Lindie's Blog
Lindie Keaton

Lindie Keaton

Sunday, 07 November 2021 17:55

What did you do today?

Some children share many details of their days here at school, when they get home, while others process these events more internally. The question of "What did you do today?" may bring a flood of words, a shrug, or an answer of "I don't know." or "Played" or even "Nothing". So I thought I'd share some observations I've made over the last several weeks on what the Kindergartners are doing here each day. The children are very busy here at school. Here is what I am seeing. Their large motor activities have included monkey bars, the hanging bars, digging in the sand, riding trikes, swinging in the swings, tire swing, and hammocks, building with sticks, and raking leaves. There was some intense work last week on the teeter totter figuring out fulcrum, weight, and balance. Small motor activities have included lots of drawing, writing, and crafting. The fairy house has had improvements and repairs made to its roof and walls. It's been equipped with camping supplies and is currently being decorated for Christmas. There's been lots of cutting, stapling, gluing, and taping--especially taping. The children have used grass, onion grass, leaves, sticks, paper, string, rocks, and bones as craft materials. They have been burying and unearthing items, including bones, a fork, and a cement block. Their imaginative play has included being various animals, fairies, robots, super heroes, families, and a stuffy birthday party. They have also put on monologues for each other in a theater they created in our meadow. The monologues are a mix of stand up, mime, vaudeville, and a lot of slapstick. Many of the children are reading and making pattern predictions on our job chart. Some are exploring numerals and numbers using our calendar, even making their own calendar pages. Some children spend time each day looking at or reading books to themselves or others. Several children dictate notes to family or friends or stories for me to write for them. Some of these stories are shared with the group at our story time. While some of these activities are done in a solitary way, most are done with others. As a result, children are honing their skills each day as they figure out how to make plans together; share resources; negotiate and navigate differences and problems--there is a lot of this inherent in imaginative play, where they are creating whole worlds together; explore inclusion and exclusion; identify and share feelings; and set and reset boundaries as they do the mutual dance of learning to set firm, fair limits and learning to respect them. All of this takes a great deal of self-awareness, evaluation, and control. It also takes a great deal of energy, and this group is doing it beautifully all while managing the task of keeping themselves comfortable in an outdoor setting. It's a lot--I can't wait to see what they'll do next!
Sunday, 10 October 2021 18:26

A visit with Penny the beagle

     As we finished celebrating the color brown, my dogs, Penny and Ivy came to visit Kindergarten.  Several weeks before, Penny, a beagle, had had surgery to remove a tumor.  As a result, she now has three legs--two front and one back.  I had shared this at news time, and several Kindergartners asked questions about why, how could she walk, could she come to school to visit?  It is normal for children this age to be both curious and afraid of body differences that involve differently formed or missing body parts or different ways of moving.  I thought a visit from Penny might be a good way for the children to begin to be more comfortable with these types of differences. 

     On the afternoon of the visit, my partner brought the dogs to the playground to meet us.  On our way up to the playground, a couple children who usually are at the lead, hung back with me.  One of them confided, "We're both a little afraid about seeing a dog with three legs."  I explained that many people feel that way and reminded them that they could go close to see Penny or stay as far away as they wanted.  I reassured them that although Penny might look different, her body doesn't hurt her now. 

     Some of the children were interested in petting the dogs, and some were not.  A group of interested Younger Groupers joined us to visit the dogs.  Several of the children took turns walking Penny. The two children who hung back with me did get close to Penny, and one of them even took a turn walking her around the playground.  The other asked if Penny could come back, so she could have a turn to walk her, when she is more used to her.  Penny, who loves to be petted and to walk around sniffing things, thoroughly enjoyed herself and is looking forward to a return visit.   

Epilogue: The children enjoyed revisiting Agraria last week. Penny is trying out as our off site support dog, and many of the children like taking turns holding her leash. A couple children tried reading to her (she wasn't very attentive to print:), and I noticed several children coming over to her to give her a pet and to touch base, as they went through their day at Agraria. She will accompany us on our hikes in the Glen, trips to Agraria, and other off site trips as well.
Sunday, 26 September 2021 20:09

Getting to know Agraria

     On Friday this group of Kindergartners had their first visit to Agraria.  The weather was beautiful--sunny and warm enough by afternoon for some children to wade barefoot in Jacoby creek.  We started by setting up our circle area around the clay oven, which is under a roof. Next on our agenda was taking a look at the bathrooms in the big, old barn.  The toilets are composting, so instead of flushing each person needs to add a scoop of saw dust when they are done. 

     Finally we were ready to set out on a morning hike.  We started out by sampling some herbs in the garden--oregano, basil, thyme, and mint.  We made our way through the maze--a series of mowed trails in the meadow just beyond the offices.  We stayed together on a first pass through.  The children decided that they were comfortable exploring the maze on their own.  They had a plan to ask a friend if they got confused or turned around or to stand in one place and call my name.  They practiced yelling, "Lindie!" just to be sure, and then they were off to run through the maze on their own--no one needed to call my name.  From the maze we walked the trail to the persimmon circle for morning snack.  There were ripe and some not so ripe persimmons on the ground around the tree.  A couple Kindergartners sampled the red, ripe persimmons.  I think they taste like a grape crossed with a banana.  No Kindergartner was a fan. 

     After morning snack the children played in the wooded area behind the persimmon circle, which is mostly honey suckle under-story that creates an open space just the right size.  The remainder of the morning was spent at the rocky creek, where the children kept their boots on and stayed on the rocks due to the temperature and depth of the water.  After lunch the children made plans for a return visit to the maze, to explore Jacoby Creek where the depth and temperature would allow for barefoot wading, and to be back in our circle area before snack with enough time to use red clay and paint with poke berries.  We got to all but the poke berries, which we postponed until purple or pink days back at school.  It was a very full and busy day at Agraria!

Saturday, 11 September 2021 01:25

Beginnings

     I'm really enjoying observing this group of children exploring their environment and getting to know themselves and each other.  Here are some highlights from this past week.

  • The children have asked me to tell a story each day at snack time, so we are part way through the Gray Cat stories--a long time Kindergarten oral story tradition.
  • Some children are visiting the garden and the chickens daily--checking to make sure the hens have food, harvesting cucumbers, green peppers, and tomatoes, and planting radishes.
  • The children are already advancing their knowledge of problem solving--how to share a scarce resource; how to deal with bawdy humor (aka potty talk); how to use a wagon to move a heavy item when there aren't enough friends willing to lift it; and a novel solution to how to break a tie vote when deciding on activity plans--everyone's stuffy or stuffy substitute, which was anything from a drawing to a back pack, gets to vote also.  In case you're wondering, the tie was broken when a stuffy voted differently from their Kindergartner:) 
  • The children are learning the routines and taking on responsibilities--remembering to tell me their plans when they go into the building, the meadow, or anywhere that is out of bounds from where we currently are; figuring out the timing of the walk to the bathroom; reading the job chart to find out what their jobs are today and tomorrow; and learning to stuff hammocks back into their stuff sacks.

     They have made hike and shape day plans for next week, and even have field trip plans made for later this month and beyond!  I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out!

Thursday, 10 June 2021 21:24

Kindergarten Remembers--our year in the pandemic!

      At the end of every school year, I ask the children to complete the sentence "I remember. . ." with what they remember from that year to create a group poem and record of their time in Kindergarten.  I write down exactly what they say. I do re-order it to follow the flow of the year.  Hearing the words and memories of this year's group, I really know that despite everything, we did it--we had a successful year together outdoors during a pandemic!  Here is their poem.  Enjoy!

Kindergarten Remembers

I remember when I first came to school.

I remember when we were down in forest classroom.

I remember sticks.

I remember my friends.

I remember lunch.

I remember when we went on hikes.

I remember we saw that bunny.

I remember when we saw that snake.

I remember when we saw animals in the Glen, like the box turtle.

I remember when we builded nests.

I remember that snowy day it was a little hot, and the snow all melted.

I remember when we saw the first cicada.

I remember when we went to the Nursery classroom to see the tadpoles.

I remember the tree falling down.

I remember when I started smelling the stinky smell of the cicadas.

I remember every sunny day was the best day ever.

I remember every rainy day was the worst.

I remember every school year is the best school year.

I remember the good times of the school being the greatest place and the greatest time of my life.

By Kindergarten 2020-21

June 9, 2021

Monday, 31 May 2021 18:40

3 Princesses and 30,000 Cicadas

     Two major events happened recently in Kindergarten.  First, Kindergartners performed an original play they wrote together.  Initially, inspired by the Older Group (OG) musical, they re-enacted Alice in Wonderland on the stage in art/science.  They had me write down the cast and scenes.  They did a run through.  The next time they were in art/science, they got dress up clothes out for costumes and acted out a play they called The Four Princesses.  Later, when some children wanted to practice Alice in Wonderland again, other Kindergartners wanted to do The Four Princesses.  Their solution was to combine the two plays into a new play they entitled Alice and the Three Princesses.  They had a long meeting about who the audience would be.  Some children wanted a small audience, so eventually they settled on inviting Younger Group (YG) to a dress rehearsal and inviting OG and Kindergarten families to a performance the following day.  The dress rehearsal went wonderfully.  On the day of the performance, though, one child, who had a major part, was out sick.  After much conversation, they determined that the show must go on and arrived at a solution--one of the princesses would step into the part of the super hero, and another princess would take over the missing princess' lines, as well as deliver her own.  In that way, Alice and the Two Princesses was performed.

     The second major event was the emergence of the cicadas of brood X (ten).  We had been reading about this 17 year cyclical event, but it was still other-worldly to see thousands of cicadas crawl from the ground, shed their nymph skin and emerge as winged cicadas.  Kindergartners held handfuls of nymph shells and sometimes handfuls of winged cicadas, as well.  They dubbed each other "cicada whisperers" and marveled at each new cicada hatchery we found.  In about a week the males started to call.  There are three types in brood X, and we've heard all three calls in various places and times.  The ones that sounds like a UFO landing have been an almost constant background noise and like a rainbow seem to always be just over the next hill.  We can hear them especially well in the bottom of the valley (drainage swale) between our forest classroom and the cycle circle side of the playground.  Early on the laser sounding ones would crescendo in the afternoons in our own forest classroom.  Later that transitioned into the ones that sound like a sizzle, think water in hot oil, becoming the dominant afternoon voices.  17 years ago my son was in Nursery here at the Antioch School, when the cicadas made their last appearance.  This year he graduated from college.  Likewise, this year's Kindergartners will be young adults when the children of these cicadas emerge.  Kindergartners have been enthralled with this unique phenomenon--the visible life cycle of the cicadas this spring and the way they function as insect time markers for our incremental human growth.  See you in 17 years brood X!

Sunday, 18 April 2021 14:35

Rabbits and snakes and chickens--oh my! from the Glen to Agraria

     Kindergarten started the week with a hike in the Glen all the way to Meatball Rock.  The wildflowers were plentiful and gorgeous.  We are learning to identify as many as we can--spring beauties, violets, cut leafed toothwort, dutchmen's breeches, wild ginger, blood root, toad shade trillium, May apples, and twin leaf were all spotted.  This group loves names and naming.  If it has a name, they want to know it.  If it doesn't, they will name it! 

     It was a great hike for wildlife viewing as well.  First we saw a baby rabbit--just old enough to be on its own--hiding along the bike path.  Just inside the cave, a black rat snake lay on a rock shelf.  Amazingly it didn't slither away upon our arrival.  A parent consulted with a snake knowledgeable cousin and determined the snake was likely getting ready to molt making it too lethargic to get away quickly.

     Mid-week the Kindergartners celebrated Nn days by learning about how birds build nests.  Then they tried their hand at building their own bird nests--some hand held, small enough for a songbird, and some large enough to accommodate a Kindergartner-sized bird.  This traditional Kindergarten activity here has been a favorite of groups for decades and predates my time as Kindergarten teacher.  One Kindergartner declared, "I love birds!  I love this day!"

     Kindergarten ended the week with a long-awaited trip back to Agraria.  They spent an extended time in the morning in imaginative play in the wooded thicket behind the Persimmon Circle.  We visited the small, feeder creek before lunch.  After lunch, the children spent some time exploring a trail they call the obstacle course, which ends up at the end of the small creek.  The children also visited with the hens, who they discovered love dandelions.  Though we've been told the hens are all named Prudence, I over-heard Kindergartners looking for their favorites, who they've named Julia and Chloe.  We finished the day at Jacoby Creek, where some children are still working at how to extract a large piece of what appears to be quartz from between tree roots that have grown solidly around it along the creek bank.  It was a glorious day for the children at what has become one of their favorite places!

    

Saturday, 03 April 2021 20:46

At Home in the Outdoors

     The children smiled widely as they arrived last Monday.  We were back in our forest classroom!  Immediately, they requested to set up hammocks.  For several days this was how the morning started, with children taking turns in hammocks for up to an hour of imaginative play as caterpillars, then chrysalises, and finally butterflies, before starting the cycle over again. 

     We now have a lockable storage chest to keep items like our hammocks in, so that we don't have to transport them back and forth each day.  The children dubbed it the treasure chest.  We also have wood chips on our entrance path and in our fire circle area in anticipation of spring rains that would otherwise turn those areas into slippery mud.  We've given up our pocket charts, as the wind would blow the labels away, and now have smaller, magnetic charts to keep track of our jobs and the day's schedule.  Other than these small improvements, our forest classroom is much the same.  We're home, it seems.

Sunday, 07 March 2021 13:28

Back Together Again!

     The Kindergarten children are delighted to be back together again in person!  It's interesting that the random passing of turns in news that happened in Zoom meetings, as opposed to the around the circle method we used in our forest classroom this past fall, has continued, so that everyone has to pay close attention to who has had their turn and who hasn't.  The children have enjoyed using the indoor room and materials.  They have figured out that the lofts, alcove, and library are places they can play together as a group by having one person in each area.  Lots of mail has been sent back and forth using the pulley that goes from the ground floor library to the lofts.  So many paintings have been done and placed in frames that the room has a whole new look!  By the end of the week, the children were planning hikes, time in our forest classroom, and looking forward to returning to Agraria and to full days in our forest classroom. 

Sunday, 22 November 2020 17:42

Kindergarten Savors Time at Agraria

     Kindergartners love the Fridays we have spent at Agraria, because it combines the best aspects of our hikes in the Glen and the freedom to explore they have in our own forest classroom.  Due to rising numbers of viral cases in our community, Agraria is closing to group use, so this past Friday was our last visit for awhile.  The children made a morning hike plan that included all their favorite stops--the garden, where there was still dill, basil seeds (they taste like candy!), and sage to experience; the maze, where they can find their own way to the trail to the Persimmon Circle, where we had snack; the feeder creek, which was still running and finally yielded a shell find; and the chickens.  In the afternoon, we hiked on a new trail to Jacoby Creek, where the children found fossils, quartz, and an old farm wheel.  The children and I are hopeful that we can visit again this spring and observe these familiar places in a new season. 

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