Why movement matters for kids

If you have some time, we highly recommend you bookmark and read this piece from The Atlantic, which talks about why movement is important for kids. We believe in this philsophy wholeheartedly at Elements, and our kids learn everything from soccer to yoga to krav maga, apart from getting lots of time and space for unstructured play.

As Vanessa Durand, a pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, says, freedom of movement is necessary for children to meet their developmental milestones: “Children learn by experiencing their world using all of their senses. The restriction of movement, especially at a young age, impedes the experiential learning process.”

Movement allows children to connect concepts to action and to learn through trial and error. “If you walk into a good kindergarten class, everyone is moving. The teacher is moving. There are structured activities, but generally it is about purposeful movement,”comments Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of early-childhood education at Lesley University and the author of Taking Back Childhood, describing the ideal classroom setup. In the classroom culture she advocates for, “[Kids] are getting materials for an activity, they are going back and deciding what else they need for what they want to create, seeing how the shape of a block in relation to another block works, whether they need more, does it balance, does it need to be higher, is it symmetrical. All of these math concepts are unfolding while kids are actively building and moving.”

Research has shown time and again that children need opportunities to move in class. Memory and movement are linked, and the body is a tool of learning, not a roadblock to or a detour away from it.

 

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Cooking with Kids: Homemade Pasta

The kids enjoyed a delicious lunch of homemade pasta this week. As always, they helped make it and if you’d like to try this at home with your kids, here’s the recipe. The lines in italics are for grown-ups only.

Ingredients
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
A packet of cherry tomatoes
A clove of garlic
A handful of basil
A can of beans – roman, cranberry, kidney or chickpeas
Store-bought sheets of fresh pasta

Method
Chop up the celery, carrots, tomatoes and basil.
Place these in a pot and start to cook them. Add the beans and basil as the sauce begins to boil. We used red beans.
Slice the pasta sheets into shapes of your choice.
Add the pasta to the sauce and let it cook for three minutes.

 

Snow: Play and Learn!

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We are very fortunate to have a large yard that the children can experience nature in, while still being in a controlled, very safe and supervised environment. And since it’s been snowing in New York now, it has given us and them an opportunity to play with snow. The snow-filled yard and our greenhouse have been our classrooms the past few days.

We encourage the children to approach and understand the winter wonderland in stages. The first snowfall is clean and pristine so the children can taste it. As it gets firmer, they make snowballs and snow cakes. Finally, they paint on the ice as it begins to freeze.

This first-hand, sensory-laden experience is priceless and the best teaching tool possible.

If you’d like to look, please do visit our snow post from last year, too.

Cooking with Kids: Pizza

Pizza is a favourite lunch of ours at school. We relied on a trusty recipe, which you can find here. Instead of tomato sauce, we diced tomatoes and mixed in some basil. On one pizza, we scattered diced zucchini and mozzarella cheese and the other was just sauce and mozzarella cheese. It was delicious and made for a cozy meal on a winter’s day!

 

It’s 2017!

Happy new year! We hope 2017 is full of happiness, good health and all things wonderful for you and your family.

We’re very excited to have you back here at Life At Elements, the official blog of Elements Preschool.

We are an urban nature preschool on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Inspired by the Forest School System, we aim to connect children to themselves, nature and the community around them. This sense of connection, in turn, leads to the development of crucial social, emotional and thinking skills. At Elements, we are creating a community of children who learn by doing, and who understand themselves and their world better.

Drawing inspiration from nature, we offer an environment rich in artful materials and experiences. Staying aware that children’s brains are like sponges and incredibly receptive, our goal is to stretch their minds. We do this via outdoor play, natural materials, art, music, movement, dance and yoga, cooking and drama. We also grow our own vegetables in our custom-landscaped garden, and cook with them, introducing children to the farm-to-table philosophy, as also to newer tastes and cuisines. To know more about us, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

We started Life At Elements last January, with the aim of giving all of you a window in our world. It’s been really fun and instructive to record our activities here for a whole year and we’re so looking forward to starting this new year.

To make it easier for you to navigate the blog and find the posts you like, all our food posts are now categorised under Cooking with Kids. Do try our recipes at home with your children – it’s a great way to educate their palate and teach them about healthy eating. Our other posts are categorised under Try This At Home, Around The School and Learning At Elements.

We will be posting every Wednesday and Friday this year, and you can follow us on Facebook, as well. If you’re a WordPress user, please do follow us. We’d appreciate it so much.

Thank you, again, for being here. We’ll be back on Friday, with a great recipe post, so be sure to check in.