Ann Guthrie

Ann Guthrie

Sunday, 08 November 2020 19:43

Sunny with a Rain of Pancakes

Nurseries had a grand finish to Color Days with an entire week of Rainbow. Their long planned Pajama Day was on Friday. Probably inspired by wearing pajamas all day, there was long, extended imaginative play that centered around pancakes… making them, eating them, and eventually catching them and gobbling them down as they fell from the sky. Once the entire group was part of it, they eventually all had to navigate a dangerous and exciting fire with lots and lots of running. They took refuge for a while in the top of the red loft house. And then they resumed their mad chase of catching and eating pancakes! I am looking for the Nursery copy of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs which, judging from the rain of pancakes, I’m pretty sure they will enjoy.


Sunday, 25 October 2020 18:39

Stuff a Pillow with Milkweed

Nurseries have a new Playhouse slide game inspired by an Older Grouper who in a playful mood stopped by as they were playing early last week. He stepped up carefully at the bottom to create a tunnel for them by balancing calmly on the rims, feet on either side, long legs stretching up. No words were needed. Nurseries understood immediately the invitation to slide down and on through his tunnel.

After about five minutes of this, the OGer moved on to other things and a Nurseryer took his place. They’ve returned to this game over and over again throughout the week… two Nurseries taking turns to make the bridge perched at the bottom and all of them one-by-one shooting down the slide, and on through and into the mulch.

Along with all of this and the usual of Color Days, running chase games, trucks and trikes, indoor construction, stories and songs, etc., plus hosting a visit for a four year old and his mother, we also headed back to the tall grass maze on the Golf Course in the afternoons. One child was on a search for milk weed…  enough to stuff a pillow. He proclaimed, “It will be so so soft….”


Saturday, 17 October 2020 19:22

Riding Trikes; Making a Community

This past week I found out a bit more about the Pajama Day that is being planned by several of the Nurseries. It is absolutely their own plan and has been shared with me only in passing...  and as a foregone conclusion. Evidently it’s NOT going to be on a Black Day; it’s going to be a Rainbow Day instead!

Anyway, I do love how this group is charging ahead with their own plans. Next week I will see if they want to talk together in the group and make it official.

There has been a school-wide focus this past week on triking. Trikes are now coming out daily and Afternoon Nurseries have been helping put them away again in the trike shed at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, at the end of the day on Thursday before last, two inspired Nurseries collaborated to to put almost every single vehicle back in the Trike Shed before the Older Groupers could even get to it! One Nurseryer did the pedaling and parking and the other one ran ahead excitedly cheering him on.

We have many solo trikes, two person trikes, plus trailers to hitch up as well, so there are a lot more possibilities for cross group interactions and collaborations that have opened up. Plus it makes for a lot of practice with being part of something bigger than Nursery, turn taking, navigating traffic, problem solving, and the absolute joy of it all.


Saturday, 10 October 2020 19:36

"Black!! That's Pajama Day!"

Tuesday we took a hike through the maze of paths some kind person has mowed through the tall grasses and other vegetation up on the Golf Course field… Nurseries were on a search for ripe milkweed to release into the breeze. On the way we found beautiful red clovers, lots of little white flowers, towering grasses in graceful clumps, dog poops just off the trail, honey bees, forks in the trail to follow, and a single wooly bear that we steered off the path… so it wouldn’t be eaten by a bird they decided.

Wednesday afternoon one Nurseryer organized going over to Cycle Circle Side to play. We also went into the garden to see Easter our old laying hen who is the last of her flock. She was quite talkative and loved eating the sorrel the children offered her. Thursday morning while we were at Art/Science, she laid one of her multicolored eggs which one of the Older Groupers brought into the refrigerator.

Then, another morning early, after checking out the Color Day chart one more time, a Nurseryer celebrated when she came to Black on the chart saying “Black!! That’s Pajama Day!”

I said, “It’s Pajama Day?”

She looked at me surprised, and tilted her head and raised her eyebrows.

So intrigued and confused, I said, “Why do you say Black is Pajama Day?”

She chortled and clued me in my saying, “Because ......... told me!!”

“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t know. Maybe we could see if other people wanted to do that too!”

And that is where she left it for now, but it does seems like a Pajama Day is in the works! If it does fall around our Black Days, what a lovely antidote for some of the excess of anticipation that always seems to gather around at Halloween time.

It does look like Nurseries are headed off into gathering their own steam for ideas and planning!



Sunday, 04 October 2020 00:36

More Tools to Grease the Social Wheels


It appears that Nurseries love pushing the merry-go-round as much as they do riding it. I saw a YGer (Younger Grouper) come and join them to sit in the very center while reading a book. It was already moving at that point and having a passenger seemed to inspire Nurseries to speed it up…  a lot! I waited for her to reconsider as they ran it around even faster… but she stayed on, immersed in her book and seemingly totally unbothered. Several OGers hopped on to enjoy the ride. After about 5 or so minutes the Nurseries moved onto other things. OGers left and the YGer stayed planted and reading her book. Then a few minutes later, she got up and wandered off too. Still or moving, it was what she wanted! It’s really lovely seeing the groups flowing through the play yards and interacting so naturally.

These Nurseries are quite good at greasing the social wheels to keep their play going. Extra tools are always useful though, and they are beginning to venture into talking to one another if there is a problem to solve, getting the courage to say the the other person’s name and then directly state what the problem is and then work together to find a solution. We talk about how they can solve it and I usually end with, “Is everything okay?” If not, we begin again!

To begin a meeting, often the go-to phrase to start with is, “I wasn’t comfortable when you…”. Sometimes it’s just, “[Name], stop! I don’t want to play that anymore.”

Of course, practice always helps. We will be getting trikes out later in the week and that will give everyone lots of opportunities and practice with the special case of setting times for trikes… we have so many trikes, but often people develop their own favorites. Anyway, it’s a very concrete and valuable exercise in give and take, talking and listening and working toward agreement… with their agreed upon timer as the final arbiter!

We’ve also had group meetings for their chase games so they can each set their own signals to let the others know when they need to pause to catch their breath or stop to move onto something else.

I let them know that I am always there to help. Even so, all of this requires a certain courage and comfort with one’s surroundings and the people you’re with in order to be ready to take this on. The fact that they are beginning to want to do this work with one another is a sign they’re feeling pretty comfortable!

Sunday, 27 September 2020 15:15

"Unstuck Your Hands"

This week, imaginative play using vinyl animals, cars and trucks, traffic signs plus anything magnetic all remain Nursery favorites while they play together inside.

Outside, it’s usually running, chasing, digging, climbing, swinging, balancing, and the play house slide… along with excavating in the sand box or on Sand Hill.

Using the Playhouse, they have invented an original game called “Unstuck Your Hands.” The brain child of one Nurseries, it was quickly perfected and adopted by all. To play, you go up the stairs in the play house, climb onto the slide, manage a quick turn-around-flop-on-your-belly (feet first) position while holding onto the top rim of the slide. Then you say to the next person on the stairs… “Unstuck my hands!” That person who is next, pries the first child’s fingers away (with their cooperation, of course!). The fast decent begins along with a dramatic, loud, and joyful shriek all the way down. You land, jump to your feet, start running back around and into the play house, then over to the stairs and you are back in the line of Nurseries ready to do it all over again. By that time two more Nurseries have already gone down the slide in the same way and are also heading around to do it again. If friends eventually move on into something else, all you have to do is yell “Unstuck my hands!” a few times and a Nurseryer will come running and the game begins again.

It’s fast paced, brilliant, exquisitely fun, and an exercise in cooperation and trust.

They are busy learning just who they are with one another and what they can be together.


Sunday, 27 September 2020 15:08

Observation, Discoveries, Analysis... and Wonder!

Outside on Thursday Nurseries and I stood back to watch a slender, yet very sturdy, dark brown/black wasp that was excavating a tunnel in the sand. The urge to dig is something that lies at young children's core and they understood absolutely what they were seeing. The wasp dug like a little dog walking into its tunnel and backing out over and over… scooping with its front legs and kicking it back with its hind legs. After observing it and it’s very efficient earth moving for about 6 minutes (until it finally flew away), one child said he thought it left because it knew the tunnel was going to collapse. Astute analysis coming from a lot of experience!

Nurseries have been interested in searching for sea shells in the sand box left over from ones Kindergartners had used the week before to decorate a sand sculpture. So on Tuesday, I put several bins of shells, sea stars, sand dollars, kelp pods, and one sea horse out at the long table for them to explore. One child found a very large and beautiful clam shell, and then found another just like it, and THEN discovered that they were from the same animal and fit together perfectly! Down at the very bottom of the bin he also found what they all decided was a jaw of a baby dinosaur. Amazing discoveries! Many theories! [It appeared to me like the still articulated jaws of the right side of a very, very, tiny baby shark... double rows of tiny, tiny teeth included.]



Sunday, 27 September 2020 15:05

Color Days are Coming

Friday morning at snack, I brought out one of the old Nursery Color Day charts that I had saved so we could have a visual while we talked about our Color Days coming up.

It was pretty faded and the children’s names were different, but one child remembered from last year and so there was a lot of energetic conversation about the different colors and what we could do. There was actually enough excitement that I searched through my file a bit more and found the chart from last year. The colors on this one were a lot brighter and even more exciting.

Children talked about how they could bring blueberries in their snacks when it was blue day, or red apple slices for red and on through the list. One child thought that gold would be hard to find a food for. I suggested maybe we could make things with gold glitter or things like that instead.

They thought baking brownies would be really good for a brown day.

Sunday, 27 September 2020 14:59

Nursery Beginnings 09-07-2020

I hope this Labor Day weekend has been fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

I am so looking forward to tomorrow and the first day when we are all together.

I am reassured to see that Nurseries appear comfortable in their masks. They all kept them on while we were inside the building and put them back on after eating snack. And a number also wore them, seemingly without a thought, outside as well! Many thanks to you parents for modeling mask wearing for them and for helping by explaining and talking it through with them. I know it will be a process of approximation and reminders and figuring it out together with them, just like with anything, but I can see from last week that they can all do well with this additional bit to our Nursery and School routine.

So thank you parents!


Saturday, 01 February 2020 20:44

Following the Dragon

Nurseries had a great time with the Lunar New Year feast. We read several picture books about Lunar New Year and then talked about how the Chinese dragon in the stories brought good luck to everyone and how it wasn’t like the European dragon that guarded gold and breathed fire. Nurseries reassured each other that the Kindergarten dragon would only breath air, or maybe water, and that it was a costume and that the Kindergartners would be inside making it move.

Several Nurseries said, “And anyway we will see their feet!”

What I didn’t know at the time, was that Kindergartners’ had decided together to take turns being the person who wore the dragon’s head during the actual parade… since there were six Kindergartners who wanted be the head! Lindie explained to them that, during the actual parade, she would be so busy putting down bubble wrap (to stomp for the firecracker sound effects) that she might not be able to cue them to switch. What to do?

One Kindergartner suggested that whenever they came to a doorway, they would know it was their cue to quickly change positions under the long red cloth — the body of the dragon.

So Lindie asked how many doorways they would be going through from start to finish. They figured out that if they went out of the Kindergarten room and then into the Nursery room from the hallway, that there would be six doorways… enough for each person who wanted to have a turn!  

I loved hearing from Lindie about Kindergartners’ impressive problem solving and group process. And I think the piece that really blew me away was how beautifully and seamlessly they carried through with their plan! It was so beautifully done that, even though I was just a few Nurseries behind the dragons tail, I didn’t have a clue that they were doing that kind of complicated stagecraft inside the dragon while they walked us from room to room and on down to the feast!

Nurseries truly loved the anticipation and joy of the celebration and the idea of being such a part of it all. When the time came on Thursday, we followed the Kindergartner’s dragon as it wound it’s way throughout all the rooms leading the entire school down the hall to the tables filled with stir fry, egg rolls, spring rolls, noodles, rice, and almond cookies. I know that Nurseries also loved the responsibility of expanded horizons and spreading out to sit along that long, long strip of red paper (the communal table) and then going up and down the hall on their own to get a cup of tea or another egg roll!



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