Friday, October 2, 2020

The Child's Right to Wonder


The Child’s Right to Wonder

By Angelina Lloyd, MEdPsy


In the Autumn of 2009, I drove to school beneath a  canopy of sun dappled leaves turning orange, yellow and red.  I mentally prepped for my morning line time, eager to present a lesson on the changing seasons.  Imagine for a moment: the lights of the classroom dim and a single lamp, sans shade, stands bright at the center of the circle, the sun.  I theatrically raise a rainbow colored globe tilting on its metal axis, the earth.  I turn it ever so slowly, explaining that one rotation of the earth on its axis is a single day.  Together we watch light fall on globe, night and day.  I demonstrate the spinning of its axis as we make our year-long trek around the sun, 365 (and ¼) days. I point out how the northern hemisphere tilts away in the cooler months and toward the sun in the warmer months. Voila’, seasons explained.  


I parked my car, ready to set things up before the children arrived.  And then, quite suddenly, as I stepped onto the sidewalk, a leaf let loose from a branch above and twirled in widening circles toward the ground, landing amidst a raucous display of color.  I was transfixed, my lesson forgotten amidst the beauty.  I listened to the crunch of leaves as a dog and its human walked past.  Unexpectedly, I no longer felt prepared for my circle time. Standing on a mosaic of color, I was humbled by my own, well intentioned arrogance.  Why did I think it was my job to explain something without first pausing alongside the children to WONDER?  Why would I prioritize my knowledge over their curiosity?  Why, when so many young children are experiencing their first conscious Autumn, would I not join them in their discovery?  


That moment changed the arc of my teaching career. 


I ditched my carefully prepared lesson and sat down at the circle beside them.  I said, “Whoa!!! Something major is happening outside!  On my way to school I noticed the leaves that were green, just last week, are now yellow and orange and red!!!  Have any of you noticed this?”  The enthusiasm in the room was palpable.  The children’s faces lit up, eager to share.  Instead of offering answers I joined in their curiosity.  Why are the leaves changing?  What does fall mean?  Why do some trees drop their leaves while others do not?  Why are these leaves red and those yellow? How does it work? We talked for days, then weeks. Their excitement only increased.  They brought in leaves and acorns alongside theories about why this might be happening and how. A four year old girl with bright blue eyes suggested, “Maybe the leaves like the color green, but they wear it so long it gets dirty and changes colors. And so they have to take it off.” A four year old boy with his brow furrowed in concentration offered, “If leaves stay green, they’ll get frozen, so they change colors.  Every leaf changes color.  And then the tree goes to sleep. Yep. That’s it”  Their ideas and thoughts swirled around us, brightly colored and full of possibility.   


We examined the leaves and the trees.  We watched the thermometer posted on the classroom window.  We graphed the temperature. It was getting cooler.  We posited new theories.  I wrote down their ideas, falling in love with their words like poetic invitations to wonder.  Did I ever give that lesson?  Yes, months later, but by then it wasn’t me sharing “my” knowledge, it was our understanding coming to fruition. It didn’t end our wondering it just broadened the scope of our questions.  


I’ve never been more grateful than I am for that single leaf, twirling to the ground, which invited me to pause, to linger and to wonder.  Life is a beautiful mystery and no matter how many answers we have there will always be more to discover.  I know it can be uncomfortable, but we can trust the children and ourselves to linger with the questions.  While I may have an answer, it has been my experience that “I don’t know” is one of the best tools in my teaching toolkit.  Curiosity is the cornerstone of learning.  When we encourage the right to wonder, we are transported, however briefly, into the landscape of childhood, where we might rediscover something great and genuine- a life filled with wonder.  Together we might take a moment to pause in awe at the beauty that surrounds us, one twirling leaf at a time.  


Friday, September 18, 2020

The Child's Right to Struggle

The Child’s Right to Struggle

By Angelina Lloyd, M.Ed.Psy

Several years ago while walking beneath a great, green canopy on a summer day, a butterfly fell on my arm.  It had tumbled from its chrysalis, wings sodden and far too wrinkled and limp to fly.  I was enchanted and spent the better part of two hours marveling as golden wings tentatively expanded and flexed beneath the warm sun.  There was no hurry. The butterfly worked its wings. Life takes time. Then, with surprising confidence, it took flight from my outstretched hand. I watched as the last flicker of yellow disappeared into a vast blue sky, reminded of the value of a struggle.  

The journey from caterpillar to butterfly is no easy business.  There’s the unsavory goop stage that happens within the chrysalis prior to its celebrated, albeit laborious, emergence from a metamorphic slumber.  The struggle to break free from the chrysalis is real and a well meaning but ill-informed bystander might try to help by snipping a neat hole at the tip.  Doing so will produce disastrous results.  Why? Because the struggle is necessary.  It’s vital.  As the butterfly wrestles with the walls of its former life it builds the strength to become the butterfly.  The effort forces the fluid from its body and into its wings.  

The struggle and the flight are inseparable. 

We have a right to struggle too. It’s how we grow. It’s how we learn. It’s obvious when watching butterflies and working alongside young children. It’s a little harder to see in ourselves.

When a child wrestles with activities that come so easily to us, it’s hard not to offer a helping hand.  They jostle with shoes and often come away with them cattywampus on the opposite feet.  They call for help when managing toileting needs or battling snow pants.  They want to draw a rhinoceros and then complain, “I can’t” when a blank sheet of paper is placed before them.  We have to remind our capable hands not to make fast work of it.  Their struggle, like the butterflies, is necessary.  It’s how they learn.  When a child groans in frustration we learn to wait.  We ask ourselves, can they do it on their own?  How much help do they actually need to open that snack?  Would a pair of scissors placed nearby do the trick?  

What if there's a disagreement on the playground?  Do we rush in with the swift arm of adult justice or wait?  When we delay our help we’re often surprised by the outcome. Of course, we’ll intervene if a situation escalates but more often than not a brief tug-o-war with the hula-hoop will result in a surprisingly innovative solution among the children.  “How ‘bout you be the sun first and I’ll be the moon and then I’ll be the sun and you can be the moon?” Agreed.  If I’d stepped in with my standard, “That’s her work.  I noticed she was using it first”, I’ve not only robbed the children of their right to struggle, I’ve prioritized my need for outward harmony at the expense of their emerging conflict resolution skills.  The same is true in the classroom.  We set up the environment to anticipate an, “I can’t”.  The works are designed to support their competence. When a child is asked to write their name on a finished work and answers with a nasally “I can’t”,  we direct them to their name card to remind them that they can, however imperfectly. They can. When a child spills a pitcher of water in route to table scrubbing we have mops at the ready for them to clean it up, not perfectly of course and certainly not punitively.  It’s the process that counts because it's all important.  The puddle and the pour.  The mismatched shoes and the tied laces.  The phonetic spelling of “BTRFLI” and the reading of a chapter book.  It’s how we grow.  We all have a right to struggle.  It’s uncomfortable but it’s necessary.  
So when faced with struggle, at home or at school, we can consider the butterfly.  An “I can’t” that becomes an enthusiastic “I can!”  opens up a vast blue sky of possibility and that struggle is always worth the wait.

Stay Curious and Full of Wonder,
Angelina

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Into the Unknown


Every year of learning and working alongside young children I begin with a research question and this year is no different. In considering what to study in 2020, I didn't have far to reach. We are, collectively and individually, face-to-face and mask-to mask with not-knowing. We are discovering the challenges and unease we experience when familiar structures, routines and social situations are disrupted.
Children possess a depth of naive-wisdom that our world needs, not merely as the adults they will one day become, but as the children they are. Their unique approach to life and living is needed now more than ever before in our generation. This video is an introduction to our research question. I invite you to join us on this shared journey into the unknown alongside the children. Together we will rediscover our common curiosity, creativity and responsiveness.
Stay curious and full of wonder,
Angelina

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Summer In A Jar: Refrigerator Pickle Recipe



Wondering what to do with all those summer veggies?  Here's a fun recipe for you to try at home with the children!  Mmm mmm good!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Trail Tastes in Nature’s Pantry with Angelina



Join Angelina for a wonderful Tastes of the Trail adventure and an introduction to two recently discovered and thoroughly wonderful nature apps to aid you in your summer fun. 

Stay Curious and Enjoy the Trails!!

iNaturalist app for the grown ups
https://www.inaturalist.orgSeek app for the young explorers
https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Finding Beauty Wherever You Are





I often say that childhood is not a stage of life but a quality of the human experience.  Walking with a gaggle of children on our studio wanderings I am often struck when they notice things adults regularly overlook.



Children see the world like poets, artists and scientists.



They bend to examine dew drops collected on the silky tendrils of a spiders web and marvel over a particularly interesting weed.  They gasp with delight as a crane, working several streets down, arcs its heavy load above tall buildings.  My years of working alongside them has cultivated an inward capacity to wonder.  I have benefited from their eyes and hearts more than words can say.



This little video clip is a reminder for all of us to linger in the ordinary beauty, wherever we are.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Dirt + Water = MUD by Amy



Our resident mud specialist shares her love of MUD!!!! Amy and I have worked together for many years to cultivate a love of mess-making and tactile inquiry in the hearts, minds and senses of the children.  This video is a beautiful testament to that LOVE.

EARTHMOVERS by Amy



OOOOOOO all you truck lovers out there are gonna LOOOOOVE this video Amy created on site in Crestone, Colorado!

Rock Tree and Rocks with Amy



Amy shares some ROCK love with the children!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Deer Medicine and Loving Kindness



I am so excited to share this video with all of you!!!  This is the first video collaboration with the children, since learning this new medium, which makes me absolutely JOYFUL!  I hope to do more in the weeks ahead!  In the meantime I hope you enjoy this wonderful foray into the natural world and deer medicine story as much as I did!

Monday, May 11, 2020

webworms and butterflies



Spring is springing up everywhere! And this video is here to celebrate with a few nature clips, an art activity and even a butterfly song! Enjoy creating and exploring!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

mark making



This is a fun way to gather supplies from the world around you and turn them into mark making tools!

I used Sumi ink and rice paper but you can use what you have!!!

Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Make Your Own Mountain Art Kit


Click on this link for a tour of wildflowers and an easy tutorial to create a Mountain Art Kit for the whole family to enjoy!!!

Stay Curious and indulge in wonder,
Your Studio Teacher, Angelina

For exploration ideas, here are a few easy hiking recommendations for the whole family to enjoy:

Friday, May 1, 2020

Postcard Creations



The Postcards have started coming in!!! Woohoo! Here are some easy postcard inspirations to get you started. If you choose to play, remember to write your answer to the question, "What's the best part of being a child?" on your postcard before sending it to me at:
Art with Angelina

7230 W. 31st Place

Wheat Ridge, CO 80033

And you will receive one in return!

Yay!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Dandelion Art



Weed or Flower? This video poses the question, "What makes something a weed or a flower?" And explores the artistic possibilities available in every sunny dandelion. Have fun playing and creating!!!

Supplies:

  • Dandelions
  • Markers
  • hammer or malett
  • two sheets of paper
  • Paper plate
  • A towel to soften the noise of hammering
  • Some tape
  • And a straw or dowel or stick of some kind
Stay Curious and Full of Wonder!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Fairy Houses and Wild Turkeys



This is my favorite video I have made for the children yet. Why? Certainly not because I am looking my best. Nope. I woke early to greet the day in the woods after a poor nights sleep, giving no thought to preliminary beautification or even taming my curls. Rather, while I was building a fairy house to share with the children, I heard wild turkeys gobbling in the distance. I quietly tracked through the forest until I found these wild forest fowl with my camera! 

If I could share my love of nature and wild spaces with every child in the world I certainly would! But at the very least I can share it with the children I teach and all of you. 

I hope you enjoy this episode of Art with Angelina even half as much as I did!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Rock Dancing: Mindful Moments



I created this video for the children as a simple tool to help them quiet their minds, calm them emotions and relax their bodies throughout the day.  That said, it is just as useful for the adults in the room as well.  So when you have a few quiet moments, click on the link and learn how to make a rock DANCE with your breath!

Really!!!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Children's Garden Sings

Here is a singing celebration from your teachers at CGMS.  We are sending our love and hoping that you are making a joyful sound in the world!  Be will and keep singing!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sumi-e Markmaking



Here is a fun mark making activity for the whole family to enjoy.

Supplies:



  • Sumi Ink or concentrated black paint with a liquid consistency
  • 2 containers for ink/paint
  • 1 container for water
  • large brushes (round works well)
  • Felt or other drop cloth
  • Newsprint
  • Several sheets of white paper (I used rice paper)
  • Inspiration and Imagination


That's it!

Have fun!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Wolf and Kids: Storytelling Challenge



STORY TELLING!!! With special guest Bekke!!!  And after the story you will have a chance to tackle a story telling challenge of your own!

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Postcard Challenge



Another fun project for the children!
The postcard challenge invites your child to create a handmade postcard, put it in the mailbox and in return your child will find a handmade postcard in their mailbox in the days ahead!!!
A great way to stay connected in this time of physical distancing!!!
To play follow this simply video tutorial. (Participating parents should have received an email with all the details!)
Supplies:
Heavy duty paper (I used 120lb watercolor paper)
Drawing or painting supplies of your choice
A black pen
A metal ruler
A postage stamp
And an answer to the following question: What is the best part of being young?

That's it!!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

For the Love of Trees



Trees can talk?
Yep! And you can listen to them.
Really? 
How?
Well you can start by listening with your heart.

Sound hokey?

Maybe to adults it does, but children naturally understand.  The heart feels love and love is a kind of chemical in the body and the heart is a big ole magnet making a symphony of sorts.   And trees talk with chemicals too!  In fact, there’s a cacophony of connections going on just beneath your feet.

When we listen to trees with our hearts we learn to attend to the rustling before our minds identify it as tree leaves.  We pause in our pursuit to name the singular magnificence before us as an “Oak” or “Pine” and linger instead in the indefinable mystery of life itself.

This is the art of Listening Beyond Words and children are masters of it.

I enjoyed collecting their thoughts and words over the school year and now those words are featured in a window display at the Artisan Center Store on Third and Detroit St. along with the love tree the children made with Amy and I.   While the children weren't able to help me with the final touches, the overall display was envisioned by the them.  It is our gift to the Cherry Creek North Community at this time of physical distancing, a simple reminder that we each are part of life’s great song.
May each of us keep on listening.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Love Stones


Amy shared another wonderful video with us!!!  Meet Grandmother Juniper Tree and then join me for a love stone video tutorial to share a little love with the special trees in your neighborhood!!!

Supplies:

  • Rocks
  • Acrylic or similar paint
  • water
  • palette (I used a recycled lid)
  • Brush

Easy Peasy!
I hope you are befriending the trees around you and those you love from afar!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

For the LOVE of Birds


The children and I LOVE listening to birds and learning about them in the studio.  I have always wanted to share a few of the bird songs I hear on my wanderings and what better time to do it than now! (with a little help from this new fandangled vlogging).
I hope you all enjoy these video clips and tutorial.
Supplies:

  • Mixed Media Paper
  • Waterbased Markers
  • Water
  • Paint brush
  • Colored pencils
  • Gel pens (if you have them)

That's it!
(Encourage your child to let the paper dry between steps to avoid frustrations:)
Note: I won't be posting on Thursdays but will be available for a studio zoom call.  
So ring in if your child would like to share their creations with the group!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Feeling all the Feels


This simple painting activity offers an opportunity for children (of any age) to express their feelings in paint with big movements on large surfaces.  It's important for each of us to take moments to communicate our emotions in healthy ways, thus allowing them pass through us rather than concretize into protective habits of behavior.
Have fun and let me know how it goes!
For supplies:

  • Large paper or painting surface,
  • Paint of choice (even water)
  • Wide and cheap paint brushes
  • And the desire to express.

Stay Curious!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Tree Talk Cherry Creek North Project!!!!



Okay I am SO excited to share this video with you featuring the children's Tree Talk Project and installation!!!!  
If you are in the Cherry Creek North Neighborhood look for our Tree Chimes and be sure to watch the video tutorial above to make your own tree chime for the tree's around your house.
All you will need are:

  • Some string
  • Some beads or metal rings or pinecones and birdseed or anything you can find in your junk drawer to add to your string and make a happy sound in the world!  That's it!!!

Here is a copy of our Tree Chime Tag to print and add it to your chime if you choose

These chimes are a gift from the children of Children’s Garden Montessori School and are meant to serve as a community invitation to listen to the trees.  
Trees talk to one another in ways we are just beginning to understand.  In fact, the ground beneath our feet is rich with conversations and connections as meaningful as any we are capable of.  
Be Well, Stay Curious and Keep Listening.
-With love, The Children

Keep listening to the world around you, the one you can hear AND the quiet one you can't.

Stay Curious!!!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Making Shapes with Paint and Oil Pastels



This activity is pretty straightforward and a fun introduction to finding shapes and filling them in to create colorful abstracts on paper.

The supplies you will need are:



  • A darker shade of paper (cardstock works great)
  • Acrylic or Tempera Paint (choose a shade lighter than your paper)
  • Oil Pastels
  • Paint brush and a cup of water
  • A back drop sheet of paper (to protect your drawing surface)
  • A palette (I used a plastic baggie but you can also use the top of a yogurt container or any other repurposed water repellant surface)


That's it.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

An Original Story and a How to for Collage Illustrations: Day 13 of Art with Angelina


The children are always sharing wonderful stories with me in the studio.  To encourage some of this storytelling at home, I've created a simple video provocation complete with an original story and a collage illustration activity to try on your own.
Supplies:

  • Various Papers
  • Pencil
  • Colored Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • and your IMAGINATION!

Enjoy!