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long-range plans of some of the activities they wanted to accomplish. Among these were making an airplane big enough to hold several children, painting a mural of the airport, and writing stories and poems about flying. Each day the children and teacher talked about "What We Will Do Today." As they planned, the children listed "The Things We Have To Do," "The Other Things We Will Do If There Is Time," and "Those That Can Be Done Another Day."
The next step in cooperation was planning a new unit of work. The teacher laid the ground work for a unit centered on "Learning About Our Community." The children were interested, as the teacher knew they would be, and had all sorts of ideas on what they wanted to find out, where they could find out, and how to go to work; cooperative planning came much more naturally as time went on.
All this did not happen in a week. Actually the second semester was well on its way before the teacher felt really comfortable in planning with rather than for the pupils.
Kindergarten children cannot write but their teacher can! This letter to parents in October shows how even very young children learn to work together:
Have you ever said to your child, "What did you do in kindergarten today?" Has your child ever replied, "Nothing," or "We just played?" I ask the question because just a few days ago the following story came to me. A little child called to his teacher and said, "Hey, school teacher, when are you going to teach me something?" This story made me realize that possibly you are wondering what your little ones are doing in kindergarten each morning and afternoon.
I would like to give you a résumé of what we have accomplished up to now. first week of school we were busy getting acquainted with one another, learning the names of our new friends, and learning how to get along in a large group. Right here let me tell you how much I appreciate your help in taking care of the loops and names on all of the children's wraps. It is much more important than it seems for when a child can easily identify his own belongings it gives him a sense of security instead of a feeling of frustration.
Besides becoming acquainted with each other, we learned about the building. We learned to use the kindergarten entrance and we learned where the materials used in kindergarten were kept. We explored our large playgrounds and our own particular playground. Then we went about the school building to find out where the rooms of brothers and sisters were located. We met the superintendent and secretary who showed us the office. We met the bus drivers and our cooks who showed us the kitchen and the food storeroom. It was exciting to go through the tunnel to the Activity Building where the basketball games are played.
Science has proved most interesting to the 5- and 6-year-olds. We have observed and cared for a turtle, goldfish, and polliwogs. Diane presented us with a pair of hamsters which the children have named "Pinky" and "Winky." We saw a film
strip on hamsters which showed their development from the time they were wee babies until they were quite grown up. Learning how to clean the cages and care for pets properly develops a great sense of responsibility in the children.
Besides the pets, we have a lovely terrarium with many kinds of beautiful plants. We also have a rock collection and a shell collection. Our nut collections are just getting started with an array of black walnuts, hickory nuts, and chestnuts. All in all our science corner is very much alive, thanks to your boys and girls.
Each day we vary our program with songs, records, good stories, and poems. The children already have dramatized two of the stories. All of these interesting activities together with rhythms, handwork, games indoors and out of doors make a comprehensive and meaningful program that helps to develop your child and keep him a happy individual.
Judy, who had a September birthday, gave the class a beautiful farm storybook. May I suggest if you are sending a birthday treat at some time or other to talk to me about it first?
I'd like to mention a very worth-while project which the children enjoyed. They made two bright-colored picture books for the little girl who has an incurable disease. The Journal wrote a story about her. Your children were delighted to make someone else happy with an unexpected gift.
I hope this write-up has given you a little idea of what is going on from day to day in our kindergarten. From time to time I shall write to you about our new centers of interest.
Thank you for your flowers and plants which make our room very attractive. Please drop in and have a short visit at your convenience. Cordially yours,
The fifth-grade children in a southern city were pleased when they received a letter from a fifth-grade boy who lived in Oregon. The boy wanted them to tell him about their city, especially why it had grown from a town into a city.
The class first discussed the question "What makes any city grow?" In a sense, they reviewed an earlier unit and came up with such things as farm land, raw materials, good harbors, and means of transportation. When they tried to decide which of these and other things had helped in the case of their own city, they found they needed information from the community.
With the help of the teacher, the children made a list of the different citizens, governmental agencies, organizations, and other sources which could give them the data they needed.
The class then divided into committees, according to interest. Each committee chose a chairman and a secretary. A list of questions they wanted to ask in their interviews was made. One member of each committee telephoned for an appointment on the day set for collecting information. The teacher talked with persons to be interviewed to be sure they would be willing to have the children call on them and would understand the purposes of the interview.
Because the public library was more centrally located than the school, the teacher, members of the class, and several mothers went to the library—the starting and returning point. After the interviews were completed, the children returned to the library where they had an opportunity to assemble and talk over the facts they had gathered. Books, copies of old newspapers, and other source materials were used to round out reports.
The next day, each group made its report to the class. Included in the reports were maps, folders, and pictures. One complete report was sent to the Oregonian, who, undoubtedly inspired by his teacher to get information about a distant city, was pleased with the report.
The fourth-grade pupils (the oldest group in the school) were having a class meeting. The president opened the meeting.
The minutes were read and approved. The secretary had done a good job in writing the minutes.
The first order of business was the appointment of a committee to put flowers in the cafeteria.
Then one child suggested that it would be nice to send notes and get-well cards to children in the room who were sick. Someone else suggested that since they were the oldest children in the school they ought to send them to anyone who was sick, not just to the fourth-graders. A motion to this effect was made and carried.
A girl asked to be recognized. She said, "Someone who sits near me is always putting his feet on my chair. It is disturbing when I try to work." A boy nearby squirmed self-consciously.
Another child said promptly, "That's not fair. Ann is sort of naming people. There are only a few people who could do that. We agreed that people's names should never be mentioned in our meetings when it was something bad. Ann ought to tell the teacher quietly." The silence which followed indicated that the other children agreed.
A child asked, "If the teacher takes something away from you, should you get it back?"
The president said, "Shall we have a motion?"
There was a motion and a second, favoring the return of articles.
"You might need it.”
"It depends on its value-you might just want to throw it away." "If they are just playthings, she might keep them until the end of the year. If it is work material we ought to get it back so we can use it.”
At this point the teacher asked if she might speak. After being recognized by the president, she said, "I want to show you some things I have taken away. (She showed a whistle, a compass, a knife, a pencil, a paper
knife.) You may make your own decision. Try to keep in mind some of the things we have discussed before."
There were no more remarks, and the vote favored the return of personal possessions.
Next, a girl came to the front of the room and held up a large card on which the word "FRIENDLY” was printed. In response to the question, "What does this word mean to you?" this discussion followed:
"It means when you see a new person, you should be friendly.”
"When someone hits you with a ball or something, you shouldn't fight, you should be friendly."
"When you are in company, you must share.”
"If you are mad at someone, you should be friendly and not fight." (The children have a "word of the week." They try to learn what it means, to "practice" it and others that they have already studied.)
The singing committee then led the class in two songs which they had selected. The meeting was adjourned and the children went quietly into their next activity.
The eighth-grade boys and girls were enthusiastic about a Thanksgiving story they had written. They decided to present the story in the form of choral speaking to the sixth and seventh grades. The teacher suggested that it might be fun to make a tape recording and play it back to hear how their voices sounded. After some practice, the recording was made. As the children listened to the play-back, they were surprised to find they weren't quite as good as they thought they were! The boys and girls made constructively critical comments about individual and group performance. The teacher's comments were concerned mainly with things which the pupils, lacking experience, did not recognize as weaknesses in performance. When the children felt they had improved, another recording was made. The play-back proved to them that progress had been made.
Through this process of performing and evaluating the children were learning a great deal about breath control, enunciation, speed, and intensity of sound. More important, they were learning to look at themselves objectively, to give and take suggestions without having their feelings hurt, and to laugh at themselves good-humoredly.
Every child in this third-grade class appeared to be engaged in something of interest. One group was in a corner where a large puppet stage had been built. These children were using both puppets and marionettes in practicing a play which Dan and Ruth had written. In an adjoining room. some children were sawing cardboard to be used for making scenery. Some
were making curtains for the puppet stage. A list of responsibilities was posted.
The marionettes and puppets had been received as Christmas gifts and brought to school. The teacher said the children were now using them "just for fun"; later she hoped to develop the early history of the community through them, making whatever puppets were needed.
One child who was making curtains sat on a chair before a group of children who were painting a side view of her as she worked.
Bookcases and small tables were filled with colorful and useful books. A large round table had white and colored paper, ruler, paste, and scissors on it. Two large double easels engaged four children who seemed unaware of all others as they painted "as they pleased." Children's drawings of the sun, the earth, the moon, in creative imaginative free-moving style added to the room's already dynamic quality.
On the wall were two small posters, each holding an envelope. On one was printed, "I won't be gone long-Boys." On the other, "I will be back soon-Girls." Each child had a name card which he put into the envelope and removed. The children had worked out this simple way of solving a problem.
At the back of the room was a large cage, about 3 by 4 feet, holding a pair of doves! These were the gift of a nearby zoo. "How do you take care of them?" Mike, whose week it was to look after them, was asked.