Google+ bakers and astronauts: 05.10

31 May 2010

Sketchbooks / Paper Shopping

Last week, I went into the copy room and took a big pile of paper from the box where people put the copies that didn't come out right.  I also got a few magazines, maps, old music books, and a variety of colored paper.  I cut everything down to A5 size, and the children were able to "shop" for sketchbook papers.  They chose, and I stapled.

Some were very slow and deliberate about their choices - some shiny paper, two pieces of music, pictures of food - they paid attention to every piece that was going in.  Others just grabbed a big pile and asked me to staple.  Either way, we began using them this morning and the children seem happy with the results.  Many of the photocopies I found do lend themselves to the children "coloring in", but because of our sketchbook practice so far this year, they seem to be branching away from that as well.  I think it is also interesting to see how they interact with the text in their sketchbooks.

I'm glad we used recycled materials to make the books, and I'm sure we will repeat this again next school year.  They have a little more individuality than the commercially made sketchbooks we were using, which is important when the children use them so often, and when they are such a personal item.

30 May 2010

seattle times / cedarsong

I was wondering about outdoor preschools that use the ocean the other day, and in my poking around online this evening, I found this wonderful video from Cedarsong Nature School, which Pamela had mentioned might use the ocean as a nature resource for the children.  This is a really nice little piece about the children's activities in this outdoor school in Washington.

Go learn about Cedarsong on their website.

Perpetual Melody Maker

I'm video happy - sorry!  I hope that as they next few weeks go along, I'll have more images and words from the classroom to share.  But inspiration keeps coming from all over the place, even Japan.

via Lullatone

29 May 2010


Hello, awesome playground, built entirely by children aged six to sixteen with limited input from adults. Don't get me wrong, I love parent involvement - but how about everyone steps back and watches this happen?

You can read what I found at public workshop,

You can browse the site of the project in german, Kolle 37,

And you can read an article about playgrounds and risk by Tom Jambor.

27 May 2010

A New Story Collaboration

The children dictated this story as a group today.  It includes so many of the popular themes from this year: princesses, fairy tales, action, and people saying "no" when you ask them to play.

Robin and Katie
Robin and Katie go to forest and they see what’s happening.  The dragons come!  Then, they kill the dragon.  They saw a fair, and so they went to it.  They rode on golden horses, and then they got lollies and strawberries.
Then Katie was all alone – she was driving all alone and then she crashed in a car and she hurt herself. 
Then Robin turned to a Princess, and Cinderella come.  They found a fairy.  The fairy flew with Cinderella.  Then, the horses came back and the Princess came back.  Then, Robin and Katie saw another princess and they wanted to play with her, but she said no because she was going to her house.  And then she found a princess and she say, “Can I play with you?”  And she said no.
Robin and Katie find each other again, and Robin is find Cinderella.  Cinderella said, “What’s going on?” and Robin said, “Nothing.”
Then, there was a tree and the tree bite the fairy, and then she’s gone!  Then Katie turned to a princess and then Cinderella was to the mean fairy to be killed.  The horses changed to princesses. 
And then Robin was be happy ever after with Cinderella and Katie, too.  Snow White is come and say to Robin, “What’s happening?  Something’s happening.  Trees eat me!”
The End

24 May 2010

New Zealand Sea Foam

This seems like a wonderful day, I think. I often get out to the forest with children, but the ocean is a wild space, too.  There isn't exactly one at our disposal, though.

Does anyone know of an outdoor school that uses a beach environment as the classroom? I feel like I am always hearing about forest schools, but not ocean schools. I may have to rework my life plan with that thought.

[video via tiny happy ]

A three-year-old is not half a six-year-old. They're three.

"Human resources are like natural resources: they're often buried deep.  You have to go looking for them - they're not just lying around on the surface. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves."  - Sir Ken Robinson

If you don't go to the TED website often, you should.  I can't exactly afford to go to one of the conferences, even though next year's The Rediscovery of Wonder conference sounds right up my alley.

23 May 2010

Cloud Appreciation Society

The Cloud Appreciation Society seems like it could have a link with classrooms. 

Perhaps I'm partial because the weather in Brussels has gotten so nice - it has been a warm, sunny weekend to end a warm sunny week, during which we went to the forest three times and kept our classroom windows open. I can imagine children photographing clouds, and using the photo gallery "Clouds That Look Like Things" to share their findings.  What an amazing oral language activity, too, for children to have conversations about what they see and to talk about similarities and differences between the different kinds of clouds. 

I think that cloud photographs would be a great starter for sketchbooks one morning - every child feels confident enough to draw clouds, and some children might even enjoy drawing an object as a cloud.

21 May 2010


Using Wax-O-Glass Window Crayons, the children drew directly into picture frames, and also on a large piece of plexiglass supported in a wooden frame.  I was hoping to have a few to put on the piano and on the windowsills, but the novelty of wiping off and drawing again was exciting.

20 May 2010

Making Over Math Class

This is a really nice TED talk about mathematical problem solving, and bringing the math back to the students rather than opening a textbook and solving the sample problems.  This may not be early childhood education per se, but this is where the children we teach will be in 10 to 12 years, right?

I'm inspired by this because many of us have conversations about child centered curriculum in which the end result is the child being a member of different communities.  The way that Dan Meyer talks, it sounds like there are teachers of older children who are invested in the same thing.

Dan Meyer also blogs here.

17 May 2010

Monday in the Forest

It is getting warmer in Belgium, and although we even go to the forest on cold, rainy days, they would be happy to stay out all day on a day like this.

I think we're very lucky to have this forest as a resource, right outside our classroom door.  It's a wild place to them - and their bodies and minds are stimulated simply by what is naturally surrounding them.  It is impossible to be bored, or without inspiration, out here in the forest.

This is also a good time to mention that I finally got around to reading this wonderful article by Anna Golden from the Atelierista blog.  It makes me want to be out in the forest with the children every day.  For those of you who do not have "wild spaces", this article will probably inspire you to find one and use it often.  A wild space can mean many things - and more things are wild to children than they are to us as adults.


I think that we should make bread making a regular part of our routine at school.  With a simple bread like this, the children simply mix, let it rise overnight, the shape it and bake it in the morning. 

11 May 2010

How You Celebrate

[For Mother's Day]

There was a discussion recently on the Reggio ListServ about celebrating Mother's Day and holidays like that.  Who does what?  Who avoids this day?  Why celebrate it?  Why not?

I'm interested in knowing about people's take on celebrating in the classroom.  We keep it pretty simple:  we invite families into share about celebrations in their cultures; we sing "Happy Birthday" at the end of the day on birthdays and invite the children to bring a treat to share with their friends; and we make a small gift for Mother's Day and Father's Day.  This year, the children drew a picture of themselves with their Mom and dictated a few words about what they like to do with their Mom, and why they love their Mom.

I'm interested in bringing in the element of the children all cooking together on birthdays.  It would be a nice way to respect the child's special day in a unique way, I think - the child can choose what we cook, and we can all work on it together and sit down to share the food as a celebration.

There are different opinions on this topic, and I'm interested in hearing them.

Comparative Education

So after the questions and discussions about Montessori about a week ago, I was thrilled to learn about the course I will be taking at Erikson this summer as part of my Graduate program.

The name, "Foundations of Schooling and Curriculum", does not sound glamourous.  But the concept is exciting:  we will be learning about the history of early childhood curriculum and learning about different figures in the history of early childhood education, including Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, Loris Malaguzzi, Carolyn Pratt, Frederich Froebel, and John Dewey.

I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to learn about how each of these people has helped to shape early childhood education, and perhaps to find the foundation of some of the things that have inspired me as a teacher.

So, apologies in advance if I nerd out about comparative education and history in the coming months. 

06 May 2010

stories for children, sometimes by children

Smories is a website full of children reading stories for other children.  I can see using this two ways in the classroom:  for children to dictate stories to submit, and also for children to listen to other children read.

via Urban Preschool

A Video from Bambini Creativi

I'm so glad to share a video that Brianne from Bambini Creativi sent over a few weeks ago.

I love the girls repeating that action of putting the circle over each other.  The projector plays second fiddle here - its presence really gives the space an ambiance, but this reminds me of the many times that my students will be interacting with each other in front of the projector and get so engrossed with their interaction that they ignore those beautiful shadows for a few minutes.  I used to be puzzled by it - but sometimesthe actions of playmate are much more mesmorizing!

02 May 2010

The Role and Potential of the Atelier

"The term 'atelier' harks back romantically to the studios of bohemian artists, and in pedagogical thinking in Reggio it has been revisited and reinterpreted to become synonymous with places where project work - progettare - is associated with things taking shape through action; places where brains, hands, sensibilities, rationalitiy, emotion, and imagination all work together in close cooperation."

Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia: Exploring the Role and Potential of Ateliers in Early Childhood Education is the new book  by Vea Vecchi, and it is on my summer reading list.  Continuing on yesterday's note about Montessori, I do not work at a Reggio-inspired school, or a Montessori school, or a Waldorf school, but I am inspired by the work of thoughtful educators.  That said, we do not have an "atelier", but rather, an art studio.  I think that the idea of the atelier in Reggio Emilia is described beautifully above, and there will be ideas in the book for anyone who fosters creativity in children.

01 May 2010


I have never considered myself a teacher who follows one specific philosophy.  I have worked at all sorts of schools, from my first job in a "Reggio-Inspired" school to a Washington State ECEAP program to Parent Cooperatives to an International school.  No school has had a strict curriculum, but some have had some "guides" and materials.

One philosophy that I know very little about is Montessori.  It seems like such a buzzword - for example, in Brussels, the only English language preschools are Montessori, and there are dozens of them.  I have seen and worked with Montessori materials, which are often made of natural materials rather than plastic.  I know that children often work on their own with materials, which are created to be used in a particular way.

The Wikipedia page on the Montessori method is interesting, and I was stuck by this :  "Schools differ in their interpretation, practical application, and philosophy in using this method with children."  So, are parents signing their children up for Montessori education because the name "Montessori" is on the door?  Is it the same way for "Reggio-Inspired"?  And when a school posts these words on their door, what do they mean to the teachers?  What does it mean to their families?

With all of the inspiration I have found from different schools with different ideas, I still have not learned about Montessori.  Perhaps someone out there has some insights into this...what do you think?
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