Inspired by Color and Joy

I have had the most delicious summer with the tykes at The Patch!  We’ve explored so many wonderful art forms that there’s no way to get all their works and our journey penned on this blog.  I’m starting from our most recent exploration and then will back track to cover our first annual art exhibit in hopes of getting the blog all caught up…..  Fasten your seat belt, the next few blogs will be coming at you with lightening speed!!!

The past two weeks we have been exploring circles.  The younger tykes created a canvas using painted circles, milk caps, milk cap rings, and foam circles.  It is stunning and I’m proud to say that they can all identify the circle shape.

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My older tyke created a circle project on his own.  We used a delightful piece I saw at an art fair as our inspiration.  I bought two prints for us to explore: circles and triangles……  This was such a cool process for him.  He chose all the elements, colors, and cut all the pieces.  It took him two sessions, and the final result is more stunning than this photograph can ever relay:

Will's Circles

I’m sharing these beautiful masterpieces in hopes of inspiring you to find your passion as you teach and guide the tykes in your classroom or in your home daycare.  I have been on the most amazing journey since spring 2014, and I feel for the first time, I am finally in my “sweet spot” as a preschool teacher…… Art and nature…. My passion in just two words…..

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to “be” what I thought a preschool teacher was supposed to “be” and “look like”…..I’ve gone through the typical stages of “letter of the week” and other tried and true preschool curriculum styles. I just never felt like I was “doing” preschool “right”…..  I tended to burn out before we reach the middle letter of the alphabet and it was soooo frustrating and defeating……  I just never felt like the curriculum and I “fit” together…..I know now that I didn’t “fit” with the traditional curriculum…..

So, fifteen months ago, I began to explore the Reggio learning philosophy. It totally changed my focus, direction, and drive.  I have spent the past fifteen months redesigning my space, my supplies, and my day around a nature and art based philosophy that is tied together for a Reggio Inspired approach.  I am totally engulfed….. I cannot put into words how free I feel to explore with my tykes and how much more they are taking on in basic knowledge and in applying in their projects…. I have never been more satisfied or more energized than I have been since last spring…..

I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you if you are feeling out of sorts with your class and your teaching.  I want to encourage you to take some time, and I mean       T-I-M-E to reflect on who you are and why you are in education.

What drives you? What brings you joy as a teacher?  What “trips your trigger”?

These are all valid questions that only you can answer and once you pin point the answers you can begin to address how to bring the joy into your classroom.

Finding your passion will generate a cycle of passion that is passed onto your tykes.  It may still look like a traditional classroom.  It may look totally different.  But if you are finding yourself feeling “Blah” or out of sorts or out of steam, I am asking you to take some time to assess if you are where you want to be in your teaching career.  I’m asking you to think about how much joy you are experiencing on a regular basis and how much of this joy you are passing onto your tykes…..

Teachers give of themselves and their resources more than any other occupation.  We are a special breed.  We are relentless in our desire to make a difference.

We need to learn to take care of ourselves.  We need to find our “sweet spot” in order to not only teach, but teach with passion and drive……When we marry our passion to our profession, our occupation becomes joyful and fulfilling and satisfying…..

Here’s to finding your teaching “sweet spot” and your passion!  Let me know what you discover!

Until next time,

Patty

Trying soooo hard to be THAT cool preschool teacher…

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Yesterday I brought out coffee beans and dinosaurs for the sensory table.  There were only two tykes and I was feeling brave.  The room smelled great, the beans stayed inside the sensory table, and it was a delicious day.  Today there were four in the preschool and I was feeling brave again, so out came the beans and fun was being shared by everyone…..except me….I was very busy holding myself together and fighting off the “adult” part of me during such a fun “child” activity…..

It started out great.  A small handful of beans landed on the shower curtain that I placed under the sensory table.  No biggie, I thought proudly to myself…..And then another handful went airborne.  The tykes didn’t have a clue to my rising sense of anxiety.  They were busy scooping and pouring and listening to the beans clank and clink as they fell here and there.

I saw an article on my Facebook home page about a preschool teacher who was “brave enough” to allow the sensory materials to “spill” over into all the centers in the room.  She sounded so cool….so very very cool…..I wanted to be THAT cool…..so cool that coffee beans would be welcome in the basket with building blocks, and I bet Thomas the Train would love a taste of a coffee bean while he was on break from normal play.  I bet the tykes could whip up a delicious coffee and block soup with the beans in the kitchen area…..All these thoughts were zipping in and out of my head when, WHAMO, I got hit in the face with a tyke size fist full of coffee beans!

There were beans EVERYWHERE…..it looked like a bunny convention had invaded The Patch and they all left their little presents everywhere….EVERYWHERE….I was beginning to lose sight of the goal to be THAT teacher…….but…….I held it together.

I began to quietly pick up the beans and slip them back into the sensory table, when out of no where, four tykes went belly down on the floor and began retrieving coffee beans with me.  They zipped up that pile and they zipped up this pile and they zipped up all the piles in no time at all.  And all the while, they had created a game of picking up coffee beans and I realized that once again I am no longer the teacher to these little cherubs that steal my heart every day.  I am their student……and today’s lesson was how to be THEIR teacher and not THAT teacher…..

Here’s what they taught me today:

Dear Ms. Patty:

I will make messes while I learn to scoop objects from a flat surface into a rounded cup because my fingers always get in the way.  I will master this, and I am so happy you have given me coffee beans today to practice with.  I love putting the cup up high so I can see the beans swirl around as I shake the scooper as hard as I can.  Beans fall out, and I don’t know why.  I better keep doing this until I understand why they do this amazing trick.   Love, Miss O.

Dear Ms. Patty:

I want to know why the beans keep falling out of my scooper when my wrist moves up and down and sideways.  They fall out EVERY TIME! It is so much fun.  I want to do this all morning!  And every time the beans fall down, I really like the sound they make on the shower curtain that is now all wrinkly at my feet.  You told me it sounded like rain drops as you picked up the beans for me to use again.   Love, Miss S.

Dear Ms. Patty:

This is the second day I have enjoyed filling and emptying the big container with coffee beans.  I like to work until the WHOLE container is filled before I knock it off the ledge and the beans fall back into the sensory table….well….most of them.  My favorite part is screaming, “Whoa” every time.  EVERY TIME.  It’s such a fun word to say…..Sometimes I like to use the scoop and sometimes I like to put one bean into the container at a time.  Love, Mr. M

Dear Ms. Patty:

I have never seen a coffee bean before.  I like how they roll down the ramp inside the sensory table.  I like to make them go real fast one at a time.  I enjoyed making a circle of beans around the dinosaurs. I made a dinosaur family and covered them up in beans! Digging them out got a little messy because I was so excited to dig and bury and dig and bury and dig and bury them. Love, Miss I.

I am not THAT teacher.  I will never be THAT teacher.  I am however, THEIR teacher and because of that, I held myself together while they explored and experimented and while beans fell and fell and fell.  Maybe THAT teacher was merely holding herself together too in the midst of learning chaos.  Maybe THAT teacher saw all her students learning and growing and decided that there are times to let messes happen.

Today, I decided that strewn beans here and there were a small chore to pick up in light of all the joy and commotion and learning that was taking place.  Holding myself together was rewarded by tykes who chipped right in and picked every last bean up for THEIR Ms. Patty.  Holding myself together was rewarded by those chubby arms going around my neck as we all fell into a heap on the floor when “Bean Time” was done. Holding myself together was rewarded by head nods and hands clapping and sparkling eyes saying “YES!” when I asked if they had fun.

I will never ever be THAT super cool and awesome teacher who appears to always get everything right every single day.  And that’s fine by me…..I decided today that being THEIR teacher was soooo much cooler and that I have much to learn from my tyke teachers….and I wouldn’t have it any other way…:):):)

Until next time,

Patty

Welcome ….

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Welcome to The Patch! We are a Reggio and Montessori inspired private in-home preschool. Our curriculum is anchored through art and science explorations that incorporate math and literacy and language as natural learning extensions.

I believe that children learn best through their senses and I strive to provide hands on experiences that are paced and based on a variety of themed unit explorations throughout the year.

I hope to encourage other preschool teachers through this blog. So, pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee as you journey with me and our adventures at The Patch!