Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Seed Day

This is a short post this evening. My other half is ill with the stomach flu and there is the dog and children in our house to be sorted out for the evening. Did I mention that I am currently living in drywall dust with a small spattering of fresh paint! Yikes!

Anyway, today we started our seed tray and we will do more tomorrow and next week another one.

This year I am wanting to make a Sunflower house in our garden and plant lots of vegetables. I am so looking forward to taking the children out to check on things and pick and eat from that space.

The choice for planting today was sunflowers, squash or a pumpkin. Except for my girl, who insisted on planting a small pot of mint! What are you going to do but go with it.

The children were especially fascinated with how some seeds were very tiny and hard to see and some were large, which meant maybe it would grow a very big plant. So funny how they have different ideas in their head about how things should be and how it will all turn out. I am afraid there will have to be a lot of seeds planted as I am wanting a big success rate on this project. I also think we may have to hide the watering can.

So there will be lots and lots of garden talk over the next few weeks and I have the best new selection of books. One in particular about how fruit is merely a suitcase for the seeds. I will try to post some titles in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All Things Good

Today started with a fresh batch of home-made granola. I make it so often at home that I thought it would be a treat and a nice change from our usual plain bowl of vanilla yogurt. Boy, was I right; the children gobbled it up. What made it especially tasty was the drizzle of freshly boiled Maple Syrup! Yes, you heard me correctly. I had a parent show up with about eight litres of maple sap this morning for us to turn into syrup.

So...I ran home and got the Coleman stove and some fuel. I set it up right outside our front door so the children could watch it boil away. Before we started the stove though, we all tasted the sap and discovered that it really doesn't taste like much. This came as a bit of a surprise to many of the children, and then there were questions about how it would turn into the wonderful sweet yumminess that we put on our pancakes. We talked about the process and Ms. Melanie read the story "At Grandpa's Sugar Bush" by Margaret Carney and Janet Wilson.

Then, we watched all morning long, off-and-on, taking turns, so that all our friends could see what was happening to the sap in the pot. At 1:00 p.m., I brought it into the kitchen to finish the last bit of boiling and to make sure it didn't scorch. I think we ended up with about half a cup of liquid gold. I understand now why it is so expensive to buy and just how much sap it takes to make a large bottle! It really was a great exercise for the children to watch and learn from.
After playground, we were able to enjoy it on top of our yogurt and granola. We also went around with
tasting sticks and sampled it just on it's own. So much goodness today and so much fun. Thank You Julie!!

4 Cups old fashioned oats1 1/2 Cups almonds or peacans1/2 Cup packed brown sugar1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp ground cinnamon1/4 Cup canola oil1/4 Cup Nova Scotia honey1 tsp vanilla1 1/2 Cups raisins (optional)
Mix the oats, salt, cinnamon and, brown sugar together in a bowl. Next heat the oil and honey on the stove gently (not to hot just enough to melt the honey) and whisk in vanilla. Pour this over the oat mixture and mix really well with a wooden spoon or your hands. Pour into a cookie sheet and bake at 300 for 40 minutes. (I usually bake a bit longer as I like mine more golden brown. You must remember to give it a stir every 10 minutes or so. When it is done let it cool and store in an air tight container.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Conversation with Little Miss M

It is so funny the way that children say things or what and how they choose to confide in us. I used to feel cranky at the thought of going to playground. For me, it is time away from the classroom when I could be prepping the next project or creating something new for the shelves.

Lately, I have come to really enjoy my time at playground, and I have developed even deeper relationships with the children because of it. They see me in a different light and less serious. Today, I had the most interesting conversation with my friend, little Miss M. She was at the front of my line and the conversation started off like this:

"My mom got a new car."

"Wow," I said, "that is exciting!"

Miss M said, "Yup, it has a hand-dryer in it!"

I asked, "What colour is your new car?"

"Black," replied Little Miss M.

"Excuse me, Ms. Mashell, wouldn't it be great if it was a rocketship car? It would be so fast!"

"Yes," I replied, "but have you ever seen a rocketship car around?"

"No." Then, Little Miss M said, "I have gum in my doctors kit at my Daddy's house and he doesn't have a car, just a lot of stairs. Ms. Mashell?"


"I made a new friend today."

"Who is it?" I asked.

"You, Ms. Mashell! Your my new best Friend!"

"Wow!" I exclaimed. And, WOW is how I feel. I am so lucky to be Little Miss M's friend. And that, my friends, was the BEST part of my day today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blue Plate Chilli

I am almost not sure I should give this one out!!! Mostly because I am worried you will all start making it so much at home that it won't be so welcomed at school anymore. But good recipes are for sharing and I am always delighted when the children say how much they love it. Also, while were on the topic of food, I haven't said this in a big way but Maple Tree is only using happy free range, local and, antibiotic free meat. We get a meat order monthly for the school from either Long Spell Point Farms or Windy View Farms in The Valley. We are very happy to buy local and eat well!


1 Tb Olive Oil
1 Pound ground beef
1 onion finely chopped
3 stalks celery sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tb chilli powder
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked peppercorns
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes drained (i use it juice and all)
1/2 c Beef broth
1 can kidney beans (I always use dried as it is more cost effective and less salt--all you have to do is put your dry beans in a pot bring to the boil and remove from heat and let sit 1 hour. Drain and add to the crock pot with the rest of your ingredients).

Place browned meat in slow cooker. In same skillet add onion, celery and cook til soft or just toss in the crock pot as i often do. Add rest of your ingredients. Put the slow cooker on lowest setting and dinner will be ready when you get home. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A view of the week so far...

Lots more fairy play and now we have ducks!
Transferring coloured water with an eyedropper.
Knocking to see our sandpaper numbers.
Brand new clothes pin work! There are birds nesting in our branches.
Counting out the Short Bead Stair.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Fairy Story Part 1

One day, two fairies went for a walk in the forest.
The plants start to grow.
The plants growded bigger.
And the fairies started to get lost.
The fairies walked along and started to get lost in a maze.

The Fairy Story Part 2

The fairies picked up a golden rock.
The fairies picked up a flower.Then the fairies picked up three rocks, golden rocks!
The trees start to grow.
The ocean tumbled by.

The Fairy Story Part 3

The fairy flied to get a egg.
They picked up a leaf.
Then they wanted their mother back.
They flew home into their fairy castle with their Queen Mamma.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Week

This week we have:

Enjoyed some quiet sewing time.

Parachute Play at the playground.

We found fairies in our garden.

Endless amount of shamrock crafts, rainbow making and blarney stones!
Oh happy Week!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

I am slowly getting the most popular recipes that we make at the school out to parents. We may do a recipe book, as we are asked often for many of the recipes.

Wet Ingredients
1 Cup of oats
1 Cup of yogurt any flavor
1/2 Cup canola oil
3/4 Brown sugar
1 Egg

Dry Ingredients
1 Cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 Cup blueberries or any other fruit (mix into the dry ingredients or you will have purple batter).

Mix the wet ingredients and add the dry ingredients. Spoon into greased muffin tin and bake at 400 for 20 to 23 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

There are Fairies in our Forest

For some time now, I have been longing for a truly lovely nature table/space in our classroom. We have off-and-on had a science and nature tray but it seems to get removed because something has been damaged our it just isn't age-approperiate at that moment. I feel frustrated at this and feel bad when I take it off the shelf.

I have a friend that has the most magical space where she lives, and she keeps a most incredible and inviting nature table in her livingroom. I am constantly inspired by the beauty she brings to that space and how effortless it seems to be. I am learning, and she is my teacher even if she doesn't know it.

This weekend I found myself buying cat grass and tiny muscari flowers at the farmers market. I
wasn't even thinking about a nature table at that moment, just that it would it feel amazing to run your hand along this grass. What a sensory experience for the children.

When I found this idea for a fairy garden, I knew what I was going to do and then it just morphed into this amazing space that has now become our nature table. I promise to always have it from now on. I will be encouraging the children to bring things they find that we may enjoy from this new space in our classroom.

I could not resist the playmobile fairies! The children made a storey with our practicum student based on what they thought was going on in that garden. In addition to that we read "The Story of the Root-Children" by Sibylle Von Olfers. Such a magical space. Many children came to that space today and they were quiet, thoughtful, and playful. Everyone should have a Fairy Garden!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Beauty in Colour

I think that I am having a sensitive period for colour right now. Perhaps, it is because I am so "done" with winter and I find this time of the year bleak and murky.

We have been into a tremendous amount of sensory work in the class room this past month. We're exploring the geometric cabinet, touch tablets, red rods, broad stair, pink tower, and colour tablet boxes.

Some of the things I enjoy so much about the sensorial materials is that they are so beautiful, colourful, shiny and oh so inviting to the tiny hands

that reach for them everyday.

In this post, I am showing how one boy took out the third colour tablet box and found a few different ways to exlore the colours in the box.

I always find it fascinating to watch the delicate way in which each tablet is carefully touched and picked up and placed into the work at hand. This is such an important part of the process. I was reminded of that this week as I had a conversation with my collegues about whether or not we should ask a child to vacate a sensory bin which was very new to our classroom and that they were exploring for more than 45 minutes! Many other children were coming up to other teachers and saying it was taking too long to get a turn with that work. What do you suppose happened?

Well, let me tell you....One of the teachers asked that child to leave his work and choose something else and so a great debate ensued. My argument was that we were, in that moment, disturbing a very sensitive period for touch and we would never ask a child who was doing pouring work to stop and put it back to the shelf so that another child may have a turn. The other teacher said it seemed unfair to the other children who were waiting a very long time to get into the sensory bin. When we started to look at it from a pedagogic stand point, it made sense not to disturb the work or the child. After all, we must be true to our Montessori roots and we would not be honouring the child if we allowed such distruptions.

Not only is it important to learn patience and turn-taking but also respect for our peers who are working. "All of this waiting," I said, "was very important, as the child is not just standing there but watching, taking in, and absorbing all of the aspects of that work and touch, and learning how to touch and handle work gently is a very big part of it."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The March of the Penguins

I am so completely in love with these drawings. Often we will set up a directed drawing activity in steps at the art table and this is what we had set up last week. Drawing is such an important part of your child's development and we are happy to encourage and foster it. The idea came from an Usborne Art Drawing Book. During the course of the year you will find a few drawings in your child's art file and I wanted to share with you the process.