Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TLS After Hours

Will takes a turn on the fire trucks

Just because we shut the doors on Friday night, doesn’t mean the TLS gears stop turning. Last weekend TLS’ers were buzzing with activity across the triangle.  The Zany Zoo met up this Saturday for a trip to the Hillsborough Fire Station. I asked Ms. Valerie to share the day with us. She writes:

On Saturday, May 19th, the Zany Zoo class met for a fun filled tour at the downtown Hillsborough fire station. We were greeted by several firemen. Fireman Josh showed us around. We toured two trucks, pushed buttons, sprayed water and even watched fireman Josh suit up in all of his gear. He was so wonderful to chat with and explain how all of the equipment worked. A couple of friends seemed scared, so he got on the ground and let the children touch the equipment and gave high-fives. He was so gentle with everyone. A great day at the firehouse and wonderful memories for the Zany Zoo!- Valerie

Chefs Justin, Nate and their helpers
On Sunday, The Little School was excited to be the only non-restaurant business to be invited to join the annual Farm to Fork picnic. This event pairs local chefs with NC based farms to raise money and awareness for a new generation of farmers. That’s the official sounding part. The experience itself was way way cooler: Incredible gourmet chefs and farm fresh food. OMG, YUM. Think kale “nachos”, local sauerkraut from Two Chicks Farm served on homemade tempeh from Tempeh Girl, ginger goats milk ice cream from Celebrity dairy, squash puppies with “come back” sauce from Fosters, duck pate from The Pig, and more insanely juicy pork then you can shake a stick at. 

Paired with ECO Farms, our own chef Nate (assisted by our new Duke campus Chef Justin Cole) made beet bread tea sandwiches with herbed cream cheese and pickled cucumbers, as well as pea pomponettes with English peas and sugar snap peas, shaved parmesan and chives. To say the least, we were blowing minds left and right. Folks stopped by our maverick table and were at first look confused: one of these things was not like the other! When we explained that we were a preschool who believes that kids need to eat real organic foods, they were instantly electrified by our unique food program. We love sharing what we do, and spreading The Little School vibe.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A day in the Life...

It never ceases to amaze me how much fun we can pack into one day.  Swinging from hanging vines to jumping on bubble wrap, we have been busy busy.....

The Mighty Me's began to harvest the snow peas and green beans they planted earlier in the spring. They spent the past few weeks pulling weeds and diligently watering their gardens. The fruits (or veggies) of their labor were a mixed bag. Some spat out the raw veg, while others begged for more!

The Pea Pods enjoyed the fresh air and making some noise!

TLS is very excited to welcome back Mr. Cole. He was with us at the Davis road site, and has returned  to a round of hurrahs! We came upon Cole hiking through the woods with his small group. 

Ms. Lesley's class is continuing their investigation of life cycles. They have studied chickens, plants and now butterflies. Here a friend is making butterfly wings that he will wear for their parade next week. 

Ms. Crystal's class enjoys the playground while looking extra cute. 

Ms. Tina and her friends discovered a just hatched dragonfly while on a walk. They kept it in the classroom for the day while it's wings dried out. 

The Ittsy Bittsy spiders continue to develop their gross motor skills. After maneuvering the stairs, Colin  makes his way back down the slide. 

These rising kindergardeners (boo hoo) ham it up while making an elaborate clubhouse during center time. This activity is using everything from spatial skills to socio-dramatic learning... plus they are clearly doing it with pazzaz! 

Ms. Lulu's kids studied trees this week. I found them at the magic tree making observational landscape drawings. It was as serene a scene as you can imagine, and I almost could hear Vivaldi, "Four Seasons" in my head. 

Ms. Arryan's kids investigated maps this week. Here Anna Leigh is experiencing topographical maps. Blindfolded, the kids were asked to locate different landmarks on their playground using the "maps in their brains". 

Friday, May 11, 2012

All the Worlds Goo!

A few weeks back, we had one of those nasty rainy mornings. The kids were stuck inside seemingly all day, and (literally) bouncing off the walls. The sky cleared, and we were thrilled to throw the doors open to a sunny spring afternoon. The playgrounds were wet and mushy, full of puddles and streams. In my experience, the kids usually fall into two distinct groups: those who very much do NOT want mud (or paint, or potatoes, or glue, or oobleck, etc.) to get anywhere near them, thank you very much, and those who seem to be attracted to the various forms of slimy stuff like a kitten to a ball of yarn.  And indeed, despite my repeated attempts to keep the kids reasonably free of mud, half of my class was walking with a squelching sneakers’ full of rain water within an half an hour, hair caked with mud and mulch, grins from ear to ear. My own 15 month-old spotted these kids, and squealed with delight. The three-year-olds took this opportunity to REALLY show my toddler their sweetest puddle jumping moves, shouting “Watch this one baby!” The kids were blissed out, splashing and twirling through the mud like, well, a preschooler in a rain puddle. We returned these drippy kids to their bemused folks, happy and bath ready.

More than just wear and tear on your beleaguered laundry machine, these often messy encounters are major brain builders. Think of your kids like little (mad) scientist performing all manner of glooping experiments. As they squish and squash, their brains are firing away, sorting and categorizing the world. Through creative and artistic pursuits we can unlock and integrate the learning potential of both hemispheres of the child’s developing brain. A young child’s brain is a sponge in constant search of a new experience. What we feed that sponge is hugely important to the overall healthy development of the brain. Experiences like mud puddles and finger painting offers a child endless possibilities and new worlds to discover. It is a way to let off steam, get lost in a thought or a movement, or just experiencing a new way of using their hands (or feet, or tummies!) without abandon. Our jobs as teachers is to first keep them safe, and second to offer them a wide word of texture and opportunity to explore. What is important is the exploration of the process, not the final masterpiece or muddy mess. Exploring the world’s goo strengthens eye-hand coordination, spatial learning, fine motor skills, emotional and loco-motor learning, and above all else, it’s just really cool. Just because getting messy is a high powered learning experience, it above all else should be dynamic and fun.

Get messy, go crazy, and never ever wear anything that you don’t want splattered in a newly discovered shade of paint at the end of the day! Just like you diligently go to work everyday, likewise your kids are going to their “office”. So when your child returns to you at the end of the day with 15 layers of dirt and paint, you can say “Job well done!”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Staff Spotlight: The Awesomeness that is Rachel!

A Chapel Hill native (it's true! There are a few of those out there), Rachel has been studying Early Childhood Education since 1996. She earned an Associates in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelors in Birth through Kindergarten Education, and is currently rounding the bases with a Masters in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support. Someplace in there, she has managed to work and be a Mother of the sweet and fabulous Adelaide. Rachel came to The Little School in August 2009 where she spearheaded the half day program on Davis Road. This summer she will leave the classroom and join the programing team at our upcoming Little School at Duke Campus. Along with her academic chops, she will bring many years of "in the trenches" teaching experience to her new post. We are thrilled that she will be there to inspire our new Duke program.

* How did you find your way to TLS? 
I was the Orange County TA (Technical Assistant) for CCSA (Child Care Services Association) and worked with The Little School on their Duke grant in 2008.  In January 2009 I had my daughter and stayed home with her for 4 months, when I heard TLS was thinking about opening a half day program I contacted them, and the rest is history.

* What was the most interesting trip you have taken?
The 8 (June/July) week drive through the US, Canada and Alaska. I saw amazing views, animals and enough mosquitoes to last me a lifetime. I hiked several mountains in the Canadian Rockies and Alaska.  Fished for halibut, and cooked it the same night by camp fire, and almost hit a grizzly bear (I interrupted it taking care of business in the middle of the road in nowhere Canada).  

* If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Drew Barrymore

* If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I would want to be telepathic, to fly and to have healing powers.

* What is something about you that most people may not know?
I am a bit obsessed with Science Fiction/Zombie/Vampire movies, TV shows and novels.

* What is your happiest childhood memory/what makes it so special?

Hanging out at the neighborhood pool during my summers.  Making lifelong friends, swimming, and not a care in the world.

* What is your favorite children’s book?
It’s a toss up between Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

* What's your favorite tree or What is your favorite flower? (Why?)
Gerbera Daisies.  They come in many beautiful colors and evoke memories of childhood, spring, and happiness.

* What did you want to be when you were 12 years old? 
A veterinarian

* What would you listen to if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life?
Don’t stop Believin’ “Journey” Maybe not the rest of my life, but at least once a day.

* If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be? 
Set designer for TV or movies

* What do you value most or hold most dear at TLS?
The love each teacher has for the children at the school.  I love that I get to work at the same school that my daughter is a student at.  I value the relationships I have with the staff, parents and children at TLS.