Spring 2020

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The spring of 2020 was probably the most uncertain time of all of our lives. I felt like I was waiting for something but didn’t know what I was waiting for nor when it was going to get here. It was an eerie feeling.

Kind of like that feeling before a snow storm. Although the spring of 2020 gave us so much to consider, I noticed it was a breathtakingly beautiful spring. The most beautiful spring I can remember. Unfortunately, our springs in this area have been reduced to a couple of weeks at best. This spring the colors were vibrant and vivid. The blooms were heavy, long lasting and big. The pear trees didn’t shed nearly as quickly as they usually do.

The sky was even bluer. We had a LOT of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. This resulted in a technicolor spring. There are so many lilac bushes in Miss Amy’s neighborhood I could smell them every time we went outside. The tulips, daffodils, dogwood, red-buds all the early bloomers, really showed off. It gave me some comfort.

Getting to know the upstairs children took me out of my comfort zone and kept me on my toes as they are not easily impressed. We turned everything into a project. How many buckets does it take to return the sand to the playground from the dump buckets? The answer was 87.

We documented new birds that came to the feeders we made.

Mr. Peanuts, our squirrel, does indeed like peanuts although it took him 11 days to find them. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were very social, they made some duck friends and they all slept in the puddles outside.

We learned the Hand Jive – Bob Bop Clap Clap Side to Side. Everyone is very coordinated except for me. I made Bananas Foster French Toast with whipped cream. It was delicious! Now we are all back where we are more accustomed to being. It feels like home. We planted some impatiens but they failed to come up. We planted basil instead. We also turned grass seed, selfies, and plastic cups into a “Chia Pet”. We continued our seasonal tree art collaboration that was inspired by a project from a few years ago.

Seasonal Tree

Until next time,

Ms. Micha

Picture This!

Happy Saturday! I just wanted to take a second to let y’all know about the new art themed picture based blog post series I’m about to start up. Each week, I take oodles of pictures of the art that your wonderful children are producing day in and day out and I wanted a way to share this outside of my normal blog posts. So, every few weeks, I’m going to update “Picture This!” with new pictures of our recent art! Don’t worry, still the same blog, just a running series of posts within and I’ll always call it “Picture This!” Excitement! Now, without further ado…

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The kids love this book, so I thought we’d find a way to incorporate it into an art activity!

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In case you’ve never read Sneezy the Snowman, he melts over and over again because he’s too cold and keeps trying to warm himself up by drinking hot chocolate, sitting in a hot tub, and standing by a fire.

Here’s a link to a reading of Sneezy the Snowman on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RiHfYElP-M

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First we painted snowmen and decorated them and then, using straws, we blew our snowmen into oblivion!

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Looks like a melted snowman to me!

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Next, we decided to take normal Play-Doh to the next level and draw on it!

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Each child got their own hunk of white Play-Doh and then took to it with markers.

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And once they’d finished drawing on it, we mixed it up with great success! Beautiful!

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Played with our Play-Doh…

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And even practiced our letters.

Our end result: Play-Doh as unique as each child’s imagination and a great future toy!

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We also tried our hand at replicating snowflakes!

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All we had to do was place tape on watercolor paper in the shape of snowflakes…

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Paint…

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And pull the tape off!

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Not one snowflake like any other!

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With Pajama Day coming up and yet another book we all love, we started making our very own red pajamas from all manner of materials, including tape, noodles, and glitter.

Here’s a link to a reading of Llama Llama Red Pajama on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD1g3P-nKWo

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After we were finished decorating our pajamas, we could move on to the next step of making sure we put heads, hands, and feet on our pajamas.

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Because headless pajama would be scary – Eek!

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Some of us wanted to use yarn for our hair and others just used pencils and crayons.

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But either way, we drew our faces, painted our hands, and stamped our feet and soon had…

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Pajama clad versions of ourselves to take home on Pajama Day!

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We also painted many a picture over the past few weeks, something we quite love to do.

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You just can’t go wrong with paint!

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Our creations included this car, which looks like it came straight out of a children’s book…

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And the Moaning Lisa!

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We circled back around to snowflakes and tried our hand at decorating them too.

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Once more, not a snowflake too similar!

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We had a few sensory tables thrown into the mix as well!

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Here, our biodegradable packing peanuts are dissolving in water…

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Being squished by children…

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and rolling around in a bucket of shredded paper “snow!”

Can you tell yet how desperately we are hoping it will snow very very soon?

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Finally, we built things, drew things, and just played and had fun!

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Wiki Sticks!

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Spaghetti and Meatballs!

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Melty Beads

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Loose Parts

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Look at that structure!

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HAPPINESS!

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It’s only a snapshot – I take at least a hundred pictures a week – but hopefully it brings you into our world of art and exploration. Until next time!

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

A Blast From the (Recent) Past

Hey y’all, it’s been a while since we last posted, but – oh buddy, let me tell you – this holiday season has been crazy! From Trick-or-Treating with all the kids at Halloween, to Thanksgiving, to our annual Christmas party, to New Years, it has been a very busy time. Just add fifty odd children, some snow, sand, freezing pipes, and general chaos and that about sums us up! But, in the best way possible. We’re getting ready and raring for a fantastic next year, but first I think we should do one final recap of some of the fun things we did last year. I’ll warn you now, it’s going to be a long one!

Reminiscence #1: Pumpkin Slime!

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Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, at the height of fall wonder, we decided it would be fun to make some pumpkin slime. All we needed was some hot water, glue, borax, and orange food coloring and we were in business. Our end result was gooey and slimy, slick, but sticky. Sometimes it stretched out and sometimes it snapped right in half. We could mold it into different shapes and watch as it melted back into a gelatinous mess. It was a great opportunity to explore a new material and tons of fun too!

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Making the “Great Wall of Slime-uh” (Hehe, get it? Great Wall of China, Slime-uh?)

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We also really enjoyed writing our names in slime before it became one giant puddle!

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And, last but not least, where would we be without a slime highway to get us from place to place!

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Reminiscence #2: Preserving Fall Leaves

If you’ve never tried to preserve some fall flora between two sheets of wax paper, I’d highly recommend it! All you have to do is find some leaves, grass, or flowers, and gently iron them between wax paper. Depending on what you choose to preserve and what you want it to look like, you could create a great little picture like the one below. Alistair was very careful in his placement of his leaves and grass so that he could create a wonderful scene of two leaf people. I personally think they are Mom and Dad leaves and are walking hand in hand with their leaf baby. He even gave them smiling faces! Too cute!

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Reminiscence #3: Magnifying Glass Fun

Remember when you were a kid and you first discovered the strange and mystifying magnifying glass? Of course you spent the next hour running around your house or school, magnifying everything humanly possible. But, no matter what you found and made big, nothing ever compared to making your own face strange and distorted. Gigantic eyes – all the better to see you with, and a huge mouth – all the better to eat… er, smile at you with!

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Reminiscence #4: Construction Zone Ahead

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Here at Miss Amy’s, we really really like to build things. In the above picture, Astrid decided to craft Santa’s sleigh and if she’d had the time to build eight reindeer and hook them up to the sleigh, she’d have done that too. And, by golly, if she could have put in an “electronic chip,” she’d have been well on her way to making it fly “like a drone.” Isn’t imagination wonderful?!

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A few other things that have been built lately include Astrid’s skyscraper (above), two lovely “tornado” proof shelters for when Hurricane Kt hit, and sand castles, just for the joy of experiencing what packed wet sand can be sculpted into.

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Speaking of packed wet sand, some of the children decided to test their engineering skills and wanted to build sand bridges. They started out trying to use the wet stand to build bridges above ground, above a river they’d dug out, but it wasn’t working. The sand kept falling off and breaking. It just wasn’t sturdy enough. That’s when they got the idea to try building bridges by digging tunnels. When the sand is dry, tunneling never works, but this time, they were able to make a complex system of tunnels or bridges. They even tried digging a tunnel so big that they could crawl through it!

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Reminiscence #5: Wearable Creations

When I was a kid, I remember spending endless hours pretending to be different animals. Sometimes I was a bird sitting on a nest of pine needles I’d scraped together around myself and sometimes I was a big cat, stalking through grass and hunting my prey. But, no matter what I was doing, I imagined myself transformed into that creature. At the time, it was the best I had. I didn’t have access to tons of paper and glue, scissors, tape, and string. I only had my own imagination. The children here though, have far more. Instead of just imagining they are a shark swimming through the water, they can make it real.

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I don’t know about you, but that’s one terrifying shark to me!

Some of the older kids like to make other things they can wear too. The other day Astrid made a wonderful paper and string headband that I wore almost the entire day, as well as a funny mesh hat. And not long after that, Raleigh decided he’d lost on eye in battle and needed to make a spectacle so he could see.

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Reminiscence #6: “Shadows”

Oh my goodness, since the kids discovered this, it has been one of the most exciting and fun things to do on a bright sunny morning. When the sunlight shines in through the windows, the children with grab anything that reflects light and cast “shadows,” as they call them, around the room. Then the other children will chase the shadows and try to catch them as the shadow-throwers move them erratically. Sometimes I feel like a disco ball has just dropped from the ceiling with the number of little light balls that are flying around the room!

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Reminiscence #7: Miscellaneous Moments

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We also decorated gingerbread cookies. Tasty!

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And saw the creation of this amazing little frog!

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We were the best of friends…

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And we were thankful for every minute!

Thank you all for such a great year! I had a blast and I’m looking forward to making this coming year even better. There is truly, never a dull moment here, even when all we are doing is playing in the sandbox. We are always learning and growing, learning about physics, chemistry, biology, language, love, the works! And always growing into our best selves. This is the place to be. We love it here and we hope you do to. Happy New Year everyone!

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

Holy Rollies and the Wilderness

It’s Monday and at Miss Amy’s that means “Outdoor Classroom”.  We take a short journey to a nearby park and explore what mother nature has to offer. The children look forward to it and it’s the perfect cure for the Monday blues. We let them guide themselves and try not to intervene too much. Today we brought clay for impression making, their sketch books, pastel chalks, charcoal, pencils, and a bug net.

The park we visit is beautiful but it is far from a jungle or even a forest, but the kids always equate our visits to being in the wilderness. They seem to go into foraging mode almost instantly.

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A feather collection is started

The bug net spiked their interests immediately. They caught and observed a firefly, dragonfly, and an earwig.

 

Then one little boy noticed some decaying wood under a tree. He lifted up the wood and exclaimed, “Look Holy Rollies!”. One of the older kids said, “Do you mean Roly Poly’s ? They like to live under wood!”. The younger boy agreed that that’s what he meant, but for the rest of the day almost everyone referred to them as holy rollies.

-Miss Amber

The Golden City

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For weeks, the four and five year olds have reveled in creating a 3-D “construction site” made  by glueing many random loose parts on an old chipboard we had lying around in the atelier. The board was secured to a small table, just big enough for two children at a time to sit at and work on the site. A small provocation table sat next to it with a book on castles of Scotland, a basket of found bits such as shells, feathers, marker lids, bag ties, acorns, essentially anything found or normally discarded, and lots of glue. Each duet could work on the site with the only rule being that they couldn’t un-do someone else’s work.

Once we felt we had come to a point of completion, the site was spray painted with gold. The children immediately exclaimed, “A golden city!!!”  We have learned what beauty lies in the collection of small things, carefully assembled and showered with attention. The whole is indeed greater than just the sum of it’s parts.

Miss Lori, Atelierista

The Rain Finally Came!

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After having watched the clouds in the sky for many weeks now and only dreaming of rain, it finally did rain! We have had two big rains this week and our vegetable garden sends its thanks!

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Look at how well our vegetables are growing in our garden!
We have carrots, which very reluctantly showed themselves at first but they have steadily kept growing and they really perked up after the rains.
The Swiss chard, the beets and the broccoli are all looking well as are our sugar snap peas. Our cauliflower is being eaten by caterpillars! Something will have to be done about this. We will probably have to resort to some kind of non toxic homemade bug spray. We are 100% organic in our garden!

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Our garden is flowering! Tomato, potato and pepper flowers!

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What to do on a rainy day? Go outside and make rainy-day-art! It was barely sprinkling so we decided to make art outside this morning. We used clothespins to attach large pieces of paper to our fence. The children used spray bottles filled with paint to make their art. At first the pictures looked a lot like clouds with rain falling from them. The children enjoyed watching the paint mix with other colors and drip off the paper.

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A lot of caring is going on here at Miss Amy’s Child Care. The teachers care for the children and the children care for there teachers. The children care for eachother, for our hen Minerva Louise and for our two remaining goldfish. We care for our vegetables and for our school, for our toys and for ourselves. There is an aweful lot of caring going on here, and that is how it should be.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

– Miss Maria

The Last Week of May.

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We have had an other death in the preschool family. This time it was our catfish that died. We dug a hole, picked flowers and said our farewells. The children wanted to know why the fish had died and I explained that it was probably because it was very old. We talked about life and death for a while and some of the children concluded that it wasn’t just fish that died when they were very old, people did too.

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We had our second harvest from our vegetable garden. This time we harvested radishes and lettuce. I had excellent help picking the produce.

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We love blowing bubbles! It is very interesting to watch the children as they develop their bubble-blowing-technique, from sucking on the bubble wand when the children are very young, to skillfully blowing several bubbles at one time as they grow older and more skilled. Sometimes, two bubbles stick together and fly off hand-in-hand! Other times, the children manage to catch bubbles with their wand, study them for a while before re-launching it. Some children have even figured out how to insert a finger into the bubble without breaking it. Science is at work here, every day!

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Some children turned a puppet theater into a library! They selected several books from our outdoor library to offer to their prospective patrons. I saw money changing hands a time or two. Late fees perhaps?

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I laminated several pieces of construction paper of different colors. The children started off by comparing the different colors to different objects around our classroom. Before long though, the game had changed and now two girls had lined up the sheets of paper on the floor, like a hopscotch game of sorts. I watched the girls as they kept re arranging the pieces, putting some colors next to a certain other color, carefully planning every step. I watched the girls stepping back from the game to get a better view, changing things around until they were completely satisfied.
We got some puppets out to play with, and most children happily tried them out. Some of the youngest children were a little wary of the puppets at first: they somehow came alive once you had your hand inside them! I noticed that the puppets soon were hugging other puppets!💟 The two puppets pictured, a baby elephant and a baby koala, quickly became good friends. They soon befriended a xylophone alligator, (a child who was not all that into puppets). The xylophone alligator played the ABC song and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. The baby elephant and the baby koala both sang!

The end of May is here and June is just around the corner…

Until next time!

– Miss Maria

A farewell to our butterflies.

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Our caterpillars turned into butterflies over the weekend.

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On Monday morning we gathered all the children at Miss Amy’s on our lawn, and let our butterflies go. Butterflies can fly very fast!

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This is what the empty chrysalises look like. The little black blobs are the exuvia,  which contains the head capsule from when the butterflies were caterpillars.

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Our garden is growing very well. We are growing kale, lettuce, potatoes, Swiss chard, carrots, radishes, peas, cauliflower and beets.

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The children are doing a good job, helping to water our garden and to monitor our plants’ progress.

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Today, Friday, we had our annual Field Day. We played games and had a picnic lunch with ice cream cones for dessert.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

– Miss Maria

Life and death at preschool.

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Butterfly update: We moved our five chrysalises to a larger container, with netting on the sides and clear plastic on the top and bottom and with a zippered top. As we were watching the chrysalises one day they started to wiggle vigorously! This is normal. It is a way to scare off predetors.
The very first of five chrysalises hatched and our first Painted Lady butterfly was born! This all happened yesterday, while no one was looking. You can see the hatched chrysalis in the photo in the top left hand corner. The little dark blob that you can see, is the exuvia  that contains the head capsule from the caterpillar stage. We are hoping that the remaining four chrysalises will wait until Monday to hatch so that we can witness this amazing event. In the bottom photo you can see an orange-red liquid on the side of the mesh, it’s called meconium. It is not blood but the waste product of the chrysalis.

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Our very first Painted Lady butterfly, or Vanessa cardui, as it is also known is beautiful, don’t you think? If you want to find out more about the Painted Lady butterfly, check out this website.

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We had one birth this past week, but also one death. One of our goldfish died and was buried on Monday.

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First we dug a hole next to our rabbit Flopsy, who died several years ago. Each child said good bye to our pet fish and put a flower on top of him/her that they had selected and picked themselves. The children took their time selecting their flowers, and decided to pick some for their Moms and their Grandmas at the same time!

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Our hen, Minerva Louise has been very busy laying eggs every day for several weeks now.

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The children enjoy feeding Minerva Louise special treats, as a thank you for the eggs she lays.

Wishing everyone a happy weekend!

Photo credit goes to Miss Susie, for taking the photos that I am in myself.

– Miss Maria

Composting 101

We are so very excited to start our new composting project this week. As we move forward with our vision of a sustainable school, we have been working hard on our garden, setting up compost bins outside, and talking with the children about all that is involved. They have made posters about composting (green versus brown) and we’ve talked about what food waste is and what food in our lunches is compostable.

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Composting is giving us great learning experiences and conversations already: Nutrition (if it isn’t good for our compost, i.e. processed foods and artificial foods, is it good for our bodies?), Math (measuring and weighing our food waste each day), Science (soil composition and decomposition of organic matter), and more and more each day as the children ponder all sorts of questions.

The children were able to set aside their food scraps yesterday and weigh them.  IMG_1021

The food scrap total was 2.2 pounds from 17 lunches. Being able to put it all in a bowl only made the things that went into the trash even more evident. Next, how do we reduce even more waste? Some ideas we talked about included reducing packaged foods, eliminating plastic utensils and more. The kids have proven that being “sustainable” is a way of being mindful of our habits and of our impact on the natural world….the world we depend on to feed, nourish, and nurture us.  AND sustainability can be a whole lot of fun.

–Miss Lori