Happy Easter

It’s that time of year! We enjoyed coloring eggs yesterday morning (4/12/17). We had many that only colored one egg and I had a few that colored I believe a half a dozen each 😆. Some enjoyed it more than others!

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They took their dyed eggs home with them in a “nest” (rolled down paper bag) I didn’t get a picture of them, but they were adorable.

Today was our Easter Egg Hunt.  It was a great success, the 2’s and 3’s had their hunt first, then the 4’s and 5’s did their hunt. We had a golden egg for both classes, inside was a dollar!  We enjoyed a special Easter snack afterwards on the porch.

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Here are the 2’s and 3’s heading out to hunt!

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Here is our winner of the Golden Egg.

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Here are a few pictures of the 4’s and 5’s hunting eggs. They were quicker and I didn’t get a picture of the Golden Egg winner from that class! They mean business!

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It was a beautiful day for an Egg Hunt.  I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend!

Miss Susie

Three days of learning…

This is the Fuqua School of Business, at Duke University, where the conference was held.


My colleague, Miss Amber and I spent three days full of optimism, wonderful insights and inspiration at the 8th North American Reggio Emilia Alliance Winter Conference at Duke University, North Carolina.

 We brought this knowledge back with us to use in our every day interactions with our young children at Miss Amy’s LLC.

“The Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. It was developed after WWII by the psychologist Loris Malaguzzi, and parents in the villages around Reggio Emilia in Italy. Following the war, people believed that children were in need of a new way of learning.” (Reggio Emilia approach – Wikipedia).

The two things that stand out the most in the Reggio Emilia approach, to me, is the absolute respect and understanding that each child is shown by all adults.

During the conference, there was a lot of discussion about citizenship and what it really means. According to the Reggio Emilia approach, each child is a citizen of not only his or her country but also of his or her community. This right to citizenship starts at birth and this is explained to each child as he or she grows up and each child is reminded of this often, by adults but also by other children. Children are respected for who they are and their full potential is encouraged and helped along the way as the child grows older.

According to the Reggio Emilia approach, “The competent child has a brain that is extremely plastic and able to learn and explore.” All children are capable and all children can reach their full potential. Children with special needs are called children with special rights! Children of different abilities are encouraged to work side by side and together solve problems and to find new solutions. It is believed that putting labels on children restricts their future.

 All staff members at the schools, not just teachers but aids, cooks and cleaners, are also teachers in their own rights. Is very important to mix adults from different backgrounds . The Reggio Emilia approach has a lot of support from the community of the city of Reggio Emilia . It is very involved in teaching the the young people through theater, music, dance and photography and it does so happily! There are many field trips made into the city. Even the very youngest students who are just babies get to go and explore their world and this continues all through the child’s schooling. This approach reinforces the feeling of belonging, of citizenship. 

“Children-teachers-parents are competent co-authors in/of a community of learning.”

Children are genetically wired to learn through emotional connections. It is important to give credit with joy and humor and with encouragement. Children learn how to learn by imitation. Learning is traversal. A teacher’s job is to be available for the child at each new developmental stage. It is good to have a base idea but let the children take the reins and let them go where they want to/need to. Ask questions like how are we learning rather than what are we learning. The process itself is the most important part. The free use of imagination is encouraged. There is not just one way to play with something in order to learn and to understand. The teacher is the interpreter, the one who gives meaning to what the child is discovering as well as the “encourager”. Some other key points of the Reggio Emilia approach are:

“Be with the child in their own time of learning”

“The teacher’s job is to be a bridge between different children, between what the child knows and what he/she wants to know, to lead the child on to the beginning of their journey.”

 “We all learn through relationships with others.”

“Children are explorers both through their bodies and their minds.”

“Do not separate learning and life – LIFE IS LEARNING.”

When we learn we sometimes fail and then get up and try again or like Simone, age 3 years 10 months put it, “To take a step you have to lose your balance.”

This three day conference has given me a lot of hope for the children in my own community and it has reminded me why I am an educator.

“Teaching is a profession for thinking big.” -Anon

Miss Maria, the lead teacher for the 2-year-old -classes at Miss Amy’s LLC.

The best job description ever!

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Kite flying with my young friends. Photo credit: Miss Susie.

Like every other job, teaching preschool has its own stresses.

We are now four weeks into the new school year, here at Miss Amy’s Child Care.
We have had many changes. We now have two 2-year-old classes. The teacher who used to teach the 3-year-old class is now teaching one of the 2-year-old classes. We have a new teacher for the 3-year-old class. Some children have moved up a class or moved on to Kindergarten! The pecking order has changed and friendships have changed too. Things have been a little crazy at times but now, finally, the kinks seem to have straightened themselves out, and as the leaves start to fall we fall into our routines.

I love my job. What other job has in its job description to love, and one of the perks being to be loved back, unconditionally?

I wipe away tears, kiss boo-boos and have mine kissed in return. I rock a sad little person until he or she is ready to face the day. I receive a timid smile and a tiny hand in mine.
I wipe noses and bottoms and I get to share the trials and triumphs of potty-training.
On some days I eat ten birthday cakes and gain no excess weight! That’s the power of imagination.
From my young friends I get asked the most interesting questions, which truly challenges my own knowledge, and helps me to grow. I always try to answer honestly and sometimes we try to find the answers together. We are amazed and in awe, at all of the wonders of this world.

Did you know that very young children have an incredible ability to pay attention to the very smallest of details? They carry that knowledge around with them until they need it, sometimes not for a very long time. Like little sponges, young children absorb knowledge any way they can. They are masters of this art!
Have you ever really listened to a very young child? They are so wise, so honest, curious and extremely witty, too! Be careful about having sweet nothings whispered into your ear though, no matter how sweet their sentiments may be. Whispering is an art and young children take a long time mastering this, releasing a lot of moisture into your ear canal, as they practice.

I love my job. To love and nurture, and keeping my young charges safe. To reassure, encourage and to watch this amazing transformation from a toddling 22 month old to a child ready for Kindergarten.

How lucky I am!

– Miss Maria, Teacher for one of our two 2-year-old classes.

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

Cry Wolf!

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Barter Stage II

At Miss Amy’s we are so lucky to operate in a town that has so many interesting things to do and see. One of our favorite experiences is the Barter Theatre. The Barter is  one of the longest running professional theatres in the nation. We are very blessed that they offer a troupe of actors (The Barter Players) that specialize in performances for young audiences.

Every year the children look forward to watching the plays. It’s a big deal to them! They get a little “dressed up” and they work on using their best manners. We walk through our wonderful town exploring the sights.

We couldn’t have a trip to Stage II without stopping at the “wishing fountain”.

Then we were off to the show. We saw “Cry Wolf“. It’s a fantastic play written by the wonderful Catherine Bush. It was a mash-up of many classic stories. The kids absolutely loved it! They were on the edge of their seats for the entire show. It’s my absolute favorite thing to watch first timers when the lights dim. They have no idea what’s about to happen, but are immediately captivated  every time.  It is so rewarding for them to witness kind of art!

This quote from a Huffington Post article, entitled How Theater for Young People Could Save the World  really illustrates the benefits the children get from the experience.

” Theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.”

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We had a fantastic time at the theatre. You might have heard us howling all the way home…

-Miss Amber

 

Trike-A-Thon

Recently we held our annual Trike-A-Thon. We have done this for 22 years. We use this as an opportunity to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and to teach the children about bicycle safety. We have raised over $31,000 over the past years. The children look forward to this every year. They are always very excited to show off their bikes and helmets. Every year I am astonished at how determined they are to help the children and families at St. Jude’s. Even our smallest friends seem to know they are riding for a purpose. The children did a total of 874 laps between all three classes and would have probably doubled that if it hadn’t started raining!

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Thanks to all the parents, family and friends that made and have made donations!

Snowy day fun.

We have been watching the snow come down from inside Miss Amy’s Child Care and we have tried to catch snowflakes on our tounges outside in our playground. We have made tracks in the snow with our feet and played with snow and ice in our outdoor kitchen. We made snow angels and looked for our sandbox (hidden under all that snow). Where was it? We made snow balls and contemplated why our mittens became wet after having played outside in the snow for a while. Where did the water go and where did the ice come from? We discussed the difference between snow on the ground and falling snow. We designed snowmen and looked hard for snowmen parts – sieves with long handles for the arms and tin buckets for hats as well as sticks and anything else that may look good on a snowman. What does a snowman taste like? Today some of the children decided to find out for themselves by licking one of them! Miss Susie started a game of snow soccer on our snow clad lawn, the children had not lost their touch!

– Miss Maria, teacher for the 2’s class.

 

Arrival of the Autumn Fairy

For two weeks the atelier has been a hub of leaves and sticks, a host to hues of gold, russet and brown, and the center of what may be a new ritual: the creation of the Autumn Fairy.  With chicken wire, an iron stand, a styrofoam head, and lots of found materials, recycled paintings, and fall nature treasures we worked until we felt she was ready. Meet the ironically named April,  our Autumn Fairy:

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The children were nearly obsessed with her having a head. We began with her skirt, but they continually asked for her to have a head. They proposed using everything from a smoothie bottle from someone’s lunch to an osage orange from the Fall findings basket. The first head attempt comically failed, but the new realistic one was greeted with relief. The children said she needed pink lips. “She must have them!” Her final embellishment was a stream of thankfulness ribbons woven into her skirt- streaming down with each child’s statement of what they are most thankful for in this season of gratitude.

A happy, grateful Thanksgiving to all. –Miss Lori, Atelierista

 

 

 

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

This and that…

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Here at Miss Amy’s we play with play-doh almost every day. Popular things to make are of course snakes and worms. We have also been making letters and numbers, pizza and cookies.
Pictured are, from top left to right, pizza, a mountain cake and a compass showing “west and north”, according to its creator. The girl who made the pizza told me that I could not eat her play-doh pizza for real. “It doesn’t taste good. It may give you a belly ache. It may even make you go crazy!” These were great advice that I paid close attention to.

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These are photos showing the Hobgoblin’s castle.

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Blowing bubbles is always fun. Some children become extremely excited!

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In the mulch under our Red Bud tree, we have a fairy house that the children are free to play with any way they chose. On this particular day, it was filled with wooden discs that still has the bark attached to them. The children were having a fire and we’re roasting things over it using sticks.

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One girl carefully arranged a whole basket full of toy animals. She told me that she was feeding them bugs so that they would not go hungry. When she was done, she said that she had made a zoo.

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A girl dressed in a mermaid costume were building a “multi color castle”, those were her exact words. An other child wanted to help her build the castle so I tried to be encouraging, suggesting that some help would be nice. The mermaid clad girl told me that this would not be possible. The castle was “poison” and she was “poison”, therefore only she could touch the castle…

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A river made of wooden blocks!

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A touch wooden castle with a staircase!

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A traffic jam?!

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One of a kind: our one and only spinach plant, our only black currant and one wasp.

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Flowers growing in our yard!

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

– Miss Maria