Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Your eyes are the window into the soul

This week at the Living Wisdom School our classrooms celebrated with one of our staff members her national heritage, culture and events in her early life. She has a extraordinary story to tell about coming to this country with her family on a boat from Vietnam. She is one of my dearest friends and shares so much joy with many truth-seekers. Her generosity is so humbling. 

  Together we were able to participate in the Vietnamese New Year and tour the local Buddhist Temple just around the corner from where we live in Lynnwood,Washington. We took a small group of older students there this afternoon from our 3rd-5th grade class at the Living Wisdom School.

This is a magical spiritual place and I wanted the children from our school to feel the power and devotion that is so measurable on the grounds.

There is a section at the top of the property, lined with over 30 statures of Buddha and Quan Yin.

Devotional Prayers   

Walking peacefully together in a prayer mediation, we instructed the children as to the deeper meanings of each Buddha. I also spoke to them that each stature represented a small part of themselves inwardly.

One of the third graders said to me, "You can really look into their eyes and see the difference."  Many of these children have been at our Living Wisdom School now for many years. They know what it is like to pray, meditate, chant and they see themselves as light and energy bodies.

Even though stormy weather had closed down the New Years celebrations, the temple remained open just for our students. They were also personally guided through prayers in the temple by one of the monks. They were able to do full saluations to the Buddha along side of him.  Two of the boys when leaving today said to me," I wish I could live here."

Lightening incense and offering prayers to the great ones.

This was a deep experience for all of us today.

May your heart and soul be filled with gratitude during this auspicious time in the Asian New Year.

" I bow to the soul in you as you bow to the soul in me
And together we are one." 

Aum, Namaste

Friday, January 20, 2012

Listen, Listen, Listen

Have you heard that it has been snowing in Seattle,Washington since last Saturday, January14th?  The predictions were that this was going to be the worst storm in Seattle's history, and maybe if you are in cold home without power this evening, you may be thinking that the predication's were correct! I do hope this evening finds your family warm, safe and shielded from the natural elements.

Since all the local schools are closed,  I have been at home all week working on my student evaluations for our midterm at the Living Wisdom School. I have been missing my students this week, so I wrote to the parents for pictures of them in the snow.

How many joyful memories can you remember playing in the snow for days on end?  Do you remember possibly arriving home cold and wet? In the Northwest our snow consisted of mostly wet water and the clothing we had in the 60's, well it isn't anything like the children own now.  I have many memories of proceeding to hop in a hot bath and then my Mom would began to prepare hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Or how about hot chocolate with the small tiny marshmallows floating on the top? I know my mom made the best hot chocolate.

Then within an hour, I would change clothes that have been warmed up by the heater, and I was off out the door again. Children love the snow and the coldness doesn't seem to bother them. I wish, I could say that now about myself.

I love these memories of childhood. May all our children be blessed with rekindling memories of sledding with friends, sculpting snowmen, snowball gatherings and enjoying close family time in this truly magical moment with Divine Mother's snow.

Bath in her beauty and connect together with nature's divine rhythm that is calling us to listen to the deeper meaning of life in pure joy. 

Listen, Listen, Listen!

Let me know what you find out there?

Joy to you 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teaching children with spirit

The Staff at the Living Wisdom School recently had an evening promotional event meeting new  potential parents at our local Parent Map Preschool Event.  If you were unable to attend here is a video that I compiled for our Living Wisdom Booth. It shows some of our activities that we participate in each day. I hope you enjoy it. More information about the Living Wisdom School is located on our website.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spirit in Nature

A beautiful video came today, from my friends at Sharing Nature with Children. The Living Wisdom Schools across the globe use these techniques in their classroom.. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nature sings praises aloud


This week was our last ceremony for our winter festivals of the light that we have been celebrating since November.

I have started following on Facebook, a well known story teller and felt artist: Suzanne Down.  Suzanne is the creator and business owner of Juniper Tree School of Puppetry Arts in Boulder, Colorado. I have found her to be an extraordinary artist and storyteller. I hope to meet Suzanne in person and expand my felting skills by taking one of her many workshops she offers. In her January newsletter she included a story about the blessing cake for the New Year. If you feel to contact Suzanne about the story, she can add your name to her monthly newsletter. This sounded like a wonderful project for our new year celebration at the Living Wisdom School.

I began the night preparing my cake and writing individual Education for Life,skills for living qualities on all the stones. Each one was wrapped in a small piece of foil. Then I made the angel food cake and dropped each one into the cake. 

I spread all the pieces out evenly so when the cake was finished it would be easy to slice a piece that included a wishing stone. I then covered all the stones with the remaining batter and baked the cake as usual. 

We placed our New Year angel, candle and cake at the table.  We sang a short blessing, poured our peppermint tea and I sliced the cake. Each child pulled out their blessing for the year.

They placed their blessing rock into their New Years box. These boxes had been made the day before. These little boxes are very special for young children. They can hide all their magical treasures for the year inside.

After we finished the children and I gathered our coats, hats and boots to celebrate the morning outside our classroom. The sun had just come out and it was a lovely brisk morning. 

Magical events seem to occur after we focus on spiritual natures and today wasn't any different. As we walked outside one of the little girls' looked up and there was a bald eagle floating directly overhead,circling the playground. 

I turned to the little girl who had spotted the eagle and said: "That means good luck to see a eagle right after our spiritual ceremony inside." The eagle was shortly joined by a large group of crows that were following him. That too, was unusual for a band of crows that early in the morning.

Nature sings praises aloud. We were all deeply blessed this morning and for the opportunity to feel the deeper rhythms of nature all around us. I love when four year old children are so keenly aware and can spot eagles in the sky.  This seemed like an topping to our  blessing cake! What joy filled our hearts to see the birds soar.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

" Classroom Environment is Stronger than Will" Part 1.

The new year began in my classroom today but I had many opportunities for rest, service in the Ananda Community and rejuvenation over our holiday vacation.

One of my favorite things to do is create art with others and I was able to spend time with our Living Wisdom School's artist in residence, as we painted a cosmic mural for my classroom. 

In the months ahead, I will write about the nurturing aspects of the classroom environment and how effects the young child. I have been experimenting with this over the past ten years and we are just touching the surface as to the best ways we can serve the young child in their environment. In my classroom at the Living Wisdom School, I use as many natural materials and fabrics as possible. I like to bring nature into the classroom.  I use soft colors, natural lighting, prisms, mirrors, plants, crystals, aromatherapy, natural flowers, pine-cones, rocks, handmade felted materials, tree materials and beautiful music. Several of my materials are  handmade. All my materials on the walls are made from my art designs or the children's art. I do not use materials that have been purchased in stores for teaching aids.

I will save this topic for another time in greater length as a series, but I want to share a magnificent mural that we painted this past week. It was thrilling and fun to do.  
This mural is made from only the best art products and is on a fire proof paper to appeal to our fire code restrictions in our district.
  The photo was taken below after three coats of paint. We first applied gesso, acrylic polymer medium that was used on the very bottom layer to coat the paper. The result was magic. It turned the poster paper into a soft canvas to work on. At this point in the painting three light washes of aquamarine, marine blue and fuchsia were applied in a circular fashion. The paints were all student grade acrylics and applies with sponges. We did not want to have brush strokes visible on the paper. The paint layers were dried in between using hair dryers. This helped to speed up our process. We were watching the colors as they began to build on top of each other.

This was magical when I placed my finder in the gesso a faint moon face showed up. There are never mistakes in any mindful practice.

We used our fingers dipped in the gesso medium once again. Squirt bottles of aquamarine was also used to add texture and dimension.  Again more hair drying.

Small cosmic layers of designs added. These were individually wiped down and colored with an alcohol acrylic paint solution.

More light washes applied to the designs for blending the layers.
At this point of the process, I counted up to thirteen layers and we had only been at this for one day. I couldn't wait to see the final process completed. 
The next day arrived and more paint was applied in faint washes to deepen the colors.

A rich purple was now applied to tone down some of the green gesso

This is where the purple was added on top to check out the enhancement of all the colors. We added  another coat of deep fuchsia. 

We began the process of hand-painting all the small cosmic figures. My art teacher now wanted to surprise me and finish it at home. After an additional 10 hours,she was able to get the quality she was looking for. 

Every new year I like to experiment with my classroom, change the environment around, while keeping things fluid so when the children return the room seem fresh, exciting and new. 
I asked them what they thought of the new mural? Their comments to me were: "It makes me feel, kind ." Another four year old said: " It reminds me of love in my heart" Another boy said: "It is peaceful with bright light. 'The moon is bright."
As a teacher you can use this handmade classroom aid and provide the learning opportunity in several directions.
I believe through the children responses, they realized  by themselves what beauty and nature holds for them. What a great gift we can offer our children. A peaceful environment that touches their very soul from within.