The idea of having a tea party where we invited everyone, came from the children. It all started in the play kitchen in the nest, where Maya and Rosie were playing together. Maya really wanted real tea with water, and all to happen in the play kitchen. While this is something we sometimes do, the opportunity to make real tea is never passed on at Wheelhouse. We have some tea loving teachers at school, and will often add tea to our morning snack, specially on chilly mornings. So when Maya ran into the sink to get water for pretend tea; I said, Hey, Maya you know we can make real tea at school. Her response: "Yeah!! A tea party, we can invite everybody."
And that is how it all started. The days that followed were spent learning about the teas we had already at school, taking them in with all of our senses. Smelling them, noticing what happened when the tea bags went into the water. And tasting them to decide what was coming to the tea party.
The children were really into the process of smelling and identifying what the teas smelled like:
Karika: This one is sweet!
Marian: Mmm berries! Can you warn all the mothers to come and stay because the tea party is today?!!!
Kora: I think daddy is going to come.
Rylee: Mine smells like broccoli. I like broccoli.
Claire: It go into my nose and my boogers turn into minty spicy!
Throughout the mornings others joined in to the tea exploration. And the thought of more foods to have at the party came up. We started planning for a menu and children wrote down the names of foods they wanted to have at the tea party. We talked about it together and finally settled on:
Gluten free cookies
and of course tea.
Karika: Sleepy tea! I know this one! Do you want us to sleep?? (All laugh :)
Rylee: I have tried peppermint before, you are going to love it Marian!
Irina: And what do you think of chamomile?
Marian: Uhhh is disgusting!
Karika: Is yucky, is spicy.
Claire: Mmmm is like chocolate.
After smelling the teas present at the table we decided to get cups and hot water and actually make the tea. We talked about how when you keep the tea for a longer time in the water, the tea can taste stronger and that removing it earlier makes it more mild.
Marian: I want not spicy.
Rylee: I like mine that taste like leaves.
What I love more about this project , is how throughout the week, different children participated in the process, and how some of those children drove the experience sometimes and other times other children drove the experience. By the day when we made cookies in the cafe, destined to be served at the tea party, we noticed the word had travel. There was a big group of children interested in being part of the tea party planning.
Through all of it, we were able to facilitate a sensory exploration when tasting the teas and smelling them.
By writing menus, children worked on literacy skills in emergence and with a purpose, rather than just because those skills are important to learn. By facilitating daily experiences of life in which children can practice all kinds of skills, literacy, sensory, gross motor, we adjunct to the idea of learning as living and the idea that we are all learning everywhere all the time. Also there was a sense of community of all working towards one goal together, and taking it to the end result: Having the tea party at pick up time, when families stayed a little longer to enjoy tea and cookies with us.
Unfortunately, we don't have any images from the actual tea party, but we do have a video of children making cookies that I think you will enjoy. We look forward to continue to create projects like this, within our Wheelhouse community of children and families.