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Curiosity and Care for Living Things

May 4, 2021 | Kristen Jordan

We are alive with inquiry in The Trees Class right now!  Children have been filling themselves up with exploring nature as our journey through spring continues; wondering what is new and exciting in the world around them, both outside and INSIDE. 

Each day when we head outside, children notice the grass growing more and the trees changing.  They have seen new birds hopping around and many birds have been chirping beautifully outside our windows.  Several times each day, we stop to listen to them. 

One day last week, Lucien noticed a nest in a tree so we all stopped to take a look. After doing a bit of research and discovery, comparing photos of bird nests and squirrel nests, everyone agreed that it was a squirrel nest!

Back inside the classroom, there is SO much activity happening around nature.  The children have sorted many of the sticks and rocks that they have found. (You see, they haven’t all gone home in pockets…)

Children are also developing observational skills and building fine motor muscles, as they use tiny tweezers to pick up spring items that they have collected (it is a very popular activity currently!). 

The children have continued to develop the habit of looking really closely as they paint and draw beautiful spring flowers.

Often looking carefully leads us to notice something we’ve never seen before, or brings to mind a question. One day, a child noticed some of the inside parts of the flowers, which led us to a great discussion about bees. There are many questions and much interest around bees!

We have also taken a careful look at the parts of several classroom plants–the roots, leaves, stems, bulbs.  Some of our plants were looking unhealthy so we discussed what plants need to grow and then the children helped to replant them.  We have continued to observe the plants and have already noticed some new growth! 

But, the most exciting thing in our classroom is a new creature: a snail!  (I found it on a sidewalk one day last week and brought it in.)  The children are fascinated with how it moves, when it hides, and what it does.  They are super-excited and curious about the snail, jumping to observe it as often as they possibly can and commenting on what they notice.

They are very inquisitive about the snail and we are beginning to explore how to answer some of their questions.  They have suggested ways of finding out answers to their questions: 

  • Observation/looking carefully
  • Using the computer
  • Looking in books

We have young scientists who know how to do research!

Children are wondering about how the snail functions as well as wanting to know how to take care of it.  They are watching, talking about, drawing, painting and generally marveling about the snail!!!

Caring for plants and animals (yes, even a snail!) can help foster empathy and caring, which are very important to social emotional development. Children can begin to develop an understanding of how living things need certain basic things to survive.  When children realize that they can have an impact on something by caring for it, it helps them to develop an understanding of how they might impact the world and others around them.

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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