Friday, May 27, 2016

nature

Researchers studying the lives of environmentalists have found a commonality.  All of them had encounters with nature as young children that deeply impacted their lives and love of the natural world.  Early experiences may support the development of ecological values and an ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship.  Sobel (2008) suggests that stewardship is often the result of “… many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for
nature.'" (p. 9)

Early experiences with nature appear to provide the necessary foundation for any type of environmentally responsible behavior (Sobel, 2008, p. 147).  For this reason Sobel recommends that nature experiences should be provided to our children.  He further points out,  “Too often in schools, we're trying to inject knowledge without providing the experiences that allow love to slowly take root and then flourish..One transcendent experience in nature is worth a thousand nature facts.” ( p. 12)

Contrary to the idea that teachers/adults need to provide children with nature-based curriculums, what the children actually need are opportunities to explore wild or near-wild places alongside an engaged adult who is ready to listen, observe, be present and offer their own sense of wonder.
The children's question, theories, thoughts and observations really do the rest.  The children above, gathered around a large black ant and watched as it carried a dead lady bug on an epic journey across the sidewalk.
Above, the children discovered that the maple leaves outside had a specific smell, "kinda like mango". Soon they were carefully gathering leaves and blooms from the outdoor environment to create a smelling walkway for others to enjoy.

I am often amazed by the sense of curiosity, wonder and presence with which young children interface with life.
They continue to be some of the best teachers I know!


Sobel, D. (2008). Childhood and nature: Design principles for educators. Portland, MA: Stenhouse.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

one bucket at a time

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
-- Margaret Mead
The children solved the sand problem by filling up one bucket at a time from the big pile in the parking area behind the school (accompanied by Bekke).  Next, they lugged their heavy load to each of the sandboxes.  Once arrived, their buckets were turned over, pouring sand into a growing mound.  This same work was carried out yesterday, one wagon load at a time. Our sandboxes are full and the children are playing and digging proud of their contribution.  

Another little reminder that we can each change the world and make a difference in our communities, one bucket of sand at a time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

toddlers in the studio

By this time in the school year our toddlers are eager to explore the whole studio.  While I still minimize the materials somewhat, the children are able to enjoy the full environment.  This additional space contributes to a different level of exploration, collaboration and research.  Here are a few photographic examples of their day:
After our studio fun we all headed into the broader community for an ambling walk through Cherry Creek neighborhood.
It's so wonderful to have the opportunity to work with our children from the time they begin our program until they leave.  I learn so much about who they are individualy as well as how humans learn, grow and develop over time. PLUS I get to build and deepen my relationship with each of the children as they move through our program.
Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?
I love my job.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

When I am grown up, I want to feel...

I have never been a fan of the question, what do you want to be when you grow up?  I still get sweaty palms and a tightness in my stomach, accompanied by a gnawing sense of "I don't know?".  We place a high value on what we "DO" and often overlook the deeper experience of how we feel.  So I ask the question, "How do you want to feel when you are grown?"
The child's answer provides a compass, their own true North, by which to navigate their life and choices.
After the children drew how they wanted to feel and explained them to the group, we paused together with our eyes closed to feel with our hearts and minds their grown up self, until we planted a good strong seed of intention.
Then we opened our eyes, often smiling broadly and confident and resumed the day.
Here are some of their answers:
  • Noland
    • When I am grown up I want to feel strong and happy.
  • Matthew
    • When I am grown up I want to feel cool and strong and funny and happy.
  • Dax
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy and funny and playing with my brother.
  • Tatum
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy!!!! And I want to be a dress designer.
  • Eliana
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy!
  • Tessa
    • When I am grown up I want to feel loved and happy.
  • Aiden
    • When I am grown up I want to feel loved and happy.
  • Dillon
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy and loved!
  • Adelaide
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy and loved, like when I’m with my sister.
  • Dennis
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy.
  • Lila B.
    • When I am grown up I want to feel loved, lucky and happy and play with my little sisters. I never want to be grown up and I will always be mommy and daddy’s little kid.
  • Breier
    • When I am grown up I want to feel good and happy and I want to play with my sissy and in nature and little dogs and help animals and study math and be in concerts and I want to have a famous voice.  I want to PLAY.
  • Georgia
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy and play with my sister and all my children I’m gonna have.
  • Iliana
    • When I am grown up I want to feel really, really, really, really, really, really happy!
  • Addie
    • When I am grown up I want to feel really happy and play a lot.
  • Connor
    • When I am grown up I want to feel really, really, really, really, really happy!!!
  • Copeland
    • When I am grown up I want to feel big.
  • Desmond
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy.
  • Kate
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy.
  • Willa R.
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy.
  • Jaylen
    • When I am grown up I want to feel loved, happy, excited, funny and have lots of friends.
  • JJ
    • When I am grown up I want to feel good, happy and have lots of friends.
  • Rees
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy.
  • Cooper B.
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy.
  • Sloane
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy, excited, sad and mad.  I want to be a singer.
  • Harry
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy and good.
  • Estelle
    • When I am grown up I want to feel happy and have kids and get married.
  • Moseley
    • When I am grown up I want to feel like I’m God or like I’m a unicorn.
  • Marshall
    • When I am grown up I want to feel strong and protect animals.  I want to be a zoo keeper.








Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Sense of Wonder: Celebration of Creative Expression 2016

Welcome to a Sense of Wonder
On May 12th we hosted our annual celebration of creative expression and it was a HUGE success.  The children strode through the school with confidence and pride, sharing their school, their art and their show with family and friends.  It was an evening alive with socializing, art viewing, appetizer grazing and more.
A special thank you to our alumni, Tierney and Elizabeth, for sharing their musical talents for the evening
And to all the parents who contributed their time and resources to make this wonderful evening happen.  We couldn't do it without you!
Amy and I extend our deepest gratitude for another wonderful year spent working and learning alongside the children.  It's not a job it's a joy and we are honored to serve these children, our school and this beautiful community.
Thank you!

Friday, May 6, 2016

a little window into the day

There is so much going on in the school right now.  It's such a beautiful time of year.  The children have internalized the classroom expectations and are busily involved in works of interest throughout the school.
 
As we approach the final weeks of school, it always becomes clear why our founders named the school Children's Garden.  There is nothing more beautiful nor rewarding young children/teachers-on-shorter-legs flourish and bloom.
It's an easy time to feel grateful and inspired by my amazing coworkers, our community, the children, nature and the wonder of learning.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

drawing from the senses

 The children and I spent the day drawing and painting outdoors on Wednesday.  We began with our eyes closed listening to the many sounds of the moment.  Keeping eyes closed we smelled the wonderful scents of spring and felt the air and surfaces near our bodies.  We were silent and just allowed life to meet our senses, without the rush to label the sensations...listening intently to the song of the moment.
When our eyes opened and were met with the cacophony of color and shape we began painting and drawing whatever elements inspired us.
A beautiful day!