New Beginnings

The new school year started last week and we thought you might like to see how we welcomed our students, old and new, back. Lots of adventure, discovery and exploration for our little people to embark on. We can’t wait to share our new stories with you!

img-20160912-wa0009img-20160912-wa0010img-20160912-wa0019img-20160912-wa0011img-20160912-wa0014img-20160912-wa0020img-20160912-wa0016img-20160912-wa0021img-20160912-wa0023img-20160912-wa0024img-20160912-wa0013

 

Why kids should garden

Last week our students harvested a crop of tomatoes that they had planted and tended to. We used the tomatoes – which were delicious! – in meals through the week, and everyone loved eating what they had grown.

 

tomato1

tomato3

Do you garden with your kids? You should, because these are just three benefits:

How gardening can affect the BRAIN:

There is a myriad of scientific concepts you can discuss with your kids when planting and tending to a garden. One study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. The wonder of seeing a garden grow may spark your kids to ask questions like: Why do the plants need sun? How does the plant “drink” water? Why are worms good for the plants? Soon you will be talking about soil composition, photosynthesis and more! Add a little math while gardening by measuring how much plants are growing from week to week or counting the flowers on each plant. Supplement the experience of gardening with books about plants, trips to a botanical garden, or a photo journal of the plants that you are growing.

How gardening can affect the BODY:

When children participate in gardening, the fruits and vegetables that they are inspired to eat will no doubt have a positive effect on their body. But the act of gardening itself can also promote a healthy body. Kids LOVE to get their hands and feet in the dirt, which can run counter to the modern parenting style of compulsively keeping hands and surfaces cleaned and sanitized. However, consider the “hygiene hypothesis,” a theory that a lack of childhood exposure to germs actually increases a child’s susceptibility to diseases like asthma, allergies and autoimmune conditions by suppressing the development of the immune system. So getting dirty while gardening may actually strengthen a child’s immunity and overall health.

These days all kids could benefit from a little more physical activity and sunshine they’ll get while gardening. Activities like moving soil, carrying a heavy watering can, digging in the dirt and pushing a wheelbarrow can promote gross motor skills and overall strength for a more fit body. Plus, these activities, known as “heavy work,” have been shown to help kids stay calm and focused.

How gardening can affect the SOUL:

In this electronic age, kids need time for meaningful family connection. Time in the garden allows for team building and promotes communication skills. Planning a garden, planting the seeds and watching them grow give kids a sense of purpose and responsibility. Making sure that the plants get enough fertilizer, water and sun fosters mindfulness. The concepts learned while gardening, like composting food scraps for fertilizer or using gathered rainwater, can show kids a deep respect and responsibility for taking care of our planet.”

Resource

10 Inspired Gardening Projects for Kids

tomato2

tomato4

A Friday tradition

12345

“I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors.”

– Enid Blyton

Weather permitting, we love our Friday picnics. The kids get finger foods from home. We head out into our custom-designed yard to eat lunch al fresco. It’s a wonderful way to end the week. Spending time outdoors, of course, has its benefits. What we love even more is just watching the kids soak in the sun, in the company of their friends, being comfortable in the natural world. It is one of our key endeavours at Elements Preschool, as an urban nature school, to help children reconnect with nature. A Friday picnic is one of the nicest ways to do that.

If you’re inspired to host a picnic for your kids, or with friends and family this weekend, here are some great resources:

12 Secrets for the Perfect Picnic

13 Quick and Easy Recipes for Picnics

8 Outdoor Games for a Picnic

Cooking With Kids: Pizza

We made pizza for lunch and it was delicious. As always, the kids helped out, and if you’d like to try this at home with your children, here’s the recipe we followed. The steps in bold are for adults only – the kids can help with everything else. Have fun! We sure did.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough
Peppers
Pepperoni,
Cheese
Olive oil
Back pepper
Olives
Onions
Tomato sauce.

Pre-heat oven to 550 degrees.

Slice all the vegetables.

Sauté the peppers and onions with olive oil and black pepper.

Roll out the pizza dough.

Spread the tomato sauce and top with the vegetables and meat. Sprinkle black pepper, cheese and olives.

Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

1234567891011121314

Summer fun with crafts & plants

We spent a fun summer day at a neighbourhood garden. The kids were greeted warmly by the staff there. They then learnt how to trace, cut and sew teddy bears and pillows. It was such a fun activity, and the kids loved decorating their crafts. To end a lovely morning, the kids walked around the garden and helped water the plants. While leaving, they were given the bears they made and with loud “thank yous”, we were on our way back to Elements. Take a look at some pictures from our fabulous day!

123456789

 

Cooking with kids: Bruschetta

We made a delicious lunch with the kids this past week, and thought you might like to try making it at home with your kids. So here is our child-friendly recipe for bruschetta. The steps marked in bold are for adults only. 

3 baguettes
6 tomatoes
2 or 3 stalks of basil
Medium-sized bunch of parsley
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 packed mozzarella cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Butter and olive oil

Peel and mince the garlic.
Mince the parsley.
Cut the mozzarella into rounds.

Wash the tomatoes, and halve them.
Mince them into small dice.

Pick the basil leaves off the stem.
Mince them the same size as the parsley.

Slice the baguette and butter the slices.
Lay a round of mozzarella on each slice.

Mix all the other ingredients together, and add a couple of spoons of olive oil to bind.

Place the mixture on the slices.

Enjoy this summery meal!

12345678910111213

In the summertime

We are spending time outdoors, making the most of the warm weather.

Outdoor play has several benefits, of course, but most of all, the joy that children get from being out in nature is wonderful to see.

“Too often these days, a child’s encounters with nature are dominated by a look-but-don’t-touch directive. Fearing that we must protect nature and our kids at all cost, we often do far more harm than good.

Nature connection depends on firsthand, multi-sensory encounters. It’s a messy, dirty business—picking leaves and flowers, turning over rocks, holding wriggling worms, and splashing in ponds. Rather than saying “no” every time a child wants to pick up a stick, throw a rock, climb a tree, or jump into the mud, take a deep breath and cheer them on instead. Remember, clothes can be washed, and cuts heal.

Nature connection is a contact sport, and both kids and nature can take it!”

– Dr Scott Sampson

 

41

5678

Resource: Vintage books for children

We loved stumbling upon this post on the fantastic Brain Pickings, which is a favourite resource for all things interesting. One thing led to the next, and here is a list of five vintage books for children that are worth looking into.

5

Shapes for Sounds, by Timothy Donaldson

3

Little 1, by Ann Rand

 

1

What Can I Be?, by Ann Rand, with illustrations by Ingrid Fiksdahl King

 

2

Sparkle and Spin, by Ann Rand and Paul Rand

4

I Know A Lot of Things, by Ann Rand and Paul Rand

Why children must be out in nature

1

“Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.”
– H Bennett

2

“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.”
– Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth

3

“Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants, and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime.”
– Robin C Moore and Herb H Wong

4

“As children observe, reflect, record, and share nature’s patterns and rhythms, they are participating in a process that promotes scientific and ecological awareness, problem solving, and creativity.”
– Deb Matthews Hensley

5

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen un-self-consciously to the soughing of the trees.”
– Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth

 

 

 

 

Does education hurt creativity?

We found this article interesting for the argument it makes: Everyone is born creative, but it educated out of us at school

Creativity is an important leadership skill. It is an important life skill. This article lists these benefits:

1 High quality arts or cultural experiences in early childhood can help children develop subsequent abilities in the arts which will be useful right through life.

2 Early years arts and cultural activities can help children make sense of their cognitive, physical, emotional, spiritual, linguistic, and moral development by enhancing the whole curriculum.

3 Early childhood arts and cultural activities can significantly strengthen parent-child bonds and engage families in their children’s learning, providing a positive focus for shared experience and communication.

4 Stimulating and compelling experiences at museums, galleries, theatres, libraries, dance, arts or music venues will offer many parents the ideas, confidence and resources to play with their children as a natural part of everyday life.

5 Early years arts and cultural activities can help develop intrinsic human qualities, such as creativity, expression, identity, culture and imagination. As well as helping to preserve our cultural heritage, they enable young children to develop their own languages which help shape their individual, community and global identity.

6 Early years arts experiences can impact positively on confidence, self-esteem, personal, social, emotional development and behavioural health, breaking down language barriers, cultural prejudices or societal differences, and leading to decreased social problems, reduced inequality and increased creativity.

7 Collaborations that encompass the perspective of arts or cultural professionals, early years professionals, children and parents can bring a vibrancy to learning that results in a much deeper understanding of, and attention to, a child’s needs and interests. This leads to sustainable progression, raising standards of achievement, and a sense of fulfillment for both teachers and children both immediately and later on in life.

We couldn’t agree more. At Elements we recognise that creativity is not merely an art project or time spent crafting. It’s about teaching children to tap into themselves to think creatively and approach life in a creative manner – from a conversation, to an activity, to when they have time alone.