Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye Morgan

One of our beloved kitty cats, Morgan, passed away this month.  She was such a love, and she will be missed by everyone.  Morgan was a cat who LOVED being around people.  She was sweet and gentle and of course very curious.  She also liked to eat "people food" rather than her cat food.  This bad habit of hers was the reason for her early passing according to our vet.  Morgan died of a heart attack due to a poor diet.  As much as we tried to keep her away from people food, Morgan would find each and every crumb left behind.  She was the first to remind us if someone left a cereal bowl on the kitchen table and she was such a helper after circle when our young friends might have left bits of snack on the rug.  Morgan was always underfoot and ready to play.  She seemed to really enjoy having a house full of children each day.  She would welcome families as they arrived and bid them farewell when the school day was done.
After Morgan's death we shared a "good-bye circle".  This is a gathering where I inform the children of the factual information and they have an opportunity to respond to this new information however the may need to.  Many comments are made, feelings shared and tears are often shed by many. We began the circle by quietly passing a photograph of Morgan around circle. I lit a candle and gently announced that Morgan had died and shared that I was sad about this fact because I was going to miss Morgan very much. 
Next, I asked if anyone had any questions about what I had shared.  Several children had raised their hands.  Questions were asked and answered in a matter of fact manner.  Short and honest were my answers.
Q:       "Why did Morgan die?"
A:        "Her lifespan ended."
Q:         "Where did she go?"
A:         "I don't know for sure, but I like to believe she went to heaven."
Q:         "When will she come back to school?"
A:         "She will not be coming back to school. Morgan died, she will not return."
Q:          "Did you cry when Morgan died?"
A:          "Yes, I felt sad."
Q:           "Does Diana (Morgan's sister cat) know that Morgan died?"
A:           "Yes, when Morgan died, I let Diana smell Morgan.  I think she misses Morgan too."
Q:            "Will you get new cat now?"
A:            "No, not now.  Maybe someday."

Children are curious and caring, they want to be told the truth and they need to have answers.  This will only help them to come to accept their loss.  Just to be clear, not all of the children cared that Morgan had passed away.  And that is okay.  Children at different ages are at different stages of understanding about the concept of death.  And then each child is at their own personal point of understanding.  Be available for questions.  Speak from your heart.  Tell the truth.  Most importantly don't try and force your feelings on to the children.  If the question was not asked about how I felt about the situation, I probably would have shared that I was sad with the children, yes.  But would I tell them to feel sad?  No, not at all.  The final part of the "Goodbye Circle" was to pass the share stone.  When it was their turn, the children could share with the group one word or a story about their time with Morgan.  My favorite comment from this exercise was this,
"I loved Morgan because she loved me."
You can't get more honest than that!
Simply sweetness, that's what this job is.
In Peace,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Peace Makers 2012-2013

 This year we will introduce a different famous peacemaker each month.  September: John Chapman  October: Dr. Maria Montessori
November: Fred Rogers     December: Sadako Sasaki
January: Martin Luther King Jr.       February: Samantha Smith
March:  The Dalai Lama    April: Helen Keller 
May: Rachel Carson     
When our school day comes to an end we sing the following song:
"Go now in PEACE, Go now in PEACE, May the spirit of LOVE surround you, everywhere, everywhere you may go."

Off to a Great Start!

It's time for apple prints and  making new friends,
 some love for our pet bunny Poppy,
 and sunshine smiles from our youngest student:
I hope it is obvious that we are off to a wonderful start to our school year.  Upcoming dates to remember:
Friday October 26th will be our first Family Potluck 4-6pm.
And soon it will be time for our third annual Dress-Up Parade on October 31st.  Remember all are welcome and cameras are a must bring!   See you then.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Camp is So Much Fun!

 This summer we have been busy: Writing and illustrating our very own books and building fairy houses....
 we've welcomed some special visitors....
 and have enjoyed meeting and making new friends....
 it's been fun playing dress up and dramatic play...
& taking turns driving our train, The Helping Hands Express, on the playground...we are half way through the summer session with more fun on the way!  Thanks for the memories thus far kiddos. I can't post enough adorable photos....these kids are too cute!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Time

Working the farm stand...

learning about the parts of a flower....
Showing off our group mural.......
making animal masks...........
hot day pool play.............
and toothy grins! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stained Glass Art

This week we worked on a new painting style.  Using painters tape we created areas to paint within.  We emphasized the importance of using different colors in each taped off area, although not every child did this, the effect was still beautiful.  On a smaller scale of this project we used crayons rather than paints.  This way the children could remove the tape right away so that they could see the white lines that were left behind without having to wait for the paint to dry.  Some of the children chose to color in the white lines using a different color than the crayons previously used; this resulted in a very interesting composition.  [no photos taken sorry]
I can't wait to see what these all look like displayed side by side!
PEACE ~ Jennifer

Sunday, April 22, 2012

With a Little Help From Friends

During the preschool day, you should see children who are playing by themselves, but you should also see cooperative play, small groups or even the class as a whole working on a project. The amount of cooperative play increases as the children grow older. Some of this play may be child initiated, and some may be teacher directed.
Working together, whether it's on a block building or planning a tea party, helps children to learn to respect the ideas of others. They develop their social skills, and social competence is an underlying goal of early childhood education. Children in cooperative play learn to contribute to joint efforts. They also learn how to problem solve by working together to find a solution.
Even though research has proven the value of play, play is at risk.  With the over scheduling of young children lives and their parent's, nurturing time to play is even more important.   Here’s how you can support your child's need to play:
  • Create safe play environments and toys; lobby for clean, safe outdoor play spaces for all children.
  • Focus on the learning that happens through play; use play as the means to teach and foster development.
  • Provide a wide variety of play experiences and materials through which young kids can try new things, experiment, ask questions, talk, read, sing, dance, get messy at times, explore, and listen.
  • Fuel creativity, curiosity, and the desire to know more.
  • Allow time for free play in which children are choosing and directing play, balanced with structured play.
  • Monitor play and step in with an idea if a conflict arises, offer a new prop when enthusiasm wanes, or redirect play as needed. 
  • Offer opportunities to play safely outdoors as well as indoors.
  • Adopt a playful attitude, and model playing.
  • Most importantly, value play! Notice and comment on children’s healthy play to show that you recognize the importance and meaning of play in their lives.
When children have this kind of support, the benefits include gaining confidence as well as self-esteem, building relationships, problem-solving, conflict resolution, expanding language, understanding rules and limits, discovering talents, sparking creativity, inspiring thinking, defining personality, and sorting out likes and dislikes. In fact, healthy, valuable play touches on every area of a child’s development. 

At Helping Hands we believe in the importance of play!  We hope to improve our outdoor play space with your help.  Please consider donating yard sale finds, such as:
trucks, balls, hula-hoops, shovels
aquarium gravel, geodes,
gems, sea shells, river stones,
fake flowers, durable plastic animals,  
funnels, strainers, baskets, 
wind chimes, galvanized buckets, 
lettuce spinners (for future art projects)....

While I making a wish list I guess I'll add:
school glue
Thank you all!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Baby, baby...

Gone is the "baby stage" for all of our preschool friends BUT oh do they LOVE to play with babies!  Here are just a few photos from this week. Enjoy! Time how it flies.
Of course the most precious of all the babies new to our classroom, is Retta Lily, our dear friend Rowan's new little sister!  Congratulations to Ashley and Aaron on the birth of your second beautiful daughter & future Helping Hands student baby Retta.

On Retta's first visit to our classroom, the children gathered around her and Rowan.  Quietly they began to sing a lullaby called "The River".  I have to say, it was one of the most beautiful moments I have witnessed in all my 20 years of teaching.  A spontaneous and beautifully sung lullaby to welcome our newest Helping Hands family member!  Your kids are the BEST.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Print Making

Styrofoam meat trays re-purposed.

Today we began making prints.  The children really enjoyed this art~full process. 
The trick was getting them to stop before repositioning the stamps.  If their print didn't look as they thought it should when they lifted the stamp the first time, they would press it down again and the result would be smudges and some sad faces.  This process is much like Montessori practical life pouring exercises.  Stopping when the glass is full, not when the pitcher is empty. It is often through our mistakes we learn. 

The prints came out wonderfully.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Welcome Eamon!

 Joining us mid-year is a new friend.  Please join me in welcoming our new friend and his family to Helping Hands Family School. 
This handsome little guy lives with his family on a cow farm! He enjoys being outdoors, tools and the jobs they do, and spending time with his big sister.
We are so happy to welcome Eamon and his family to our school community.
The children are all a flutter this week preparing for Valentine's Tea Party on Friday Feb. 17th at 10am.  Invitations have been sent, mailboxes decorated and today place-mats were painted!
In addition the crafty preparations we have also been practicing a new song to share with our special guests.
To close this post, I would like to thank all of you parents for signing up for parent teacher conferences!  Meeting with you all this week has been a wonderful experience.  It's no surprise why we enjoy your kids so much, you are amazing people.  Thank you for choosing Helping Hands. 
In PEACE and with LOVE,

Monday, January 9, 2012

The After Chrismas Tree

The story goes that Maria Montessori observed the "children's joy in making silence" when one of her assistant teachers visited the classroom with her infant daughter. The baby, just weeks old, was asleep when the teacher visited.

Maria observed that the children, who had been excited about meeting the new baby, quickly quieted down and sat down on the floor forming a circle of awe and silence around the visiting baby and mother. With respect and reverence they circled the infant, admiring it's small features and soft hair. The once busy and bustling classroom had become quiet, peaceful and reflective.

Dr. Montessori later went on to introduce 'The Silence Game' recreating the peaceful atmosphere by leading the children in 'making silence', and in doing so she would share with the children and with the world, that even young learners benefit from a quiet time in their day, a time to listen and nurture one's inner peace.

In our classroom making silence has been inspired by listen to the delicate sound of a cherished music box, the lighting of a candle, the discovery of a spider in the garden, and simply through observation.  Before it's removal, we would often sit around the classroom tree and admire the lights in silence.

With the end of the holiday season upon us we have removed the Christmas tree from the classroom and placed it in the play-yard.  Today we read the book : The After-Christmas Tree by Linda Wagner Tyler and Susan Davis. 
The book shares the story of a family who recycles their Christmas tree by placing it outdoors and decorating it with yummy treats for the animals to enjoy! 
Our classroom tree is already outdoors as I mentioned next the children will begin making bird feeders using empty toilet paper rolls and pine cones. They will spread sun butter (a peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds) all over the pine cone they choose. Next they'll spooned bird seed over the sticky pine cone. At our next Family Potluck on Friday Jan 13th, we will hang these yummy bird (or squirrel) snacks from the branches of our After-Christmas tree for our feathered friends to enjoy.
We look forward to seeing you at the potluck.  We do not plan on making silence around the After-Christmas tree at the potluck, but we will the next day at school for sure. And it will be magical.