Reflecting on the Hundred Ways of Thinking Conference

Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, Suzanne Axelsson, from Sweden, shared her ways of approaching early learning with a group of 250 Early Childhood Educators from various parts of British Columbia. The conference organizer, Marayam Nadaaf, was passionate about finding ways to allow people to travel to the conference and thanks to the travel bursary, I was able to attend as were many others who came from outside of Vancouver.

Suzanne explored the idea of weaving dialogue and technology with young children. She showed us her journal of questions, and in the same spirit, I’d like to share some of the questions that came up for me including some questions posed by Suzanne.

Conference Room at Croation Cultural Centre in Vancouver, B.C.

What does it mean to wonder? How can we encourage a sense of wonder in children?

How to we develop curiosity in children? Is curiosity different from wonder?

Suzanne argued that if we set up just the right challenge for children; find the sweet spot between too easy and too difficult, then children will become curious and engaged.

In our play experience with the marbles and clothes pins I became that curious learner as we attempted to create a marble run that would last exactly 5 seconds. Participating in the experience was like being a child when all sense of time falls away and your parents call you for dinner and you think it couldn’t possibly be dinner time already but it is.

I believe it is helpful for us as teachers to put ourselves in the shoes of the children from time to time as we did here at the conference. It gives us a greater understanding of what we ask of them when the play session ends and it is time to move to something new.

More questions that came up…

What does it mean to slow down and focus on children? What more can we learn by slowing down? How can we find opportunities for joy? How can we allow children to explore all of their emotions in a safe environment?

In what ways might children use these loose parts? How might we challenge children with these materials?

What if instead of talking to parents about risky play we talked about play with uncertain outcomes? How can we find ways for children to do their own assessment of outcomes? What kind of social or emotional challenges can be set up with uncertain outcomes? Where is the sweet spot for learning?

What would happen if we try new ways of offering paint? Can we offer 1 color for each child (but not the same color)? What other new strategies or ways of offering materials can we come up with? How will those limitations or different ways of offering support finding the sweet spot for learning?

How do children come to know things? What forms of knowledge might we pursue with children?

“Play is needed to convert facts into knowledge.” – S.A.

What are some of the ways children can use imagination? How might we bring more opportunities for imagination?

“If knowledge is an island, imagination is the coastline.” – S. A.

It flows from this that helping children gain knowledge can assist with their developing imaginations. I think of a child I currently work with who loves animals. She recently told me she was pretending to be “a horse on the Savannah.” To me this illustrates the example as her understanding and knowledge of what it means to be a horse is extended by her understanding of the habitat of the Savannah.

I recognize that my post is full of questions but that is what being a reflective educator is all about. I hope these questions helped bring new insight into your thinking about young children and how they learn, particularly for people who wished to attend the conference but were unable to be there.

Oh, and in case you were wondering. I still have my cold; I think I just need a few more days and it will be gone.

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Kid Lit Love Series Resumes!

Hello Picture Book Lovers!

I am pleased to announce that my Kid Lit Love Series will resume very soon with a focus on new picture book releases in 2020 both fiction and non-fiction.

The entire Kid Lit Community is so amazing and I’ve been fortunate to connect with a number of authors who are releasing picture books this year. Kid Lit Love posts will be on Mondays. I am excited to say I have a bunch of wonderful books to share. So if you are looking for something new this year to read with the children in your life, come and visit my blog on a Monday and you just might find a new picture book that is exactly what you’re looking for.

Here are just a few of my favourite picture books!

Some of the books are fun, some are whimsical, some share important historical information, some deal with social and emotional issues, some feature diversity, some have themes related to caring for our world or each other. And with each book, you will learn a little about the making of it and how it came to be.

Curious? Follow my blog or like my facebook page where I share the posts. And if you love a book, I encourage you to leave a review, add it to your ‘to-read’ list on Goodreads, recommend it to a friend, request it at your library, or share it on your social media.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! I hope you’ll leave a comment and visit again. Have a wonderful day!

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Be Gone, Dreadful Cold!

If you’ve been paying attention to my past posts, you know I have been looking forward to the Hundred Ways of Thinking Conference in Vancouver, B.C. that happens Thursday, Friday and Saturday. https://authorcynthiamackey.com/2020/02/17/counting-down-to-hundred-ways-of-thinking/

And of course, as timing would have it, I’ve come down with a nasty cold just days before the event. Sigh.

Green Tea with honey to soothe the throat

So now to make the cold go away as fast as possible…

I have done the following:

  • – 3 vitamin C boost drinks with 1,000 mg of vitamin C in each one
  • -warm salt water gargle twice
  • -breathing steam in the mornings
  • -eating oranges
  • -spoonfuls herbal cough syrup ( I had run out so I bought some today)
  • -drinking tons of tea

And I’m out of days to get better as tomorrow I get to take the ferry! Living on an island means lots of ferry travel. Here’s hoping for a restful sleep tonight.

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Have a wonderful day!

Counting Down to Hundred Ways of Thinking!

Okay, how many more sleeps until the Hundred Ways of Thinking Conference? I am so excited! Woot! Woot! And spring is almost here…

Spring is coming to Victoria!

Join Suzanne Axelsson from Sweden at our 2020 Conference for two days of playing, learning and reflecting! 

As luck would have it, I seem to be developing some mild flu symptoms just days before this wonderful conference. Ugh! Though I feel lucky for the family day weekend and the extra day to rest. I am filling up my body with vitamin C and hoping for the best! I did get the flu shot so fingers crossed.

Here’s the weather forecast for Vancouver. I know there’s been some snow so I am grateful for the slightly warmer temperatures. Looks like we will see Vancouver in it’s typical rainy fashion on Friday and Saturday.

Looks like we won’t see much sun over the weekend.

These conference organizers are amazing! Just look at what they sent out to everyone. They are so thoughtful. Which Vancouver restaurants should we try?

From the Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House organizers!

Four more sleeps and I get to go and visit my hometown! Yay! Though sadly, I won’t make it to North Vancouver, which is my absolute favourite place to visit. Not enough time. Sigh.

Stay tuned for more conference updates on the way!

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Daily Gratitude Practice

About six months ago, I switched from my regular position as Early Childhood Educator and Manager of a preschool to casual Early Childhood Educator at several different child care programs. I made the switch because of burnout and because there is a huge demand here in Victoria for qualified ECE subs so I knew I would never be short of work.

When I worked every day in my program, I wasn’t feeling appreciated. I am sure that my work was appreciated but I just didn’t get that feeling each day. Maybe because I was overwhelmed and burned out, I couldn’t see the appreciation anymore.

Here’s a rare photo of me. I prefer being on the other side of the camera!

So how are things now? Six months later, I often am greeted with a “we’re so glad you’re here today!” or even a hug from the staff, who know that if I’m not there, their day could be a lot more difficult. Parents whose children I have only worked with for a couple of weeks have given me gifts. I feel I am making a difference and that’s important to me.

Aside from casual, I also have added a daily gratitude practice to my life. Every single night, without fail, I sit down and write five things for which I am grateful. Often they are really little things. But they matter.

Here’s a sample list from my journal a couple of weeks ago:

  • beach walk with preschoolers
  • “I love you, Teacher Cindy.” said one of the preschoolers
  • bakery treats
  • sketching time
  • fireside chat with the family

If you are reading this post and hoping to change your life for the better and if you don’t already have a daily gratitude practice…. start! I highly recommend it! It takes me only little time each night because throughout the day I pay attention to all the things that make me feel grateful. Most nights in five minutes or less, I’ve got my list done. And I find that even when I have more difficult days, I am much more easily able to stay positive.

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Play, Outdoor Learning, and Raising Physically and Mentally Healthy Children

This video is a wonderful collection of comments on children’s play by some incredibly articulate human beings. If you want to understand why play is so valuable, you must watch this. Adults need to trust children to manage their own play and learning, not try to control it!

If you have children in your life, if you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, librarian or school administrator, I encourage you to take 20 minutes of your time and watch this video. Topics such as risk, outdoor play, natural environments, kindergarten readiness and self-chosen activities are covered.

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Sidney, B.C. Two Hundred Boxes!

About 5 years ago, when I first began working at Sidney Preschool, I introduced a new and special day to our program. I called it our Cardboard Box Extravaganza! We had our parents collect and bring in boxes and the children were give some simple materials to work with as well as an opportunity to use their creativity to go wherever their imaginations may take them with the collection of boxes. This was a huge hit! And each year proved to be a little different as new children and parents brought their own unique ideas to the event.

Small boxes can be great for creative minds as well.

And that is why it does my heart such good to see this event taking place in Sidney. Two Hundred Boxes is an event for the whole family and takes place February 16th from 10 am to 4 pm at the ArtSea Gallery in Tulista Park. I have no idea how this event came to be but what a wonderful opportunity for family and community engagement. Castles, towers, tunnels, neighbourhoods, forts, planes or trains could all be part of your experience as you work with the boxes. This event is totally free of charge. Kudos to the Community Arts Council for organizing!

And because I am a huge supporter of children’s literature, let me add a couple of great picture books that encourage creativity with cardboard boxes. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and What To Do With a Box by Jane Yolen. Do you know some other great books on the same subject? Have you and your children created something amazing and wonderful with a cardboard box? Share in the comments.

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