Thursday, September 29, 2016

Creative Minds Curriculum!

And just like that, it is nearly October. We started our first day of curriculum this past month, and want to share with you what exactly that entails. It can be difficult to see how curriculum can impact or shape an infant classroom, and can look an awful lot like play time and arts and crafts in Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms. We are hoping to demystify our curriculum, and provide you with some of the details of what your child will learn this school year. 

We have three different core curriculums at our schools, dependent on the age of the student: 1) Starfall Curriculum, 2) The Creative Curriculum, and 3) Every Day Counts Curriculum. We also have Creative Outlets 4 Kids, which is an a la carte-style supplemental active curriculum, to help kids learn about movement, yoga, and dance. 

Starfall curriculum is the Kindergarten Curriculum, and it 
“provides the materials and guidance teachers need to skillfully and joyfully incorporate research-based reading and language arts skills and strategies, integrate social studies and science, and meaningfully employ technology in their classrooms.” 

It integrates math, science, health, creative arts, social studies, physical movement, early literacy, and social-emotional development into imaginative play and guided instruction. It does this through teacher demonstration and one-on-one partnership between the student and teacher. The lessons are designed to ensure that curiosity will spark within the student, and give the student the skills to express themselves both verbally and in writing. 

The Creative Curriculum is what Creative Minds Learning Centers use in the Infant through Preschool Classrooms. It focuses on exploration and discovery by the student, so the student will gain confidence while building their creativity and critical thinking skills. It is all designed to help the student prepare for preschool or kindergarten, providing the essential building blocks that students need in their educational foundation. 

The Every Day Counts Curriculum enriches daily math instruction in the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms. It is a supplemental curriculum that incorporates calendars, practice counts, and partner games into daily activities to build mathematical fluency, reasoning, and a conceptual understanding of computing numbers. 

In addition, we provide a Reggio-inspired art program. This program is based off of the Reggio Emilia approach, which values each child as “strong, capable, and resilient; rich in wonder and knowledge.” It is not a method, but a value system within the school. Our art program is thus student-driven, as children are capable of constructing their own learning. 

The three curriculums give our schools the core goals that our teachers are meeting each year. The teachers enhance the curriculum with their own energy and personality, creating daily lessons that cultivate a positive learning environment.  The curriculums do incorporate a lot of art and play, but that is because part of our mission is to help children explore their interests in a creative and artistic setting. Our goal is to help guide children in a structured setting while also providing them with vital learning opportunities. 

For more information on our the curriculum and program that CMLC follows, visit our Program Page


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

When A Kiddo Runs Away From You

Nothing can get your heart going like losing sight of your child even for a moment or having them dart toward the street. Here are a few ideas for helping keep these moments to a minimum!

My go-to expert, Janet Lansbury, recommends- as she does for any challenging scenario- calming ourselves and starting from a place of emotional stability.

When kids test limits, they don't benefit from caregivers breaking down or giving in, but instead need leaders who can calmly and confidently handle them. This helps children find the limits of acceptable behavior, and these limits help them feel safe and secure.

Lansbury says:
"...running away (like all testing) is typical, normal behavior rather than a sign that we’re inept parents or have an unruly child that hates us. But since a toddler on the run in any situation is potentially unsafe, this is the type of testing we should do all we can to prevent from happening."

Things To Try

  • Give her lots of space to run free in safe spaces.
  • Set her up for success by asking, "When we get to the mall, do you want to ride in the stroller/hold my hand or walk?" When she excitedly says "walk!" it's the perfect time to remind her of what you'll expect of her.
  • You can try learning songs/reading books about being safe, but it's most important to practice appropriate behavior out and about when it counts.
  • Engage and entertain her as much as possible during errands.
  • Set clear, non-negotiable limits: "Remember that you need to hold my hand." Then enforce as necessary while doing your best to acknowledge and connect: "I know you want to run right now, but it's not safe to run away so you need to stay right near me or I'm going to hold your hand. Later, when we're at the park you'll be able to run a lot!" 
  • Don't keep offering warnings or count to three. If he refuses to comply, gently and immediately physically enforce your limit: "I can't let you run away. I'm going to pick you up now to make sure you're safe." (If they struggle: "When your body and voice are calm, I'll know you're ready to try walking with me again." 

Share Your Experience

What's working for you? What's got you ruffled? 

Leave a comment, or stop by your office or classroom to talk about your triumphs or your travails when it comes to your kiddos making a break for it. I love talking about positive discipline with families of our Honeysuckle Junior Toddlers at CMLC Sellwood! 

Much Love,
Teacher Suzanne

P.S. Janet Lansbury's Facebook Page is awesome! She shares incredibly helpful conversations among parents on a daily basis.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Tough Stuff

Hello Creative Minds Family!

I’m Suzanne, one of the Junior Toddler Teachers here at CMLC!

I recently felt the call to start writing on our blog to help share information and create a supportive space for our families and my fellow teachers.

When I consider what hardworking parents and teachers really want and need, I think it’s simply more happy time with their kiddos! That might entail spending fewer hours figuring out how deal with the day-to-day issues that can really eat away at precious time, and that left unchecked can leave us exasperated and exhausted.

So I decided to focus on bringing you the CliffsNotes from the best blogs, books and social discourse out there right now for dealing with the most challenging issues we face as caregivers.

You can frequent the sources (which I’ll always link to), and/or you can check here for the gist of it! I know when I’m looking for help with a specific issue, I feel like, Somebody, just tell me what to try!

So please jump in, share what you want to hear about, and what’s working for you!

Upcoming topics include ideas for keeping calm and compassionate when dealing with:

  • When A Kiddo Runs Away From You
  • Aggression & Anger
  • Testing Limits
  • Sibling & New Baby Issues
  • Magic Words and Phrases for Parents & Teachers
  • Diaper Change Shenanigans
  • Eating Issues
  • And More! :)

Leave a comment with another topic that’s big for you right now, or share the one you’re most looking forward to discussing!

Much Love,
Teacher Suzanne

Monday, April 4, 2016

Rolling through the Ball Study

Gateway’s Pre-K class has had so much fun with our Ball study this month. The study has allowed for a lot of hands-on learning along with discussions and stories. For our last week we are focusing on balls that are unconventional: hot air balloons, balloons, eyeballs, cotton balls, etc. Today we created our own Hot Air Balloons and discussed what we thought it would be like to ride in one.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Building Study Fun

Gateway’s Pre-K class had a blast starting off the Building Study with “The Three Little Pigs”. We huffed and puffed our way through the construction of all three houses and quickly learned why some materials are better than others. It was a cooperative experience with building and reenacting a much loved story.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Creative Sensory Play in Sellwood Infant Classrooms!


We all know our littlest CMLC friends love to explore new things, and we have been doing just that through implementing a various number of sensory and art play throughout our curriculum. Artwork with our young ones should be nothing less than a messy good time, and we have been achieving just that. Our younger infant class (Huckleberry) has been busy with lots of messy and fun painting projects thanks to the creative minds of Teachers Jazmin and Kaleigh. Between sticky hands and colorful yarn play, these younger infants have been exploring so much about their senses and the textures around them (as well as having a pretty good time in the process). Alongside them, our older infant class (Blackberry) has been spending a lot of time working with different sensory play options such as beads, sound “shaker” bottles, crinkle papers, glitter water, shaving cream, and more, thanks to the help of Teachers Megan and Alex! We think it’s easy to say that shaving cream will forever be a top favorite among the kiddos.

We love our Sellwood infants!

-Teacher Alex
(Older Infant, Blackberry Class)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Ivy Room at Happy Valley takes a look at what learning looks like in slums of Nairobi

Nelson Mandela once said: "education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." Now, I know that when he made that statement we wasn't specifically thinking of the Mathare Valley Slum of Nairobi Kenya, but I couldn't think of any other place where this statement rings more true.

                I ( Teacher Marisa from the Happy Valley School) wanted to take the time to share about a very special place that is dear to my heart. From looking at the picture above this place isn't anything luxuries or glamorous, in fact on any given day this place is overwhelming, crowed, filthy, and despair seems to spread from shanty to shanty...or at least that's what the surrounding city of Nairobi Kenya would want you to think. The place I am referring to is the Mathare Slum. This slum is no more than two miles long by a mile wide, yet is home to more that 850K people living within this valley. You would think for a place where houses(shanty) are made out of tin, where there was no heat, running water or electricity that the people living within this valley would be down and out, depressed or even ready to give up. However, if you were to walk through this valley, you would come to find something much more different.

                Thanks to two Kenyan natives who saw a need and wanted to do something to empower their brothers/sisters to find hope, they started an organization called Missions of Hope International("MOHI"), "Hope" is the key word here. What started with one school and 50 students in 2000, is now a Mecca of hope with 16 schools and over 12,000 students. MOHI has partnered with this valley to work along side of these families as they empower themselves and seek hope, from helping children go to school, helping mothers and fathers learn a trade to provide and income for their family, to helping them get the medical attention they may need.

                I was very lucky in getting the chance to partner with MOHI last year. I got to spend some time traveling to six different schools providing them with a library. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, in fact most of us have a small library within our own houses ( I've got two book shelves full of books I've collected over the years), the idea of a library is something new and exciting for these schools. You see these teachers, are starting to learn, some for the first time what its like to read aloud to a classroom of eager kids. Students are excited to see pictures of things that they are actually studying. Most of their learning is done by the teacher writing a lesson on the blackboard and the students copying it into notebook. Teachers are also learning what its like to put together an interactive lesson, where not just a lecture is given but reading, and teaching tools and questions are involved. Students are getting excited about their studies again. As students and teachers are getting more and more excited about teaching and learning, families are getting excited about how they can make changes in their own homes and community. HOPE is finding a way back into the slum, through the form of education.

                So, why am I taking the time to write to you about a place that you probably will never visit? Well, this March, myself and a group of educators are headed back to the Mathare Valley to provide six more schools with libraries. They will spend a little over two weeks training teachers how to use the library, providing them with books that will go with the units they are already studying, spending time reading aloud to classrooms, and encouraging teachers to keep up all the hard work they are doing in their classrooms.

                How can I help you may ask?! What a great question! Although this trip is an exciting one, it comes with a lot of expenses. To help cut the cost, the team is asking for help. We need help with supplies that we use to cover the books that we are taking to the six schools ( covering the books with contact paper will help them last longer in these dirt floor classrooms). We need donations to help purchase the wood to build six bookshelves that are being built to house all the books and teaching supplies. Not only will this provide jobs for the community, it gives the community a chance to be involved in the education of their children, and what lesson wouldn't be complete without some sort of craft! 45 different classrooms between these six schools need crayons to help do this art project.

Its so exciting when a community starts getting excited about the education of their children. Providing a library isn't going to end the problems within this slum, but providing teachers with more tools to teach their students and to get their students excited about learning is a really good place to start!

                Happy Valley Families, especially those in the  IVY classroom, keep a lookout these next couple months as we learn more about what schools look like around the world and learn more about our friends in the Mathare Valley who are going to school and learning their one, two, threes and ABCs just like us!

Supply List:

* 5- 60ft rolls of Contact Paper

* 6 Book Shelves: $200 each

* Boxes of Crayons: enough to supply 45 classrooms with a classroom set ( 4-5 boxes of the 800 set boxes of Coloration Crayons)