Wednesday, February 10, 2010

ES Block I: Element of Water

We are the waters cool and deep
That rush and run, or soundly sleep.
Down the mountain, through the lake
To the sea our path we make
Under the moon and stars afloat
Across the waves we'll bear your boat,
We are the waters cool and deep
That rush and run, or soundly sleep.

This week, we continued our Nature Block study on the 2nd element: that of water. We talked about water, the tears of clouds as they try to get up over the mountains, and where we might find water around the earth. Nothing too intellectual, just recalling where we might have experienced it (at the ocean, the waterfall at Yosemite, the stream that runs through Placerita Canyon near our house in the winter, the sprinklers that go off on our lawn, the rain that comes down from the clouds, or through our pipes when we need a drink or a bath, etc).

We continued our story of Sunshine the Harbor Seal and the girls heard how she nursed and was lovingly cared for by her mommy for several weeks and then it was time for Sunshine to be on her own and to learn to eat from the sea. They learned that she couldn't catch fish yet on her own, but was able to catch and eat shrimp and crustaceans that live at the ocean floor. By this time, Chloe was gone and an unlikely pair was made between Walter the Walrus and Sunshine the Seal. Walter took Sunshine into the cool Pacific waters and taught her a little about some of the creatures she would meet...

We had fun wet on wet watercolor painting. Our first painting was reflective of how we felt about the sea. Elena gets into the mood whereas Charley needs to paint * something* specific. I know at this age, painting shouldn't necessarily produce a specific picture, but Charley envisioned the sunset over the ocean and that is what she painted.

Over the course of this week, I read the girls two poems found in "A Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme": "The Growing River" by Rodney Bennett (pg 131) and "The River" by Molly DeHavas (pg 132).

Our second painting was reflective of what Sunshine might have seen underwater. We focused on seaweed, jellyfish, starfish and for our mollusk ~ I chose the adorable scallop!

Here are our paintings as they dried. I'm always amazed at how much better the girls paintings are than mine. Honestly - I think because the paint is so "alive" as it moves with the water, the children are connected in such a way that they unconsciously understand it and just create the most beautiful visuals. My paintings are on the far left, Elena's are in the middle and Charley's are on the right.

Now, I need to introduce this week's special storyteller...which made this week really, really fun for them! Drum roll please...introducing Sally the Scallop!

Sally is a Folkmanis puppet. Folkmanis makes wonderful, high quality puppets that are very user friendly and soft for the children and adults alike. We've had Sally for years and she is usually the puppet who is *eating* all the other puppets playfully. She was finally excited to play a bigger part as a storyteller as she talked to the girls (and the puppets they brought down to interact with Sally) about our three Water characters: herself, Sally the Scallop; Star (or Estrella) the Starfish, and Jam the Jellyfish.

The girls cleaned off the shells we brought home from our last trip to the beach and we set them up in our ocean side setting. We identified the ones we could, thanks to this wonderful book for those in Southern California called, "Beyond the Beach Blanket: A Field Guide to Southern California Coastal Wildlife". Lots of great pictures and text make it a more modern Comstock guide to Southern Cal beaches and ocean life.

We heard how Sunshine met starfish, jellyfish, and scallops and drew them in our main lesson books.

I had a bit of trouble finding an ocean story to tell them, so I settled on the Norse Fairy Tale called, "Why the Sea is Salt". Afterwards, we poured a little sea salt into some water and the girls sampled it (yuck!). It helped them understand why we can't rely on the ocean water to drink.

We then modeled some more creatures for our scene - starfish and scallops.

And then I read to them the story of "The Lazy Water Fairy" by Dorothy Harrer from her book "Verses and Poems and Stories to Tell".

Tomorrow, we have some activities with friends and are hoping to go back to the beach and hit some of the great tide pools. For those in the Los Angeles/Ventura area, there are some great tide pools at Leo Carrillo beach near Tower 3! Winter is the best time to visit the tide pools as the tide is lowest around dinner rather than in the middle of the night - lol! Will have to share pictures when we get there!!!!

I also found another great book that I need to read through to prepare some fun visits to the beach in the future, but I saw the series (Discover Nature) recommended highly by Donna Simmons of Christopherus. The ocean book is called, "Discover Nature at the Seashore: Things to Know and Things to Do". It looks excellent, especially for older children who love to explore.

Next week, we will be tackling the third element of Air.


  1. I love it!! Great project- those seals are wonderful- my son looks like a harp seal- I keep saying I want to knit him one....

  2. Fantastic block. My best times as a child were at the beach in New Jersey! I loved collection shells and learning their names.

    Here's a suggestion, if it's not too advanced science. What about setting up a simple distilling process and turning the salt water back into drinkable water? It would show how the water leaves everything else behind when it evaporates and how maybe some day, people will find an effective way to create desalinization plants to provide fresh water where needed.

    I have a Folkmanis puppet, too. Jacky the Squirrel. : )

    Here is a little poem that might apply to your water block. It is actually the very first one I wrote!


    I know
    What it is like
    To feel the warmth of the water
    Against the sting of the night air.
    To rise up
    In small spirals,
    Or to lie
    Still - Calm - Silent

    I know
    What it is like
    To be so large and heavy
    That I fill a whole city
    And overflow into small towns
    Around it.

    I know
    What it is like
    To be so very light
    And little
    That no one would ever know
    Was about

    Sometimes I bring a rain.
    They know that I am.
    Sometimes I lie so still
    That I can creep
    Into their minds and
    Read - Absorb - Understand
    And they do not know
    I know.

    Christine Natale

  3. Fabulous, Jen. So complete and multi-modal (as always!). I have fond memories of going to Leo Carillo when I was little. The girls' MLBs are amazing!

  4. Thank you guys! Aurore ~ you're too funny! I'm really loving your responses and yes, a knitted seal would be awesome for your little guy - seals are so darn cute with their big eyes!

    Christine - what a lovely poem! I will email you later, but I read your Valentine's Day story to my group today and it was a huge hit! The mothers were asking me if you have a book out! And they aren't *waldorf* moms ~ I tell ya, you appeal to the masses! They were quite simply blown away...

    Jennifer - I can imagine you as a little girl exploring the tidepools with such wonder. You are so connected to nature :D Thanks for dropping by here!