Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Abiyoyo is Coming! Run For Your Lives!"


A small group found the book Abiyoyo and brought it into the classroom. Children gravitated like magnets to this book and wanted it read to them over and over.  They commented on Abiyoyo's sharp teeth and fingernails.  "Here he comes!"  "He's a giant!"

Our stick collection
Another day we collected sticks outside which turned into magic wands.  Children went around the classroom and outside, pointing their wands (particularly at teachers) and saying "Zoop!"  We would obediently disappear, just as Abiyoyo does in the book.  Big grins of delight spread across the children's faces when their powerful wands made a teacher vanish (if only to hide behind a tree).

Making magic wands

Throughout the day we heard strains of the song: "Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo…Abiyoyo, yoyoyo, yoyoyo," and children hid inside a tent/house in the classroom, calling, "Abiyoyo is coming!"

It was scary and exciting to hide inside the house.

Outside they would call, "Abiyoyo is coming!  Run for your lives!" and we would all run away, just as we did earlier in the year when we ran from dinosaurs and monsters.

Children typically love this story because Abiyoyo is scary:  long fingernails, sharp teeth, hints of blood on his face.  He eats cows and sheep.  But a small boy with a ukelele and his father with a magic wand make Abiyoyo disappear.  It's empowering for young children, who have so little control over their lives, to hear about a child who bravely faces something scary and overcomes it.  Fairy tales can be similar, though in this story Abiyoyo simply disappears, unlike Hansel and Gretel's witch who gets pushed into an oven.

One child made sure she drew Abiyoyo's long, sharp teeth.
"He's as tall as a tree!" He's a giant!"
Later we made Abiyoyo and hung him in the classroom.  What other stories might the children take and make their own?  How else can we help them explore scary ideas and discover ways they can overcome fears?

Making Abiyoyo disappear with a magic wand
Measuring Abiyoyo

A child bravely approaching Abiyoyo

Monday, February 17, 2014

True Valentines

At Sabot, we treat Valentines day as other holidays: the teachers do not plan activities around the holiday, but we do embrace what the children bring to us, and so card making and valentine greetings are quite often part of February for the oldest preschool classroom.

This past week happened to be “random acts of kindness week”.  I don’t know who gets to declare such things, but we thought we would share this idea with the children.

Part I
At circle the children told us some of their ideas of kindness:
     Give a present
     Make a valentine

     Give your mom some flowers
     Make cookies for someone
     Give someone a toy to play with
     Make a feel-better-card 
     Make a present
     Make a card for all your friends
     Go somewhere with your friend

     Make your mom a necklace
     Make something with your friend

     Make a bracelet for your mom
     You can give hugs
     Make cards and hide them for people to find
     Let someone play with the magna tiles if you are using them
     I could build a wooden house for my friends
     Use good manners when you eat

Part II
The children had homework to notice as much kindness as they could, in themselves or others.   Noticing kindness may not seem like a big deal, and you may wish that your child had done a nice thing instead of noticing one.  But noticing will build empathy and lead to doing.  Kindness is contagious.   noticing is required for gratitude, and gratitude is essential for happiness. 

They noticed the things that you parents do for them, and kindnesses between siblings.

Millie: “My dad sang my song to me and my mom read my book last night”

Part III
 What Robyn and I noticed:

Julianna to a teacher: “I don’t know who to play with.”
Brian, overhearing this: “I’ll play with you.”

Madeline let Dylan in front of her in the hand-washing line. (not being first is a BIG deal!)

Tavish gave up the cherished red stool at snack for Dylan who had never gotten a turn to sit there.

Caroline: “When Millie’s not here it makes my heart sad.”
Waiting for Millie

Caroline when Freddie was sad: “I can give him an act of true love, a hug.”

Miles: “Dylan gave me a kindness sign; he let my ship be in front of his.” (remember that Madeline had let Dylan be in front of him in line earlier)

Caroline: “We’re hiding, waiting for Millie.  I don’t want her to see the special valentine I’m making for her”

Miles: “can I help”  offering to help set up the clay

Kiri made a necklace for her mom

Noah to Indie: “Can I put something on your airplane?”
Indie:  “Yes, because you are my best friend.”

These are the true valentine gifts, the ones that happen everyday.  How fortunate we are.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


The dark part of the year invites hibernation.  It is a time when we instinctively seek out warmth and light.  Cold winter days are the time to head down to the basement, where we have set up a Light Studio.

This large, very utilitarian space is transformed by darkness and light into a place of magic. 

Here, children investigate light in various forms. 

Most recently the light source they have been exploring has been a long strand of LED lights.

The children delighted in the discovery of this rope lighting.  They were immediately comfortable manipulating this long strand of light, which quickly became a plaything, full of possibilities.

They wrapped themselves in light, carried the light around, created stories with the light and invented props such as nests and thrones for their narratives.

Illuminated Nest

Drawing around their bodies with light

It was striking to observe how totally at ease the children are with this form of light and how their imaginations soar with the simplest of materials.

"Light tomorrow with today" ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning