This week we focused mostly on how music is able to inspire feelings and emotions within us and how, when we listen to music, it also can suggest to us a story or narrative depending on how it moves us personally, in other words we explored how music can connect us to our thoughts and feelings.
We began by playing an audio clip of Handel's Messiah, music that we felt would generally be defined as happy or joyful. As we played it, we asked the children how it made them feel. All responded either that it made them feel happy, or that it made them feel excited. The music made the children want to move around or dance so we discussed this as well. Then we put into the middle of our group a wide range of different coloured pencils, and asked "Which do you think is the best colour to go with this music?" Each child chose a colour they felt best represented the mood of the music.
The children then considered what they thought was happening in the music, and were asked to draw a picture that represented what they thought the music was about. The pictures that emerged were of the sun, a guitar, grass, people and happy faces.
The next day, we repeated the same steps, this time using Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. This music is much darker sounding, and at times, almost menacing. This time when asked how the music made them feel, the children mostly said that it was 'scary', with one or two saying it was 'angry' music. Again the children were invited to select a colour to represent the music. This time, the colours tended (with one or two exceptions) to be darker. Some of the children made the corresponding faces to match the mood of the music as well as their chosen colour, as you can see in the photographs below.
The pictures this time were of monsters, dinosaurs or tigers. Finally, each child was given both their drawings, done in the colour chosen to match each piece of music, and we compared the two, while listening to the two pieces of music, to try to notice the differences.
Perhaps over the next couple of days or weeks, you might find time to listen to some music with your child, and talk about what kind of feelings it evokes in you and in him or her. Moving or dancing to different types of music is also a great way to encourage thinking or discussion about the connection between music and feelings.
This week we watched an excerpt from the film August Rush where the main character appears to be musically inspired by the sounds of the city around him. The children listed all the things they could see and hear that were making the sounds that the boy was listening to as I wrote them down. After this, we listened to (but did not watch) a short clip from the end of the film where we could hear the finished symphony, composed by the main character.
As a group we discussed how the boy had been inspired by the sounds around him to create a piece of music. The children were then given the opportunity, in groups of two or three, to first spend time exploring and experimenting with a wide range of both conventional musical instruments, and every day objects that could be used as instruments, such as boxes, tubs and spoons. After playing for a while, each child in the group of three was invited to choose one instrument and consider how they might play it. Then the group practised putting the sounds together to create a little 'music'.
The most exciting part was when each group of musicians went back into the classroom to perform for an audience of their classmates. First the audience simply listened to the short pieces. Then they were asked how the music made them feel (happy? calm? relaxed?) and the musicians played for a second time while the audience were invited to dance or move to the music.
The audience were impressively respectful of each musician group and, as can clearly be seen from the photographs, both musicians and audience members enjoyed the experience immensely both as performers and as audience members.
Of course this was a learning engagement which took place over only two days, but it was a great opportunity for the children to experience how music that they made could have an effect on the mood and emotions of others.
Next week we will begin to delve more deeply into considering how music can affect our thoughts and emotions.
We have just started our second Unit of Inquiry, Music inspires and is inspired by thoughts and feelings. We began with a focus on our first Line of Inquiry, Music all around us. For full details of the new unit, please open the 'Unit of Inquiry' page using the tab at the top of this page.
We started off the inquiry with an provocation. I played the children an audio excerpt from the musical STOMP. In this very successful musical, the performers create incredible and energetic music, not by using conventional instruments, but by using every day objects including trashcans, boxes, chairs, empty bags, body percussion and brooms. We did not, however, show the children the accompanying video clip, and instead simply listened to the piece several times before asking the children 'What do you hear?', then 'What do you think (about what you can hear)?' and finally, 'What do you wonder (about what you hear)?' Below you can see the children's thinking made visible:
What do you hear?
What do you think about what you hear?
What do you wonder about what you hear?
Following this discussion, we asked the children to listen again to the music, and this time to draw what they could hear. Mostly children drew drums, since the over-riding sound was very similar to the sound of drumming.
The following day, we used our morning meeting time to once again listen to STOMP This time however, we also showed the video clip. The children were absolutely fascinated, first watching wide-eyed, and then smiling and laughing with some children clapping along.
We repeated the thinking routine from the previous day, this time replacing 'What do you hear?' with 'What do you see?'
What do you see?
What do you think?
What do you wonder?
After this experience, the children were invited to explore a range of everyday objects, similar to those used in the STOMP video clip.
Interestingly, following the STOMP experience, the children were seen to take action, using items found in the classroom, including plates, cups, rolled up paper and voices, to create 'music'.
We look forward to continuing with this inquiry over the coming weeks.
A wide range of pre-writing skills need to be developed and honed before it is possible to put pen to paper to write. Muscles need to be strengthened so that fingers can grasp and effectively control a pen or pencil, hand-eye coordination needs to be developed so that letters can be formed and, vitally, the understanding needs to develop that the symbols we know as letters, carry meaning and are used to communicate.
In school we regularly provide a wide range of opportunities for children to experiment with mark-making, to develop the technical and physical skills listed above. A small range of examples of mark-making learning engagements are:
Pre-writing practise also includes activities such as playdough play, lacing, threading and cutting. All these and many more help to develop finger strength and dexterity.
Writing and reading are inextricably linked. For children to develop an understanding of the purpose and value of mark making (writing) it is absolutely vital to surround them with many varied, good quality books, and to read to them regularly and enthusiastically. At school we read a huge variety of books, frequently with the adults demonstrating great pleasure in sharing books. The children learn, hopefully, to love books, and to love reading, which in turn helps them to understand the importance of writing.
Below are a few examples of children engaging in mark-making in class. Enjoy!
A reminder to all that UN Day is coming up at TIS, on Saturday October 21st. The Parade of Nations has traditionally been an important part of the celebrations. This is an opportunity for students (and parents/staff) to dress in the traditional national dress of their home country, and everyone celebrates our diverse community.
If you would like to take part, or if you would like your child to take part, please fill out the Google Form, which can be found at this link:
This week we looked at responsibility, the third Key Concept connected with this Unit of Inquiry. We began the week with a provocation. On Monday morning when the children arrived and entered the classroom, they discovered a huge mess. Chairs were tipped upside down, pencils were all over tables and the floor, toys were spread out all over the floor and carpeted areas. This, of course, is not how the children usually find their learning space when they arrive in the morning and it was quite a shock!
Luke was the first to enter the room, and his immediate reaction was to say 'Oh no!' and then, seconds later, 'We better clean this up!' Right behind him came all the other children present that day. Their reactions were similar. Usually when the children arrive, the classroom has been enticingly set up in a way that, we hope, invites inquiry and interaction. Not on this day! Both Ms. Shirin and I were incredibly proud of the children's immediate response, which was to simply begin to pick things up and put them back where they normally belong.
I suggested we should have our morning meeting immediately, rather than at 8:45 as normal, and the children, without being asked, picked up all the toys that were strewn all over the carpet so that there was space for everyone to sit down. When we discussed the situation, they straight away said it was 'not good'. I explained that I knew that it was none of them who had made the mess, and that I didn't know how it had happened. I also reminded them that it is our special space; our classroom. I asked 'Whose responsibility do you think it is to fix our room?' Right away, the children called out 'Everybody' and 'All of us.' and 'What about if we ask next door to help out?' and 'We should all pitch in.' We pointed out the areas of the room that needed tidying up, and asked for volunteers. Every singly child offered to help in an area of the room, and our class was beautiful and inviting looking again within a matter of minutes.
I was, and am, so very proud. Not only did the children demonstrate that they understand what responsibility is, and are willing to take it on within our class, but the also their reaction to our provocation clearly indicated that they have developed a sense of belonging, and a feeling that they are part of a class community.
I could not initially find the photos, and thought I must not have taken any after all, but I have just discovered them!
This week we also considered our third Line of Inquiry; How we choose to use our environment to help our learning. We asked the children to consider how they believed we should use certain spaces in our environment. First we considered the reading area. I asked, since it was their space, how did they think we should use it in a way that was fun and safe so that they could learn. Here's what they came up with on their own:
We then considered the two sinks in our classroom. How should we choose to use this area, we wondered? It was decided:
While we were discussing use of this area, the children began to come up with systems for actual hand-washing, and so together we came up with a clear sequence for hand-washing.
As Autumn has now begun and the weather is beginning to turn colder, please don't forget to send clothing (hats, coats or jackets, scarves, boots and so on) that are appropriate for each day. The temperature appears to be quite changeable for the next week or so, and it is therefore worth looking at the forecast each day before sending your son or daughter to school. Remember, we firmly believe that outdoor play is vital for young children, and we take them outside in all weathers, except heavy rain.
A reminder that next week is the last week of school before the Autumn/Fall Break. The children will have just over one week of holiday. They will not attend school from Saturday the 7th October until Wednesday 18th October.
Wishing you all a happy weekend!
This week we continued to consider our class community. One of the things we especially focused on was the learner profile attribute associated with our Unit of Inquiry, risk taker.
In the book, tiny Mouse wants to be noticed more, and decides learning how to roar is the way to achieve his goal. Unfortunately, the only creature who can teach him to roar is the huge, and scary Lion. Although he is scared, he plucks up his courage and bravely goes to ask Lion to teach him to roar. Your child will be able to tell you the rest of the story!
After we read the story, we talked about how the mouse had been very brave to do something even though he felt afraid. We considered times we have been brave and came up with 'when having a shot/injection' and 'trying new food'. I introduced the term 'risk taker' and we talked about how being a risk taker doesn't mean we behave in a way that is silly or dangerous, but can mean that we try something new, or do something even though we are a bit nervous.
In order to all have a go at being brave and taking a risk, we took the children to an area usually reserved for the older children; the climbing frame nicknamed 'the purple monster' (the purple climbing frame outside our ELC area). Although some of the children might have explored this area with older siblings or parents in the past, we have never used it during school time. The slides, climbing frames and swings are higher than the ones we have in our ELC outdoor areas, and there are different types of equipment to explore. We were very impressed with how brave the children were. Every child was willing to have a go playing on the structure, and experiment with a variety of sections. Many times we heard them calling to us 'Look. I'm being a risk taker.' Of course, this session took place under the watchful eye of four adults, to ensure that the risk-taking was carefully supervised.
On an entirely separate note, before you enjoy the photographs below, I have had one very kind offer from a parent who is happy to take on the role of PS1H class parent, but would very much like to share the job. Please can I ask that you consider sharing this role with her. Without class parents, we will not be able to take part in a variety of school events. Many thanks to the parent who has already offered, and thank you in advance to those of you who consider sharing the role with her. Please let me know in person or via email if can help.
Enjoy the photographs and have a lovely weekend.
This week we began to consider our second Line of Inquiry, Becoming part of a class community. We focused on the concept of change, considering the most recent big change in the children's lives; either joining TIS, or returning after the long summer break. We especially thought about the idea of 'belonging'.
During morning meeting we discussed how at home we are part of a special group called a family. Families do lots of things together including, according to the children,
We then introduced the idea of the class as another special group to which we now all belong. When we brainstormed the things we do together in our special class group the children came up with:
Having begun to think about the idea of our class as a special group or community, we then looked at how some groups have special symbols to help mark them as a group and create a sense of belonging. We focused on flags. The children were shown a short slideshow featuring flags that represented the different nationalities of our class members. I then introduced the idea to the children that we could make our own class flag. First the children voted on the flag's shape. From the offered options of square, triangle and rectangle, the majority voted for rectangle. Having made our rectangle shaped base, with the children watching I then quickly divided the flag into at least one space for each child. In fact, the flag ended up in 15 sections, as this was the simplest to do quickly. Each child was then invited to design and decorate one section.
Two children have been off this week, when they return and add their special section to the flag, I will post a photo!
Having made our special flag, for our special class group, we began to think about good and not-good choices we can make as part of our class. The children brainstormed good choices:
They followed this brainstorming session with a learning engagement where they were invited to sort a selection of pictures of various behaviours into either good choices or not-good choices. This proved to be a very successful activity, done in pairs.
Following our good and not-good choices work and discussions, on Friday we sat together to create some essential agreements. These are exactly what they sound like; things we all agree to do, in order to make our class community a fun, safe and happy place to be.
The children decided on:
We decided on how the children could pose so that we could take photographs to make posters. You will find our new essential agreement posters below.
This week we continued to focus on our first Line of Inquiry, Choices we make. At the beginning of the week we discussed choices that we had each already made by the time the school day had started. Examples included; choosing what to eat for breakfast, choosing which clothes to wear that day, and selecting what to play with in the playground before school. The children then created temporary artwork, choosing from a selection of loose parts such as beads, chestnuts and acorns, (the focus of course was on on the choice aspect and noticing how people may make different choices to us).
Another day we started off in morning meeting with a little role play from the teachers. Ms. Shirin sat on the carpet holding a doll, and when Ms. Kristina noticed this, she said that she wanted the doll. Ms. Shirin did not want to give it to her, and a little 'argument' ensued with Ms. Kristina saying 'Give it to me. I want it' and trying to snatch the doll and Ms. Shrin refusing to give it to her. It was, as you may imagine, a source of great amusement for the children to see their two teachers 'arguing' over a doll. Of course we were then able to have a discussion about what happens when two people want to use the same resource at the same time. The children were asked what other choices Ms. Kristina might have made instead of shouting or trying to snatch the doll away. Very sensibly, they came up with three alternative choices:
As a follow up to this discussion, the children were put into pairs and asked to work on a construction project together. They were reminded before starting that they would need to consider how to work together, making good choices, especially if, or example, it happened that they disagreed about how to build the structure. The learning engagement was very successful, with all pairs making good choices; taking care to share, take turns and help each other to be successful.
Having read the book 'My Big Shouting Day' by Rebecca Patterson, we spent time talking about choices we have in terms of our behaviour when we feel angry or frustrated. The children gave examples of times when they felt angry, for example when someone has something they want, or when Mummy or Daddy won't let them do something they want to do. We discussed some not-so-good choices that are sometimes made in such a situation, such as shouting or hitting, and then the children themselves came up with three alternative good choices. These were:
We have created a poster to help remind us all of some good choices we can make if we feel angry, mad or frustrated.
Next week we will begin to focus on our second Line of Inquiry, Becoming part of a class community. We will consider how the children's lives have changed since starting school (or since starting school again after the long summer holiday).
We will also think about what kind of (class) community we want to be, and create some essential agreements to guide our behaviour in class.
As you interact with your child at home, you might consider trying to give him or her choices as often as is appropriate (for example; 'Do you want to wear the red socks, or the blue ones? You choose.' or 'You can choose two stories for bedtime.' You might also want to remind your son or daughter of the three choices we thought of in school for when they feel angry! Focusing on using the words 'choose' or 'choice', will help to bring the children's attention to the many choices they make in their lives, and how these affect themselves and others.
At the start of the school year, before the children start school, a lot of thought and planning goes into the layout of the various areas of the classroom. We keep in mind the need for quiet areas for solitary play, contemplation or reading, and also the need for spaces where more busy, noisy collaborative play can take place. Of course we want the classroom to be an exciting, stimulating place to learn, and at the same time we very much want the children in the class to feel safe, comfortable and 'at home'. For this reason, we do not put up lots of adult-created posters or pictures on the wall, preferring the children themselves to be involved with the important process of creating our classroom environment.
If you have popped into the classroom over the past week or so (and if you have not, you are warmly invited to do so at the beginning or end of the school day), you will have seen a transformation taking place as the children begin to put their mark on the room.
First, all interested members of the class were involved in creating a collaborative painting for the wall. This piece of art was done in three stages. In the first stage, pieces of masking tape were attached in various random places across a large blank piece of white paper.
Then it was time to paint over the whole paper, including over the strips of masking tape.
The children noticed they were getting paint on their hands and arms as they worked at covering the sheet of paper with paint, and they decided it would be more fun to use their hands to continue the job.
After letting the painting dry, the final stage was to remove the masking tape. This required patience and a slow, steady hand so as not to rip the paper.
The finished collaborative artwork has been displayed on the wall, along with photographs that document the process. The children were very pleased to see their combined effort paying off, and making such a lovely addition to our learning environment.
Next, the children got to work creating frames for their family photographs. They were invited to use brushes or hands to paint their own frame. On this occasion, all the children wanted to use paintbrushes. When the paint was dry, they used glue to attach their own family photo to the centre of the frame.
The photographs are now prominently displayed in class, and the children can frequently be seen going to look at their own picture, or the photos of other families. Children have also been observed discussing their pictures with friends, pointing out and naming individual family members, and counting how many people are in their own picture, and those of their friends.
Most recently the children helped to create a beautiful chandelier to hang from our ceiling. First, everybody took a turn at threading a variety of beads onto wire.
These beautiful beaded strings were then attached to a hula hoop. Later on, children who were keen to do so chose ribbons to cut and also attach to the hoop. The lovely resulting chandelier can be seen below.
We have begun to talk about our first unit, considering what kind of choices we make for ourselves, and which choices are made for us. Next week, we will look at how choices we make might differ or be the same as our friends, and how we can effectively manage this.