Wednesday, 26 November 2014

an Icelandic update

I have now visited two preschools in the last two days… had a million dialogues about early years, play and possibilities on many different levels … from the fun and light hearted to the deep and intense… and I have loved and learned from every one of them.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Iceland… and there will be one more preschool visit (well two, but the preschools are connected) and also the opportunity to see the Icelandic landscape… which I am loving - but I have always loved mountains… and I love clouds… and the skyline here is forever changing with the most amazing cloud formations all the time… and yes I have been needing out with cloud photos too!! (and no doubt there will be more tomorrow)

BUT I am not getting the time to blog, because I am not getting to my room until after midnight… which means I am spending my time much more wisely is discussion with others… and I have SOOO much to share and it is just getting more and more…

OH yeah, and the delights of an antiquated projector meant that my high resolution photos on my new laptop were just too over whelming… and everything came out as dark shadows or just black… so I will be posting the photos sometime soon… may be the perfect thing to fix while waiting for my flight on Thursday morning…

Here are some cloud photos



Sunday, 23 November 2014

Iceland Day 1 and 2

My first day was all about travelling… getting to Iceland and then meeting Hulda (our Icelandic host) and Jessica from Growing Inch by Inch (from USA).
We walked around Reykavik and had dinner together talking about everything and a whole load of ECE - finding out similarities and differences in Sweden, Iceland and USA - really fascinating. There seem to be many similarities between Iceland and Sweden, so I am very much looking forward to visiting the settings and seeing similarities and differences in the practical life of preschool.

One of the things that I really like is that preschool is called play-school here - when I talked with my preschoolers on Friday, letting them know where I was going and when I would be coming back I also told them that in Iceland it was called play-school… they ALL thought they they should go to play school rather than preschool and that we should change the name förskolan Filosofiska to lekskolan Filosofiska… although one child then suggested that we should call it Hello Kitty.

Here in Iceland, as in Sweden, it is apparent that early years teachers are not valued in the same way as school teachers - of course it is hard to change the minds of people who have never valued young children … and when looking at this from a norm-critical point of view it really does reflect how young children and their learning through play are discriminated against as not something as important as slightly older children in school. Does age have status… and at what age do we stop giving status again… as it is quite clear that not all people are valued once they have retired from work - there are many stories about homes for the elderly where they are not treated as humanly as they ought to be…

Today I have met up with the rest of the group… and we are 29 all together. We started our adventure at the Blue Lagoon… remarkably not only a great place to relax, but also a great place to talk and get to know each other… that is if you stay close enough… as the misty magical nature of the pool means you soon lose the others.. but my skin is feeling wonderfully soft now!!

This evening we have met up again to have a look around Rejkjavik and to talk some more… we also took the time to chat in our smaller groups that we have been arranged into so that we can visit settings over the next two days… My group is called "Galdur" and I will be visiting Stekkjaras Playschool and A∂althing Playschool (my computer will not let me do the other soft "th" sounding letter.. on the hard "th" sounding letter ∂) together with Jessica, Annette and Inna.

Time though to get some sleep before our first big visiting day tomorrow



Friday, 21 November 2014

The night before Iceland...

I am sitting at the computer here in Stockholm for the last time for a few days... tomorrow I will be winging my way to Iceland to meet other educators from UK, USA and Iceland to talk about play and learning in early childhood and to visit settings.
I am really looking forward to the opportunity to have my mind stretched and challenged, to have the opportunity to view play from another perspective and to be a part of a process where I can contribute to others experiencing the same sort of inspirational growth that I am sure I will experience.


I will be taking lots of photographs and, of course, sharing, most likely when I get back... as I imagine I will be spending as much of my time as possible with the other Play Iceland participants... all arranged by Fafu..

It is going to be wonderful to be able to meet up with the Fafunians that have been a part of the International Fairy Tea Party with me...

In fact I am too excited to even write...



Thursday, 20 November 2014

World Philosophy Day

Today, the third Thursday in November, has been World Philosophy Day - and with it being 20th November is has also been Universal Children's Day - a day to highlight that November 20, 1989: The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Negotiated by adult citizens around the globe, the UNCRC guarantees children civil and political as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.

We have celebrated at Filosofiska...

Yesterday we decided with the children to have a slightly mad day... to not do things like we usually do... to challenge the everyday norms - like clothes and how we eat... So we came to preschool a little different... for instance I wore a nappy/diaper on my head, which of course made the children laugh A LOT.

In the morning we had a philosophical dialogue about children's rights... the children were given the opportunity to tell us what they thought children's rights should be... and we explored many of these ideas... here are the rights listed (and not wrapped up in the full philosophical dialogue where these rights were talked about TOGETHER)

here is the translation....
Children have the right
to get air
to go out and breath and to go in again
to play
to if you don't have a mummy and daddy, like Pippi Longstocking, then you get to do what you want
to eat healthy stuff sometimes/to eat well
to laugh
to be sad
to have fun
to go to preschool
to rest
to listen to each other/to be listened to
to run
to be kind to each other, even to people you don't know/to have kind people around you
to look at fishes
to dress up as a princess, castle, skeleton or spiderweb
all children have the right to be a girl (discussion about the right to be who you are)
to sledge, ski and snowscooter
to have food
to drink

We then talked to the children about the importance of children's rights for children who are forced to work, who have nowhere to live, who are abused, who don't go to school, who have no name, who don't get to play... we also taled about our sister school in Nepal where we help children who live on the street to get an education, a roof over their head, food in their tummies, any medicine they need and the chance to play and learn. One of the children suggested that we should draw pictures for the children in Nepal - all the children thought this was a good idea and it was decided that they should draw their favourite things... the above photo with the rights written on it, is a picture, by the child who had the idea in the first place - her favourite thing being Elsa from the film Frozen.

We went outside to collect questions from passers-by to put in our question box. Questions that we will think about and wonder about together in our philosophy sessions and then post our ideas in the window for passer's by to read...


 Here are the questions we collected... they include... How can we end all the war? Why is it raining today? I wonder how it will all be for all the children in the future? Why is there money? What is anger? Where does rain come from? Why do children go to preschool? What planet do you live on? When will we respect all the worlds inhabitants? When is it Christmas?

We had talked about those people in the area that begged for money, and how that some of them had children in their home countries that did not have enough food, so that is why they have come to Sweden. The children approached to ask for questions... but there was not enough Swedish on her side or Rumanian on our side to be able to communicate very much... and as the children had no money we deceided to share some of our lunch... hot thick vegetable soup and bread to warm her up. This was received with happiness and thanks, and the children gained the opportunity to learn about generosity and sharing.


We ate our food a little more crazy than usual... our morning snack we ate whilst sitting on the table with our feet on chairs... while for lunch we did not use chairs at all, carrots and pasta was served directly on the well cleaned tables and water was served on plates with straws, the soup we drank from mugs... it was a very positive lunch indeed... and the children either ate with their hands or bent down and ate with their mouth directly from the table... it was fun to try new ways of eating... it was also hard work NOT to put your food on the plate...

There was SO MUCH laughter... can carrots be dangerous if they start woofing? What does the water that the carrots were in taste like... can we drink hummus through a straw... we laughed and laughed until our cheeks and bellies ached.


I am beginning to think the children might just want it to be World Philosophy Day every day... I wonder how they will all reflect upon this tomorrow?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Storycards revisited

Its now been about 2 months since I created the storycards for my work... and it has been interesting to watch how they have been used...

I have lined them up and told stories based on them... by either careful selection beforehand, or completely randomly with the children... I have seen them do the same thing.

I have also seen the children in much the same way they would use small dolls and figures... a kind of small world play with the storycards... telling/playing elaborate stories in small groups...

The cards have been taken into the atelier as inspiration for the children's drawings.

They have also been used for specific storytelling practice..


With the prompt phrases...
There was once....
Every day...
But one day...
Suddenly...
and then...
Since that day...

The storycard has been the inspiration to the story - the card is photocopied with the text that is written down as the children tell the story... the teacher using the key phrases to prompt the story further...

This technique has not yet been used by my group, but I have observed the 3 year old group doing this.

The story cards have been added to... as the 3 year old group have been exploring ghosts I added ghost cards and haunted house cards to the collection... fat ghosts, scary ghosts, happy ghosts, sad ghosts... again the idea is to not just give one view point of what a ghost is, or how it behaves..

Molnet is now going into an exploration of fear (a natural development) - so I feel I will be adding more images soon... but luckily they have fallen into the idea of Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wold... and various images are already represented - including kind wolves, happy wolves, small wolves and big bad pigs....

The idea is that the storycards can be added to all the time to fit in with the projects the children are working on and exporing... and then the children have the power to combine the old images with the new images.. to mix the stories together... to combine their previous knowledge with that they are learning now...

AND most importantly I strive to create cards that represent all of society and not just the norms...


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Portraits continued...

This week the children chose the portrait that they preferred and put it on the overhead... its interesting to see how they choose, and it was not as I expected for both of them based on my observations of their process last week, but it was not an easy choice to make for that child either... she took her time in the selection process and changed her mind several times...

The children worked together to draw in pencil around the outlines... I encouraged them to check on the orginal on the overhead to see if they had indeed drawn the same image. They were amazed at how big the portraits had become.

Once both portraits were drawn in pencil they started to colour in the outlines with black paint...
There did not seem to be any system of top to bottom or left to right, or eyes then nose etc... it was totally random... a bit of hair, half an eye, an ear then some more hair... etc etc

When the portraits were finished we stood and looked at them for a while, but only a while, they were keen to use colour... so they got to use the bright acrylics on the plastic portrait. I turned the portrait over so that they could paint on the reverse and experiment with colours, pointing out how the lins would not disappear on the other side...

One of the girls was interested in painting layers - even though I pointed out that these layers would not be so noticeable on the other side... we looked a few times, so she could see, but painting the details, layer upon layer, was important to her and she continued, and she could feel the satisfaction of her art process.

checking how the image was the same on the OH as it was on the wall... even though it was a different size
 The various processes of the morning. This was an activity that the children enjoyed immensly were able to sustain a long period of concentration.

The rest of the group came in from their outdoor play and closely inspected the two new faces on the wall...

Monday, 10 November 2014

More portraits...

Last week we did portraits by using plastic over a photograph of the child.
I simply laminated an empty pocket to create the plastic (I tried one normal and one with a non-shine finish - the normal one was better for seeing the details, but only marginally).

The idea was wto get the children observing details about themselves, about pen grip practice and pen control as well as encouraging them to draw what they see rather than "what is a standard face"... which they tended to slip into by accident anyway... adding sharp teeth to a closed mouth, an extra plait, when it could not be seen from that angle (but she knew it was there) and masses of super long eyelashes...

I find it interesting to see how children get quickly used to drawing a face... standar round head, to eyes, nose and mouth... without really reflecting upon how real noses look etc... they draw symbols.
This project of self-portraits is to take a closer look at not just themselves but also how things really look and how that can be translated onto paper...

We drew twice... one of the children learned from her first drawing that she needed to concentrate more on what she could see rather than what she knew about herself... and that would help her keep to the outlines of her photo portrait... her second attempt really reflected this, and we talked about how she was pleased with the ear, because this time it looked like an ear, and how her hair looked more hairlike this time...
The other child did not focus the same on the second photo as much, had a much more blasé approach and when she lifted up her drawing she could also see that.

We looked at the two portraits and we talked about their processes.
Then we had fun pretending to be each other by putting the plastic image up in front of our own faces... lots of laughter...

I took a photocopy of the first ones... although for the moment I am not entirely sure why... but I felt it was a good idea... (putting white paper behind them as I copied them to make sure they copied clearly)

This week I plan to put them on the overhead so that they can copy larger versions of themselves on paper on the wall...
The it will be time to start using colour...

 this is the photo I fixed for the preschool's facebook page...

Here is an extra image as we discuss the process, the similarities and the differences between the self portraits.