Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"
Showing posts with label Flow learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flow learning. Show all posts

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mother we thank you!

 Summer's Glow Original Watercolor by Elaine Frenett, Ashland, Oregon
 Today we celebrated our last class for the school year. In the past two weeks we finished up our garden unit and spent some time with creating our habitats for the new caterpillars. 
Divine Mother always has her own timing while working simultaneously collaborating with nature.
We were late in the season to start this project but our caterpillars hatched just in time for our last day of school.
 It was a perfect day, to release our butterflies as our last ceremony of the year. 

We had many fun activities leading up to this moment. 
 Creating three dimensional watercolor paintings 
 Creating our butterfly habitat in the classroom. 
 Sharing Nature with Children:
Duplication Game
The items were shown to the children and then they explored in the forest for the same items to duplicate.
Caterpillar stories, math games, and songs

 Yoga postures and stories about Gerdy and Caty. Gerdy is a goose and Caty was a caterpillar. I created a yoga story that was told all week  in class about how the caterpillar and the goose becoming fast friends. . 
    This was a very sweet video that our children were able to watch. They were only three years old when this was taken, so it was exciting for them see how fast they had grown in a year's time. 

But the most exciting was for the children to watch the birth and unfolding of these amazing creatures. We were all in a state of reverence as we carefully set them free today. As Divine Mother's perfect metaphor, it was time to set the butterflies free and for our children to spread their wings and fly too.    

 They were our friends just for a little while,

What glorious smiles on their faces as we shared our last precious moments of our school year together. 

Mother we thank you,
Your joy shines in everything. 
Open these channels so the world once more may sing. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spirit in Nature;The Feeling Years.

  Spirit in Nature is a Saturday and holiday program of uplifting activities for children ages 2-12.  The programs that I am creating takes advantage of the natural beauty of a variety of local parks and provides children with joyous experiences. Program activities, including yoga, crafts, and bird-watching, are designed to foster positive attitudes and mindfulness to have a lasting beneficial effect on children’s lives.  Today I had the opportunity to work with two young sisters. It was an entirely different nature outing  from yesterday but both had their strengths. As a teacher I had to be creative and mindful of the beauty and the differences.  

Today the girls were ages 6 and 8. Both of these young ladies are very intuitive, expansive and have an ability to express their feelings maturely in almost every situation today. I was captivated by how they tuned into nature so quickly without me having to talk very much. We were able to just feel, listen and explore nature together. Often times they would just walk quietly listening, or notice a still section of the stream. 

The Education for Life system is divided up into four "Stages of Maturity". Each stage of childhood is expressed naturally and we have developed strategies that help unlock children's highest potential. 

Today these young ladies were a magnet for feeling life. They had the ability with maturity to harness and channel any turbulent emotions between siblings while being in touch with their own calm,sensitive natures. I was able to relate to each child individually and they were able to joyfully relate to each other in an harmonious way.

Each had their own strengths but I also felt we all were enjoying nature simultaneously together. 

"I am calm and poised" 

We began the morning much like yesterday. We sang two opening songs, a short prayer and yoga to begin our day. This was very sweet and deeply inspiring, as they showed me their favorite asanas. Both of these girls have been in my Yoga classes at the Living Wisdom School and the Living Wisdom Day Camp. I love how they can incorporate energy, magnetism and expansion. The backward bend below has such an upward motion of expansion from the heart. 

It was magical today as the sun was blessing us in the meadow. 

" I am free, I am free.

 We finished our yoga and began to play the "Animal game". This was fun and spontaneous. Children love secrets at this age so acting out the animal is perfect for this age group. 

She was the baby "fry" in the stream.

We quickly headed up the path in search of the baby salmon. But today the holding tank had been closed so the girls weren't able to view the imprinting tank.  This didn't stop them, the river seemed to draw their attention right away. They got in it immediately by wading, touching, feeling and exploring. They looked at the smallest miniature fungus to the largest expansive trees over head.

Mosses of all types, mushrooms, sporophytes and a log that was cut on the path. How old is this tree? About 50 life cycles we counted. " Hey, that tree is older than my mom!"
"Can you feel the energy from the sun, Chandi"
One of the girls, just looked up at the sky and said to me:"Chandi, isn't that blue sky just  magnificent? She begins to take another deep breath filling her whole energy body with color.

Even the drains at the salmon tank were beautiful with many layers of different stories told. We also talked about how we could create clay presses and  multiple patterns on paper drawings with crayons.

There were so many layers of exploring in one morning. During one quiet interlude while walking on the path down to the Puget Sound we stopped and played the Sound Map Game.

When we arrived at the sound today it was a beautiful crisp winter day.

We began eating our lunch and then I led the children through an abbreviation of
"Expanding Circles", from Listening in Nature by Joseph Cornell

I led them through a brief visualization to look out right in front of them at the pebbles on the beach, now hold that image. Open your heart to all the living animals, rocks, and seaweed that lie there. Now expand your vision to the waves, expand your circle to the birds floating in the sound.  Now expand your vision across the sound to the land, beyond. Now imagine, that you can feel everything as your self. Feel like you are holding the sound and all the living things in it.
Close your eyes and feel that peace.

This is a shorten version of" Expanded Circles" but a powerful tool for raising spiritual awareness and consciousness.
The girls completed their own nature collages and then we finished with a closing circle. We individually shared our inspirations from the day and blessed the park in all four directions.

I want to leave you with a quote from John Muir taken from Sharing Nature II, by Joseph Cornell.

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energies, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

May we all feel oneness with spirit in nature. Step outside and explore its profound beauty.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Come Gather Round...

This is the time of the year when our pre-kindergarten class is sharing experiences around the seasonal activities of winter. I thought that I like to feature a story from one of our classroom activities.

A winter time favorite in my classroom  is: The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen

This is a sweet book  for children ages, 4-8 years with a theme based around, gratitude, generosity, love, and kindness. These are all qualities that I want to teach in our classroom.

The story begins with a widow, Sarah who carefully watches the children outside her living room each morning . The bus stop for school, is at the foot of her driveway.   She notices all the children are wearing new mittens except one little boy. She thinks:" Why isn't he wearing mittens?" That evening Sarah knits a pair of mittens and hangs them on the spruce tree at the end of her driveway.  The little boy notices the mittens  on Sarah's spruce tree and places them on his hands.  Sarah is delighted and begins to surprise all the children each morning, as she knits new mittens, and hangs the pairs on the tree. 

The children secretly become part of her new family. Now in the joyful spirit of giving, someone places a large basket of yarn on Sarah's doorstep. She excepts this spiritual gift just as the children excepts her  handmade mittens. The circle of joy and harmony is like a song of love that is shared by all.

After our morning circle, the children in our class were able to make their own mittens to place on our nature table in our classroom.  Each child's hand was measured and then tiny slats were cut all the way around the mitten.

The children selected the yarn that they wanted to use to decorate their mittens. By holding with their left or right hand, they would wrap the yarn carefully with the opposite hand. As they wrapped different designs were made on the front and back of their mittens, This was such a great eye hand coordination activity for this age group. At the end of the yarn string, they just tucked the end piece into the slat. the children then started to layer a second and third layer to their mitten.

The children then finished and hung their mittens on the winter nature tree in our classroom.

To the sheer delight from all of us, we looked outside and it had began to snow.  So we quickly put on our coats, hats, mittens and ran out on the playground to share in the excitement  of a spontaneous light winter snow shower. 

A perfect ending to a glorious sweet winter morning in Seattle. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

May this day be merry and bright

 At this time of the year children begin to ask all types of interesting questions. Isn't it fun?
 You can see their little minds are just churning away. 

How does Santa Claus really get from the North Pole on a sleigh? Does he really exist? I also love to watch the older children just go along with the fairy tales just to rekindle the familiar warmth of their childhood memories. I can't really remember when my children were told about Santa Claus?  Naturally I try to stay clear of anything commercial in my classroom and inspire the children's imaginations.

I believe that as a parent you just have to be ready each Christmas for that ultimate question and be able to think fast on your feet. Are you willing to tell the truth or play along with the child's imagination of believing in our myths and fables that we are accustomed to during the holidays?

While we were in class this past week, the children began to tell the story of Santa Claus that has been passed down from generation to generation. I was trying to tell them one of the fables that has been told about Saint Nicolas. 
Some of the children blurted out,"They are the same, Chandi." I said. "Santa Claus and Saint Nicolas are the same? Interesting? How do we know?' They all jumped in with their answers. 

I began to tell them that the story of Saint Nicolas is a folktale.  The folktale is a story, passed down verbally from generation to generation. Each storyteller tells the stories a little differently, making them more interesting and fascinating as the ages passed. Different folktales bear the characteristics of the culture, folklore and customs of the people from which they originate.

Intentionally in the Education for Life methodology we try to make teachings practical and real for children. I had to come up with something fast to make my point. This is called a direct experience using a practical method . So all at once I thought of the game,"Telephone". Maybe this will bring out the point of teaching about fables and folktales. 

I had all the children gather in a circle. I started the game, gently whispering a small part of the Saint Nicolas story immediately to my right. Then that child told the story to the partner on his right, thus continuing around the circle. When it got about half way through the circle, the whispers became completely different. Joyful smiles appeared along with silly glances towards me as they whispered. 

 In our anticipation a new part of the story had just began. As it went completely around the circle, there were many joyful laughs and surprises. The story was always very different from the one that was first whispered. The children love this game and they could quickly experience how a story could change over the course of many years and even centuries. 

Christmas is for the children. I love the familiar stories but also the sheer delight of the little daily experiences that make Christmas magical.  I am blessed to be in their company.

May this day be merry and bright.

Until tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

O Moon, Full Moon

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

 I wish I could say, the moon was visable this evening but it was overcast in Seattle.  This doesn't damper our spirits though at the Living Wisdom School. We love celebrating the full moon each month in our classroom. Today was no exception.

We began the day, with a story about the "Milky Way . This is such a wonderful story and stirs their little imaginations. 
We followed up the story with our morning activities. We had our activity stations set up and the children rotated through the each one.

 Today we had a new galaxy play dough, which was shared by my friend and colleague, Sally Haughey@. What a hit this was. A galaxy of stars and moons.

The next activity was counting moons in the galaxy. Our pre-kindergarten class is practicing how to cut, paste and they love to explore all types of art materials. These were silver moons that each child cut. They were self- sticking metalic paper. They used white pencils for writing the amounts of stars and moons they counted today.

The final activity were making our traditional moon biscuits. They love cooking in our classroom.

To finish out the day, our "full moon", guided our parade down the hallway.  

Another joyfilled day in our classroom by exploring the galaxy and the space that expands into the heavens. 

Happy full moon day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our love from the heart.

A day in photos. 

The Queen of hearts made some tarts on Valentines Day.
The knight of hearts stole the tarts and took them all away.
Where did the hearts go?

We had a great day in the Nora's Preschool class with all our friends. 
Hey, where are you going with those tarts?

All the tarts were shared with all our friends at Living Wisdom School. 

Happy Valentines Day

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,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

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......