Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I am the bubble, make me the sea.



I am the bubble make me the sea..
Make me the sea,
Make me the sea.
Wave of the sea, dissolved in the sea
Wave of the sea, dissolved in the sea.
Oh, I am the bubble make me the sea.


The "wave of the sea", is our very last celebratory unit that we participate in our classroom. 

For the past 11 years, I had started the tradition of taking the children to the Puget Sound for our all school field trip.This year was no exception.  The Puget Sound is only fifteen minutes from our school. 
.  The children explored the Puget Sound seashore at low tide with teachers, parents, grandparents and friends.  





The next day in the classroom, I wanted the children to recreate the living tide pools that they saw. 

This is a two day project and begins with mixing:

3-4 cups of white flour
Enough dough to make the dough very sticky
One rectangular cardboard piece




Have the children apply the sticky flour to their cardboard



Let this dry flat in a cool space until the next day. 

So fun, sticky hands. 
The next day in class we all began to look at the pictures that we had taken from our 
the previous day at the beach. 




The children were reminded about all the tide pools and sea life they had viewed.

I gave them their dried play dough boards and we mixed several colors of paints. 
They were able to paint several textures and colors with sponges .
Textured sea stars were also added with a hot glue gun. 


I think their creations came alive and very real. 


Below is a chant written by Parmhansa Yogananda and is chanted by Swami Kriyananda in the 1950's 

We love this chant at the Living Wisdom School. We use this song particularly during this unit and our children know it well. It is often requested to sing repeatedly.

 I will leave you this evening with this beautiful chant. 


Blessings all
Chandi

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. . 
video
                             
    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. 



Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest Post on 'Inside Out": Author, Parent, and Healer, Nilanjana Krishnan

My Child, My First Spiritual Teacher -
 an Article by Nilanjana Krishnan



It is a popular belief that our parents are our first teachers 
and I absolutely agree with that notion. Everything was hunky 
dory as long as I was a child (because my parents had to do all
 the worrying ;-)),
 but now that I am a parent, the responsibility of being my child’s 
first teacher is not only immense but also intimidating at times. 
I realized that something needed to change to make parenting enjoyable,
effortless and effective. This called for a shift in perspective – my perspective.

For a very long time I had believed that I, the parent have all the answers that my child needs because a little one is not very likely to know all that I, the adult know. This was my first parenting fallacy! In due course of time I realized that my child has so much to offer and I had hardly ever acknowledged him for the gifts he had given me. My son has shown me what it is to live in the moment and that worrying about the past or the future is futile. He has even demonstrated that we are all one; he treats everyone equally, no matter what race or ethnicity they may belong to. 


Therefore, my new perspective is to allow my child to be my teacher. My child knows as much as or maybe even a little more than I do about life. How do you think I know this to be true for me? Well, so often we adults remind one another to look at the world through the eyes of a child; now why would we say that? I believe that deep down inside every grown-up there is a child waiting to be unleashed. This inner child wants to love unconditionally, trust every person, get curious about every little thing, express every emotion, and be so much more. So I felt that if I surrendered in faith to my child, he would show us the way – the way he would like his life to unfold; the way he would like his family interactions to be; the kind of activities he would love to engage in; the type of friends he would want to bring home; the kind of foods he would like to try, and what not.

Does this mean I let him cross the road alone or let him fix his own breakfast at the stove-top? No, I don’t mean that. I am his custodian; I am responsible for providing his basic needs for physical sustenance. As a caretaker, I also feel responsible for holding the space for letting him be what he is being moment to moment; be his witness and cheerleader as he experiments with his limitless mind and experiences being the free spirit that he is. 

Let me reiterate: I am my child’s custodian only and not his owner. Kahlil Gibran, the famous Lebanese poet and spiritual teacher has written a poetic essay on children in a collection that’s named, “The Prophet” and an excerpt from the poem is as follows:

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

This message resonates deeply with me and I remind myself ever so often to embody the wisdom from this beautiful piece by Kahlil Gibran.

So, have I figured it all out and am I now an infallible parent? All I can confidently state is that I am on a conscious parenting journey for which there is never a destination; the journey is all of it. There are several moments where I temporarily lose my connection with my inner guidance and dump my emotional baggage on my child or state something in anger or frustration. The good news here is that I get the awareness in the moment (or soon after) I display my “not so graceful” emotions, and I am quick to apologize to my son. I also add, “Please remind me to be a better mom. Whenever I get angry please remind me that I can talk to you about it. Also remind me that anger weakens and love strengthens.” This is how I make peace with myself and my son. When the roles get reversed, and my son is throwing a fit or is in a bad mood, I gently remind him to express his emotions in words; and then hold the space for him to express himself.

As you can well imagine, all of this takes a lot of discipline, practice, faith and commitment. What I have learned from a spiritual perspective is that when I set an intention for my state of being (example: being patient, being accepting, being communicative, being confident, etc.), I am able to easily embody that state for as long as I hold that intention. This has helped me a great deal with respect to parenting.

My son has started me on a spiritual journey: a journey that has made me delve within and uncover parts of me, I had never seen before. I am ever so grateful for this boundless spirit housed in a tiny body that has chosen me to be his mother in this life experience, and for handing down gifts that are priceless. I am so glad that our children refuse to be born with user manuals, for if they did, how would we experience our life lessons and what would happen to evolution? :)

About Nilanjana Krishnan: 

Nilanjana lives a life that is an expression and reflection of her life's purpose, which is being the change she wants to see in her children, through living a life in harmony with nature. As an advocate for children--who are the future and hope of our planet--she invites all individuals, families, and institutions that influence our children to join hands in becoming the change first. She extends this way of being to all facets of her life, from choosing the right foods to patronizing eco-friendly and conscious companies that are aware of their impact on our world.
Nilanjana firmly believes that the choices we make in each moment will determine the future we create and bestow on our future generations. She holds a bachelor's degree in engineering and a master's degree in business administration and has worked in engineering and information technology industries in sales and business development. She is a volunteer with the Distance Healing Network as a Reiki Level 2 healer. Nilanjana lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband Venkatesh and their two lovely boys, Harsha and Rishab

Nilanjana has now just finished her new book; "I know the way"  for families with young children, based on the 2500 year old Chinese Philosophy called the Tao Te Ching. 





Her primary inspiration for this book was Dr. Wayne Dyer (who has also written a book based on the Tao, but for an adult audience




Sunday, June 2, 2013

" Blowing in the Wind", a year of crafts in review.




This is the time of year when teachers begin to look back, reflect and gather their experiences together through out this past year.   

Just as a dandelion germinates from a tiny seed, the dandelion forms a long hollow stalk with its flower on top. The dandelion flowers change and develop into tiny seeds. The seeds are attached to structures that are shaped like parachutes called pappuses. When the wind blows the pappuses carry the seeds for miles. Then the seeds land and the cycle begins all over again under the right conditions.  

Thus too, are the children in our classrooms. As tiny seeds they begin to form beautiful flowers and then as the winds of the spring approach, the children like seeds float into the their new schools and classrooms. 
As I have grown accustomed to saying good bye each year, I know these little seeds will be nourished in their new garden classrooms by the deep foundations that were planted at the Living Wisdom School.

This entry today is about remembering all the many great projects, and crafts over this past year.
I am not sure who all my readers are on this blog, but I can only guess that you are early childhood educators, parents, and grandparents. 

There are so many great activities it was hard to edit, but I will do my best to share the most meaningful.

We start every year with the "All the World is my Friend Unit."
These are our very first self portraits that hang above their cubbies in the hallway. 
These are globes that are made with form, tape and then art plaster added to each round ball. These are  then dried and painted. The process above is the first stage before plastering.  The children take them home for their home altars or nature tables. 
I wish I could take the credit, but this came from our Kindergarten/1st grade class. I love it.  So great for birthday displays in the classroom setting.
This was the world and our hands. I love murals and how they immediately invite all to work cooperatively. These are their hands that were traced and displayed for our first curriculum night. The children loved this. 
This was our community map. The children worked  together mapping the direction of their homes to the school.  I have found  it is a very usual tool for the parents . This allows the parents to see where their classmates live. Small houses were attached to their 3-D structure. It was displayed flat on a table in the main hallway

We began our fall tree unit.This is our 3-D forest in the hallway.
 Each child painted their version of a fall tree from looking outside our classroom window.
What beautiful memories in Nature.


From the apples we picked we made fun fruit pies for a birthday party. I love to cook in my classroom. Each child selects a card and that is their contribution to the day's cooking project.
These were our alphabet  pretzels. We made these several times. Yum.



This was one of the simplest projects but to a young child so fascinating. This was a very simple paper plate folded into four parts. Small dots of paint were added to one side/ or around the plate. The children then folded them and what a surprise it was when they re- opened their plate. These simple mandalas were decorations for our all school fundraiser.

These were our Thanksgiving gratitude pots.


The holidays were upon us.

 We started the journey of the"Tomten" to all the far away counties and farms.

Each day we traveled to a new country which was our theme for the day. We enjoyed many celebrations.
The children reflected on the deeper meaning of the holidays. 


Celebration of Saint Lucia day 

 Our  New Years boats and setting off our wishes for the New Year. 
Making our boats
Wishing stones from our blessing New Year's cake. Each rock is wrapped individually and baked in a cake. 
I paint rocks in the classroom frequently for teaching all types of  inner qualities. 

Queen of Tarts day on Valentines Day. What a fun game this is. Giving tarts to all the students at Living Wisdom School. The queen never knew what happened. 

100 day activities were a highlight in our classroom. 

Getting ready for our art show. Georgia O'Keeffe. These were made by making a petals from cardboard. The children then added their petals around the paper by tracing. Then black sharpie was used. The next stage was water-coloring in the background, then the foreground. These will be memorable for our families.  
Our watercolor portraits added to jewels with ModPodge. 

Our Monet garden bridge for our art show. One of our fathers gave us a hand with making this beautiful structure for our art show. 
 Here it is at the Art Show, with the pond, willow tree, fish and lily pads. This was the all school project. Each class added to the exhibit at Monet's Garden. 

More flowers for the art show garden. I wrote about this on a previous blog post. 

What would our class be without celebrating the full moon each month. This is from our Equinox celebration. Sun and Moon are equal, happy spring. 

 Equinox Cards made for their bedrooms.

We make crowns for all our celebrations or something for our heads. 
All the children made their own birthday crowns to wear on their special day. 


This was a wonderful week on healing. 

This year our children made Mother's Day statues of their favorite thing they like to do with their mom. 

 I know I got this from Pinterst so I cant take credit for it. Each paper was water-colored with the moon shaded with another piece of cardboard. When the picture was dry the cardboard was removed.  In order for children to get the stars very small I had an idea to take a small piece of cardboard and hole punch a small hole in it. Several holes were actually cut in the cardboard. Then the children could draw through the hole a small star onto their picture. The ladders were made from small sticks from Starbucks. I took a picture of each child climbing a small ladder. I  printed the picture and cut them small to fit the ladder. 
They love their "Moms" to the moon and back. 


This has been a very meaningful year and I am filled with the seeds of gratitude as these little ones float to their new homes.