Friends Neighborhood Nursery School has been taking place almost excluslively outside on our large playground since September as our answer to the pandemic. FNNS has always been a school that values outdoor play. We are excited about this opportunity to incorporate nature more fully into our curriculum. This week we finished a Thankful tree project for our Thanksgiving table. Each child glued autumn colored felt to the outside of a tin can. Learning letters this week was incorporated into this craft by using glue and yarn to trace the dotted first letter of their last name. The wind helped us out by bringing the prefect branches to our play yard. In order to weigh down the can, the children found rocks on our playground and practiced their math skills by counting out 5 rocks each, dropping them in the can one at a time. Their statements of thankfulness were written on yellow leaves. In this way they can connect their spoken words with words that are written down. Some of the sentiments included "hugging my mommy", "playing puzzles with my daddy", "playing in my sister's room", "my friends at school" etc. Using their fine motor skills, they punched holes in the leaves with a hole puncher and strung a piece of yarn through the holes and hung them on the branches. The final result was a Thankful tree that they felt proud to bring home. Each day begins with "morning meeting". An active greeting game that requires listening and moving warms us up for the day. The teachers say "if your name begins with a B, hop 10 times" or "if you have an older sister skip around the table" etc. Everyone has several opportunities. We also sing songs about falling leaves and winter clothes. When we sing about the days of the week, we march in place and then stop when we get to the day it is today. On the playground, during free play, the teachers rake leaves into piles and the children have fun jumping in them. They also like to make piles of leaves at the bottom of the slide for each other to knock down when they slide down. We used our hay bales and leaves to create several large nests. This sparked the children's imaginations to become birds who collected worms (sticks), chirped and flew south to the other side of the play yard. Some of the children collected things from nature in their buckets. Their discoveries included a piece of an evergreen tree, leaves, and a flat rock. The mornings end with storytime in the sun. We sit in a circle in the sunniest part of the play yard. This week we shared two Thanksgiving stories. One is a picture book called Thank you Omu by Oge Mora. The main character is Omu which means queen in the Igbo language (the Igbo people are primarily from Nigeria). It is a lovely story in which the main character is making a delicious red lentil stew and everyone in the neighborhood smells it and knocks on the door. Eventually Omu gives away so much of her stew that she has none left for herself, but... later that night everyone who she gave soup to during the day gives her a different type of food and they have a festive meal together. The children enjoyed acting out this story by pretending to stir and scoop out the stew and they were intrugued by the real knocking on the wooden table for effect. They also listened to a story called Food For All based on an old legend. Instead of relying on pictures in a book, they imagined the pictures in their mind. In this story there was not enough food to eat and everyone was sad until one day a mother decided that something had to be done. She set out with her son to grind up a bit of grain announcing that she was going to make a loaf of bread and invite everyone for Thanksgiving. Ultimately, the fisherman who had stopped fishing, the artist who had stopped painting, the tree climber who had stopped picking apples and the grandmother who had stopped gardening changed their ways and came to the home of the mother and boy for Thankgiving with their gifts of fish, apples, eggs and cabbage and all was well in the world. These stories help us to connect to the theme of community. Many of the months of the school year are marked with a specific Quaker value that informs our curriculum (December- simplicity, January-peace, February-equality, March-, Integrity, April-stewardship). These stories and all of the themes are even more meaningful during the time that we are currently experiencing during the worldwide pandemic.