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)