While some parts of the country got more than their fair share of snow and ran this winter, children at Vogel Alcove have enjoyed some unseasonably temperate days and an opportunity to continue to enrich their learning both indoors and out.
New to our outdoor classroom are informative and interpretive signs that not only give clues as to the learning that takes place but also honor the donors who made the learning centers possible. Artists’ Alcove, Toddler Hill, Construction Zone, Sand Station, Pretend and Play, the Gazebo, Nature Park and the three therapy gardens are just some of the areas that are now labeled, not only with words, but also with a large pictorial symbol and a description of the learning goals attached to the area. Soon after their installation, teachers and children walked sign to sign, reading the symbols and talking about how to play and learn there. A large park bench also graces the backyard now, honoring the many people who contributed to the backyard area in honor and memory of Sheila Chapman. This bench has already become a favorite resting place for children, as they fill in four or five deep to visit with their teacher or watch the wind in the trees.
February is a great time to highlight the Share and Care therapeutic garden at Vogel, where the children grow tasty vegetables and adult-child interactions focus on developing empathy for one another, taking turns and sharing the tools and the harvest. Children practiced scissor skills by cutting greens, pulled large turnips from the raised beds and took the turnips to the kitchen where they were prepped and cooked for the children’s lunch. Miss Jamie’s and Ms. Sheila’s class also clipped cilantro from the aromatic sensory bed and spent an afternoon mashing avocado and sharing delicious guacamole on whole wheat tortillas.
Field trips in February enriched the children’s curricular studies. Early in the month, Ms. Charlene’s and Ms. Stella’s class visited the Dallas Public Library for an interactive live puppetry presentation on the enormous Discovery Wall. The children spoke with the puppeteer as he told stories of Anansi the Spider and demonstrated shadow puppetry methods. After the story, the preschoolers made their own spider puppets to take home. Late in the month, classes visited Dallas Heritage Village for a “Made by Hand” field trip. A blacksmith dressed in period clothing showed the children how he makes iron tools by firing and hammering them, and the children tried their arms at throwing horseshoes. They also toured the pottery shed for an informative look at how clay becomes useful vessels, and they made their own nature-pressed clay pieces.
With immersive educational experiences and hands-on activities, the children of Vogel Alcove enjoyed a fun and stimulating “warm spell” this February!