Saturday, March 30, 2013


An Investigation of Rainbows

One day a rainbow visited our classroom -- it was a small rainbow that danced on a wall.  The children were excited about this visitor.  They noticed many things about the rainbow -- some days it was brighter than others, some days it moved and danced on the wall.
 The children started to observe and document the rainbow. 
Their photographs captured the beauty and mystery of the rainbows (and were far superior to  the teachers' photos of the rainbow!)
The children really wanted to get to know the rainbow. 

And they were always sad when the rainbow vanished

There were many questions to contemplate:

How does the rainbow get into our classroom?

Where does the rainbow live?

Does the rainbow have a family?

The children offered theories:

It rained yesterday and it got in here.

It got in the sky and then this is a reflection of the

You need a little rain and a little sunshine.
It’s coming from the rain.

(whispering) It needs some water. It needs rain and
sunlight. If it rains we will have to stay inside to see
the rainbow. You have to whisper!

When the curtain is not down on the window the
rainbow shines through.

It rained yesterday. It floated and floated and
floated. Then in came in the classroom. It dashed in
the door.

One child suggests that the rainbow gets into our classroom by floating down the chimney and then sneaking down the stairs to the classroom.  
Drawing the rainbow floating down the chimney

The rainbow has hands to push open the classroom door:

Rainbow hands for opening the door

     The children continue to think deeply about the rainbow:

Where does the rainbow go?

Maybe back to his friends.

Maybe back to his house.

Rainbows don't have houses.

The sky is their house -- far, far, far away.  We can't even see it. It's blue and black.

Their care and concern for the rainbow is revealed in these conversations.  The rainbow's disappearance is of particular interest and inspires a theory involving storms and death:

Drawing of a dead rainbow.

The storm where the rainbow dies

The trap for the rainbow

When it dies it goes to the water.
Then she goes into the water.
Then it's dead.
The old ones goes around the little ones.

This tender theory about older rainbows taking care of new rainbows reveals the depths of young children's thinking.

 The children's fascination with the power and magic of rainbows is as beautiful as the rainbows that have been visiting our classroom:

Rainbows can go through anything....even a door.....even a locked window.

But how would it?  They don't have feet or arms.

They're clear.  They go through the walls.....the wall makes it.

There's air........

 The children have helped us to see rainbows in a very different way.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Follow-up to Feelings and the 4-yr old

I was reading this article about tantrums and the 2-yr old and serendipitously came across a few sentences about how children have fewer negative emotional responses if they understand their own feelings. Perfect timing!  Click on the link in the article about research to see more.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Feelings and the 4-year old

Can you draw your feelings?

We spend a great deal of time in the Rainbow Room focusing on feelings: the verbal and non-verbal expression of feelings, the perception of other people's feelings, and the various feelings generated by our own and our friend's actions. At this age children are really connecting to their peers, so comprehending feelings is important. There's a strong motivation to be social and the 4-year old's language skills support and enhance these friendships . But the preschooler's emotional literacy is still evolving, and sometimes feelings and actions are misperceived. Adults can assist children with interpreting the complex maze of feelings and relationship by articulating the feelings around us- noticing the feelings of characters on TV or in books, checking the feelings of people in our families, and asking lots of questions: How did that make you feel? How do you think he felt when that happened? Can you tell what she is feeling? How can you tell what people are feeling?

Recently I asked the Rainbow Room children to reflect on their own feelings one morning and draw what that feeling would look like. This activity was different than our usual morning observational drawing; I wanted to see how feelings were represented by 4-year olds. I expected a lot of "happy" feelings, maybe some smiley faces, because most children are happy most of the time coming to school. But the different ways the children approached this activity, and the complexity of the emotions that manifested, was very intriguing. Take a look:

Notice the effort to create a smiling mouth

This child indicated specifically why
he was excited that morning
This child incorporated his favorite things in his
happy picture: "a pirate ship nose and pirate flag hair"
This child blended his interest and skill in
geographywith his face drawing:
a Louisiana nose

This child indicated she was sad, but then
added that she was just pretending.
Like her friend, this child wanted to be sad, too.
She even added tears to show sadness

A literal description of the topsy turvy emotions one can have  (upside down)

Instead of matching her feeling to an emotional vocabulary word, she is
 connecting her feelings to a loved one.

I pointed out to this boy that his faces both
 look happy; he said one is mad but looks happy.

This is his second picture; both are happy but look mad. He is aware that we don't always show our emotions.

This child is clarifying that she looks
and feels the same way
This child chose to depict a face and also possibly
her old school

There's no mouth to either support or refute the
child's mixture of feelings

Mad monster, with mad fingers and toes, and three mad eyes.
She appeared to enjoy this creative process (but I don't think she was really mad)

Friendship and the 4-year old

What do you like to play?

I was asking a group of Rainbow Room children about the things they like to do in our classroom. My intention was to collect ideas for a "social story", a story specifically designed to provide clear information to the group: things that are OK, and things that the group agrees are NOT OK. This clearly stated information is helpful for the 4-yr old who is still gaining an awareness of group dynamics and the social skills needed to function therein. We spend a lot of time in the Rainbow Room on this topic.

The response I got from S. and H. was poetic. They were drawing on paper with black felt tip pens when I asked them about what they like to play. The activity turned into a kinesthetic experience as the girls began drawing continuous circles on their paper, swaying, and rhythmically bouncing their comments back and forth. Enjoy-

Twirling pen
Twirling cat
Twirling cow
Twirling tree
Twirling horse
Like a nest
Like flying horses
We like to be together
Friends never go away.