This summer we wanted to try something new and take the children and their parents on an outing. Zenger Farm, a urban farm that’s within a couple of miles of Elm House welcomed our group of families. With all of the garden enhancement work that we have done at Elm House over the last year, we wanted to have a culminating experience for the children, and what better place to do that than an actual working and educational farm! We had such a beautiful morning there, and hope to make field trips a couple of times a year part of our curriculum planning.
Zenger farm had such wonderful guides that made our field trip so much fun and extremely informative. Thank you to Laura and Chris for the wonderful tour and information. To learn more about this amazing part of our SE Portland community click here.
Here are some photos of our time at the farm. We gathered fruit from the orchard for fruit tasting. We fed the plants with farm-made compost. And learned new songs from Laura and Chris. If you all have any more photos to pass along please feel free to email me!
You might have noticed a few new visual aide’s or posters around Elm House. We have posted these ‘cue cards’ in strategic places around the school to help the children internalize our routines and to help outline the steps for many recurring parts of our day, such as, getting dressed, using the toilet or getting a diaper change, as well as ‘taking a break’. These visuals help reach students in a variety of ways (or languages of learning and experiencing) The 100 Languages, is a key component to Reggio Emilia philosophy. Like you may guess, the principle refers to communication. However, the emphasis is in offering children one hundred ways to share their thinking. Children learn in different ways and the one hundred languages offer different means for learning and expression.
So for example, when a spoken direction is less than effective, we can try to communicate in other ways with visuals. These visuals reinforce our routines at school, and we hope that they serve as almost an instruction manual for independence building. Visual aids allow children the time they need to process what they are being asked to do. They do not disappear into thin air to be forgotten as spoken words or hand gestures do. Visuals can also be sequenced to breakdown and learn a skill, step by step. Visuals remain the same and allow for identical rehearsal and consistent memory pathways to be created (learning!) With this rehearsal and memory of sequenced activities comes understanding and ultimately increased confidence, independence and self esteem. We have noticed the children using the visuals to not only help themselves, but to help others!
Posted in Elm House Blog
Tagged 100 languages, elm house, Montessori, portland reggio inspired, portland reggio inspired toddlers, portland toddler school, portland toddlers, Reggio, south east portland, Southeast Portland Childcare, toddlers, visuals
Now that the Elm House children are all a bit older and have more endurance, we will be taking small groups on walks around the neighborhood. Our intentions here are to notice the natural worlds wonders, gather natural materials to enhance our curriculum, to chart the growth of new gardens and to connect with the people in our neighborhood. In the past stroller rides have been our primary way to explore, and we will still ride for longer adventures, but we see real value in the exercise that they will get in even walking a few blocks and the change in perspective.
We took our first walk today! Hope you enjoy these photos.
Do you have a favorite house in the neighborhood that has a great yard? Or do you know of a secret garden? Let us know the location in the comments section.
Over this past weekend Sarah Lu and her family got us a fish for Elm House. The brilliantly blue colored Betta fish is living in a bowl in the Elm Room, sparking many questions and observations from the children. A quick internet search about these fish explains their fascinating history and behaviors (did you know that Betta are labrynth fish? That is, they can breathe both oxygen from the air and from their gills? Which speaks to the evolution that came from their history of living in rice fields in Asia?! So cool!) But! Before we dive to deep (pun intended) into the details of our finned new friend, we think that they need a name.
After a couple of months of our studio space being transformed into a play kitchen which was so much fun, by the way, it has once again been transformed into an area dedicated to art of many kinds. The shelves are filled with materials, tools and loose parts that all promote creation, exploration and fun. Coming back from winter vacation the children seemed reinvigorated and extra passionate about making art and I’ve really enjoyed rediscovering these activities with them.
Here are some images that I’ve gathered since coming back to school on January 3rd. With the bitterly cold weather we have been experiencing it’s been fun to shift our concentration more towards artwork done indoors during these dark winter afternoons. We are excited for the start of the new year and new art project work! The smiles and looks of concentration say it all!