others...

I had to laugh at some girls who started whining to their parents that the playground was boring and childish... they turned out to be 6 years old... as I had to ask.... What makes a 6 year old think a playspace is childish?

I wonder though... what are the parents thinking when they are in a playspace for children and yet their very presence is taking over what should be a children's domain...?

I also wondered about the child who just stood over her friend when she accidently knocked her over in a game of tag... I mean she just stood right next to her staring blankly and not reacting in any way while her friend was on the ground, in a heap, crying...
WHY do children do this? As I see this often in playspaces and at the various preschools I have worked at over the years. I would LOVE to know what they are thinking...

Is it because they are trying to cope with their own feelings?... that they see the crying, the hurt, and understand that, but are not yet mature enough to deal with responding to it? Or is it a mechanism to say "I didn't do anything wrong"... I have worked with children who have been able to offer support to other children when they are hurt (physically or emotionally) but totally shut down their ability to respond if they have had anything to do with the hurt (even if it was by accident). And I am so curious to know why...

Young Children Sympathize less in Response to Unjustified Emotional Distress is a short report by Robert Hepach, Amrish Vaish and Michael Tomasello - and applying my understanding of this report it could be that the children who have caused another child distress might not react so much because they were involved in the same accident and it did not hurt them so much, and that the other child was considered over-reacting... could this be a possible explanation...?

I once watched a documentary (I could not find it again to share) about an experiment where two people sat opposite each other and there was a machine they pressed to touch/apply pressure to the other person... the idea being that they had to keep touching each other with the same amount of pressure that they had just been touched with (both had been told this separately - so they did not know if the other had received different directives) - the first touch was automatically done by the machine... and the first few attempts to replicate this pressure was fairly accurate by the two participants... BUT there was a general increase in a pressure... and this continued, the machine measuring the pressure they both applied to each other... both with the directive to apply the same pressure as they had just received... but both perceiving the pressure they received as harder than the pressure that they had just given... and therefore it constantly increased...

You may be wondering why I am sharing this... I have always considered, when children play with each other and that boundary between play and hurt gets crossed... that THEN the child who did the hurting (by accident) is unaware that they have caused pain, but the perceived pain is larger on the receiving end... and put that research together with the research on Empathy/sympathy by Hepach, Amrish and Tomasello, then. perhaps, they are going to come to the conclusion that the friend/child is over-reacting and not understand how best to respond...


Do people "do" without thinking... are we pausing enough in life to think? About what we do? About what we are going to do? About why we do that? and why we do it that way? etc etc

For me as a teacher, and a parent, trying to understand the thinking of children is crucial... if I can undertand how they think it means I can better support their learning and development in an appropriate and meaningful way... and if I can support the children to see their own thinking, and become aware of the thinking of other... (the reason why we use philosophy with our preschoolers) then we are also allowing the children to see their own learning and develop their own understanding of the world as well as understanding how we all have different perspectives that are to be valued...
Of course this implies that we as adults give value to the perspectives of all children...



I didn't take any photos of the Fruit park today (it was totally packed) but here is a photo pf Sophia a few years back on top of the giant pear (not upside down like Michael was today!!)



Sunday, 20 April 2014

Light table.... INSPIRATION

One of the questions asked quite a lot in some of the preschool groups I participate in, is for inspiration for the light table... and where to find it... So here is some inspiration from this blog... and a few other places too...

of course there is always the delight of glittering transparant items to create patterns and images with... alone or in groups as part of a collaborative artwork
for sensory experiences... this is a homemade light table where there are electric tealights (submersible ones) in the box underneath the slime box... the light adds yet another sensory experience to the slime session.... link to slime post...


think out of the box when it comes to materials for the light table... and start collecting all sorts of things... and dare to ask for left over supplies... here I asked StikkiNikki ice-cream (in Stockholm yumyum for organic homemade ice-cream) if I could have the spoons that people were throwing away... she was very happy for the plastic spoons to be upcycled... (took some time to wash them all though... and they come in useful for glue spreading and other crafts and play)
dare to rethink how the lighttable is positioned in your setting...  at Boulder Journey School there were lots of light tables and some, as you see were on their side against the wall to add a different opportunity for light exploration... (check my posts from Boulder Journey School for more inspiration for indoor and outdoor play and learning - link to MY BOULDER EXPERIENCE 2013 - several posts to check out)
creating small world play opportunities.... this photo show you how we celebrated International Fairy Tea Party last September... and at the moment we have it set up for Sleeping Beauty inspired small world play link to see our sleeping beauty inspired play on FB - there are plans to celebrate International Tea Party again this year... if you are interested keep a look out here on my blog or on the International Fairy Tea Party Facebook page
paint on the light table... here I have wrapped the light table up in plastic and squirted paint on for the children to explore, and make a print... more information can be found... here, here and here
more sensory on the light table... here I replaced the bottom of a tray with clear perspex so that we could experiment with salt, beans, coffee beans, beads, ice, cloud dough etc etc... a clear box is also perfect for this sort of play/exploration...  I have  in total 19 posts with a connection to the light table... of course the light table is not the only way to explore light... but it is the topic of this post... if you want to have access to all my posts on the light table... click here   
At "AND NEXT COMES L" you can see how maths and sorting can be done on the light table... the link to this activity is here - but it is worth exploring the whole blog for more light table inspiration - here is the link to Dyan's light table activities and inspiration
LALYMOM reminds us how colour can be explored on the light table... either one colour at a time... or several colours... this is the link to an exploration of RED

CRAFTULATE reminds of us the need to think outside our comfort zone when it comes to the light table... jelly/jello is maybe not the first thing that would spring to mind when it comes to the light table... check here for more details... here in Sweden it is cheapest to get gelatine and colour and add scent to it if desiring a smell sensory experience too (which I recommend as the sense of smell is strongly connected with memory making)
WHERE IMAGINATION GROWS - exploring nature on the light table... either directly on the light table... or by making your own nature slides as suggested here. There are lots of other suggestions for light table use here too (as well as lots of other inspiration)... so don't hurry off the blog...
STILL PLAYING SCHOOL reminds me that the light box is more than just a place for the visual experience - but that all the senses can be used here... sound being the experiment of this post. Of course experimenting with sound does not mean you have to compromise on the visual quality and beauty of the experience, as you can see... Take the time to explore this blog as there is lots of inspiration
and of course no post about light tables would be complete without a link to the ultimate light table guide at CAUTION TWINS AT PLAY (not my twins this time though!!) - Here you can lose yourself in the many inspirations, and wonder when you will manage to find the time to try them all out!!

REALLY, when it comes to the light table just let your imagination flow... all areas of the curriculum can be explored here... as I am sure you will discover as you explore the above blogs...

Just have fun and click on all of the links... you won't regret it...

Saturday, 19 April 2014

choosing a photo

Last week the children chose the photo they wanted to be a part of the "Through the Eyes of the Child" photo project...

We had discussed what the children had felt was important to them and then given them the opportunity to take photographs of these themes...

The areas the children felt were important were LOVE, PLAY, PAINTING and TRAFFIC SAFETY.

On Tuesday we took a look at all the photos they had chosen and talked about what category they represented and to start thinking about which photos they wanted to be uploaded in the project...

We managed to reduce the 56 photos to 11 (excluding straight away all the ones that were blurred - there actually were not so many of those - but the children did not like the fact that they were not easy to see what the photo was about).

During the day I put the top 11 photos in a file so that the children could look at all of them on the same screen shot... and the children got to point to the one that they considered was their favourite. This reduced the number to the top three, as three of the images got the same number of votes...

I put the top three photos into a file and the children were asked to choose again... this brought it down to the top two, as two of the photos received an equal number of votes, and one slightly less.

Then finally the children slected their favourite from the top two and we had a clear winner!

Next week we will be talking more about WHY they have chosen that particular photo and how it represents what is important to them, and why that is important... But you will have to wait for the photo to be uploaded onto the "Through the Eyes of the Child" project website... the site will be ready for uploading later this month...




Friday, 18 April 2014

Reflecting... on Blogg100

I sit here, reflecting on the Blogg100 challenge that I started on the 1st March... I am just about half way through... and while I do seem to have rather an incredible amount to say and write I am beginning to find the whole process of having to somewhat non-conducive to being creative...

Maybe the challenge would have been better for me if it was 100 posts in a hundred days... and not one every day for a hundred days... after all some days I just have so much to write and other days I want to spend elsewhere and not be on the computer but to be with family and experiencing real life...

Part of my wants to stick to it... I mean it is a challenge after all... it is not supposed to be easy...

BUT, this is not a question of it being easy... finding words is not that difficult for me... as most people who know me will probably smile at and nod their heads!! AND there is just so much interesting things happening at work and in ECE that there is certainly no lack of things to write about... it is a question of how this fits into life and how it improves it...

At the moment it is not improving my blogging... and I feel it has not improved my connection with other Swedish bloggers... after all I am a Swedish blogger that writes in English... how do I fit in?

Which in a way is who I am... and English person living and working in Sweden. After so many years I feel neither English or Swedish but have a strong connection to both cultural identies... which sometimes feels I am an outsider, but mostly feels quite empowering as I see things from two perspectives all the time... it gives a kind of objectivity that I might never have had...

But back to Blogg100 and what to do with that?

As yet I am not sure... but for a week or so there has been creeping in thoughts about its purpose and questioning the point... enough to make me think I need to really take the time to think it through and make a decision... I was rather hoping that this was going to be a post where things became more clear... but I still haven't reached any clarity as to what to do... but I am leaning more and more towards not continuing with the blogg100 to just blogg for joy, to blog for my own reflective journey, to blog to share with others and not to blog because I have to for the sake of a challenge...

So I will sit with this for a day... and tomorrow I will make my decision...


Thursday, 17 April 2014

getting technical...

Today I have been working out the whole idea of using QR codes... and getting rather excited about the potential of using them in my documentation process...

I have ideas... but as yet not going to go more into them until I am sure myself of how we are going to use them... but as we have been invited to be a part of the "Good Example Fair" in mid-May I thought of using them then so that those wishing to learn more about Filosofiska can use the code to link to more details and more explanations... so this is going to be a short post... so that energies can be put elsewhere... I am not the most technical of people, so these moments are small triumphs when I get things to work!!


Here is a link to one of my popular posts... about not cloning, but creating your own journey...