Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dancing to Bach

We had a fantastic day yesterday playing outside, and at playgroup, as the weather was so lovely. (It is not today!) When Isla asked for some music on, I decided I didn't want another nursery songs CD, so put on the first classical CD that came to hand - in this case Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

After school Sophie put the CD on again, and here she is with Grace and Isla dancing with scarves. They really 'got into' the music, and the variations between the movements (and concertos) lent opportunities for a range of movements. Concentration, fluid movements, thoughtful pauses and then more (sometimes changed) movements.

I don' know if I've blogged about the hazards of taking photos when children play. However, it's very easy to change the child's experience by trying to record it - if they see you. Either they freeze up because they think they should do the 'right' thing, and can't think what you might want, or they freeze up in a cheesy grin because they like having their photo taken. Either way, you have interrupted their play, and also don't get your photo.

There are a couple of ways to get around this. One is to sit as inconspicuously as possible (on the floor is good) and keep taking photos until they forget about what you are doing. Another is to be very quiet and sneaky, and hope the music covers the sound of the shutter clicking. I used the later approach, and it worked pretty well.

a whole new way to procrastinate about my essay!!

Here's a great new time waster!

Go to youtube (try Googling it) and search under any topic you're interested in.

Here's a link to a nature play video clip - relevant because teaching sustainability is the theme for next year's Playcentre Awareness Week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Quilt show and sale

If anyone is in Wellington this week and wants an excellent, arty outing, I recommend the Quilt Show and Sale at shed 11 on the waterfront. It's on until Labour day, 10am-5pm each day.

It is an independent event, where every quilt is for sale, and is run in conjunction with the Wellington Quilters Guild. I had a turn on the raffle sales table yesterday.

It is beautiful! The quilts are all lovely, nice mood music, and a real atmosphere of excitement yesterday afternoon. This might have been because so many quilts were being sold, and people were so happy to be taking them home.

I have about 20 quilts as 'unfinished objects' (at some stage or other) but haven't actually sewn any for ages. (I am morally obligated to finish Rowena's birthday quilt before I start anything new - and I'm a bit stuck on it!) So I bought a little wall quilt to have something new.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Water play ideas

Just doing a Google search on play ideas, and found this one on water play. Seemed appropriate for today.

I've also added a link to the sidebar - a play ideas page from Little Treasurers magazine.

ps, I just read the site properly and the photos are from a playcentre in Southland. Good on them!

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain

Well that's how it feels. It has rained all day without stopping. We did lots of inside things today, like building with blocks and making pikelets.

Later in the morning we all put on coats, hats and boots and went outside anyway.

The initial idea was 'stamping in puddles'. Cara, Isla and Grace quickly moved to filling and carrying watering cans and teapots and watering the garden (which didn't actually need it, but no worries!).

A rainy day provides a lot more interesting places to get water from than just the trough or hose. A dripping downpipe, shaking it off the bushes, etc - and those great puddles of course!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Beyond Quality in ECE

Two of the international keynote speakers at Convention were Gunilla Dahlberg and Alan Pence, two of the authors of Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education. I got hold of this book earlier in the year, and have found it very compelling reading.

In a nutshell, the book problematises the notion of quality in current official writing about early education, (and even the prevailing ideas about childhood). This is largely because they have been developed from a Western, and mainly American, viewpoint, and it turns out that these ideas don't work out comfortably when transported into other countries and cultures (or even many groups of minority culture within America and other Western countries). Then, these singular ideas are used to further disenfranchise groups of local decision making, and the ability to determine how to raise their children (for example).

It was very exciting to meet authors I had read 'in the flesh' (so to speak). As it happened, we sat next to these two on the first morning. This is due to my habit of sitting near the front. We got talking, and, as I have thought that some of their ideas worked out very well in the way that Playcentre works (which is currently very non-establishment, in that it's not meeting government agendas either well or willingly), I was able to talk about how their ideas played out in my area.

(Hopefully I didn't bore their ears off!)

(I had a copy of their book in my motel, so later in the week I tracked down Gunnilla and got her to sign it for me. I felt a bit embarrassed about this, but heck, how often do you meet the author of a book you like when you actually have it with you?!)

ps, the pic is of the 1999 edition. I have the 2nd edition, published (and updated) in 2007.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Cafe Review

I managed two cafes yesterday.

Elanor had a voucher for coffee and a breakfast bagel off the Wholely Bagels breakfast menu, from her netball team. (I think each child on the team got a voucher.) We had to find a time to use the voucher, and we agreed that she would have the bagel, and I would drink the coffee for her, as she doesn't like coffee much.

The shop is on Willis St, though they have 4 other locations. We hadn't been there before, and once we found out how it 'worked', Elanor chose a cream cheese, honey, walnut and raisin bagel, and I got a latte. (Sophie was with us, and had a fruit bagel, toasted, to keep us company).

The coffee was very good indeed, which is enough for me to recommend the place. An added bonus was that Elanor, who is a bit fussy about things she hasn't tried before, enjoyed both her bagel and Sophie's (they went halves). At $5 for the coffee/bagel breakfast combo I would recommend the place on price too. The breakfast combo is available before 11am. (Standard latte is $3.20.)

After that time the bagels seem to be more expensive ($5.90 or so), so a bit expensive to take kids. Though they have a kids selection which is cheaper.

My other cafe was in the afternoon, when I went with friends to the Empire theatre (in Island Bay). I hadn't been there before, as I'Bay isn't my usual stamping ground. But I do approve of coffee places in suburbs (Brooklyn could do with a better one).

The cafe is at the front of the theatre, and seems very nice. I had a moccachino, which was quite acceptable, and an average price at $3.50. Where this cafe beats the Brooklyn cinema cafe is that it looks out on the street and has much better light for it. I'd have to try a straight coffee to be sure of the quality, but I don't want to sound dismissive. I'd go to the place again.

Early Childhood Convention

I have put off blogging about Convention as I have needed space to get my head round it. Practically, there isn't going to be 'space' until my essay is done, so I'd better start writing comments anyway!

The 2007 Early Childhood Convention was held in Rotorua last week, from Sunday afternoon 23 September, to Friday afternoon 28 September. Bern and I both went. We had planned to attend together for 4 years (since the last Convention) as he went last time (in his role as early childhood boffin at the ERO policy unit) and I wanted to go, but missed out. The reason I missed out was that we had asked Bern's mum to come and stay with the kids (which she was happy to do), but she suddenly died of cancer during that year. So I stayed home.

Anyway, this year we are both postgrad education students, and I'm working in early childhood (and am committed to professional development) and Bern is doing general social research, with a preference for education, so all good enough reasons to send ourselves to Convention.

We had a ball! Bern shmoozed like mad (I think the 'nice' way to say this is 'networking'!!) and gave away all his business cards to people potentially wanting research done. I met loads of people I knew, including Playcentre, university, teacher and ministry people. We bought some books, (gave away a couple - another story), had dinner with friends, and together, went to loads of workshops which stretched us (and had each other to 'debrief' with afterwards) and generally had a whale of a time.

(Did I mention that it's the first time we've been away together without the kids for more than a weekend?)

The convention had about 1600 participants, and is apparently the largest early childhood convention anywhere in the world. It's probably so big because it's geared to appeal to teachers as well as academics and policy people. We set a meeting point so we could find each other at break times, and that worked well. We spent the ride home talking about the papers that we are both going to present next time - no pressure, as it's still 4 years off!

Monday, October 1, 2007

You've got to love school holidays!

Sophie decided she wanted to make biscuits, and invited the little girls to help. She did all the setting up; I just gave advice on keeping it manageable, and hung around to discourage spoons and fingers from going in mouths!

They all had a really good go at mixing. This was the best photo for getting all the faces in, but Eva was mixing with the best of them too. Cara had particular persistence, and kept right on to the pressing out stage.

The biscuits will be for afternoon tea shortly.

(ps, at the same time, Katie was making a cake for morning tea and Rowena was putting away dishes, so it was a very crowded kitchen.)

Cafe Review

I have just got back from the Early Childhood Convention in Rotorua, and could blog it all week. Five days of international speakers and local presenters, and so many topics... It was great!

But first, if you're on the Napier-Taupo road, I suggest you don't go to the Summit Tearooms. First off, the latte was from a push-button machine, but they charged espresso prices ($3.50). Very disappointing. Then, the scone was fridge-cold at 11.30am. (It should have been fresh that morning.) And about $3.00 too. To add insult to injury (and I wouldn't have worried about them if the first things had been right), the 'butter' was marg, and the loos were out of paper and hand-towels.

They are obviously taking advantage of a monopoly position - only cafe for miles. Hmmm.