choosing joy looks like this

I hope you have a day like this today,
or maybe tomorrow,
or maybe everyday if you are lucky.

Do you have a caption idea for this photo?
What do you know about this 4 year old girl?

can you hear me now? "la la la la la!"

At the heart of my commitment to early childhood is my commitment to documentation and photography to capture learning as it unfolds. 
It is a special experience when I discover a photo from a friend that sparks something in me to write a blog post that connects with child development in a specific way.
My high school friend Laura posted a photo of her husband and daughter on a social networking site. The photo caught my attention because - to me - it was clear that the child was making a statement, her own Very Deliberate statement.
It made me think about how some children instinctively Want To Be Heard and Have Something To Say from a very early age.
Can you hear Ella? "la la la la la!"
Mom Laura shared with me that Ella, 22 months, had been attending her big sister's school play. Ella was a bit too disruptive during rehearsal and was 'asked to leave' til the show started. As she left rehearsal, Ella shared her disappointment  "Oh, man!" for all to hear.
After the show, Ella ran right up to the stage and straight to the microphone to sing "la la la la la...!" Dad Isaac was right there with Ella to enjoy her vocals and likely to swoop her away when her solo was completed.
Laura shared that Ella loves to sing and dance and has an extensive vocabulary in English, Spanish and Hebrew. It seems "la la la la" is universal for toddler singing in all languages.

From the educator lens:
1. Children develop their own sense of self, their own sense of wanting to share information or not, their own comfort level in having attention or not.
2. Children have their own motivation to "go straight to the microphone" and yet also it can be something that has been supported by family or school where children have had opportunities to talk and/or share in a trusted group.
3. Children might learn to embrace that role of Sharer or Teller of Information. Some children might not like it still and prefer to have a quieter role.
4. Ensuring the children have opportunities to share their opinions, be an expert (drawing circles, singing La La La, standing on one foot), lead a nature walk, explain their artwork, tell about a favorite book - all these afford authentic contexts for children to speak, lead or explain something. 
5. The "Having Of A Voice" won't always be natural like for Ella yet allowing chances for celebrating what children DO have to say is an absolute gift.

 Here are a few ways that children have a Voice in our classroom:

My 3 year old friend Z created this easel painting and dictated this exciting story.
"This is a rainbow crocodile name Popcorn. She likes to snap and eat people!"


My 5 year old friend K created this wood puppet who is holding a paper bouquet of flowers. Here is her story:
"Once upon a time, the puppet went to the forest to get some wood from a tree. It was scary and she saw a ghost but it was really her friend Bear. Then she saw her friend Rabbit.
The End." 

This 4 year old friend climbed one of the ladders in our grove area, spotted something important and made her announcement: "Look! I see my friends way over there!"

This 4 year old friend had private time with all the swings. She kept going from swing to swing to keep them each in motion, round and round, over and over.
She never said a word.

Sometimes, there is nothing to say. Finding an alone space and being with yourself is a beautiful message. Of course, this 5 year old just might be singing or talking to herself in this red tube, we can only imagine.

Thank you to Laura, Isaac and especially Ella for the inspiration for this post on the many many Voices of Children...La la la la la la la!

telescope to mars in loose parts play

"I can really see the big trees but I am pretending to see Mars."
Loose parts play. 
Isn't it wondrous? Rocks, boards, pvc pipe, gutters, cones, and more.

Children working with loose parts out in the sand area have the opportunity to invent and reinvent during their play. Everyday can be different or perhaps a follow up on previous play scenes - such as pirate islands or brewing up muddy water poison - and using boards for bridges or gutters for water delivery or boulders for islands.

This particular day in the sand area was interesting for me as I observed two distinct inventive uses of one particular loose part - a large pvc pipe that is basically a connector type pipe with three large holes that could be used for attaching straight tubing or end capes. 

In our sand area, we have a wood play house structure with a small deck in front of it. Along the outside fence post, the pvc pipe was propped up on the corner post.

Making coffee with O's coffee machine.
 My friend O came over, positioned the pvc pipe to suit her needs, then went off to get her two pitchers of muddy water. O came back, poured water through the top positioned hole with one large pitcher and caught what she could below in one of the two lowers openings with the second pitcher.
Me: O, I see you doing some pouring with your pitchers.
O: Yes, I am making some coffee. This is my coffee machine. Would you like some coffee?
Me: Yes, thank you!
O continued her coffee making for quite some time, making different brews with different amounts of water and mud. 

When O was finished and had moved on from her coffee machine, two other girls went inside the wood house to do some cooking. One girl L came out onto the deck, turned the pvc pipe in a new direction, then peered out.

Me: L, I see you are using the white pipe.
L: Yes, I am looking out my telescope. I can really see the big trees but I am pretending to see Mars.
Other children then came over and also wanted to see Mars. L shared her telescope and the friends began inventing other things they could see from the telescope "the moon" "my house" "Disneyland".

The use of loose parts allows for FREEDOM for children to be completely in their own play, to see the world in the way they see the world at that very moment  - a telescope or a coffee machine - and to engage in their world of play honestly and completely as themselves.