Friday, October 30, 2015

music magic takes over

Music, music, music.  The children have loved the addition of instruments into the studio and many have begun collaborating to create songs (which I am faithfully recording).
All of this isn't happening in isolation, at the same time we have drawing, painting, tortilla making, apple slicing, building and more.  It really is a richly creative life we inhabit in the studio and I give thanks every day for the incredible job I have and the many teachers who generously come into the studio masquerading as students to share their wisdom, wonder, tenacity, curiosity and joy (among many other things)

Cooking in the studio continues to be a huge hit!  We cooked pinto beans to go with our ongoing tortilla making.
We brought in the blender and made a Children's Garden version of horchata, using vanilla yogurt, water, honey and cinnamon.  Which was another huge hit.
The children decorated an "apple tree" so I added apple slicing to our studio environment.
This provided a great opportunity to practice generosity and sharing with friends in other classes.  Picture above is a child carefully cutting several apples and offering them to the toddler class.  Pictured below a child is passing out horchata.  This spirit of giving keeps the school well supplied in fresh tortillas and other snacks throughout the day.
The children have expressed their genuine interest in cooking and food prep SO you can expect to see more in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

losing our marbles ... a cognitive knot

On the playground some of the children noticed that the marbles meant to accompany a building work were missing!  It was a mystery!!! The children and I spent some time trying our best to track down the missing marbles but alas... no marbles.  (Yes I am saying that we lost our marbles.) I asked what we could do about it? They came up with a great idea of making marbles in the studio.  
The children then told me they needed some glass.  I gave them a glass jar.  Nope that wouldn't work.  Hmm.  What can we use?
Next they tried out a few objects already in the studio.
But decided quickly that the objects were too soft, too light or the wrong shape.  This led to a general discussion about the shape of a marble?  A marble is a circle with no edge.  It’s really, really round.  It’s made of glass but maybe it could be made of something else as long as its hard.  Marbles are hard. 
Next idea... "Angelina do you have any oven clay?"  Why yes I do.
Or at least I thought I did...they melted...oops...still no marbles.
Tortillas!!!  We can make them out of tortilla dough.  And we did.
And we brought them outside.  They were a little light but they rolled.
Then someone stepped on them and the marbles were gone once more.

This little vignette is a perfect example of following the children and exploring cognitive knots. 
A cognitive knot is a problem that impedes progress, just like a knot in a piece of thread halts sewing or a knot in a piece of wood slows the saw.  Cognitive knots can cause frustration and confusion BUT they are also causes for celebration.  They represent what Piaget identified as cognitive disequilibrium, aka learning opportunities.  The Reggio-Emilia philosophies embrace these knots, whether in the form of a conflict of wills, insufficient skills/understanding or just limited theoretical/practical knowledge.  In this tradition of learning, the teachers' responsibility is to recognize these knots as they arise and bring them to the surface, not solve them.  The knots represent wonderful opportunities for social learning, group thinking, skill development and more.  So of course losing our marbles is a great step in learning.

Friday, October 23, 2015

tortilla making in the studio

The studio welcomed the Salcedo-Roja family on Monday for tortilla making.  Grandma and Grandpa Roja were visiting from Mexico City and brought with them the vibrancy of their homeland.  Together we learned the art of tortilla making and a little about the celebrations surrounding Dia de los Muertes... including how to make a celebratory display!
In response, the studio has become a tortilla making festival complete with Mexican music and more.
Tortillas have been a huge hit and the children have continued making them and eating them daily.  We will keep exploring the tastes of Mexico with tortillas and pintos in the week ahead.  Ole'
If you have family traditions that you would like to share PLEASE come see me!  It enriches our program in so many ways. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

leaves in the studio

Noticing the children's obvious interest in leaves and the color changes associated with Fall, many of the classroom teachers have put out leaf works. Vida introduced parts of a leaf during circle time, collecting various leaf types from the outdoor environment and sharing them with the children.  
 The children have continued to gather leaves from the playgrounds and bring them into the studio to draw and explore.
 Here are a few samples of their works.
I hope you and your child enjoy the seasonal changes taking place in our midst over the weekend.  If you make any particularly interesting discoveries be sure to bring them into the studio for investigation.
We will see you on Monday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Iranian Cultural Study in the Studio

A huge THANK YOU to Afsaneh and the entire Noori family for sharing the richness of their heritage and introducing our school to the Iranian culture.  We had a fabulous afternoon celebrating the music, foods, scents and tastes of Iran. Afsaneh brought in several significant objects from home, as well as some amazing rice, potato stew, cookies and tea!  HELLO!!! Amazing afternoon in the studio!  The recipes are included below if you want to have a delicious meal of your own!
 Potato Khoresh-makes 6 servings

3 tablespoons of canola oil
2 large onions, peeled, thinly sliced, place in a bowl, cover with cold water
2 teaspoons of sea salt
½  teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoons of Persian spice mix (2 tablespoons of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of cardamom, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin)
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon of saffron
1 cup of split peas

Potatoes (I bake instead of fry):
3 large potatoes peeled and cur into matchsticks and soaked in cold water

1. In a Dutch oven, heat 6 tablespoons of oil over medium heat and brown the onions. Add the salt, pepper, and turmeric. Sauté for 2 minutes longer.

In a saucepan, cook the yellow split peas in 5 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt for 40 minutes. Drain, rinse, and add to Dutch oven. Give it a gently stir.

2. Pour in 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes,

3. Add Persian spice mix and tomato and cover and cook over low heat for another 45 minutes

4. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the potatoes and dry thoroughly, Place potatoes slices in a Ziploc bag with 1 tablespoon of oil and ½ teaspoon of salt, seal, and shake the bag to evenly coat the potatoes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the potatoes over it. Bake in the over for 40-45 minutes. Dust with salt. Set aside.

5. Just before serving add the potatoes on top of the stew. Serve with rice.

 Ados Polo (Lentils with Rice)
- 3 cups long grain or Basmati rice
- 1.25 cups dried lentils
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon Table salt
- 6 tablespoons cooking oil (we use Canola oil)
- 1 cup raisins

1.  Mix rice and lentils and rinse well.  

2.  Put the mixture in the rice cooker and add 6.5 cups of water.

3- add the salt, oil, turmeric and raisins and mix all ingredients 

4- turn the rice cooker on and cook until the food is ready and the cooker stops.

Friday, October 9, 2015

pumpkins and fall

Fall is arriving in Cherry Creek and in celebration some of the classes went on a sensory walk, noticing all the textures, colors, sounds and smells in our neighborhood.
We returned to a studio full of autumn inspiration.  The children created their own pumpkins using water-soluble oil pastels on Bristol board and then sculpting them with clay.
There is a consensus that we need to make pumpkin pie in the studio someday soon and so we will.
It was another beautiful day to be together!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

clay with Amy our resident mud specialist

Amy is in the studio all week and the children are LOVING it... they are pinching, poking, rolling, pounding and creating with mud!  Who doesn't love that!!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

toddler research in the studio

Okay... Friday was officially a FANTASTIC day researching alongside the toddlers.  The teachers and I had talked a few weeks prior about the number of balls and ramps available in the classroom.  We decided to set up a ramp provocation in the mini atelier just outside their door.  It didn't take long before the toddlers became interested in the activity in a BIG way.  They began rolling the small yellow balls provided, but soon gathered materials from their classrooms to roll down the ramps.
 Other teachers became curious and offered possibilities to try.
In a very short time we had a full fledged research lab where the children investigated: friction, gravity, simple machines and acceleration using ramps and objects.  Their actions asked: Which ramps allow objects to roll faster and which ones slower? Which objects roll the best and which don't roll at all? Does size and weight make a difference?  How are ramps made? And more.
They even collected play dough from their classroom and rolled their own balls, some tiny and some large, to experiment with on the ramps.
Some of their discoveries were pretty sophisticated.  One boy noticed that this red cylinder wouldn't roll well when placed vertically on the ramp... it just sort of sat there.
BUT if it was placed horizontally on the rim of the ramp it rolled like a speed champion all the way down.
The square block and flat objects didn't roll at all but slid down the ramp like a slide, especially down the steeper ramps.
These discoveries are the result of periods of free exploration and are ESSENTIAL to developing our understanding of the laws of physics.  Hands on experiences messing about with materials and experimenting with "how things work" have proven essential to future abstract understandings of scientific principles, in fact  PLAY is the necessary foundational step to all of our biggest ideas.