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.
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.
Mrs. Ashley is the Director of Giving Tree Early Learning and mother to 3 busy boys! You can reach her by emailing- firstname.lastname@example.org