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MLK and The Importance of Diversity Learning

Toddlers and Corn

As we immerse ourselves in the winter and what January gives us, we naturally turn to cold and snow and ice. Many of us battle illnesses, and wait impatiently for spring and warmer weather. We find it hard to accept what is. We sometimes forget about the beauty of rain, or the magical quality of snow.¬†Children remind us all the time how to stop and see the wonder of what is right in front of us. Look for a moment at the pictures of how the children are immersed in the magic of rain and the plethora of ways you can play with water that falls from the sky…

Also in January, we are fortunate to have a holiday that celebrates one of the greatest people who, in my opinion, ever walked this earth. I of course am speaking of the late Martin Luther King Jr. In early childhood settings all around the country at this time of the year especially (although I like to honor him each and every day, not just around his birthday), teachers explore with young children the concepts of kindness, peace, speeches, and dreams that are related to the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. Somewhere embedded in our brains, most of us can recollect the deep echo of this man’s voice. For many, including myself, when we hear his voice, chills ensue, from the power of his words, the resounding echo of his dreams… It is important for children of a young age to hear his monumental voice that speaks of dreams and of unity and peace among all people.

Discussions of Martin Luther King Jr. with young children lead to topics of how we are different, and how we are the same, and also how wonderful it is that we can all be friends. “Peace” can be a difficult concept for young children to understand. It is a concept that even many adults do not comprehend. It is still important to begin talking about it in concrete terms for children. It is also important to talk about dreams and how Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that we could be friends and be kind to one another.

In our classrooms the children next week will be contemplating their own dreams and what they wish that could be done to help everyone be friends. The older ones will be introduced to the concept of a speech, and the impact of words to help relay an important idea. The peace dove will be brought in, and even if the children do not understand everything that is presented, what they do go away with is the notion that there was a person who was very important, and he wanted all of us to get along and love each other. We can all spread this notion each and every day in our schools, in our homes and in our communities.

“I say to you, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live at the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. …And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of an old Negro spiritual, Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, We are free at last!”

— Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. from his “I have a Dream” Speech, Washington DC, 1963

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So, what has been happening in our classrooms this week, this first full week of 2013?

In our Infant Room, we now have a lovely assortment of little ones each day on the mat cooing and crying and sleeping and drinking milk, and of course, being held. Each day the babies get to bundle up like snow bunnies and go on an adventure into town, as by-passers ooh and ahh at the adorableness of our babies…

In our Toddler/Waddler Room, the children are maturing in incredible ways. You will see, in the pictures, how the waddlers, who are just a few seconds away, in the grand scheme of things, from little helpless infants, can now play independently, eat without throwing everything all around, create art and figure out complicated puzzles and games. The older toddlers have mastered the art of serving themselves food, and they can now wipe their own faces. Now, that’s an accomplishment… When they are not eating, they are immersed in so many exciting activities throughout their day. They are loving water color painting. They are singing and singing, this week was an alphabet song. They are reading and reading more and more books. This week’s favorites were Go Dog Go and Caps For Sale. They are also counting things and they seem to love the number two.

In the Green Room This week the Green Group took a wonderful winter walk where they discovered some fabulous rivers and creeks. Inside, where it was warm and cozy, they immersed themselves in our new dress up clothes and took on other creative identities as they did so. Letter A was the letter of the week, and the children discovered many words that begin with the letter A. The children are also talking about healthy foods and they made a nice mural that described what they discovered. The Green Room teachers would like the parents to make sure each child has a set of extra clothes for their cubbies.

In the Blue Room, activities galore are bursting from the children’s creative minds to the walls. Bears have become the topic of much fascination, discussion, and creativity. They are learning about the Arctic, and they are learning about polar bears and camouflage and predators and prey and blubber. This last item has been a fascinating research project for the children as they have learned all about the practical implications of blubber and they did a science experiment to understand it better. The results of this query are on the wall in the hallway. So why does blubber keep a bear warm????? The children have been learning about icebergs, and they made their own out of blue foam, and floated them down the creek bed to see how it works. Why don’t polar bears have stripes is another topic of interesting discussion in the blue room. Ask your child if he/she remembers why. A is the letter of the week and of course there are a plethora of words to discover here, arctic being just one… The children have been experimenting with painting with all different mediums. Blue glue painting was great fun! They made their own play dough this week and put in glitter for a great effect. And they learned a wonderful song you might have sung when you were little, with words and hand motions. “A sailor went to sea sea sea to see what he could see see see and all that he could see see see was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea.”

So, on that note, sing yourselves through this weekend. Enjoy yourselves. Stay well.

with kindest and warmest regards,

Heidi

 

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