Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pirate Faces




Today on the playground there was much pirate dramatic play.  Many friends were coming up to me and playfully growling.
       "Walk the plank Miss Jennifer!"
one young pirate shouted.
Was Peter Pan recently re-released or something?  I don't know, but these kiddos certainly have buried treasure on their minds!  I love when they included us adults in their games.  Makes me feel like a kid again :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harvest Pot-Luck Success

Yesterday evening we gathered for our first all school event, the Harvest Pot-Luck.  I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all the families for making this fun evening a success.  We have a great community here and I feel so very blessed to be part of it.  I hope someone took photos because I did not.  Please send me some if you did so I can post them and share with those families who were unable to attend.
Thank you all~
In PEACE and with great love,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harvest Moon~ Halloween ~

Our school is a busy and happy place.  Autumn is my favorite time of year; the classroom reflects the colors of the season, golden orange, brilliant reds and warm browns decorate our shelves.  Your children share their enthusiasm for Halloween daily!  They live in the moment, these lovely little people.  Almost every day a new costume was being mentioned.  Really not many of them had an attachment to a certain costume; more they look forward to the pretending and the trickery.  Fooling us grown-ups with their clever disguises and silly voices makes them so happy.
I enjoyed and laughed along with several students who sang "Stirring the Brew" to Ado's Mommy, Susanne recently.  She gave them the reaction they desired, again and again jumping almost out of her seat when they would say, "BOO!" at the end of the song.   It was so fun and it made me think about our community and school family.  Here was a parent, hanging out a bit while her little boy transitioned and she engaged the other children by asking them about the familiar song, she knew they all knew.  Soon a small group of proud and joyful singers surrounded her, ready to share their song.   We were all laughing, it was so magical. 

Thank you to all who visited me here at school on Halloween evening.  What fun it was to see you out trick-or-treating!  Although VERY cold Halloween night was full of treats.      

Pumpkin Smiles

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Creating a Center-PEACE

Your children may enjoy being asked to make this very special contribution to the family meal. Don't wait for special holidays to set the table in a sacred manner. Any meal can be lifted to a feeling of loving care with a vase of flowers, perhaps "the good" dishes, a table cloth, whatever feels right in creating a sense of grace.

Some of us have been collecting treasures for years (sea shells, river stones, drift wood, buttons, fabric scraps etc.) these treasures and your child's creative eye will together become a beautiful centerpiece for your dinner table. While you are finishing fixing dinner ask your child if they would like to create something beautiful for the middle of the table. Make sure you express how important this task is and how all eyes will see what they make for the table.

Provide your child with a tray or box with supplies to choose from (whatever treasures you have on hand will be fine) limit them to three items (or else you'll have trouble seeing one another at dinner time!) and let them know that if they enjoy doing this, that the other items can be used next time. Provide a place mat or piece of felt (to help define the centerpiece space) and encourage them to be creative!
Remember: a newly picked dandelion in a jelly jar of water can be a simple center piece that brings us great joy.

There is something very special about being asked to make a contribution. Your child may take on this task with loving care and enjoy this new responsibility. If they don't, make something yourself, remembering to take a moment before your meal to enjoy it's beauty.
Here are some of my favorite Center-PEACE displays that have graced our family's dinner table (and made me smile) over the years:
  • a sea shell, a blade of grass, a driveway stone (they look like crystals you know)
  • a juice glass with water, a sprig of rosemary, and a shiny penny
  • a Harry Potter Lego piece, and two stones that looked like mountains
  • my grandmother's bone china sugar bowl filled with grapes,
  • a post card of a photo Martin Luther King Jr., a glass heart and a tissue paper flower
What's important is taking a moment as a family to celebrate one another and the beauty of our world.
(and should you do this activity and want to share, please comment and let me know what your children came up with!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

So Much!

Here is a quick photo collage from a few weeks back. Mallory did take a bunch with her camera, so once I can figure out how to transfer those to create a photo file on my image program, I will post them here as well.

The center photo is of Drew K. ringing the chime to let all know that we are going to clean up and then join together for Circle Time. This precious photo has reminded me to tell all of you, THANK YOU.  Thank you for signing up to provide snack for all the children!  This generous contribution of yours helps so much.
And your children LOVE to be the Leader for the day!

Thanks again....and remember it's a new month.  :)

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Preventing Tantrums

Well my dear friends,
Here we are the day AFTER Halloween.  I don't know about you but our household has already experienced some backlash from the whole candy extravaganza and I am pretty well done with the whole thing.
Candy that is.  I love the dress up part (minus the scary) and I like the silly that flows from person to person walking the streets with their wee ones and most of all the amazing community that IS Cedar Street, here in Belfast anyway.  But the overtired candy hungry short shell of a green dinosaur that is now a mess the morning after......him, not so much enjoyment for me to be honest.

So, I got to thinking, what would Maria Montessori do?  First off, does anyone know if they celebrate Halloween in Italy?  It doesn't matter.  I'll continue.  I'm tired of saying these two little letters "NO" that cause a major melt down before they have even left my lips!  Not just in relationship to Halloween of course but in general.  How can two little letters cause such an explosion in the life of a young child?
Well we all know they can and they do, so what's a parent to do?   

Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," in regards to fire prevention. If you've ever experienced a full-fledged tantrum, you see how this advice might apply to tantrums.

What we need is preventative parenting--the art of being able to say "yes" more often while gaining cooperation. Here are a few ideas to get everyone to "yes."

Plan ahead. Think about the times that are most stressful for your child and for you. What circumstances try everyone's patience? Before you start an activity, explain in broad strokes what is expected. Off to see a friend, and last time there was a ruckus last visit when leaving? State your expectations for behavior before you leave your house. "When we get ready to leave our friend's house, I'll give you a five-minute warning. Will that give you enough time to finish up and be able to leave happy?"

Plan to leave before hunger and tiredness contribute to an inability to control emotions.

Let your children plan with you. Sometimes simply asking, "Help me think of how we can leave our friend's house today happy and with no one losing their temper." Ask questions until you have a plan and perhaps a "secret" signal to use at the friend's house if you need to talk in private.

Practice. Do a little dry run on how to leave a friend's house happily. Let your child role play both the parent and child role as you do a role reversal. (this really only works if your child is at least three years old)

Keep the lines of communication open. Things change, and the best-laid plans go awry. A secret signal can help you and your child move to a quiet place to discuss needs without tempers having to flare. You can use the sign. Your child can use it.

Do what you say.
Some families have the 30-minute goodbye, where everyone says good-bye, gets their coats on and then proceeds to talk by the front door or car for another 30 minutes. For a small child, one might understand why a tantrum might emerge in this situation. When it's time to go, Go. If your child refuses, kindly take him by the hand and go. Be prepared to kindly and calmly carry him to the car. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Help with language. Help your child learn to use language to solve problems. The phrase "Would you be willing to help me come up with a plan to solve this problem?" can help your child learn to see another person's point of view and help you get to yes and cooperation.

With preventative parenting, if a tantrum does occur, you and your child will have some planning, practice and problem solving skills to help put out the fire.

(this advice was given to me from a dear friend; I share it with you because I know it helps and I know how you feel :)

PS: Visit this link for interesting ideas about Halloween and Candy: Simply Montessori