My Ongoing Quest

Quest

I have an ongoing quest.  This quest will probably not end until the day I retire and even then I may feel compelled to continue my search…

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It is the search for loose parts that can be used for many purposes at preschool.  Our outdoor classroom already had the tires and the bean bags and now we also have cedar planks too.   Add a few more planks and more bean bags and voila!

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Ah but this masterpiece is not yet complete.  We must go on a quest for more loose parts to add to this wonderful creation.  Here are some wood scraps left from a table my husband was building; I just sanded them down before bringing them in and of course, they made a great addition to the fort building. img_2246

It was a good thing I started this quest because fortunately, we had more loose parts (sticks) to add to the fort.

 

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But of course it the masterpiece was still not complete. We needed one more thing…

 

Pinecones, of course!

Here’s a slideshow of the entire process:

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Now for the burning question… What other loose parts can we add to our outdoor classroom?  I need a list so that I can continue my quest.  Your thoughts are welcome as we have some very keen fort builders who would like some more materials.

Writing Books and Hikes

Hike

A hike is always a good thing for me.  It starts out with promise.  I love a new trail to explore accompanied by a friendly conversation as we make our way along the trail.  It may be raining or sunny, warm or cold and as long as I go prepared, I am happy to tackle whatever might be in front of me.  I don’t always know exactly what to expect.

Sometimes the path is a little longer or a little steeper than I expect.

Sometimes it is quite tiring but somehow I just keep going with the knowledge that once I get to the top of the mountain/hill/cliff, there will be a gorgeous view as my reward.coastal trail

Writing starts with promise.  That idea that pops into my head and just begs itself to be written into a story.  Friendly characters are my company as I create them and decide what will make them appealing to children.  The weather may not always be perfect and the characters have to deal with a few setbacks but they keep moving forward along the trail as I do putting one foot in front of the other.  I’m not always sure where the story is going.  Usually, I make some progress and then there’s the work of rewriting and more rewriting and even more rewriting and that’s when I feel I’m really going uphill on the trail, perhaps in the rain and wind and I wonder if I will make it to the end.  I’m sort of there now with “Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker”.

 I’m at that  part of the trail where it starts to get really steep; where I might need to use my hands to scale some of the rock face in front of me; where I have to slow down as it is getting harder.

I know the reward is there and I’m going to keep climbing.  It is slow going now but I’m getting closer.  I’m on the trail to becoming an author and I can’t wait to see the view from the top!

Thank you for reading🙂

 

 

 

Children Make Great Teachers

When I saw this week’s Discover Challenge, Here and Now my first thought was “this is the whole focus of my blog!”  I like to capture ordinary moments of children playing and look for meaning in those moments.  The moments worth capturing are always focused on the here and now when children are fully engaged.  These are the moments where the meaningful learning happens!

 

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I and A were making waterfalls.  Here’s a little excerpt of their conversation:

I  …a big waterfall

A  …fill up…thats enough…

I  That’s enough water.

I  C’mon lets make our waterfall! C’mon lets go in the sandbox!

A  Lets go in the dirt.

I   Yah, C’mon

I   Let me pour (pours, spills a little)

A  That’s okay.

I  Sings… Waterfall (sol-sol mi)

A  Waterfall YAY! (claps with delight)

It was a delightful play experience for these two girls. The practice with verbal communication, the developing of new relationships, the opportunity to learn about the properties of water first hand are all present and that is only the children’s learning.

Many times, teachers learn just as much from children as they do from us.  What did Teacher Cindy learn during this busy back to school week?  If I’m being honest, my focus has been on preparations for the year, for the planning of field trips, setting up the classroom, getting my afternoon schedule ready for new music students, etc.  My last couple of weeks have been all about looking ahead. So much time looking ahead and very little savouring of moments.

I am so grateful to these two girls for showing me what it means to live in the moment.  These moments are all we have.  Moments full of wonder and joy, friendship and learning. Thank you girls, for taking me away from my busy-ness and my preparations and bringing me back into the here and now.

 

 

 

Play Research in Disneyland: An ECE’s Perspective

As an early childhood educator I take play seriously.  Hopefully not too seriously!  And I’m just back from a trip to Disneyland and excited to share some photos with all of you.

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Anyhow after a week of play at Disneyland I decided to take a closer look at what contributes to a sense of play, fun and magic that has such mass appeal for so many people. What allows adults to experience that sense of play?  Here is what I came up with:

  1. Details. If I look closely then when I go on a ride for a second or third time then I always notice something new. Novelty is what keeps my interest.  Hidden Mickeys on each ride appeal to those with an eye for detail but there are so many more details to enjoy. It is hugely satisfying to find little details that you may have missed the first time around.   image
  2. Beauty. From the artwork of the talented animators to the lush gardens created by horticulturalists beauty is everywhere.
  3. Sense of risk. That feeling of doing something just outside our comfort zone, something we are afraid to try but wish to master, something that gives us a thrill. It is what we feel when going into a dark ride or racing along in a roller coaster.image
  4. Appeal to five senses Happy music  playing through the speakers, beauty everywhere you look, the smell of fresh waterfalls, the feel of the breeze on your face as you whoosh down the Matterhorn, the taste of the Mickey pretzels, soft ice cream and fresh popcorn are all great examples of the complete sensory experience that is Disney. image
  5. Natural elements Water is everywhere from fountains to waterfalls to water rides.  Ice and snow in the musical Frozen, balls of fire in the World of Colour show, beams of light in Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear, fireworks in the sky, and the magic of snow falling in summertime.  image
  6. Costumes/dress up Story book characters with elaborate costumes.  Families dressed for Disney with matching shirts and/or hats.  Children dressed as princesses or space explorers.IMG_2136
  7. Stories Brought to Life If I was going to sum it all up, I think most people would agree that Walt Disney just wanted to make stories come alive for children and families.  And he accomplished exactly that.image

I will say with pride that Early Childhood Educators are really skilled at adding these seven elements into our programs and without spending huge amounts of money !

Toy Story and Buzz Light Year both offer something interactive but most of the other rides do not. And yet the interactive rides are closer to real play which I believe involves action.

Preschool is much more interactive! And there is one more thing we offer children that Disneyland does not: the ability to create and co-create!

(Although I will admit you can visit the Lego Store in downtown Disney for an opportunity to create…)image

 

Add that creative piece to Disneyland and it would be even better!!

What if there was a huge playground area (like the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail) with items that children and families could use to construct, build and change their own play spaces?  Like this youtube video: imagination playground .  This is where the real play, the real magic happens!

Okay, Disney.  I’ve issued the challenge.  So when Star Wars Land is done your next mission is to create a new interactive playground where parents and children can co-create!

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Forever Young

Rare Restoration

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Did I mention that my hubby likes to play with old cars?  Here’s his hobby car.  Definitely a rare find! It is a 1967 GTO restored to its original gold with a black vinyl top.

There’s a bigger story here.  Perhaps some time I’ll tell you about it.

Reflections and List Poetry

The Poetry of List-Making

My son J is always making lists.  Or asking for lists.  And these lists usually involve rankings, like David Letterman’s top ten lists.  Only when J makes a list, it is far more serious.  For example, if he lists his top ten movies of all time, not only can he tell you what they are but he can also tell you why each one deserves the ranking it gets and also why he left some of his favourite movies off the list. He has notebooks filled with lists.

That got me reflecting… why do we make lists?  What is the appeal?  What are the reasons for list making?  To jog the memory? To clarify thinking? And in the spirit of this week’s discovery challenge, I’ve come up with the following poem.

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Lists

Illuminate

Strategic

Thinking

 

Pros and cons

Organize and

Emphasize

Thoughts and

Reflections which result in

Your clearer vision.

 

What are the reasons you make lists?  What if you could only make one more list for the rest of your life?  What would be on that list?

 

Enjoyed reading this post? I don’t get paid for any of my writing on this blog; it is all done during my free time. If you’d like to show your appreciation for what you’re reading here then please like my Facebook page. That would be just awesome. Thank you.