Hey! I am astounded that this little blog still gets hundreds of hits each day, even though I haven't posted anything new for several years. I am so thankful to all of you that continue to stop by.
I'd like to invite you to come check out my new blog. To update those of you who have followed my teaching journey since 2008, I spent the past three years homeschooling my two sons. This August, I started teaching again full-time and this job is the best fit for me professionally that I have ever had. I am working in a public school in an early childhood special education classroom. My classroom is composed of about 50% children with special needs and 50% of at-risk students. I am loving every minute of working with these "littles". Head over to read all about it at: Laura's Little Learning Lab. Hope to see you there soon!! (I would love it so much if you'd drop me a comment on the new blog to let me know you've stopped by.)
OK.............I realize I have been absent from these here parts for a while. I guess the best way to explain what turned out to be a much longer than expected absence is that I didn't know how to write this post, so I avoided it for a bit, then time just passed, we got busy with family stuff, and here we are about three months later. So.
Wow! I didn't think this would be so hard. What I'm here to tell you tonight is that I am starting a new "leg" of my journey, one that won't directly involve Montessori education. In February of this year, I informed my school that I would not be returning to the classroom in the fall. After years of wanting to and months of agonizing over can we?, my husband and I have decided that I finally get to stay home with my sons and be their homeschool teacher. A very few of you who know me in real life know that this has long been a dream of mine. Many of you loyal readers are homeschooling mamas yourselves, so you know what it's like to have your heart tugging at you to stay home. This fall I will have been a mama for ten years.........a full decade. It doesn't seem possible. Throughout those years, I have yearned to be able to stay home with my sons. While I have dearly loved teaching other children (and hopefully that love and joy have been genuinely reflected here), it is time for me to move on. I am tremendously excited about what the new school year has in store for me. And I've been researching and planning like crazy to get things up and going here at home. To bring in some income, I'll be teaching a few private piano lessons and have recently completed coursework to become a licensed Kindermusik instructor. I'm excited for these new adventures as well. The best part for our family is that now when I have to go to "work", it will be right here in our home, in the studio I've created in our basement.
Words cannot adequately express that absolute gratitude I have towards all of you virtual friends out in cyberspace who have visited me in this little spot over the past three years. I have been so blessed to be able to document what has truly been the highlight of my twenty-year teaching career. I am thankful to the families and children I have had the privilege of serving over the years. I have been blessed to teach with five wonderful teaching assistants as well who have made it a joy to come to work each day. Because of all these changes, I won't be posting over here much at all. However, I hope you'll stop over to visit me once in a while at my studio blog. You can find it at: http://walnuthillstudio.blogspot.com I will also be writing a blog about our homeschooling journey. I felt it would be too confusing to write about that over here, so I have yet another blog set up for that part of our lives. Once I am ready to really start posting and paying attention to that blog, I'll write a quick post over here with the URL so you can stop by.
Again, thanks so much for reading my thoughts these past three years. I am humbled by your kindness in visiting me here. Best wishes to each of you on your own Montessori journeys!!
I am so thankful that I teach in a faith-based preschool. That means I can talk to the children each day about God. It also means that I can teach them about the REAL reason we celebrate Easter. My favorite book for teaching this story to young children is The Story of Easter by Patricia Pingry. Patricia Pingry writes a whole series of simple board books about the holidays. I own nearly every title. This book teaches the basic tenets of the Easter story without mentioning the more gruesome aspects which would not be appropriate for young children. We have listened to this story several times within the past few weeks.
On Monday and Tuesday this week some moms came into the classroom to help with a baking activity for Easter. Before the children left the classroom four at a time to bake, I read the book aloud again.
The baking project we did was Resurrection Rolls. I had made these a few years ago with my own sons. They are super easy to make, super yummy to eat, and symbolize the important part of the Easter story.
To make resurrection rolls you need: crescent rolls, large marshmallows, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.
We found that these work best if you use only half a marshmallow.
To make these, dip the marshmallow in melted butter, then roll it in the cinnamon and sugar. Place the marshmallow on a crescent roll and fold in the edges to completely enclose the marshmallow. It's important to try to seal the seams really well, but know that they will probably still burst open in the baking process.......it will still work out fine though even if they open up.
To emphasize the symbolism, tell your child that the marshmallow represents the body of Jesus once it was removed from the cross. The crescent roll represents the tomb where Jesus' body was placed.
Following are a few photos of some students preparing their rolls for baking........
When we do these baking projects, we bake on parchment paper and write each child's name next to their baked item as shown below. That way each child gets their very own without any confusion.
The best part is after the rolls are baked. During baking the marshmallows melt, but the space they occupied is still there. This represents the "resurrected" body of Jesus. When Jesus' friends went to the tomb on the first Easter morning, they received the good news that his body was not there because he was risen! Good news indeed! Although some of the children could easily figure out that the marshmallow had melted, others were surprised that the marshmallow had disappeared. I'm sure the parents of my students heard some interesting explanations of this project. Hopefully this post will clarify what we did! Have a blessed Easter!
If you are the parent of a child currently in my classroom and you DO NOT want to know what we are making for Mother's Day gifts, please do not continue reading. I wanted to write this post now because I know the majority of my readers are not parents of children in my class. From the comments you leave it appears that you appreciate it when I post things a bit ahead instead of in "real time" so that you could incorporate these projects in your setting right now instead of waiting until the next year rolls around. If you fall into that category, READ ON!!
Since we have been studying plants, it seemed perfect to plant seeds and grow flowers to give as Mother's Day gifts. About two weeks ago each child planted two marigold seeds into little seed starter pots. This week we were all thrilled to see that our seeds have sprouted. While they will probably not be flowering by Mother's Day, they should at least have a good start.
Before giving these as Mother's Day gifts, we will transplant them into some pots that we are currently in the process of decorating. I order THESE POTS from Discount School Supply. They are bigger than I imagined, but not too big. Using a foam brush and watered down glue, we are decoupaging THESE pre-cut tissue paper squares onto the pots. I will bring them home and give them a good coat of acrylic spray to make them shiny and waterproof on the outside. They are NOT waterproof on the inside, nor do they have drainage holes. We will line them with sandwich baggies before transplanting the marigolds into them. My thought is that the mommies can eventually transplant the marigold again, then keep the pot as a keepsake. I think they are turning out so cute. I love the patchwork look.
Similar in set-up to our Valentine Suncatchers, we are making egg-shaped suncatchers in the classroom this week. In the photo below from left are: a blue tray with egg shapes traced on contact paper with a black Sharpie marker; a basket with same-sized blank pieces of contact paper and a pair of scissors; tape; a divided bowl with tissue paper squares in various colors (NOTE: I bought these pre-cut from Discount School Supply........SO EASY...........CLICK HERE); a basket to hold the "trash"; and a vinyl placemat.
To do this work, the child first peels the backing off one of the plain pieces of contact paper. They place the backing paper in the "trash" basket. Then they use tape to attach the contact paper sticky-side-up to the vinyl mat. Next, the child attaches pieces of tissue paper to the contact paper. When finished, they place a piece of contact paper with the egg on it on top. The final step is to cut out the egg on the traced line. Before this project is finished, the "trash" basket is emptied into a garbage can.
(Also, I bought the contact paper used for this project from Discount School Supply. I like their contact paper because it is not overly sticky and is therefore easy to tape down for this project. CLICK HERE for a link.)
Below you can see one of my sample eggs taped to our classroom window.
For the parents of my current students who look at this blog for updates (as well as those of you who don't have the time or inclination to read through the entire archives of this blog!), I wanted to share links to a few activities that are on our shelves now that I've written about in past years.
If your child has been trying to describe the ROTTEN EGG GAME to you, CLICK HERE to read all about it. It is great fun to play this with a friend.
Similarly, if you have been the recipient of some darling CHICK DRAWINGS, CLICK HERE to see how this work is set up on our shelves so you can see the steps your child used to create his/her artwork.
I have hooked up my laptop computer in the classroom several times during the past few weeks so the children could watch the Eagle Cam. It has been so exciting to see the eagle "mommy and daddy" take care of the three little eaglets. Our eagle watching has inspired some amazing child-initiated art projects including the one shown below.
Last week there was a HUGE fish clearly visible in the eagle's nest. In the project shown below, the little girl drew and cut out a fish (far right) to include on the nest. She drew and cut out the baby eagles in the center. I am always so amazed at what these little ones come up with. They are so creative!
The work I'm posting about is no longer on our shelves, but I realized I hadn't written about it yet. This year is the first time I've put it out, so you won't find it in the archives either. Below you can see how I had it set up on my stationary shelf.
From left: a basket of various colors of construction paper, a basket with strips of plain white cardstock, a basket with a gluestick, a basket with the pattern cards, a tray with three shape punches, and in the center of the green placemat, a Punch-Aid.
To do this work, the child selects a pattern card. (I made these by punching the shapes from black construction paper, gluing them into various patterns, and laminating the cards.) Then they choose a color (or two colors) of construction paper and use the Punch-Aid and punches to punch out the shapes they need. For the card shown below, they would punch 4 squares and 2 circles. Next, they get a strip of white cardstock and glue the shapes to it, following the pattern on the card. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a "finished" photo, but I am pretty sure you get the idea!! This was a very popular activity during the two weeks I had it out. If you have seasonal punches, this would be fun to put out with various seasonal variations.