Teach Gratitude through Art {and a great booklist too!}

 

A Reggio-Inspired Invitation to explore Gratitude

Gratitude is an abstract concept for many children, but books and art make it so much more concrete and experiential. The following is a booklist to support your children's examination of what it means to be grateful, and the video includes a beautiful art invitation through the language of clay. 

There’s an old adage that says if the only prayer you say in your life is Thank You it will be enough. As a child I remember my grandpa standing at the head of a long table, 30+ people waiting to eat, waxing eloquent about his full heart and giving thanks that each of us kept showing up.  Now, as an adult, I am constantly looking for ways to teach my young children about such an abstract concept as gratitude. 

What does gratitude look like? How do we best show it? And more importantly, when does teaching basic manners like “please” and “thank you” translate to helping children have full...

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How to Teach Reading in Homeschool

 

Wondering what it takes to teach your child to read?

How do you know when your child is ready? 

Are you worried about turning them off of reading, or butting heads as you begin the process?

Teaching your child to read may feel overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts. 

As a resource teacher working with children and teachers, I was able to lean in on others’ classrooms and get a ton of great ideas. These teachers inspired me to raise the bar, and one, in particular - the Reading Recovery teacher - had a profound impact on my practice with her simplified tools to teach reading.

She had a giant tickletrunk of tools - many of them very playful and hands-on -  and I couldn’t help myself from eavesdropping every time she did a lesson. These struggling kids learned to read SO QUICKLY - with confidence, ease and fluency. 

I took stock of the strategies she used, and started to test them out in my own practice, and later on with my own girls. I was...

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Teach your Child to Write: the Simple, Playful Way

 

Do you wonder exactly HOW to teach your child to write {without butting heads / bribery or boring worksheets} in your homeschool?

Where do we start?

What does writing in the early years even look like? How does it fit into a Reggio-Inspired approach?

How much is too much? And do we push them, even when they resist?

Teaching writing is part art and part science. It requires a set of tools and a bit of knowledge about how kids develop and learn. When I taught in my Reggio-Inspired Kindergarten, I learned some pretty amazing tricks of the trade. Through my years of experience teaching hundreds of children - many of them reluctant - I honed my teacher toolbox with tried-and-true strategies. This article and video share some of my "teacher hacks" - a set of concrete tools to help make teaching writing easier for you, and more fun for them. 

“Writing floats on a sea of talk.” - James Britton

Oral language precedes the written word....

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These are a few of my favorite things... {non-traditional homeschool supplies}

 

Parents of preschoolers and little ones: ready to bust boredom, and inject some creativity and artful learning into your homeschool day? 

Young kids are built to move, to create and build  - and that's exactly what these unconventional supplies encourage.

Weave these unexpected, inexpensive supplies into everyday learning to up-level the fun-factor in your homeschool program!

For those of you who enjoy hearing AND seeing, be sure to check out the full video above!

 

1. India Ink

A beautiful medium for creating strongpunchy bold lines, India Ink is a unique tool to create expressive portraits,  working BIG on easel paper, or creating fun script, alphabet letters and numbers. Available on Amazon or Michaels, I offer a BIG disclaimer: India Ink is highly staining. So get outside, and don those big sloppy smocks!

2. Sharpie

Fine-line Sharpie markers are not for the faint of heart,...

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Reggio-Inspired Autobiographies

 

If you're looking for ideas to inspire your kids to read and write, you're going to LOVE this DIY bookmaking project! 

Often, young children need a little warming up, a little prompting when it comes to getting pen to paper  - especially if they suffer from perfectionistic tendencies, and want to get it just right.

Bookmaking opens a world of writing inspiration. A beautiful handmade book BEGS to be filled with your child's ideas, stories and pictures.

I like to think of bookmaking as the intersection of emergent literacy and art-making. A truly winning combination.

An autobiography is a wonderful starting point, because your child is sharing facts about his life. They're also a beautiful way to catch a glimpse of how your child see himself in the world, and the things that are most important to them.

Construct the book with the instructions inside the video at the top of this post.

Once the structure is completed, your book is ready to...

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Reggio-Inspired Atelier {at Home!}

 

What is an atelier?

How does the atelier foster our kids' creativity and self expression?

How can we create our own mini-atelier in our own home, and what materials should be included?

 

In Reggio Emilia, Italy, the atelier is like the beating heart of the classroom. 

A dedicated space for art-makinglong-term projects and creative exploration through a variety of rich art media, accessible to children to represent their ideas, provoke creative thinking, and show understanding through their one hundred languages.

How might we bring the magic of the Atelier home?

What kinds of tools should we include, and how can they be organized to foster independence and creative exploration for our own children?

 

Designating a dedicated space for creating sends a message to our children that art is valued, and that they are valued as artists.

This can be a special nook, corner or area of...

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The Reggio-Inspired Learning Space

Are you cringing that I used the word decor?

I dislike it too.

Ambiente (amˈbyentē) is a much better term, and encompasses so much more...

The textures, the colours, the smells, the feel, the vibe you get when you enter a space.

In fact, ambiente is the word used to describe the environment - the child's third teacher -  in a Reggio Emilia-Inspired world.

Why is so much attention given to the space that surrounds our children in the world of Reggio?

When we create an environment that respects children as learners and full of potentialthey in turn respect their environment and view themselves as capable, competent and full of potential. 

 

They understand that this is a place where they are honoured as artists and creators, and that learning is valued here.

 

When we think of our child's learning environment, what are some ideas that come to mind? How might we see the space through our children's eyes?

A quick...

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A Day in our Reggio-Inspired Kindergarten Homeschool

 

 

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in a Reggio-Inspired classroom?

Do you dabble with the approach - injecting the odd provocation here and there, experimenting with emergent curriculum, but also enjoy a more predictable, structured {planned} curriculum?

Have you wondered how to meet all the academic outcomes, but also how to balance a child-centred, curiosity-driven approach?  What are the rhythms and routines? How does learning “happen?” What does a typical schedule look like?

I’m also sharing my {somewhat controversial} stance - as someone who straddles the line between a traditional, teacher-directed approach with a more Reggio-inspired, child-centred approach. The "sweet spot" where wonder meets rigour.

I used to struggle with internal questions like:

"Is this inquiry-enough?"
"Is this artsy/playful/natural enough?"
"Does this spark enough joy/wonder/creativity?" 

More recently, however, I have finally become comfortable in my...

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My Dollar Store Homeschool Room

 

So you want to level-up your learning space.

Maybe you're even ready to Reggio-fy it. {What is Reggio? Learn more here}.

You see all the inspiration on Pinterest, on blogs and your imagination, but there's one problem.

You have a LIMITED budget.

As a former classroom teacher, working in Inner City, I know what it's like to work with a meagre budget.

But we're resourceful, practical educators right? We know how to stretch our dollar!

We know the importance of creating a space that feels cozy, warm and inviting.

We probably have a vision for creating a learning environment that's responsive to our kids' emerging interests; a space that is inspiring enough to pique curiosities and promote engagement, and cheerful and bright enough to promote happy learning.

So how can we begin to take steps to transform our learning space - whether that's the dining room, classroom, garage, or dedicated homeschool room - so that it is more inviting and inspiring? 

So that children will feel...

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The Sudden Homeschooler's Survival Guide: Part 4

 

Set it Up!

Okay! You’ve carved out a schedule for your day, now it’s time to sprinkle in the fun, meaningful learning activities {I call these “invitations”}.

Setting up an invitation requires a bit of prep, but the benefits are SO WORTH IT.

If you lay out the basic supplies needed in an inviting way, your child is SURE to dive in, and be engaged far longer

The kinds of invitations I'm talking about...

  • DON’T require you to be glued to your child’s side 
  • DON’T involve tons of pricey, scarce supplies
  • DON’T involve drill + kill worksheets that will turn your kids off learning.

These kinds of learning invitations are set up with your child’s many languages in mind {in Reggio we call this “the child’s one hundred languages” - meaning, kids express themselves in MANY ways: art, movement, music, sculpture, construction, drama… 

These invitations are meant to be FUN...

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