Sunday, March 16, 2014

It was very cold, but we had warm hearts

Sorry, this link won't work exactly as it is meant to, however, it will allow you to click on Home, and the post can be read this way. 

Here is the link for a post I have written about an art project my children worked on in January, and we submitted to our Public Library.

The library liked our work, and displayed it for the month of March in a glass case at the entrance to the library.

This was a fun, project, and how nice for the children and their families to go to see their art on display.
Many thanks to the curator of the art show!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ballet with Toddlers or how I seized the moment and had a wonderful time

It was towards the end of the day and the end of the week. We had been unable to be outside for days due to the weather.

Sarah, was in the housekeeping area, and putting on a  pair of  boys ballet shoes, size small. She handed me a pair of pink ballet shoes, well worn, mine from my teen age years. 

"Put these on teacher."

"Well, I guess I could try. I'm not sure if they will fit." I pulled them on.

"These are boys", Sarah says as she stand up. She twirls.

"Um, yes they were my son's when he was a little boy," I say.

I stood and felt the floor through the bottoms of my feet.

"Let's put on our ballet music and dance."

I called the small group of toddlers to the music carpet, found that my YoYo Ma cd was in the machine and turned it on.

As I stood with feet pointed out, back straight, and arms in front, slightly bent at the elbow, I  bent my knees, showing the girls how to slowly lower their body while keeping back straight, and then slowly come back up.

Two of the girls immediately follow along with me, and we begin to raise, and lower to the music, and as I begin to remember the very most basic positions of the ballet, we bend our bodies together with arms held poised out, we turn, and then because I have forgotten almost all I once knew, I improvise, while keeping arms poised, toes out, back straight, and move slowly.

I am aware of Jess, watching from behind the bookshelf, and Nina, eyes sparkling at the edge of the carpet. Nina is special in many ways, she and I have a close bond, and I am aware of Jess, watching from behind the bookshelf, and Nina, eyes sparkling at the edge of the carpet. Nina is special in many ways, she and I have a close bond, and she looks bemused and appreciative as I move with the music, in my old ballet shoes.
I call the two watchers to join us, and so we hold hands in a ring, bending  slowly to the ground, with our backs straight, we stand first on one leg, and point the other leg out; and then do the reverse. 

We release hands, and I twirl, as my toddlers watch.

"This is ballet", I say. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What's new for me

 Here is today's post from over at Mullin Avenue Workshop. I've decided to discontinue posting here, and at my other blog -it feels like 1 year has been a good run for me.
I've really had so much fun blogging, and the best part of it was meeting nice people from all around the world. My first "follower", was the wonderful Jenny from "Let the Children Play". She followed me after I'd left her a comment, and she was welcoming, and supportive. Jenny loves the "bloggy world" of early childhood education and her enthusiasm is catching!

I know I'm not alone in feeling appreciation for her AND  "Let the children play".

I will certainly continue to read blogs, and use them mostly as my tool for personal reflection and growth in my work. I'm sure I will comment now and then, as well! :)

Thank you friends for your wonderful support, and for reading along with me here!

In the following post I've written abit more about what I hope to do with my "precious" time. :)

Bessie and her dog Spot
I've been enjoying blogging now for just about 1 year, and I've had a whale of a time - learning the ins and outs of Blogger, making friends, reading so many interesting blog posts...which truly has made my world so much bigger.

Presently I will not be writing posts here or at my early childhood blog, I've decided that one year was enough for me.
I'm not very computer literate, and do find some of the ins and outs of writing blog posts abit difficult and time consuming.I work 8 to 4 and sometimes found myself struggling away up until 1 at night - well I know you get the picture.

This past 2 weeks I spent less time on the computer and felt noticeably fresher and energetic for my day.

As well, although I'd hoped to use this medium to write creatively, I'm not.

I AM writing when I post, however and this is definitely a good exercise.

I think I just need to do much of nothing for some time - working, walking, reading, certainly but also just nothing, daydreaming and wool gathering. I may choose not to write, or I might start writing at any time.

I have some projects in mind...

I might like to continue making illustrations to accompany stories by my friend Bessie. Bessie was a short story writer, and the Registrar for the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB) most of her life. I met her when she was 90, back in 1991, and she shared with me wonderfully animated tales of the life on the farm where she grew up.
We taped these, I transcribed them, and have done some drawings, and fabric art to illustrate them.I think her stories are wonderful, and would make an interesting childrens' book. I know my drawings aren't the best, but I just enjoy the process.

Bessie told a charming story of her dog Spot, and how he thought he could get into the house if he brought in wood, just as she and her brother did.

I loved her tale of the time the northern lakes froze all at once, causing a mass migration of Canada Geese all at once. There was a news report that the geese landed in one American town in mass, and there was not room on the streets for motor cars, or on the sidewalks to walk. This story does remind me abit of a tale from the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes", about the ducks that froze in a lake and flew away together taking the lake with them.

I'm interested in the possibilities of this project.

As well, I'm enjoying several crochet projects, I have 2 baby blankets in the works, and I'd like to try some soft crochet animals and a sweet girl's sweater for my youngest niece.

I tried the Lumosity program recently and loved it, and hope to enroll in this and use it on a regular basis.

The days are getting longer and the weather is so mild that I've been able to start walking home from work, and within a month I might begin walking to work - I'm really looking forward to this. The walking path I take is so beautiful, and the exercise is so beneficial to me.

I am loving reading on the Kindle, I'm just finishing "True Colours" by Kristen Hannah, which is the second book I've now read of hers. I first read "Magic Hour", after reading Teri's review of it at Goodreads. Kristen tells a very good story, and "True Colours" has lots of twists and surprises.

I now have 122 books on my Wish List, so I know I won't run out of reading material. The next book I plan to download is "Irma Voth", by Mirian Toews, who is a writer from Manitoba, Canada. She is an excellent writer, who won the Governor General's Award in Canada for her work (one of two major literary awards in Canada).

There is such a wide variety of books to select through the Kindle store, and I've downloaded some crochet books, as well as books on teaching. I'm presently rereading "Between Parent and Child" by Dr. Haim Ginott, and love it.

I've found books I'd forgotten about until I set my mind to remembering favourite books from the past, and have added "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", and "Black Like Me" onto my wish list.

And I will continue to read over at various blogs at least once per week, and I'm sure I will find lots to say in my comments to you. LOL

Soon we will be thinking of flowers and gardening, and I'm looking forward to seeing these large pots of marigolds once again, at our neighbour's driveway. I am planning to ask to dig up a little spot in our largely neglected backyard (just grass), and plant sunflowers, poppies and bachelor buttons. I'd love to plant day lilies at the front of our building too. I'm pretty sure this will be approved, as we are a very easy going condo association.

Sharing the antics of my two feline friends has been one of the more enjoyable parts about writing posts...we do all love our pets, and animals really give us so much in return. I plan to spend more time just chilling out, reading in the company of my two wise cats.

Arthur is an amazing cat I must say. He was a little stray, who made himself welcome on a neighbour's step by jumping up into their arms. Then he followed me home, and made himself right at home there. My son tends to prefer dogs, but Arthur has won him over, he follows Paul around, and waits for him outside his bedroom door. When both Arthur and Herbert hear Paul's car pull into the parking lot, they seem to know if it's him, and stand at the door waiting for him. (They only will do this for Paul, they will perk their ears when someone pulls in, but don't get excited if it's not Paul.) I guess their senses are so much better than us humans, when it comes to hearing.
Herbert is "The Boss" - he's been a good friend now to two dogs, and Arthur - he doesn't seem to have a jealous bone in his body. He was at the Humane Society when I adopted him, and he'd been in for many, many weeks, so I knew he was the one for me. Herbert is a treasure - really I believe my son Paul loves him abit more than Arthur - and Paul claimed to prefer dogs. :)
This year I learned that I have close family connections to a Metis leader from Manitoba back in the 19th century - this was definitely an eye opener to me, and did explain some things for me about my mother's French Canadian family. I've made some lovely connections with some people through this, and hope to one day visit Winnipeg to see a museum called The Old Mill. My great great great great grandfather, Cuthbert Grant made the first water mill for flour, in Manitoba, and as well was a respected and trusted "medicine man" - in this I mean he had studied medicine when in Scotland, and brought his knowledge to the people of southern Manitoba. His box of medicine and supplies is at the museum, I believe. A great great great grandfather was a Member of the Legislative Assembly in these days in Manitoba, Pascal Breland. I might take time to explore some of these connections more.

I do plan to read a book called "A Good Man" by Guy Vanderhaeghe. This is the last of a trilogy of books he's written about settling the west in the 19th century, and it's filled with interesting, eccentric, heroic people, and he describes all the political, social, and human dilemmas in how the west came to be settled. A friend let me know that an individual, Pierre Leveille is a character in the book. Pierre Leveille was a a Metis scout who was well known and respected as a skillful mediator between the Cree and the French/Metis settlers. He was also know for his size - apparently over 6 feet, and about 350 lbs. I'm looking forward to reading about this great great great uncle.

I took this picture of a lovely sunset back in the fall, when I was walking home from work. The building's windows reflect the sky so nicely at all times. Can you see the tipi - the top poles show through at the top. The foyer has a large tipi constructed of glass - it must look grand, some day I plan to go inside and take a look. This is the First Nations University - the first of it's kind in Canada - although I think there may be more now. I like that it is placed right on the prairie, and it's natural, curved lines. There are interesting things to see - a garden with traditional plants used for medicines, a prayer wheel, and near by is an area which is being restored back to the indigenous prairie grasses and plants.

Seeing, this every day on my way to work, and back is always a pleasure to me. It's also a little reminder that one day I hope to return to take a few interesting classes in history, or social work, or whatever strikes my fancy.

The absolutely best part of blogging has been meeting wonderful friends - I will not forget you, and as I said, will be visiting you frequently. :)

One wise blogging friend suggested that I post what I like, and not worry about pleasing everyone - and really this is such good advice for blogging and living.

I am going to leave you with a song video, by Willie Nelson. Not liked by many that read here, I think - but I've come to enjoy his music in the last while. However I believe the song is so pretty, and the video accompanying it is very nice.I hope you might enjoy it.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Oops, Herbert told me I forgot the Headbonks times two!!! :)

Love and Hugs!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bubble wrap printmaking - with rolling pins!

I've been enjoying introducing various art activities to my new group of children this week - we've done collage, and easel painting, and as well enjoyed painting on bubble wrap, and printmaking.

I've done painting on bubble wrap with children in the past, and had the children apply the paint with their hands, to make it a fingerpainting activity. However, I felt I might have the children use paintbrushs this time, as I sensed some of the children in this group, might have a problem with the paint on their hands. As well, my time was abit limited so I also thought using paintbrushes might help make cleanup abit faster. :)  

I found the wonderful idea of using rolling pins to smooth paper over the bubble wrap, at Learning for Life. As Kierna said, the popping of the bubbles is a great sensory experience, AND the whole process is therapeutic. I tried it and loved it!  My children loved using the rolling pins, and I  know I will use this again
and again.

I brought these rolling pins from home, and the bottom one was my mother's so it is at least 56 years old, I think. I know she would be happy to have it provide enjoyment for children. I don't make pie too often at home, and will just need to buy a new one for home, because these are staying where we can make good use of them!

My children were delighted with their finished print! I am sure that they will continue to enjoy printmaking, and we'll think up new ways to make prints in the coming weeks.

The next day, I had a visit with some of the older "veterans" of my group and room, children who had spent approximately a year with me...and I always enjoy seeing them revisit the old toys, and items which they recall from their time. It always feels to me like they are visiting a beloved  time in their lives, which makes me feel so happy, and rewarded.

Two boys put their heads together to fashion a bed for the two black cats.  The two black cats have been in the room for 3 years, and are often a favourite of certain children. Both of these children like playing with the cats when they visit me.I commented on the interesting "headboard", and was told "No it's a thing so the cats won't fall out of bed."

And isn't this interesting?!

I'm curious to see what the following week will bring us - hopefully lots of painting; sensory exploration; stories; songs; dancing; outdoors; and laughter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Abit of what I've been up to, and a good video

One of the wonderful consequences I've found through blogging this past year, is the knowledge I've gained from reading other blogs.I've learned about places, people, and ideas I may never had the opportunity to encounter - and I am grateful for all the great things there are to learn in our world.

My work has become better, I know because of what I read and ponder, and sometimes use in my own way - and even more so for the connectedness with others who care about the education of young children. I  love meeting so many people with "like minds" when it comes to this work - because it provides encouragement to continue on. There is such great inspiration to be had through blogging!!
Herbert, who likes to co-author with me

I was surprised to see that I've been writing on this blog for just about 1 year now. I started posting  in February 2011. My son, Paul helped set  me up, which was kind and generous of  him. One of  my feline companion, Herbert assists me by lying on my right wrist while I type (all 15 lbs, of him). :) Arthur, the younger cat chooses to sleep elsewhere, or keep busy with his various toys.

Arthur who would rather play

January, this year has been a good month, at the daycare center where I work, and a challenging one. We changed over our groupings from groups by age to "family" multi-aged groupings. I didn't realize I would miss my little 2 year olds quite so much, but slowly I feel that the group of children I do have are coming together. I now have a toddler aged child, two 2 1/2 year olds, and several 4 year olds.
This picture was taken in late November. We now have abit more snow, but not much!

My group of nine children includes 4 children who have varying special needs.Although I can call the director in for assistance when needed, I am working alone with this group until various assessments are done, and then if the center receives grants for their care, we may be able to hire help for me.

Some days are abit hard at times, as there are some aggressive behaviors, and my heart hurts when children are hit or scratched, and begin not wanting to be in the room.

However, in the past three weeks I think some progress is being made, and hopefully all will work out. I am  using learning stories as a tool for teaching about behavior. A wonderful consultant came out and showed me how to use this tool. As well I found an old book called "If you're angry and you know it..." put out by Scholastic Books (I'm sorry I don't remember the author's name). This book uses the well know song, to provide some suggestions of what you can do with angry feelings, and EVERYONE is interested in this - I think could read it several times a day, and have an audience. As well the children are choosing it to look at it on their own throughout the day.

I have noticed that alot of art activities aren't happening, as I find my new special needs children love to "just"  play. There is more work to routines, which takes up a good portion of our time - but this is valuable and essential work as well.

We started easel painting this week, and every day that we do one art activity or story time, is a learning that we will build on, and I'll just continue gradually doing new things.

In time I and my children will be over the initial adjustment to one another - and I think I'll feel new energy, especially as spring certainly isn't far away.

I haven't written here often, this month, but am still reading and enjoying blogs - and thinking, learning and pondering....

I learned about the following speaker over at Tess Michaels' blog,  "Tessa Rose Natural Playspaces", and I enjoyed what he said, on a video Tess shared, so much that I looked him up on Google to learn more.

Sir Ken Robinson is an educator and writer. I have chosen another video from a Ted talk, and thought I would share it here. It is quite long, about 16 minutes, but I think he provides some good points.

Have a very good week!!  Thanks for reading! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Hands, One Handed

Two Hands, One Handed:
I think you will find yourself smiling, after listening to this song posted by Matthew Vaughan, today on his video log, Rise Up Singing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Got to see a real Star!

I think Lisa Murphy, also known as The Ooey Gooey lady is a bright shining star, and I have thought so ever since reading her book, "Play". And so I was so thrilled to be able to attend a full day of workshops this past Saturday, presented by The Ooey Gooey Lady.
Lisa graciously signed copies of her book throughout the day.

Four workshops were presented, and although the knowledge and ideas imparted were wonderful, I also loved the gems of wisdom sprinkled liberally throughout the day.

Lisa uses humour effortlessly. I believe that the reason her humour works so well is because she has "walked the walk" - she has worked in full day daycare, for 20 years, and so when she tells a story it rings true. My co-worker who was sitting beside me, said "She says what I might think, but wouldn't say".

However, her message IS serious - how we can best enhance and facilitate the learning of young children in our care.

In the workshop titled, "Many Kinds of Smart", Lisa presented on the theory of Multiple Intelligences (Dr. Howard Gardner). A recurring motif throughout the workshop was the advice to move out from our own comfort zones as early childhood educators, in order to meet the learning needs of each individual child. I loved this recommendation, and know that for me as an individual this means working on providing more science and sensory activities; and as well math related learning. I am personally most comfortable with the linguistic/verbal, and secondarily with music and so if I was to stay within my comfort zone, I would tell stories and dance to music all day with my children.(I do like providing sensory activities, and always have - I find that children seem to be become more focused and sometime will socialize more when playing in water, or goop of some kind. I think it's just the "idea" of science that scares me.)

"Fizzle Bubble Pop & WOW!!!"  may be one of the more well known of The Ooey Gooey Lady's workshops. I missed seeing this workshop, when she was in my city last year, but my co-workers just loved her science. I like the idea "that we are sciencing all the time", (Bev Bos as quoted by Lisa);  and this makes it seem less esoteric to me.

I work in a complex which houses two daycare centers of 45 children each, and on Monday and Tuesday following the workshop, everybody was trying out Lisa's "new and improved flubber recipe". :) One young woman I work with has been coaching us through flubber making for the past year, and we now seem to have got it down pat. We use plastic bowls and utensils, and she had found that reducing the amount of Borax would help make a smoother flubber. The last few batches of flubber I made were abit too hard, and this young woman brought some new Borax from home, and all our flubber has turned out lovely. (We have started calling our co-worker the "flubber master".) We have also all been blowing bubbles with the flubber, and I'm sure our children will be continuing to enjoy this on an ongoing basis.

There were just so many wonderful and awesome ideas, in the science workshop, and I can't wait to do them with my children -  I want to do the Film canister Pop; coffee filter science, and t-shirt science; and Cork Lift -off, and ....well you get the idea, I think.

"Oh, Those Little Ones!" offered  lots of valuable ideas for work with infants and toddlers. I really liked that many of her suggested activities were simple, and used everyday objects, rather than expensive toys or equipment.

Lisa's main teaching about the work with babies and infants was to be present and responsive, and that babies CAN form attachments to several people. Above all else babies need genuine, loving relationships with their caregivers. 

Lisa shows several ways to use masking tape, and recommends allowing children to use all kinds of tape. I liked the idea of a tape bracelet to attach found objects, and a line of tape (could use painters tape) along the wall, to "drive"cars on.

Some of the advice Lisa repeated throughout her workshops were "Keep it simple"; "Don't overthink it"; and as well "Calm down". One might almost say this could be a form of mantra - reminders, not to get caught up in over analyzing what we do; and as well to relax.

"Ten Little Hotdogs Fryin' in the WHAT? offered the reasons why we sing and use fingerplays, and we were able to sing along to several favourites.Fingerplays and singing can help reduce stress in young children AND adults, as well as help make transitions interesting and more fun.

In early childhood education we work to keep transitions to a minimum and a more natural part of the day, however singing about the next thing coming up is always a good practise. I personally love singing throughout my day, because I have always found it put my children at ease.I learned about this from my childhood dentist. I was fortunate to have a dentist who used gentle humour and sang as he worked on my teeth, and I never forgot the comfort I felt in his loving presence.

Lisa told the story of being a student, and having the assignment of teaching 100 songs to her classmates. She strongly recommends memorizing songs to have them to use readily as needed. :)

 In her daycare Lisa has a circle every morning, and she most often starts with a Good Morning Song - we sang one using our body parts - and here we were singing with our knee.

I just wish that I could do more justice here, to the experience of attending this workshop. Lisa puts so much energy and heart into her workshops because she believes and cares about her message. I heartily would recommend attending a workshop by The Ooey Gooey Lady, if you have the opportunity. She can also be seen on YouTube, and as well she has several excellent books available.

Our daycare center purchased all of her books last year after several of us, had been to her workshop. My personal favourite was "Play", for the philosophy, and  Lisa's persuasive, impassioned argument for quality, developmentally approriate early childhood education. The fact that we decided to buy her books and follow many of her ideas is indictative of Lisa's tremendous influence for positive change.

Our world is always made bigger and better when individuals stand up and speak up for the weak, and vulnerable. Thank you Lisa Murphy, aka The Ooey Gooey Lady, for your work which enhances the lives of people who work with young children, as well as the children.

My main sense about The Ooey Gooey Lady was that she is a person who is joyful about her work, and wants to share this joy. I found this quote which seemed to fit for her.  "Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow."     Helen Keller