Friday, 23 March 2018

Creating an Environment for Learning

Creating environments for learning happens each time we walk into children's spaces.  Whether we intend to or not, we set the stage for how the children feel about themselves and us when they are in our presence.

Our careful observations help us learn what children believe about themselves as learners. Their play and conversation with us helps us know how we can value their contributions to the classroom atmosphere.

Our goal is to learn to create places and events where children feel safe to show their courage. Standing up to show a dance move or read a song map are opportunities for children to expand their sense of self.  By being the "orchestra" the children demonstrate their ability to cooperate and give comfort so the "composer" can do her best as she explores the song.

As some of you already know through the excited stories of your children, we are studying the J. Strauss composition, The Beautiful Blue Danube.  Here is the link:

We began by wondering aloud about such a river and if it really existed and then Ileana brought us her photos of Vienna and the river came alive.

We have looked at images of Strauss and have imagined what we might see if we were floating along the river in a boat.

In this piece of music there is a set of repeated lines and the children have practiced using some arm and hand gestures to express the sounds they hear.

This led to the study of the song map for Row, Row, Row, Your Boat.
Can you read the map in the photo above?

Because the children were so charmed by the map and had a strong sense of the song’s structure I was able to help them learn about being composers.  In this case the children take their own initiate to repeat lines or chunks of the song that they want the rest of the group to sing.  Each child brings his or her unique approach and interest to the project. 

What might you do if you were the composer?

Friday, 16 March 2018

Living the ways of an Inquirer

Caring, courageous, open-minded, knowledgeable, principled, inquirer, communicator, balanced, thinker, and reflective 
are huge practices for everyone and we learn them from one another.

These learner traits are meant to promote the children’s abilities to be …

caring, inquiring, knowledgeable, young people who help to create a peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect and to become active, compassionate learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

To help support these ways of being in the world we started including the children more centrally in helping us explore the learner traits and how they are expressed and experienced each day at Creative Minds Early Learning Centre.

Jake started us off with his desire to wear the “inquirer” shirt.  He said,
“an inquirer is a person who knows how to look at things”.   
I added that an inquirer is also a person who asks questions.

In song study today (I tapped out Clickety Clack). I asked, “here’s my secret song.  What do you hear?” 

Other questions came from the children,
“Does it match?”
“Was I right?”
“How do I make the circle bigger?”
“Where will we end up when we get to the end of the song?”

When you think about yourself this weekend, ask “what questions do I ask and what do I wonder about?” and make those questions known to your child.  Feel free to share your experiences with us.  We'll have a Learner Traits wall soon to add your comments.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Telus - Day of Giving Back

Generosity abounds through partnerships with Telus.

Justina, one of our parents, is an employee of Telus who recently arranged to have her team come to Creative Minds to do a classroom clean up party.  Families donated $25 toward this fundraising effort in lieu of helping at the event (although Karen, Deborah and Polly still came to help out).  In short order the centre was clean and well organized.  Thanks to Arielle and Elya's family for the donation of the Kombucha that quenched the thirst of these hardworking people.

A quote from Mary Oliver seems fitting here:

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Roots and Wings

Hello Families,

As I watch the new children put down roots at Creative Minds I am reminded at how the roots of the children who have been here for many months  have changed the Creative Minds landscape for the better.  I am also reminded how quickly their wings show and many of them will leave us this summer. This was timely reflection for me as I dug deep into the planter box today to prepare it for the new plants we are growing together.  We hope we'll be able to inspire the children to do some science experiments related to plants and the leaf and worm searches this week have started the exploration nicely.  We will hang the mint roots from the ceiling so I hope you'll take some time to come in and admire it all.  Check out the new plants too as you come to pick up your children tonight and thank them for the care they took to water them so well.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Hi Families,

Before I begin, put aside all your ideas about WHY poetry is good for children.  Some of those ideas are probably true but that's not why I am about to invite you to work with me on a little project.

Two weeks ago I spent time in Minneapolis presenting a two day workshop to teachers on "inquiry".  As part of the process I displayed a few examples of the children's poetry that was completed during our unit that explored colour in our lives.  One teacher made a comment that the poem didn't really make sense to her.  Well, I could relate.  A lot of poetry doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me either.  That however, has not prevented me from writing my own, encouraging it in others and more importantly, trying to see into the world view of the other through their words, phrases and organization.  You see, for me it's not all about making sense of the poem, but more importantly, trying to connect with another's way of seeing the world because in that we are drawn together in some pretty interesting ways.

I hope you'll agree and that you'll participate in my invitation.

I will start a poem here and write it somewhere on the IB wall at Creative Minds.  You can write your poem there or here, sign it or not.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is that we are all sharing ideas around the theme of water.  We'll read these to the children every day and also invite them to write some poetry too.  I ask that you not edit yourselves to the point where you feel you "can't" or "shouldn't".  You can even write in your other languages (even pig latin).  

For instance, I sat thinking about the waters of Zanzibar and I quickly scribbled:

flowing velvet
at the tip of my toes

These 10 words brought me back to the waters and then a cascade of other ocean images came to my mind.  That lead to me thinking about how we should make a small film with the children at the beach and then more ideas arose.  I had to stop short.  Why not just allow the words to bring forth the senses?  

So I leave you with the idea and hope that I can encourage you to write.  If you don't want to write your own, bring in poems that you like about water.  Let's help the children play with language as they engage in this inquiry and let's build connections between us through our sharing our interests and experiences in this format.


Monday, 10 September 2012


I have had the good fortune in my life to be around a great many generous people and they inspired me so much that the unit of inquiry “Generosity Abounds” arose from my desire to understand it more.  Learning from the minds, hearts and actions of our little ones is inspirational. 

I was reminded of generosity once again when Anamaria called me yesterday to say that she and her boyfriend Stefan were doing the furniture shopping that she and I had planned to get done this week. What I learned was that not only was she taking her day off to do the shopping.  In fact she and Stefan were putting everything together and setting up the furniture so that the teachers and children would have things in order for Monday.  Such acts of generosity abound at Creative Minds.  From families helping keep the sinks running well, to smart board instruction and the filming and making of the concert DVDs, to paper recycling, kind words of thanks and boxes of chocolates (from our favourite places!)

This is my opportunity to thank everyone at Creative Minds who make this space such a place of warmth and joy.  Each day we come to work we know that we are appreciated and we want you to know that you are appreciated as well.  You grace us with your trust that we will care for your children and you share your laughter in so many ways.  It is this that makes the work light.

In gratitude,


Friday, 31 August 2012

Beautiful Moments

Hello Families,

The teachers and I have been reflecting on the events of the summer and giggling in the retelling of the stories about camping trips in the forest, bike riding accomplishments, water play and cake days!  It was a great summer wasn’t it?  Kathryn shared a story with us about one of the children’s sense of history while at Creative Minds.  We were astounded to hear that the young child could retell, in order, the units of inquiry that have taken shape over the last 2 years!  Can you imagine it?  I can’t even name them all in order.  It may be because his mother has copies of all of the photo journals but I don’t think that explains it all.  I think part of this spectacular re/membering comes from the child’s complete immersion in the moments of play, conversation and exploration alone and with others.  It seems to me that while we are busy photographing, collecting and recording there is a part of us that is removed from the event.  I’m sure you have noticed this too as you video record or photograph your children’s special events.  It made me wonder.  There is a emphasis at Creative Minds on recording the learning process in order to develop reflective practice, to support the children’s unique and individual learning needs and to celebrate with children and families, the wonderful events that grow out of our time together.  This seems reasonable, purposeful and important to continue.  In the middle of this thinking I came upon a quote from one of my favouite authors, Toni Morrison.  She wrote, in Tar Baby,

"At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens — that letting go — you let go because you can."

I am reminded to take the time, like our young learner, to be with the beauty of the moment.  To let it sit with me, wash over me and become part of me.

As we ask you to bring in photos of your child know that we are making this request while holding Morrison’s thought of the beauty of the moment in mind. 

Wishing you all a restful long weekend.