Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Part 2: 2012; A Year of Love and Inspriation

Last December on "Inside Out" I wrote an entry to review the inspirational moments of my first six months of blogging.  This past year I had so many beautiful photographs that uplifted my soul, I couldn't decide which ones to include or delete.

 With a few late nights and several hours tweaking, I created this video of love and inspiration from 2012.

May the light and joy of this year, carry all of us forward into 2013 with a greater source of love, inspiration, peace and inner joy.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winters come and winters go, summers come and summers go.

Today we continued following along with Christmas story about our winter "Tomten"
Last Friday we were in Italy, and now we had to cross the South Atlantic Ocean to Brazil. 
 The children pasted his tiny foot prints over to South America.

We had one of our mothers come and talk to us about growing up in Brazil. She told the children about all the holiday festivals, decorating trees, specialty foods, singing Christmas carols and a very special game of, "Secret Santa". 

We placed all the children's names in a hat and they drew out a secret friend. They began right away with the gleam of Christmas cheer in their hearts creating presents. 
The children kept themselves delightfully entertained with making small gifts, and drawing pictures. 
They loved the Christmas stories about Brazil. Christmas time is in the summer there, and can you believe it, Santa wears shorts?  They just loved this sweet visualization.  
This was a heavenly landscape from one of our artists. 

The rest of the morning the children created this sweet Brazilian Christmas trees.

 It was a delightful day for creating harmony in our classroom as we shared our love with our classmates. 

Tomorrow the "Tomten", doesn't have to travel too far. Where could he be traveling to next?

Blessings all.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Technical world here I come.


This year I have become more savvy, with finding new technology in this fast pace world we live in. I thought I would share with you the latest video of my class activities for this autumn. What fun this is. The teachers at Living Wisdom School are keeping our parents informed with this amazing tool from "Smilebox". Life just became a little easier and more professional in half the time.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Another digital slideshow by Smilebox
Blessings friends,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Guest Post: Susan Tara Meyer, from River Bliss


 My Photo This month I want to highlight a new friend, Susan Tara Meyer, River Bliss that I have recently met through "Fairy Dust Teaching". We both have taken courses with Sally Fowler Haughey. 

Susan's photos and bio have touched my heart and I wanted to highlight her on my blog. Here is a glimpse into her profile.

Greetings from the Upper Hudson River! "River bliss" is my name for the state of consciousness I experience while floating on the river in my kayak. It is my medicine for inner peace, clarity, and creativity. This blog is my attempt to share beauty, peace, and awe through images and words that greet me in stillness on the river. I also will share the creative endeavors in which I engage back on shore. May you be inspired and uplifted.

Susan Tara Meyer teaches kindergarten in a public school in Upstate New York and finds lots of inspiration for teaching and life in general on the Upper Hudson River that flows in front of her house. In addition to teaching, she is a photography enthusiast, a published poet, and the mother of two teenagers. She is married to a children's musician and music educator and has partnered on projects with both her husband and his band, The Zucchini Brothers. Susan launched her blog, River Bliss, two months ago as a vehicle for sharing beauty, peace, and awe through images and words that greet her in stillness on the river.

 She wrote such a beautiful entry for September, I felt so moved to share it with you. Susan is a kindred spirit. Each day, she fills my heart with love, beauty, and joy as I read her blog. I hope you can follow her writings, photographs, blog entries and be as inspired as I have been.  Please support her. 

Joy to you Susan!

 Many Blessings, Chandi


Monarch Magic

When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take that step into the darkness of the unknown we must believe that one of two things will happen: There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.   -Patric Overton

Ever since I began teaching kindergarten, my husband and I have made a tradition of searching milkweed plants for monarch caterpillars over Labor Day weekend, right before the school year starts. The goal is to collect a few caterpillars so my students can observe the dramatic and colorful  transformation from caterpillar to butterfly; however, it is an activity we truly enjoy doing together each year. My husband has fond memories of his mother packing him a picnic lunch before he headed out to look for monarch caterpillars as a child, and he cherishes the opportunity to continue this tradition with me. Observing the monarch life cycle is a magical way to begin kindergarten and a powerful reminder of the potential for transformation and transcendence. There are so many metaphors to be found in the monarch life cycle, and it is interesting to notice which ones resonate most strongly each year.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed leaves, and when the caterpillars hatch they begin eating the leaves, which is their entire diet. During August, we note the locations of the most promising milkweed patches. Some years, despite a great deal of effort, we come up empty handed. Last year was such a year. We didn't find any monarch caterpillars but returned home with a great story. After combing all of the known milkweed patches, we expanded our search along the country roads near our home and noticed an impressive field of milkweed across the street from a farmhouse. Feeling both desperate and adventurous, we decided to knock on the door and ask permission to look for monarch caterpillars in the field. The old man who came to the door obliged our request; however, the grass was so tall that we gave up soon after beginning. On our way back to the car, the man came back outside to ask us if we had any luck, and we ended up having a lovely heart-to-heart conversation with him about life in this day and age. I wish we could have filmed him talking. He was a retired dairy farmer and spoke about how much better farming is in Canada because farmers get paid better and can afford to maintain their property and equipment, which is not the case here. He really opened up to us and talked about his perception that too much damage has been done to this country by greed, and said he is not sure we can fix it at this point. It was such a joy to interact with this kindhearted man and to hear an old farmer share his wisdom. A couple times during the conversation, I actually found myself choking back tears because I felt my grandmother's spirit coming through him quite powerfully. (Her urn is decorated with a pastoral farm scene, paying tribute to her Vermont roots and her love of Vermont farm life, which was an important chapter of her life.) Without ever mentioning this to my husband, as we were driving home he remarked that he felt my grandmother's presence during that conversation. That is one caterpillar mission I always will remember.

This year, however, we saw several monarch caterpillars and butterflies the week prior to Labor Day and knew we would be successful in fulfilling our goal of collecting caterpillars.

Sure enough, when it was time, we ended up collecting seven caterpillars. We begin by looking for tender, green milkweed leaves that have some holes eaten through them. We also look for droppings. Often, the caterpillars munch on the underside of milkweed leaves and thus are cleverly hidden, so we need to look for clues suggesting their presence. We squat down low to the ground to see the underside of the leaves.

This year, we found three large, plump caterpillars that looked like they were nearly ready to turn into chrysalises and were likely to do so before school started. We also collected four very small caterpillars so the children would be able to observe the active larva (caterpillar) stage.

We put the caterpillars and some milkweed into a butterfly tent with mesh sides and a transparent top that zips open. The very hungry caterpillars munch their way through leaves until they have had their fill and somehow know it is time to enter the next stage of their life cycle. I am amazed and inspired by this part of the process and how the caterpillars know when it is time to change. I wonder how often the human capacity to think suppresses an inner knowing that it is time for us to change. How often do we convince ourselves to resist doing something different that would result in living a more authentic life because we are so used to a particular way of being - and it feels too risky to do otherwise?

Each in his or her own time, the caterpillars climb up the walls of the tent to the top, and eventually begin making a silk button from which to hang. The caterpillar hangs in a "J" shape for a large portion of a day before turning into an emerald-jade green chrysalis by molting its skin. The skin, which has become too tight, begins to split around the bend of the "J," and the caterpillar wraps itself into a chrysalis. It wiggles and jiggles its way into the chrysalis stage.

This year, all of my caterpillars managed to turn into chrysalises when I wasn't looking. The link below will bring you to a wonderful, real time video of a caterpillar turning into a chrysalis. My students have asked to watch it over and over again:

Monarch Metamorphosis: Caterpillar to Chrysalis in Real Time

The monarch chrysalis is an elegant sight - an emerald green case embellished with numerous, patterned golden dots, like a jeweled crown.

For about ten days, the green chrysalises hang, quiet and still. The children check the butterfly tent every day when they enter the classroom to see if a butterfly has appeared. Throughout the week, the chrysalis fades gradually in color until it becomes transparent, like a window. Although this is the time when the least activity appears to be taking place, it is a powerful time of metamorphosis. It reminds me of the human potential for great transformation to take place during periods of stillness.

In time, the chrysalis splits open, and the butterfly emerges. This was just beginning to happen when I entered my classroom this morning, and I grabbed my camera quickly!

The butterfly lowers itself out of the pupal case, extends its legs, and clings to the pupal case.

The abdomen is swollen with fluid that needs to be pumped into the tiny wings to help them expand.

Eventually, the wing tips will fill with fluid.

And then the butterfly will wait for its wings to stiffen and dry.

After several hours, the adult butterfly will be ready to fly. The monarch butterflies born in our area at this time of year will migrate to Florida, Eastern Texas, or Mexico and gather on trees that are literally covered with monarch butterflies. It is amazing to think that such small, delicate wings will carry them thousands of miles on a rigorous journey and that each butterfly somehow is able to find his or her way!

When it is time to release a butterfly from our butterfly tent, I gather the children on the playground outside our classroom and let the butterfly perch on their fingers if it is not in too much of a hurry to try out its wings for the first time. The expressions of wonder and joy on the children's faces are priceless, as is the gentleness with which they pass the butterfly along to the next classmate and the sincerity and hope with which they wave and exclaim, "Fly, butterfly, fly!" This is an authentic learning experience that leaves an impression on the soul that no assessment tool could ever measure.

It is a truly magical way to begin the year, and I continue to be inspired and fascinated by the process every year.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"All the World is my Friend" Starting the school year right.

We begin the year in our classroom with a song:
"All the World is my Friend
When I learn how to share my love
When I stretch up my hands and smile
Then I live from above...".

Below is the link for the song:

Each year I begin the month of September with this song. The children are beginning to recognize each other after a long summer break and this is a familiar children's song that we sing often at the Living Wisdom School. The lyrics reminds them about kindness, friendship, and acceptance. During the month I also plan activities around being reacquainted with their former friends and meeting new classmates as we begin our new school year.

We began the year with our own self-portraits. These were hung in the hallway above our cubicles to introduce our class to
the Living Wisdom school community. I was so pleased to see how well they did and how they remembered the key points of drawing their own Mother's portraits from May.  These are so sweet!

The next project is based around all the families being acquitted with each other. The activity begins with clay that is self drying. The children mold the beads into round shapes. The clay dries for several days and the children then string their necklaces. Each necklace has world beads and their pictures of each friend that is attached.  They are so excited about their necklaces and sharing stories with their families about their new friends.

The third project we made in the classroom this year are prayer earths.
We start with styrofoam balls and layer masking tape all around the ball. 

This is such a good project for small little fingers and building small muscle development.

 The next day after the ball is completed, I cut art plaster in small pieces.

It is then placed strip by strip into a container of fairly warm hot water.

The strips are then wrapped by the children around each one of the balls.
The balls are completely covered and left to dry for about three to four days.
We also attached a small paperclip down into the ball for a ribbon hanger.

After they are thoroughly dry the children paint their worlds.

The worlds are taken home to hang in their room.

When working with the preschool child these simple projects build on the direct experience of remembering, " All the world is our friend" and we can all joyfully live together in peace and harmony on this planet.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The well of spirit

There is a saying: "Stop and smell the roses," but sometimes other things are worth stopping for as well. As I was beginning to write this entry this morning, I was mentally uplifted by a small wishing well that sits on the path next to my home that I pass daily.

As a young child growing up in Washington, there was a small wishing well that most of the children in our small town would throw pennies into each week when we went shopping at the neighborhood variety and hardware stores. Stopping at the wishing well made us feel rested, dreaming of the future and refreshed as we watched our nickels and quarters drop to the bottom. Similarly as a teacher I often have to take time out to refill my spirit so I have boundless inspiration for the coming school year. 

 On one of my last posts in June, I wrote that my summer had almost been planned out magically for me. Divine Mother had arranged the summer, and also filled the small crevices with sheer awe and delight. I was able to travel to California and Oregon where I participated in two large events for the Education for Life Foundation. These events were also sprinkled in with my service and love for children, nature, and cooking in the kitchen.

I was honored to deliver a presentation for the Education for Life 40th Anniversary this summer.

On my drive to California I was presented with a task that seemed like I would be climbing a long mountain all summer. We had currently outgrown our space at our current Living Wisdom School location was was challenged to pack up all our belongings and move to a new location. A large surmountable task.

 However ,as I was traveling to the Education for Life celebration and family camp in California  I was presented with a task that seemed very daunting. I felt that if I excepted the task, it would be like climbing a long mountain all summer. We had outgrown our current Living Wisdom location and I was being challenged to pack up all our belongings with all our staff, and move to a new location. My husband and I had moved our home last summer after 17 years and this was going to be a larger, if not insurmountable task, indeed.

As first, I was quickly taken to a lower, fearful space in my mind. "How can I possibly pack up my classroom and still be able to dip into the wishing well of spirit?" I wondered. Fear rushed through my whole being. But then, with a simple turn of my mind, a small voice said inside of me:" Enjoy, each moment as a way of dipping into the well of spirit. Take each moment deeper inward to fill your heart, mind and soul."

 As if on the turn of a dime, a wave of energy filled my being. I could have given in to the frustration, but what I chose to do was refocus my spirit. As I was able to refocus my attention, our car was traveling over the border of Oregon to California. As you drive down the valley it is a breathtaking sight. When you enter California from Oregon the weather immediately switches, and fills you with warm rays of the California sun. The warmth of the sun filled my body to its core reminding me that I could trust Divine Mother to take care of all my needs.

My goal for the summer was not only to let go of anger and fear, but also to let go of wishing and waiting for things to be different. All I had to do was open my arms to each moment and fill my soul with Divine Mother's love deep within my being. I needed to let myself be refilled by that inner well, rather than wishing to control things outside me.

 Even after my realization, I was still challenged with packing up my classroom, but you know when I let go of the resistance and my ego's wishing that things would be a certain way, the moving process took over.  Every box, every rock that a child had given me, every pencil that a child had used in learning how to write, filled me with such loving memories that in the end, the work of moving bathed my soul.

 How did you spend your summer? Were you able to dip into the well of spirit and all the beauty that lies before us?

We all can make our choices in life. This summer has been one of the most beautiful I've ever experienced, filling me with a deeper sense of gratitude in every moment. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's Springtime, It's Springtime and Mother Nature sings

We are having a particularly glorious spring this year in the Pacific Northwest.
When the flowers begin to bud and the ground begins to swell with warmth, an inner glow also becomes apparent in all of us. I was raised here in Seattle, and over time the winter months have become longer, with an added gray cloud cover that never seems to clear. But our weather reports this spring are unusual in that they refer to a strange phenomenon called: sun breaks.  So you see, sometimes we just begin to feel the expansion of moving out of our homes and dig our hands in the soil or just listen to the returning sweet song birds in the trees.
I too have been away from my computer and spending more of my time with several large projects that take me outside in the fresh air.

In my Living Wisdom Classroom we have covered several new units this spring and also rekindled our annual events, the Mother’s Day Tea and our Living Wisdom Joyathan.
It would take weeks to describe all our daily activities to you in detail.  That means I will have some nice events to write on this summer, when school is not in session.

(Double click on photo to see all the projects)

But for now, let me say that we began the month with flowers and frogs.

When you first look at this, it might seem like a patented preschool education prescription for teaching--focus on words that begin with “F”--but honestly, this didn’t occur to me at all.  I choose my own curriculum by the energy of the students, looking at what will uplift them, along with the rhythm of what is happening right outside our classroom window. All too often a typical Early Childhood curriculum talks only to the intellect.  It doesn’t take into an account the child’s feeling nature and physical components. Too often we talk, talk, and talk with young children, when what they need are need “direct experiences”.  I have found, by working spiritually with young children that they already know much of what I am trying to teach to them.  I have witnessed that learning is for many an act of remembering.  They already know almost everything you are educating them about. It is a profound truth for me, this an awakening of the young soul. It is an awakening and remembering from the past. I don’t like to purchase online curricula. What I want to share with the children in my classroom are truths that are a part of their everyday world.   Some subjects that will educate children for a lifetime include: how to be a true friend, how to work harmoniously with others, how to show compassion, how to be calm in a hectic world, and how to find true happiness within their own being. These are my goals as an Education for Life Teacher.
I chose to focus on flowers and frogs this month for the expansion that I sensed that these subjects could bring to a child’s soul. So often we see children picking dandelions in the grass and making a bouquet for their mothers, or witness their delight in finding new flowers that they have never seen before in the organic gardens at our Living Wisdom School.

When we studied frogs, we were able to go out and look for them in a nearby stream.  We made frog habitats, drew their life cycles, created three-dimensional models of frogs, painted original stories about frogs, and stimulated learning with acting out stories from the classic, Frog and Toad, tales about true friendship by Arnold Lobel. The time in my classroom is both teacher and child directed. Notice I didn’t mention anything about teaching letters. Children can learn these from their parents or grandparents in a family setting. The classroom activities are rich with play, art and creativity to uplift the child’s soul.
These simple truths open their hearts in love for the experience of harmony and build on the capacity to love that we try to cultivate through-out the year in our classroom. Isn’t this wonderful?  We often forget about the simple experiences of childhood.

Look at this one!

Here are some of the samples of our time together.
A child handing me a flower that they picked for me. 
True friendship holding hands and picking flowers together

I want to end with a thank you to all our children in my classroom this month.  We have had a memorable spring as Mother Nature sang to us through her beauty.

Monday, February 20, 2012

We will live in joy! Free CD giveaway.

 Living Wisdom Kindness Quilt and our bird biscuits.

 This has been a full week of inspiration with love in my classroom and
through the halls at the Living Wisdom School.

I had a hard time just finishing up on all our projects each day.  So,
in other words, it was a Valentine's week in my class. 

In the spirit of love and inspiration, I want to acknowledge one of our parents at the Living Wisdom School.
Eva Tree is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has a warm tone of complexity
and sings sweet heart-yearning melodies. 

I had asked Eva to write a song for my class this year that would express the warmth of being kind in the classroom.  Eva wrote a song, then came into the class to teach all of us.  We have been singing it ever since.  A magical aura of love emanates though the room while we sing.

During the week prior to Valentine's Day, I had an idea to create a game that I saw last summer.  I wish to give the credit to the teacher in Vancouver that first thought of this project, so I pinned on one of my "Pinterest" boards.

The game is as follows:  When a teacher or staff member notices a child being
kind, or displaying friendship, the child is given a heart to color for our "all school" art quilt.  The hearts will be attached together as a large quilt in the main entry of the Living Wisdom School for all to see.

At Valentine's Day, in a classroom setting, we want to expand the children's
love, and guide them toward a larger reality of sharing love to all. This can
be in the classroom, school setting, community, and also in nature.

This valentine project was designed to share the song and blessing for all within the
whole school.  I created a game that all the children and staff can
participate in.
We found through the week that the environment at school was benefited
when we all participated together.

An extra special valentine gift in celebration of love has been donated.
Eva will be giving one of her CD's on this blog site.

Please comment below and I will enter you in the drawing.  (I will include
the name her etc and link.)    

The drawing will be made on February 29, leap

Let's all share our love this month and all live in joy.

Recipe for Bird Biscuits at the top

3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons of dry yeast
4 cups of whole wheat flour

4 teaspoons of salt
1/3 cup oil or butter, or margarine
3 cups additional whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat flour for kneading

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in sweetening and dry milk. Stir in 4 cups of whole wheat flour to form thick batter.
Beat well with a wooden spoon
Let rise 45 minutes
Fold in the salt and oil.
Fold in additional 3 cups of flour until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead on a floured surface until smooth. 
Let rise for 50 minutes. Punch down. Should be doubled in bulk
Punch down. 
Now is the time to have each child shape some rolls for them selves. Let rise about 10 minutes. Cook at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Now take the remainder of the dough and add bird seeds. Need the seeds into the dough. Cut the dough into heart shapes. Cook about 10 minutes.
After they are cooked for 15 or 20 minutes cool them. The birds don't mind if they are hard.
Now take a darning needle and embroidery thread. Sew the garlands by stringing several hearts together in a garland.  Individual help may be needed if the children have a hard time sewing the needle through the bread.
 " Be kind to the birds". All the birds are loving the bird biscuits. Happy Valentines month.

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