Tuesday, December 16, 2014

granola making

Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Fruit-and-Seed Holiday Granola
            1 stick unsalted butter
            1/2 cup light brown sugar (we used coconut sugar)
            1/4 cup honey or agave (we used agave)
            1 teaspoon cinnamon
            1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
            1/2 teaspoon salt
            3 3/4 cups rolled oats (12 ounces)
            1 cup shaved unsweetened coconut
            1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
            1/2 cup raw pepitas
            2 cups mixed dried fruit, such as cranberries, golden raisins, and cherries
1   Preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, agave, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and bring to a simmer, stirring until the brown sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly.
2  In a very large bowl, toss the oats with the coconut and seeds. Add the warm brown sugar mixture and stir to coat thoroughly. Spread the granola on the baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden.
3   Add dried fruit, stir into the granola. Let cool completely; the granola will crisp as it cools.
MAKE AHEAD The granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Recrisp in a 275° oven for 15 minutes if necessary.

Monday, December 15, 2014

a typical day in the studio

Rereading the blog, I realized how documentation is limiting in its own way.  In my efforts to capture the emerging stories, themes, questions and projects with the children I often fail to share the everyday happenings that fill our studio hours.  Often there is just a pure joy in exploring media for its own sake or collaborating with friends around a variety of materials.  These moments may not find their way onto the blog as often but they are no less thrilling and inspiring to be a part of.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

story robots

Robot making is an emerging theme in the studio.  Several children have discovered the recycled materials and are using them to create "robot" characters inspired by their own imaginations.  Each of the creations is accompanied by a story.  The one pictured below is as follows:
This is Desmund- Harry.  He has two guns.  He shoots the bad guys.  He rides his horse.  He’s the dad and he is good.  He is prepared for any mission and he likes helping the toddlers.  He eats chicken and broccoli and even he eats turkey.  For Thanks giving he kills lions to eat.  He has a hat on and he is a protector.  He is Zeger’s friend.
Once a story robot is created, many of the children ask me to join them on second line to share their stories and creations with the class.
This is an opportunity for the children to ask questions directly of the artist and for artists to share their thinking .
I also find that these show-and-share opportunities foster emerging projects and inspire big thinking.

clay with the toddlers

Amy spent the day with the toddlers.
In the morning class a child worked on a large clay exploration with newly introduced clay tools.  Amy chose to leave the clay creation out for the afternoon class to experience.  In this way the language of clay facilitates conversation between the classes.  The afternoon children added to the earlier clay landscape, adding forms for ocean and unicorns and more.

Friday, December 5, 2014

emotions and feelings in the studio

I added a number of mirrors to the studio environment in an effort to support the children's emerging interests in self portraits and emotional awareness.  In response the children continued to explore feelings and emotions with a variety of media and tools.
They also enjoyed looking at each other and their reflections as they experimented with recognizing various emotions and attending to how each one feels inside.
A few children realized that they could actually make themselves FEEL an emotion by thinking about something:  the time a brother pulled his hair and voila anger....the time mom left on a trip and there is sadness...getting an unexpected gift equals surprise and joy...WOW thinking a thought is related to feeling an emotion...that's some fairly adroit emotional awareness!
We will meet next week as a whole staff to brainstorm ideas about this emerging project and where to go from here.  If you have ideas, please chime in!

stone soup and grandparent's day

In honor of Grandparent's Day the primary children worked together in the studio to make gluten-free cornbread muffins and a big pot of stone soup!
The children are phenomenal prep cooks and worked tirelessly cutting and dicing carrots, tomatoes, onions, herbs and celery for the soup.  We left the soup cooking overnight in the crockpot and when we arrived the next morning the school smelled delicious!
Then we hosted grandparents, sharing stone soup and our gratitude's with one another in grand CGMS style.
Even the toddlers were interested and we passed some soup onto them.
It was another wonderful grandparent's day to be remembered.

To make the soup at home:
Add three stones to a large pot top with broth, presoaked beans (1 lb of your choosing soaked 8 hours), diced carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes, cilantro and cook in crock pot for 8 hours on low.  Stir in salt, cumin and pepper to taste.  Enjoy

mashing beans, making burritos and eating them with toddlers

The toddlers are such fabulously adventurous chefs.  We spent an afternoon smashing and mashing pinto beans with hands and tools until we had a beautiful toddler version of refried beans.
And then we worked together to make burritos, layering beans and cheese over flour tortillas before rolling them onto a baking sheet destined for the oven.
It was a real crowd pleaser!!! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

beans fabulous beans!

 Beans have continued to take on a wide appeal in the studio, offering opportunities for mixed media sculptures, categorizing, counting, cooking and more.  Several children spontaneously began grading the beans by size.
Which offered a perfect segue into some of the Montessori grading works available in the classrooms.
 We soaked garbanzo beans and made hummus in both the morning and afternoon class.

We also mashed pinto beans for burritos and cooked black eyed peas for sampling.
Overall, the children gave it a big thumbs up...way up!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

seeds glorious seeds!

So you may recall the seed study that began earlier in the year, well it's back!  T was in the studio examining the seed chart when he asked, "Angelina do you know how many seeds there are that you can eat?", I didn't!  So we decided to do some research!
A few others became interested in the question as well and soon we discovered a lot about the various seeds we eat, things I had never really thought about myself.
Like, did you know that beans are seeds and grains are seeds and of course nuts are seeds and corn is made up of seeds and coconuts are seeds and more.  Wow!  We were astonished as we considered all the different foods that are composed of seeds.
They recorded their findings on paper and then I remembered that I had a stash of beans tucked away in the studio.  What luck! I pulled them out of storage, much to the enthusiasm of my friends who eagerly examined the different kinds of seeds/beans.
J asked where the beans came from?  I said I didn't know that answer either.  We researched it together and again we excitedly discovered new things about seeds, like: black eyed peas are from North Africa and Mung beans are from China and the beans found in the Americas appear to have originated in Peru.  We discovered that people have been eating beans for at least 7,500 years. WOW!  Eager to communicate their new learning the children wrote down the name of each variety of bean and its place of origin.  J offered to draw the continent of origin and then he went to his classroom to procure the soft globe to examine and photograph the various regions to further our bean identification.
As class came to a close, they made the decision to host a seed-celebration in the studio!  So next week we will be making and tasting beans from various regions and we will be making corn bread (from other seeds!) and inviting other friends and classes to join in our enthusiastic seed study!
This study is a beautiful example of Reggio and Montessori working together in tandem.  The children's comfort with symbols, writing and classification along with their experience researching and expressing themselves with various tools of representation allowed this study to progress at a rapid pace.  I didn't ask them to write, they asked for paper so they could write.  I didn't ask them to find countries and continents, their experience with geography in the classrooms provided them with the necessary foundation on which to build their study.  I can hardly wait for next weeks seed celebration!!!