We started building relationships and community as we met families at Kindergarten Screening. While I was screening their children they wrote their hopes and dreams on a rock. When I brought their children out, they were to read their hopes and dreams to their child and place the rock in our bowl. This will be a wonderful reminder to the kids of their parents love while they are away from them all day.
Creating something together gives them a sense of pride and community. The kids created these peace beads with their parents at our open house. They had so much fun creating something beautiful together.
The next day, the kids got a fine motor workout as they attached their wired beads to a grapevine wreath. We talked about how we want to work together to create a peaceful place for us to get to know each other.
Some friends helped each other create a sign to let everyone know what we made. It was proudly displayed!
Our next step was to start building community as we got to know each other. The best way to do this is through play. I took the kids through each area of the room and described how to take care of the materials. In order to be allowed to play in each area, they had to be kind, be safe, and be responsible. Then they picked an area and played.
We read some books to show us how to treat each other. My favorite is "Have You Filled A Bucket Today?" We learned that our actions can fill others buckets or dip into their buckets. When our buckets are full, we feel happy. When our buckets are empty, we feel sad or mad. We want to have a class of bucket fillers. We discussed ways we can fill each other's buckets and also realized that we fill,our own buckets when we make others feel good!
At first we had some trouble with the materials. As frustrating as this was, I was so glad it happened! We gathered around the mess and talked about it. The kids were the ones who decided it would be better not to dump out whole containers of materials. They did not like how long it took to clean up and decided they did not want that to happen again! The key is, THEY could see the problem and once they realized that they were capable of coming up with a solution, they rose up to the challenge. Their maturity and seriousness during this discussion amazed me. I pointed out that were problem solvers and what they had just done was not easy! Now they see themselves as problem solvers. Solving problems together is a great way to build community!
At first many started out playing by themselves.
But they soon started joining each other in their play.
Quietly exploring together.
It took a couple weeks, but I believe we are definitely building a wonderful community of learners who are starting to develop the skills they need to be successful in learning and in life.