I finally got a chance to listen to the June 27th recording of the VoicEd Radio: This Week In Ontario Edublogs show.
It was an off-hand comment by Stephen Hurley in the introduction to this show that really made me reflect on the end of our school year. Doug and Stephen recorded this show on the second last day of school, which also happened to be a very rainy day in Ontario. Regular readers of our classroom blog know that rain does not stop our daily outdoor learning time, but thunder and lightning do. Unfortunately, there was a weather alert for a “severe thunderstorm,” and so it was with a heavy heart that we had to cancel our year-end field trip to the splash pad at LaSalle Park. We didn’t want to do so, and we went back and forth on options, but if we waited until the Wednesday morning to make the call, we’d have to pay for both busses as well as the rental of the splash pad. And so, looking at the projected forecast the night before with our principal, weighing options, and discussing student safety, we opted for a Plan B.
Our year-end trip is an interesting one, as almost all of the parents come along. They coordinate a family picnic at the park, younger siblings join us, and this becomes the alternative to an SK Graduation. Instead we celebrate with families over food and fun at the splash pad. Now what? We knew that many parents already purchased food items for the picnic and booked the day off work. We don’t have control over the weather, but all of the children and parents were looking forward to this day, and now we needed to make a last-minute change in plans. While we knew that our alternative would not necessarily be as exciting as the original plan, we hoped that it would help reduce the upset over completely cancelling everything: we invited families into our classroom for the last two hours of the day to share a meal and play together.
I still stand by the tweet that I sent out early in the morning on June 27th.
When the weather gods cause us to have to cancel our year-end field trip … Today will be a good day for all of us to learn how to deal with disappointment. Not easy, but important.
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) June 27, 2018
Sometimes life doesn’t give us what we expect. In a week of absolutely beautiful weather, we picked the one day of thunder, lightning, and rain. We know that some kids were disappointed, and we’re sure that parents probably dealt with a few tears the night before when they had to share this news with their child. But this disappointment provides a great learning opportunity for all of us. The truth is that this news is a small upset compared to probably much bigger upsets that children and adults will need to deal with in their lives. And so, just as we did at school, use this experience as a learning opportunity.
- Let children cry if they need to.
- Empathise with kids, and express that this news is disappointing.
- Then focus on the solution.
Yes, our playtime was probably not as fun as a day at the splash pad, but …
- parents still got to spend time with their kids.
- children and adults got to play together.
- everyone had social time with family and friends.
- we still celebrated our SK students before they moved on into Grade 1.
It was too bad that our picnic plans got rained out today, but our amazing parents and students still made today FABULOUS! Parents came and ate and played here with their kids. What an amazing spread! Thanks everyone! And it was great to see kids and parents connecting, and still celebrating together. Thanks to the kids and parents that also helped take care of our room and clean up a mess or two! We really are so very fortunate to work with such amazing people. So much ❤️❤️❤️ here today! SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram
I still wish that the weather cooperated, and for the sake of Stephen’s son, I hope that they got to go on their trip to the splash pad. But maybe this little upset at the end of the school year, provided one of the best learning opportunities of all. And if we didn’t stay back on the 27th, Mud Man would have ceased to exist and the year would have ended on a much different note. 🙂
This might have been one of my favourite moments outside today. I saw Ben, Ella, Abi, and Brooke spreading mud on the goal post. What were they doing? “Making a mud man,” said Ben. They started by adding eyes and a mouth. Then they needed arms. Sticks, of course. Brooke even added a “belly button” and a “bum.” What kind of sign might we add? Joshua was happy to help with this. Abi was concerned about if the “rain washes it away,” but thankfully with our photographs and videos, we can look back on it again. The mud man isn’t done yet! 🙂 ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #art
Mud man continues! A few more friends come to help. Ben finds the perfect “golden nose” (he was very careful with this), and he even figured out how to attach the leaves as hair. Then they started adding grass as hair. As it fell off, Brooke wondered, “Maybe it’s too much grass.” They persevered though. @paulacrockett even made a connection to a character from a movie. Do you see the resemblance? Mud man is not over yet. ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #art
Joshua and Abi worked on the sign together. They decided what to say. While Joshua could have written the sign on his own, this was a good opportunity to support a friend. Abi really worked on listening for the sounds in the words and making the link to the letters. Joshua read us the final sign. The message is clear. Will it work? ❤️❤️❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram
The kids continue to work on Mud Man. They’re adding rocks to the mud as decorations, using small rocks in the mouth as teeth, and even forming a tongue out of mud. Brooke is making many connections to her own face. @paulacrockett loved Mud Man so much, that she needed to take a photograph of it. I had to get one final picture too. Will Mud Man still be there tomorrow? Does he need a friend on the other pole? I wonder if only a Kindergarten teacher could get this excited about mud. 🙂 SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #art
And then the next day …
They noticed that Mud Man disappeared. Where did it go? They had some theories. But it was hard to make more mud. They figured out that they needed water. Brayden got a bucket of it from the classroom. Then it was time to mix the mud. Lots of theories about what to use and how much dirt they needed. Brooke found a button which was perfect for the belly button, and even led to a little subitizing. Mud Man isn’t done yet though! SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #ctinquiry #teachersofinstagram
Then Ben and Brooke start to make the body for Mud Man on the pole. Some other children gather more sand from the dig pit to make more mud. Kids love showing off their muddy hands as they work on creating this piece of #art. But it’s not over yet … SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #ctinquiry #teachersofinstagram
One reason that video footage is great is that you can listen back and hear what was said. I thought that the idea of creating Mud Man inside was the kids’ one, but I guess it was mine. The video doesn’t lie! 🙂 They gave me the idea though, so does that count?! And I have an amazing teaching partner, @paulacrockett, who didn’t say, “No.” So now comes the discussion on the thickness of the mud, for of course, it would be ridiculous to have really runny mud in the classroom. 😂 The mud that coats the arm of the JK student is perfect! 🙂 SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #ctinquiry #teachersofinstagram #yesIlovemyjob 🙂
Okay, so I did set limits, and did not go with the idea of adding blue and green dye and glue to the mud. Now that would have been too much! 😂 But I did support the creation of some nice, thick mud for classroom use. And it looks as though, Ben, one of our really hard mud makers might be a walking version of Mud Man. On the last day of school though, when kids and staff have such mixed emotions, isn’t sensory play a wonderful option?! ❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #ctinquiry #teachersofinstagram
Of course, kids needed to work on Mud Man inside. We should have planned for him to be vertical. With him lying down, it was harder to think of the mud body and details. Wyatt and Brooke did have a lot of thinking around where to place the gems and how to get them to stick. Was the mud sticky enough for this? On the last day of school, this sensory play was definitely calming for these kids! ❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #iteachk #ctinquiry #teachersofinstagram
Haha! He really does. After texting a picture to his wife, we made sure that we cleaned everything up. Our caretakers are the best!!
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) June 29, 2018
How do you help children deal with disappointment? We love routine, and even attempted to keep a consistent classroom routine right until the last day of school. That said, I still remember a conversation that I had once with a Speech Pathologist, who was helping me support some students with autism. She suggested that I make a “change card,” for when I needed some last-minute changes to the schedule. She said that this could help these children learn to adjust to change. Maybe we all need a “change card” in our lives. How might you use one over the summer? A special “thank you” to our wonderful parents, who made this change in plans on the 27th a lot less stressful than it could have been. Thanks for supporting us in dealing with disappointment!