Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Tortilla's in the Studio and Recipe

It was a snowy day and what better to warm the day than some cooking?!  The children and I spent the day creating art and making tortillas.  Several children liked them so much they insisted that I share the recipe with all of you, so here it is!

  • 2 cups (240 grams) masa harina
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups hot water*
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Mix the dough: In a bowl add masa harina and salt than gradually add 1 1/2 cups hot water.  Mix.  Then knead the dough for a few minute til it is smooth and makes a ball.  The dough’s texture should feel like Play-Doh.  If too wet, add flour.  If too dry, add hot water.
  2. Rest the dough. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let it relax for 10 minutes.
  3. Portion the dough. Get about 2-tablespoon ball of dough.
  4. Press the dough balls. Place the dough ball between two pieces of plastic or parchment paper in a tortilla press. Then gently press the dough ball until it forms a tortilla.
  5. Cook the tortilla. Heat a-stick skillet to medium-high.  Peel the tortilla away from the plastic or parchment and place on the skillet.  Cook the tortilla about a minute per side.  The tortillas will likely bubble up while cooking, especially on the second side, which is a good thing!  We added a bit of cheese to the top in the last 30 seconds.  Eat right away or keep in a tortilla warmer or a bowl wrapped in a towel, so the tortillas stay fresh.


Animals on Parade

Both classes have been studying biomes this year and accordingly the animals that populate them. These beautiful animals were created by the children using water soluble oil pastels, black sharpies and liquid watercolor mixed with shaving cream.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Prioritizing Connection

The studio hums with children busy at work.  They’ve completed paintings of their favorite animals and are busy building an elaborate city of blocks.  Building the city leads to an excited conversation about their latest big idea, a diorama. After some preliminary discussion they include me in the conversation. “You know what a diorama is Angelina, right?  It’s something you can only make in first grade.” Another child remarks, “Yeah my brother made one of those!!!”  I respond, “You don’t have to wait until the first grade, we can make a diorama anytime.”  The children chorus, “Let’s make dioramas!” and eagerly begin discussing interests. 

The speed of child dialog is dizzying and certainly not limited to the Studio. It is ever-present on the playground as they engage in imaginative play of all sorts.  In the classroom, they bring their work to each other and their teachers.  “Look, Angelina.  I wrote an ‘a’, see right here, that’s an ‘a’”.  Why all the conversation? Do they need praise?  Is this a product of the pandemic?   For a while, I’m baffled as I try to understand what might be going on.  Eventually I remember to pay attention and trust the children.  

The past two years have caught us up in a rush of doing and pushing in an attempt to find our way back to ‘normal’.   COVID and our responses to it have changed the face of our communities, schools and society.  Every day, our classrooms have a revolving door of students as families adapt to COVID cases and exposures.  The strain of constantly pivoting to keep ourselves and each other safe has us all feeling out-of-sorts, off balance, and disconnected.  As adults, this is difficult enough.  Unfortunately, the impact doesn’t stop with us.

Our children, adolescents, and young adults are experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis.  The US Surgeon General recently issued a health advisory to say that young people in this country have experienced a 40% increase in feelings of sadness and hopelessness compared to ten years ago.  This isn’t something new.  A mental health epidemic had been identified before 2020.  Unfortunately, it has not improved!  Depression rates among young people have doubled in the past two years.  Pediatric psych units are at capacity. The entire mental health system is stretched beyond its reach.  

While the pandemic isn’t our norm, it is the norm for many of the youngest members of our community.  Here at Children’s Garden, our oldest students have been in the pandemic for half of their lives. We mustn’t overlook that.  The children will always remind us what is important.  As they reach out with their constant chatter and demands for attention, they are seeking connection.  They are building relationships.  Relationships with their teachers, with one another, with families, with everything. Of course a pandemic has had a very real effect on all of us and I know there is a concern about academic preparedness nationwide. But if we think the children are falling behind and rush past their fundamental need for social and emotional development we do the children a big disservice. This isn’t business as usual.  Not for any of us. And if learning is expected to continue as planned we will miss some essential childhood needs.  

The Harvard Grant study, published in 2017, revealed that healthy relationships are more important predictors of longevity and well being over time than exercise, genetics and diet combined. We know social connection is a powerful buffer to stress and a source of wellbeing, for children and adults.  All too often, in our fast-paced lives, quality time with people gets crowded out. Our children need time to reconnect, collaborate, play, chat, wander, make meaningful mischief, mess about and discover.  Prioritizing relationships, child to child, adult to child and even modeling healthy adult to adult relationships, IS the best proven way to promote mental health into adulthood. 

This brings us to the importance of social emotional development and relationship building amongst the children in our care.  We must tailor their education to meet these new needs.    Of course we will always ensure that your children are getting a well rounded and deeply meaningful learning experience.  That is what our little school is known for.  And as we continue to respond to the needs of children, it is more important than ever to allow the children ample opportunities to practice building relationships and hone emerging social and emotional skills.  

I have many ideas about how we can work together to help our children build healthy relationships AND I am eager to hear some of yours.  On January 27 at 6PM MST, you are invited to join me, and Bekke Howell, Head of School, in an open discussion.  We will share what the teachers do at school and ideas for what parents might do outside of school to support social/emotional development in the weeks and years ahead.  And as always we welcome your voice to further the conversation.

I look forward to seeing you there!  

Your Studio Teacher, 


Friday, January 14, 2022

Tomato Soup!

The children had a great idea on Monday to make soup. They came up with the recipe and asked for all the ingredients they needed.  Together we chopped the vegetables, prepped the food and made soup! Enjoy this wonderful little video and the recipe prepared for you.

Friday, December 17, 2021

What's for dinner? How bout some chicken noodle soup!

The children requested another cooking project.  Happy to oblige, we settled on chicken noodle soup.  
Which involves A LOT of vegetable chopping!
If you don't have one of these knives at home I highly recommend getting one!  Your child will become your best kitchen helper in no time!  For best results, clarify that the goal isn't speed, but careful, deliberate chopping.  Your child's precision will surprise you! 

The added bonus of all this work was getting to participate in all of the conversations gathered around the table.

Want to make our soup at home?  We thought you might say that!  The talented Cadence, in Ward Hobbs XP, wrote up the recipe for you:

Once all that chopping was done, we cooked our soup in an Instapot, sautéing the vegetable ( in butter or oil of choice) before adding the chicken (you could use left over turkey!), broth and seasonings (oregano, basil, salt and pepper) to cook.  When your soup is all done, just ladle the yumminess into bowls, top with cooked noodles and ENJOY!

Prepare to be satisfied!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Amy is back!

Amy is back in the studio doing her mud magic!
Here is an inspiration shelf set up with sculptural provocations. 
It has been an absolute joy watching the children choose thier animal as muse before setting to work with clay and tools.

The results are wonderful!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Another Autumn Week celebrating with Ward Hobbs

If you are having a tough day, rake some leaves and don't just watch the children play, get in the mix and PLAY too!

We continued our sunflower paintings...
And added some pumpkins.

To keep the investigations going, BJ stepped in for some fun-filled pumpkin carving.
We even experimented with techniques to vary the light in each pumpkin and indulged in some roasted pumpkin seeds!

Stay tuned to see what fun we get up to next week!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

440 Celebrates Autumn, Van Gogh and Planes

We painted on our clear easel and then pulled prints inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflower paintings.

Inspired by the changing colors we tried our hand at some observational drawing.

The children have been interested in planes and are making some 3D planes of their own with found objects.

It was another fun-filled week with the children!!!

Ward Hobbs celebrates Autumn!

Fall is in the air and nature is dripping with color!  We used this motley display as an inspiration for some observational drawing.

Drawing in this way helps us to slow down and linger in the beauty.  This supports our ability to express  what we see in a variety of creative mediums.

Outside, the gardens keep on giving.

To celebrate the children and I harvested tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and basil.

Then spent the day washing and cutting and prepping our food.  Once the trays were full we drizzled them with olive oil, a tad of balsamic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Popped them in the oven to roast and then we ATE!  MmmMmm good!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Amy is back playing with mud in the studio!

We are so happy to welcome Amy Laugesen back to the studio for a wonderful yearlong clay collaboration!  Amy will be joining us every month or so to provide the children with support as they explore and express using the language of mud!

With fall is in the air, Amy celebrated the turning of the seasons by bringing some autumn inspiration to investigate alongside Clay.

While they work, the children are experimenting with a lot of techniques including rolling, making impressions, coiling, scoring, joining and basic pinch and poke techniques. 
It’s an absolute joy to watch them play and discover with this wonderful media!