Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Monday, December 31, 2012

Every day in the New Year!

This afternoon a friend from our community in Italy, posted on my Facebook page a deep and inspiring quote that seemed fitting to share on New Year's Eve. This might be a nice affirmation to read at midnight during your private celebrations with your family or combine it with your New Years' meditation rituals. 

These words are written by: Paramhansa Yogananda.

 "Every day in the New Year must become an altar for the God of new living, new achievements in wisdom, and new joy.
Every day in the New Year must bring hope and cheer to yourself and all humanity.
Make every day of the New Year a better day than the previous one for greater effort to succeed in business, family happiness, and increasing the ever-new joy-contact of God in meditation.
The old year has gone, but the New Year is full of treasures for you to use.
May the New Year spread the example and message of your renewed life and renewed power unto all Creation".

Happy New Year and many blessings of joy in 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Part 2: 2012; A Year of Love and Inspriation

Last December on "Inside Out" I wrote an entry to review the inspirational moments of my first six months of blogging.  This past year I had so many beautiful photographs that uplifted my soul, I couldn't decide which ones to include or delete.

 With a few late nights and several hours tweaking, I created this video of love and inspiration from 2012.

May the light and joy of this year, carry all of us forward into 2013 with a greater source of love, inspiration, peace and inner joy.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

With Beauty before me may I walk.

Christmas week is a time for inner reflection while recapping this past year's documentation on this blog, "Inside Out" and contemplating the beauty that lies before me for the coming year in 2013. 

This past year I have added many new technical experiments to my blog including: YouTube videos, iPhone applications, linking up with new inspiring bloggers and I am thrilled to have upgraded to a new iPhone.

 The iPhone has advanced my skills as a photographer, while enabling my ability to record information to my parents automatically in this new age of technology and energy.

 "Inside Out" has reached almost 11,200 page views that expands the globe. That alone is truly inspiring to me. When I began this blog, I wasn't even sure, if or how anyone would find it. This is what you hear bloggers often say. It takes a level of detachment to write weekly, while putting your heart and your passion on the line. My motto has been: "Well just get over it." Either people will read it or they will pass it by. My blog isn't for everyone.

 I personally would like to thank everyone who has read it this year and shared this blog. Simply passing it along to others is a blessing in disguise. I am deeply humbled and grateful.

I wanted to review this week, the most popular entries since I have started writing in August of 2011. I will start with the top six .

Coming in at number 6 is: Come Gather Round / Books for the holidays.

I am thrilled this years entry made it into my top six. I am glad that my spiritual book list was so popular and actually had an author, Carin Berger contact me personally to thank me. I still will be featuring my, Come Gather Around Series, along with new added pages featuring spiritual books for children and families. New books will be added monthly, as I find them in my travels. Do you have a special spiritual favorite? Let me know about it and I will research the story, to see it can be added on my favorite lists.

Coming in at number 5 is: Accepting a moment in Divine Gratitude

 This entry was life changing personally for me last Christmas and I have dedicated this year to actually practicing living one day of gratitude at a time.  I actually participated in my own experiment this summer at taking a photo a day to document my gratitude.

 This short entry features a mini short film by Louie Schwartzberg. I review this video often because it truly uplifts my spirit. 

Coming in at number 4 is: A week together 
This is another entry that is dear to my heart. This particular entry is all about Education for Life and the Foundation years. I also love to watch how the children have grown in our classroom over the past year using these principals.

 Coming in at number 3 is: We live in joy!

I am happy to announce this Valentine entry and the song highlighted was our "theme song" in our classroom last year. It was written by one of our parents, Eva Tree.  Thank you for listening and reading about our valentine activities.

Coming in at number 2 is: What color is your hearts energy?

This entry has many memories shared in my classroom. The children love to feel their energy in their hearts and expand their love each day to others. Thank you for reading it and sharing in our joy. 

Now here is where a little drum roll happens.....

Coming in at number 1 is:The light is inside each one of us” 

 This is my favorite entry, I have written to date and humbled that it is the most popular.
 It came to me right after a deep morning meditation. I don't take any credit for my writings personally. These are messages from the divine.

I also would like to thank a few very special people who have helped share the message of "Inside Out."

My editor and writing professor  Bekka Davis,   and the Education for Life teachers who share ideas and inspirations together weekly.

 I would also like to thank, Susan Tara Meyer from River Blissed and Sally Haughey from Fairy dust teaching. Susan and Sally are kindred spirits with very successful blogs of inspiration.  I have learned so much from them.

I would also like to thank my spiritual guides, Joseph Cornell from Sharing Nature with Children and Nitai Deranja the founder of the Living Wisdom Schools. Both of these great souls have been a guiding light for inspiration and my service to children and families.

With Beauty before me and behind me as I walk,
The year ahead looks very exciting and promising.

Aum, Shanti,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Post: Elizabeth Aguilar

 This evening as a guest post, I am delighted to feature one of my colleagues, Elizabeth Aguilar from: Education for Life in Public Schools. Elizabeth teaches 6th grade language arts (English), social studies (history), and art.  On an average day she has 30 students per class and teaches 2 - 3 different sets of students for a total average of 60 -90 students. Elizabeth has taken on teaching Education for Life, in a public classroom setting and has inspired us as a pioneer for Education for Life.  I hope you enjoy her latest post below. She is an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Elizabeth.

 A Festival of Light

   We have wonderful diversity of cultures and traditions represented at our school.  Our students’ families are from all over the world every continent is represented except Antarctica.  Therefore, the holiday season means different things to different students.  We honor these different traditions in many ways at our school, specially in this last week before our Winter Break.  In my classroom I wanted to focus on the shared tradition of “Light” during this time of the year.  So many cultures and traditions have Light as a theme in their holidays.  Most even have some sort of “Festival of Light”.  Well, in Social Studies we are still in ancient Egypt so I was curious.  Did the Egyptians have a Festival of Light?  To my great surprise they did.  Herodotus, a Greek historian in BC tells of the festival of Lychnocaia, “the lighting of lamps”.  Lamps were lit in rows on the outside of houses around this time of the year to help Osiris find his way back from the underworld.

    I shared this information with my students.  I also found some wonderful pictures of the different expressions of light in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, as well as the story of Egypt and light in the natural world.  We brainstormed to understand what Light symbolized.  The students thought it symbolized: peace, happiness, life, power, energy - these were their words.  I told them that I wanted us to experience some type of celebration of Light but that I knew we could not have lit candles in school since it would be a fire hazard.  We could, however,  have a string of lights.  Thanks to help from Erika Glazzard, a fellow EFL teacher, I had come up with a lovely plan.  We would make a walking spiral of light that would lead the students to its center where they could pick up a glass stone that would symbolize a personal excellence quality that they wanted to nurture in themselves in the coming year.  I needed a focal point of light at the center so I brought in an angel that I had from my daughters' childhood.

     The visual experience of having the lights on the floor was beautiful.  It was like walking inside our Milky Way Galaxy.  I played Pachelbel’s Canon in D for music in the background as each student made their own way into the heart of the lights.  After every one had a turn we sat around and had a few minutes of silence as we all tried to expand our own heart’s light.  I’ve asked the students to keep their glass stone to remind them of that special quality that they want to nurture in themselves.

I am a public school teacher in northern California.  I teach 6th grade language arts (English), social studies (history), and art.  This past summer I participated in Education for Life workshops and activities.  I was so excited by what I learned that I wanted to try it in my classroom and document how the EFL principles translate into the public school system.  It’s an on going great adventure that is turning out to be fun and rewarding

 Are you a public school teacher and want to see how these teachings can be applied in a public school setting? Follow Elizabeth at:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Healing Prayers

In light of this recent tragedy today, I am postponing my post for this evening.

May the mother of compassion be held close to our hearts as we all unite in our deepest prayers for the children, fellow teachers, and staff in Connecticut.

Let's us send out the healing prayers though the cosmic sound of Aum,Aum,Aum

Peace, Amen. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Memories that last a lifetime . Saint Lucia Celebration

Today in our prekindergarten classroom we began our morning watching this video and singing together.  I wanted to awaken the children to one of the European festivals that is celebrated every year on December 13th. Today marks the celebration of Saint Lucia from Sweden. Lucia seems to have taken on many stories passed down over generations but above all, the more positive role, as a symbol of light in the dark Swedish winters and as a symbol of growth for man. She is a figure who emerged from obscurity at a time when light and nourishment were most needed.

When I was a small girl growing up in Bellevue, Washington one of the most memorable Christmas's celebrations was when I was playing the piano at my very first recital. As a Education for Life teacher now I have tried to recreate these holiday experiences each year for our children. These celebrations and ceremonies provide a beautiful foundation for children to experience others realities and world cultures outside of their own. It can touch their souls and add a greater depth to their spiritual lives.

This is such a beautiful ceremony. We calmed the lights through the school hall, sang, and gave each child a candle as we walked into each classroom. This year the prekindergarten, kindergarten, first, and second graders all participated in the processional.  Our Saint Lucias, lead the way and passed out our Swedish cinnamon treats.

All the children felt inspired, beautiful in their white attire and uplifted by this sacred event.  They told me they felt like angels. These are what true memories can bring for  the young child and can last a lifetime.

God Jul,
Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winters come and winters go, summers come and summers go.

Today we continued following along with Christmas story about our winter "Tomten"
Last Friday we were in Italy, and now we had to cross the South Atlantic Ocean to Brazil. 
 The children pasted his tiny foot prints over to South America.

We had one of our mothers come and talk to us about growing up in Brazil. She told the children about all the holiday festivals, decorating trees, specialty foods, singing Christmas carols and a very special game of, "Secret Santa". 

We placed all the children's names in a hat and they drew out a secret friend. They began right away with the gleam of Christmas cheer in their hearts creating presents. 
The children kept themselves delightfully entertained with making small gifts, and drawing pictures. 
They loved the Christmas stories about Brazil. Christmas time is in the summer there, and can you believe it, Santa wears shorts?  They just loved this sweet visualization.  
This was a heavenly landscape from one of our artists. 

The rest of the morning the children created this sweet Brazilian Christmas trees.

 It was a delightful day for creating harmony in our classroom as we shared our love with our classmates. 

Tomorrow the "Tomten", doesn't have to travel too far. Where could he be traveling to next?

Blessings all.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A tiny babe in a manger lay

Tonight's entry is the continuation of our festival of the lights ceremonies that we are currently celebrating in our classroom for Christmas. We have traveled to Italy to discover the mysteries surrounding the creche scene and the birth of Christ. Saint Francis of Assisi  is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223.   

A few years ago, I added this tradition back into my classroom as a celebration of Christ's birth and the true meaning of Christmas. For the young child it is that joyful expectation of the birthday, that lies ahead. 

One of my favorite songs written for the Christmas Season is one that J. Donald Walters wrote that we sing each Christmas in our temple and community. It is called the Christmas Mystery. 
These are the cards that the children select their parts from our play. 

I wanted to share with you the words and the pictures that I took this week, as we acted out our sweet play to celebrate the birth of Christ.  At the end of the play, we switched all the children around several times so they could experience different parts. We ended the day, working on our creche scene ornaments that the children will take home and hang on their Christmas trees. 

Long ago there was a little shed,
There three mighty kings did bow their heads
To a gentle babe of low degree,
Whom men call the son of Mary.

Who tell to me this mystery?
How a tiny babe in a manager laid
Could so many hearts to love persuade
This holy son of Mary. 

Shepherd's came and knelt in wonder there,
Seeing him in light beyond compare,
And his eyes that told them all love was he
Whom men called the son of Mary.

Wonderful it was that Christmas Day,
How from far and near they came to pray,
How far they glimpsed his majesty
Whom men called the son of Mary.

Could it be that in that little one,
Spirits universal love did shine?
If it's true, he lives in you and me
Whom men call the son of Mary.

  We ended this special day creating our ornaments and singing.

Silent Night from chandi holliman on Vimeo.

Joyful Blessings,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

May this day be merry and bright

 At this time of the year children begin to ask all types of interesting questions. Isn't it fun?
 You can see their little minds are just churning away. 

How does Santa Claus really get from the North Pole on a sleigh? Does he really exist? I also love to watch the older children just go along with the fairy tales just to rekindle the familiar warmth of their childhood memories. I can't really remember when my children were told about Santa Claus?  Naturally I try to stay clear of anything commercial in my classroom and inspire the children's imaginations.

I believe that as a parent you just have to be ready each Christmas for that ultimate question and be able to think fast on your feet. Are you willing to tell the truth or play along with the child's imagination of believing in our myths and fables that we are accustomed to during the holidays?

While we were in class this past week, the children began to tell the story of Santa Claus that has been passed down from generation to generation. I was trying to tell them one of the fables that has been told about Saint Nicolas. 
Some of the children blurted out,"They are the same, Chandi." I said. "Santa Claus and Saint Nicolas are the same? Interesting? How do we know?' They all jumped in with their answers. 

I began to tell them that the story of Saint Nicolas is a folktale.  The folktale is a story, passed down verbally from generation to generation. Each storyteller tells the stories a little differently, making them more interesting and fascinating as the ages passed. Different folktales bear the characteristics of the culture, folklore and customs of the people from which they originate.

Intentionally in the Education for Life methodology we try to make teachings practical and real for children. I had to come up with something fast to make my point. This is called a direct experience using a practical method . So all at once I thought of the game,"Telephone". Maybe this will bring out the point of teaching about fables and folktales. 

I had all the children gather in a circle. I started the game, gently whispering a small part of the Saint Nicolas story immediately to my right. Then that child told the story to the partner on his right, thus continuing around the circle. When it got about half way through the circle, the whispers became completely different. Joyful smiles appeared along with silly glances towards me as they whispered. 

 In our anticipation a new part of the story had just began. As it went completely around the circle, there were many joyful laughs and surprises. The story was always very different from the one that was first whispered. The children love this game and they could quickly experience how a story could change over the course of many years and even centuries. 

Christmas is for the children. I love the familiar stories but also the sheer delight of the little daily experiences that make Christmas magical.  I am blessed to be in their company.

May this day be merry and bright.

Until tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Give me a light to light my way!

The holidays are a magical time of year with many celebrations happening all around the globe. Our classroom is not an exception. We are celebrating our theme:" Festivals of the Light." This continues this year through December and part of January.

Last season I shared many holiday celebrations, but since this was my second year with my students, I have created a new format for December.

 At the Living Wisdom School we only have two weeks to share the holiday traditions with our children before our Christmas vacation. I will share daily our festivals as we move through each country. 

We began the week with one of my favorite children's stories. It is taken from the Swedish tradition, about a small elf who travels secretly around the farm, talking with the animals.  He begins his evening with his secret rounds doing his caretakers duties in his gentle, loving way. He whispers encouragement to all the sleeping animals and children. The book has such beautiful captivating illustrations and poems.

  Today I was able to draw some of my own illustrations of the Tomten, and made copies for the children to practice their own pencil drawings.  In Prekindergarten we begin to use our pencils for many small muscle coordination enhancement skills.

The children also drew small foot prints. We have a large world map that the footprints will be glued on as the children follow the Tomten's secret travels around the globe this Christmas. The children love the little Tomten.
  The first holiday celebrated is Saint Nicolas Day, December 6th.   

In the spirit of the Tomten and Saint Nicolas we are playing a game with our stockings. As the children secretly do kind deeds for their friends, small stickers are placed in their stockings. The original stockings originated with these Nordic folklore traditions.  At the end of the next week, the stickers from each stocking will be traded in and counted for special treats and gifts. 

 December 6th is Saint Nicolas day. The children all lined up there own shoes today and placed a small gift for Saint Nicolas and his horse inside each shoe . 

True excitement will happen when the children check their shoes tomorrow morning and see the gifts that Saint Nicolas has left.

Tomorrow we will light the way for the "Tomten", as he journey's once again secretly to another country to explore. Our next destination:Italy.

Tune in tomorrow for what the children and the Tomten learn about Italy's Christmas celebrations.

Blessings all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

O Moon, Full Moon

O moon, full moon
You are very white,
Everything looks beautiful
Under your light.... 

 I wish I could say, the moon was visable this evening but it was overcast in Seattle.  This doesn't damper our spirits though at the Living Wisdom School. We love celebrating the full moon each month in our classroom. Today was no exception.

We began the day, with a story about the "Milky Way . This is such a wonderful story and stirs their little imaginations. 
We followed up the story with our morning activities. We had our activity stations set up and the children rotated through the each one.

 Today we had a new galaxy play dough, which was shared by my friend and colleague, Sally Haughey@. What a hit this was. A galaxy of stars and moons.

The next activity was counting moons in the galaxy. Our pre-kindergarten class is practicing how to cut, paste and they love to explore all types of art materials. These were silver moons that each child cut. They were self- sticking metalic paper. They used white pencils for writing the amounts of stars and moons they counted today.

The final activity were making our traditional moon biscuits. They love cooking in our classroom.

To finish out the day, our "full moon", guided our parade down the hallway.  

Another joyfilled day in our classroom by exploring the galaxy and the space that expands into the heavens. 

Happy full moon day.