Our little superstars

You’ve been watching them cook, create art, play and discover the world. So we thought it is about time you meet a few of our little crew at Elements and see how lovable, spirited, and wonderful each of them are. And also how adorably chic they are every day, as they come to school.

So here they are, all dressed up in their best for you. Do your kids have a favourite outfit, or are there pieces you prefer for them? Go on over to our Facebook page, if you have a minute to spare, and tell us!

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Djuna runs with the wind

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Mino discovers life in the fast lane

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Ellis takes a moment to contemplate the beauty of the world 

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Clara adds a touch of summer

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London strikes a pose

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Naomi and Mino combine style with functionality

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Joey adds a touch of class to the garden

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Antonio gets in the spirit 

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No rock is too big to climb for Lucy

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Nature + Kids = Magic

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We call ourselves an urban nature preschool so obviously, at Elements, being out in our custom-designed backyard is a big part of a school day. And with our greenhouse, we managed to get the kids outdoors even in winter.

Why do we place such an emphasis on connecting children with nature?

This piece explains it well:

Just five minutes’ “green exercise” can produce rapid improvements in mental wellbeing and self-esteem, with the greatest benefits experienced by the young, according to a study this year at the University of Essex.

Free and unstructured play in the outdoors boosts problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline. Socially, it improves cooperation, flexibility, and self-awareness. Emotional benefits include reduced aggression and increased happiness. “Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors,” concluded one authoritative study published by the American Medical Association in 2005.

“Nature is a tool,” says Stephen Moss, naturalist, broadcaster and author, “to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves.” So climbing a tree, he says, is about “learning how to take responsibility for yourself, and how – crucially – to measure risk for yourself. Falling out of a tree is a very good lesson in risk and reward.”

How can you, as a parent, make sure your child does not lose touch with the outside world?

Here are some great resources to help you:

Children & Nature Network

National Wildlife Federation’s Connect Kids and Nature Program

The Nature Conservancy

Apps and sites to help kids connect with nature

Resources: The best classic books for kids

We’ve looked at a couple of exhaustive lists, and these are the five that are always on every list. Which are your children’s favourites, and which were yours, growing up? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know!

Alice

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” 

Charlotte

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte, “That in itself is a tremendous thing.” 

GreenEggs

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.”

 

Wild

“And he sailed off through night and day. And in and out of weeks. And almost over a year to where the wild things are.”

 

Winnie Pooh

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Kids benefit from yoga & meditation too

Yoga

Yoga and meditation are not just beneficial for adults – children benefit from them enormously.

Here are some advantages of introducing your little one to these disciplines:

  • They develop greater awareness of their bodies
  • They learn how to move their bodies and relate to them in a healthy way, which leads to better body image and body confidence
  • Breathing practises, co-ordinated movement and the awareness that yoga and meditation bring help children manage stress
  • Their sense of focus and concentration increase
  • The non-competitiveness of yoga encourages healthy group dynamics
  • It does not involve screen-time, which is necessary in today’s world

If you’re looking for more resources, these are the ones we recommend:

Yoga Kids

Yoga Stories for Kids

How to get kids to meditate

Teach Children Meditation

Little hearts and minds

As much as we keep students at Elements busy in the best way, working on interesting projects, and encouraging them to play and learn, we are big fans of letting the children be, as well. And there’s nothing more wonderful than watching them in those moments, making sense of the world around them, taking it all in.

“There is a myth that doing nothing is wasting time, when it’s actually extremely productive and essential. During empty hours, kids explore the world at their own pace, develop their own unique set of interests and indulge in the sort of fantasy play that will help them figure out how to create their own happiness, handle problems with others on their own, and sensibly manage their own time. That’s a critical life skill.”
– Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., co-author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

Why you should cook with your kids

This is one of the most popular TED talks, and it’s about cooking with kids. It’s not just fun – it’s an important part of educating them about where food comes from, good healthy habits, and building a good relationship with their meals and themselves.

We also love this post, which lists further benefits of cooking with kids, and some fantastic recipes. Great recipes over here, too.

One of our favourite things to cook at Elements is a delicious lunch of roasted vegetables.

Choose fresh produce, depending on the season. Our students love everything from potatoes and broccoli with cheese, to a mix of root vegetables.

The children can help wash the vegetables, and chop them. 

Mix olive oil, herbs and salt in.

Offer a taste of the herbs to the kids, to allow them to understand flavours. 

Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender. Serve with some bread on the side, if you like.

Have a wonderful weekend and please do visit our Facebook page, to share your own favourite family meals. Also – do you follow us on Instagram? We hope you do! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources: Cooking with Kids

We hope our posts on cooking with our students in school motivate you to cook at home with your kids. Or, if you already do, to try new dishes and cuisines. (Italian? Indian? Korean or Japanese?)

Here are some cookbooks and resources to help you, and please do read the piece we shared on taste education. Happy cooking!

Fanny at Chez Panisse: A Child’s Restaurant Adventures with 46 Recipes , recommended by The Kitchn

The Forest Feast for Kidsrecommended by A Cup of Jo

Ella’s Kitchen: The Cookbook, recommended by The Independent

Dinner: the Playbook and the really resourceful, honest blog, Dinner: A Love Story, by the same author

And a fantastic post by Molly Wizenberg on how to cook with kids at home

 

World on a Plate: Italy

We started the week with a trip to Italy, and it was delicious, just like you would hope it would be.

Re’em’s mom, Efrat came to whip up a delicious lunch of lasagne with the kids, and she brought a surprise with her!

As we waited for the lasagne to bake, we put together a platter of simple, yummy antipasti that the kids loved help make and eat.

They washed the cherry tomatoes and chopped them.

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They helped crumble the cheese. (And taste it!)

Pitched in as the tomatoes, cheese and olives were mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper and basil.

And the antipasti was ready! The children loved eating it with bread sticks. It was such an easy treat to make.

Try this at home: Make this with your kids, as a snack, or an appetiser. It takes very little time and effort, and you can change it up according to what you have at home.

Let’s start preparing for spring!

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We are so excited to be preparing for the new season. For sunshine and laughter, and outdoor play. And, most of all, to be out in our garden, and greenhouse, growing plants.

One of the things we’re doing in anticipation of spring is germinating vegetable seeds for the greenhouse. As you can see in the pictures above, we’ve germinated seeds indoors, and are planting them in soil, so they can grow to be strong, wonderful plants. We’re hoping to enjoy lots of beans, lettuce and broccoli very soon.

Try this at home: Use an empty egg carton to get started, after a visit to your local nursery to choose the plants you’d like to grow. Once the saplings have germinated, please move them – carefully – into a larger pot. As the weather improves, you can move this pot into a well-lit corner of your home, or place it on your window-sill or in your garden.