Google+ bakers and astronauts: 06.10

29 June 2010

Sketchbook Reflection

One of the big changes I made in the classroom this past year was initiating our daily sketchbook work.  We continued the work from the first day to the last, with some children filling up a dozen books and others working painstakingly on one.

When looking back on the practice, a few things jump out at me.  First, there were days when we were a little pressed for time, and we did not let the children finish their work and invited them to "finish it tomorrow".  Why?  Is our morning group time so pressing that a child can't finish their own work?  Most of the children would hear us start to say hello and close their books, and some still needed a few more minutes.  I think this is a place for us to be more flexible.

Something else that struck me was how many decisions we made as teachers.  The materials we used; where the children sat; how long they had.  It was not as child-centered as it could have been.  In the future, I think the children can make decisions about the prompts and the materials just as teachers have been.

We would begin our day with free choice, and then stop for sketchbooks and meeting, and then go off to specials or to the forest, depending on the day.  I think that needs to be modified.  I would like us to begin our day with sketchbooks and then transition into our day together, with parents taking a minute to look at their child's work and for the child to share and then saying goodbye as the child gets into their work.  Unfortunately, because there is a large window of time when the children are dropped off at school (about 45 minutes some days), it is unrealisitic to expect that we will all be working in sketchbooks together first thing in the morning.

The children do enjoy the work, though, and I am looking forward to supporting them in it for another year.  And my hope for it is that it will become more child centered and help me, as a teacher, to discover more about each child as an individual.

28 June 2010


Just a quick note to say hello - I am spending the summer in Paris so that my husband can go to school, and I haven't quite figured out the temporary internet situation here!

My husband is taking an intensive course at Le Cordon Bleu, and I'm happy to be in Paris working on my coursework for my masters and focusing on a big project that I am hoping comes to life over the next few months.  So much about Paris reminds me of New York, and I think that is why I love this city so much.  I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm hoping that I can get into a few schools and early childhood programs here to see what is happening and how things are working.

I was really inspired by something my husband said yesterday - he was talking about the structure of his program, and he was explaining how the chefs there do not just hand over the recipes and the ingredients and then watch everyone cook.  The students go to a three hour cooking demonstration and there they are given a paper with the ingredients for the recipe.  But it is up to the students to make notes, observe the chef, and eventually, when they make it independently, use their senses to determine the amounts depending on what they observed the chef doing and what they tasted in the final product.  This might all sound like babbling now, but for me it sounds like real hands-on education, teaching the students how to follow their senses and ideas and intuitions, all the while perfecting the basic skills that a chef needs in order to let their creativity flow. 

So if anyone out there is in Paris, let's have a coffee.

23 June 2010

Neighborhood Stories

I love this idea.  I wish I were in Toronto so that i could see this exhibit.  Just like The Hundred Languages of Children exhibit, bringing young children's visions and words into a public space is a way for entire communities to see the value of documentation and child-centered education.  Go see it and tell me about it!

Neighbourhood Diaries, via Nostalgia for the Future


When we were coming inside yesterday afternoon, there were all sorts of conflict happening and half a dozen pouting faces.  Since we were about to have our end of the day group time, I put the book aside and we talked about some problems.  It seemed like the children were focused on pointing out what was wrong, so we started there.  I asked, "What is a problem that you are having?"

Al: Yu shouted at me.

Yu: I was trying to get out of the boat and Jo didn't move.

Jo: Yu pushed me.

Jos: I didn't play with Lou.

Me: Yu scratched me.

Lo: Someone roared at me!

Ya: I saw that Me, she was sad, and my heart was hurt.

This conversation made me a little nervous in the sense that fingers were being pointed and names were being used, but anonymity isn't a concept we have discussed.  No one got defensive; no one got angry that they were being "told on", and no one misunderstood the topic.  There actually seemed to be a number of problems that the children wanted to get out in the open.  Ya's comment about her heart struck me - her problem was not a physical one, or even a visible one at that.  But she took her friend's problem on as her own in a different way.

21 June 2010

Letter Making

Its the last week of school, and we are officially crazy for letters and symbols around here.  |About three of the girls are using everything they can find to represent letters.  I'm interested to see if this continues throughout the week.

Stick Letters

17 June 2010

knitting needle letters

I saw this picture last week, and it made me think about how children learn - and the meaningful experiences children can have on the road to learning these academic tasks.  Earlier in the week, in the forest, one of the girls made her name with sticks.  We're not a class to trace letters or do worksheets, but letters are all around us all of the time and the children take a natural interest in text and print.  Once they discover that symbols convey a meaning, excitement follows.  I love seeing it, and I love this photo because of that.  I'll be sure to share our stick letters tomorrow.

15 June 2010


We watched this movie the other night, and I loved it.  You need to watch it.  And the next time you see a child pick up a big handful of dirt and sift it through their fingers, there will probably be a smile on your face.

And I will admit, that within 10 minutes of the documentary being over, we had started a compost bin.  It will make you do something, too.

11 June 2010

a bit of inspiration

As I try to balance end of the school year tasks with summer coursework and some special projects, I thought I'd give you a little collection of links I've enjoyed recently.

The summer issue of small magazine has been released.

The continuing commentary on urban outdoor preschool from Teacher Tom.

Exploring architecture, engineering, and physics using Legos at summer camp.

I'm looking forward to going to the open house at ABC this Sunday.

There is a farm on a roof in Brooklyn -  a very big farm.

I'd like to look through this book, The Language of School Design (via DesignShare)

(computer art by Jo, age 4)

10 June 2010


I enjoy sewing and embroidering in my free time, and I've found that the children love it, too.  I had everything to get started at home, but maybe you don't, so I thought I would share a little link to encourage other teachers/parents/people to try it out.

I only offered sewing as a choice a few times this year, and I hope that, in the future, I offer it more.  The first few times that children sew, they really explore it: touching the needle, making long long lines of thread, and using as many colors as they can.  I really enjoy letting kids explore a new material, but I'm less of an expert at helping them to become experts.  Some children might really like to use this tool to express their understanding or create something that they treasure.  I always think back to how children in Reggio use clay as a language, and it blows me away.  But that clay work starts as free exploration, and when children become experts at using the tool as a language, they are able to use that tool to communicate.  Perhaps that is possible with sewing.

Maybe the tips on this blog, maya*made, will be helpful for those just starting out sewing.  I've pulled a few good tips from it, too.  And I'm trying to fashion some homemade embroidery hoops out of cardboard instead of buying more wooden ones...I'll try to share that later.

09 June 2010

Long, Long Ago

I'm looking back through photos as the year winds down to create each child's portfolio.  September feels like a very long time ago, but another September is right around the corner!
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