Sunday 26 April 2015

Listening 7xTEDTalks

 Seven TEDtalks - one for each day of the coming week.... and all connected to listening.
I hope you take the time to listen and to be inspired.

5 Ways to Listen Better - Julien Treasure 
the importance of listening skills as part of communication.

Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen a wonderful TED talk about a deaf percussionist explaining how she listens.

Listening to Colour... Neil Harbisson what happens when a totally colourblind person uses technolgy to hear colour. Very interesting.

Want to help someone? Shut up and Listen - Ernesto Sirolli - how Ernesto talks about helping others can be a great approach as a teacher with children - to listen to each person.

Metaphor and Metacognition -Alise Shafer Ivey - one of my favourite TEDtalks - listening and creative thinking with young children.

The Linguistic Genius of Babies - Patricia Kuhl - a fascinating talk about how babies listen and learn language - and how important human interactions are for language learning...

Why architects need to use their ears - Julien Treasure - I had to share another by Julien Treasure as I feel this is so important... your third teacher should also be helping children (and you) with listening. How are the accoustics in your setting? Do they aid listening? Does the design enable focus to listen too?

Monday 20 April 2015

Gingerbread house

As part of the Hansel and Gretel exploration we have been making a gingerbread house... (pepparkaka in Swedish)

Last week we measured and painted the paper brown... the children working out how to make brown... and then using their bodies to cover the paper. They also decided that there should be three windows... a circle, triangle and square.

Today it was backed with plastic, to give a little extra support and then attached to the wall... I am secretly quite pleased with the look of how the uneven wall makes it look like there is a chimney!! I have not mentioned anything to the children, as I wonder if they will make the same connection.

This week we will be making decorations to turn the pepparkaka house into a house of sweets! I have an idea of adding flavourings to the paints to give it the extra sensory painting experience...

The walls are supported by shelves - which the children can use inside of the house... so it is a bit like a den/hidey-hole. The house is in the same room as the forest that is developing/growing there - keep an eye out on my facebook page as I tend to leave a few extra photos there too...

I wonder how the children will play with this... will it be just for a witch... or will other play be inspired? Only time can tell. The children will no doubt use their creativity to invent the play inspired by the room.

Saturday 18 April 2015


This evening I will be co-hosting another #ReggioPLC global twitterchat together with Diane Kashin who writes at Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research. (and this time last year I was packing my bags to visit Diane in Toronto - where we talked and talked and explored many areas of early childhood learning together, and she shared some settings in Ontario that opened themselves to me... sharing their journeys of discovery and learning with me with minds eager to learn about other perspectives of early childhood from Sweden. - AND I am also feeling excited by the fact that in a month's time Diane will be coming to Stockholm to continue this exchange of perspectives in real life and not just through facebook, twitter and blogs..)

Anyway back to this evening's chat about creativity

I think very often when we talk about creativity there is an automatic connection with the arts... but creativity is so much more than this... 
I have written several times about creativity and if you are interested and have the time then please check them out... there are in fact 181 posts (this will make 182) with a creativity connection... but the below posts are some of those that explore WHAT is creativity a little more

Listen with dance - yes there is art and dancing involved in this... but for me this is about the creativity of the teacher... about looking for ways to support children's learning and development in new and interesting ways.

Light Play - using the overhead - but more importantly time for me to play with the materials... if I am to be a creative teacher then I too need to have time to play.

Empty Spaces - explores how the third teacher/the setting can be a support to creativity... do we have too many things available, does that hinder creativity, does too few have the same effect?

Children learning together - this is another post from my trip to Iceland (like Empty Spaces) - and show's how children are creativ in their play... how they learn through testing things out - BY THEMSELVES - and that this is creativity as it is original thinking for them... even though as adults we know it has been discovered before. I think sometimes we forget just how much original thinking children have.

Light and Play Installation - another post that shows that we as teachers need time to be creative - and to dare to test this creativity. I had no idea whether or not this light installation would work... it was an experiment... which turned out not only beautiful, but there was so much learning.. for the children and myself.

The many hops of hopscotch - creativity can be as simple as children working out many different ways of hopping

Rainbow power - creativity is also having the confidence as a teacher to not plan everything... to listen and to respond to the children. In this sense creativty does require that you have a knowledge/idea bank filled with possibilities, waiting and ready - and to equally be able to pull these ideas apart and reassemble them in a way that is suitable to your own group of  children.

Traditions - reflections on them - creativity on the part of the teacher is also required in questioning traditions and why you do the things that you do. To find the right questions, to be open to all kinds of answers... to discover new ways of exploring traditions in order to make them more relevant and meaningful.

Does Boredom give birth to creativity? - and important question... what is creativity, what is boredom...

Paper Exploration - using materials in different ways from expected... allowing the children to explore mediums... giving children the potential to get creative in ways that we cannot imagine.

The Competent Child - by stepping back and giving children time, and believing in them allows them to be creative in their problem solving.

The importance of rest time on creativity - a post exploring how rest time is important for children/adults to be creative (rest and sleep will always be important for me as my husband is a sleep researcher and I have had the chance to learn a great deal from him on how the brain works and develops and the importance of sleep and rest in this process)

construction - there is always a great deal of creativity in construction... not only in the constructing process but also in the choice of materials presented and how they are presented.

Creativity and the artist - explring that creativity is so much more than art

What is creativity? a post written on my reflections of participating in Boulder Journey School summer conference in 2013

Sometimes I think we really do gives ourselves as educators far too little time to excerise our creative muscles... to play to "mess about" as David Hawkins recommended we do. I also think that sometimes we are so busy trying to encourage people to think outside the box that maybe we have missed the point... that young children have not yet been put in a box to need to think outside of... as my daughter said "I don't think outside of the box, because my box is bigger on the inside and travels through space and time". Of course my daughter loves Dr Who and this is a reference to that... but it got me thinking... we are so pre-occupied thing that everyone has the same box that we have not even considered the fact that all these boxes could be radically different from each other and also contribute to a collective creativity.
Of course I do understand what the phrase is referring to... but I am begiining to think more and more that this refers to us adults and to children conditioned by schooling to think in a specific way. As Loris Malaguzzi talked about the hundred languages (hundred meaning many, rather than specifically just a hundred) - may there are a hundred boxes of creativity to explore too... and that thinking outside the box means we might just be missing a whole load of creative potential that young children have in their unique boxes... before they are formed to the "one box" (one language) of school.

As teachers we are obviously adults that have been conditioned into the one box thinking - but maybe we should not be just thinking outside this box... but maybe rediscovering our own original box. A place of unique creative safety - and then start communicating with each other and sharing the contents from our creative boxes so that we can expand and grow.

How can we support educators (and I will write that rather than teachers... as we are many working in early childhood that are not official trained teachers, but are still part of the educational process)

How can we find our hundred languages, our hundred boxes of creativity, our hundred ways of listening ?
How are we given the time and play/messing about opportunity to reconnect with the creativity of our childhood?

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Making a gingerbread house with paint....

As part of Vindens Hansel and Gretel exploration the children have started to make a pepparkaka (gingerbread) house
Yesterday the children measured and designed the house... discussing how many and what shaped windows there should be.
 The children suggested that three windows would be good... and the were all in agreement... it became more tricky when it came to window shape... there were those that wanted three circles, those that wanted three square and those that wanted one circle, one triangle and one square. The children kept changing their minds, or calling out to all options and it was becoming far too hard to work out how to solve this window shape issue.

So on three pieces of paper I quickly drew the shapes - gave the children their name cards to put down next to the window arrangement they felt would be best. It started of with one by the squares, 2 by the circles and 5 for the mix... the child who chose the squares soon moved her name to the circles, explaining she was changing her mind.

We then counted the numbers of names by each window arrangement... it did not take many seconds for the children to see that the arrangement with one of each kind of window had the most names.

I asked how many more children had chosen the selection compared to the circles... the children started to call out names... so I flipped the cards over so that the focus was not on the names but on the quantity. I still needed to phrase and re-phrase the question a few times before it clicked and they all worked out that the difference was two.
We talked about how they were using mathematics... and how the shapes were also a part of maths... and that maybe this house was going to be a mathematic witches house...

Today we painted it brown... but how to make brown? Black and white was suggested... so we mixed them and discovered that it made grey. What next? Try green said another child, still not brown... so then we added, red, black and finally yellow before getting the brown the children wanted.
The pepparkaka brown was dumped onto the paper as well as squirts of all the above colours...
then the children started to mix with their hands, legs and feet - with squeals of delight, songs of exploration and eager sharing of experiences...

We are lucky to have a shower in our art studio - right next to where this paper is on the floor... so the children can step straight into it to get clean.

There is a whole load of OMG feeling running through my body during this kind of painting... as it is so high energy and there is paint slowly covering more and more of the children... but it does always seem to flow and you feel sort of exhilerated and exhausted afterwards.

Several of the children helped me clean the floor afterwards - loving every moment of playing Cinderella... while the rest of the group played with a wonderful calmness after the buzz of painting - somehow content with life after the sensory exploration of paint.