Reuse, Recycle, Remida…

Most educators I know are collectors: seashells, pebbles, leaves, twigs…

books, blogs, memories and treasures…

We hang on to anything that might be useful in the classroom, anything that might spark or inspire or connect our learners. Many of us have a collection of loose parts for imaginative play, math, art, makers space, and other activities. With these collections, comes the challenge of storage and organization (and patient partners who put up with our collections taking up so much storage space.)

Imagine if there was a place one could go to pick up an incredible variety of materials to be used for art, exploration, makers space, and more, materials that would push us to think differently about their possibilities.

 

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I recently visited the Remida centre, housed in the Helen Gordon Child Development Centre in Portland, Oregon. This space, filled with a variety of scrap materials and discards collected from local business and industry, is inspired by the Remida Centres in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The name is an amalgam of Reggio, reuse, recycle, and Mida, for King Midas, whose touch turned every object to gold.

 

 

They had shelves and drawers of well organized bits and pieces that could be repurposed in all kinds of ways. I wondered, what does it mean if we value discarded objects as if they were treasures?

What if we present these materials, just as we do the beautiful provocations for learning in our classrooms, in a way that sparks curiosity and wonder?

 

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The Remida Centre puts these questions into practice, connecting educators with these materials and inviting students to consider new ways to use them. Children in the Child Development Centre have used the Remida materials in their own work, and the results are incredible expressions of children’s thinking and learning.

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Children will find interesting and unique ways to use all kinds of materials. I brought home a few scraps to add to my own collection and am excited to see how my students will choose to use them. Moreover I wonder, how can we create this kind of resource for our local educators, schools, and children to access? Are there spaces within our schools, district offices, or city halls where these kind of resources can be gathered and made available? Not only would such a space divert valuable resources from the landfill, it would encourage educators and students to think differently about the way we use materials. A place like Remida is valuable, not only because of the art and artefacts that might be created, but for the learning that happens – the treasure of  thinking that can be made visible using the language of materials.

 

 

The child is made of one hundred

The child has a hundred languages

a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinking,

of playing, of speaking.

– Loris Malaguzzi

 

 

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New Year, Renewed Commitment

Long time no blog.

Life gets busy – new school, new house, new dog, an inquiry project, new reporting practices, new curricula, and another new classroom. All this has meant that blogging has fallen by the wayside.

The sharing and learning has continued in other ways, of course. I have a network of amazing colleagues and we support each other in expanding our practice. Yesterday many of us met up at the BC Association of Math Teachers Reggio Fall Institute: Place-Based Mathematics. It was a day of sharing, hosted by teachers at Archibald Blair Elementary, in Richmond.

We explored the following big ideas:

How does place inform questions and inquiries?

How does place inspire mathematical thinking?

Place, as defined in the current BC Science Curriculum, is “any environment, locality, or context, with which people interact to learn, create memory, reflect on history, connect with culture, and establish identity.” Sense of Place is also addressed in the First Nations Principals of Learning: “Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focusing on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and on a sense of place.)”

I came away armed with practical resources and activities, and an eye to asking the bigger questions with students as we work, learn, and play outdoors. As always when meeting and sharing ideas with other passionate educators, I left fully inspired.

For young learners, exploring the natural spaces around them is essential to helping them develop connectedness and a sense of place. I thus start my year with a renewed sense of purpose and a determination to weave outdoor learning experiences into the everyday of the classroom. I will continue to share my experiences here.

Stay tuned, I have my gumboots at the ready… Here we go…

 

 

Hanami

When the cherry trees bloom, my heart sings. It is a sure sign that spring has arrived. This year in Vancouver and the surrounding area, many of the trees have blossomed very early. Luckily, throughout the city there are many different varieties of cherry trees and we can enjoy the blossoms for an extended period of time.

IMG_3457IMG_3571My six years in Japan taught me to appreciate cherry blossom season for more than just its beauty. The flowers bloom in early spring, when they are assaulted by wind, rain, and sharp drops in temperature. The trees are hardy, but the flowers so delicate. A heavy rain can sweep all the blossoms from the tree. In Japan, the cherry blossoms represent fleeting beauty and the impermanence of life. It is a time to pause, give thanks, and appreciate the gifts we have before they are gone. One of the ways people celebrate cherry blossom season is with Hanami (literally, flower viewing). Hanami is the custom of co-workers, friends, and families, gathering together for picnics and evening parties under the cherry blossoms.

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In class, we have been learning about cherry blossoms as part of our study of spring and seasonal change. We observed them both inside and outside the classroom; we drew them and made art. Since we have also been focusing on kindness and friendship, what better way to wrap up our studies than with a Hanami picnic. Parents and community members kindly obliged by bringing healthy lunch foods, including mini-sandwiches, fruits and veggies, cheese, crackers, and meats, and sushi. We finished off our picnic with some sweet treats, of course. It was such a fun and happy event.

It’s not too late in this area to celebrate spring with an impromptu Hanami with your class or your children. If you can’t organize a formal picnic, why not grab your lunches and a picnic blanket and eat outside under the blossoms? They may soon be gone… until next year.

Spring Flowers

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A spate of milder weather brings out the spring blossoms. Time to get out and draw! First we talk about some of the flower parts: stem, leaves, and petals. The students went out over two days to draw flowers in the garden. The same flowers were also brought into the classroom for closer observation and comparison.

It was incredible how engaged the students were during this activity, and the care they took in drawing their flowers. The students are working on their “kid-writing” – sounding out words in their writing. (Sometimes the teacher helps by transcribing some of the students’ thoughts.)

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The students did their writing in small groups with a teacher present. This facilitated vocabulary development and direct comparison of the flowers.

What the students are learning:

  • the names and features of local plants
  • how to observe closely
  • to share our observations orally and in writing
  • language used for describing and comparing

 

Spring is Coming…

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The crocuses are once again blooming; snow drops are drooping. Today I went for a walk with just a hoodie and vest (no toque, no rain boots…) I saw a quartet of fat robins digging in the dirt. These are the signs. Spring is on its way.

At the beginning of the school year, I returned to work with a renewed connection with the natural world, and a determination to keep outdoor education at the forefront. Though my commitment has not lessened, it just seems that my energies have been drawn elsewhere these past few months (such as, writing a new class blog to share learning with families). Posting to the Create Discover blog fell by the wayside. A de facto hiatus.

Well. With spring comes new energy. Create Discover Kindergarten will continue to highlight the importance of outdoor education in early learning, and may also broach some new topics. I hope you enjoy reading upcoming posts, and will share your own experiences and connections.

Warm Regards,

Ms. RainOrShine

C is for Crocus

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I eagerly await three signs of approaching spring: snowdrops, robins, and crocus. In the week before spring break, I kept asking the students if they had seen these signs of spring. We are lucky have some flower beds at the front of the school that mysteriously blossom through spring, summer, and fall. (I think there are some “garden ninjas” in the community who stealthily tend to these beds.) In the last week, during a sudden sunny break in a week of grey, we squeezed in some time with our magnifying glasses and clipboards to get a look at the crocus up close.

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The last few days of Spring Break have been beautifully sunny and the good weather should continue into our first week back at school. More outdoor learning – here we come!

Happy Spring to everyone!

Pinecones

In February, we read a lovely book, Penguin and Pinecone: a friendship story. The story was the perfect launch for a month long focus on friendship and kindness.

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After reading the story, we went out to the school yard to collect some pinecone friends of our own. The sun had come out for the last few minutes of the day, and the students were delighted.

Since then, we have done a number of activities with the pinecones we collected.

Pinecone Printing

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Pinecone and Tree Block Play

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Pinecone Buddies

We each picked our own Pinecone Buddy, made scarves for them, and took them home.

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The students did a lot with their pinecones – visited Grandparents, went to the park, played hockey, and went for drives, to name a few.

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We took our Pinecone Buddies home. As in the story, however, we talked about bringing the pinecones back to where they belonged – a final act of friendship. So this week we brought our class basket of pinecones back to the school yard.

The students wanted to build a nest for the pinecones, just like in the story.

Goodbye, Pinecone Buddies!

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