What’s your enviroment saying?

What’s your enviroment saying?

“Recently the early learning team and myself, had the opportunity to do some research into how we could make our environments (aka: classrooms) reflect more of our personal message and feelings.  We went to several different early learning sites around the province and had the opportunity to see some great and inspiring spaces.

Du405ring our touring, I was inspired by one centres easel. I know what your thinking… their easel.. really Pam?

The easel in this centre was layered with what looked like years of paint….

. And it was Wonderful!!!

The easel looked like a piece of art and inspired me to want to grab some paper and start painting my own masterpiece.I was intrigued by the fact that not one teacher or adult in the room told the children or myself, for that matter, that it was ok to get paint on the easel. We just knew by the message the easel was relaying to us.

So… I stopped washing my paint easel…

I didn’t say anything to the parents about what I was doing and why…

Then it happened and is still happening to this day, the general feeling that its ok to get creative in that area without having to have the feeling that if you got paint on anything other then the paper you might be “in trouble”. Parents stopped shadowing their children. This gave the children the opportunity to really make some great art. Now instead of parents running to put up the paint pots from their two and three year olds, they are allowing the children to explore with the paint.. even if that means not using the paintbrushes..lol

With all this said, I now look at areas in my classroom and think about what that specific area is “saying” to the parents and children who come to play and explore. I stop and think ” Are the environments and experiences  that I am creating encouraging independent learning, without the pressure of feeling like we are in the wrong?

As a adult, are there environments that make you feel like this when you enter, maybe at work or even in your home?




To Cookie Cutter or Not to Cookie Cutter….

To Cookie Cutter or Not to Cookie Cutter….

As an early childhood educator it’s my job to give children experiences that challenge their concepts and ideas. This is why if you come into my early learning environment, whether for StrongStart of Preschool you will not see any generic cookie cutters at my preschool table.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that cookie cutters are evil. I still have days when I can pull out a few cookie cutters and bend my own rules…lol. What I’m purposing is: Do using generic toys stifle our imaginative learning? What are we learning during play dough play when we don’t use traditional materials? This is the question I frequently ask when I picked loose parts for the play dough area. By loose part I’m referring to just using random items (Popsicle sticks, rocks, old cd’s, coloured uncooked pasta, etc.) and asking children and families to explore and play in different ways.
The other day, while at preschool I happened to notice Olivia sitting at the play dough table. This wasn’t out of the ordinary for her; she was an avid play dough player. What was mind blowing for me was the fact that she was making cookies.
Making cookies you say… what’s so spectacular about making cookies?
Olivia was making cookies by using flat oval shaped rocks and plastic knives that I had on the table. That’s right people, Loose Parts. She would flatten some play dough with a cylinder shape block (from the block area) like you and I would use a rolling pin. Then she pressed the oval shaped rock into the play dough and traced around it with the knife. Essentially she was using the rock as a cookie cutter. Wow…
Did I as a teacher make her start thinking about different uses for things because of not putting out expected tools? I sure hope so.
Some of you may say, “Well she may not have had to work so hard if I had just put out the cookie cutters in the first place”.
Sure she may not have, but what would have the thought process have been? Would she worked as hard at making sure the rock was perfectly pressed into the dough? would she have worked so intrictly at using the plastic knife to trace around the rock? I some how don’t think so.

I leave you with this to think about: After everything i have questioned you with do I ever get asked for the cookie cutters and other usual play dough toys? Yup, absolutely. A high percentage of them are adults, in fact almost all of them are adults…lol Does this mean that as adults have we lost the ability to think outside of the box?

Something to think about…….

StrongStart closure Friday, June 13

StrongStart closure Friday, June 13

Our next closure for the rotating BCTF strike is Friday, June 13th.  We are uncertain about the following week.  StrongStart programs are scheduled to be open until June 20th.  The  year end picnic at Matthew’s Park is schedule for that Friday between 11 am – 2 pm.  We will keep you posted!  Thank you for your patience and support.

For more information about the current dispute, please check the following websites.


BC Teacher’s Federation



BC Public School Employers’ Association




June StrongStart calendars

June StrongStart calendars

June is a bitter sweet month for us, as educators.  We are looking forward to the quiet days of summer but lamenting the end of a wonderful year with families at StrongStart and preschool.

Unfortunately, we must close our SS programs on Thursday, June 5th due to ongoing BCTF job action.  As CUPE members, our StrongStart educators are respecting the picket lines, which will be in place from 8 am – 4 pm.  We’ll keep you posted for any closures next week.

FSJ SS June 2014

To download and print, click FSJ SS June 2014

HH StrongStart Calendar - June 2014

To download and print, click HH StrongStart Calendar – June 2014

The Rotary Play Centre is not affected by any job action.

June 2014 RPC Calendar


To download and print, click June 2014 RPC Calendar

You are your child’s first teacher!

You are your child’s first teacher!

I hope you have heard the early years tips on Sun FM each weekday morning and afternoon.  We are quite proud of this project for a few reasons and we hope to continue through the fall and winter.  Through the use of facebook, radio and other online media, we are attempting to share useful, interesting tips for families about enriching their children’s preschool lives.

Here are a few samples of our tips.  Click on the tips to hear the radio ad.

Go outside

To download, click Go outside


To download, click Listening

Reduce screen time

To download, click Reduce screen time


To download, click Independence

I made a picture for you

I made a picture for you

“I made a picture for you,”  We hear that a lot from the children in our lives.  I’m not always as grateful as I should be for the gift.

On the 2nd Wednesday of each month, I run a Daddy and Me gym night at Robert Ogilvie Elementary.  Rarely does one family come every month.  More typically, dads will come a couple times a year.  Usually the kids don’t remember me that well between visits.

Then a girl shows up last week with a picture for me. I hadn’t seen this family since the previous September.  I was touched that she thought of me when creating her art.  Because I don’t see her very often, being acknowledged and remembered made me feel special.


The picture itself intrigued me.  In the past I would have asked her what it was or what she had created.  I’ve taught myself that art doesn’t need to BE something.  It has value regardless.  The texture and symmetry of this piece make it very beautiful to me.  So I asked her what she liked about it.  She told me she likes to make patterns.  I mentioned I liked the symmetry and that it made me think of water running in a stream.  My oldest daughter saw eyes, serpentine eyes with eyebrows.  What do you see or feel when you look at this picture?

I am curious about how we force representation onto our children’s art early on.  That each picture must be something or mean something concrete.   I struggle to learn about art for art’s sake.  I really like this book by Peter A. Reynolds. It reminds us that art is worth doing, regardless of the product.   This book is worth reading, over and over.


No StrongStart Wed, May 28

No StrongStart Wed, May 28

As you may have already heard, the BCTF will be enforcing a rotating strike around the province one day each week.  Our StrongStart educators are union members of CUPE and can’t work on days when teachers are striking.  The first day for our district is Wednesday, May 28. This means that StrongStart will be closed that day and all subsequent strike days until things are settled.  As far as we understand, Wednesdays will be our day.  We’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for your patience!


May SD60 Early Learning calendars

May SD60 Early Learning calendars

Our StrongStart programs offer many opportunities for play and adventure all through May and June.  Drop in any time.  For more information, check out the StrongStart page above.

FSJ SS May 2014

To print this schedule, click FSJ SS May 2014

HH StrongStart Calendar - May 2014

To print this calendar, click HH StrongStart Calendar – May 2014

Outreach May 2014

To print this calendar, click Outreach May 2014


Daddy and Me May events

Daddy and Me May events

There are four spring events remaining before the summer break.  In May, Child Care Resource and Referral is hosting a creepy crawly, bug extravaganza.  We hope to see you at the gym or with the insects.

Daddy and Me May  2014

To print, click Daddy and Me May 2014

CCRR photo

CCRR is located between Mondo’s Restaurant and the Baked bakery on 100 ave.  You can find it at the back of the Masonic Lodge.

Moya and Heather


Heather and Moya help families find licensed childcare and help early childhood educators with professional development, networking and toy lending.  They are brilliant advocates for families, children and educators.  You can call them for help at 250.785.5701.