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)


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Creative Minds Learning Centers New Fall/Winter Menu and Tribute to Our Cooks

Our schools have recently switched to our Fall/Winter menu, which includes items like homemade corn muffins, new black bean, cheese and veggie tostadas, and the much loved whole wheat, marinara pasta. Our all time favorite cheesy pita pizza remains on the menu, and the kiddos are eatin' it up! As per request from our families during our recent school survey, we have added more variety to this menu. The children really seem to be enjoying the mixture of new menu items and old favorites.

 Check out the full new Fall/Winter menu here:

Creative Minds' snacks and meals are prepared with the freshest ingredients, including local and seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. All of the dairy products served at our schools are locally made and Hormone-free. Daily, our students enjoy nutritious Organic milk with their lunch.

 We pride ourselves on serving your child the very best ingredients available in their healthy meals while giving them delicious and kid-friendly options. Creative Minds offers wholesome meat free meals with flavor and color that get children excited about healthy eating.

The amazing cooks at Creative Minds Learning Centers work hard to ensure that our children receive high quality snacks and meals every day. We honor and celebrate their dedication to our children and schools and are proud to be able to feature their accomplishments.

Khoi Nguyen is our Broadway school Cook. She has been with CMLC for over 6 years! Her favorite CMLC menu item is the homemade blueberry muffins. When not at work, Khoi loves to spend time with her husband

Our Happy Valley Cook is Trinh Nguyen. She has been with CMLC since January 2013. Trinh's favorite CMLC menu item to make is the cheesy, veggie pasta bake. Trinh takes a lot of pride in keeping her school kitchen very tidy and neat. She enjoys exercising and cooking Vietmanese food for her family in her free time.

Alana Hardy helps out with the cook duties at our newest Tualatin school. She has been with CMLC for over two years, and has a daughter that attends the Tualatin school. Alana loves being outdoorsy, and her favorite menu item to make (and eat) is the pita pizza.

Thuan Pham has been the Woodstock cook for over four years. She loves to make the pita pizza (adding her own special spice blend, which includes some chili pepper for flare) and the cheesy black bean rice bake. In her free time, Thuan enjoys spending time with her kids and husband. She likes to
work out, and cooks for her own Vietnamese restaurant that she runs with her sister.

Our Sellwood cook is Allison Elix. She has been with CMLC Sellwood since our opening in June 2011. Allison's favorite menu item to make is the blueberry muffins as she enjoys to bake. She loves to go hiking on our beautiful Oregon trails and read in her spare time.

Emily Taylor acts as Director and Cook at our Gateway school. Emily has been with CMLC for over five years. She enjoys baking, which makes the banana bread, muffins, and blueberry crisp her favorite CMLC menu items to make. Emily enjoys being crafty and getting outdoors when she is not at school.

Emily Linden runs the kitchen at CMLC Westmoreland.She has been with CMLC since September 2015. Emily's favorite menu item, like many others', is the cheesy pita pizza. Emily's hobbies include: crocheting, her dog, hiking, video games, writing, and listening to all kinds of music.

A huge thank you to our cooks! We appreciate your hard work and ability to make great food for our kiddos!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CMLC + Sunshine Division

Creative Minds Learning Centers is honored to be partnering with Sunshine Division to help provide food for families and individuals in the Portland area this holiday season. Through their food drives, the Sunshine Division serves over 1,200 families a month! 

The Sunshine Division is a long standing and successful program in Portland, dating back to 1923! Volunteers and uniformed police would deliver holiday baskets around Portland to those in need and were dubbed the Sunshine Boys because they spread sunshine to houses they visited! While the Sunshine Division has grown quite a bit from its early days, its mission has stayed the same: to provide emergency food and clothing relief year-round to Portland families and individuals in need.

Want to read more about the history of the Sunshine Division? 
Check out the story in full:

Today the Sunshine Division has many programs that help provide free food and clothing to those in need. Head over to their website to read about other incredible programs they support,  like their onsite clothing store “Threadz,” which allows those elligible to take home a bag of clothes, a coat, and a pair of shoes for everyone in their household or Izzy’s Kids ‘Shop with a Cop,’ which  pairs up 500 low income children with an officer to provide a super cool shopping experience for school clothes!

Stay in the loop with the 
Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division’s facebook page.

We are proud to contribute to another successful year for Sunshine Division! Don’t forget to drop off donations in our school bins until the 21st! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Creative Curriculum at Creative Minds!

We are so excited to provide our families with more information about The Creative Curriculum used at all of our CMLC schools! Communication with families is so important to us and we know there are some days that you have brought home a Daily Communication Report Sheets and wondered “What are Mighty Minutes?” or “What exactly does a Large Group Discussion entail?” or “What curriculum concepts did my child learn about today?” We would like to give you more information about our curriculum; how the lessons are designed, what your kiddos are learning, how they are learning, as well as fun activities that they participate in at school.  

We start off the school year with a beginning of the year study that helps teachers and children get to know each other. It shows students where to locate and find things in the room, what  activities are available, how to explore different interest areas, and outlines expectations for the teachers and kiddos for the year. Based upon teacher observations, teachers are able to choose from a variety of different accredited curriculum concepts within The Creative Curriculum, including but not limited to; Trees, Clothes, Buildings, Reduce/Reuse and Recycle, and a school wide favorite, the Balls Study. Each one focuses on that specific topic for six weeks, engaging them by things like Questions of the Day, which asks something as simple as “Where can you see trees around your neighborhood?” This gets the ball rolling with a concept discussion, engaging them to talk as a group about trees. Then, basic concepts evolve and turn into more complex and academic based learning opportunities. Our Large Group Discussions commonly proceed from this. There are different developmental activities on the curriculum’s intentional teaching cards that focuses on exploration and discovery in several learning areas: Social and emotional, literacy, mathematics, physical, and library. Each age group has an age and developmentally appropriate goal. Often these are our Small Group Activities where the children are able to create, explore, and use critical thinking skills with a teacher-lead project that meets each child’s individual needs. This can range from learning how to follow or create a recipe, showing students how to express their feelings, even acting out a story they have read   for read aloud time. 

Mighty Minutes help create additional learning opportunities during transitional times of day such as waiting in line. It promotes language, math, and learning with movement when the students need a little wiggle time. These can be used as great tool for grabbing the students attention when needed.

Here is a glimpse of some of our current studies in action! The kiddos are exploring the Clothing/Textile Unit at our schools. They’re examining things like buttons, fabrics etc. What are they used for? Interest area activities designed for dressing baby dolls. Are their clothes smaller or bigger than ours? Seeing things like clothes in sensory bins to find what different clothes feel like. Even trying them on in our Dramatic Play areas. During an art activity we had kiddos learn how to describe things, telling their peers what their favorite piece of clothing looks like then creating it during art time. We are even lucky enough to have our families partner with our teachers to come in and show us what clothes from other countries and cultures look and feel like!