Seasons of Joy, Winter

Winter is here!

“Smooth and clean and frosty white, the world looks good enough to bite. That’s the season to be young, catching snowflakes on your tongue” -Ogden Nash

Happy Winter! Just a reminder that Winter Seasons of Joy is here to help get you through those long winter days. The book includes…

Circle Time Themes
A Winter Movement Adventure
Winter Woods
Winter Tea Time
Winter Light
Jack Frost

Fairy Tales
The Candles
The Mitten
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Star Money
The Boy Who Went to the North Wind

Handwork Ideas, Including
Paper Snowflakes
Dip Dyed Silks
Finger Knitting
Felt Doll Quilt

Advent

A New Advent

Advent… from the Latin word adventus, which means, quite literally “coming” or “arrival.”

These past few weeks have been rough.  First the tragic murders at the Tree of Life Temple in Squirrel Hill, followed by an sad uptick in the daily news of hate crimes, gun violence, and tragedy. And then, just when we had one beautiful autumn day where the leaves were bright and the air was crisp, we got sick, one after another. Martinmas was forgotten in all the laundry and the washing and the sanitizing.

Autumn, General, Halloween

Our Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls

Summer has (finally) ended and we are slowly moving into shorter, colder, darker days. Sure, we still sometimes have days where we barely need a jacket, but all the signs are there. The leaves are falling, frost is on the windows in the morning, and the heat is on. During this transition, we have a cluster of family-centered holidays– Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Other traditions and cultures have similar holidays– Samhain, Day of the Dead. These are the three we choose to celebrate because they are part of our own cultural heritage.

Montessori

The Connectedness of Cosmic Education

Since it has been … necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions…. All things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal centre of himself with all things.
– Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential  space

Musings

A Sad Day In Pittsburgh

On our way to our classroom today, a little girl looked me in the eye and said “There was a shooting.”
 
“Yes,” I replied.
 
Another child turned around, panic in her eyes. “There was a shooting? Where??”
 
Before I could answer, the first little girl did it for me. “In Squirrel Hill. That’s why I didn’t have a lunch today. My daddy is there and he couldn’t leave. So I just had snacks instead.”
 
I fielded a few more questions and tried my best to hold the space. Yes, someone who was angry and full of hate used a gun to hurt people. I didn’t mention that it happened in a house of worship because we were in a church. I didn’t mention the targeting of a Jewish congregation because we are a multi-faith program. I didn’t mention that people were murdered. I didn’t even mention the exact location, because Pittsburgh is a surprisingly small town for a big-ish city, and everyone has some sort of connection to every place, including Squirrel Hill.
 
I spent an extra long time on our physical warm ups today. I put on soothing music and helped the children feel grounded and safe in their own bodies. I was extra careful to make sure we all had space and that no one was bumping into one another. For a singing class, we did an awful lot of talking today. We talked about asking before touching. We talked about respect. We talked about peace. We talked about collaboration. We talked about how much more complex our partner clapping patterns were when we took the time to listen to one another and collaborate. We sang. We moved. We played. We danced.
 
It was hot, as the room always is. We knew that since the church was on lockdown, we dare not open the windows.
 
Then, on the bathroom break, that first little girl melted. I checked in with her to make sure she was doing OK since she didn’t get a whole lunch. She said she had a headache. She said her stomach was like acid. She asked for more food and water and to sit in the hall, away from the chaos. She asked for me to sit with her.
 
We sat and I held her water as she ate her granola bar and fishies. I made her giggle when I told her to pull down the wrapper so she didn’t accidentally eat it like a goat. I said that would not make her tummy feel any better. I asked if she wanted to talk about anything.
 
She told me her great-grandfather died, and that she missed him. He used to give her caramels. I told her about my great-grandmother, who we used to call Bubble Gum Nanny because she gave us gum whenever we came to visit. She said she missed her great grandpa. I said I still miss my great grandma. We always miss and love the people we care about when they leave us.
 
She did not mention the shooting.
 
Back in the classroom, acting out the folktale Abiyoyo, the children rehearsed. They sang. They moved. They played. They danced. They threw themselves into the moment in a way that only children can. We adults tried to hold the space, attention divided. We tried to be a little extra patient and a little extra loving.
 
Leaving the room, she slipped her hand in mine. “Can I walk with you, Ms. Annette?” she asked. “Of course,” I said, giving her hand a squeeze. “Absolutely.”
 
Nothing about this day is about me. It’s about my Jewish friends and the ugliness that knocked down their Temple door. It’s about the children who are confused and angry and feel unsafe. “It isn’t fair,” one said. “We shouldn’t have to live like this.”
 
They shouldn’t.
 
I don’t know the script for a day like today. There is no choreography. Improvising the answers for children who deserve so much better seems sloppy. There are not enough trainings and active shooter drills in the world to make you feel sufficiently rehearsed for a day like today.
 
And so, for the children, we hold ourselves together. We sing. We move. We play. We dance.
 
We listen.
 
We love.
 
Babies, General, Music, Toddlers

Steady Beat: The heartbeat of the universe

Unfold your heart.
Sharpen your ears.
And never say no to the world when it asks you to dance.
~Tahereh Mafi, Furthermore

Steady Beat

From the time your baby was born, you probably held them to your chest and the two of you felt the beating of one another’s hearts. As you relaxed into one another, you began to match breath for breath, creating a sense of peace and calm for you both. You instinctually patted a gentle steady beat on your baby’s diapered bum, or rocked slowly to a steady rhythm that only you could hear. Steady beat begins with your baby hearing your heartbeat in the womb and its importance is carried with them throughout their whole life. Experiencing steady beat with your child and, later, allowing them to explore and create steady beat themselves is a foundational skill that can be build upon throughout their lives.