Monday, August 20, 2018

Today's Parent

Recently I was contacted to be a source for an article about preschool for Today's Parent online magazine. On August 1, 2018 Everything You Need to Know About Preschool was published online. It gives a great overview of what parents should know before they choose a preschool for their child. I am excited to share my knowledge and experience as a Pre-K Head Teacher (and parent too) in this article.

Everything You Need To Know About Preschool link:

Saturday, August 18, 2018

My Summer Reading

My summer reading included Voice Lessons for Parents: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Listen by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D. As an educator of young children as well as a parent I was curious about Mogel's newest book. From the very first page I was completely hooked!

Her chapters on early childhood were very informative. I learned that the squeeze pouches that children have at snack and lunch time do not develop the muscles around the mouth. In fact, the sucking action that the children use to extract the food from the pouch is doing more harm than good! Children need strong muscle tone around the mouth area to develop language. Chewing food helps build up the muscles young children need to begin communicating. 

In the later chapters Mogel covers teenagers and college in her book. As a mother of a teenager I learned that it is important to listen to your teenage child. Asking teenagers a barrage of questions is off putting. I know first hand this gives me little to no feedback from my son. I have been practicing listening to my son, in hopes of building better communication with him.  

Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children
As an educator working in a preschool that incorporates Jewish traditions and culture I was eager to read The Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children. Mogel culls the wisdom from the Torah, Talmud and Jewish thinkers and couples it with contemporary psychological insights to compile a guide to raising children. Mogel thoughtfully connects Jewish tenants with parenting. I've copied some of the topics Mogel tackles in this book below.

  • "Accept that your children are both unique and ordinary.
  • Teach them to honor their parents and to respect others - family, friends and community.
  • Teach them to be resilient, self-reliant, and courageous.
  • Teach them to be grateful for their blessings.Teach them the value of work.
  • Teach them to make their table an altar - to approach food with an attitude of moderation, celebration, and sanctification.
  • Teach them to accept rules and to exercise self-control.
  • Teach them the preciousness of the present moment.
  • Teach them about God."

You can learn more about Wendy Mogel and her books at:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Learning about Design Principles

Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang and A Book About Design by Mark Gonyea are essential reading to any budding artist, art enthusiast or art teacher. I can’t praise these two books enough for making color, shape, page placement engaging and interesting. I recently used these two books in my art class.

First I read A Book About Design because it gives an excellent introduction to design principles like color, shape, and the 1-3-9 ratio. The book is fun to read! Students can also participate by share reading to the class, which would make it even more engaging for them. Afterwards we did an activity incorporating design elements discussed in the book. I required the children to include three different design elements they learned from the book to make it more challenging. The children easily mastered these design ideas and created colorful, balanced designs using shapes and lines.

Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang uses the classic folk tale Little Red Riding Hood to discuss how line, shape, color and page placement can help tell a story. The children used black and white paper to tell their stories. One child used pink dots to represent the Three Little Pigs, and a orange tongue to represent the hungry wolf in her illustration.  A red triangle in another story represents Little Red Riding Hood, and the lines represent trees. One tree is on the diagonal to create tension. 

Paper placed off the page tells the 
viewer that the story continues.

 The Three Little Pigs

 Little Red Riding Hood

Triangles on their side show movement

Jagged lines create tension and curving lines are soothing.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Building Community in the Classroom

These children are hand knitting together
Creating art is a great opportunity to bring children together. Something I work hard to cultivate in all my art classes is a classroom community. I use a communal art table that accommodates all the children in my art class. Having all the children sit together helps unite the class. It only takes a few days for the kids to warm up and start conversations. Even the shyest child will begin to feel comfortable in a short amount of time. Creating an inclusive classroom community gives children a safe space to socialize. I also encourage children to support each other by being peer-to-peer teachers. Children learn best from each other. In a world where children can be isolated by their “screens”, having a strong classroom community is one way children can develop their social skills.

The children in the photo on the right are hand knitting 
together, and helping each other when they get to a difficult part in their knitting. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mark Making

In the past I have given students index cards, card stock and cardboard to make marks on paper. The children used the skinny edges of the stiff paper to create amazing designs. This year I got my Hoff Barthelson Music School community involved by asking for donations of toilet paper and paper towel rolls to use for mark making. My students found the rolls easy to work with, and some children went a bit further by manipulating the rolls to make ovals. I put out paint and jumbo stamp pads for the children to use to make the marks. I asked the students to try both the paint and stamp pads, and compare the two. I thought the paint would make the best marks, but was surprised when a majority of the children liked using the jumbo stamp pads best. They said it was less messy, and made more precise marks. After the children had finished working we examined their artwork. Pushing the children to really look at their work and make observations gave them an opportunity to think critically. The children commented that they saw lots of different circular shapes, color combinations and experimentation. In previous art classes we had been exploring color, shape, and design, so this exercise was a good way to reinforce what they had already been learning.

Several children flattened the rolls and began to use them as a brush to smear the paint over the marks. The effect is really great!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sewing 101

I’ve been fortunate to teach children who really enjoy sewing. Sewing is a life skill that I think is important for children to learn. In addition, sewing helps improve fine motor skills, eye hand coordination and attention span. The children really challenged themselves by creating projects that required a lot of detail. Food was a big Inspiration!