Friday, 27 December 2013

My 10 favourite posts of my first blogging year!

As my first full year of blogging comes to an end I have been going through some of my posts and adding some reflections - and I hope to be doing this with most of my posts (time permitting) - as part of the reason for blogging is self development - so returning to re-read my posts and to reflect upon them should be an important part of my process.

I realise that I am a blogger that uses a lot of words and has a lot of thoughts - this is not the kind of blog where you will find  templates and preschool plans of what to do - but HOPEFULLY it IS the kind of blog that makes you think, that gets you questioning what you do, and how you do it, and why you do it. I hope that this blog does offer you inspiration...

So here are my favourite 10 posts - and they are not all the most read posts - in fact my most read post does not make it onto my top 10, as although I DO like the assignment I wrote for my masters it does not have the same feeling of a post - it was a lot of hard work - and something like 200 books and articles were read before writing the assignment - BUT it was just pasted in and somehow that just doesn't count!!! BUT I am glad that there are many taking advantage that it is available to them!

 I would REALLY appreciate it if you could take the time to add to the comments what YOUR favourite post has been and why!!

 so here goes - in no particular order

    Do Templates Kill Creativity

This post finds itself on this list because it WAS one of those posts that challenged ideas... I made the mistake of once making a comment on a page about some Easter bunnies that were being presented as an idea for children in preschool where it was very obvious that it took longer for the adult to prepare cutting out all the parts than it did for the children to glue them on to the form to create a rather scary looking bunny. I asked if there was something that could be done to make the bunnies more individual and for the children to "own" more of the process... I was absolutely slammed by a whole load of people including comments about "I hope you don't work with children"... to this day I still cannot work out WHY I deserved THAT comment for wanting the children to be a bigger part of the process but there you go - it made me realise that THAT page I did not want to be a part of. It also made me realise that my blog and my page is not going to be BIG like that page was because I do not put up suggestions to fill the children's time with products - as I am about the process - BUT that does not mean that I see templates as an evil either - which I have been a part of MANY discussions where there is such a black and white view of templates when I feel the world of templates, art, crafts and creativity is more grey....


Its the Process Not the Product

 The last post leads me nicely into this post - the process. I am so much about the process - and there are times when others might not see the process at first as they only see the product - and that is why documentation is so important - to share the process.


Spaghetti Painting
This is the first of the spaghetti painting posts - and technically belongs to last year - but I am including this as part of my first year of blogging as I started at the end of last year! Over this last year I have done various spaghetti paintings - and I have also used thread as well. I have also had THAT comment about "you shouldn't use food in art" - but I have also written a post about that - and how I feel about that too... I just love when a great sensory experience creates a fabulous product too... I also like when I can do a spot of research in my observations - this time to find out more about gender differences/similarities

Dragon Skins
Another post from last year and my previous workplace - but I really loved this whole process of experimenting and testing - and being aware that what I am placing on the shelves and making available to the children is also influencing their thought and their choices - and that was the reason for then putting things on the shelf that I did not think would work or did not think the children would be interested - to allow the children to choose and not for me to make all the considerations about what would print great dragon patterns...

The Art of Listening
Listening is such an important part of what I do - I listen not only with my ears but with all my senses - and it is hard work and tiring to listen - and I understand why the children don't always want to be active listeners - especially in preschool where there are larger numbers of people, more ideas and opinions to negotiate and more compromise is necessary - if you don't listen then you get to do what YOU want - BUT in the long run listening DOES get you what you want - as others will also listen back... Its a complicated thing to learn... above is an image of the talking ring - the idea is that when you are holding it you can speak and when you are not holding it you are listening - it was VERY important NOT to just say when you are not hloding it you are quiet - because being quiet does not mean you are listening - it just means being quiet...

Outdoor Surfaces

My trip to Boulder, Colorado was fantastic - I got to visit two fabulous preschools there and participate in a summer conference. I had for some time been interested in the texture of the surfaces that we walk on - as part of my passion for sensory activities... so it came as no surprise that many of the photos that I took in Boulder were of various surfaces - both indoors and outdoors. I often feel that the learning potential of the outdoors is often overlooked in comparison to the indoor environment - so I focussed this post on outdoor surfaces - it turned out that I was not the only one interested in outdoor surfaces!!

Inspiration not Cloning

As I shared more and more images and thoughts from my trip to Boulder I got more and more concerned about the responsibility I had for ensuring (to the best of my ability) that these images of inspiration were being used for just that. I strongly feel that images like this of other settings are valuable and so incredibly inspirational and this is why I share as much as I can - but I DO hope that I share in a way that provokes thought and allows you to think about HOW and WHY you are developing the environment at your setting... my connection to the Reggio Emilia Approach feels that if I do not URGE you to take the time to think and reflect on why, then you are missing an important part of the process ... and just as with the children - it is the process that is important - THAT is where the learning happens - so if you just hop over to the product then you also miss out...

Philosophical Flowers

 Gender Dialogue

 This is something that is important to me - equality in all its forms - but I do feel that gender is often discussed in a way that excites a lot of emotions - and rolling of eyes. This is a photo of my son as a toddler who always wanted to dress up like his sisters when we danced every Friday evening to loud music!! He has had his own dolls to play with his sisters, just as his sisters have had their own cars and trains... but they have always shown their own preferences... in a typical girl and boy way - the girls went through their pink phase which I embraced despite my own dislike of pink since being a child and Michael has gone though his car phase...

This is a post about my musings on why do we have rules and routines in preschool - and I think this is a VERY important discussion to have - why do you have the rules that you have? How do they affect the children - support them and allow them to be competent or restrict them by saying no (without them understanding why)?

oops couldn't keep it to 10

 Snail Party
Snails HAD to be included somewhere in this top ten - they have been such a big part of our year - we even named the small garden/park between the preschool and the metro station "Snail Park". This post really allows you to see how animals can give you the opportunity to talk about social relationships and develop their empathy

The sad part of this post is not being able to include so many posts that I have enjoyed writing and participating in - the posts about using philosophy with children, or International Mud Day, or painting with flowers, or the posts about risky play and "what is play" - the post about the Morocco painting is a favourite too as are all the sensory posts including my search for allergy/eczema friendly sensory experiences...
I think one of the things that I am proud of this year is the fact that I have not celebrated any of the traditions  in a traditional way but have always asked the children what THEY have thought about these traditions and built upon their knowledge and their experiences. I am looking forward to next year to see how their thoughts about these traditions have developed - and how they react when they find out about their thoughts from a year ago! ONE year is a long time in a preschoolers life!


  1. I have to check out that dragon skins one! My son is totally obsessed with "fighting dragons" lately... I bet it would be something he'd love!

    Thanks for sharing with me!

  2. I have been going through your blog posts and I love your ways and work with the children. One of the big problems that I face as a newly recruit is the 'creativity issues' ...... the usage of templates and the instructions on what colours children are to use for their art projects or crafts. Some educators won't even let the children use the colour black :( There is no real creativity end self expressiveness .... the children are given templates and the colours are chosen from the teachers.

    I find this rather sad and frustrating as I cannot change it.