Monday, December 19, 2011

Giving Traditions

I love traditions, especially this time of the year.  I come from a very large extended family and we were always big on family traditions every year.  I have the fondest memories of being a child and going to my grandparents on Christmas Eve after church in rural Nova Scotia.  Their kitchen would be full of people with instruments and food.  My grandfather would always make rabbit pie and pass the Captain Morgan around the room.  I remember the lead up to Christmas Eve, walking in the woods and checking rabbit snares with him and the endless decorating and baking with my grandmother.  These were among the best Christmases I have ever known.  

My grandparents are not with us anymore and sadly those family traditions have stopped.  I use to feel sad about it but now I realize we have developed our own special traditions.  Among the many things that I do with my own children during this time of year, is to take all those beautiful food bags that all of our families at Maple Tree have generously decorated and filled to the Parker Street Food Bank.  Our family really looks forward to loading it all up and taking it to Parker Street every year.  It is a side of life I am grateful my children get to see and experience.  We are truly humbled by it every year.  
We choose the Parker Street Food Bank as our Giving Project each year because they rely on donations and do not receive food from Feed Nova Scotia.  I think what feed Nova Scotia does is great but there is good to do in our own back yard.  Every year when we go to Parker Street, it is empty.  Every year I wish we could do so much more.  This year was by far our biggest delivery ever!  We dropped off 50 bags in total!!  Thank You So Much for embracing this project.

I also, took the time to explain our project to them and that the food bags themselves were decorated by the children and to be gift bags for all the food going out.  All of the bags were so beautiful.  The children did such an amazing job!

I know this project makes a difference and leaves an impression because on my way out the door I bumped into a family that left the school last year and they were just arriving with bags of toys.  I cannot put into words how moved I was by that.

Anyway, all this to say, traditions do matter and children understand so much more than we give them credit for.  So, from my family both at Maple Tree and home we are all wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and Peace for the New Year!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our December Winner is.....

Congratulations to Sarah!!  She is our winner for December.  This is the perfect time to enjoy your Pampermint Gift set compliments of Heather Smith Dacey and Arbonne!  Thank you Heather and Happy Christmas to both of you!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Music and Elving

Today, was a great day and (sigh) the last of my big commitments.  Ms. Susanne came in yesterday and today to do a lovely music presentation with the children for their parents.  I was glad to help put this together as I know it is nice to make the connections and understand where a song or phrase come from.  It really was lovely despite my worries about space and being crowded.  Thank you so much for embracing our crazy ideas and thank you for helping us with the lunch side of things.  Many parents brought sandwiches and fruit and it was most appreciated.  Thank you for making that easier for me.

On to Elving, we have been doing so much!  I just love how the wool ball ornaments came out.  I must say I was a bit worried that they were not going to harden up and turn out.  But to my surprise and patience (because it took a week for them to dry out and harden up) they turned out beautifully!  We have tired as best we could to label all of them correctly and we did not make them with everyone.  We had an afternoon that was very rainy and so I just busted out and got busy crafting!  I am sure I make the other teachers crazy when I say oh lets just make something and I make a crazy mess and then leave to pick up my kids at three!!  The idea came from the Magic Onions blog  Try as I might I am not able to find the post!!  I know it is from the Magic Onions but I just can't locate it.  Anyway the blog is lovely and they make a lot of nature inspired stuff.  The Sparkly yarn ornaments were made by soaking yarn in glue with glitter and I added a bit of shiny paint because we had some.  After the yarn is covered in glue start to wrap it around a small balloon.  The longer the piece of yarn the greater and more detailed and strong the ornament will be.  Set them aside to dry.  You will need to keep turning them over often as they are drying.  It took ours a good week to dry out and set up.

We also had the children threading beads and tiny bits of wool to make these beautys.  I love how some of the children made a pattern and really thought about how they wanted the layers to look.

 Sparkly stars also.  This one is a big hit and all the children are successful with this craft.
 I do love pinecone weaving.  We've pulled this one out again this year and it is one all the children can do.  I especially like how all the different colours make each pinecone look unique and beautiful.
 Stringing popcorn, cranberries and dried oranges.  Our Tree has never looked so beautiful!
And lastly, don't you just love coloured marsh mellows!

We will be taking extra care next week to pack up your child's handmade treasures and send them home to adorn your family tree.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pumpkins Falling from Space

Last week I noticed Miss M sitting on her mat with the pink tower, red
rods, and brown stair neatly organized.  I could see she was in deep
thought so I did not disturb her.  After about 10 minutes, I observed
Miss M's work again and noticed she took out the knobless cylinder
boxes, 3 were on a pattern sheet and the blue ones were lined up
carefully next to the brown stair.  I was very intrigued about how
precise everything was on her mat.  As I was standing there, a few
other children would come and go to observe, and they knew how
important it was to not disturb her work.  Miss M then asked if she
could use the Mystery bag and the Stereognostic bag.  Of course we
said yes because we want to encourage the children to be in the moment
as long as they are being respectful with the materials.    

in the bag had a specific spot in Miss M's mind.  Next, she took out
the Solar System puzzle and put all the pieces on the mat, except
earth.  By this point I started asking her questions on what she was

 Miss M explained how the pumpkins were falling from space
onto earth (the two bottom mats). Once Miss M completed her work, she
wanted to show and explain to everyone in the class her creation,
which she was very proud of.  The amount of time and concentration put
into this work was very fascinating, it took her over an hour.
~Ms. Stephanie

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

This is for the lovely ladies that came out on Saturday for my Workshop on Art at the school!  As promised, here is the recipe for the muffins I made that morning. Thanks for coming out and please stay in touch!

Wet Ingredients
1 Cup of oats
1 Cup of yogurt any flavour (I used vanilla)
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!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Giving Tree

The tree got put together today.  For those of you that are new to our school, we have been building this tree for the last three years.

I call it our giving tree because we will fill the under neath of it with food for Parker Street Food Bank.  Tomorrow I am sending home the bamboo bags from Plovers.  They will have a note attached explaining our project and each child will get a bag.

During the next two weeks we will be heading to the grocery store to learn about shopping for the bag and making our own grocery list with the children.  You might be wondering how a three year old could make a list that they can read and understand.  That is simple.  We will be using fliers and cutting them up and glueing our ideas to card stock.  All the children will be encouraged to do this.  Frankly, I really don't have to try to hard when we put out glue and card stock!!
The pull to glue something is always great in our classroom.

Please take time to colour your food bags or paint them with your children.  They are to be gift bags for the food we are giving.  We will be talking about food, hunger and need.  When you have your bag decorated go out to the grocery store and let your child fill it.  They will surprise you with what they think is important and please, have fun with this project.  Thank You to my Friend the Wool Fairy for the beautiful branches that were freshly cut this morning for our Tree!