Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Expanding children's realities through healing prayers

This past week our class has been doing morning prayers for Ashley, one of our teachers who had surgery on Monday. At the beginning of our morning routine, my class participates in " Braindance/ TM" combined with our Yoga sessions. During the first phase of the dance, the children blow up imaginary balloons. 
The first day of Ashley's surgery, we all were imagining that our balloons would be right over the hospital waiting for Ashley when she woke up. Then we imagined they were floating over her house as she arrived home. The children got so excited to feel their balloons rising every day blessing Ashley with healing energy. 
Today in class we painted the balloons and two of the little girls in the Kindergarten class finished our 3-D card for her.  
One of the cornerstone philosophies for the Living Wisdom Schools are taken from this quote below:
 "The task of education is to attract children toward maturity—that is, toward including others’ realities in their own." Education for Life written by J. Donald Walters. 
What joy filled their hearts today as they gave their card to Ashley. Our students made a major step toward expanding outside themselves and thinking of others though their simple act of healing prayers.
Something I know, some of them will never forget. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Light of Gratitude

We made this as a gratitude jar in class on Monday. It was for our children this week to drop pebbles into the jar  and express their own unique thankfulness for the many gifts in their lives. Four year olds have such keen sense of innocence. We had many sweet responses.

I am truly grateful for my life as a Living Wisdom Teacher and to be a part of my spiritual community at Ananda Seattle and the worldwide work of Ananda.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and thank you for tuning into my blog.
 What a blessing it is to share it with all of you.

May we be one in that light someday....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Come Gather Round.... It's Fall Storytime.

Come gather round, with a friend on the left
and a friend on the right,
Come gather round. ...

Its that time ..
Gather round for a fall story.

Many of us grew up with the little field mice in "Frederick" by Leo Lionni.

But in case you haven't, here is the story. I recommend the book and I will be showing you a game that I have created to go along with this story. Since the blogs this week are about fall, harvest, families and 
Stone Soup this is the one that I like to start out with in early November and read continuously through the dark winter months. 

In my classroom at the Living Wisdom School, we also spend time in November on community building while working together. This story will guide your children as you create community though your classroom. Begin reading the story to the children several times. The children can also act out the story. I like to create props and simple mouse ear costumes.

At the end of the story during morning circle time, I have each child reach into this bag and select a rock. Without peeking they feel their rock, warm it in their hand and then place it in the center of our circle. With eyes still closed, they pick up their rock. One by one, I read their qualities that have been written on each rock. Some examples are: make a new friend today, be flexible and share with a friend, be joyful today, or hug a friend today. I slowly write down each quality. During the day, I walk around the room and point out the positive signs of their behavior. At the end of the day, at our shared inspiration time in circle we all review our day once again.

How were we like Frederick in the story? Did we use our words today mindfully? Did we work together as well as the mouse family in the story?  I also acknowledge again each child and talk about how their energy matched the words on their rock that they pulled from the bag. 

The colors of the rocks are all painted the colors of fall leaves. The rocks match the colors that Frederick is talking about in the story. This creates glow in our hearts during the cloudy days of winter in Seattle. 

Happy reading until our next story time.

Blessings and gratitude,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mother Earths' showering leaves

 Autumn leaves come falling all around
Blowing colors found in mother earths' bounty,
Take a deep breath and feel her color magic

At a blink of an eye the colors will crinkle
Showering you with her glowing cosmic blanket sprinkle ...

This was the "lone" leaf craft  that was left in the classroom this week and I love how it shows up against my classroom window. Light and beauty play such an important role in my early childhood classroom. Children flourish with vivid natural light, fresh air and colors. 

This is a quick entry to let you know my husband and I drew the winner of our "giveaway" drawing this evening for the Calm and Compassionate book by: Susan Usha Dermond.  

Thank you all who visited and shared your love and blessings through email, Facebook, Twitter and direct comments. This was fun. I will have to do this again.

I am so pleased  and excited to announce that Sally Haughey is the winner from Fairy Dust Teaching. Sally is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been Waldorf Kindergarten trained. Sally lives in Oklahoma. Its far away from Washington but Sally is a kindred soul. I met Sally by reading her inspirational blog and now I have taken two of her online courses for parents and educators.

Congratulations Sally! You bless so many teachers with your inspiration of joy. It is fitting that Divine Mother is showering you today. 

Have a nice fall weekend, as we all prepare for our bountiful Thanksgiving of gratitude.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Planetary Home and our place in the Universe Part 2.

Our Planetary Home
Our place in the Universe

This is part two from our class today on families, home and community building. We are celebrating "Stone Soup" with our school community next week. Each class is contributing to the meal. This week we have been reading and telling the story by:

Award-winning artist Jon J Muth. He retells the favorite tale of a selfish community who is tricked into creating a delicious soup from stones. Set in China, in Muth's beautiful landscaped watercolors. This is a newer vision taken from an older German folktale. I am in love with how this book takes compassion and weaves the community together.  The Living Wisdom School celebrates this event with our families each year as our Thanksgiving tradition.
Setting the scene for re-telling the story together. All the children have a part to play.

Our new reading and acting corner. The children have many books and materials for telling their stories together

To continue our playful events around "families" today we had a fishing pole where the children fished for family member puzzle pieces. The pieces were then placed together into puzzles.  These are activities that I like to provide for the Foundation years, at the Living Wisdom School.

Hum, I think this is how it goes?

Showing pictures and telling stories at lunch time. This gives the child a greater sense of confidence  while speaking in front of a group. 
Family Wall
Can you show me your dog? Where is he?

These experiential activities begin to keep children's hearts open toward as an expansive view of their classmates lives. It is a joy to experience their sense of wonder, as their values of compassion are beginning to expand and grow towards each other.

I will end with a quote from the Education for Life book written by J. Donald Walters: 

For education to prepare children for meeting life realistically, it should encourage them to learn from life itself, and to view with skepticism a body of fixed knowledge that has been passed on unquestioned from one generation to the next.
Education must above all be experiential, and not merely theoretical. The student should be taught, among other things, to observe the outcome of any course of action, and not to depend blindly on the claims of others as to what that outcome is supposed to be, and therefore will be.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Planetary Home and our place in the Universe

Our Planetary Home
Our place in the Universe

 Our theme for my classroom curriculum this year is:
"Our Planetary Home and our place in the Universe."

This is our family "go fish" game.
We started the year with our theme:"All the World is our Friend." unit.  We continued with our "Animal Kingdom" and now we are into our gratitude month.  This month encompasses our human family, homes, traditions, school community and our spiritual community. This week our parents have been bringing special family photos and we have been creating all sorts of games, puzzles, and books. 

Playing our family puzzles games.
This is me and my Dad on Halloween.      
 In deep gratitude, we are humbly giving thanks to our families at the Living Wisdom School and though out the world this month.  

Many Blessings All,

Friday is my deadline for the book giveaway.

Almost 100 of you have seen this blog post and free giveaway since Monday. But unfortunately I can't enter you unless you comment and send me your information?  We have two days remaining.

 Here is a review by the publisher below.


From the Publisher

* A parents' and teachers' guide to developing children's concentration, self-discipline, and compassion, as well as heartfelt qualities like openness and enthusiasm. * Includes more than 90 techniques and exercises drawn from the author's experiences as a teacher and director of the Living Wisdom School, a nonprofit elementary school that emphasizes nonsectarian spiritual principles and practical skills for living. * Recommends books, music, games, and other resources to help grown-ups nurture calm and compassionate kids.

About the Author

Susan Usha Dermond has spent the last 18 years of her 30-year career in education in alternative schools, including 12 years as a teacher at the original Living Wisdom School in Nevada City, California. She is now the director of the Beaverton, Oregon, Living Wisdom School, and also a columnist for modern

Many Blessings,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

First Give-away on "Inside Out"

It is an exciting moment on this blog. Thank you for your emails, verbal comments and expressions of love that you have given me since starting this blog in August.

Susan Usha Dermond has offered our first give-away . Susan Usha Dermond will be sending out a copy of her book; Calm and Compassionate Children. I wrote a book review on this blog in September.

I will be giving the book away this Friday, November 18th. So please comment below and you may be the winner from a random drawing for this deeply inspirational book. I look forward to your comments.

 Many Blessings and thank you, Chandi

I am as Steadfast as a rock.

The fall has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and we are enjoying every minute of it. This is my first year with this particular group of students so I am venturing slowly into "nature," taking them on short hikes as they become familiar with my style of being in nature.

I have two rules in nature. The first one is to cross the street safely together, using our street-crossing poem. The second rule is expressed by a small song I sing: "My eyes have to be on you!" If the children aren’t able to control their little bodies, then I have to hold their hand personally until they can be safe. This is much too confining for three or four-year-olds, so I get respectful responses from the beginning.

 This particular morning we were out collecting leaves in our baskets.

 We had such an exciting time together, as they led me in an exploration to find our new little forest of baby trees. Across the street from our school is a vacant school that has several varieties of natural plantings that are currently not being tended to. I thought that taking care of these little trees might be a good service project for our class. Children are so curious in nature, and love to expand their own realities outside the classroom. 

We collected many beautiful leaves.  All week the children had been building up to our experience of gathering leaves outside the classroom. Even though technically the fall season began in September, the leaves hadn’t started turning colors until late October. How can you start a project on fall leaves in your classroom when young children can look right outside their windows  and still see bright green leaves on every tree? You can talk to them about the leaves turning soon, but until they see the vivid red and orange and yellow leaves, it won’t be as memorable an experience. It just doesn’t seem natural or real to me. So I wait as long as possible, and find that the children’s receptivity is magically heightened when they can actually see Mother Nature lifting her fall veil before their eyes. Today the colors, smells, light, and beauty of Fall were around us. 
At the Living Wisdom School we are fortunate to have the ability to create a curriculum that can respond to natural rhythms and best serve the children. I like to call our outings, not field trips, but direct experiences based on Sharing Nature with Children  by Joseph Cornell. As this book says, Once students' interest and energy is awakened and focused, the stage is set for deeply experiencing nature.

The morning was so captivating; I decided to stretch my luck. “Let’s just sit a bit and have our morning circle,” I suggested, leading the children to one of my favorite spots on the school grounds. This is where, throughout the year, I and my students practice meditation, centering prayers or yoga together. It is a very quiet spot and has an expansive view of the neighboring hillside. The site has enough large rocks for almost every child to sit on, or to share with a friend. This morning, we sat as still as rocks.
 “I am firm and steadfast as a rock.” I knew I had to catch them quickly as we settled into our sitting meditation. We closed our eyes, and felt our rocks underneath our bodies. “How does that feel?” I asked.  Next we moved to noticing all the smells we could smell. We had done this several times in the classroom, but children's natural senses are heightened in nature. This was their first sensory exercise that required being still outside. When working with young children, I have found that it is helpful to create good practices and habits, building good foundations through the use of repetition. As you take things learned inside out into nature, you can repeat the steps, but add new, creative steps along the way.  
“What do you smell?” I asked, to help them expand their practice now, in nature. They were coming up with all types of wonderful smells while sitting on their rocks. “Can you smell the pine needles?” 

  As they opened their eyes, one of the girls looked up at the tree and asked, “What is that on the tree?” Someone had painted some graffiti on the tree. It wasn’t that noticeable, and normally I don’t like to draw attention to these intrusions in nature; I want children to experience the beauty of nature as it is. But I explained what had happened, and then we all hugged the tree and thanked it for being such a profound deep presence on our school grounds. 

The following day, the children worked on our “House of Fall” by attaching the leaves carefully with yarn.


In the Northwest, fall can be a prolonged event or it can be a short one.  It is up to Mother Nature how long the beauty will last. A fall wind can quickly diminish the length of time we have to enjoy the beauty of the leaves. That is why we as parents and teachers need to be responsive to the moment. Take the children outside to experience the fall season as often as you can. That is where many precious living memories will be created. My most memorable hikes with my Girl Scout troop as a child involved collecting leaves, followed by warm hot cocoa and crackling fires to warm us up in the fall air.

Sharing nature with small children brings such a deepening, and draws attention to what is important in our lives. This fall, it’s not too late to take a walk with a child, stop and breathe in the colors, and feel the firm steadfast rocks beneath you.  In gratitude, we gather an inner strength from all the gifts Divine Mother has bestowed upon us this past year. 

Gather your coat, scarves, gloves, and hat.  Then, without any agenda, feel nature this week.


 Let me know what you find out there......

Thursday, November 10, 2011

O moon, O moon

O moon o moon
You are very white,
Everything looks beautiful
Under your light.... 

Tonight is the full moon and another beautiful day in our classroom. I like to celebrate the expansion of children's' spirit and celebrate our connection with the moon. 
Today in class the children began with a calming circle. We all began cooking our moon biscuits together.

Last month, I shared with you how I bring a group of children together harmoniously to cook. It works every-time like magic. The recipe is divided into stages. I make up recipe cards with handmade photos of the ingredients. The children choose their cards. We also talk about how important hygiene and our spiritual energy is when we cook. The children are learning on so many levels.

Thank you for giving your friend a turn at stirring.
 The day continued with our afternoon parade though the classrooms.

She was a bright light today as our full moon.

 At the conclusion of our afternoon together a special surprise of "moon bubbles" were shared. 

The children are able to share the joy of the breath, light, sight, and expansion as they watched their individual moons float up to the sky. 

May this evening bring your family into an inner state of calmness as we feel our spiritual connection with the moon and all that is.