Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Our Surprise Pumpkin

Last year, as part of our science curriculum, we left a pumpkin to rot in our whiskey barrel garden.  We watched for weeks as it got softer, moldier, and darker. Eventually, it went away completely except for a moldy little stem, not unlike the witch's hat left behind in The Wizard of Oz.  However, unlike the wicked witch, our rotting pumpkin left behind something magical. Can you guess what that was?

A fertile seed, which sprouted this year.  Nobody knew what was growing there, but over time we were certain it was a squash of some sort.  It took a while before we even saw the fruit, as most of the flowers were snipped off at the stem by our local animal population.  Birds and squirrels make our garden part of their regular morning route.

But one day, we saw something green and round...and now we have a big orange pumpkin! It wasn't until Guada pointed out that the seed came from our rotten pumpkin last year that we even made the connection.  We got to watch the full cycle of reproduction in the most natural, seasonal form, right in our garden.  Just one of many lessons inherent in our finely tuned relationship with mother nature.


~Picking Apples~

~Drying Apples~

~Juicing Apples~ 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Apples and Honey for a Sweet New Year!

Nothing beats the sweetness of Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year.   Apples and honey offer hopes of a sweet new year, and also give us great focal points for the week's curriculum.


A couple of simple activity trays get us in the mood for our apple picking adventures at Gidzich Ranch!

Sorting "apples" (wax paper balls covered in masking tape) by color  into bushels (dixie cups covered in masking tape with masking tape handles)
Stick the apples to the tree, then pick them off with the tweezers

This is why we have been continuously introducing new works...the children eat it up!

It wouldn't be Rosh Hashanah if we weren't satisfying the sweet tooth with some honey cake.  With a few adaptations, we used this recipe and it turned out delish.

L'Shanah Tova!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Duct Tape

I told the children that I would take off the broken basket on our very old, second hand scooter. It was already past its prime when it landed in our play yard. Yet we find it a beloved vehicle and can't seem to throw it away.

The children suggested we tape the basket instead of throwing it away. I guess I'm rubbing off on them.

The application of duct tape is equivalent to buying a new one, as far as we're concerned.

The thing is, during the "fixing" process, all they cared about was holding the tape for me.  Preschoolers are so unpredictably predictable in this way. It's not about the fixing, it's about the process. And in this case, there was one micro-component of the situation that received the ubiquitous attention of every child involved--"when is it my turn to hold the tape".

It's moment like these that we get to introduce (and practice) basic, yet very meaningful, social skills.  How to ask for a turn, how to get a turn, how to share, how to not share, when to wait, when to speak up.  

We also just spent a few minutes together, with a common purpose, a common interest.  A community of friends and learners.  Lovers of duct tape.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Works Wednesday: New Works in the Classroom

We call activity trays "works" at Beansprouts Preschool.  But just because they are work, doesn't mean they aren't a whole lot of fun!  Fun...and developmentally meaningful.

We set up a table of activity trays in the middle of the classroom to appeal to the visual impulsiveness of some of our newer, younger children. It totally worked! This table has seen continuous use as children walk by, take a seat, and get to work. It calls upon something within each child that I cannot articulate, something that craves order and completion and a feeling of competency.

Each day we update the works a little bit by changing the materials or tools on the tray, and they become new and fresh and interesting all over again.  Strategies like this make a classroom manageable in these early months of the school year. If you have four little stations in the room that engage two to three children at any given time, this makes for a very focused (and calmer) classroom.  We are very much Reggio Emilia inspired in this way. The classroom is most definitely a "teacher" here at Beansprouts Preschool.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tactile Tuesday: Sticky Wall

When I added a contact paper covered wall for block play (idea comes courtesy of Deborah Stuart), the children immediately stripped their feet bare and began "walking" their feet up and down the sticky wall.

Being a teacher that knows how to take a cue, 
I added a second sticky wall for the very purpose of FEET!

With a soft rug placed in front of the sticky wall inviting the children to lay down, the children couldn't help but indulge in some foot tapping on the sticky wall when they walked by, and even days later, they still use this sticky wall constantly. In pairs, solo, or in small groups, this has been a sensorial staple in our preschool classroom for the past week.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Life's a little messy lately...

Beansprouts Preschool has seen many changes over the last couple of months. Most of our children graduated and went off to kindergarten.  We miss the graduates terribly!  And we have gotten several new children and are really enjoying these new budding relationships.

As we continue to settle in to the new school year, I hope to blog on a regular basis once again.  However, when your hard drive crashes and 20K+ photos disappear, well, the blogging slows.

The inspiration is here, but the time is not. I will do my best...stay tuned.

Wine corks and marker lid stamping

Thursday, July 5, 2012

American Flags Collage and Open-Ended Art

DISCLAIMER: I have not been my best blogging self lately. It's usually a matter of scrounging up photos that I happened to take during an activity.  I wanted to post about this one so I could pin it on my own Pinterest board for July next year : )  I tend to organize my boards by month so that it's easily referenced according to seasons and holidays.


Bl brought in an American flag for "America's birthday" on Tuesday.  This inspired the children to make American flags of their own, with their unique creative twists, of course.

Our star hole punch was indispensable here.

One of my long time friends and mentors, Diane, used to say that when we put out activities that are open-ended, they will appeal to children of all ages. I find this to be very true, and children use the materials according to their level of development. 

The following are the "final products" of a 3.5 year old and a 5 year old. Can you tell which is which?

Guada also found this to be true when she put out a shaving cream block activity.  She presented the materials and the idea of sticking the foam blocks together with the shaving cream. Which do you think is made by the 3 year old versus the 5 year old?

Who do you think had more fun? Who do you think learned more from the activity? 

Well I can't say for sure, but they both stayed at the station for an extended period of time, indicated to me that fun and learning were taking place!

I think I'll try to practice a little open-ended thinking myself today.  Letting go of models, expectations, products.  Welcoming spontaneity, new ideas, inspiration.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Red White and Blue July Pie



How we did it:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Make a pie crust and cut into squares
  • Place squares into lightly oiled muffin tins
  • Scoop red and blue fruits (we used defrosted bags of frozen strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries) into muffin tins, but don't over fill
  • Top with some powdered sugar
  • Bake for 30ish minutes, checking ever five minutes after 25 minutes.
  • When fruit turns dark and pie crust is golden-ish, take them out
  • You can eat immediately if you top with ice cream (I pushed the ice cream scoops right into the fruit and suggested the kids to "eat the ice cream first so the fruit can cool down"). Needless to say, this was not a problem.
We started this activity as the children awoke from their naps, and the snack was ready by afternoon snack. Total elapsed time, roughly 1:15. I did the pie crust while they were napping so it could take a little longer if you do that part with the children.

Wrestling is good for children.

Originally published Sept 2010 Many of our parents seemed shocked when they came to pick up their children from Beansprouts and found the...