Friday, September 30, 2016

the art of listening

To further our study of community and communication, the XP class is investigating what it means to listen…not just to one another but also deeply to all life everywhere.
In an effort to support this process, your child has agreed to adopt a plant for the year. 
Together we identified the needs of a plant, discovering that they are the same needs shared by all living organisms: sunlight, water, air, food, temperature and space.
Over the next year, the children will be listening to the plants and how they communicate their needs… Does it need more light or less?  Does it need more water, less or is it just right?  Does the plant need a new pot with more room or is it looking a little peckish and in need of some plant food?  What do plants eat?  Where does plant food come from?
It’s my hope that the whole family might enjoy listening in new and different ways to the life all around us.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Getting to know the neighbors

 The children and I are thoroughly enjoying our neighborhood explorations, halting frequently to examine some object of wonder and curiosity, plus we get to visit some of our local businesses..
The amazing people over at The Soap Shop located on Detroit St. between Third and Fourth warmly welcomed us into their store, encouraging the children to smell the soaps and products on display.  To say that the children were overjoyed would be an understatement AND they were able to choose a sample soap to take home!
We also stopped to marvel at the display currently in the front window of the Artisan Center (at the corner of Third and Detroit).  The children were enchanted by the octopus and identified many of the materials used to create it.
I'm so excited by the opportunities that this year's study is opening up for the children.  Stay tuned to see what happens.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Observational Drawing

Parents often ask me how children make these detailed drawings at school while drawings at home might be comprised of two dots, a smile and a circle.  The answer is observational drawing.  While I do not have an end goal of representational art, I do prolong the looking process in an effort to bypass our cognitive tendency to simplify experience for the sake of expedience into perceptual constructs. (The image above shows a child's first self portrait and the following portrait illustrates the effect of active looking and observational drawing support).  We use drawing as a tool to connect children with the object of their observation.  In so doing their ability to perceive and experience the world through the senses is cultivated.  The motto is "Slow Down" and observational drawing encourages this mindful approach to looking.
This process is supported throughout your child's time here at Children's Garden.

It is also supported in classrooms by the teachers who support active looking in order to communicate what is observed via creative media.

And it's FUN! You can try this at home too! Just get yourself a small journal and take a walk...find an object that engages your sense of wonder and spend some time looking.  Allow your hand to communicate to the paper what is seen.  The critic will have to stay home on this journey! Creative expression can be a portal into the moment and a wonderful opportunity to SLOW DOWN and see the world anew.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Community walking tours

As an extension of our community study, the children have begun walking journeys through the neighborhood.  Before we left the children and I talked about why we were heading out... to see what we might see, hear what we might hear, smell what we might smell and meet whom we might meet.  In anticipation of socializing with some of our neighbors the children practiced their gracious "Hello's" and "Good Morning's".
We encountered so much beauty along the way and I was gently reminded to slow down and really look at the familiar with new eyes.  Together we discovered dew drops, a bee caught in a web, flowers, mint, interesting shadows, bird songs, waterfalls and cracks in the side walks.  

On the way back, one of the children remarked, "Angelina we saw people but most of them didn't look at us or were talking on the phone.  We didn't get to say 'Hello'."

Of course they were right.  Once again the children had noticed what is obvious and easily overlooked in our hurried rush to get from place to place.  We have become a culture so busy on phones and with schedules, that we often overlook the everyday opportunities to engage with the people around us, to build community and exchange daily niceties.  

The children reminded me to put my cell phone away, smile at the one another, notice the flowers and greet a few strangers.  Care to join us?

Friday, September 16, 2016

A photo journey alongside the toddler's

the value of relationship

Given the results of the longest running longitudinal study into what constitutes a fulfilled life, (the Harvard Grant Study)  the secret of happiness appears to be... (drum roll please)... supportive, loving relationships. Seriously!  Not money or success or even stellar health, but relationships.  This study, along with other research into the value of community and connection, has inspired this year's studio investigations of community, connection, collaboration, communication and creativity...basically relationships and interdependence.
It's beautiful to witness the many ways your children are forming relationships and connections with one another in these early days of school, coming together around shared interests, art, play, food and more.
Their natural tendency to care needs to be nurtured and modeled rather than taught.
 I look forward to seeing where our year of research will take us.
We all exist in relation to one another.  If we keep that foremost in mind how might the world be different?
Each of you are part of this community, please feel free to chat with me about ways to become involved in our year together.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

A day with the tods

The morning toddler class picked mint from the front potted gardens.  We added water and a touch of sugar before setting it in the sun to warm and brew during class.
 The flowers on the snack counter were also harvested from the yard.
 There was a great deal of enthusiasm in response to mint picking and snack eating.
 While we waited for our creation to brew, the children busied themselves with classroom works.
 Before pick up, we gathered outside in the sun to celebrate our creation,
 before consuming it with delight.
Another wonderful day with the toddler's.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Studio is in Full Swing

 Good news!  The studio is back by popular demand and there is an obvious interest in dramatic play already emerging.  Our little market is regularly attended by shop keepers, shoppers, bankers and more.
A daily aroma of fresh cooked rice fills the air and has become a regular topic of conversation: "What's that smell?", "It smells like popcorn!", "Where does rice come from?", "How do you cook it?", "Why is it white and sticky?" But mostly they enjoy the act of eating rice and chatting with friends about school, home, family and their varied interests.
The communication center is taking off, with letter writing and card making.  We've had cards to families, pets, friends and even fairy princesses.
 The garden is also ripe for the picking and the children are benefiting from a garden-to-table approach, washing and preparing the vegetables before sharing them with one another.
It's sure to be another wonder-filled year.