Sunday, October 11, 2020

October - The Tale of the Squawky Young Birds

This week in Kindergarten I did "The Tale of the Squawky Young Birds" with Zac. He hasn't had this story since we first started Early Childhood, in August 2018 (back post: Picnic & Play: The Tale of the Squawky Young Birds).

He loved hearing it just as much as he did two years ago!

The story is found in The Breathing Circle: Learning Through the Movement of the Natural Breath by Nell Smyth, page 120. It is presented as a puppetry. After Zac was familiar with the story, I let him move the animal figures as I told it. The animals are mama bird, two baby birds, python, lion, and owl. They are signified by these materials:

I used a green flowered silk as the jungle, a basket as the nest, a red feather as Mama Bird, two smaller orange feathers as Baby Birds, a long green needle felted Snake, a ball of yellow wool as Lion, and a button as Owl.

The Breathing Circle:
Learning through the Movement of the Natural Breath

by Nell Smyth

Circle Time

Ultimately, one of the things that I struggled with when moving Kindergarten to the Outdoor Classroom was how much formal Nature Study to do. If we read all of these books about birds and learn about nests and eggs and feathers and beaks and so on, we aren't having time for the imaginative sweet storytelling and the puppetry. Why did I sign up for Suzanne Down's year-long puppetry certificate course (which, by the way, is open for enrollment until Oct 17) if I'm not doing all of those lovely Waldorf things?

I think it's tempting when you're in Nature to want to make formal lessons out of everything, even when kids are super-little, and being a teacher I have lesson plans and materials for it all! However, after starting Zac's school year this way, I began to felt uneasy. It seemed too much... like that is more of a 1st/2nd grade Nature Study... and Kindergarten, after all, is still Early Childhood. So this was our week to begin to transition out of the more academic work. I can always read picture books with animal facts in them to Zac outside of "school." But our school time is our time to Waldorf it up!

So this week we had the more formal Bird Study hands-on exploration activities but we did the beautiful Waldorf story and puppetry to go with it. You tell the story more than once, so that children really learn it deeply.

Wednesday's formal activity was papermaking.

We have continued to be inspired by the Circle Time class Zac is taking as part of Tinkergarten, and they keep on connecting beautifully with what we are already doing! There are eight sessions in all; we are on number 4. They each focus on Creativity with natural materials and they are each inspired by an animal.

    Week 1 was the Beaver and stick play (that was the week we were making yarn-wrapped sticks and building the Bird Nest Sculpture).

    Week 2 was the House Martin and mud play (these birds build their houses of mud... and we were learning more about bird nests that week, so it was perfect).

    Week 3 was the Pufferfish and "breaking & building" design-making with Nature's loose parts (that worked in beautifully with the Dragon Eye of Autumn leaves and berries that the Phoenix Tribe made).

    Week 4 was the Paper Wasp and "mooshing and smooshing" paper pulp sensory play. Here is a great video that goes with the lesson, and really helps focus the play on the sensory experience of pulp instead of the paper final product.

Since Zac had already begun his Wednesday morning with his Tinkergarten class, and was already busily tearing paper and making pulp, I got the idea to tie the papermaking in with our Egg study.

In the previous week's lesson we looked at my blown-out ostrich egg and emu eggs. And then on Saturday Oct 3, when Zac and I were at Big Muddy Hogs Hogs in Hurst getting straw bales for the outdoor classroom, we found duck and quail eggs in the little farm store. So I got them (of course) and we lined up the eggs in order of size..

ostrich, emu, duck, chicken, quail

ostrich vs. quail

The quail eggs have sweet little speckles all over them, so my idea was to do the paper tearing, soaking, and smooshing and then add in found materials from Nature to make the little spots and then pour the pulp into little egg cookie cutters. And make paper quail eggs!

Zac actually preferred to just play with the pulp, although we did get a few finished paper eggs out of the process. But the sensory play was definitely the big draw!

Thursday's formal activity was making wet felted eggs.

We used the chicken eggs as our base for this classic wet felting activity, one of my favorites for brand-new felters. Thank you to the family who brings us a dozen eggs each week from their chickens!

Of course, the older kids loved participating in this too, and each of them made an egg.

Friday's formal activity was a Bird Beak Experiment.

This experiment has you give six tools to the children (a turkey baster or eyedropper, tweezers, clothespin, scissors, toothpick, slotted spoon). Each tool represents a kind of beak. For example, the scissors are a tearing beak, like owls or eagles.

Then you set out six "bird food" stations (for example, a dish of mini marshmallows floating in water) and the children have to figure out which tool goes best with which food.

Then you tell them if they are correct in their matching, as well as what kind of bird has that beak. The older kids really enjoyed participating as well!

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