In January, the kindergarten began studying the sea. Last week, they presented the project and a special play that incorporated pretty much everything they learned. For the first 30 minutes, Kyria Anna and Kyria Amalia, the kindergarten teachers, talked with the parents/siblings/grandparents about everything they studied and incorporated into this expeditionary learning unit. All of their reading, language arts, math and science centered around the sea. They read a book about a τριγoναψαρουλη (a triangle fish) and did a report on it. They read another about a κοτουλα (chicken) named Karmela who wanted to see the sea so badly that she ran away from home. And another about a φοκια (seal) who hated the way she looked so much that she cut her whiskers off only to find out she couldn’t hunt fish without them and learned to appreciate her face and body. They built their own ferry (The Blue Star Kessaris) and christened it with a bottle of ‘champagne’ filled with confetti. They built canoes and paddles. They made dioramas. They made clay sea animals. They constructed lighthouses and key holders to sell at the Open Day Bazaar. Peter drew sea scenes for weeks at home and at school. And yesterday, he decided he’s going to live in Mexico when he grows up, because Mexico has bullfights AND sharks (καρχαγεια) I mean, really, what could be better?
The field trips with this unit were awesome. First, they went to a sea turtle refuge just down the road from our house and learned about how the refuge helps the turtles become healthy and able to go back into the sea. Our class adopted a χελωνα (turtle) named Nemo for a month, paying for all its medical needs and food. In April, they collected recyclable materials all month in the classroom and then loaded it onto the school buses headed toward a recycling center. The kids and staff talked there for more than an hour about how recycling is good for the earth … and the sea.
Last September’s oil spill provided a great teaching opportunity. During the play, half of the children played fish while the other half wore black capes (oil) and army crawled on the floor. The fish all died. It was a very dramatic re-enactment. They also did a couple of skits where they discussed the ‘rules’ of the sea and why we keep the beaches and water clean. They re-enacted the part of the chicken book where Karmela’s father grabs her wing and escorts her back to the coop because she’s too little to go to the sea by herself. Each child had a part or two with a couple of lines. It was adorable.
Their final field trip was to the beach at Varkiza, where they picked up trash for a few hours. Kyria Anna told us that the area they cleaned had not one speck of trash when they left. Peter came home talking about all the kalamaki (straws) they found on the beach, and how his pal Demetri found a souvlaki kalamaki (bamboo skewer) and how dirty the beach was. They learned how bad plastic is for our environment and each child got his/her own canvas bag to take things to the beach. At the end of the performance, the kids sang two songs in English and two songs in Greek and received oceanographer diplomas, and then we got to walk through the halls and collect all of the masterpieces the kids made over the course of this unit.
This was the most perfect unit I could think of for this age. I hope their discoveries turn them into the generation who will preserve the beautiful Greek environment. The country desperately needs it.