Kindness Matters

We have just ended the week where schools and communities far and wide are acknowledging Anti-Bully Day or Pink Shirt Day. At Childgarden Preschool, the staff decided that given the young age of these kiddos, and considering this is for many, their first group experience, we would focus more on kindness, which is a regular discussion the children are becoming familiar with. The staff do however support the movement and wore their own Pink Shirts on Wednesday February 28th. 

Inspired by an article we read teachers-powerful-lesson-on-the-effects-of-bullying--using-two-a , we had an idea for circle time. Ms. Sue held out two apples, similar in size and colour. And told this story...

"These two apples played together in the playground, they laughed and were the best of friends. One day some other apples started calling this apple names. “ Go away, you can't play here. Go find someone else to play with!”  This Apple was so sad! These words had bruised her heart. 

At this, the teacher asked the children to take a turn passing the Apple and say something very unkind to the Apple. For most children, they were very unsure that this was okay. If they did say something unkind such as, “go away, you can't play here,” they would lookup for assurance that they were not in trouble. A couple of children couldn't say anything unkind. 

Then the teacher picked up the other Apple and said, “you're so nice, do you want to play with me?” Then we passed this Apple from child to child and asked them to say something very kind, such as, “you're my best friend, I love you, do you want to have a play date?”

Then, the teacher took a knife and sliced the Apple that had been called names in half. The children were shocked to see that the Apple had bruises inside! The teacher told the children that the unkind words and name calling had bruised the Apple’s heart and memory. 

Then, the teacher took the knife and sliced the Apple that had kind words spoken to it, and the children were amazed to see no bruises.

We spoke about words hurting someone but not leaving a mark you can see. The teacher asked the children if words would leave a scratch on your skin or gushing blood. No! The children replied. The teacher explained that the damage is on the inside, leaving a bruise on your heart and memory. Remember that just because you don’t see a mark, unkind words will hurt someone very much on the inside.

Then we sang our Goodbye song, and dismissed the class. In the lobby,  I asked one little boy to tell his Daddy about the apples in class, and he replied, “No! Uh-uh.” His response told me a lot about the power of the circle time activity. I’m pretty sure he was processing the impact that they had just experienced. 

The next day at circle time, the teacher read a story called Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes.  

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2pCR8YHszM

At the start of the story I held a “perfect” piece of paper with a heart drawn on it. We imagine the paper is Chrysanthemum. As the kids at school call her names, the teacher crunches the paper, as she “wilts” each time, until the paper is a ball. When the kids begin to say kind things to Chrysanthemum, the paper begins to open up until it is flat again, by the happy ending. But… the children notice the paper has wrinkles in it, and is no longer smooth and “perfect”. The teacher asked the children to each take a turn and say something kind to Chrysanthemum and try to smooth the wrinkles. “I love you Chrysanthemum. Do you want to have a play date Chrysanthemum? etc. until all the children had a turn. But they noticed, no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t remove the marks. 

The teacher told the children that unkind words leave a mark in your heart and your memory, and even if you show you are sorry, the mark will remain.

For us at Childgarden, these ‘lessons’, are a way to engage our preschoolers with a powerful visual that we hope they carry with them. A powerful week that also impacted the teachers.

Now, we are thinking about the power of the visual experience and how to impact the children with the power of kindness. Our creative wheels are turning when we begin to think of hands on ways to demonstrate how kindness can spread. 

 

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First Ideas of Charity

The holiday season isn't all jolly and fun if your cupboards are bare. We recognize that our community is home to many people of all ages that are struggling to make ends meet and that often means; not enough to food to feed the family. As it happens, our preschool is neighbours with the Tri-City Share Food Bank. As with many business and schools, this is a popular time of year to ask for donations to the Food Bank, and Childgarden is no exception. Our generous families have been bringing donations and filling boxes for the Food Bank. 

On the morning before our first trip to the food Bank to make a donation, we ask the children, "What do you think the Food Bank is?"

L- "It's for people who don't have any money, are poor and don't have food." (Hmm, I think, there has been discussion about this at home). Another child puts his hand up, "I've heard about it. Like in Australia." I smile and ask, "Do you think it could happen here, in our community?" He ponders for a moment and adds thoughtfully, "I don't know." Then the ideas start coming. V- "My sister has a lot of money." (She's 8). K- "Hey, My Mom went shopping." So I challenge them, "But what if you had no money to go shopping?" L- "We could give them money." E- "When we give money to them, they could buy something with the money." R- "We could give them food." C-"We made Christmas cookies. We could give them Christmas cookies." A- "If you don't have food, go to the Superstore." So I ask, "What if you don't have money? How can you go shopping?" E- "Go to the bank machine." A- "I could give them my money." M- "I have two tomato soup. My Momma needs to buy more chicken soup. Then I could give them some soup."

I think these children are beginning to get it; the idea that not everyone can easily feed their family and go shopping. These children are beginning to see that perhaps they have something that not everyone has. And most importantly, that they have the power to help and make a positive difference in someone's life. 

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." Aesop

 

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Childgarden's Participates in Our First Podcast!

Childgarden participated in our first Podcast! Assisting Jen Lumanlan (Blogger and parenting expert) to interview Dr. Jamie Ostrov, who has done lots of research in the area of social exclusion including a study to see whether Vivian Paley's rule "You Can't Say You Can't Play" is effective. Check it out:))

Childgarden Rocks Rule

Childgarden Rocks Rule !
This year, began with painting rocks. At a staff meeting, we discussed using the rocks to convey messages of an agreement of belonging. 
One morning as children from Cedar class were arriving a wonderful group building of blocks emerged. Soon, it was meeting time and we worried that the blocks might get knocked down as everyone came to the carpet area. We asked the children what we should do if someone wants to knock down blocks, and someone else has built them. A suggestion from one child delighted us… “Maybe we should write a message?” Good idea, right? :) Together we constructed this message, 
“Ask before you knock down someone else’s building.” 
Now we see this message rock placed at each structure
built by our young architects, and everyone respects
the rock and the buildings are safe.

Our Hemlock class has so many ideas to share (all at the same time), that it’s hard to hear what anyone is saying at group times. We introduce the idea of one person who talks holds the rock and everyone else listens. This is the message the children came up with. 
“When someone else is talking; listen and zip.”

As a way to introduce our new practicum student we sang this name song: “Hello ____how are you? Tell us something about you.”Each child shared something and children listened and were very engaged. We decided to write this on a rock too. “Tell me something about you.” At the end of the class, one Mommy was presented with the rock

Sometimes adults don’t realize how often we say something until a preschooler repeats it back to us. With backpacks and the washroom through the lobby and down the hall, we are often reminding the children to use walking feet. One child suggested we write this message on a rock. Sounds like they are getting the idea of this!
“Always walk in the classroom and hallway.”

A normal aspect of preschool is learning to express yourself appropriately. It is quite typical to overhear adults say to children having a conflict: “Use you words.” We took this a little farther. “Use you kind words.” Then children offered suggestions of some kind words, “Please, Thank you, I Love you, Be friends, Like, Share, May I.”

We wonder what other messages the children, teachers and our community of families will come up with?

Getting to Know the Story of One by Kathryn Otoshi

As educators we are constantly trying to find ways to connect children with the idea of friendship, kindness and connectedness.  This story of 'One' by Kathryn Otoshi clearly demonstrates to children how the power of just one person can make a change and the impact of community on well-being and belonging.  Children are drawn to the simplicity of the language and illustrations.  One could hear a pin drop as children absorb the words of the story and interpret it in their own unique ways.  

  “Maybe Red is trying to say sorry”

“My favourite colour is red!”

“How do you think blue feels if red is big and he is small?”

“Maybe one day he’ll be big like that”

“Sad!”

“I think he got not scared because red got smaller”

“Maybe because he said he wanted a friend named purple.”

“1,4, 3, and 5 will save them”

We will revisit this story throughout our year and see what unfolds within in our classroom as children begin to understand the importance of courage, friendship and a true sense of inclusiveness.  We wonder how you embrace this idea within your family and welcome your thoughts for us to ponder...

 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SbgsR0SP0y0 

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Beautiful Day Exploring Rocky Point Park

We enjoyed time with our classes visiting Rocky Point Park, children were fascinated by jelly fish floating in the water, we also spot a crab swimming so fast in the water.  Children spot the bear shaped shrubs (topiary:  cutting plants and shrubs in to shapes) camouflaged amongst the beautiful plants.  We explore the pier where we also find homes made for the Purple Martian birds, perhaps we look forward to getting to know this bird along with other living organisms as we continue visiting the park throughout the year.  

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First Days at Preschool

We are so happy to be back at Childgarden with regular classes getting underway with our gradual entry process. Our beautiful environment and set up has immediately drawn children in, we look forward to getting settled and observing the children and their interests in our inviting and warm environment:)

We thank all our wonderfully supportive community as we work at getting to know one another through this upcoming year!