Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"
Showing posts with label Education for Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education for Life. Show all posts

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Come Gather Round/ Books for the Holidays/ Free Giveaway

Christmas is just around the corner and parents are beginning to ask me, "Do you have any suggestions for good spiritual stories for my child?" I have loved children's literature over the years and now many of my favorites I read in my classroom, or at home to my grandchildren. My favorite stories have a theme or a spiritual quality that I'm trying to convey to the children.
There are many things I look for in children's literature. But here are some guidelines that I use when selecting books.  These are some of the questions that go through my mind, when I am quietly selecting a new story. 

         1. Are the illustrations beautiful? Do they uplift the spirit? Do I gain a greater insight from the story 
              through the artwork? Is the technique that the artist's used something we might be able to expand on?  Might the story be used for dramatic play, games, or by exploring additional art techniques? Can it create a week/ month-long theme for learning at home or in the classroom?

         2. Does the story uplift the child's spirit? I have seen some wonderful books that are beautifully 
              illustrated but the story leaves you a tad bit puzzled?
        3.  Do children love it so much they ask for it again and again to read it?. That is the real clincher.

I also do not select books with cartoon, movie or television characters. I am a firm believer in uplifting each child with beauty, color, imagination and uplifting joy. 

We are approaching a mile stone in my blogging history this month. The "Inside Out" blog has almost reached 10,000 page-views. I am so humbled and would personally like to thank each and everyone that has occasionally stopped to read this blog. 

As my thank you, for the person, who I can tell is the 10,000 visitor to read my blog this month I will send one of my favorite books from the list below. Please leave your name with a comment below. Did I leave your favorite book out?

This books I have used several times and have created Education for Life themes around the qualities expressed in the books.

Below are a few of my favorites.                                    Qualities, Themes 

  • All the rainbow fish books   Marcus Pfister                 Friendships, forgiveness, sharing, love
  • Holey Moley              Marcus Pfister                       JOY, love, cooperation,
  • Milo and the Magic Stones   “”                             Choices, joy, service to others
  • The Little yellow leaf   Carin Berger                         Seasons, friendship, expansion
  • Badgers Bad Mood  Hiawyn Oram/ Susan Varley    Friendship, creating good habits
  • Angels, Angels, Everywhere   De Paola                    Love, joy, expansion, wonder 
  • Art Lesson                              De Paola                   JOY, love of art, friendships 
  • Diamonds in the Snow          Marcus Pfister               Light, nature, winter, seasons
  • Gift of Nothing           Patrick McDonnell                  Your presence of love is the gift
  • Just like Heaven            “”           “”                           Love all around us, even on earth
  • Grandfather Twilight        Berger                                Light, wonder, nature
  • Oma's Quilt                     Bourgeois                          Love, change, excepting life
  • Big All Series and Shrimpy  Clements                       True friendships, courage, love
  • Brave Charlotte Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson    Courage, faith, Do it now, joy 
  • Moles' Music David McPhail                                    Inspiration, music, expansion
  • The Kissing Hand        Audry Penn                            First day / school Mothers love!   
  • You are Special         Max Lucia                                Self esteem,                                                  
  • Each Breath I Smile    Thich Nhat Hahn                     Meditations, nature, peace
  • Great Kapok Tree      Lynne Cherry                          Endangered species, love for all
  • Everybody needs a Rock  Byrd Baylor                     Nature, earth, deep understanding
  • Mother Earth     Sibylle von Olfers                            Earth, contentment, acceptance
  • Story of the Root Children Sibylle von Olfers            The story of the Season
  • Fox makes Friends   Adam Reif                             Friendship book for the beginning of school year
  • Little Yoga (Toddler Book)                                       Yoga Book
  • Gossie and Gertie Oliver Dunrea                                Toddler friendships
  • Photographer Mole Dennis Haseley                           Happiness, joy, families
  • Chubbos Pool        Betsy Lewin                                 Happiness, joy, friendship
  • My love for you all year long                                     Nice collage book on loving.
  • “Little Cloud “          Eric Carles                                Art calmess, peace, stillness
  • Om Baby    Schamet Horsfield                                 Community, Peace, Harmony                    
  • Fletcher and the Falling Leaves  Rawlinson               Fall, love, nature, acceptance
  •   Stone Soup   Jon Muth                                          Building Community, Harmony                  
   For Older Children
  • Monkeys and the Mango Tree                              Indian Stories and Parables
  • Tenzin’s Deer    Barbara Soros                              Harmony, love, wisdom
  • Zen Shorts  Jon Muth
  • Little Secret of Friendship  J. Donald Walters        Focus one a day.                                                
  • The Little Troll     Thomas Berger                          Friendship, service, expansion
  • The Gardener          S.Stewart                              Love, faith, serving,joy under all circumstances      Caldecott Award Winner
  • The Three Questions  Jon Muth                             Expansion,service, harmony, peace          
I hope this can give you a starting point for some new literature to share with your family this holiday season. 

Please leave a comment if I have left your favorite storybook off my list. 
I will continue to write book reviews for these and others on my favorite lists in the coming weeks. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cool clouds that gather to bless us

School is out for the summer and I have been planning ahead for the rest of June, July, and August. It feels like the summer is almost automatically planned for many of us before it begins.

This picture above was taken in the local Shoreline Ballinger Way Pea Patch directly behind our school on a cool misty morning.

It reminds me of how children, stay focused quietly in any moment and see all the little things in life. I love how focused on the moment she is. This image will stay with me this summer and give me the space to be present in all my undertakings.

I am heading off to one of our sister schools at Ananda Village in Nevada City, California. This will be the first time that I have had the opportunity to teach at the Family Camp that they hold each summer. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new families from around the globe.

Until July.

May these next few weeks bring you peace and inner joy as you prepare your summer family activities.  Please comment below and let's share together the wonder of summer and how we can continue to bring spirit into the lives of our children.

Many Blessings,

Friday, February 3, 2012

" A week together"

 Many times I have been asked about the philosophy at our Living Wisdom School and how this compares to other systems of teaching. I want to draw you to an excellent article that was written on our Living Wisdom Website. It compares Waldorf and Montessori education along with the Education for Life system.

Mostly in this blog I am focusing on Early Childhood education and the Foundation years though the Education for Life systematic approach. 

Today's set of photos above were taken throughout last week and the overall approach towards balancing all aspects of a young child's life in each lesson.

The foundation years from 0 – 6 years old are a critical period in the development of a child’s life. During this time, a child’s attitude about the world takes root.  Our job is to carefully nurture qualities of curiosity, sensory awareness, concentration, and compassion so that the children may feel a deep sense of acceptance towards themselves.  By focusing on mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of development, we foster the child’s cognitive and physical growth while strengthening the inner qualities of love, kindness and joy. In this way, the children naturally develop a sense of inner happiness and success.

 Teaching math using the Physical body.

The children are all turning 4 in my classroom and love playing games together. 

   The foundation years are also called, the physical years. During this period the children learn through through movement and their bodies. This particular activity we were using dice and cubes. Though on occasion there were fun times where the dice ended up way across the room. Then carefully carried the dice back and counted the dots on the dice.
This game corresponded with number recognition and one to one counting.
The children counted their dots on the dice and then counted out individual unifix cubes. The unifix cubes are shown in the picture above.   After counting correctly their cubes, they would manipulate, put into patterns and long towers. For some of the children they moved continuously as they counted the dots. That was the main reason for doing this project on the floor. One of the students was so visual that he could just open his hand and grab the amount automatically from the pile.  
This game gave me some further insight into which students were my visual learners, which were my physical learners, and which children were practicing using their will to make the largest tower.  There are many levels to the game, but today we started out with a simple counting game. The next level is to teach patterns and adding two dice together. 
In my classroom I set my goals for drawing out certain inner qualities that the children can experience from each lesson. Today the lesson was calling forth patience and cooperation in waiting for their turn. 

Teaching Art through Feeling and Will Power During the Physical  Years. 

Art is another way the children can get in touch with their hearts and inner feeling during the physical years.   In January I like to focus on helping the children to expand their own realities out in nature with a sense of wonder.  It is one of my favorite times of the year with many beautiful memories.

Often I ask the children, "What is happening to the animals in the wintertime?"
It is one of my favorite times of the year with many beautiful memories.
I have explored with children the wonder of the bald eagles, beavers, northwest owls and crows. Working with young children you just never know what might happen or which animal calls to their inner natures.
 This is the picture book that I use every year to introduce the concepts of habitats, animals, humans, weather and food. The children love the story, Stranger in the Woods.

This week we finished  creating our felted animal masks. Each child made a different animal from the winter forest in the picture book. We play several games using our masks, creating stories and homes for the animals.

Teaching art through the feeling and the use of their own will power.
 In the picture above selected a winter animal picture that was clipped beside their poster paper. They began drawing with a pencil the animal that that they had chosen. (There are several steps leading up to this assignment. The children the week before had really practiced their circle drawings.)

They mixed their own colors using a color wheel and added texture to their backgrounds using sponges or several types of brushes. This particular activity is a way to balance the heart's natural love for animals. If a child becomes agitated at any particular moment, we change directions or complete the painting the next day. But even if it takes several days, I always want the children to finish a painting project.  Will Power is taught at an early age to develop persevering and to conclude something that one has initially attempted. As children grow older I talk to them about how many master artists work on more than one painting at a time and may work for months and years to complete one painting.

There is a deep profound lesson that I have seen over the past 7 years that I have taught children how to use their own will power to achieve something that they have started.  It is amazing and brings tears to my eyes each time. Each one of these young children has such intelligence and wonder they can access if we can just begin to grasp their attention and guide them through the process of becoming self-achievers. In this activity, they often break through their own fears and explore deep within themselves the ability to achieve what they set their minds to do. 

Feeling inner joy

On this particular morning, our hearts were open to creating snowmen.  It was our first day back from school after a Northwest winter snow storm. This particular morning we shared many snow family stories and had a joyful time with our winter play dough.  This exercise was also taken from our picture story book, "Who's hiding in the woods."
"Joy doesn't come from outside myself but from within oneself." These children were feeling their inner joy today.
Teaching Gratitude, Detachment to any Certain Outcome and Will Power 
during the Physical Years.

The last activity I want to share with you today for children in the physical years is a game to help them flow with the ups and downs of life, learning perseverance, gratitude and detachment from any certain outcome. This was the first time I had actually done this particular game using puzzles. I had for many years done it with art materials, but now I thought to experiment with puzzles. One of our inner qualities we are addressing this month is perseverance.

I set out six puzzles for six children. We started to play soft music in the background. They quickly began to focus in on completing their own puzzle. When the music stopped, they were to stop and go to their neighbor’s chair and complete their puzzle. When they finished a puzzle, they could dump it out and start over.  This was interesting to watch the children. Some of them completed their own puzzle quickly and were eager to get to the next station. Others did not want to move, or complete the game at all. Two children ran around the table after most of the children had left, eager to complete all the puzzles while helping each other. One student wanted me to take photos of him with all his puzzles to show his mom how well he had completed them.

It was a joyful experiment for me to watch and to observe each child. As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to help children uplift their feeling energy.  I often have the time to ask myself during a planned activity, "Where are their strengths and how can I build upon those strengths?"

Education for Life philosophy has given me the tools to tune into each individual child’s energy and readiness and respond sensitively at any given moment. This sensitivity is particularly important during the physical years, so I am truly humbled and grateful to be able to use such an effective philosophy.