Knowing Where We’re From

I’ve been trying for weeks to pen a feeling I have about knowing physical places. The words keep alluding me; somehow, this idea floats in my being just beyond words. Nevertheless, with spring bursting on my doorstep, these words demand sharing.

In recent weeks, my children have each spoken words that captured what it means to know the place where we live. My six-year-old was telling her brother about her daily walk home from school: (more…)

More Questions Than Answers

Monarch Butterfly

Check out this giant monarch butterfly that Tekoa caught with her hands!  She is our resident fearless bug hunter and aspiring entomologist – both fascinated and mesmerized by all the tiny creatures of the earth.  And her intense drive to explore is contagious!  The whole crew is on a perpetual insect investigation.  We have perfected our search: worms, spiders, and centipedes reside in the damp, dark, under-rock soil, and butterflies love the honeysuckle along the path.  The vocabulary “holding bugs” or “looking bugs” prevents bugs from assuming an unnecessarily scary personality while emphasizing the fact that not all creatures like to be touched.  Lengthy discussions of insect defense mechanisms are held around our meal table: we know that bees can sting, spiders can bite, mosquitoes…well, we are all too familiar with what mosquitoes can do!  And we empathize with the plight of small creatures and their need for protection.  After all, we are (mostly) small around here, so it is easy to see the perspective of an insect who would need poison, or a stinger, or speed, or bright warning colors to dissuade its predators (in fact, we wonder what it might be like to have some of our own defense mechanisms!).  We talk life cycle (the morning after a big rainstorm is particularly fortuitous for a robin!), insect diets, and how to distinguish males and females – in species with gender distinctions.  I could (and often do) run a curriculum entirely around insects.  I rely on books from the library and field guides to build the cognitive knowledge about insects, and even more importantly, to build the meta-cognitive skills of knowing where to find information.

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It’s the Journey, not the Destination.

At Abundant Life, we are close to a city walking path that is lined with thick foliage and bordered by a creek.  We make the trek to the path almost daily when the weather is nice.  The path is about a mile long with a city park at each end and our grocery store situated near the midpoint. Our program is between the grocery store and one of the parks, so when we set out, our destination is usually the closest park or the grocery store.  On Tuesday, we made an impromptu decision to walk to the farther park and meet up with another local preschool group for a picnic.  The day was lovely, and on our way home, Tekoa spotted a duck on a sandbar in the creek.  On closer inspection, we found the female nesting among some bushes, and on even closer inspection, we spotted some tiny ducklings peeking out from under her blue wing.  I had my camera, which made it easy to share her location and the location of the ducklings with the crew.  We were a distance away, and she was well hidden among the brush.  The ducklings were only visible because they were moving under her feathers.  (You’ll have to click on this picture to make it larger – the duckling is just in front of the duck’s blue wing — the duckling has a small white stripe along it’s body.)

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All Things Beautiful

“Children are miracles. Believing that every child is a miracle can transform the way we design for children’s care. When we invite a miracle into our lives, we prepare ourselves and the environment around us. We may set out flowers or special offerings. We may cleanse ourselves, the space, or our thoughts of everything but the love inside us. We make it our job to create, with reverence and gratitude, a space that is worthy of a miracle!” – Anita Rui Olds (in Designs for Living and Learning)

 

Early childhood educators are known for their ability to make gold out of someone else’s recycle bin (to be honest, there is gold to be found in the dumpster as well!).   I have written before about the value of repurposing soon-to-be-recycled stuff into fine works of art or ingenious open-ended play materials.  Those of us in early childhood professions often find ourselves at the mercy of tiny budgets, and work to create environments out of a conglomerate of discarded hand-me-downs – not that there is one ounce of anything wrong with creating environments out of second-hand materials, but beauty often takes a backseat to functionality when it comes to early childhood space design.

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Visuals

This is the tree bench behind our slide - check out the willow that is leafing out!

On Saturday, I will be traveling to Ottumwa, Iowa to teach at the Southeast Iowa Early Care and Education Symposium, a conference I am very much looking forward to!  I will be unveiling a brand new workshop titled, “Climbing up the Slide: How Honoring a Child’s Innate Desires Nurtures their Body, Mind, and Spirit” and I feel giddy with excitement.  Each time I deliver new content, I anticipate how the material will be received, the way time will unfold and if I allotted it correctly in my mind, and what pieces participants will embrace most strongly.  In addition to this class, I will also be teaching “One Big Family! How Rivalry Surfaces in Early Childhood Settings, and What to do about it!” and “Time on the Floor: How Entering a Child’s World Fosters Lifelong Learning.”   Needless to say, my unclaimed time (typically reserved for writing) will largely go toward laminating, cutting, tying, packing, printing, stapling, photocopying, ironing, coloring, taping, and counting.  Curious about what might be happening in Saturday’s workshops?  Join us!

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In Search of a Beetle…(Part One)

“I try to provide experiences that will sow the seeds of change.
Then, sooner or later, children will incorporate those experiences
into their thinking. I’ve learned it takes concrete experience, time,
and faith in their intelligence”
Eric Hoffman (quoted in In Our Own Way: How Anti-Bias Work Shapes our Lives, p. 89)

The crew and I were walking to HyVee to return a library book at their outdoor book drop. It was a lovely afternoon – the sun shining, the breeze blowing, the scent of spring in the air when all of the sudden…

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