By Vanessa Sanchez
The children expressed their intention from them moment their Oak room journey started. They wanted to connect with each other and the community outside of Little Owl’s walls. This intention guided the throughout the year in many ways.
The children wanted to bring harvester ants into the classroom. They raised coins to buy the ants and discussed their options for their leftover funds. Their discussion led them to helping families in need in their community by starting a campaign where they doubled their monetary goal involving their families and friends.
Investigating their curiosity about planet Earth and the Sun led the children into creating seed bombs for all families by using recycled paper materials we gathered from all classrooms to limit waste that could potentially land in the ocean. Their knowledge about marine pollution, their numerous conversations for solutions during multiple morning meetings inspired a beach clean-up to protect marine wildlife.
Recently, some of the children became aware of the migrant children brought to Long Beach to help reunite them with their families. After reading Carmela Full of Wishes and sparking a conversation about immigrants and the reason for Carmela being separated from her father, Bonnie, Lola Jo, Jordan, and Charlotte wrote letters in Spanish and English. They became representatives for the Oak room and mailed the letters with drawings to the migrant children to hopefully bring a smile to their faces.
Thinking about their year, while these children displayed for us the compassion and positive impact children can give their community and the leadership to aid their world, I recognized the impact all these beautiful projects have on them and their individual personal growth. It is fulfilling to see the children use their skills to help themselves and each other through their challenges. So, I asked the children to think about their year as well.
“What can you create that represent your experience in the Oak room?”
In the same way, all their endeavors start, the children made a list of what they wanted to create and the materials they will need. They agree on a mixed media 3D display and draw a plan of what will be on their display that reflects their year called “Oak Collaboration.” On their half land, half ocean piece, the children decided to highlight their Food Finders campaign and ocean conservation with a message that reads, “I love you. Do not drop trash.” Ocean animals made from magic model clay are shown healthy in the wild, and others are trapped in the trash. They built houses with wooden popsicle sticks and an Oak tree on the equator. Lola Jo said, “The oak tree means love and that means we care for people.”
Once the magic model clay and wooden sticks dried, the children mixed their color palettes with acrylic paint and watercolor tinted air-dry clay and added life to their display.
The morning after Jordan’s last-minute clay swan was attached to the display, we placed Oak Collaboration in the middle of our morning meeting, and I asked the children, “What does this mean to you? Why is this important? What does it make you feel?
“It makes the earth sad and then I’m sad.” -Cohen.
“The sharks will die.” -Everett.
“We have to clean up trash or else the trash will be left on the beach and the waves will bring the trash into the ocean and the whales will eat the trash and get cavities.” –Ted.
“It’s about saving animals.” -Nora.
“We’re telling the world to not drop trash ever again.” -Rian.
“I don’t like it when people throw trash on the beach.” -Josie.
“Some families don’t have money to get food.” -Bonnie.
“For people to know not to drop trash, to save the animals and the people, but in all the cities. Like the whole Earth.” -Winston
With just a few days left together, we are starting our mornings with self-reflecting questions. I asked the children to share what makes them happy in the Oak room. Winston looked at me, smiled, and pointed at the Oak Collaboration.
He received immediate connection signs from all of us.