February, the shortest month of the year has three predominant themes that run through it. The first is African American History month where in many communities and classrooms, important contributions that African Americans have made and their historic significance to our culture are highlighted and celebrated in all kinds of creative and inspiring ways. With young children, I have always loved to celebrate African American History Month with a combination of music and books, each avenue being a mirror that reveals something about ourselves, or a window that shows us something new in the world outside. In all mediums there is room for a look at dreams, struggles, wisdom and expression.
The second major theme that occurs during the month of February is the Lunar New Year, often celebrated in many different Asian cultures.
There are many wonderful aspects of this new year celebration and this year’s begins on the 10th of the month. The Vietnamese Tet festival occurs later in the month. This is the year of the snake, which is the sixth of the twelve signs in the Chinese Zodiac. People born in the year of the snake are known to be intelligent, wise and introspective, and as such, wisdom and knowledge tend to be the predominant themes of this year. Among the many ways that the new year is celebrated, young children seem to love and get very excited about the dragon and lion dances and the grand parade itself.
In classrooms in many places all over the world, February is known as the month of love and caring. Never needing to subscribe to the Hallmark version of Valentine’s Day, in every classroom I have ever been in during the month of February, creativity, imagination, artistic zeal, and thoughtfulness have have always predominated this season. Pinks and reds and whites and golds with sparkles and glitter —little hearts and big hearts, life-sized murals, and breads and delectables in the shapes of hearts, are all expressing the common theme of love and caring. Whether it is from a two or three or four or five year old to another, this Valentine is given to a friend or a parent or a teacher or someone else that this little child cares about with a smile and an open heart, the message being “I care about you. You matter to me. I love you.”
So on that sweet note, how goes in our classrooms this week?
In our Infant Classroom, the strollers have been busy accompanying our glorious spring like days. Jan reported to me yesterday that she and her two babies in tow had taken a two hour stroll all over town, soaking in the much needed sun, and smelling the freshness after the rain. As our weather continues like this, stroller rides will be as much a part of the curriculum, perhaps even more so, as rumbling and tumbling around on the mats inside. As the grass outside dries up, the babies will be coming out of their strollers to rumble and tumble on the softness of the outside world.
In our Toddler Classroom Valentines murals were created this week in hues of reds and pinks, with sponges and scrubbers and dots being the tools for creation. Celebrating the hints of spring, the toddlers went on some lovely walks this week to nearby parks.
In the Green Group, the children began the week talking about ground hogs and they ended the week making snake puppets for Chinese New Year. In the latter activity, we warmly thank Michael’s mom for creating and bringing in this exciting and engaging activity that she added to with a lively book about Chinese New Year. She then did a repeat performance in our Blue Room classroom. It was wonderful to watch the happy engagement of the children as they were creating their snakes. Also in the Green Room this week the children did life-size body tracing and painted them and cut them out. Soon, you will see your children climbing and dancing the walls…In circle time the children have been mesmerized by the learning of all kinds of mammals. They have learned about carnivores and herbivores, and they have decidedly agreed that elephants are their current favorites of the mammals. Letter “E” has been highlighted this week, and the children made E pictures with blue and green pompoms. Outside, the world called, and walks to parks and extended time outside exploring the woods and puddles and worms were a highlight of the week.
In the Blue Room, the children also began their week with a groundhog discussion, with an elaborate lesson on shadows, and the elements of shadows and sunlight. The children made their own groundhog puppets and read a book about riddles and shadows and Punxsutawney Phil. As in the Green Room, the children ended their week with a fabulous Chinese New Year activity and the creation of Chinese lanterns. In between groundhogs and snakes and lanterns, the children in the Blue Room have adorned the classroom with hearts and hearts and Valentines of all shapes and sizes. They have been talking about love and singing songs about love. A favorite one of theirs goes like this:
“I love somebody, yes I do.
I love somebody but I won’t tell you…
I will hug somebody…”
Ask your child to sing this to you, especially when you are feeling down.
The children have had some interesting discussions about love and caring for one another. When asked what they feel when they know they love someone, the answers were: “glad in my heart” (this got many votes) “Happy” (this got also many votes) and “angry”. The latter was a truthful feeling about when you love someone, sometimes you feel safe to feel angry at them, and when you get to express this, you often feel even more love for them afterwards. The children also got to look at pictures of people all over the world, families and children who love each other. It’s always illuminating to watch children’s faces as they see others loving, recognizing a universal theme in our world…
Have wonderful weekends, everyone–