Cascades Academy Independent School PK-12
Morning Meeting - A Meaningful Ritual

Each morning as we begin our day in Pre-K, we gather together to connect as a community. We keep this time short and sweet, predictable yet flexible depending upon the children's varying interests and needs. There is a plethora of information, research and opinions about the developmental appropriateness of having a structured "circle time" in an early childhood classroom. When children's developmental needs are thoughtfully considered, and our adult agendas are suspended we can then plan for moments of connection that are authentic and meaningful for the children.

We strive to make our morning meeting a brief and welcoming ritual. As each child in our class has shifting needs and a fluidity of interests, we are constantly reflecting on the purpose of our meeting and how we can make it meaningful for the children rather than what we think they should hear each morning. This has made our morning meeting ever changing in its structure and content. Most recently what has felt most meaningful to our Pre-K friends has been starting the meeting by reading together a "Morning Message" written on a whiteboard. An example is,

"Good Morning Friends,

Today is Thursday, January 11th. This afternoon you will have P.E.

Our centers this morning have some fun new polar animals for us to explore together! Have a kind and loving day.

Love, Ms. Emily and Ms. Colette"

This is not necessarily a structure we would use for every class at this age, however after reading one morning message together a couple of weeks ago this group of children really enjoyed and connected to it. So, for now it is how we are beginning our morning together. Who knows how long this will be the most meaningful way to start our day? Being open to uncertainty and flexible in our thinking, are important skills we strive to support in each child and in ourselves as teachers and individuals.


~ Ms. Bachofner, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Clay Time is Play Time!
Clay Time is Play Time!

The Pre-K class has been spending time exploring the wonderfully tactile, squishy world of clay lately, and realizing that not only can working with clay be fun, but when completed in a multi-step process, can result in a beautiful and permanent creation.

We have been talking about texture, different kinds, adjectives to describe textures (soft, bumpy, rough, furry, etc.), and how textures can also make patterns. The hands-on experience of pressing all kinds of materials into the clay made for an experimental, exploratory free-for-all on our first day, but did not result in too many finished pieces. By finished, I was looking for a piece of clay rolled out with textures of different kinds that could be cut with a cookie cutter into a shape to make a little plaque or ornament. Clay can be finicky, so if it's too thin or has lots of cracks, it will most likely not survive to the firing stage. Being played with, smushed, rolled, and poked, most of our clay on the first day was not suited for firing by the end of class.

Luckily, by day two, the Pre-K students had a better idea of having a product at the end of their clay time fun so that in subsequent classes we could glaze their pieces and they would have a shiny, colorful piece of art to take home. Students learned that their clay pieces needed to be fired in a kiln at a very high temperature, and when it comes out, it is hard, white, and durable, and known as bisque. They also learned that glazes are very dull and not at all the color they end up being after they go back into the kiln for another firing. They ooh-ed and ahh-ed their shiny and smooth finished creations, and I hope that kids and families alike will enjoy for years to come the lovely and sophisticated pieces of art they will be bringing home.


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