Friday, May 29, 2015

Parts of the Plant fried rice

The XP teachers have the best ideas!  This time they decided to make parts of the plant fried rice.  We began by examining various foods: carrots, celery, cabbage, broccoli, pepper and identified them as: root, stem, leaf, flower or fruit.
 The children recorded these observations in their science journals.
 Vida helped them chop the ingredients at a nearby table before combining it all into a skillet.
 The final result was a huge success!!!
Inspired by my afternoon with XP, the toddler teachers and I decided to make fried rice with the morning class.
They chopped veggies with enthusiasm and we shared the abundance of rice with the children in all classes.
If you want to try it at home, here is an easy recipe:

  • First cook some rice with green peas and refrigerate over night (we find this works better).
  • Chop all the ingredients.
  • Next, whip some eggs until frothy with some salt and scramble in some oil.
  • Remove the eggs.
  • Add some more oil to the skillet and cook the parts of the plant combo until tender but still a little crisp.
  • Add in the rice and cooked eggs.
  • Stir in some gluten-free soy sauce (that's what we used) and ENJOY!

Friday, May 22, 2015

toddlers in the studio

The toddlers left the mini-atelier today for time in the larger studio environment.  They were so interested and engaged, working together with interest and enthusiasm.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

lessons from G. and an Ear Monster.

I am often introducing new media in order to extend a child's thinking or just broaden their creative vocabulary and experience.  G. arrived in studio, as she usually does, with a huge smile.  She sat down and immediately began to draw with a 6B pencil on Bristol Board.  When she was finished I offered to show her a new media, inktense drawing pencils.  Inktense are cool, they draw like a colored pencil, they blend with water like water color pencils and they dry like ink, so you can layer colors without losing the underlying affect.  G. was eager to experiment.
When she finished she held up her completed piece and told me about it, "It's an Ear Monster!  Imagine what you could hear Angelina with all them ears.  You could hear children everywhere, laughing".
My heart melted.  Children are so wise and poetic.  They find beauty everywhere.  Why?  Because they look for it.  I had arrived at school feeling weighted down by human suffering and beleaguered by constant rain and a forecast for more of the same.  G. reminded me that we hear what we listen for.  We see what we look for.  Of course her monster, with all those ears, hears the sound of laughter.   And here I was just offering a lesson with inktense colored pencils, in turn I received a lesson in listening and a reminder to tune my ear toward the beauty and laughter all around.

pancakes with primary

How do we make pancakes in the studio?  Well it's different every time.  This week we began with a table full of ingredients, including: eggs, flour, butter, apple sauce, baking powder, salt, maple syrup, water and bananas.  I am celiac so the flours offered included: brown rice, buckwheat, corn meal and Pamela's gluten free baking mix.
We had 5 overripe bananas and began with banana mashing, the fork was quickly abandoned in favor of hand mashing.
Next, we added two eggs, melted butter, apple sauce, all four of our flours, baking powder salt and a dash of maple syrup.
We mixed it all together (this time using the fork) and ladled spoonfuls onto a hot griddle, sprinkling with raisins.
 The only thing left to do was to serve them up, drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy!
The toddlers had a play food feast of their own.
And when it came time to clean up, tables and floors were scrubbed and dried, all with little to no direction from me.  It is beautiful to witness the children taking full responsibility for their studio with joy and satisfaction.  By this time of the year I am more witness than director and I enjoy observing their conversations, choices and interactions.

When asked about pancakes, here is what they had to say:
Jaylen             My favorite kind of pancakes are these ones that I’m eating.  I
like them with the syrup and raisins.  They are really sweet.
Aiden              My favorite pancakes are raspberry and chocolate pancakes.  My dad
makes em cuz he’s a good maker.  I help him make it.
Dillon              My favorite are plain pancakes.
Dax                 My dad makes chocolate pancakes..  My mom makes regular ones.
Georgie           My brother Declan makes the best pancakes.
Willa               I love butter pancakes.  I love butter!
Sebastian       I love the pancakes Patti my babysitter makes.  They have chocolate chips on top.
Fisher             I like normal pancakes with butter and syrup.
Teddy             I like pancakes with bananas and blueberries.
Sadie               I like chocolate pancakes with whipped cream on them.
Gretta B          I like plain pancakes with syrup and butter.
Quinn             I love chocolate chip pancakes that mommy makes, with syrup on top.
Grace              I like chocolate chip pancakes that Westin’s granny makes.
Mosely            My mommy makes the best pancakes.  I like plain pancakes with not-blueberries.  I like syrup on my pancakes!
Colson             I like blueberry pancakes.
Lila                  I like pancakes with the blueberries on top.
Caroline          I like not-blueberries.  I like strawberries, but sometimes I don’t like strawberries.
Cooper            My favorite pancakes are with syrup.
Zeger              I like mine with butter and syrup.

Copeland        I had pancakes for breakfast!  I like mine with just syrup.

Friday, May 15, 2015

smoothie making with toddlers

In the years that have passed since I began teaching, I have seen an increasing number of children who are uncomfortable with getting their hands dirty.  I researched this phenomena and found that there are stages of sensory comfort with new tactile encounters, just like there are stages of development for all aspects of sensory experience.  As a culture we are less comfortable with mess making and getting dirty than ever before.  (I remember sitting in mud pits making mud pies and even, gasp, sampling my earthy creations without any intervention, only mild smiling from passing adults.  YUCK! That didn't happen more than once.)  As teachers, our goal is to support all aspects of development.  With this in mind, I joined the toddlers this year in an ongoing investigation of mess making.
When we opted for smoothies, I saw an obvious opportunity for fun, so we ditched the tools and mashed bananas and berries by hand.
Some children were more comfortable maintaining a little distance, for them mixing with a fork was still preferable.
 Next, we carefully tore dates into small pieces.
 And opened a can of light coconut milk.
 We poured everything into our blender and turned it on.  LOUD!
 All that was left to do was enjoy our labors.  YUM.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


The collaborative mixed media piece in the studio is developing into a beautiful array of color, line, shape and ever evolving composition.  It's creation was accompanied by stories, memories and more.  This afternoon, as a few children worked, they said "We should do this for like ten days! I wonder what it would look like then!"  We decided to keep a large sheet of paper available for collaborative drawing in the weeks ahead and just "see what happens".

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

post show collaborations

All the children's art has been sorted into portfolios and sent home to be enjoyed by friends and family.  At this time of year we are no longer focusing on product oriented work.  We spend our remaining time together cooking or collaborating around shared activities and explorations.  It's often a quieter time in the studio but no less wonderful.

Celebration of Expression 2015

 The annual festival of the arts, Celebration of Expression, was a huge success!  Thank you to all the parents without whose help this show wouldn't have happened and thank you to the incredible artists whose work filled the school.  You inspire us daily to be better researchers, more willing students and capable teachers.
And thanks to Nightingale Symphony who filled the festival with beautiful music and enchanted the children!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Rainy day explorations and learning opportunities everywhere.

Worms!  When outside I am reminded of the importance of modeling.  Children are naturally interested in the natural world, in the way things work and in living things.  They also gauge their reactions by our reactions.  If I see a worm and am hesitant to touch it or say, "Ewww gross", many children will draw back and suppress their own interest or worse, they will move to kill it.  If however, I model active engagement and a sense of wonder, their own natural and courageous curiosity takes over.  Then something wonderful happens, the child begins modeling for peers and soon the playground is full of "Ooo's" and "Ah's" and pronouncements like "worms are cool!".  Discussions break out about where worms live and other teachers become involved.  Soon there is talk about what worms do.  Which leads us to the compost, where worms are carried one by one to do their big work of digesting food waste and preparing healthy compost for our gardens.
Where the children have just finished planting carrots and strawberries with their parents.
Similar discoveries happen elsewhere when two boys race over to share a recent discovery of mushrooms growing in the moist earth.  After I snap a photo, J. uses the school camera to capture a few pictures of his own, attracting several other children to the fungi discovery in the backyard.
In the studio, the experience is not forgotten, as is evidenced by this worm-wonderer's beautiful illustration of her recent worm encounter on the playground.
Learning opportunities really are everywhere, all the time!