Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year: 2012

In order to capture 2011, I wanted to share it in some of my photos. May the light and joy of this year, carry all of us into the new year with a greater source of determination, courage and joy.

I was able to spend Christmas with two of my dearest friends from our early years at the Living Wisdom School.  The picture on the left is in 2006. The boys were in their first year of Kindergarten and the picture on the right is now in fifth grade. The boys live in different states.  Until August of 2011, they were in different countries. This was a lovely reunion for us all.

This is an arrangements of highlights: I was able to take two healing vacations to Washington's lavender festival and to our special retreat home in Palm Springs,California. I started my blog this past summer and the other photo was taken in my class from early 2011.

My husband and I moved upstairs from our home after 17 years in the Ananda Community.
High tea with my students at the end of the school year!
                                                       Remembering our dear friends

Our fourth and six graders at the Honda dealer showing them their electric car they built.
Fall Basil Harvest. The best basil I have ever cooked with.

Our first Labyrinth walk at Yoga Camp

Swimming at Yoga Camp with new friends

May we all be connected in love as we enter into 2012 together.

Happy New Year .

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Accepting a moment in Divine Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short entry about my new approach to the holiday season. I wanted to let you know that I am still slowing down and taking a day at a time. The world is speeding up and I have to constantly remind myself that in order to experience each moment I have to remain centered. Living at my center comes from my daily practice of meditation and prayer life.  I had a small break in my holiday schedule and was able to relax and catch up on some reading this afternoon.

This video was sent to me on Facebook a few weeks ago by my dear friend Julie Szybz from Hopscotch Photography.  Timing is everything and low and behold, I found this today. This film is like a walking meditation of gratitude as we remind ourselves about daily reconnecting to this inner awareness of life. It is truly timing and beautiful.  I hope you can take a moment of gratitude to watch it.

May your holiday season be filled with divine gratitude in every moment. 

Many Blessings,

Friday, December 16, 2011

Festivals of the Light

 Today was our last day together in Preschool before our holiday break at the Living Wisdom School. 
Our winter snow altar in our classroom.
 The time for celebrating our world cultures and festivals goes by so quickly each year. I never want it to end. There is something so beautiful and captivating with the early dark evenings and all the lights that adorn the suburban neighborhoods.  I love all the illuminate lights and sharing the "Festivals of the Light"  from around the globe that start in early November with Diwali.

Diwali pinch pots with olive oil to light the lamps. 
Yesterday one of our Mothers in our classroom came to share her experiences as a child and the celebration of Hanukkah. All the children listened tentatively and quietly. They also were about to sample many new delicacies from the Hebrew tradition. We heard new songs, prayers and of course played the Dreidel game. 

Chocolate Yiddish Gelt used in the Dreidel game


These were the little blocks that the children made for their family trees. On each side was a different symbol of love, gifts and with radiant stars of the season. 

His Christmas tree on his package for his Mom . We made many crafts with Christmas trees. Christmas trees first originated in Germany. I share the traditions each year from Germany since I was born there.

This is a double sided felted Christmas tree . The pieces are glued together with a yarn in between the layers, to hang on the tree. We used 'tacky" glue.  The sequins were the lights on our trees.  Very easy for Preschoolers. They love it.
May this season of light radiate your heart and may we share it with all whom we meet.

Many Blessings,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thy winter night bestowing; Saint Lucia Day

Saint Lucia,
Thy light is flowing.
Through darkest winter night bestowing.

Author unknown

 Today, December 13 is Lucia Day and the longest night of the year. This is a celebration we do every year in my classroom and it is one of the festivals of the light.  Lucia seems to have taken on many stories passed down over generations but above all, the more positive role, as a symbol of light in the dark Swedish winters and as a symbol of growth for man. She is a figure who emerged from obscurity at a time when light and nourishment were most needed.

The girls who are selected in cities all around Sweden are voted into this role. They wear the cedar wreath made of real candles and white gowns adorned with tied red ribbons. The young girls participate in local ceremonies, church and village functions. In their individual homes the eldest girl is selected to carry out the role of St. Lucia. The family prepares saffron buns and she rises to serve their families.  Traditional St. Lucia carols are sung. The angelic tone of children's voices and the gentle glow of candlelight make this day an emotive one.

Today, we selected our St. Lucia since she was the eldest girl in our classroom of six girls.  She wore a cedar wreath adorned with soft flannel candles, a white gown and a red sash. The boys wore white hats and carried star wands.

  I was delighted so see the calmness and acceptance that the children displayed this morning. The children took turns while helping to ice all the cinnamon buns and  then served them to the whole school before receiving one for themselves. We sang soft Christmas carols as we walked through our school halls. The children were joyful and eager to help St. Lucia when we walked through the school dispensing our festive buns. 

How often do you see such maturity from Preschool children?  They waited until all had been served before they had the opportunity to eat these delectables.

May the light of this holy season radiate love and goodwill to soul friends throughout the world.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Away in a Manger

“Children and Festivals around the World”

Our focus in the curriculum for December is the cultures, children and festivals taken from around the world. 
In chatting with my group it has been sometime since I have actually told the story about the baby Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas. In a private school we are able to tell these spiritual stories. One of the little girls in my class loves to sing: "Away in the Manager" so that is where I started last week
 Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 intending thereby to cultivate the worship of Jesus Christ. 

Many Christian traditions celebrate this every Christmas. 

Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down his sweet head

The stars in the sky
Looked down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus a sleep on the hay...

Making our manger scene

Today we were acting out the play together. It was a very sweet time. 
We had two Mary's today.

The baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

They made the basket cradle for the baby. The sheep are looking on. 

The morning continued with acting out the story with figurines and natural lavender play-dough. 
Creating this creche scene together brought out such sweetness in the children.  Using natural materials also brings forth the calming spirit in the young child.

Joy to the world the Lord has come
This was a show and tell nativity scene from one of our classmates. 

Let heaven and nature sing, let heaven and nature sing, let heavn and heaven, and nature sing. 


New approach this holiday season

The other day I was chatting with a friend and she was asking about a couple of dates coming up and if I had them on my calendar. Now, I just blurted out:"I don't know, I'm only looking one day at a time this Christmas." I was a little surprised at myself when I actually said this. "How can you actually do this and still stay on top of all your the responsibilities?"  A teacher's life is extremely full at this time of year. What if I forget something? What if? There are many what if's we can get tangled up in. I just wanted to take the leap this year and try something new.

I am making a very conscious peaceful decision this month to enjoy even the simple moments that Christmas has to offer. Well, my word is my bond and I do have a Blackberry that keeps me connected to the world, but I am actually putting into action my new approach this holiday season. I have, of course entered in all my critical dates first. I am being more selective in the projects that I can accomplish and those that are more time consuming. 

 I only look at my calendar in the morning after meditation and before going to work. I only look at one day at a time and remind myself that I need to be totally present in this moment. I am finding that I am more alert, joyful and I have more energy to accomplish the little things ahead of schedule. If for any reason, I have forgotten something, then actually it wasn't that important in the larger scheme of things. This weekend was a beautiful and restful time for our family. We also accomplished more.

Eastwest Bookshop of Seattle. Independently owned bookstore. One of my favorite stores.

Another practice that I enjoy during the holiday season is to shop in small local gift stores. I want to honor their businesses. I plan my shopping around short trips and I am often driving the back roads to avoid major traffic. Seattle is known for it's traffic snarls. I also get to see more of the Christmas light displays and the decorating on the nearby homes. 

One woman said to me once: "Chandi you just drive the back-roads with such ease." Well, I am not sure about that, but I love the saying that my son said to me when he was about fifteen. "Mom, all roads lead to Ananda." Ananda Community is where I have lived for the past seventeen years. It is located on 5.5 acres in Lynnwood, Washington.

Anyway, I thought to share with you my new approach this holiday season and I will keep you informed on the sweet developments.

Please leave me a comment and let's share ideas together.

Many Blessings to all during this holiday season,

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mother Moon

Mother Moon

Oh mother moon
you are a full moon tonight bring me much spiritual delight.
I stand outside to catch your rays
for they bring me peace and tranquility of body and soul.
I mark your date on my calendar
and wish that your beauty will shine ever so bright
and bit be covered by clouds in the night.
I need your full moon light to enhance my being,
for your moon rays are my soul's delight.


I can't believe that it has been a month already since our last full moon party in our classroom. Since the full moon is today Saturday, we celebrated Friday in our classroom at the Living Wisdom School.  The children are delighted with this monthly ritual. 
Both of my classes were inspired to join in the fun. In the morning Preschool class we made headbands and created night sky collages. After lunch we paraded around the school for our full moon parade. It was a beautiful day with clear skies over Seattle 
The children are finishing their moon headbands. These headbands stay at school and are worn each month. They are made of soft felt and tacky glue is used to apply the embellishments.

In the afternoon Kindergarten class, I choose an activity from one of my followers: Beth a homeschooling mom,@

I had made the stages of the moon and mounted them on card stock. Each stage was numbered.
 The children and I brought our Paul Newman Mint Oreo cookies and matched each stage to the moon cards.  That was yummy and fun.

The second part of the activity was making our moon booklets. Below the moon stage cards were smaller cut out papers for the children to glue individually on each page. These moon stages were numbered to match each page in their booklet.  Now the next time I do this project, I would like to make this process a little simpler for the Kindergarten child. I would break it down in small increments over a few days. 

Ending with the Full moon

Now the fun part of this project had two perspectives that I had not actually planned. When I set the cards down on the table, we marched around the table and visually saw how the moon waxes and wanes. Also in their booklets, they are able to take the book and turn it around and watch the moon go back through the stages in the opposite direction. 

Next month, we will spend more time on the waxing and waning stages of the Moon. 

How do you ever know if you have acceived your goals in teaching to very young children? 

A child said to me today: " I am going to go home and set this in my room, so I can look at the sky each night and match my new moon booklet." 

That was a wonderful idea and one that I hadn't thought of today. 

The children can always tune us into the next step in their learning process.We just need to be open, respective and quiet enough to listen carefully. Isn't this interesting. Aren't these some of the qualities that the "Mother Moon" can reflect back to us?

May this evening moon light fill your family with deep peace, joy and understanding as we prepare for the festive holiday season approaching later this month.