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


Kierna C said...

Oh you are so lucky Brenda - would love to hear Lisa speak - i was so happy once when she replied to one of my tweets!
I have had trouble with flubber here as we can't get borax readily :(
Your enthusiasm for your job & the children in your care shines through so much in this post.

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Thanks for reading here.
How nice that you heard from Lisa in that way!
She did tell a cute story about bringing liquid starch to her Canadian friends - because that is sometimes difficult to buy here.
I THINK you can possibly use liquid starch for flubber too. (?)
You are always a kind person, Kierna. :)