“Kids in the Kitchen” Monday February 27, 2017 9:30-11:30 am
Lilly Pilly Preschool Kitchen-Lobby 96 Kingsford Drive, Brunswick Heads
Presented by educator Sandra Frain Living Loving Learning and Laughing too: Experiential Educational Programs for all ages.
Thank you all who came and thank you to Lilly Pilly Preschool for hosting our happy event. Here is a rough report of ‘what happened and how it happened’.
Ritual: Handwashing at sink (chair for children to stand on), water in basin and running water for rinse. Adult or children hands dipped into the warm water and Sandra sang: “Fish swim in the water, birds fly in the air. Let me take your hands now and dry them on the towel.” Parents encouraged to make up any song along with any activity.
Aprons, the uniform of the kitchen were donned.
Adults and children gathered around the big table that was loaded with many sizes and colours of pumpkins, and many other vegetables and fruits.
We ‘congealed’ by each adult introducing themselves by name and sharing what they love about being in the kitchen. My offering was that I love the alchemy and transformation of matter, and our very own character, meditate on our task or as we bubble and boil together socially. Some offerings were: loving all the mangoes currently in season; loving berry smoothie making in a purpose blender; loving being with children to cook; loving getting produce from the garden to cook; frightened of all the food issues and food as a result; resisting being in the kitchen and wanting to love it more and share that with children.
I promised a morning of balance of ‘in breathing’ and ‘out breathing’ as ‘Steiner Education’ models. Another imagination is, form and chaos and form again as creation of LIFE implies.
Some ‘out breathing’: some chaos ensued as we circled around the table, even hopping up to chairs, singing ‘around and around and around we go, where we go nobody knows and around and around and around we go.” This was a song I made up to go with peeling an orange in a spiral and of course it can be applied to any circular movement. We have much laughter as we circled around the table, passing each other’s chairs and trying to keep holding hands while moving, we twenty individuals.
As I held up the orange skin spiral we could marvel at being able to show children this ‘line’ made from a circle, that drapes into spiral form most naturally! Physics in Motion. Participants shared of their peeling apples as such by knife and by apple spiral machine.
Apples and cucumbers were passed around. Could ‘stars’ on the skins of the produce be seen? A reminder, that the stars and planets are shining day and night and helping to form our flowers and fruits. Satrs on the inside perhaps? Or a flower shape? Hmm. We smell the fruit and really feel it in our hands. Carefully passing it to a friend next to us. I spoke of the membrane of skin that covers our body and resembles the skin of an orange, or the covering of the ocean we see from the sky. There are so many analogies and this makes ‘food’ exciting to behold and have a natural reverence for.
A white 50-cent-size blob is passed around the circle. What can it be? One person knows: ‘a baby spider sac’. Sandra tells a story of its source: spotted as it was atop a pumpkin at the Carrera market in Tweed Heads from whence the pumpkins that each looked like a large cap, were purchased. That leads in to the story of the ‘caps for sale’ story to remind parents that children learn from imitation. (Monkeys stealing caps and then returning them to cap peddler when he throws his own cap on the ground).
Pumpkins were passed around and people asked to consider the weight and shape and ask the question “how did this grow? Once it was a seed beginning its life in the dark, then the light and by root and stem and leaf and then flower: Wowee! A pumpkin strong and coloured and odd shape have we. A comment, “I just now get how it attaches to the flower before becoming fruit: calyx!”
Eggs on display on the table were fondled by passing children who remarked on how they loved holding warm eggs and referred to their own chooks. Children at the table were presented with a large glass bowl and a fork. Children crack each egg with adult assistance. “Let me help you, rather than let me do it for you”. Our aim is relaxation and happiness and a development of wonder for food substance and capabilities in the kitchen.
Here is an opportunity for children to see alchemy, as an egg is cracked, separated, and the white is beaten until bubbles appear and more and more frothy is it. Then they can beat the egg whites themselves, and all at the table participate! No resemblance is the final product to the original slimy translucent egg white. The golden suns are in their own bowl. Later, both are poured together into a fry pan for an omelette. Mmm.
Can our goal be ‘food on the table’ and ‘happy healthy process’ rather than ‘fear for perfection’. Each of us may enjoy or not enjoy particular foods. Let us respect each other’s tastes and learn the art of polite individualization. ‘That looks interesting, what might that be?’ rather than ‘YUCK’ as is a story from my sister’s family. Trying a wee bite is sufficient in the world of trying new foods. Can we support children learning intuitively what may be healthful for them? Many of we adults have damaged that inner sense of ‘knowing’.
Let us be wary of becoming narrsistic and encouraging that in our children. Let us balance that self -care with much community work by caring for others.
Pumpkins are chosen to carve, and children who want to help, have their hands around a knife, adult hand over child’s. It is important for children to learn the respect of these tools that do meaningful work. What a frustrating experience it is to try to use the knives and scissors are that are made for children’s autonomy but do not give satisfaction of cutting cleanly and effectively. Children do not want to cut themselves and do learn respect in knife and scissor handling if given the opportunity. A story of ‘a knife’ is told, exemplifying that children KNOW that there is ‘spirit in matter and matter in spirit’. Telling a story of a particular object or behaviour is a way of us teaching ‘respect’ to tools and all in life.
An adult shares her discomfort at holding the slimy innards that surround the pumpkin seeds. We discuss the value of ‘hands on’ to really experience sensory learning that affects our cognitive development in a way that merely hearing the worlds does not accomplish. Adults modelling tactile experience with food stuffs and nature, demonstrates a willingness the children may adopt and be all the healthier for it.
A jar of cream is passed around and we sing, “Come butter come, come butter come, if you don’t hurry your going to be late and I’m going to beat you to the garden gate”. And around and around the circle the jar goes, from one adult to one child shaking, as it goes. YES “voila’ the cream has separated and become a golden blob of rich butter, and the remaining milk is, delicious and sweet.
The group energy is now split as adults and children cut fruit and pumpkins and toast sourdough bread, and set the table for a colourful feast. The children are playing with a side board of grains too, pouring the rye and wheat from one source into empty vessels. Some parents and children go outside to forage for herbs for the baking pumpkin and seeds.
What a community event it feels. A sigh, as a beeswax candle is lit to the song: ” Candle light candle bright coming down to earth. Shining light on our table oh how beautiful and bright”.
Plates are laden with personal choices as platters are passed around the table.
‘Merry’ is made, with chatter a plenty. More, more, more. ‘Let’s do it again’, they say. And so our date is made for sourdough bread and cream cheese and butter making on March 13th Monday. As many ‘ooed and awed’ seeing the cream cheese and butter being made, and tasting the homemade wild yeast bread.
And the people disperse, and the people clear the table and wash and dry dishes. More community feeling being made. Leftovers going home with those who stayed to the very last moment.
Respectfully reported, Sandra Frain
November 14, 2016
Dear Parents and Teachers of Ancaster Montessori School Ltd. Ontario Canada.
Thank you for your questions directed for last October 5, 2016 evening parent / teacher educational: “The Joy of Learning and Parenting”, where I met some of you.
For those of you who attended, I hope you “got “your questions answered from the activities and the ensuing conversation.
I am sure you could add to the responses I have created below!
1) Question: How do you address biting issue with a 17 month toddler”?
Answer: As you suggest your 17 month old is expressing their frustration when biting a person or toy. This is absolutely “age appropriate”. The ‘biting’ behaviour will cease as the child develops physically and emotionally. The biting will be replaced by age appropriate vocabulary and self- restraint.
Now, the child themselves is protected by being given something that is appropriate to bite (soft toy, blanket or food) when their urge to bite is apparent.
Other children in danger of being bitten must be protected from the ‘biter’. We adults we can usually sense the moment the frustration is about to be expressed with a bite. We can whisk the possible victim away before there is a chance for them to be bitten. An older child must be taught to protect themselves and to get out of the way is approached aggressively.
You can make up a funny song/chant about ‘NO BITING PEOPLE: Yes biting a carrot’, etc.
There is no need to shame or blame the 17 month old. They will grow out of this stage quickly enough.
2) Question: Discipline (ie making them listen and obey an instruction), bribing with treats to do something versus simply expecting them to do a task, learning to share and be kind with siblings/taking turns and being respectful of others needs and wants etc
Answer: The more you can create routine and rhythm and ritual in your home the more children just do what is expected of them because they know that IS what is expected. When we adults offer choice at every activity the children become ‘high maintenance’ and seem to chronically need direction.
The goal is for children to be “self- directed” within the frame of activities and behaviours that we adults are supporting.
Looking at children in the eyes. Connecting with them before telling them what you want them to do, is a way of being respectful to the child and to yourself and to the task at hand.
Creating: activity oriented stories in the moment for the child; a mood of reverence; a mood of fun with humour; singing while in moving, are all ways for the transitions from one activity to another to be joyous and special.
If you can support the movement and activities and manners of children, the unhappy punishment oriented threatening times are minimized.
Learning what children are capable at different stages of their development AND working on your own inner and outer development is an exciting and endless opportunity for growth.
A song that is calming for all ages is: “From you I receive, to you I give, Together we share, By this we live”. When you sing this over and over again, you will experience that the children are as if spellbound and any bickering is subdued. Competition is transformed into cooperation as they pass an object to each other, or take turns stroking an animal.
The book called “Stress-free Parenting in 12 Steps” by Christiane Kutik will quickly give you just the tools to support your questions, in addition to the answers I have provided.
The meaning of words can give us direction. Consider “discipline” as meaning that the child is following a teacher: Are we worthy of imitation? This is the most powerful opportunity for us to “teach” children. If our preferred method of “discipline” is to ‘punish, shame or blame’ the children with a system of ‘rewards and punishments’, we set up a cycle that is teaching them like wise. Leading and supporting children (and each other) with loving direction is an opportunity that allows us to live and learn in a joyous environment that has integrity and authenticity.
3) Question: Discipline – our 2 year old son is tenacious, extremely active and passionate. When he is not listening we have tried redirecting him or talking to him but neither work. We have at times had to put him in his room for a timeout. He runs out after the time out and many times goes back to the same thing he was doing in the first place…help! What are some strategies to stop the behavior?
Answer: Congratulations for your son being so healthy and happy that he wants to move and express himself as he grows. He needs to experience everything and then ‘digest’ it all. What’s this for? How does it work? You are witnessing his changes every day!
Whatever you don’t want your son to explore is like a magnet for him. Removing the object of desire from sight, ‘redirecting’ your child to another space, showing him how to ‘play’ as you wish will create a ‘teaching’ opportunity that will be more long lasting than a directive or an isolating ’time out’.
Too much attention to a particular object or behaviour can create a tension between children and adults that is representative of our relationship to power and control. Using less words and using more physical guidance is appropriate for this age.
Being mindful of a child’s bed times and eating times is a logical consideration when wondering what to do when a child’s behaviour is disturbing you. Many behavioural issues can be avoided by creating a timetable for eating and sleeping that is healthy and age appropriate. This is necessary for we adults too. ‘Hungry ?Angry? Lonely? Tired ?‘: (H.A.L.T.) is a useful question at any time when we query our child’s or our own active/reactive behaviour.
‘Holding and Enfolding’ is a technique of embracing the child from his back so that your eyes are NOT meeting. As you hold him in your lap and rock him you might sing or tell a little story. As you speak or sing his heart beat will join yours and a calm mood will prevail.
4)Question: How do you deal with a whiny 4 year old? Would love some strategies to curb the behaviour (interestingly there is never any whining at school)
Answer: Often a child who is whiny to parents or at home ( but is not doing so at school) is asking for ‘special attention’ in the transition between school and home. Looking your child in the eyes and really listening to your child, hugging them and making time to connect before rushing into separate activities can stop the tone and behaviour that we find so irritating.
We adults may have perfect social behaviour at work or with friends and then we relax into an ‘antisocial’ tone/behaviour when we get with our family of ‘loved ones’. If someone addressed our needs immediately we might not ‘unravel’ in quite the same way.
An activity like having a bath, time in nature or a chance to have a ‘mindlessness’ like playing in sand, or peeling carrots or washing dishes can dissipate the stresses or excitements of the day. What are your routines and rituals after ‘school’? Is your routine condusive to happy healthy transitions?
Your family may enjoy this story by Susan Perrow in her “Spoonful of Stories” (www.susanperrow.com)
There was once a village of happy working whistlers. They
lived together by a river in the middle of a forest and all day
long they whistled while they worked. They whistled while
they dug in their gardens. They whistled while they cleaned
their homes. They whistled while they cooked their meals.
They whistled while they played games in the forest and they
whistled while they swam in the river.
All was happy and well, until one day one of the young
whistlers decided he was not very happy with his lot in life.
Instead of whistling a happy song, he began a different kind
of song, a whingeing chant. No matter what the other villagers
did or how hard they tried to help their unhappy friend,
nothing was ever quite right. The work was too hard, the food
was not good enough, the days were too long (or too short)
and the weather was too hot (or too cold).
All day long, whingeing whistler wandered around the
village, chanting his whingeing chant:
I don’t like this and I don’t like that, I don’t want this
and I don’t want that,
I can’t do this and I can’t do that, my life is no good any
The older villagers tried to teach whingeing whistler their
most happy whistling songs. But whingeing whistler was too
busy chanting his whingeing chant to take any notice of
learning silly old happy whistling songs.
I don’t like this and I don’t like that, I don’t want this
and I don’t want that,
I can’t do this and I can’t do that, my life is no good any
The younger villagers tried to get whingeing whistler to
play games with them in the forest and swim in the river.
But whingeing whistler didn’t want to be bothered. Soon the
young ones grew tired of listening to whingeing whistler and
didn’t particularly want to play with him either. His loud
whingeing noises were polluting their forest home.
Many months passed – seasons came and went – winter
to summer, summer to winter. One cold day, all the villagers,
young and old, set out into the surrounding forest to collect
firewood for their home fires. Whingeing whistler was
lagging behind, and because he had been so busy whingeing
about the cold, he didn’t notice that the path he was following
had changed direction. Suddenly he found himself in a part
of the forest he had never been before. He continued walking,
and before he knew what was happening, he had stumbled into
a hole in the forest floor and fallen down into a deep cave.
Whingeing whistler was stranded in the dark cave, with
no way to get himself out again.
What was he to do? It was no use chanting his whingeing
chant as the other villagers would not have bothered to listen
Then, deep in his whistling memory, he heard the most
beautiful sounds. He listened and then tried to repeat them. At
first his whistling was very weak, as he had not whistled for a
long time. But the more he tried, the stronger his whistle grew.
Soon he was blowing out a song, a most beautiful whistling
The song travelled up out of the cave, and through the
forest. The song travelled all the way to where the villagers
were collecting wood. As soon as the villagers heard the
whistling call, they turned around and followed the path that
led to the cave. As they ran along the path, they whistled
together, and their stranded friend could hear them coming
closer. What a happy sound that was!
At the top of the hole, the villagers used vines from the
forest to weave into a ladder. Then they lowered the ladder
down to help their friend to climb out.
The young whistler was very happy to be back safe and
sound with his village friends. They led him home through the
forest, all whistling together.
Now that the young whistler knew how to use his
whistling voice to make such beautiful songs, he never
bothered to whinge and whine again. In fact, he made up
a happy chanting song to teach his friends. If you are ever
wandering through the forest, then listen very carefully, you
may also hear this beautiful song:
I can whistle this and I can whistle that, I enjoy this and
I enjoy that,
I can do this and I can do that, my life is so good every
5) Question: Are there any tips or strategies that we can use at home to ensure our daughter sleeps through the night in her bed? Every night, our 2 year old will come to our room at one point and want to sleep with us. If I place her in bed with us, she falls immediately back to sleep. But watch out if I try to put her back into her bed…
Answer: There are many styles of sleeping to choose from and you will have been exposed to a few already as you have told people about your nightly challenge. Perhaps you have already decided which style you would like to adopt to ensure ‘sleep hygiene’ for each member in your family.
Hold the expectation that your daughter will sleep in her own bed as that is where you know her to have the healthiest sleep (and yourselves as well). Have a calm quiet song to sing to her as you (or her father) tucks her into bed. Is her room in order ? Does it have soft colours? Are there tensions in your child’s day that may be making your daughter wakeful?
Sphagni lavender or sphagni rose oil could be rubbed on her after a warm bath before bedtime.
You could make up a story that you tell your child each day. It could be about a child (dolly) or a favourite stuffed animal going to bed and her mother (or father) singing good night to her.
Thank you for your questions and good luck. Please feel welcome to contact me further. It was delightful to work and play together as we did on October 5th 2016. I hope that you are having fun growing up with your children.
Sincerely, Sandra Frain BCS MSC(Ed)