Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Spirit

Thank you so much to our Maple Tree Families! Nothing puts me in the holiday Spirit more than making our annual trip to the Parker Street Food Bank to deliver our specially picked and packed handmade food sacks.

Thank you for embracing this project year after year and for helping me teach the children the importance of giving. From our house to yours we wish you a very Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

mmmmmmm Gingerbread

The last two days have certainly been action packed. We have made 105 gingerbread cookies. That is 35 x 3. That makes for a whole lotta baking. I am frankly baked out now for a few days. I have to say though that we enjoyed the time at the round table mixing cookie dough up and cutting cookies out and watching while they baked. After they cooled we organized some cookie painting and a sprinkle station for extra decoration. We also had a Maple Tree Alumni with us today who among other things over saw many parts of the Cookie Project especially the Sprinkle station. We will be doing another round of painting and sprinkling again tomorrow to ensure everyone has cookies to take home. I've included our recipe for Gingerbread below.


Dry Ingredients
3 cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbs ground ginger
13/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Beat on Medium speed until well blended:

1/2 c butter softened
3/4 brown sugar
1 large egg

Next add:
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients into the wet and you may have to use your hands to mix it all up. It is best to let the dough rest for a day in the fridge. The flavors are more intensified.

Cookie Paint
Icing Sugar and food Coloring
Tiny bit of water to make it paint like
All the sprinkles you can handle

The classroom smelled amazing today and yesterday and we had christmas music going and it just felt like home. Happy Baking!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Music is Magical

Tonight I picked up my daughter late from the school. I usually leave early in the day with her but the last few days she has asked to stay longer to play. Today I left and went to walk my dog and came back around 5 pm. When I walked into the school I was blown away by how very quiet it was. Ms. Melanie was very quietly mopping the floor and three children, mine included were playing pretend violins that they had made from sticks and connectors. In the background Vivaldi's winter was playing. I can not put into words how utterly beautiful that was to happen upon and so I sat and watched and Ms. Melanie continued to mop. It was so beautiful it made me tearful. I felt sad when I was discovered and it was over.

A Tree to Trim

Ok this is an idea I found online and I loved it so much that I went right out and got one for our classroom. I so love how gentle the children are placing the ornaments on this wire tree. It is a new piece of work that requires time and patience. You can't rush with this or you will get tangled up. I watched today as many children gathered around this table and watched and waited for a turn. It is very exciting both for me and the children when new work goes out.

Today was one of those days where I just put out tons of new work. Mostly art based as we are winding down for our Christmas break and the children are sensing the excitement in the air. All these extra activities have been making for some very quiet and absorb working time. From spooning jingle bells to threading wool to make wreaths to making more snowflakes there is a lot of merriment going on.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Smells Wonderful

In the last two weeks we have had this work out on the practical life shelf. It works perfectly with clementines. Large oranges are to hard for small hands to push cloves into. It was even hard for me to do. As you can see this child is studding a clementine with whole cloves and it will get hung on our giving tree and then go home with the child that made it. This is a great activity and it smells so good. Try it at home. It will make for some very quiet time. It is interesting as always to me that the child can become so consumed and quiet with this work for such a long time.

When I am Sick

This week we have been getting a lot of questions about sending your child to school when they are sick. This information is covered off in the Maple Tree Parent Policy manual that everyone gets with their enrollment package when they start at the school. I know that not many people read it as there is a lot of paper that goes out in that package and it is overwhelming to read everything.

The rule of thumb on sickness at Maple Tree is that your child must be 24 hours symptom free of fever, vomiting and diarrhea. We will administer medicine such as antibiotics (ear infection, or other virus requiring antibiotics). We will never give children's Tylenol or Ibuprofen. If your child requires either of these then they should stay at home until they feel better and are up to the task of the day at school. If your child has anything contagious then your family doctor will advise and you will advise us. Pink Eye requires a day and a dose of medicine before a child may return to school. I realize that this creates challenges for many parents where both Mom and Dad work but this is really important. If we ever found ourselves with a situation that three teachers were out sick in one day I would have to cancel school as we would not be able to meet ratio. Our best defense against getting sick is to ensure that children that are sick stay home until they are symptom free. Also, I would ask that you please call the school to notify us if your child is out for the day we do need to track this information for public heath especially in the event that we have an out break of some kind. It also takes a teacher away from the classroom to have to make those calls. I hope this helps clarify things.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Maple Tree Giving Tree

For as long as Maple Tree has been around we have had a giving tree during the holidays. The tree is something we build in the classroom with the children and then we decorate it during our December month at school. During this time we make grocery lists with the children by having them cut up flyers and glue pictures on card stock this is their list for shopping. I also arrange for some durable and ecological bags from our local environment store and I send them home with a note attached for parents. This is really meant as a shopping experience for the child. The parents are to take their child to the grocery store and allow them to choose the items for the bag. The children are invited and encouraged to decorate the bag before hand. When all the gift bags are in by the last day of school my family delivers them to the Parker Street Food Bank and we have lunch. It has become our family tradition and my children have come to really look forward to it. It is amazing to me how humbled my ten year old is when we walk into the food bank and it is empty and people are thanking us over and over again. Every year he tells me that he is glad we do this and that maybe next year we could do more. Food is such a simple and basic need and sometimes I think we forget how much others need it. I hope you are able to find a way to give back with your family this holiday season. Thank you to our parents for supporting this project so much!

Singing in the Rain...the Fall...the Winter...the Spring...

For the past few weeks in music we have been singing about the weather - sun, rain, clouds, thunder, wind and soon, snow. We have been listening to the music of Vivaldi (Summer and winter from the Four Seasons) and Debussy (Voiles, Le fille aux cheveux de lin). In the Vivaldi the children learned to pick out the background "raindrops" which are much softer than the violin solo. We had a magical moment one morning, as the children laid on their backs, closed their eyes and imagined Debussy's clouds floating by.
Although we have moved on in music class from our "New Friends and Old Friends" unit, it is never too late to sing about our friends. Here are the words to a song your child may be singing at home:

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other, gold


Let it Snow

I am sorry I've been away for a few weeks! There is so much going on this time of the year and things are super busy both at home and in the classroom. Not to worry though I've got some great stuff coming your way so stay tuned!

The other day a friend gave us a massive amount of paper (enough for a year or more) and in the pile was some newsprint. Newsprint is great because you can do so many things with it. It is really perfect for folding and cutting out snowflakes and that is just what we did. I started as a bit of an experiment to see if I could make a super sized snowflake and it worked out beautifully. The next thing I know I have a full circle of little friends around me and everyone wants to cut paper. What a lovely time we had! So watch out because there is snowflake cutting out on the shelf and I am sure lots coming your way at home. This is great work as it takes a lot of strength to cut through so many layers of paper. Happy Cutting.