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 Your Child in Under 1 Hour per Day

 

How can you teach your child to read, write and do math in under <1 hour per day?

The secret inside Artful Teaching. Joyful Learning.® is an integrated approach - one that folds in literacy and numeracy into everything you do. The program is rooted in a Reggio-inspired approach, and its holistic style is what makes teaching and learning so seamless, streamlined and beautiful.

This blog post and video show a typical "flow" to an ATJL homeschool day, and includes predictable, repeatable rhythms and routines to teach reading, writing and math in a way that's playful, engaging and research-based.

Morning Meeting ~ 15 minutes

Morning meeting is a practice used in most early childhood classrooms, and for good reason! It's a beautiful way to teach reading and writing in a way that doesn't require much planning or headspace. Here's how.

1. Morning Message: A daily message written to your child with a rotating bank of 5 literacy strategies. Your child...

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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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How to Choose a Curriculum for Young Learners

 

If you’re dabbling with the idea of homeschooling your little one this fall, you may be wondering about WHICH curriculum to use, and whether you even NEED a curriculum as you begin your homeschool journey.

And If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a parent who values play, creativity and nurturing your child’s wonder about the world.

You're likely the kind of parent who believes in a slow, gentle and natural approach to learning, and don’t like the idea of pushing hard academics, prolonged periods of seatwork, and countless worksheets and flashcards.

These ARE the good old days, and you know childhood’s too short and precious to sit at a desk for five hours a day.

 Truth be told, you don’t NEED a curriculum for the early years.

Learning in the early years should be play-based, experiential, capturing our children’s wonder and delight in their curiosity.  It should be free of pressure, gentle and...

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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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How to Get your Child to Write {even if they hate writing!}

 

Writing can be a daunting task - particularly for our youngest learners, and especially for our "perfectionist" non-risk takers. 

If the idea of writing has your kids resisting or butting heads with you, try these simple strategies to go from writing reluctance to writing receptiveness. Even if your child is just beginning to learn letters and sounds, they too can experience what it means to be an author!

1. Talk first. Write later.

"Writing floats on a sea of talk." - James Britton

The spoken word precedes the written word.  Before a child is capable of writing, they must have stories to tell. Providing opportunities to share orally is some of the best work we can do as parents to prepare fertile ground to plant the seeds for creative writing.

Small world play is one of the best sources for storytelling, because children are narrating their playscapes with characters - little people, dinosaurs, animals - which later...

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The Art of Bookmaking with Kids

 

 Bringing bookmaking into the your homeschool is where ART and LITERACY intersect.

The writing process can often be a daunting process, especially for reluctant writers.

Handmade books give children a structure, "architecture for the imagination," and entice them to fill their books with original ideas and stories. 

Handmade books excite and engage children of all ages, because they are not only beautiful in form, but an extension of themselves. 

A finished handmade book is something to celebrate and cherish forever. 

 

Handmade books are a wonderful way to bring the worlds of ART + LITERACY home to your child.

Not only will your child have more ownership of their learning once they've created and published their own book, but you'll have a concrete piece of learning for their portfolio. 

Bookmaking is an art form that can be explored even with very young children, and can take on...

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A Reggio-Inspired Valentine's Day: Literacy from the He{ART} ♡ Part 1

 

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite celebrations throughout the year, and a beautiful opportunity for learning about our most important and universal value: love.

What is LOVE? 

Who are the people we love?

How do we show love?

Have you ever asked your child these questions? Their answers might surprise you {and make you giggle!}

"Love is a hug and a kiss after I get a boo-boo."

"Love is cuddles."

"Love is when my mom makes pancakes."

Over the coming days, I'll be sharing a series of Reggio-inspired invitations to explore the idea of LOVE as we weave in important aspects of reading, writing and representing through Language Arts.

Today's blog post shares a special DIY bookmaking activity to explore "LOVE" with children, integrating playful literacy in a meaningful and authentic way. The goal is to encourage our kids to write with purpose in a gentle and age-appropriate manner.

DIY Handmade Book

This DIY book structure, called a Concertina book, shines a...

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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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