The reason play-dough makes me pause

ingredients for play doughAs a preschool teacher, one of the “Rights of Passage” is being able to make play dough. This gooey mixture of flour, salt, oil, water, food coloring, and cream of tartar is an art form all its own. No matter how perfect my measurements, it never comes out the same every time.

This tool is used to create all sorts of imaginary friends, foods, and creatures.

As I begin the undertaking of making play dough, I find it best to be prepared for each step. Making a plan for myself, I thoughtfully lay out my ingredients, careful to measure according to the recipe, knowing my outcome will be different from the last time, no matter what. Instead of being frustrated by this, I embrace it, regardless.messy play dough

The steps of this process are specific, and if one is missed, it can leave you totally exasperated with a big mess on your hands.

The same can be said of being a preschool teacher. Each child is a little different. They all have their basic needs which are the same: food, water, shelter, safety (thanks to  Abraham Maslow).maslow's heirarchy of needs Each comes from a different home, and a different background. No two will turn out the same. We need to take the time to look, read the history that parents provide us, and truly listen to student and parent when they talk.

It is easy to look at the play dough recipe and rush through the process, skipping integral steps along the way. Sometimes, this can be done, and the turn out is good play dough. Other times, this is done, and leaves you with a liquid or crumbly mess.  The same can be said of parents and teachers. Sometimes we want that next step to be here. We crave knowing when they will sleep through the night, roll over, walk, say mama, be potty trained, write their name, read a book, go to high school, go to college. It often feels like life is a series of next steps. When we look at the next step too much, we may be unable to see the simple steps being taken in the right now.

perfect play doughWhen play dough is made correctly it is soft but firm, is not sticky, has a smooth consistency, and can be used to teach little fingers how to pinch, roll, and make a mistake and then move on from it. It also can be used to create a masterpiece, left to dry and become concrete, and given as a present that will become a memory for a lifetime.

The same can be said about teaching. If it is done correctly, it is soft, but firm, not attached, but loving, and will teach little minds to think, be confident, Make connections, and move on from trials with grace. It also will create a pattern of memories that will become concrete in thinking, reading, and dealing with others that will last a lifetime.

Play dough and teaching go hand in hand.

creative play doughNow I am beginning to understand how this once bane of my existence as a preschool teacher is a tool that has helped me to become a better teacher.

love play doughWhen I work with a student, I am always looking for the right consistency to use with them. I have to stop, look at the recipe, and make sure I am not skipping any steps. This isn’t always easy.  It requires planning, reflection, and implementation. Reflection as a teacher is key to helping my students succeed, and learning about their family, home, and past helps me realize which ingredients have already been added so I can mix appropriately, kneed the dough of their beautiful young minds, and help them create those memories which become learned to shape their future.

It is not about the product but the process!
It is not about the product but the process!

What life lesson could you learn from a simple recipe?

Play dough – cookies – brownies – stew – lasagna -fudge

Share with me, so we can all learn from each others life lessons!

Back to Life

a part of my classroom
a part of my classroom
the essential teacher bag
the essential teacher bag

I am definitely still feeling the relaxation coming off of our vacation.  Today we were back to the real world. As a teacher my job doesn’t end when school ends, and it certainly does not begin when school begins. This summer, I have been working since May to prepare for this school year. I have been doing paperwork, cleaning toys, and many other tasks to be certain the school I work at has a smooth start to the year.  I also have been writing lesson plans, and preparing my classroom. I work with children ages 4 and 5. My classroom has to be fun and interesting. This is quite a challenge but I enjoy it!

i love my new school bag
i love my new school bag

I  am a full time student. I am preparing my text books, my notebooks, and my laptop to be ready for being a student again. I am almost finished with one degree, and then onto another. As A teacher, I know that my education is important. If I want to be an effective teacher, I need to be on top of the latest research. I also know the example I am setting for my own children.They see me reading my text books, writing papers, and finishing projects for my honors program.

just a small sample of the boys school supplies
just a small sample of the boys school supplies

I also am a mom to 3 wonderful boys. All three will be at the same school this year for the last time.  My oldest in 6th grade, my middle in 4th, and my youngest in 1st. Getting them ready for school was my first priority. I purchased school supplies and lunch boxes. We prepared them for the bus ride and our new routine. I also have prepared them for how busy mama will be. I think it is important for them to know that when they have my attention they have my attention.

seriously love this bag
seriously love this bag

In order for mama to stay organized in our busy schedule I need several bags. Sounds crazy, but I find having a bag for each event works best. I have a bag for teaching that holds markers, stickers, lesson plans, curriculum, and anything else I may need (water and lunch). I have a laptop bag for school for mama. This has my notebooks, a folder, my laptop, and a section for pencils, pens, highlighters, and my flash drive.  I also have a wonderfully large purse that goes with me to church or out with my husband. How do I keep it all together?  I have a few small zippered bags that hold all of the essentials. This way I can  just grab the small bags, change them to the other bag, and go!

the moving pieces
the moving pieces

I love that I can organize myself in a way that I always have what I need. Sometimes I have more than I need, and that works for me in situations like teaching or learning because I would never want to be unprepared for the opportunity to learn.  I am currently enjoying the last bits of summer I have with the boys before we all begin school again next week. I hope that I have prepared them for school in a way that will leave them having everything they need, and knowing that the woman that prepared it for them loves them more than they will ever know.

I find this to be very inspiring...
I find this to be very inspiring…

Being a mom

a wife

a student

and a teacher

means my heart and mind are always full

and I am pointed in a direction that means so much!

Lasting Impressions

one last time
one last time

This has been a journey. I am so glad we took this step because it brought us together  in a place that once tore us apart. I haven’t written in a few days because I was enjoying taking it all in. I am sitting in our living room on our last morning here and I am reflecting on the adventure.

all the guards and kids were so happy to see goofy!
all the guards and kids were so happy to see goofy!

We spent a lot of time at the pool. The pool here is the center of the resort. Lifeguards are also the activity directors.  They do a great job of engaging kids and adults alike. Activities range from water side races, to bingo, to trivia, to limbo, to nighttime mini golf with glow necklaces. There are also excursions you can  pay for and some that are free. You can always be busy here, or always just relax. These activities kept the boys engaged and gave the adults a chance to relax. There is so much to do that we did not even come close to doing it all.
This was wonderful, but there is something bigger here.

there is information everywhere about how to help the little dudes make it!
there is information everywhere about how to help the little dudes make it!

This resort is on the Atlantic Ocean. On this coast of Florida there are sea turtle nests everywhere. There are several sea turtle biologists who head out to the beach in the early morning hours. They ride their ATV’s and are equipped with an iPad (filled with information about each nest) and a few tools necessary for their job. They document any activity from a sea turtle nest. Sometimes they find a new nest or a recently hatched nest. They excavate nests, and often find a little turtle or two who didn’t make it out of the nest.

these scientists are dedicated to their work
these scientists are dedicated to their work

As guests here, at 7AM every morning we can trek to the beach and watch their work. For the last two mornings we have been down there and have had the privilege of seeing four babies being sent out to the sea! It is so exciting. The best part though is my boys seeing someone who loves their job. The employees at this resort love what they do.

three of the turtles we were able to see released
three of the turtles we were able to see released

If you really think about the challenge of saving sea turtles it is incredible that there are any alive. Out of the possible 115 eggs laid in one nest, 90% will hatch, and 1% will survive into adulthood. Those are astounding statistics. Nearly impossible. But yet, the species is being saved through the hard work and dedication of the scientists who have a passion for sea turtles.

the boys taking in one more sunrise
the boys taking in one more sunrise

This is important because we woke the boys up early every morning and headed to the beach to see what had developed while we slept. They grunted and groaned, but once there, they enjoyed it. I am hoping that when they see these scientists dedicated to saving these little guys/gals that they will see more than turtles. I want them to see that even the little things are worth fighting for. Even when it seems impossible, it is worth it. Those dreams they have, they can achieve them. Protecting those that can’t do it themselves, they can do that too. Nothing is impossible. I hope they see the hard work put in to make the impossible possible. I also hope they see it isn’t all work. Everything they want to achieve is worth it. Every friendship and relationship: worth it. Every belief they hold dear to their hearts are worth every effort to protect.
I hope they have lasting impressions…

our family left a momentary impression in the sand, I pray the sand left a lasting on eon us
our family left a momentary impression in the sand, I pray the sand left a lasting on eon us

For more information check out this website to see how you can help!

beautiful art on the building
beautiful art on the building

Barrier Island Center