Program Highlights

Sewer Project

The teacher, Isabella, helped the children to explore their interest in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and uncovered a deep interest in the environment in which the Turtles lived. The children wanted to know more about sewers! So, they researched and experienced sewers.

They began with searches on the Internet to find pictures, diagrams, and videos of many different sewers in the US and Broad. City sewers were the most fascinating.

They printed out many examples to inform their own drawings and discussions. Parents brought in many items over the months of the project to support the children’s research and experimentation with the roles, equipment, and tools that are involved in sewer and other underground utility work.

They invited Isabell’s friend, Kevin, a civil engineer working for Redwood City, to come in and talk about how sewers worked. The children were so excited about the visit, they pretended to be Kevin all morning before he came and had to go outside and scream “Kevin!” to help relieve the built-up anticipation.

Another engineer came from the building that the center is in. It is the Public Utilities Commission Building.

The children examined several utility hole covers and compared them to what they had found online.

The made rubbings of the covers to take back impressions of the various labeling and designs that were cast into the iron plates and dense plastic panels.

The prepared for a field trip to the basement of our building to view the many types of pipes and wiring that run through the lower areas and to and from the “sewers.” They discovered that some utility tunnels and pipes also carry things other than water and waste.

Several parents came to chaperone the group on its field trip inside the building.

The children spent many weeks building sewers and utility systems in the Gathering Area outside of their classroom. They also engaged in extensively simulating the utility work and related structures on some days when they went outside to play.

The project evolved to making plumbing and connecting their assemblies to the house that was emerging and overlapping with the sewer project as the next major project at the beginning of the calendar year.

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Game Board Project

The teacher, Selene, supported the four children in the Silver Flashing Trucks learning group in welcoming four new members. They began by helping the new children to be understood and appreciated, to have influence on the explorations and expressions that the group was pursuing, and to be productive and accomplish things that they all wanted to do.

They found a common interest, board games, that helped the group to bond and accomplish those important first things. A game that their teacher made at her workshop on math was a starting place. Then, they wanted to make their own game.

A significant inspiration was two books they had read: The Doorbell Rang, by Pat Hutchins; and, Pete the Cat – I Love My White Shoes, with illustrations by James Dean and story by Eric Litwin. They combined the stories into one game and decided how to make it, what materials were required, what the rules would be, and where to play the game. Then they started collecting and making game elements. For every stage in the process, each child contributed their own unique idea and creative strategy for realizing it. Most importantly, they embraced the other children and what each of those other children contributed to the project in building the game.

Selene wondered if children knew how powerful they are. She asked herself if they could also see how powerful other children are. After some reflection, she decided that they do know it and that they can see it. It was also readily apparent throughout each day how much fascination the children had for each other. They also gravitated to other children in the classroom based on their shared interests just as we do as adults with other adults. As they began to develop bonds with their peers, they quickly learned the power and benefits of their friendships. They formed various work groups and play groups and decided who they wanted to play with for different activities.

Their sensitivity to and appreciation for each other created a new series of productive dynamics in the classroom. The social interactions, emotional climate, and direction of explorations and expressions also notably changed when one or more children were away, because diverse influences were always looked for and counted on and made significant differences when absent.

Then, they wanted a larger game setting and moved their game elements to the open table and floor. And, after playing at that level for a while, they wanted a life-sized game!

They choose a space in the classroom that they wanted and began making a huge game board on the floor with painter’s tape! They had a clear idea of what all the parts would be from their own preliminary board game-sized work. Their teacher, Selene, said, “The young children in the Silver Flashing Trucks learning group are real life superheroes. They see things in themselves and each other that we are unable to see. They embraced one another and challenged each other, as well. All of it was evident during the game project.”

The group took the simple book and made it into a powerful expression of their individual and group uniqueness and something that inspired them to try new investigations and new transformations.

The children and their teacher collected the daily documentation, wrote some more about it and placed a display of their Game Board Project in our annual Festival of Learning exhibit of some of the work by all learning groups at our school. The exhibit of 23 displays of in-depth explorations and projects was open to the public in the Great Hall of the California State Office Building in San Francisco from May 2-25, 2017.

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Ninjas’ Project

The teacher Alex helped the Pre-K children to create an activity to bring more to life their budding interest in ninjas.

See More: pictures and teacher Alex’s day-by-day description of how one week unfolded.

Designing and making costumes and masks for their movie

Navigating the Ninja obstacle course

Making masks for their individual movie Ninja character

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