This year our kindergarten classes spent the year going through the Innovating Play cycle of connecting, wondering, playing, and discovering. (We have blogged about some of these experiences and have categorized them with the K 17-18 Collaboration in our posts.) As the school year started to come to a close, we both wondered about facilitating a culminating experience and helping our kids transition for the end of their year together.
Christine had one more idea up her sleeve, and it revolved around the idea of creating something for our kids to hold onto (literally…physically hold) all the memories they shared throughout the year. Turning to literature to find a book that transferred the understanding of a “memory”, she came across The Memory String, by Eve Bunting. In the story, a girl has a necklace that holds buttons of special moments in her family’s history. Well, we could do the same thing with beads! And that is exactly what Christine’s class did.
The book was a nice hook into the activity; the kids were able to predict, “I think we are going to make memory strings!” After reading, I (Christine) took off my memory string necklace that represented our collaboration with our New Jersey friends. I asked the kids to tell me what they saw on my necklace, and they share what they noticed. Then, it clicked for one of my kids that the beads represented “all the things we did with our New Jersey friends.” In two days the kids made their necklaces and filled out a little book to accompany the memory string.
Check out our story in the video below.
Our year long collaboration brought many unexpected opportunities for learning and growing both socially and emotionally. We had recognized the potential for development of empathy early on through the cross country connection. This culminating experience captured the many ways in which the children had experienced the depth of friendship, perspective taking, and possibilities for discovery beyond the walls of the classroom.
Extending the Connection with Families
To support family connection, Jessica creates a weekly digital newsletter to share experiences. Newsletters are often shared in video format, and are organized within a Seesaw folder. Families receive the newsletter via Seesaw over the weekend in order to provide reflection for the prior week, or an opportunity to prepare for upcoming experiences. We worked together to create this video using Google Slides and then downloaded the slides as images which were easily placed into an Adobe Spark video. Along with the video, a caption introducing our Summer 2018 Flipgrid for families was included in the Seesaw post.
At the end of the video, you saw how children and families are now invited to nurture their connection by sharing summer experiences such as: books they are reading, places they are visiting, and ways they are playing. Rather than ending the year, we are exploring the possibilities of connecting through a new beginning. One that is handed over to families and children – allowing for the ultimate learning transfer.
Reflecting on Our Year
As we closed our year together, we took a step back to see the ways in which the Innovating Play cycle was present, not only in individual experiences, but within the larger experience as well. Together we had connected, wondered, played and discovered each other as a class and as individuals. The connection was not just in the big moments and fancy projects, it was in the details of daily classroom life together. Together we had celebrated the quiet moments, such as a kiddo getting new glasses. We shared the unexpected moments of snow days and surprise packages. We shared the magical moments of watching seeds sprout, butterflies be released into the world, and tadpoles growing legs. In these details we discovered what we share, and what makes our places and spaces unique and special. The world is smaller and our hearts are bigger because we spent the year learning and playing together.