A Tale Gathered In the Field
Prior to Spring Break, when you walked into a Kindergarten classroom at Cedar Elementary, you would see natural materials, defined spaces, and provocations. You would also see students using play to learn by spending time outdoors, and exploring areas of personal interest. Kindergarten at Cedar Elementary is play-based, inquiry-based and inspired by the Early Learning Framework. When in-class learning was suspended, the Kindergarten team at Cedar knew they had to think creatively about how they could bridge the pedagogy of the classroom to the students’ home learning experiences.
The Kindergarten teachers wondered:
- What DOES/CAN play and learning from everyday experiences look like at home?
- How can we support families when their view of learning may differ from ours?
- What should we focus on so that learning is accessible for everyone?
After reflecting on their beliefs and values, the Kindergarten team created a document to communicate their priorities for learning. By using a variety of methods of communication, teachers found accessible ways to share play and inquiry-based pedagogy with families.
One of the ways that Ms. Blow & Ms. Allair are supporting playful learning at home is by sharing one play idea a week using the Ministry of Education’s Let’s Play Activities for Families document, which is connected to the revised Early Learning Framework.
Ms. Blow noticed that many of her students started sharing more about the activities they are doing at home. Some common topics were gardening, baking, nature walks, trampoline play, fort building, taking care of animals (farm and pets), and heart art to say thanks to our frontline workers. She is planning to use these commonalities to connect families and keep the learning community together despite being physically distanced from one another. Using what she has heard from families, she has connected learning to the curriculum and made it accessible to the diverse needs of her families. Ms. Blow intends to capture and tell the memorable and beautiful ways families are spending time together, and tell these stories with pedagogical narration.
Ms. Allair builds on the daily activities families are already doing together while encouraging and sharing ideas connected to literacy, math, play & well-being. Looking for tadpoles in the ponds, baking pretzels together – these are all amazing ways parents are supporting learning AND support the Cedar Kindergarten Priorities (and curricular competencies), even if they aren’t exactly the suggested activities that have been sent home. By staying connected with families through email and FreshGrade, she values and validates the different ways families are supporting both learning and their children’s well-being. She uses her website to post optional learning opportunities for the whole family, arranged according to the priorities they established and the importance of going outside, such as “Backyard Walking Adventure” prompts inspired and adapted from Gillian Judson’s Walking Curriculum.
Thank you to Ms. Blow & Ms. Allair for their dedication to their pedagogy and their families, and for their flexible approach which has allowed more families to feel successful & connected.
Check out Ms. Blow’s website and Ms. Allair’s website to get inspired!