We implement school-wide learning themes during the school year so that teachers can share resources, so children see the same subject presented in many different ways throughout the building, and so children can build on knowledge gained throughout the years they are at Mainspring. But in the summer, teachers have free choice to teach about whatever interests them or their children. This past week has been “Rocket Week” and the fun learning activities have soared!
Classrooms are filled with cardboard rocket ships. Books about space fill the mini-libraries located inside the individual classrooms. Kids have made beautiful earth pictures out of coffee filters with diluted paint. They constructed and dressed up in astronaut suits made out of aluminum foil (for the hats) and that hose that connects a clothes dryer to the wall (for the arms). Posters of the solar system adorn the walls.
Two years ago this week, the final space shuttle was launched. We don’t have televisions at Mainspring, so one enterprising teacher streamed the launch through his laptop and projected it onto the wall. Thirty young children from two classes sat enthralled for much longer than a child development expert would tell you is possible. They counted down, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Blast Off!
Then, the children went out to the playground and lined up along the fence to watch their teacher fire off a blaster rocket he had purchased for them. Again, they counted down to Blast Off!
My desk sits right by the door and I get to hear what children tell their parents about their day. As children left school that day, almost every child was telling their parent about the rockets.
This is great early education in action. Kids were very interested in the topic. Vocabularies increased to include many new words. The theme was presented in many mediums from stories to art to a live re-enactment. Technology facilitated the learning, but didn't dominate it. Teachers got to share their passion and be creative. It was fun.
Mainspring - and the children who are here - are blessed to have such wonderful teachers. They say that the greatness of any organization lies in its people. The Mainspring staff is the most amazing group of caring, resourceful, hard-working people that I've ever had the honor to know. They are the embodiment of great early education in action!
- Rudi Andrus, Executive Director