Wednesday, December 16, 2015

We are different

Some times we are privy to the most unusual and yet wonderful conversations.  I am about the share one of those wonderful conversations with you.  

Yesterday at lunch one of our children asked Ms. Yvonne why her skin was brown?

It went like this,

Child, "why do you have brown skin?"

Ms.Yvonne,  "because I was born this way, why do you have white skin?"

Child,  "because I'm eating to many white crackers at home"

I can not even begin to tell you how sweet that was or how much we laughed quietly between ourselves.  Out of the mouths of babes literally.  How much do you love that?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

It's Natural to Give

 Please note* We would never publish pictures our of children without permission from our parents.  For this blog post, Eko's mom gave us her permission to share her photos.   Thank you Amanda.

 I am long over due in getting to this post.  There is so much to do and so many more things we are trying to do with our children before we break for the holidays!

Today, I wanted to highlight a project that is near and dear to my heart.  It's called the Maple Tree Giving Tree Project.  Each year for the last 14 years we have made an effort to give back to our community as a community.  The idea is to talk with the children about need and hunger.  A very simple need such as food is an easy concept for children at a very young age to grasp and understand.  We are all hungry and need to eat.  What do we eat?  What do others eat?  Does everyone have food?  What's a perishable?  What's a non perishable?  These are all things we talk to our children about and they are things we tend to take for granted.  I decided many years ago that we need to teach our children about giving.  My husband Shawn and I have always instilled this in our own children.  It has moved from giving food in bags to handing out change to people in need.  Our daughter will actually insist that we keep money in the cup holder in our van so that we can give it away when we stop at intersections.  I am filled with pride and hope every time she asks and it's roots stem from the Giving Tree project.

So, we give the children a canvas bag to decorate with all manner of crafty goodness.  Anything goes when it comes to making the bag beautiful and special.  Then we ask our parents to take their children to the grocery store and fill the bag.  We ask that parents really let their child make the choices for the bag.  There is such power in this for the children.  Power to chose for others and be the one making it happen.

 This is my friend Eko doing the very thing we asked of him.  He is shopping and making choices all on his own for his Giving Tree Bag.  Like all of our children, Eko really embraced this project.  I got these pictures and the sweetest email from his mom on the weekend and it honestly made me so happy and I am sharing it with you.

The following is from Eko's Mom: 

I just wanted to share with you Eko's experience shopping for the Giving Tree today. I'm so incredibly proud of him. I honestly did NOTHING other than take pictures. He wanted to bring his own shopping cart even. 

I honestly thought we would go down one aisle and end up with 10 different kinds of crackers - but that wasn't the case. Eko made the most incredibly healthy, smart and balanced choices. It's like he was on a mission and he knew what he wanted to choose. He just kept saying, "I want to buy this for the children" and "the children will really like this!"

 I see pure Joy radiating in my friends face as he loads his groceries! 

Way to Go Eko!  You are Amazing and you are doing an wonderful thing!

As the bags make their way into Maple Tree we put them under the Giving Tree we made.   Nest week all the bags will be delivered to Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank.  Every year when we go and deliver the food we feel good about it and we are reminded how great that need is.  Thank you for helping us teach our children about giving and thank you for helping your children give.  It really does make a difference.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Celebrating Diwali

 We have started celebrating the season now.  It's early or so it feels like it is early this year.   This year, more than ever we wanted to embrace the many ways in which our families and staff celebrate the season.  Yesterday, our Cork street campus got to visit the Hindu Temple next door and learn about how Ms. Madhuri and others are celebrating Diwali.  
 As you can imagine, the Temple is quite beautiful and the children were very quiet and taken with all that they saw.  The statues were explained in great detail to the children and the many offerings laid out and why.
 We have been talking with the children about the Festival of Lights know as Diwali.  Diwali is observed on the 15th day of the month of Kartika in the Hindu Calendar.
 We noticed that Ms. Madhuri had beautiful henna on her hands following her Lakshmi Puja celebration which heads in to the Diwali celebration and we asked her if she would like to do it in the classroom for the children.  As you can imagine, the children LOVED it!  Ms. Madhuri will be coming to our Quinpool Cmapus to do Henna for our children and we will also be heading to the temple next week to get our visit in also.
 Ms. Madhuri made her own Henna so as not to use chemicals on the children.
What a lovely reminder every time you look at your hands about how lucky we are to experience all the ways in which our families and staff celebrate the season.  We will also be talking about Hanukkah, Christmas and Winter Solstice.  Bring on the Celebrations I say!

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Latest Project

It's fair to say I've been a little stir crazy.  I am finally in a place where I can sit up right for a few hours and not hurt and so I found myself at my sewing machine the last couple of days.  Melanie and I have been talking about how everyone seems to have their own version of table setting.  To take the confusion out of everything for the teachers and the children I made a placemat that clearly shows how to do a proper place setting.We will have two of these, one for each campus that will go into a basket with all the other elements for setting a table.  The children will each get a  presentation of this new material and so they and the teachers will know exactly how to lay the table for a meal.  While I was sewing I was thinking how the simple art of setting a table and knowing the proper placement of each element is a lost art.  There should be great care in how we do this and how the children learn this is important.  We want our children to contribute at meal times and they want to be apart of what we do.  In our home we eat by candle light each night with real cloth napkins and linens or placemats.  Each of our children work together to set the table for dinner nightly.  After the meal they help load the dishwasher and clear the table and clean up.  It's our time to wind down
from the day and hear about everyone's day.

 Here is how I made the placemat.  I took a small placemat I already had and added a few more inches .  My placemat measures 12 inches by 18 inches.  I used two fabrics (one for front and back).  I sewed the two good sides together and then turned it right sided out.
I have a cutting mat, measuring guide and rotary cutter.  It makes cutting super easy and exact.  
 This is how the place mat should look after you have it sewed together and turned right sides out.  You will need to press all of your sewing as you go with a hot iron.
 Next, I used our actual dishwater to trace out the templates for each element of the place setting.I was able to free hand the fork, knife and spoon.
 After I traced the parts out I ironed the fabric to Heat and Bond.  This is a great product for sticking to other fabrics.

After you iron the Heat and Bond to your fabric you then cut out the pieces you traced.  Peel the paper off your fabric and with the glue side down place your pieces onto your placemat. 

This is the final product.  Once I had everything ironed in place I did a zigzag stitch around each piece to secure it.  These will see a lot of laundering and so it needs to hold up.  Now I just need to make 30 for Cork Street and 14 for Quinpool!  I will let you know how  that goes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thinking Outside the Box

Painting on the outside Easel
 We've been changing things up at Quinpool a bit.  We've been doing some extended activities outside in our play space.  I have plans for a large weaving frame.  Maybe we will get to that this weekend.  It's been on my to do list for some time along with a sound wall.  What is life with out plans?  10 more days til I can sleep without a brace.  Oh how I long for that and the freedom to move around without crutches.
“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."~George Elliot

Collecting rocks 
 Melanie has the children collect up some of the rocks around out boat to build a labyrinth.  I love Labyrinths!  They really are a lot of fun to make and then walk with the children.  A few years ago when I went to a conference in California one of my sessions was on building and walking a labyrinth with the children.  Such a peaceful and reflective time.

Jen's Chocolate Chunk Yummies

This recipe is from one of my former parents and very dear friend.  Oh how we miss her at the school.  Making her dairy free cookies some how keeps her with us still.  As promised here is the recipe for the cookies served at Parent/Teacher last night!  Enjoy!

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup Earth Balance “butter”
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup oats
1 cup flour (I did ½ white, ½ whole wheat)
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Bake at 375 Celsius for 8 minutes.

Friday, November 6, 2015

This Moment

{This moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. ~Ms. Michelle

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Loving Georgia

 I can't think of a better time of year to look at and appreciate Georgia O'Keeffe.  We are making poppies to wear, we are painting them with water colors and acrylics and the children are very much enjoying this burst of color in the classroom right now.  It has prompted much discussion about the artist also.

Ms. Grace has been hard at work with the children making their own poppy pins.  I am off to buy pins for these beautiful hand made poppies.  I love how the children have layered the red felt and sewed a black button into the centre.  They are spectacular.  It's giving me ideas for other tiny button sewing projects for the shelf.
Hand Made Felt Poppy

Our Sewer Circle

 We've also done a large Georgia O'Keeffe Poppy Painting based on one of her works of art.  A few years ago I found Kathy Barbro.  Kathy is and she teaches art to children.  Kathy has an amazing website with tutorials and PDFs for purchase.  You can make just about anything.  Kathy makes the PDFs in 8x11 printer sheet format and you put them all together to make this big puzzle.  It is a fun way to do a large scale piece of art and study and artist with the children.
 The children LOVED this project and it made for a wonderful absorbed working morning in the classroom.

Our Finished Painting.  Isn't it beautiful!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Montessori Moments

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. Two single photos - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's Raining...

Addition with the Number Rods
 It's is a wet, windy and wild fall day. Outside my window right now the wind is blowing the leaves off the trees and I am thinking about how I won't get to the massive pile of raking here at Quinpool until the end of November.  I really hope old man winter doesn't show up until mid to late December this year.  Last year I think we raked 45 bags and there was still a big spring clean up that needed to happen even after all that fall raking!  I truly love this time of year and I am struggling with not being able to get out and clean up and put the garden to bed.  There always seems to be more to do than there is ever time for and I am learning to make my peace with that.  So, while it is not the best day today outside it is certainly cosy and fun inside! 

I get a lot of questions about Maple Tree.  Lots of them being how to manage to get so much done?  We work really hard to balance out our Montessori materials and working environment with other early learning materials that we set up to be Montessori inspired.  For instance, because we are heading into Halloween this weekend we like to  add things like sorting spiders and transfering eyeballs to our practical life work shelves.  We think it is important to change things up a bit while still making it Montessori.  The children really love these kind of surprises on the shelf.  Don't get me wrong, there is still the traditional work materials out that are well loved and so very important but adding a little seasonal fun it a good thing. 
Sewing Pumpkins

Burlap Sewing

Red Lentils and Rice in the Sensory Table.  I wonder what kinds of surprises are being uncovered?

Even the light table seems a bit spooky!
Our Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman Dealing with Some Spiders!

Eyeball Transfer Work

Making a Pink Reader to take home

Hard at work on a metal Inset.

Reading list with letter search and find.

Friday, October 23, 2015

This Montessori Moment

From Cork Street

 {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

From Quinpool Campus