Tag Archives: professional development

Baking Plans

I like to bake.  I don’t actually bake as much or as often as I’d like to but that’s mostly because I’m trying not to eat so much baking.  Sadly I haven’t got enough will power to bake without being tempted to also consume – sometimes in vast quantities.

So, I tend to limit my baking to items that lean more towards ‘nutritious’ instead of ‘decadent’. I will also admit that, although I don’t dislike nutritious, I definitely crave those decadent items.  Consequently I only bake those sweeter items for special occasions – preferably ones where the baked treats are taken to a location away from my home.

I’ve picked out ten recipes – some cannot be considered ‘healthy’.

I’ve bought all the necessary ingredients – and I’m trying not to eat them (some of the chocolate and butterscotch chips have unfortunately already been sacrificed).

I’ve set aside some time – hopefully it is enough to finish all the baking.

Why?  Two words….

Bake Sale!

Next Thursday (March 15th, 2012) the Manitoba Nature Summit is having their annual Dinner and a Movie fundraiser and you are all invited.  It will be at 6:30 pm in the large gym at Stanley Knowles School, 2424 King Edward St.

Of course the bake sale is just a small part of the event.  The movie is the main event.  We will also be having pizza and popcorn.  You’ll need to RSVP immediately if you want pizza – the order deadline is today!

Even if you don’t want to order pizza, or you missed the deadline, you can still come to see the movie.  I’ve seen it – it is amazing – truly inspirational.  It is called ‘A Simple Question: The Story of STRAW’   It is the perfect example of what can happen when educators are able to provide meaningful experiences that connect children and nature.

So come out and support the Nature Summit 2012 and our efforts to provide opportunities for educators to learn useful skills and create opportunities for nature and environmental education.

I hope to see you there! – I don’t want to have to bring any leftover baking home.

Fantastic!

I couldn’t think of a better title than that for this blog post.

My head is so full – millions of excited thoughts and ideas looking for a way out.  Things that had me pacing the floor last evening.  Things that kept me awake through the night.  So many things I want to do RIGHT NOW! 

I’m trying to do what she said…..b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

So why am I feeling like this and who is she?

Yesterday I attended an all day workshop presented by Lisa Murphy – the Ooey Gooey Lady.

I’ve known about her for a long time – I follow her on Twitter – and yesterday I got to see her in person.  She also has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.

I have never laughed so hard or had so much fun at any workshop ever!  Her presentation could rival any comedy club performance but it also contained a serious message.  A message that everyone there already knew because she was “preaching to the choir – the people who needed to be there were also the people who were not willing to give up their Saturday to be there.”

Those people would be the ‘resident poopyfaces’ – the rule makers — the ones who constantly say ‘No!’ in response to developmentally appropriate behaviour.

She reminded us that we don’t have children with behaviour problems – we have environments with expectation problems.  Instead of trying to get the children to come to our programs we need to create environments for them to be who they are. We can’t control their behaviour but we can control the environment.

“Never underestimate the power of what you do – good or bad – crystallizing moments happen in the ‘right’ environment…..You can’t build the house of academics if there is no foundation and the foundation is built through PLAY……Facilitate don’t instigate.”

So we played.  We sang songs.  We created things.  We played with messy stuff.  We had FUN!

There were 140+ of us in a hotel conference room.  If we can do it there our children should be able to do it in our programs – if we provide the right environment.

So I am re-energized and ready to provide ‘organic enthusiasm’. Thank-you Lisa!

Conference

Last week I attended the Manitoba Child Care Association’s 34th annual conference.  I eagerly anticipate this conference every year.  Originally I just went on Saturday but I soon added Friday and then Thursday as well.  I know many providers believe it is too expensive to pay for three days of conference and lose two days of income as well.  The cost adds up to nearly $600 and it cuts my weekend ‘down time’ in half but there are so many benefits as well.

Conference is an incredible learning opportunity with keynote speakers and workshop presenters from near and far.  This year I enjoyed a wide variety of workshops with topics including art, science, music, outdoor play, physical activity, fear and much more.  I got to paint pictures, play in dirt, engage in conversations, and use my imagination. I got to dance and I was introduced to my new favourite song – “Beep, Beep” – which is actually an old song but it is new to me and what a wonderful way to teach rhythm and tempo.

Certainly there was a lot of information that I already knew but conference offers more than just information. There is another very meaningful aspect; networking.  I believe that for family childcare providers in particular networking is an invaluable tool.  We work alone and even though some providers regularly connect with others in their area many still continue to work in isolation.  Family childcare providers don’t have a lot of opportunity to problem solve with or bounce ideas off coworkers the same way those who work in centres can.

Conference allows us to connect with not only others who work in similar positions but also with people who work in other areas of the childcare field.  Play and collaboration with peers is just as important for us as it is for the children that we care for.  It is how we learn, how we reach the elusive ‘Ah Hah’ moment.

In between presentations on the final day of conference I had the opportunity to reconnect with a colleague whom I hadn’t talked to in a long time.  We did some reminiscing and discussed how things had changed since we last met.  I told her how I was looking forward to some new adventures this summer since I will have on of the oldest groups I have ever had.  She shared some stories about the antics of one of her school–age children.

Our conversation progressed as we contemplated why the school-age children seem so different now.  We weren’t complaining but we have noticed a shift in the mood of most of the older children that have been attending our programs. They seem to really enjoy being a part of our mixed age groups.  They willingly participate in activities with the younger children instead of demanding separate more ‘grown-up’ activities.

We wondered if it was because we are seeing more ‘only children’ with little experience with young children.  Do they miss having younger siblings?  Then I asked if maybe it was because we let them play….There was a moment of silence as we let this fact sink in.  Yes, I think that is what it is.

We know that play is essential for learning to take place and it doesn’t matter how old you are.  Play is just as important for us as it is for the children we care for. Play and learning together – that is what conference is.

The Return

Last week was a short week here for the children and their parents. For me it was a diverse and very busy week.  It started with the May long weekend – still too cold to plant anything outside but that was ok because I still had a lot of work to do on the garden before it was ready for plants.

You may remember years back when we first started gardening that we used raised planter boxes.  These were very functional but I considered them somewhat boring – I’m definitely not a ‘square box’ type of person.  So, when we renovated the yard last year I added a real garden area because I think that being ‘in’ a garden is a magical experience.

Last year’s garden was certainly full of adventure but I have to admit that it was not without some design issues.  The raised sides of the old planter boxes had provided much needed support to young and old alike as we worked in the garden.  Without these raised borders there were many – usually accidental – tumbles off the pathway.  The garden plants were not impressed.

We also missed the arched trellis that had joined two of our old planter boxes together provided a ‘secret hiding place’ when it was covered in beans and cucumbers. (I try hard to say that correctly but the children’s “cucamumbers” name is such a cute word that sometimes I use it too).

So, with my husband willing to help me with the not-so-easy angle cuts we built a raised edge between the garden walkway and the outer planting beds.  I added three arched trellises over the little seating areas that had already been included in my original plan.  The centre planting section would have become too small if we had tried to make it into a raised bed so we just made a border using some log slices.

My husband refers to the border around the centre section as the ‘tomb stones’ for all the plants that don’t survive. The children and I are more optimistic.  Last week, the children were very excited about the changes that had been made.  They gravitated to the three arches, often sitting there for long periods and imagining what it will be like once they are covered with plants.  They carried on long conversations with the turtles and Old Man Tree.  We engaged in some exciting sensory activities with Coco Earth which starts out hard and impenetrable when it is dry;

But changes when we add water;

And it will be wonderful for the plants when now that we have mixed it with the soil in the garden.

The children were only here for two days last week before I was off to attend MCCA’s annual conference.  It was an enlightening and wondrous event.  I was thrilled to meet and attend workshops presented by Rae Pica and Bethe Almeras.  Now, refreshed and eager, I look forward to continue work on our garden project and many more exciting new adventures and experiences with the children.