Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Morning Material: FInal Living Tradition

We will wrap up our look at the living traditions, at least in a formal way, by examing our last:
Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

This topic happens to be a favorite of mine and one I hold dear, so I imagine we live it in many simple, daily ways.

In fact, I haven't come up with a single activity or idea that stands out like in the previous weeks.

My mind does this: pottery- clay from the earth, maybe weaving- what about a garden loom, how about planting or volunteering at a nature preserve, cleaning up the beach is always a good idea, what about collecting and using herbs, how about a thankful spot in your garden- a place to leave treats for the birds and other animals, maybe a walk to look for animal footprints, of course writing to your representatives is always a good way to help celebrate life by protecting life.

See my problem? There isn't one way to go ahead celebrating the circle of life, or observing it and giving it the respect it deserves. I think our daily living reflects this cycle almost more than an activity. One area we are passionate about is preserving the harvest and eating foods in season. While this isn't always possible, given our cold, snowy winter- I do believe we can do our best to
show our deep gratitude and concern but leaving a smaller footprint.

And of course, one of the best ways to obtain ideas is to ask the kids what they think.

I know our family has enjoyed this adventure, I hope you did too.

NAEYC's Position Statement on Technology

The National Association for the Education of Young Children recently released their draft of the Technology Position Statement. NAEYC is an organization that is supposed to promote developmentally appropriate practice and play as two of its core values, but in recent years, that have begun to slide down hill and this draft, is another example of why I can't support them as a professional organization.
The draft, uses the same argument that many places, companies, schools and organizations use to push things on children that are unnecessary, "well, someday when they are out in the world, they will have to do it, so might as well start them young." This organization serves educators, parents and children from infancy to age eight. So you can see my concern, since they are supporting practices that will influence people who work with young children, NAEYC was the gold standard, everyone looked to them for guidance, support and for best practice models, policies and literature.

The Draft can be found on their website,

So When is Enough a Enough?

Technology with infants and toddlers is rarely, if ever necessary. My friend Faith, commented this, "Screen time for infants? I thought they need a heavy schedule of gentle body contact, interactive language, things to handle, and getting acquainted with their bodily functions. Where would tech fit into that? Same thing with toddlers, but then we add other children to the list of needs? Actually watching live squirrels and birds and flowers and.... watching people at work in the house and outside, exploring books, and a huge increase in spoken words. I used to use tech to find answers to questions, but also books, other people, and magazines. Just because they can use a mouse, doesn’t mean they should."
It is in my mind it is just plain wrong to encourage those who work with infants and toddlers to bring in and use "smart toy", e-books and other technology that removes the child from direct interaction with their world and their family/caregivers. Electronic toys are passive toys, they may be interesting because they blink, beep and move, but they offer little to no play value. When purchasing equipment, especially in these very difficult financial times, every dollar matters- daycares should be focusing in toys that help the child create the play for themselves, not the toy doing the work for them.
I am also greatly concerned with the mixed messages the document sends- on one hand, they note the very big disparity between those who have and those who don't, and then within the same paper, they comment on how technology can connect parents. It honestly feels elitist to me, and rather unrealistic of the life of so many parents and children.
Lastly, I am greatly concerned with the connection between organizations who are promoting technology and the research that was used to create this document. Personally, I find it questionable bordering on unethical to use such supporting evidence in your position statement.
In the last ten years, I have seen a noticeable shift in NAEYC's advertisements, their quality of articles and now, the addition of a technology position statement that promotes more technology in our children's lives, with very little, if any guidance, about appropriate ways, materials and uses. Sadly, I no longer feel comfortable supporting such an organization through my membership and feel less inclined to recommend them to others who are entering the field of early care and education.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You Don't Have to Be a Homeschooler to Enjoy this Blog

I asked my husband if he thought this blog was too specific, I mean, how many homeschooling families are Unitarian Universalist? I sat and thought about this question and came to the following conclusion- Yes, I am limiting my readers by including our homeschooling status as part of the title, and my initial goal was to connect homeschoolers to various lesson plans and ideas, similar to Christian homeschooling blogs.

However, you don't have to be a homeschooler to appreciate the lesson plan ideas, stories and various UU ideas. As the new RE director for our church, I believe this blog can also serve to connect others to Unitarian Universalism. (And if you know me, I am not preachy on the subject, I won't try to convert anyone. HA, lol.) So please, share this blog with others you know who are UU, and let them know, this blog is for You/them too.
(Does this remind you of, "this buds for you" commercial?)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Montessori/Reggio Setting the Environment Idea: Sorting Materials by Color

Yesterday during a conversation with a very wise friend, I mentioned that I was looking for small pails to sort our colored pencils, markers and crayons into and she found me some from Oriental Trading. They look perfect! Originally I had hoped to find a wooden bucket or jar that could be painted, but it was difficult to find ones bottom stable enough to hold markers.
In a Montessori classroom and also a Reggio inspired, placing items like colored pencils into the appropriate jar helps set the environment, reinforce sense of color, and maintain a tidy classroom.

Friday, May 20, 2011

UU Spirit Play Conference Announced

2nd Unitarian Universalist
Spirit Play Conference
First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio, Texas

Conference Dates: Friday March 2nd & Saturday, March 3rd, 2012
(9:00 am Friday through 3:00 pm Saturday)

Add-on Spirit Play Training: Thursday, March 1st (9:00 am to 5:00 pm)

Keynote Speaker: Sally Patton
Sally Patton, Ed.M. Developmental Psychology has advocated and worked for children with special needs for over 35 years. For the past several years, she has written about and conducted workshops on ministering to children with special needs in faith communities and on spiritual parenting of children who have been labeled. Visit author's website(s) at

Come and join other Spirit Play enthusiasts at the 2nd Spirit Play Conference for two days
in historic and picturesque San Antonio, Texas

● Attend two workshops to fine tune your program.
● Share your original stories.
● Connect with other church groups using Spirit Play
● Turbo-Charge your batteries to carry on!
● Optional Saturday evening famous River Walk dining event,
● Attend Thursday’s Add-On Spirit Play Training to get started!

Conference Site: First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio
7150 W Interstate 10,
San Antonio, Texas, 78213 USA
Note: Directions from car and bus can be found at

Workshop Facilitators So Far:
Nita Penfold, Jennifer Innis, Patti Withers, Michelle Lee
If you are interested in leading a workshop contact Joy Silver, Conference Director odetojoy@...
Workshop leaders get free registration and home stay.

Topics to be Explored ● How to Translate Stories into Spirit Play ● Labyrinths and Spirit Play
● The Spirit of Love and Mystery: Awakening Theological Language ●Montessori 101

Registration Fees Conference:
Conference registration fees include two lunches & one dinner
Regular fee $ 195 USD
$20 discount each for 2 or more people from the same church
One Day (Friday or Saturday) $ 95 USD (no discount)

Add-on Spirit Play Training:
$ 125 USD with conference registration $ 150 USD without

January 15th Deadline for Registrations

For Registration Form and further information:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spirit Play Curriculum Using Montessori Method

The Spirit Play method uses the Montessori Philosophy: Based in a proven educational
method whose values support Unitarian Universalism:

Encourages independent thinking through wondering questions
Gives children real choices within the structure of the morning
Creates community of children in classroom of mixed ages
Develops an underlying sense of the spiritual and the mystery of life
Supports congregational polity through choice of lessons
Volunteers were found to value the program as part of their own
spiritual process

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Morning Material: Living Traditions Part 5

If you have been following the last few weeks, you will have noticed the theme for the Monday Morning Material centers around our UU Living Traditions. We have covered the first three, and now we look at:

5.Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.


When the children aren't in the room with you, prepare your scientific experiment by adding water to a pitcher and placing 2 boxes of cornstarch in a large tub or container. Next, bring the children into the room and ask them to observe the two substances that you have before you. Ask that they hold their comments until everyone has had a chance to observe.

Pour some of the water into the tub, the ratio of cornstarch to water should be about 4:1.

Now, ask the children to share what they think the substances are.

Once mixed together are the substances the same or different? Ask the children if they would like to touch the substance. Is it wet or dry, solid or liquid?

Scientifically speaking, it is a non-neutonian substance, which simply put, is any substance that doesn't fit neutons law.

Scientists admit that they don't fully understand why cornstarch and water act the way they do, so it is kind of a mystery.

Enjoy and play with your Oobleck. If you place the left over oobleckon a tray it will dry out and you will be able to reuse the substance several more times before it gets moldy.

If your children watch Mythbusters, there is a great episode where Jamie and Adam "walk on water". Check it out, it is worth the visit.

A possible link in, watch the Sorcerer's Apprentice. I enjoyed the link between magic and science. Does magic exist? What about science? Can there be science that is magical, mysterious? I think it is important to tackle these big ideas with children.

Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Can you DO Art with Babies?

I was chatting with a friend about art and the young child, the topic turned to babies, and I commented that babies "being in art is what babies do, rather than create art. They experience art in the world around by experimenting, feeling and touching, observing and doing, by using their senses. Babies are engaged in art mediums all the time- hot/cold, soft/hard/ light/dark. Maria Montessori also believed in exploring art with children through similar experiences- bring a vase of flowers into the house, take the child for a walk, let them feel the cool grass tickle their feet, bring in a basket of nuts from your walk for the child to see, share with them sculptures, paintings and your own creativity.

Art is a process not a product and as the child grows they will begin to experience the process of wet paint onto dry paper, wet paper and dry chalk, they will see colors mix and blend, they will strengthen the muscles needed to write every time they push their brush up and pull it down. All of this about being involved in a medium and not creating a medium and it begins with the baby who rubs a silky scarf against their cheek and likes the feel.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Give Away: Living Simply With Kids

Hi Readers,
I have several copies of some various and materials, so I thought I would do a
give-away ever few weeks between now and August.
To enter, please choose your favorite blog post from my blog. Write the title of the post in the comments section of this post. A random winner will be chosen on May 20th. The winner will be notified via email.

Winner will receive this book-Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting

by Marie Sherlock

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Montessori Printshop- Well Worth a Look

I purchased several downloads from Montessori Printshop and I am more than pleased with my purchase. They have a blog, which is full of helpful information and ideas, not to mention that they have FREE items. If you have the time, I highly recommend checking them out, they are very reasonably priced and the download links arrives seconds after payment!

Check them out on facebook, it looks like there is a discount code once you LIKE them.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Monday Morning Material: Part 3 of Living Traditions

This week we will look at:

3.Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;

We will read Each Breathe A Smile, follow recipes from the Tasty Bible Stories Matching Recipes book, and other resources.

This is one of the easiest parts of the living tradition because not only can the children grasp the concepts without much more explanation, and it allows us to pull some of our favorite books from our library shelves. What books would you recommend?

Additional ideas:
Find someone in the community who shares a different religion than yours and ask if they would mind sharing it with your children.
Observe a religious ceremony.

Books for Kids

Books for Parents
This is a great resource

Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;

Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.

Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Introduction to Montessori Class

Over the last twelve months, I have been taking a course from Karen at Montessori Marketplace. This course has given me a great understanding of the Montessori process and Maria's work. If you are considering homeschooling or raising a child in the Montessori way, I highly recommend this course!

A new class is forming June 1. Email Karen at for more information.

Food for Thought Thursday- Pizza Burgers

In an effort to cut down on our consumption of bread or rolls, we try to either eat our favorite PBJ on a rice cake or try bun-less meals. Did you know a hamburger can be just a tasty without the bun?
Yes, they sure can. Purchase ground beef, grass fed is possible, and then dice up your favorite veggies, some garlic, a little italian seasoning and mix into your ground beef. Next, form into patties.
Cook as usual. When done, add spaghetti or pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese and cook a few more minutes.
The burgers taste great with a side of rice and green beans.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Observation Form

I created this document for our homeschooling year 2011-2012. We begin in July and as you can see I filled in a few sections with Montessori activities that will be available that month.

I am working on the following months this week.

BTW- The formatting needs some work in google docs...I will try to fix it soon.

Keeping Our Natura World Safe,Less Manicured Grass more Habitat

The following article appeared in our local paper. When we purchased our house over six years ago, the entire nearly 2 acres were mowed. Slowly, we have been working to bring the land back to nature, we allow our field to grow, which encourages more wildlife to return to the area.

We are also pesticide free. Syracuse Cultural Workers have a great sign that speaks to the harm pesticides cause.

Please consider purchasing any new plants from a knowledgeable nursery who supports native plants. Truly, dandelions can be beautiful!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monday Morning Material- Part 2 of UU Living Tradition

2.Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;

Our activity: Skin Tone Painting, Skin Tone Paper, Skin Tone Paper Dolls
We will discuss the many women and men who have confronted evil by showing great courage and love. We will make skin tone dolls to display these people in our room.

If you are not familiar with skin tone paints, crayons and papers, they are a great way to introduce discussion of justice, compassion and love. Children see differences in skin tones, in facial features but they don't see the difference as bad or scary but as interesting, and beautiful. Imagine how profoundly peaceful our world could be if children ran it- they show love all the time. As adults we must model how to show love by giving love. We can involve our children in activities that promote justice for all.

3.Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;

4.Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;

5.Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.

6.Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.