ICS Early Years Center Blog

Inter-Community School Zurich, Switzerland

March 31, 2014
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

Early Years Mud Kitchen

P1180313

With the Spring weather having arrived here in Switzerland, we’ve finally had a chance to get dirty in the Early Years Mud Kitchen.

We collected donated pots, pans and crockery to stock our kitchen. Our School Caretakers helped us attach the wall racks for hanging equipment on and to arrange the wooden benches to make lots of spaces for us to work in.

P1180223 P1180260

“I cooking ice cream. I take chocolate and sand to (make) chocolate ice cream.” Wille

I cooking. Chocolate cookies. So many. So yucky! Then yum yum yum (pretended to eat). ” Diego

I’m making cupcakes.” Molly

P1180174P1180138 P1180249 P1180265

Our next job is to plant herbs in the surrounding gardens and in pots. We hope that the herbs will arouse our senses further and enhance our potion concoctions and muddy cupcake, chocolate cookie and ice cream mixes.

For more information about creating a Mud Kitchen visit Muddy Faces here.

1908287_10152047895945897_2036531371_n

 

Herbs planted by EY2 FA.

Photographs by Rebecca Smith (EY Teacher ICS)

March 3, 2014
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

Waldkinder: Explorations in the Forest

 

Each week we visit the forest by our school for our Waldkinder, or ‘forest children’ explorations.

P1170135

This week it felt as if the winter had melted away. We spent a perfect morning exploring an area of the forest that we had not visited before. There were tall trees and a rushing stream. The children experimented with ‘force’ by floating leaves and holding sticks in the flowing water. We collected big sticks and worked together to carry them. We dragged the sticks through the squelchy mud to make marks. 

P1170216 P1170149 P1170201

Some children recalled previous experiences that we’ve had in the forest. They collected sticks and built ‘fires’.

P1170174

In our ‘Sharing The Planet’ Unit of Inquiry we are wondering about how animals and humans interact. On this day we searched for animals and insects in the forest. We found some earthworms in the soil by the stream. We are now planning to research to find out more about worms.

P1170245 P1170261

Photographs by Rebecca Smith (ICS EY1 Teacher)

 

February 11, 2014
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

Invitations to Play that Encourage Cooperation

playdough for blog

Early Years Teachers give much thought about how to arrange materials, when preparing the classroom environment. Our desire is to present invitations to play that engage children in thinking and encourage them to explore. I have recently been reading about the idea of the ‘aesthetic dimension’.

‘Aesthetic dimension’ is described by Vea Vecchi (Atelierista of the Diana School, Reggio Emilia, for 30 years) as “a process of empathy relating the Self to things and things to each other…it is an aspiration to quality that makes us choose one word over another, a color or shade, a certain piece of music, a mathematical formula or the taste of food… It is an attitude of care and attention for the things we do, a desire for meaning;  it is curiosity and wonder;  it is the opposite of indifference and carelessness, of conformity, of absence of participation and feeling…”

Vea Vecchi, Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia, 2010: 5

Exploring the ideas related to the ‘aesthetic dimension’ has made me focus on our learning spaces and experiences in EY1. As a result, I have been more mindful when preparing the environment. I have hoped to create a welcoming atmosphere that inspires meaningful connections and conversations between members of the learning community.

Last week, we offered the children a number of invitations to play, including water play in trays with flower petals, herbal teabags with warm water, cups, spoons and teapots, to playdough with aromatic spices. While observing the children at play (‘play’ being the technical term for ‘the work’ of the three and four year-olds), I was most struck by the instances of joyful cooperation and delight the children found in the collaboration. I observed the steady ease of the ways in which the children were able to achieve their desired goals with the assistance of their peers. I believe that the thought and care that was put into the preparing the environment allowed and supported the children in their interactions, by creating spaces where the children can work together to share materials and exchange and build upon ideas.

Learning experiences such as the invitations to play highlighted here allow for the teachers and children to explore and build understandings related to our PSE (Physical, Social and Emotional) curriculum goals;

PSE- Interactions: Phase 1 Outcome  Learners interact, play and engage with others, sharing ideas, cooperating and communicating feelings in developmentally appropriate ways. They are aware that their behaviour affects others and identify when their actions have had an impact.

ICS Scope and Sequence Curriculum Document

Wald photos for blog post

tea party blog

Photographs by Rebecca Smith EY1 Teacher

Reference:

Vecchi, V. (2010) Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia: Exploring the role and potential of ateliers in early childhood education. Routledge: Oxon

November 28, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

Fathers Day Breakfast: An Opportunity for Sharing

P1120021

In preparation for the Fathers Day Breakfast in EY1, we read the book ‘My Dad’ written and illustrated by Anthony Browne. After reading the book we were inspired to share thoughts about our own dads. We worked in small groups and the teachers transcribed the children’s ideas.

P1110983

Our Daddies

He likes to always like to do funny stuff and it makes me laugh. Letizia

My daddy is so funny when he talks he says funny things. Aditi

When I’m in the pool my daddy throws me up and then he catches me in the air, he doesn’t let me in the water. Charli

My daddy is big. Wille

My daddy is a nice guy. My daddy is funny. He likes monkeys. Eleonore

My daddy is funny. Molly

My daddy goes to work. He likes to eat sausages, fried chicken and apples. Soichi

My daddy likes chocolate. Oliver

My daddy is big. Chloé

My daddy likes mummy. Muso

My daddy like(s) chocolate and big. Ron

My daddy likes cars and play dough. He likes to eat lunch, but he is not allowed to eat play dough.  Charles

My daddy is big. Titouan

My daddy is strong. My daddy like(s) Mano (football player). Diego

It was a lovely experience for the children to share this morning with the visiting fathers.  We truly value our partnership with families and the contributions made. We extend an open invitation for any families members to join us in the classroom to be an active part of the learning process. Additionally we are interested in your perspective of this experience and feedback of the morning. Perhaps you’d like to leave us a comment about your experience of visiting and spending time in EY1.

P1120024 P1120051P1120005

Photos by Rebecca Smith (ICS EY Teacher)

November 14, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

A Community Event: A Forest Lantern Walk

P1110424In Early November we held the annual Early Years & Kindergarten Families Lantern Walk. This community event provides an opportunity for children to build their understandings of this German autumnal tradition, interpreted in our unique way. It provides an opportunity for the EY children to explore ideas related to our Who We Are Unit of Inquiry, examining how ‘Through sharing experiences within our community we can learn about ourselves’.

In preparation for the Lantern Walk, the children were involved in a number of experiences and projects in collaboration with different teachers and classes in the Primary School.

In EY1 we talked about fire safety. We read stories and non-fiction books about fire, camping and the forest. We set up a pretend fire and camping area in our classroom to encourage dramatic role play. The children spent much time watching and tending to the (pretend) fire, using flashlights, and experimenting with new vocabulary to warn and remind their peers about how to be safe near the fire.

P1110117P1100997P1100958 P1100946

During their weekly German lesson with Frau Skender, the children learnt and sang songs about Autumn time and the Lantern Walk in German. We practiced singing these songs with friends from Kindergarten (KJM).

The EY2 and Kindergarten children explored and practised through hands-on tasks the German vocabulary appropriate for talking about Autumn weather, the colours we can find in nature during this season and the clothing we wear during the different seasons.

All of the children worked to create paper lanterns to carry to light our way during the Lantern Walk. In EY1 the lanterns were decorated with a marbled effect made with marbles and paint. Stamped leaves decorated the EY2 lanterns and Kindergarten made gorgeous pin-punched owl designed lanterns.

P1110082

The children from all EY classes prepared dough to turn into bread rolls. The EY1 children joined with friends from KJM to knead and shape the dough. We sang German songs and played together with our friends while we took turns at making the bread rolls. Sharing this task with the Kindergarten children was a lovely occasion. We observed that many children from across the classes who share the same home language worked and played together. We also watched as many new friendships were formed through the interactions and shared task. We proudly enjoyed the baked bread rolls with our friends and family members at the fire in the forest on the Lantern Walk evening.

P1110006 P1110095 P1110105 P1110115

The Lantern Walk was a beautiful event. We paraded with our friends and families to the forest arriving at a beautiful fire built by some Kindergarten fathers for us. We sang both English and German songs together around the fire. It was a wonderful opportunity to build and share community spirit.

Watch a short video of the event below:

Password is: Lantern Walk

Lantern Walk from ICS Early Years on Vimeo.

 http://vimeo.com/79323616

The event required collaboration between the Early Years and Kindergarten classes along with the German Department. This collaboration reflects the value we place on interdisciplinary learning and community-building.

034P1110354P1110356P1110394

 Photos by Rebecca Smith (ICS EY Teacher)

November 14, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
1 Comment

Sharing a Community Cultural Event: Diwali

P1110156

In early November the EY1 class celebrated Diwali: ‘The Festival of Lights’. Rohini, Aditi’s mother, visited our class to share about this Hindu celebration with us. We listened to some information and viewed pictures of this traditional celebration. We watched a cartoon version of the Diwali story. The underlying message of the story is the victory of good over evil. It was about a man, Rama, who with the help from a very strong monkey called Hanuman, searched for and found his wife, Sita. After a very long time away they returned to their village. There was a joyous celebration in which the land was illuminated with diyas (clay oil lamps) and bursting fire crackers.

You can view the cartoon story here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp59n0So

P1110145 P1110176P1110158

We learned about the diya, the clay oil lamp, that people use during Diwali to decorate their homes and offices. We held our own exciting and joyous celebration by lighting sparklers. It’s interesting that festivals of light can be found all over the world and in many cultures.

P1110194

We each received a Happy Diwali gift from Aditi and her family. It included a chocolate treat and our very own diya, so we can share our encounter of this celebration with our families at home. This experience is an example of how we can explore ideas connected to our Who We Are Unit of Inquiry,‘Through sharing experiences within our community we can learn about ourselves’.

Photos by Rebecca Smith (ICS Early Years Teacher)

November 7, 2013
by Andrea Mills
0 comments

Joyful Rainy Day Possibilities

Water play is an essential component of a quality Early Years program, offering interesting and dynamic opportunities for learning and interacting. At ICS, we feel strongly it is important to provide children with rich outdoor sensory experiences, in addition to those offered by the conventional classroom water table. Some may be tempted to peek out the window and view today’s rain and wind as a deterrent to the great outdoors. It was inspiring to look at the three years olds in Rebecca Smith’s class, who clearly recognise the possibilities of a rainy morning. P1110055Children develop problem solving skills as they explore concepts like floating and sinking as they build understandings about how and why thing happen.

Some wise person once said, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. We are fortunate that children in our program come prepared for outdoor learning in most weather. Rainy day outdoor water play offers countless learning opportunities without the constraints of space and worries about spills. Young children are natural scientists and explorations in the rain promote an authentic sense of wonder in a unique way that is unmatched by an indoor space. P1110062 Water is an ideal substance to learn about concepts of more/less, empty/full, before/after as well as principles of physics like water force, effects of gravity and much more. Children must utilise complex mathematical/ scientific thinking. P1110056 Water play promotes language development as children learn new vocabulary like funnel, measuring cup, sieve, moisture, etc. They are also actively using language with peers and teachers to make sense of their experience.  P1110044 These children were required to use language abundantly and develop negotiation techniques to navigate complex social situations including sharing space/materials and working together toward common goals and shared ideas. P1110065 The success of these rich, rainy day explorations is clear from the children’s engagement with the materials and each other. We teachers also feel refreshed and inspired after some joyful outdoor learning time.

Photos by Rebecca Smith (ICS EY Teacher)

November 1, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

Shared Cultural Experiences: Halloween

In our year-long ‘Who We Are’ Unit Of Inquiry, we are interested in exploring how shared experiences with others can help us to learn about ourselves. The many cultural and seasonal celebrations that occur within our community are a great way to participate in shared activities with our classmates, their families and the people in our wider school and local community.

P1100580

On October 31st, we celebrated Halloween with members of our learning community. The children, teachers and some parents came dressed-up to school. There was much laughter shared as we compared, appreciated and discussed the different costumes and choices of characters.

P1100566 P1100606P1100608

We listened (in both small and a large groups) to a number of Halloween stories read by Aditi’s mum and Charli’s grandmother.

P1100684

As a group, we sang some of the Halloween and Pumpkin songs that the children have been learning in their Music lessons with Ms Mills. We also did some spooky and fun dancing together.

We made some Halloween-inspired crafts (prepared and led by parent volunteers), which included masks, lollipop spiders and lollipop ghosts. We painted and decorated the small pumpkins with glitter, that we had chosen at the Jucker Farm. The parents and teachers helped the children with some of the trickier tasks, such as tying the elastic and strings, or holding items steady while the children used the scissors or paintbrushes.

P1100626P1100632 P1100675P1100681

Letizia’s and Soichi’s mummies carved our big pumpkin into a friendly Jack-O-Lantern. Everybody took turns to help to remove the guts from inside the pumpkin – it was a messy job!

P1100702 P1100720 P1100758

Finally, we shared in a special snack of fresh fruits and vegetable sticks, popcorn and cupcakes. It was a wonderful morning. Everyone involved enjoyed the opportunity to spend time working with others to complete the activities, celebrating, singing, dancing, laughing and having fun together! We are looking forward to learning about ourselves and others as we share in more cultural and seasonal celebrations throughout the year.

P1100589

Photos by Rebecca Smith (ICS EY Teacher)

October 29, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

A Field Trip to the Jucker Farm


P1100167
P1100354

The Early Years children along with their teachers and some parent volunteers visited the Jucker Farm on a field trip. Each year the farm displays sculptures made from pumpkins. This year the exhibition’s theme was “Fairytales”. The children were delighted to see some pumpkin sculptures of kings, queens, knights on horseback and a giant frog prince wearing a golden crown.

P1100359

On display were some impressively carved pumpkins which made funny and scary faces, and some HUGE pumpkins that were almost as big as we were in size.

P1100208

The trip was an opportunity for the children to explore and participate in a Swiss community activity. It also helped for the children to form understandings related to our ‘Who We Are’ Unit of Inquiry, in which the children are exploring about how we can learn about ourselves through shared experiences with others.

The children had a wonderful time climbing hay bales, pretending to drive the tractor and visiting the goats in the animal petting area.

P1100249P1100319

We shared a snack of fresh apples, cider and roasted pumpkin seeds from the farm, while taking in the beautiful view of the lake and mountains.

P1100378

After our snack each child chose a small pumpkin to take back to school. This was not an easy task as there were so many pumpkins to choose from all differing in shape, size, colour and texture. As a group we chose one large pumpkin to turn into a Jack-o-Lantern for our Halloween celebrations for the coming week.

P1100386

Above photos by Rebecca Smith (ICS EY Teacher)

photo ey2 3 photo ey2 farm                                 055

 

October 4, 2013
by Rebecca Smith
0 comments

A Self Portrait

my-dog-is-as-smelly-as-dirty-socks

Piven, Hanoch. My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, Schwartz & Wade, 2007. Print

We read the book, ‘My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks’, written by Hanoch Piven. In the picture book the character creates portraits of her family members using found objects. After reading the book the teachers suggested that we could also try to recreate our own faces using materials.

You can read the story here at http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/:

http://www.teachersdomain.org/asset/btl10_vid_smellydog/

(©2010 WGBH Educational Foundation and Sirius Thinking, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. My Dog Is as Smelly as Dirty Socks by Hanoch Piven, used with permission. Text ©2007 by Hanoch Piven. All Rights Reserved.)

Hanoch Piven’s Website:

http://www.pivenworld.com/about-hanoch-piven

P1090111

P1090148

Creating a self portrait is an opportunity for a child to express how they see themselves. The teachers created an inviting display of natural materials, pretty jewels and recycled items. The children were offered a mirror and asked to look at their reflection, most children enjoyed making connections between their face and their reflection. The teachers might have pointed out their eyes, nose and mouth or asked the child to identify their own features. The children were encouraged to share the names of these body parts in their mother tongue or make the connection with the English vocabulary.

P1090123

P1090128

P1090219 P1090187 P1090170 P1090116 P1090135

The children will revisit this task again later in the year as an opportunity to make reflections on both their physical and personal growth.

Photos by Rebecca Smith (ICS EY Teacher)

Skip to toolbar