The Baby Nido Project is a really great project that we started up this year. We decided to begin this project because we wanted the Baby Nido class to be just as active within our school family as all the other classes. In my school we encourage collaboration between different grades and we value a sense of school family yet the Baby Nido class never seemed to be involved in active collaboration. This year, we decided to do something about that.
There are several children in the school that we knew really loved babies. Carolina (age 9) and Brianna (age 8) are two students that have been really vocal about their adoration of the babies. They admired them from the windows in our old campus and, once in a while, spent an afternoon helping the Baby Nido teachers. This year, we invited them to be part of this special project.
Carolina, I feel, is at the heart of this project. Her mother, who is the curriculum specialist of our school, recommended her for this project. She told me how passionate Carolina is about babies. From her first encounter in the Baby Nido class I noticed that she has this unwaivering confidence with the babies. She is not afraid to pick them up (and does so very carefully), she genuinely enjoys being with the babies, and, perhaps most importantly, she really sees them. During her visits with the babies, I can tell how much she is noticing them. Her observations of the babies are always spot on and, already, she shows an understanding of how to meet their needs. One of my favorite things about Carolina is how she can’t get enough of the babies. Whenever I bump into her in the hallways at school she asks when I will take her to the baby class and for how long will the visit be. On top of that, she regularly spends her after school time in the Baby Nido class! I love her passion!
Brianna also really loves babies. I have known Brianna for years. I was actually her teacher for kindergarten. She is bright, enjoys being helpful, and is very nurturing. Her mother, who is a fellow teacher at my school, recommended her for this project. She mentioned how much Brianna loves babies. From her first visit with the babies, I saw her love for them. She became very vocal about doing things to benefit the babies. For instance, on one of the days they wanted to read to the babies but got caught up in snuggling with them. Brianna kept to the goal. She was a constant reminder that their job is to mentor the babies. I noticed how much she wanted to honor the intent of this project and, when I watch her with the babies, I can feel her happiness in those moments. I so enjoy watching her interact with the babies because she really lights up when she’s with them. Her excitement becomes contagious and I find myself watching her and feeling genuinely happy that this project has emerged.
The first aspect of this project is simply bonding with the babies. In order to create this special school family, where everyone knows and cares for everyone, there has to be time spent together. Each week, we invite the girls to have at least one visit with the babies where they help facilitate something special. So, sometimes they read to the babies, sometimes they play instruments, sometimes they take the babies outside, etc.
Another aspect of this project is encouraging the older children to share their observations of the babies. We ask them open-ended questions all the time to encourage the older children to think deeply and to really get to know the babies. We have also invited the older children to create a portrait of each baby and to share their observations of the babies as well.
The babies in the Baby Nido class…
Brianna: Lucas has dirty gold hair and he’s little. Lucas likes to play with leaves, he likes being outside, um, and he has little animal shoes.
Carolina: Lucas loves picking stuff up off the ground.
Carolina: Stella is very active and she likes going outside and she plays very happy when people talk to her and stuff. She’s a ball of joy because she’s very happy when she’s outside. Maybe she likes being outside more than inside.
Brianna: Dylan has chubby cheeks and she’s very cute. She’s happy a lot…she likes to be outside. Dylan likes to play with the sparkly white cloth in her class. She is a very fun baby to play with a lot.
Carolina: Zuri, she’s sometimes happy and sometimes sad. She likes doing what she wants. She’s very pretty with that little bow and everything. She’s very cute.
Brianna: Zuri sometimes likes to be outside.
Carolina: Chloe is adorable and she loves to play outside and she loves her mom and stuff. She’s very happy outside.
Brianna: Chloe is a very cute baby; she is very fun. She likes to be outside a lot…she loves the grass.
The last aspect of this project is the creation of books and toys for the babies. Carolina is an aspiring designer and knows how to use a sewing machine. Brianna is also very creative and is eager to learn how to use the sewing machine. Carolina and Brianna are working towards the creation of a soft book titled Nature Story for the Baby Nido class. The reason for the subject of the book is that the girls came to the conclusion that the babies really enjoy being outside and, perhaps, they can learn more about nature through this book. They intend to create a series of soft books that they feel will be beneficial to the babies. Eventually, they’d also like to create toys, pillows, and even a mobile for the Baby Nido class.