Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Come Gather Round...

This is the time of the year when our pre-kindergarten class is sharing experiences around the seasonal activities of winter. I thought that I like to feature a story from one of our classroom activities.

A winter time favorite in my classroom  is: The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen

This is a sweet book  for children ages, 4-8 years with a theme based around, gratitude, generosity, love, and kindness. These are all qualities that I want to teach in our classroom.

The story begins with a widow, Sarah who carefully watches the children outside her living room each morning . The bus stop for school, is at the foot of her driveway.   She notices all the children are wearing new mittens except one little boy. She thinks:" Why isn't he wearing mittens?" That evening Sarah knits a pair of mittens and hangs them on the spruce tree at the end of her driveway.  The little boy notices the mittens  on Sarah's spruce tree and places them on his hands.  Sarah is delighted and begins to surprise all the children each morning, as she knits new mittens, and hangs the pairs on the tree. 

The children secretly become part of her new family. Now in the joyful spirit of giving, someone places a large basket of yarn on Sarah's doorstep. She excepts this spiritual gift just as the children excepts her  handmade mittens. The circle of joy and harmony is like a song of love that is shared by all.

After our morning circle, the children in our class were able to make their own mittens to place on our nature table in our classroom.  Each child's hand was measured and then tiny slats were cut all the way around the mitten.

The children selected the yarn that they wanted to use to decorate their mittens. By holding with their left or right hand, they would wrap the yarn carefully with the opposite hand. As they wrapped different designs were made on the front and back of their mittens, This was such a great eye hand coordination activity for this age group. At the end of the yarn string, they just tucked the end piece into the slat. the children then started to layer a second and third layer to their mitten.

The children then finished and hung their mittens on the winter nature tree in our classroom.

To the sheer delight from all of us, we looked outside and it had began to snow.  So we quickly put on our coats, hats, mittens and ran out on the playground to share in the excitement  of a spontaneous light winter snow shower. 

A perfect ending to a glorious sweet winter morning in Seattle. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Building in new habits of love and gratitude for this new year

The new year has begun and the other day my husband took down our tree so fast I wasn't able to actually enjoy the process of packing up the ornaments for this holiday season. All is a blessing though.

Also in my excitement to share daily happenings for Christmas in our classroom, I forgot one highlight that I wanted to share. This project actually started during our gratitude month of November. The children made gratitude trees and gratitude pinch pots.

Each child carefully made their own pot by following written directions that I had displayed. 
We had some secret gnomes helping with the colors, firing and the painting of each pot. 

In my rush to complete all my entries for 2012 and Christmas, I realized that I couldn't share the pinch pot ideas because they became our family gifts at Christmas.  I needed to wait until our families opened them on Christmas Day before writing about the process.

The children selected their own colors and placed tree trims on the edges and inside each pot.

During the month of November at our circle times the children told me the things they were thankful for.  These were added on slips of paper and carefully added to their individual bowls.

We will also be creating an "Gratitude" jar for 2013 in our classroom.  Together we will share and write on slips of paper our special spiritual moments or experiences. These will be placed into our
"Gratitude" jar. At the end of the school year, we will all read them together.  By creating these daily habits children can raise their awareness at seeing goodness in each moment.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

May we all remember love and gratitude as a hallmark of thankfulness and for the many blessings in our lives.

 Our wish is to cultivate it in every moment and share it with all whom we meet.

Many blessings in this new year.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Launching our spiritual dream boats a sail

Today at the Living Wisdom School the whole student body, participated in yet another of our festivals of the light celebrations. We wanted an celebration to bring all the students together and something that would connect all our children in a more dynamic way. Today at the Living Wisdom School the older students were the role models for the younger children.

New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time for thinking about the year that has passed and the year that lies ahead. It is a time to dream, imagine and to wonder what the new year can bring. All of these rituals need to become a natural part of children's daily life. All the teachers wanted a ritual to acknowledge the New Year and this activity allowed plenty of room for gentle fantasy and beauty.

Below is the basic recipe of how we organized the day.  

Here is the process:
Supplies needed

  • Large bath of water
  •  Lower the lights as it is to be magical.
  • Coverings over the bathtub or pond’ with a  dark green/ dark blue covering

  • Pretty crystals’ pebbles and shells

  • Herb/ greenery, anything with winter berries

  • 4 large glass vases to hold the greenery and extra greenery for the sides. Individual themes on each vase with matching harmonious colors on each vase.

  • Candle in the middle needs to be attached with clay or a candle stick

  • Walnut shell boats individually made by the children. Individual wicks and beeswax can be used or a small birthday candles that has been cut are melted into the bottom of the boat. The candles need to be lightweight and small.
  • New Years blessings  for each child.

To prepare the bath:
Place the bath on the floor and line carefully with the fabric. Place the pebbles, crystals and shells on the fabric at the bottom of the bath, together with the vases.The vases are evenly spread around the bottom of the bath. Fill the bath within six inches from of the rim. Place four bunches of the greenery in the vases. It doesn’t matter if they are submerged, in fact it can add to their beauty and mystery for the bunches now become island in a magical sea.They can be called, the Isle of Peace, Isle of Happiness, Isle of  Gratitude or the Isle of Love. Drape the cloth around the sides of the bath, making it secured at the rim with pins or adhesive tape. We used a heavy felted fabric so there wasn't any need for extra pins.

Prepare a tray of board with medium candle in a holder and few sprigs of greenery. Settle the boats amount the greenery and light the candle.

To prepare the letters: or messages
Each paper fortune should be rolled and tied in the middle with a string. The blessings can be placed in baskets around the outside rim of the basin. The baskets are color coordinated with each Isle.  These can be random blessings or can correspond with the Isle that they have landed on. This depends how coordinated you want your themes to be. 

Hand made verses are such fun to compose and served as their New Years blessings.  Write the lines on the inside of folded slips of colored, papers as you choose.I like to make up small blessings taken from the qualities of the "Little Secrets of Friendships" by J. Donald Walters. Each classroom made up and contributed their individual ideas.

Setting sail!
The first person selects a candle boat and lights the mast from the larger candle. The boat is then very carefully set in the middle of the sea. A big wish is loaded on board. A tiny ripple of the fingers at the edge of the bath is enough to see the boat gently moving off on its journey into the New Year. Where will it harbor? This was so fun to watch and dream.  Let’s hope that it visits the Isle of Happiness or Love. One of our children launched her boat and within seconds it went directly to the Isle of Love. It was like her boat was pulled by a magnetic energy source to that island. 

The spiritual aspects of this also can hold true. How often with our own energy do we push to make things happen, or do we let the stream of life carry us along with a gentle push of our personal magnetism? 

 There’s no hurry.  The children also used straws to act as a wind gust to carry their boats away. We divided the pond of water into four parts. 

All in good time the boats did come to rest, some lodged firmly on an island or clinging to the edge of the pond. However when the boat has once touched the edge of the pond it is seemed to have landed.  Each child took their blessing from the corresponding basket next to the pond. If time is limited, two or three boats could be set a sail together.

After all the children had finished with launching their boats and receiving their blessings, we placed dry ice in the pond for another mystical beautiful surprise. The children loved this aspect of the pond. Many conversations began with how the ice created the effect, how the candles blew out and what it reminded them of in nature?

 Whatever the New year holds for us, the idea was to spend a little time afloat in the world of magical beauty, that can capture our dreams and sprinkle the light of beauty, love, joy, gratitude and happiness for all we see. This is how we want our children at the Living Wisdom School to follow as leaders into the future by expanding their imaginations and preparing them spiritually to meet life challenges. Isn't this our spiritual dream already in the making?

Joy to you,
Happy New Years blessings to you.