It’s hard work being an Owl. Lots to listen to, understand and respond to. There are daily chores and expectations to be met and although we follow a daily routine, no two days are the same. The Owl’s are encouraged to be self sufficient and independent, they lead their own learning whilst practitioners work alongside them or observe from a distance.
Whatever time the Owls arrive in the morning they have to find their cubby hole for their bags (these move places every day) put their lunchboxes on the lunch trolley and then sign in on the register. Currently they have their temperatures taken and then have to go to wash their hands before they can explore and play.
There is a short period of play after arrival so the Owls can settle in, re-connect with peers and chat to adults. Then it’s time for carpet time. Two owls will ring the bells to tell everyone it’s time to start the day. Wellies are left at the back door and everyone gathers on the carpet. We go through the timeline for the day and talk about what is happening. We talk about having kind hands, respecting other’s personal space, where snack bar is happening and the experiences and opportunities that the children will be able to have a go at or be port of during the day.
Two special helpers are chosen for the day or session and they then take over leading carpet time – they ask the adults “what are you doing today” so everyone knows who is going to be doing what. Then they send their friends to play in a manner of their choosing – high fives, tap heads, thumbs up or hugs – it’s their choice. peers thank them when they have been sent to play and the day then begins in earnest.
Adults deploy to the areas or experiences they are leading or working in. The Owls are then left to choose what they want to do, when they want to do it.
Today Jenny was leading a memory map experience where children made their own maps from a variety of media – some of these were created with a specific memory of a holiday or past experience, others told an original, imaginative story.
Philippa was working in the Willow dome, which is transforming into our ‘shelter for sadness’ a place where it’s ok to be sad and where others might ask you why you are sad and offer comfort – everyone is painting a blue rock to become a part of this new feelings space. Philippa is working on the book ‘A shelter for sadness’ and this project will stretch over several weeks as we focus on feelings.
Lucy was working in the secret garden, digging a foundation for a ‘bee wall’ a project the Owls will be working on next week.
Today the Owl’s had a pretend ice cream shop to play in, where they could create their own recipes from foam and flower petals. The home area was busy as usual, the block area came alive as structures were created and described. Imaginative adventures began on the boat as Owls set sail for “the shops”.
Snack bar happens mid-morning every day and the special helpers ring the bells to tell everyone it has begun. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, adults have to currently serve snack; something the children used to do independently, we hope they will be able to take more of a part in this routine soon. The Owls have to wash their hands before they can come to snack and choose what they want to eat and drink. Once snack is over the special helpers have to wash up all the cups and other utensils that may have been used.
Getting ready for lunch
Play and experiences continue until late morning. Then the bells are rung again and everyone gathers at the carpet for jobs time. The Owls split into groups and have to help to tidy up all the play areas and experiences before we can all set up for lunch.
When we are ready for lunch it’s time for another group gathering time. Today we split into small groups for mindful practice – Philippa had planned a mindful drawing experience that incorporated looking at nature, breathing and smelling flower scents and silent observational drawing. Once this experience ended the owls gathered back on the carpet. Some Owls leave at this time to go home for lunch and others join their peers for lunch and the afternoon session.
Once lunch is finished it is time to get ready for an offsite adventure – today the Owls were going to the Old Dandelion Camp and the weather dictated that we would all need waterproofs – staff lay out all the waterproofs and it’s up to the Owls to find their own kit and get it on independently.
An afternoon in the woods followed, with heavy rain whilst we were out today – The Owls are used to all weathers and always display great motivation and tenacity whatever it is they are doing. Lots of climbing, hunting for and finding worms, stick throwing and gathering natural resources happened today.
Back to base
On their return the Owls had to take off their wellies and waterproofs, find their cubby holes again and put their belongings away. They then gathered for a drink of water and a final carpet time to end the day. Today they each talked through their memory maps, telling the rest of the Owls what they represented and the stories attached to them.
The Owls who do stay on after three o’clock then have a small snack before free play in the garden or focused experiences at the creative table indoors. Some staff will work and play alongside them whilst the rest of the team clean, record planning, reflect on the day, file paperwork, change displays and get organised for the next day based on the Owl’s interests and play that day