Each spring our students plant vegetables and herbs in the Outdoor Classroom before saying goodbye for the summer months. Throughout the summer, the plants have a chance to grow uninterrupted allowing nature to do what it does best! This means that the Outdoor Classroom tends to become a tad bit overgrown- but more importantly, it gives the plants and ecosystem a chance to thrive.
Shortly before school begins, the Giving Tree teachers return to tame the space and to make it ready for students. We pull weeds, refresh the 10x10 sand box and begin to harvest some of the vegetables from our plants.
This year we have a wide variety of leafy greens, cucumbers, various tomato species, herbs, pumpkins, green beans, sunflowers, carrots and flowers growing. We are excited for the children to see the "fruits of their labor" come to life!
If possible, we will plan to hold a "farmer's market" in which parents can purchase vegetables from our students. All proceeds go back into the Outdoor Classroom funds so that we may continue to offer farm to table experiences for our students.
The summer months are a busy time for everyone! From fun in the sun to preparing classroom spaces, our teachers have been hard at work. Take a look at some of their favorite moments from their summer-
As we look to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year, the summer often times becomes a reflection period for the early childhood team and administration. Every year a theme is selected for our team to focus on as we continue to grow professionally. This year, the staff will be exploring the idea of INTENTION. This is an overarching theme that appears in every facet of our classrooms, professional development and instruction.
One area in which we are looking to create more INTENTION is in the opportunity for collaboration among teachers. In Reggio Emilia, teachers spend a large portion of their day in dialogue, collaborating on the needs of the children, collective group and pedagogy.
In order to support this in our own practices, many changes are being implemented for next school year. This includes welcoming Mrs. Nicole Mahern, our Ganon Lead teacher, as our new Assistant Director. She will spend a portion of the afternoon fulfilling this role in addition to her classroom duties as Lead Teacher. Her role will focus on mentoring, collaboration and support of our team as we continue to refine our developmentally appropriate practices and Reggio inspired pedagogy.
Another support includes the development of a professional development curriculum for both new and returning staff. This curriculum will touch on all areas of our program including Paths to QUALITY standards, accreditation, Reggio philosophy, classroom environment, Judaics and developmentally appropriate practices. The year long study will include reading passages, reflection questions, collaboration and practical application in the classroom.
Lastly, in order to fully support intentional collaboration, the team must have a space in which to create dialogue and make discoveries amongst themselves. The new collaboration space will contain a meeting area, resources, materials, professional works and research methodology, and will foster a sense of comradery as we grow with each other professionally and alongside our students and their families.
Well we made it! This year was both challenging and rewarding. At Giving Tree Early Learning, we are proud to say that we remained open throughout the school year to provide in-person care for our children. While there were a few bumps along the way, the Giving Tree family of parents, children and staff stayed the course to finish the school year on a high note!
As we look towards August, we will continue to evaluate and stay abreast of the latest COVID 19 mandates, recommendations and updates. We will share changes to our policies shortly before the start of school in order to make sure that we are meeting best practice standards and current safety protocols.
Over the summer, the classrooms and hallways may be empty of children, but that does not mean that the work stops! Each summer administration and our cleaning crews work diligently to prepare for a smooth and safe return to school. Should you need to reach us, the front office phones will be checked daily as will email.
We are all excited to see what next year holds and would like to remind everyone of our Referral Rewards Program. For each new family that enrolls, you will receive a $500 tuition credit. We have only a few spaces remaining, so have your friends call today! 317-251-1261.
We hope everyone has a wonderful summer full of laughter, fun and JOY!
For the last several years, the Early Childhood has participated in Outdoor Classroom Day. This global initiative helps to get kids outside to learn, play and grow. This year the Early Childhood celebrated with a wide range of outdoor activities. Gardening, bubbles, shaving cream, chalk and paint were just a few of the play opportunities explored!
The EC children worked collaboratively on a giant canvas to freely create and to express themselves through various paint techniques. From spray bottles to finger paints, the children worked hard to create their masterpiece! This beauty resides as a mural in our green space and will be revisited throughout the remainder of the school year.
The playground and outdoor classroom were also hot spots for activity! Shaving cream, paint, bubbles and chalk artwork were enjoyed by all as we spent the day engaged in play! Check the Giving Tree Facebook page to see more photos of our fun!
At Giving Tree Early Learning children are valued and their "voice" is recognized in various ways. None more prominent than in the Ganon's children's most recent project- The Turtle Project Artist Collaboration.
This project brought the collective vision and experience of the children to life as they expressed themselves creatively. It all began with a question from Artist Seth: "Can you draw me a turtle?"
Well of course- that meant that we first needed to learn more about turtles! After researching turtles through books, pictures and manipulation of toy turtles, the class was ready to begin.
Using black sharpie markers, the children created various sketches of turtles, refining their point of view with each new edition.
Artist Seth was impressed to see the variations of turtles and surprised the class with the opportunity to bring one of their creations to life! The class then voted to pick a class favorite to be brought to life using wood, tools and colorful paint! It was decided the E's drawing would be used.
Over the next several days, Artist Seth kept in close contact with the class to share his progress! First, Artist Seth recreated E's drawing onto a large sheet of plywood. Next, he cut out the turtle before adding color!
On Monday, May 10th, 2021 the turtle was ready! Artist Seth brought the life size cut out to school to help place it into its forever home in the outdoor classroom.
Thank you Seth Mahern for helping to bring to life the imagination of our students!
You can read more about the project by visiting:
One of our favorite creative play spaces is the Light Studio which was inspired by one of our family Reggio- inspired events, the Light Expo in 2018.
(read about it here: https://hhaireggiojourney.blogspot.com/2018/04/upcoming-family-reggio-event.html)
The Light Studio is home to various explorations of light, color and sound. Throughout the school year, a committee of innovative educators come together to routinely rotate and shift the Light Studio environment to support the children's current interests.
Various themes are explored each year including color, seasons, ocean, winter, artic animals, Jewish holidays, weather, insects and more!
The Light Studio is set up as what we call a "yes environment." Every item is meant to be controlled by your child. They are allowed to turn switches on and off, move and manipulate light sources, construct and deconstruct invitations and transport material from one center to the next to support their play.
Materials include projector and computer, overhead projectors, various lamps, rope lights, strings of lights, battery powered lights, light tables, black lights, mirrors, light curtains, "party lights" like disco balls, various translucent materials and manipulatives such as magnatiles, dramatic play items such as umbrellas, flashlights, clamp lights, tap lights, icicle lights, blocks, window blocks, various height platforms/surfaces, and recycled materials.
In the Light Studio aesthetics, accessibility, intention and creativity shine to provide your child with a world of wonder and discovery.
Giving Tree Early Learning is proud join educators across the nation to participate in the annual NAEYC Week of the Young Child. This week long event celebrates the important work that your child and their teachers are performing each and every day.
Themes for the week are:
Work Together Wednesday (Science and STEM)
The fun doesn't have to stop at the end of the school day! Here are some ideas that you can do at home too!
Have a dance party! Put on your favorite tunes and get your body moving.
Prepare dinner together as a family or prepare a special dessert.
This week, the children baked and decorated cupcakes for Yom Ha'azmaut, Israel's birthday.
Work Together Wednesday-
Take a walk through the neighborhood to observe signs of SPRING!
You can download a Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt by clicking the photo below.
Create side walk chalk murals for your whole neighborhood to enjoy.
Create pictures or write a letter to family near or far to let them know how much they mean to you!
Passover is a busy time in the Early Childhood. As the holiday is based around the retelling of the exodus from Egypt, you will find many explorations that are centered around story telling, dramatic play and interactive play opportunities. Common themes include Baby Moses, frogs, 10 plagues, matzah, construction/pyramids, music and puppetry. The children explored Passover activities both inside and outside of the classroom with a plethora of activities available in the Light Studio.
In the Light Studio, children could swim in the River Nile and save Baby Moshe or bake their own matzah at the Matzah Factory. Or they could take a frog for a dip in the frog pond or recreate Monet’s Waterlilies using loose parts on the light table! If that wasn't enough... they could experience engineering as they recreate 2d and 3d replicas of the Great Pyramids or even host their own Passover seder in the Light Studio cottage.
We continued the fun with various food experiences throughout the week. Children tasted hard boiled eggs, recreated one of the 10 plagues using raisins, soy nut butter and celery (Bugs on a Log), made charoset- a sweet mixture of apples, cinnamon and grape juice and baked matzah from scratch with Rabbi Schusterman and the Matzah Factory!
Each class also offered various activities within their classroom. Take a look at the pictures below to view more or visit our classroom blogs located under the CLASSROOMS tab at the top of the page.
Did you know that 90% of your child's brain development occurs between the years 0 to 5? High quality early education can set your child up for a lifetime of success. Join one of our virtual open house sessions to learn how Giving Tree Early Learning can help support a strong foundation for your child's future. To register for a session or to schedule a tour, click the ADMISSIONS tab above.
Let's start writing your child's story together...
Mrs. Ashley is the Director of Giving Tree Early Learning and mother to 3 busy boys! You can reach her by emailing- email@example.com