We have been "Off The Grid" as much as desired for several months here at Woolsey Academy. This has been quite an experiment for us and one I am so glad we ventured to endure.
What began as an attempt to keep my little ones interested in writing has become far more than I had imagined. My main goal, as I mentioned, was simply to keep their letter and number practice fresh and exciting.
My own little babe simply is not interested in paper. She has her moments, but for the most part, it frustrates her. At first glance she seemed to simply not want to try. She would fidget and fit, throw the paper and crayons. I tried markers, colored pencils, twistable crayons and chalk, thinking that maybe she was frustrated trying to hold a crayon. Nope, that didn't make any difference. I tried different types of papers, coloring books, construction paper, lines, no lines, printed with with things that interested her like bugs and butterflies and no printing at all....nope...still nothing!
After careful observation I determined that she has inherited her my "fear of messing up" gene. I too have a tendency to avoid that which I am afraid I will fail at. It is a harsh realization, but true. I am not one to "jump off the deep end" without knowing exactly how deep the water is, my clear path for exit, and having a good eye on the "life-guard." I am not a natural born risk-taker either, probably for the same reasons (not a good combo for taking on the unknown!)
When it comes to paper she has a definite idea of what she wants the end product to look like and at the first moment she determines that she has "messed up" the papers, crayons, arms and legs would go flying!
So, in an attempt to relieve her of the anxiety and help her understand that there is no such thing as "messing up beyond repair" and possibility of failure, I thought of a plan..."OFF THE GRID!"
This has completely freed her to create, think, and simply just BE in the moment of learning without any pre-conceived notion (on her part) of what her paper should look like.
I have had other children similar to her in the past, but, like snowflakes...no two are alike. In the above video is just one example of the learning we are now doing "Off The Grid." I call it such since it is a-typical for the traditional class environment. This does produce less "take-homes," but thankfully with social media I am able to share the children's creations with their families via images. This...too...is a great advantage as their pictures are captured in a photo that can be looked at anytime from Mom or Dad's phone, as well as, shared with family anytime/anywhere.
One thing I didn't foresee is what a GREAT crossing the midline activity having such a large space to create on would provide. We have practiced making large and small letters, numbers, lines, shapes, pattern, etc. It is like witnessing a little miracle when one of my little ones that used to move his or her entire body to reach the other side of their art space suddenly reaches across. I seriously get giddy!! Oh yes...what is "crossing the midline?"
Crossing the midline is a developmental milestone that we recognize with crawling. Imagine a big line that divides our bodies down the middle into right and left halves. Any activity that involves the right side "crossing over" into the left sides half is "crossing the midline." This seems so natural for many that it is undetectable to the untrained eye...but to those of us watching for it, it is a celebration! It basically involves activities that require that the dominate hand, or side of the body, cross over to do "work" on the other side...i.e: painting a large letter "X" on our great big window that starts with a child drawing a diagonal line from his left shoulder (using his right hand) all the way down to his right foot (still using his left hand) and remaining firm footed the entire time would be "crossing the midline
Read more about crossing the midline here... Crossing The Midline
ANYTHING can be accomplished with these great, big "canvases!" Another advantage is simply utilizing what you have for pre-k activities. It doesn't take expensive art easels to allow children the space to create. Windows, walls, floors...these are all readily accessible and with the right tools (washable crayons and paints) the clean up is a breeze!
What I do LOVE about this activity is that they are always excited to do it. It also gives each child much more room for freedom of expression AND space between children that are not quite mature enough to stay within their own "creation station."
Take a look!!
This is a post I have been meaning to write for some time...it isn't popular to say it, but I have been in a struggle. I have been looking, searching, hunting for a solution. Trying different methods, seeking out how to grow and learn from the struggle I have found myself in, in my heart and mind. What I have learned, however, is that often...God, in His wisdom, allows us to struggle FOR the strength we find and the resolve to persist.
It is a lessons that one of my itty bittiest babes has taught me as I have observed her dedication to learning how to zip her own coat. I zip it, she unzips it...then tries to zip it back. Then she gets frustrated, cries and needs me to help her again. I do, and within a split second the process begins again. This skill is one that she is determined to master. She has resolve, tenacity, and a determination that makes me respect her skill building persistence even though it often results in tears and tantrums. I do not get angry or frustrated that she unzips it again...it is a skill she must learn and this is the real life application of her learning independence.
She will not accept defeat. It isn't in her blood...even at 2. In the picture to the left she had just mastered putting the sunglasses on...all...by...herself! She wouldn't take them off for a LONG time. She was so proud!
Each one of my little ones possess strengths that make them unique and strong. These strengths, as they develop, are also some of their greatest sources of trial. Just like this little one I have been describing. Her determination is an incredible strength that will allow her overcome adversity later in life far greater than a zipper. However, that same determination, right now, means that she will not accept my help with her zipper until that is, in her opinion, her LAST option. I don't force my help on her...I allow her the time and space to struggle. I ask her if she is ready for me and when she emphatically says, "NO!", I wait. When she does finally come to me ready and accepting of help, I re-zip her little jacket knowing that it will only stay that way for a split second before it all starts again.
God, in His wisdom, allows us to do the same. He knows the skills we are developing. He allows us, again and again, to gain progress in these skills even though it will often mean failure. He is not angry when we fail...He knows we will. He knows it is in the struggle that our skills are sharpened and progress is made.
In this struggle with the zipper, she is finding strength. She is finding out what she is made of. She is strengthening her skills and her emotional resolve to do so. She is the stuff champions are made of. Watching her and listening to her struggle is VERY hard for me to do. My nature as a caregiver is to help. The more I ask, the more I notice her struggle...the more emotional she becomes. When I pretend not to see and give her room to grow, struggle, and tantrum, it also gives her the ability to decide when and how she wants my help and in fact, comes to me sooner for it.
So it is with God...I find that when I believe He is being quietest, He is actually just giving me the space I need to struggle, because it isn't just the destination of victory, but the resolve to keep trying that He is developing in me.
My struggle? My struggle has been in finding the time to make it all happen. The time to work, time to write, time to utilize all the opportunities knocking on my door, having quality time with my spouse, my own children, and helping my son with Algebra when naptimes are an ideal rather than a reality (not for me...but for the children in my care!), exercise, eat healthy (while eating handfuls of chocolate during Algebra sessions), lose that 10 pounds I regained but worked so hard to get off... For me, the strength I have found in the struggle is the same for her...ONE.STEP.AT.A.TIME...
The zipper is a challenge, but only for now. Soon, it will be automatic and nothing she ever even remembers as a problem. She will gain this skill as she keeps practicing, keeps failing, keeps asking for help, as she tries, and tries again. She will grow, and learn, and mature and looking back it will seem so easy.
This is my lesson too as I keep moving forward...step...by...step...relaxing in the process, enjoying the learning, realizing that growth is a part of the season of struggle, and the peace of knowing that it's IN the journey that real strength is found, skills are sharpened, and champions are made...
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today.
What a fun, simple, and safe Halloween treat! We made our signature homemade play dough again this week and prepared it for ALL things Fall and Halloween!
Like your kiddos, mine love this squishy, mushy, cinnamon and nutmeg scented orange dough. We drew some Jack-o-Lantern faces on the plastic Ziploc bags we were storing them in and voilà! We had some perfect little play pumpkins.
The children LOVED helping make this (as always!) and they participated in and completed each step, sans the actual stove top step. Once completed they thoroughly experienced the warmth of it coming fresh off the stove.
They pressed it to their little faces, their elbows, their knees, their foreheads...it was EVERYWHERE! They made it into pizzas, balls, snakes, the letter "H," and, of course Jack-O-Lanterns.
Our Sweet Little Halloween Song...
In anticipation of our fun filled holiday party we are learning this song!
My number job as a caregiver/preschool/childcare owner and operator is hands-down (no pun intended) SAFETY! As Dr. Becky Baily says with Conscious Discipline, "My job is to keep you safe and your job is to help me keep you safe."
But, there are times when little ones are simply too little to help keep themselves safe. There are times when I am glad to have finally found a solution to an issue I had MAJOR (but thankfully minor) incident with myself many years ago. The photo above looks like I am trying to sneak into a room with my fingers creeping in...what it is, is a demonstration of "WOW!" This is called a "Door Safety Bumper." I received this sweet little device from www.pinchnot.com. If you do not have these installed on your doors at home as a parent or if you are a provider and do not have these...CLICK THE LINK! These bad boys are only 5$ bucks. 5$ Bucks??? I know I sound like an infomercial. I speak from experience...
When the fun S.T.O.P.S.!
Like I said...I speak from experience. Many years ago I was ushering all my little ones in the door from an afternoon of play. "Bitiests" first, then followed by my older ones. As I was making my mental headcount, knowing that I had indeed brought everyone in, I paused...1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ...??? I knew that #7 was my oldest, behind me and waiting for my command to close the door. But, where was 6? Where was my babiest baby of the group? He was hard to miss toddling around like a Weeble Wobble. At that same moment I heard a horror-flick scream. All the children's heads turned and my startled #7 reacted by trying to close the door even harder...WAAAAHHHHHAAAAHHHH!!! Then silence as my littlest sweet potato began sucking air to let out another wail. All in the same moment of ushering the children in, making my mental count, and my oldest closing the door, the baby had simply turned from in front of me to behind me as we were all crowding in and stuck his chunky little fingers in the door RIGHT. AS. IT. WAS. BEING. CLOSED!!
This all happened simultaneously and I didn't see him move from right in front of my legs to right behind my legs because I was carrying another child, so my view was blocked for a split second. The older child, in an attempt to keep everyone inside was just doing what she thought was best and slamming the door shut...and the baby...well, my little fella' just wanted to go back outside after his blankie... My heart sank as I scooped him up and assessed the damage. Poor little boy! His fingers were bright red with a definite mash line across the upper knuckles. I called momma as I was trying to comfort him and advised her to come and take him for x-rays.
This young family didn't have insurance and I wasn't about to straddle them with a payment from something that occurred while under my care. This was about 20 years ago and the E.R. visit cost me about $800. In today's world I probably wouldn't have covered the x-ray reading for that! He was fortunate...the mash wasn't severe and he was totally over it by the time momma even arrived. But, as a concerned provider, I wanted assurance that his little fingers were going to be A O.K. They were, no damage.
We were all lucky that day...
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 26,000 amputations and fractures happen EVERY YEAR! I had NO IDEA!!!
After that incident I searched for a solution to keep the door from ever slamming again. At that time, there weren't any products on the market. Since then, I tried a few things here and there, but being a home-based daycare, there simply wasn't anything that fit right. Everything was either made for commercial style doors or I needed to be an engineer to install the thing!
Another product Pinchnot.com has is amazing too. It is called Safety Shield and if you can peel a sticker, you can install this product. This one keeps the hinged section of the door from being accessible to little hands. It is a bit more than the bumper but WELL worth it's weight in rosy cheeks and happy hands.
I have only had the Bumpers installed for a few days and now that the door can no longer be closed without MY personal intervention to flip the Bumper to the closed position, they have even stopped playing with the door. It's no longer an option... no longer a game...and no longer a threat to the little fingers of my babes. That's $5 worth investing!
Just a another View You Can Use and a product worth the mention!
This is the company so you can find it easily! Click on the logo and go STRAIGHT to their website! I am NOT a paid endorser so when you make your order, tell them where you found their products! Thanks!!
Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com