Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ivy League-West Summer Enrichment

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Ivy League-West Summer Enrichment Programs 2011

Weekly Schedule

June 27 – July 1 Hello Summer!

Classic Summer Activities

Playing outdoors, jumping rope, hopscotch, classic games, fort building, making popsicles, making makeshift tents, relaxing on hammocks, swinging, grill lunch, tending the garden.

July 5 – July 8 Let Freedom Ring!

Step back into Colonial Times

Card wool, make yarn. Learn to knit and embroider, chop firewood, whittle sticks, bake bread, make dolls, create board games.

July 11 – July 15 Soar into Space!

Explore Space Travel

Learn about planets, planetoids, moons and everything else found in space. Make astronaut suits and spaceships. Recreate moon landing. Discover a new planet. Make friends with its strange inhabitants.

July 18 – July 22 Knights and Princesses!

Read fairy tales from every corner of the earth.

Write original plays based on classic and exotic fairy tales. Build and paint sets and stages. Make costumes. Learn about courage, strength and facing your fears. Maybe even slay a dragon. (Or befriend one.)

July 25 – July 29 Water World!

Water is most valuable natural resource.

Play in and explore the many uses of water. Learn how to conserve and why it’s important. From watercolors to water energy sources, water is life.

August 1 – August 5 CLOSED!

No programs this week.

August 8 – August 12 Kitchen Science!

There is more going on than you can taste.

What chemical reactions are happening while cooking? Can you change the change the composition of food by cooking? Learn about good nutrition while exploring the mysteries of science in cooking.

August 15 – August 19 We Dig Fossils!

Is there a dinosaur in your backyard?

Explore fossils and where they are found. Make casts and impressions. Dissect owl pellets. Learn how fossils are made and what they tell us once found.

August 22 – August 26 Show Me The Money!

Your future is now.

Learn how to make a spending plan so you can have money for fun and save for college. Learn about savings accounts and how interest works. Learn about ways you can make money.

August 29 – September 2 Beyond Playdough!

What is a polymer?

Learn about the amazing properties of polymers. Make various polymers. Make an end of summer sculpture as a take home memento.

Call us to register today.


All this plus two healthy snacks and a healthy seasonal lunch for $90.00 a week. There is no registration fee for our Summer Program, however early registration and payment is highly recommended as spaces are limited!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Improving Education

On PBS Need to Know they are asking for one practical idea that can be implemented in a classroom to help students. Why only one? I've got a million of them but I doubt that they would ever be implemented, unless I implement them myself. Just for full disclosure, I'm working on them already.

Education is so often approached as a commodity that needs to be improved. A new marketing strategy to be implemented. The question that always arises is how can we get kids to learn. If we are really honest however the question would be how do we get kids to learn what we want them to know and how can we gauge that they are learning what we want. You see kids learn all the time. The problem that adults have is that we do not interpret their knowledge and know how in a valuable way.

For instance, not one of my three year old students knows how to add and subtract. If you ask them if they know any math, addition, subtraction, number sentences, what 1+2 equals they'll either say no or look at you with a blank look because you have literally lost them. Their young minds are wandering the time and space continuum and they are not even aware that the sound coming from your mouth is a question. Now take that same child and hand him three rocks. Ask that child how many rocks he has and wait for him to count them. One, two, three. He will proudly proclaim he has three rocks! Give the child one more rock and ask him how many rocks he has now that you gave him one more. The child will count the rocks again beginning with one, ending with four and he will proclaim he has four rocks. This child has just added. Not in a linear 3+1=4, but in his own round about way. More than that the child has begun to grasp a concept. See 3+1 means absolutely nothing to a 3 year old. You might as well introduce E=MC2. You may get the child to repeat 3+1=4, just as he is capable of repeating E=MC2, that does not mean he understands the concept.

In math, schools have introduced Cuisenaire Rods. Everyone is just crazy about them. It teaches kids how to group by tens and do an array of fun math activities. I've never heard such nonsense. What exactly do a group of plastic cubes mean to a child? Why would you want to count them? Why would you group them? How does this fit into their lives? Now give a kid a group of rocks. Tell them the story of Stone Soup. Now tell them that this boy started a business selling stones to villagers to make stone soup. He was so successful he set up a warehouse where he kept the stones. The warehouse needs to be kept neat and he needs to keep track of how many stones he has so he puts ten stones in each bag. Then every ten bags he puts in a crate. Every ten crates he puts in a wagon etc. The child can now relate to counting and sorting to something real.

Education does not need to be improved! What needs to happen is that we need to change our perception of what education is and how it needs to happen. I took a botany class once and there was not one living flower introduced the entire semester. The district has thousands of dollars to spend on textbooks that have drawing and pictures of flowers, but they couldn't spend a couple of hundred dollars at the flower market to buy the actual thing we were studying. How does this makes any sense?

So my one practical idea is to stop elevating education to the point where it becomes inaccessible and let's make education real.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Little School That Could

Do people ever say something to you and it sets off a trigger. Your reaction is perhaps overblown, even as you tell yourself that the remark is completely well intentioned. Friends ask me all the time how my "little" school is going and frankly it drives me nuts. I react the exact same way my children do when I call them "little man" or "little lady." I'm Not LITTLE!

I'll admit the school is not big. It's about 900 to 1000 sq feet. The children are not big, although our oldest is twelve and we've got some great things happening with our after school crowd. Mostly we have young kids, 4 to 8 years old. I'll even admit that I am little, although I prefer the word petite to describe my physical attributes. Standing at a mere 5' 1", I am not a big or tall woman. I doubt however that anyone would describe me as small. I don't do small. I do big! I think big! I plan big! Sometimes I even fail in a great big way.

As adults we sometimes think of children as being incomplete beings. Adults tend to focus on everything the child has to learn. After all, they don't know much. They come into this world with only some very basic survival instincts. I like to think about not how much the child needs to learn but how much he has learned. Most kids are walking upright by age one. That's huge! Think about the coordination, the persistence, the muscle that is needed to get yourself up and learn to put one foot in front of the other. It's mastered by age one. Language is another big feat. Children go from goo-goo to go bye-bye to see you tomorrow in a matter of years. These are great big accomplishments that usually occur naturally with some guidance but little interference from adults.

Of course we know that learning never ends. Even when our physical growth has run the gamut, we continue to learn and grow intellectually and spiritually. It's an ongoing process. Learning is always a big deal. Here at Ivy League-West there is always something big going on, even if it not apparent at first. There is the child that sits with a somewhat vacant expression during story time. I'm not sure if the child is even listening or if he is off in a land of his very own. Then one day as I'm reading a chapter of Charlotte's Web during lunch, he cheers because Charlotte has decided to go to the fair with Wilbur. He excitedly informs me that Wilbur is the pig. I can't help but smile. There is the child that points out that I gave her 1/2 a sandwich and that earlier we put 1/2 cup of milk into the muffin batter. These jumps and connections are learning in a big way. There is the really precocious and bright child that is learning to maneuver the social sphere. She is learning that it is not appropriate to argue with the teacher. She is learning to let other children draw their own conclusions. There are children who have learned how to jump rope. Some have learned to bat a ball, some have learned their colors. Some are learning the alphabet and some are learning to write.

Little things are not what we are about. Ivy League-West is a place where big things happen everyday. So if you see me please feel free to ask me how things are going at school, but please don't call it the "little" school.