Rainy Day Fun

So far, Spring in Nashville has been wet!  For the year, rain totals are, on average, 8 inches above average.

Although we have access to a full-sized gym for daily active play, altering our outdoor play because of rainy weather can be a drag.  Or, it can be a blessing! When the downpours ease and the sun seeps through the rain clouds, we consider it nature’s invitation to come and play in the puddles. Our collection of rain boots and adventurous children makes outdoor play possible  even when it rains!

Girl Scout Service Project Benefits our Roof-top Garden!

Girl Scouts Work Toward Earning Their Bronze!

On April 19th, the Franklin Road Academy 5th Grade Girl Scout Troop reported for duty.  They offered to build a low level garden bed designed especially for our babies and young toddlers and boy, oh boy, did they deliver! Loaded with supplies — lumber, gravel, plastic, and dirt, they framed out and filled a spacious patch that will soon be filled with sod and surrounded by herbs.

girl scouts 2girl scouts 1

The babies will have a grassy spot to explore while experiencing the smell, flavor and sight of fragrant and healthy herbs.  On a fun note, Ava Jean Teague, one of the Scouts, was a McKendree kid!  We were delighted that she returned to our program to give back!










The Ducks Are Here!

During the week of March 19th, we were delighted to welcome new members to our McKendree Community!  OUR DUCKS HATCHED!

duck close up

Back in the fall, the Researchers Class of four year olds began an investigation of ducks that included a trip to Centennial Park to “duck watch”; experiments with oil on feathers, and LOTS of books describing the life of ducks.  As spring drew closer, the group ordered fertilized eggs from a hatchery and dusted off our incubator for an intense science experience.  Twenty-some days later, seven of the nine eggs hatched! The babies are growing fast and will go to live on a farm before the end of April.

The DUCK INVESTIGATION has offered rich experiences in math, science, and emergent literacy in addition to the opportunity for the children (and entire center) to marvel at that miracle of new life and community.

The Link Between Dispositions and Effective Learning

Recently I asked a group of four year olds, “What is one of your strongest skills?”  The children answered with confidence – “Dancing”, “Finding things”, “Playing the trumpet”, ”Solving problems.”  The children seemed to understand that the reference to “skills” was beyond the idea of rote mastery, and related more to DISPOSITIONS of learning – resourcefulness, creativity, cooperation, inventiveness, curiosity, independence, resilience, and persistence.

Strong teachers guide children’s learning in ways that support this type of development.  During an investigation of babies (a hot topic of interest in the Inventors Class), the teachers asked, “What do babies and big kids do differently?” baby projectOn the roof during a recent snow, the children sprayed colored water on snow mounds and ice creating breathtaking masterpieces.snowart  A group of two year olds lined up chairs and together took a “plane ride” to Chicago!  Sara offers a variety of open-ended art materials in the studio each day for “messing about”.studio choice The Pre-K children peer out the window “looking for clues” about the weather.  All of these activities demonstrate how McKendree teachers encourage dispositions to explore, create, make predictions and check outcomes, and develop divergent and imaginative thinking.

When programs focus primarily on facts and figures, these important dispositions often are ignored. Rather, attention to outcomes beyond subject knowledge are shown to sustain the development of young minds. McKendree teachers collect learning stories, paired with reflections that interpret a child’s competencies and dispositions toward learning, to tell each child’s unique story.  Documentation lines our hallways and classrooms that make this learning visible.  Additionally, teachers create and maintain a digital portfolio for children – a collection of observations, stories, and meaningful moments that illustrate important dispositions to learning.


Professional Development in Community

Growing Teachers and Building  Memories

After over a year of planning, saving, and dreaming about McKendree’s team of early educators attending the largest early childhood conference in the country, it was time.  Time to load the rented van with our excited staff for an unparalleled  professional learning and growing experience.  naeycWe arrived ready to experience something big in Atlanta at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference.  Over the course of three days, staff selected sessions from over the 600 available.  Topics included Arts, Curriculum Theories & Approaches, Family Engagement & Support, Language & Literacy, Professionalism, Leadership & Ethics, Program Administration & Financial Management, Social/Emotional Development, Research, Technology, and more.

One of Lauren’s favorite sessions was, “How to Use Documentation for Curriculum Development, Assessment, and Advocacy”.  She reported that she “learned new ideas and got a better understanding.”  Danielle loved “Take It Apart: Creating an Environment of Authentic Inquiry and Learning Across All Domains”.  This session gave her ideas for promoting self directed learning with real tools.  “The children will be so engaged and full of questions.” she predicted.    Heather especially enjoyed, “Growth  Mindset and Pedagogical Leadership” a session led by our colleagues at UT to help teachers revise, reimagine and redefine their practices in a climate of innovation and change.  And Cindy was challenged by “Connecting with Millennial Parents” and “Kale Salad, Laundromats, and Obama”, a session examining cultural competency.

Although the rich learning sessions were an important part of the staff development and growth, time together to share meals, laughter, and experiences was also valuable.

For instance, one evening a group went to dinner and Cindy accidentally left her jacket at the restaurant.  She texted those who were still exploring the city and asked if they would pick up the jacket on the way back to the hotel.the jacket  They complied, with a twist. The jacket ended up accompanying them for an evening out in downtown Atlanta.  This crazy group texted photos of the the “adventures” of the jacket encountering wet paint, at city sites, performing karaoke, and meeting new friends.

The Adventures of Cindy’s Jacket is now a legend, born from the team’s shared experiences.