Saturday, September 24, 2022

The children and I are in full swing talking about our feelings and what constitutes a feeling. It’s really a breathtaking study. So many opportunities to learn for all of us. Here is a relevant article worth reading that relates to our emotions study:

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Research 2023: A Pause to Imagine a New World AND Story time Travels with Angelina: The Lorax

For those of you new to Children's Garden, our school embraces a mix of Montessori and Reggio approaches to education.  Unlike the more Montessori founded classrooms, the studio doesn’t have a set curriculum.  We begin the year with a question and follow the children to see where it will take us. Each year’s question is a response to my observations, reflections and wonderings.  This year I found myself reflecting on the impact the global pandemic has had on people in relation to learning approaches and a current concept that children are falling behind.  There is a growing pressure on schools to demonstrate results and academic gains.  This tendency to focus on assessment and structured approaches to education assumes these procedures will lead to academic success.  But all too often they don’t.   Why? Humans need unstructured, unplanned, open-ended opportunities to play, imagine and discover.  This is not just a childhood need, it is a human one.  Imagination and play allow us to make sense of our world and integrate our experiences. Brains are always changing.  Adult brains might be more fixed but the brains of young children change with each new experience. As it turns out our proclivity toward fun is linked to neuroplasticity and a positive sense of purpose and well being across ages.  
If we rush toward “normal”, we inevitably leave behind many complex emotions.  This can have some pretty negative results. Unintegrated emotions can take our imaginations on a dark twist, leading to anxious ruminations, catastrophizing about the future, void filling and numbing. This is true of children as well as adults. We may become more risk avoidant, distractible and intolerant.   We need a healthy imagination, one freed from fear.  How do we get there? We play. Yep.  Imaginative, unstructured play can lead to emotional integration. And integration shepherds in a healthy world view, seasoned with hope and possibility.
My reflections on the importance of imagination brings to mind a story I read about the holocaust in Frank Ostaseski’s book, The Five Invitations.  In his retelling, the war is ending and there is a frenzied rush on the part of the nazi’s to empty the concentration camps before the allied troops arrive. On a gray day, a somber train packed with men rattled over worn out tracks.  They knew the fate that awaited them.  The mood was heavy.  Even the guards fell silent.  I can imagine no greater fear and yet, amidst the crowd there was a poet.  Overcome with sudden inspiration, he turned to the man beside him and said, “Give me your palm.”  The man obliged.  The poet leaned close, nose nearly touching hand, examining palm lines. Suddenly, he stood beaming, face spread in a grin, eyes locked on the man.  He exclaimed.  “You will live a long, full, happy life. You will marry and have two beautiful children.  You will!  I see it.  Right here!”  Tapping the man's palm confidently.  The man’s eyes sparkled with hope as he closed his fingers, pressing the promise to his chest like a talisman.  Another man nearby thrust his hand forward, “Read mine!”  The poet complied and after a brief study of the lines he announced with elated confidence a similar vision of good fortune.  Joy emerged in that crowded boxcar as men pressed hands forward and were met with possibility.  Hope had arrived where the certainty of despair had reigned just moments before. The guards felt it too, at least I imagine they must have, because no one had ever returned from that one way train ride, not until that day.  When an entire boxcar of men boarded the returning boxcar to a camp that was liberated less than three weeks later.  Many of those men survived. 
This is the power of positive imagination.  
My young niece read the story of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (watch the video above alongside your child if you need a refresher.)  A story all too familiar these days, amidst news of climate change.  She was upset and crafted her own ending: 
After the Once-ler gave me the seed of the very last Truffala Tree.
I thought about how all of those trees were in need, 
So as fast as I could I planted that seed from the one very Truffula tree.
So that Truffala grew it grew and it grew until the seed was no seed but a full Truffala true.  
But I realized it was not enough, I needed more than just one Truffula tuft.  
So I planted and planted some more and soon there were four.  
Then I saw the brown bar-ba-loots come, they were ready for fun.  
We planted and planted and soon we were done.  
There were exactly one hundred and one.  
Then I saw the humming fish coming!  And soon I saw all the animals come.  From one to one hundred all in a row, 
I saw it I swear!  Soon my job was done.  
I saw the world, it was different but… fun!
Imagination, positive or negative, is arguably what makes humans human.  We can use it for good or to terrorize one another.  We have the ability to imagine and create the future we would like to see!  I have taught children for twenty years and I know without a doubt that each of us possess an innate ability to plant that seed and read those palms.  But our imaginations may become hindered by unmet fears and feelings. 
My question is how to support emotional integration and encourage healthy imagination, collaboration and well being.  I suggest we can all benefit from a prolonged Pause.  A time to allow our proverbial shadow to catch up.  A time to feel the feelings we pushed aside in our efforts to blend or appease or just keep going.  This pause is the foundation for learning and growth. It allows us to integrate the past and the present, freeing our capacity to imagine the future we’d like to see.  If we pause to feel the feelings and welcome any exiled aspects of self, our imagination is freed from the confines of fear.  We reclaim our intrinsic capacity to imagine a sustainable tomorrow, where children’s laughter fills the clean, fresh air alongside bumble-bees and song birds in a nature that flourishes amidst the kindness of everyday strangers.  
Join me for a year of slowing down as we come together to create a future of shared belonging.
Welcome to our school.
Stay Curious and Full of Wonder,
Your Studio Teacher, Angelina Lloyd, MPsyEd

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Wonder Walks

This summer I hope all of you will join your amazing children for wonder walks.  Just step outside the door and let the world astound you.  Nothing more is required.

Table Talks

On the last few days of school, the children and I gathered around a table to talk and draw.  Our conversations ranged from current events to fantastical tales and everywhere in between. 
Listening to the children is one of the greatest joys of my job.  Their questions, ideas and insights never fail to inspire.  
As a parting gift, I wanted to share one such conversation with you.  Lean in to hear what they had to say. I hope this little snippet warms your heart as much as it did mine.  It's my sincere wish that we might postpone our eager rush to explain or correct and simply engage in a conversation among equals, no matter the age or beliefs of our companions, with curiosity and a sense of possibility.

A             I'm drawing flowers.
W            Me too!
G             Flowers die but they come back again.
Me          What happens when they die?
A            God takes them to heaven.

Me          I see and how does that work?

C God is a human who brings you up to heaven.

W He died hundreds of years ago.

Me What is Heaven?

E             What!!! You don't know about heaven?!!!!

A Heaven is a place where skeletons and fairies live.

Me Whoa, that sounds like a strange place.

W and E No skeletons aren't in there.

A Well your bones go there when you die.

W Yeah, when you die and go to heaven you become like God but not the real God.

Me How does that work?

G When we are dead for hundreds of years we become strong like God.

Me Who is God?

Group       Seriously?!!

Group  God is really old and strong and he has a bow and arrows.

Me Is God a man?

Group YES!!!

Me Well is there a girl God?

Group No

Me Hmm.  I don’t know how I feel about that because I’m a girl.

(A few girls nod in agreement but insist God is a man.)

L         Maybe God can turn into anything God wants to.

A         Yeah, so God can be a girl too if God wants to.

L         Hey, I have something to say.

Me Go for it.

L         We don’t even know if God is real.

W         Yeah, when God died hundreds of years ago how did he get to heaven, he was just bones then?

G         Well, God started hundreds of years ago with sand temples, then he died and someone else 

                became the sand temple God and he went up to heaven and became the real God.

Me How does God get up there?  

E Yeah!  He’s dead and not a God yet.

L Okay so maybe someone just called God a person.

Group No, it's a real thing!

G and L Maybe we don’t really KNOW if it's real.  

L If God makes people in heaven before they get borned maybe it's real but we don't know for 


E Maybe God’s not the one with the bow and arrow, maybe someone else is and we just think its 


Me That’s an interesting idea.

W Maybe Jesus is a different guy too.  Maybe God is bigger than all the guys?

E Hey Angelina do you know how Jesus died?

W Yeah Angelina do you know about Jesus?

Me Tell me!

W Jesus lived a long time ago. But he got eaten by 53 dragons!

E Yeah but before the dragons he got poisoned and pulled apart and then the dragons ate him.

Me Whoa that seems like a rough way to go!

L Maybe people like to tell stories.

Group Yeah….  

(long pause)

W If God’s not a person maybe God's like gold lightening or something! 

A             Yeah!  

G Or an animal… or all animals.

C I don’t think animals can go to heaven.

A Accept birds.  Birds can go to heaven.

Me There are birds in heaven?

Group Yeah because they can fly.

(Clearly the group isn't impressed by my ability to keep up with the logic of the conversation.)

Me Well we can’t fly like birds. How does that work?

W Well God was a human and flew up to heaven, my Dad told me how but I sort of forgot, and        

                after hundreds of years he became a God or strong like a God.

Me So does everyone who dies become like a God after hundreds of years.

Group Yeah!

W But it takes longer for some people.  I don’t know why.

E All the grown ups die. Well actually I don’t know if they are gonna die, because maybe if you don’t get sick maybe you don’t ever die but if grown ups, that’s you guys (pointing at me), die they will be in heaven or not heaven.

Me What is "not heaven"?  

E Not heaven is when you didn’t get sick and didn’t die.  If you’re in not heaven you become a 

                grandpa or a grandma or something. 

L When you guys are dead (pointing at me again), we become you. We will be the grown ups.

G Yeah thats how life works

C and A Yeah!

Me I see. It’s kind of like the flowers.

Group. Yeah!

Me You guys are going to new schools, what will I do when I have more questions?

Maybe you could talk to different kids?

L Yeah, kids always have answers.

Group Yeah they do!

I couldn’t agree more!

Enjoy your summer and thank you for the great privilege of learning and working alongside your children.

Stay Curious, Live with Wonder and Keep Listening,

Your Studio Teacher, Angelina

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Smoothies, yummmmm!

Cooking continues to be a great favorite in 440!

This week the children made their own smoothies! Based on recipes of their own design. Be sure to ask about it and try your hand at smoothie making together. Most of them even put spinach in it! A great way to hide your vegetables?

Wednesday, April 20, 2022


A BIG thank you to the Michalek family for making the BIG P (aka Puff Pancake) with the Ward Hobbs Class.  The children LOVED it!!!
The recipe is pretty straightforward:
4 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 c. milk and 2 T melted butter.  Mix it all together.  Pour into a preheated, oven safe pan with 2 T additional melted butter and bake for 11 minutes at 450 degrees.
Top with lemon and powdered sugar!  Mmmm, mmmm good!

This one didn't puff quite as much as at home but it was equally delicious!!!

Have a special recipe you'd like to make with the kids?  Reach out to Angelina and we will make it happen!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A BIG week in the studio

I have spent this year learning how to serve the children after a global pandemic. And they have taught me so much!!! Particularly about the importance of relationship, mistake making, risk-taking, unstructured play, independence and resilience. These hallmarks of childhood are important reminders for adults too as we all reemerge from a period of social distancing and more.

If you missed my studio talk here is the End of the year video I shared.

And now here are a few snippets from the week:

On another note:
The Artisan Center window display is up and available for your viewing pleasure! Please make it down to the corner of Third and Detroit Street to see the children’s artistry up close and in person. 

Be sure to stop in the store to say hello and peruse the beauty and bounty always in stock!!

See you next week!