Spring had sprung in Portland! Daffodils are in full bloom, many trees and bushes are sporting vibrant green growth, and the robins are building nests and pulling worms from the damp ground. I spot a robin’s nest just outside our play yard fence, so we take turns climbing up a step ladder to get a closer look. To help direct children’s attention to the earth waking up from winter slumber, our Family Share prompts focus on nests, eggs and new life. Since we have a family in our community with Iranian heritage, we partner together to share a bit about Nowruz, Persian New Year, as the timing corresponds with the spring equinox.
Prompt: We are Celebrating Nowruz (Persian New Year) and Celebrating Spring.
Question: Have you started something new? Or seen something starting to grow?
C-The pear tree starting to grow
Z-The grass and pear tree are growing
S-The raspberry bush
C-Lots of plum and cherry trees blooming
S-Seeing little flowers growing in the garden
S-We see Flowers!
C-New flowers and blooming trees
K-I planted a basil plant
L-We spotted bald eagles
H-Daffodils in our garden
E-Our plum tree
H-I just planted some flower seeds! I can’t wait to watch them sprout out of the ground.
Eggs-Symbol of new life.
We furnish the classroom with books about spring, eggs, and budding life; and we offer many hands-on activities for children to consider the new life they may witness and/or to invent their own stories of new life. We create a matching/sequence card game using photos of eggs and hatched versions of the critters that hatched from them. We intentionally include spiders and snakes to help broaden children’s interest in these critters beyond creatures-to-fear. The magnet board is full of a wide range of birds and we play a cooperative game in which we work together to get the owls safe to their nest before the sun rises. At the end of our mornings together, we search for insect eggs beneath play yard stones; and remind children of our commitment to be gentle with all living creatures and to do no harm.
There are giant eggs (huevos) outlines drawn on the easel for children to paint and individual paper eggs to sponge-paint. As children paint, we consider who might hatch from each egg and we joke about outlandish things that would never hatch from an egg (like a monster truck!).
Dictating Nest Stories
We offer children brown playdough along with some nest-making materials such as twigs, grass and moss. Children assemble their own nests and invent stories to accompany them. As they share their ideas, I invite them to more fully map out their story. I ask clarifying questions and encourage children to represent their ideas by drawing elements in their stories.
C: “There was one baby spider that wanted a mama and then her dad came in and said, ‘I don’t wanna dad.’ And then the little baby spider want them both. And they little happily ever after. Even the grandpa spider too.”
S: “The worm is trying to eat the bees. It’s going to ask, “Can I eat the bees?’ And he’s going to say yes.”
K: “First the Bluejay heard a sound and it ran to it. And it got louder and it ran the way it came— back to its home. Then it came later when the sound got quieter. It lifted its wings and it flyed. And then it went east and went up into the sky. It went up and it flyed And then it was in its nest.”
W: “The Wren bird built a nest. And it broke when the mama was getting some worms for its babies. And then the mama bird heard them falling. And then she came really quick. Then she let go of them and they started to fly. And then there was a disco party for all the birds they knew. What you need for a Bird Disco Party: Worms, gummy worms, sour gummy worms, coconut cake with worms, dancing, bird decorations.”
Building Playdough Nests
The next school day, we invite children to bring their nests to the block table so they can inhabit the nests with animal figurines. In this way, we support continued interest in children’s creations; and provide children with a hook for deeper story engagement.
Following last week’s focus on eggs and nests, we’re focusing on Trees this week. We’ll share highlights from Tree week next Tuesday.