Monday, December 24, 2007

December 24. Dining with very little children.

Being a part of the social life of the family is VERY high in the priorities of a 0-3 year old child. During these important years, the little ones basically want to do everything that they see the adults around them do. This includes eating at a table. Eating together and all the wonderful things that it involves (Food, Langugage, Sensory Information, Cultural Information) can be one of the richest moments of family life and there is no reason why the tiniest child cannot participate.

As Christmas gifts for the little ones that I have been observing as part of my Montessori A to I training, I made special small place settings. In Sweden we used these in the classroom at very low tables for every meal and snack that the children had. An adult was always close to the child to help, and to remind the child (over and over) those menial details like- "the broccoli doesn't go in the glass". The lowness of table was also a safeguard against things breaking on the floor. The place where the spoon, dish, and glass (or fork and knife) go is chain stitched on to the mat to give a visual reminder of where things belong. One large adult place mat makes four tiny ones, shot glasses are cheap and replaceable, the spoons are adult dessert spoons, and the bowl or dish can be of any kind but with raised edges for easy scooping.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

December 23. Best Simple Bread Recipe.

Baking bread with children is a memorable experience for both the child and the adult. So much sensory information! On many occasions during my years in the classroom we baked bread together as gifts for parents or simply as a tasty treat to have in the afternoon. At home I bake bread quite often basically because there is simply not a lot that's better than a slice of fresh bread and butter in the morning.

I've tried many recipes, but this is the one that has consistently yielded the best bread.

In a big bowl:

1 cup of warm water + a tbsp of sugar + 2 tbsp yeast --- leave it alone for 5 minutes

Add: 3 tbsp olive oil + 1 C milk + 1 tsp salt + 2 tbsp sugar + 3 cups of flour

Stir the mixture 50 times to the left, and 50 times to the right

Gradually add 3-4 more cups of flour until the dough is not sticky and ready to be kneaded.
Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes (3-4 songs on your mp3 player).
Let it rest in a warm place (over the lit oven) for 1 hour in a greased bowl.
Punch the dough down and let it rest again for 30 minutes.
Form the loaves into 2 small bread pans and let it rest for 10-30 minutes.

Bake the loaves for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove them from the pans and bake for 5 more minutes. Let them cool before you slice them.

Friday, December 21, 2007

December 21. The Cadillac.


While away in Sweden taking Assistants to Infancy training (Montessori 0-3) I touched back on my long abandoned love for sewing. A to I training involves a lot of material making (sewing projects, mobile making, wood working). When I came back to Aruba, I hunted for a sewing machine that would meet my needs as a beginner and meet my wallet's needs as well. I purchased a plastic machine at Price Smart which promptly fell to pieces just a few days after I bought it. The repair guy that came to pick up my bundle of broken crap showed a lot of contempt for my broken purchase and promised to show me what a real sewing machine should look like. He gave me a 101 on the old timey machines that he coincidentally sells at his repair shop. I left him the plastic as a souvenir (he already had a mounting pile of broken plastic machines in the corner of his shop) and brought home this CADILLAC of sewing machines. It is a Singer 237 from 1968, all metal and all love. It took two people to carry it from the car to the dining table (where I suppose it will make its home forever). The machine is perfect for me. You basically cannot screw up with a machine that only sews forwards, backwards, straight or zigzag.

The test project for the machine was a Montessori Teacher's Essential Apron. Two side pockets for observation notebook and pen (for split second retrieving, like taking out revolvers in a cowboy bar, except it's a pen and a little notepad) and a middle pocket for storing the millions of units that one finds on the floor throughout the day if one is the teacher of my classroom. The apron required no previous knowledge of apron making, no ironing (we don't own one), and not a lot of time.

Sayenne made one too but hers is not finished yet. When done, we will showcase it as it well deserves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 19. Birthday Blog.

This is a blog about the project of opening a little Montessori school on the sunny island of Aruba, the making of materials for the school, and other random goodnesses. Today is the birthday of this blog!

This is the school hiding behind some trees.The foliage is courtesy of the uncharacteristic December showers we have been experiencing. Although difficult to spot in the picture, the yard boasts 6 newly planted trees. David helped me plant them- He worked the pickax through the coral, pulled his back carrying the trees, and I stood around and said where to put them.

These are the front doors of the school that already say "Hello!". The windows are supposed to be coming in "sometime this week" 2-3 weeks ago.

The building is an original Aruban house from the 1950's that we are renovating and slightly remodelling to accommodate one environment for 3-6 year olds, and a 0-3 classroom in the future.

The expected opening day is September 1, 2008.
Welcome to the project.