Making connections- we all strive to make connections each moment of every day. We connect with people, with our environment and with ideas. Enjoy viewing these photos with the lens of connection.
My brain is like a tangled ball of yarn. The past couple of weeks my mind has been swirling with thoughts about curriculum in large and small groups- poetry; art; buddies; introducing the deep concept of home and exploring it further; emotional engagement; student visitors from SFU; new volunteers; and offering in depth play experiences.
It also has been filled with thoughts on a bigger scale- the work of the Ministry of Children & Family Development and the Ministry of Education; the new Early Learning Framework; the project we are working on as a team with a grant from the Vancouver Reggio Association; registration details for next year (yes, already!); and how to develop and grow a community of Early Childhood Educators.
So, because my mind is in a state of not knowing, collision, and imbalance, I cannot seem to pull one thread from these photos. I invite you to enjoy each photo on it’s own and yet realize the collective nature of our work. One moment is a moment but it always braids with the other moments, creating this unique and special place we call home.
Last week our team attended various sessions of a conference hosted by the Vancouver Reggio Association , presented by Tizania Filipino. Wow! Tizania as been working in Reggio Emilia for over 30 years, mostly as a pedagogista. This role is multi layered and complex, acting as a mentor to educators to develop deep curriculum as well as uniting educational practice between children, families and educators. A pedagogista supports educators to do research, document and make learning visible. As well, creating relationships and bridges between school and municipality, is also an integral component of this role.
Tizania’s knowledge, insights and clarification of key concepts provoked thinking for all of us. Personally, I have been revitalized this week, looking at the children’s work with fresh eyes. Creative juices are flowing and I am excited to dive into some good work! I am pretty sure much for our team feels the same! The work is often subtle and is the foundation of our curriculum; however, it may not be blatant or apparent. We can continue to dialogue more about this philosophical approach as the days unfold.
Enjoy these photos which showcase some of our experiences this week.
I had just purchased a book titled “The Lost Words” which examines some words that are no longer in the Webster’s Children’s Dictionary, particularly in the area of the natural world. This book invited me to thank about language so Monday morning’s circle was focused on thinking about ways to describe something- using adjectives as a beginning. This concept is challenging so we will continue to explore these ideas for some time.
Kate, scaffolding on this idea, concealed this brussels sprout plant underneath a blanket and asked the children to follow her works to draw a picture. For example ” Draw a long straight line”, then ” Add a bunch of squiggles on one end.” etc. After she delivered her instructions, she revealed the plant. These are some examples of what the children drew according to he instructions.
The Owls worked in pairs to choose an object and use words to describe it.
A big pile of wood chips was delivered- thanks City of Richmond!
We have been cherishing these sunny autumn days- each day is truly a gift and we have enjoyed watching the children play freely and happily! Each day invites discovery, friendship, understanding and questioning.Please enjoy this brief snapshot of children at play the last couple of days.
Emily & Kate
Thanksgiving is always a time to reflect on our blessings, offering gratitude for all our precious gifts- family, friends, and place. This Thanksgiving was different for me as I flew out of town to see my son (who is temporarily living there), my brother and my other family in Toronto. Before I left, I was excited about visiting everyone but it really wasn’t until I arrived that I realized just how much I has missed connecting with my ‘eastern’ family. I grew up in Montreal but also have strong ties to Toronto through family and dear friends. We have embraced the west coast fully and whole heartedly since the moment we moved here 27 years ago but my heart is still also in love with the east. Being there, with my clan, filled up my soul more than I had imagined. It calls forward so many questions about what is family? What is place and a sense of belonging? What is our given community and what is our chosen community? I cherish the opportunity to explore these ideas for myself, in all my roles- as a person, a mother, a wife, a friend and for all of you at TNNS, as an Educator.
We had our first parent meeting of this school year earlier this week. Typically we begin with a session that opens a window into our teaching practice, discussing the Reggio Emilia approach to education and our beliefs around the work we all do. But, not this time– food was on our mind! Food, in some ways, the foundation of our being, is part of our daily lives. We cooked three different recipes that could be a great snack or lunch here at school- energy balls, squash dip and kale & potato fritters! The tasting was wonderful and equally important was our dialogue about family, food and what it all means. We just started to unravel the beautiful complicated world of food and nourishing ourselves. More to come in the next meeting!
Children at Work
As the sun shines and the leaves turn colour, we find ourselves already in week 3! The past few weeks have been a time of settling in. For some, the experience is familiar but still requires becoming reacquainted with routines and people. For others, the experience is so new that each moment is heightened as our emotional and physical selves are challenged. We know the first few weeks requires a little extra work from all of us- the children, the parents and the educators. Together we figure out our systems, our rhythms and our needs. And, I think after this week, we are getting in the groove! Enjoy these snapshots of our time together the past couple of weeks.
Garden Work Party
Thanks to our committed parents for helping weed the garden beds and get them ready for fall planting! Soon, some beds will be freshly planted with garlic, fava beans, and some cover crops while other beds will be snuggled in for the winter with hay and leaves.
Owls practice climbing!
Face painting with Clay!
Numeracy can be learned in many ways. Here we see children counting as they shell a variety of beans. Later in the week this activity was expanded to include a dice.
We enjoyed our first “sit spot” session this week. Sit Spots is an activity frequently done in all our programs. Children sit on individual mats and are encouraged to stay still and quiet so they can observe and feel the world around them. This contemplative practice takes time to develop. Sometimes we de-brief after, sometimes we draw our observations on paper and sometimes we just do nothing at all but know the experience occurred!
The first week of school, even after teaching for 24 years, continues to be an emotional time. A time for new beginnings, new wishes, new commitments and reflection. As we head into our fifth year of Nature School, we have a better sense of who we are as individual educators as well as the dynamics of our collective team. We are excited to settle into the areas we feel are working well and motivated to push and explore the many areas we are interested in growing as a team.
As I fondly look back on our first year, when school began out of the Red Barn at the other end of the park (the Cottage was still being renovated), I cannot help but feel thankful to the families that placed their trust in us to join us on this journey and of course to our own team for having the courage to work through the many challenges of opening a new school. I will be forever grateful and I know my dearest partner, Kate, feels the same. We are one lucky bunch of educators!
Thank you to both our returning and new families for coming along with us for a new school year as we nurture through nature! Enjoy a glimpse of our first week and marvel at how well the children settled into their new place.
An exploration of dandelion seed fluffs.
Connecting through nature, nurturing through nature…
“I wish we could do this every weekend!”, said one participant at the end of our class. I believe this pretty much sums up the day! There is something about dough, especially dough cooked in a Cobb Oven fire. Dough seems to have its own life force that is gently awakened by the hands of a baker. It is malleable yet has its own ideas about the way it wants to be handled. Nav, our community baker, shared some of the secrets it holds. We learned about slap and fold techniques, the nuances of gluten and the water/flour ratio.
We made dough, roasted a wide variety of vegetables for toppings, made fresh ricotta cheese, salad dressing and then created all sorts of pizzas- some so gooey with cheese one had to look hard to find the dough, others delicately brushed with a white sauce with roasted onions and bacon. We all ate and ate and ate, slice after slice. Nav spoiled us with a homemade rhubarb & strawberry crumble topped with cream that we all took turns whipping by hand!
Like our last Family Cooking Class, we came together as a community to cook and eat together, cherishing our land and the beautiful day we were gifted. Thank you Sharing Farm, and Richmond Community Foundation and everyone who came out to enjoy this special day. Special thanks to Leslie our fire keeper, and our amazing volunteers, Erin, Claire and Taylor.
And some additional pictures from our week…. here Kate’s small Owls group is observing pond insects using the water magniviewers:
more pond life, Eagles notice a frog!
art-making in the fresh air:
outdoor blocks and loose parts always stimulate creative and cooperative play, such as Frazer and Darel’s ‘cookie making machine’:
An opportunity for quiet sensory play in the shade using small bottles, droppers, water and colour:
Working collaboratively with a partner to render a bird drawing from a photographic image as inspiration:
And, always, cooking and eating together! Our newest volunteer, Ruth, demonstrated her hydration backpack to the Owls, we enjoyed sushi made with local ‘fuki’ – thank you Misuzu – and rapini fresh from Kate’s garden!
Finally, we never forget to play and find joy with one another! With gratitude for our full weeks together, Kate