A Reggio-Inspired Thanksgiving Tradition

Growing Gratitude Trees: A Reggio-Inspired Thanksgiving Tradition

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, and as the holiday season approaches, young families begin to create meaningful traditions with families. Some inherited from previous generations, and some newly forged traditions. 

As you begin to imagine setting up your Thanksgiving table, imagine a centerpiece that is not only beautiful, but meaningfully child-made, inviting our children to reflect on what it means to be truly thankful.

In keeping with a Reggio-inspired approach and the hundred languages of children, this invitation to create is grounded in a process-art approach: no set, cookie-cutter outcome is expected of your child.

Rather, the invitation unfolds with dialogue about gratitude, some beautiful picture books about giving thanks, as well as a watercolor exploration and sculptural loose parts tree where their gratitude grows in the form of watercolor leaves.

What is Gratitude? A Word...

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A Reggio-Inspired Gratitude Project

 

Gratitude is an abstract concept, particularly with young children. So how can we make the concept concrete so that our children practice an attitude of gratitude? These Reggio-inspired, hands-on invitations to create for kindergarteners and early learners are a beautiful way to teach and practice gratitude this Thanksgiving, and throughout the year.

 

 

Why TEACH gratitude?

Gratitude feels good! When we feel good, we do good! Having a positive outlook is good for our spirit, body and mind. 

Gratitude helps create a positive chain reaction, minimizing our negative perspective: worry, overwhelm, anxiety. When we focus on the good, the good grows! What we magnify with our thoughts and feelings GROWS! Gratitude also builds resilience in us: when we look for the silver lining in dark clouds, when we can find the good - even amongst the negative circumstances (like a cancelled birthday party!), we are able to build a resilient foundation...

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Homeschool Morning Meeting: the Play-Based Way

 

Early years teachers have hosted classroom morning meetings for dozens of years. Morning meetings are an opportunity to come together, share, hear stories and connect through fun rhymes, songs, poems and chants.

How might we adapt Morning Meeting in a homeschool environment? How do we keep it fun and engaging, and keep learning intentional?

When I homeschooled our youngest, I had two other children from the neighborhood who came every other day to learn with us. Each day, we met for 15-20 minutes to explore a few rhythms. This helped to take the guesswork out of planning our days, and provided a structure and rhythm for our day that became predictable. Children do best when they can depend on a predictable schedule - their brains feel safe and optimized for learning.

1. Daily Sign In

We begin each day by signing in. I offered a template for each child to print their name, and share how they were feeling.

This ritual serves a few purposes:

  1. They are practicing printing their name...
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5 Epic First Day of Homeschool Ideas

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Getting ready to start homeschooling this fall? Why not start your year off with a BANG!?

Kids LOVE pomp and circumstance {who doesn't}, and in this blog post, I share 5 fun, memorable ways to kick off your school year - in celebratory fashion!

1. Pancake Buffet

We LOVE a good pancake bar, and with this idea you can fold in all kinds of learning.

Begin by reading Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle. Ask your child to retell the story, and map out the ingredients needed to make pancakes. They can even “write” their recipe in their Idea Book. {check out this post for more information on how to use an Idea Book}

Next, invite them to brainstorm a list of fun, inventive toppings. Let them make a list in their Idea Books, or brainstorm one together. 

Make the pancakes, add all the toppings to bowls and enjoy your fully-loaded pancakes! (a little 9am  ice cream never hurt anyone right?)

2. Park Tour and Picnic

When the rest of the world is in school, parks are wide...

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Homeschool Planning Basics: Playful Learning in the Early Years

If you’re taking the leap into homeschooling your little one this fall, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the moving parts. 

Supplies. Schedules. Curriculum. Socialization. Homeschool laws. 

In particular, you’re probably wondering about how to plan your days and months for learning - how much, how little - and what a typical day will look like.

Breathe, mama. You got this.

Today’s post is about giving you a checklist and roadmap to make planning a breeze, to lighten your load, and to reassure you that homeschooling in the Early Years can be light, playful and fun {for ALL of you!}, vs. stressful, overwhelming and burdensome.

Once you’ve chosen your curriculum, you’re ready to start planning your days.

In considering curriculum, look for a balanced approach - one that blends structure and important academics WITH playful learning and creative exploration. Artful Teaching. Joyful Learning.® Is a true hybrid curriculum...

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5 Creative Projects with Driftwood

Driftwood has to be one of my favourite art materials. It’s free, beautifully organic, and involves getting out into nature to collect it.

Every spring, I take the girls on a driftwood hunt on the banks of Winnipeg’s Red River. On these nature walks, we usually end up discovering much more than driftwood, which always leads to other investigations and learning.

In my work with children and families in classrooms and child care centres, I have used driftwood on several occasions. Here are a few examples.

Planted Texture Trees

The child care centre I was working with was looking to have more colour in their space, but were limited with what they could hang or affix to the walls. Thinking outside the box, we decided to bring colour and visual interest in a unique way.

We also use our texture tree as a puppet-tree - storage for our puppets! I use puppets for storytelling, to engage children in my InspirEd at Home classes, and, when the girls were younger, as a prop for...

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Favorite #ATJL Curriculum Projects

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Curious about what’s under the hood inside this best selling curriculum?

Today I’m sharing some of my community’s FAVORITE projects - unique projects you won’t find on Pinterest -  projects that are the perfect mix of art, play and academics

1. Family Talking Stick

A beautiful way to work as a family on peaceful and collaborative problem-solving, turn-taking, dialogue and story-telling which provides fodder for writing!

2. Plasticine paintings

An artful way to weave in storytelling, reading and writing! Using a story-sequencing graphic organizer, children retell a story, and then take their "favorite part" to recreate it into a plasticine painting.

3. Epic Portraits

 These show-stopper, LARGER THAN LIFE, one-of-a-kind pieces are keepsake self-portraits you’ll want to hang in your living room! They are SO dramatic and fun, and I show you exactly how - step-by-step inside one of the BONUSES for this program!

These are...

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Discover your Child's Learning Style {and how to teach them accordingly!}

 

Ever been in a traffic jam? Congestion, irritation, frustration.

If we had only listened to Google Maps, the highway would have been a much better route. Smooth, easy-going and enjoyable.

Teaching our children can have many "roadblocks" and traffic jams, especially if we're not in tune with our child's learning style. We may feel like they're not grasping certain concepts, unable to pay attention or just generally checked out and not enjoying learning.

It's not WHAT, it's HOW.

If your child has struggled with learning in the past, it may have had more to do with the way the material was presented - the HOW - rather than the material itself.

In other words, it's not so much the skills and content of utmost importance, but the route we take to get there.

Unlocking our child's learning style helps us to determine that route. 

Everyone has a preferred learning style that highlights how we best process, store and recall information. 

...

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Reggio-Style Portfolios: Documenting your Child’s Growth

 

What do you think of when you hear the word assessment? 

Measuring achievement? Evaluation of learning? Benchmarks and comparing our kids to where they should be?

What if assessment were used less as a means for reporting achievement, and more as a means of looking at children’s growth and for the purpose of teacher planning, and children's goal setting?

In the olden days, assessment used to mean we were evaluating our children’s work according to certain standards or benchmarks. But today, assessment means a whole lot more. 

Assessment for learning is the process of gathering and making sense of our child's learning - to help us determine where children are at in their learning, and where they need to go.  

Assessment as learning is the child’s responsibility, and is the process of self-reflection on learning. We call this meta-cognition. 

Assessment of learning measures learning at a given point in time - a snapshot that can be...

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Bookmaking: Explode Your Child's Writing Collection!

 

Ready to watch your child's writing EXPLODE?

Try bookmaking!

Writing comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. It's not limited to journal writing or stories.

In fact, sometimes those exercises can feel most intimidating to kids, turning them off for good.

Handmade books offer wonderful structures to be filled with all kinds of writing:

  •  recipes
  • joke books
  • math stories
  • all-about-me books
  • counting books
  • biographies
  • ABC books
  • life cycle books (think frogs, butterflies...)
  • circle books (think stories like If you give a Mouse a Cookie or Something from Nothing)
  • fairy tale retellings

The list goes on and on.

And there are SO many styles of books waiting to be filled with your child's ideas.

All you need is a bit of inspiration! I've got the perfect invitation to explore this hidden gem of an art form!

Join me for my LIVE bookmaking workshop as we explore beautiful handmade books you can make with children from ages 5-105 (that means...

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