© 2016 Marla McLean img_0583

Making ripples and Butterfly Flights

It’s a new school year. Filled with possibility, new relationships, and sweet growth for both the children and all the connected adults in their lives.

“Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.”
Loris Malaguzzi


When children learn from their heart and soul the importance of protecting and honoring the earth (even cuty kids), when they learn to wonder, think, imagine, and be curious of the world around them at a young age, when they experience the connection of all living things, they develop the empathy and awareness to make a difference. To be kind. To create solutions. To find metaphors.
And this is why we engage so deeply in the Monarch rescue effort. It is more than science.
It’s making ripples.
img_0620

“I wonder if caterpillars play with their friends?” Olivia D., Kindergarten

img_9807

“I wonder, how did they take such big bites (of the Milkweed leaf) with a tiny tiny mouth?” Lucy, PreK

img_9972

After the caterpillar falls, because the cage is accidentally bumped, the caterpillar curls up. The PreK3 group gasps because they think it’s hurt.

Suddenly it stretches out on the leaf and starts moving.

“It’s not curled! It’s happy now!” Alonzo, PreK3

img_9982

“Actually I see (the caterpillars) are the same. Same stripes.” Felix, PreK3

img_9710
In these images Laurel communicates all her knowledge and wonder and understandings to me by tapping, and pointing, and expressing non-verbally. By “visually listening” I learned how enthralled and connected she is.
img_0790
img_0788
img_9717

“I see they have black and white feet.” Lucy, PreK

“I see they have antenna.” William, PreK

“I see 4 antennae.” Lan, PreK

img_9705
One Monday, when I arrived at school, I found that 3 of the caterpillars had escaped the cage. Two were found, but one disappeared. I told Mr. Moore the custodian about the missing critter, and hoped when he swept, he would find our missing caterpillar. I crawled under every table and chair. Eventually, I cam to the conclusion that the cat had either crawled away or had been vacuumed up by accident.
5 days later, Alexandra says, “Ms. McLean, I found something in the pony palace.” This is a play house about 25 feet from where the caterpillar tent is.
“What did you find?”, I asked.
“Look!”
I gasped. “Is it alive?”, I asked her.
“I think so.” she replied.
I put that caterpillar on a milkweed and low and behold, after 5 days of no food, it began munching away! It has since turned into a beautiful female butterfly. What a magical story!
img_0210
“I wonder why it hangs upside down.” Nergu, PreK
img_0094
Transformation of the caterpillar into the chrysalis is a rare thing to witness. This year, children, parents, and staff had the opportunity to watch this four times! It is such a grand moment of wonder and hope. For if this little creature can make such a spectacular transformation, surely we can too.
img_0134
950955b0-b10a-470b-8a95-f3449c14d3d3

“I wonder how does it (the chrysalis) stick up there?” Will C., PreK

Here’s a brief video of the end part of the transformation. It is aptly called, the pupa dance.

 

 

 

 

Processed with Snapseed.

“I wonder how does it (the chrysalis) stick up there?” Will C., PreKimg_9816“I think the golden on it tells you it’s a special surprise.” Hope, PreK

img_0479

Engaging in small groups with tiny miraculous creatures offers deep moments of observing, thinking, wondering, expressing, and caring. In these small moments were opportunities to focus on not only caring for the earth, but each other too. Listening while others spoke, engaging in kind language, sharing materials, and collaborating. These are not the small things, but the big things. The ripple makers, to spread goodness.

Here’s a wonderful link A Harvard Psycholgist shares 5 ways to raise them to be Kind

img_0488

“I wonder, is there a mommy and daddy?” Josephine, PreK

img_0541


img_0917

Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. – Plato


9c012963-eda5-4ad6-984a-da15149442c7
img_0649img_0684When one of the PreK3 children became frightened by the butterfly, the effect was catching. Soon I had four screaming 3 year olds. I quickly grabbed two Kindergarten children, Dale and Olivia, who were on their way to recess, and asked them if they would come in and teach the 3 year olds there was nothing scary, while I took the very frightened little one out to get a drink of water and calm down. The two stayed for a whole hour, even facilitating and helping the younger children make a great big butterfly mural. I really couldn’t have done it without them. When I thanked Dale and Olivia for giving up their recess time to help me out, Olivia looked at me and said, “No, thank YOU Ms. McLean for inviting us.” I almost cried.0cc5567f-54f3-4332-acda-a32442b7beb9

img_0924
When it looks like you’re breakdancing in the atelier, you know something good is happening.! Embodying and engaging all senses makes one alive to the world.
Processed with Snapseed. Processed with Snapseed.

 

 

 

Processed with Snapseed.

“I think caterpillars have different brains.” Gilly, PreK

img_9838
“Hey butterfly, look at this picture. She cute, right?” Ryan, PreK3

img_0784
Themes and discussions of freedom emerged, as the children vacillated between wanting to name and keep the butterflies and also wanted to let it go. It also allows children to think about their selves. Wanting to be totally free, but being a child and also wanted someone there, when they are afraid. Isn’t that what we all want?

freedom-monarch
img_0955
“The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”
Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change

My deepest wish is that I can be an instrument in supporting your child/children to become themselves. Beautiful kind compassionate loving selves.

Here’s to a year of making lots of ripples, and butterfly flights.

img_0583

 

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

8 Comments

  1. Jonathan Beeton
    Posted October 2, 2016 at 7:41 pm | #

    Thank you for walking us through, and more thoroughly showing us what my girls have been talking to me about for the last few weeks. Your story reminds me that taking time to explore nature doesn’t require a flight to Yellowstone, we can find it in our backyard.

  2. Posted October 2, 2016 at 10:44 pm | #

    Marla, This blog is so beautiful. Thank you for being there for your kids. I went to college with your sister, Linda, and from her links to your Facebook posts I keep seeing more people in DC who we know in common.
    I’m sure at point we’ll run into each other!

  3. Margaret Fineran
    Posted October 3, 2016 at 3:13 am | #

    Beautiful!
    Wonderful way to start off the week!!

    Thank you for the inspirations.

  4. Enily Greif
    Posted October 3, 2016 at 7:57 am | #

    This is incredibly beautiful! The growth that this posts highlights, both literal and metaphorical, takes my breath away.

  5. Kirsten
    Posted October 3, 2016 at 9:17 am | #

    Ok – Olivia is making ME cry. Thank goodness breakdancing happened too! What a wonderful time and place.

  6. Uma
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 5:50 am | #

    I LOVE this! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this and for sharing such a wonderful experience with our families.

  7. Jonny Blundell
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:49 am | #

    So much simple but profound wisdom and insight in this posting. Beautiful. I really wish you could be the teacher for my Grand children!

  8. Elizabeth Barnett
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm | #

    Such a gorgeous and inspiring post! One of my favorite lines: “Listening while others spoke, engaging in kind language, sharing materials, and collaborating. These are not the small things, but the big things.” Well said. If only adults could act this way… our world would be a much better place. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>