Posted in Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning (Marigold)

Outside With Inside

Hmm…what fun will come of this? ūüôā

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Block play is always engrossing for young children, and especially if they have extra resources to use. ¬†I brought in some limbs from a¬†rhododendron¬†that isn’t in the best of shape and used it in the provocation above. ¬†I set up a scene including not only nature, but some cars as well. ūüôā ¬†Young children will often come up with ideas that morph into elaborate stories if given the time to formulate those ideas. ¬†Sometimes the story is part of a collaboration with another child or it may be a story created alone. ¬†It really depends on the moods of the young children and their vested interest in the moment.

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Give this a try! ūüôā

If you are a Parent or Caregiver of a young child aged three to five years put these pictures near the child’s blocks, cars or other types of building and¬†transportation¬†toys. ¬†Watch to see what type of interest the child takes upon¬†seeing the pictures. ¬†

1. Does your child become curious about these pictures and want to replicate them?  

2. Is your child inspired by the pictures and uses his/ her own materials to create something similar?  

3. Or does your child not seem interested in the pictures?

If your child’s interest was sparked by the pictures please let me know what wonderful structure and story your child created! ¬†I would love to read about your adventures using outside and inside materials! ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Posted in Preschools in Vancouver, WA, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning

Join Me on Saturday, May 30th, 2015 for a Tour!

Dear Families of preschool aged children,

Please pencil me in for this Saturday, May 30th, 2015!  The Marigold School of Early Learning will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for a tour!

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If there is a better time for you to stop buy please check out my Contact page and send me an email or give me a call! ¬†I will be happy to schedule a tour that works for you! ūüôā

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Autumn will be on us quicker than a blink so scope out your local preschools and find an Early Learning environment that will fill the needs of your young three, four of five year old child!

Play-based learning gives your child a strong foundation for the long school career ahead of each girl and boy, so jump on board and be an advocate for Early Learning! ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning!

Posted in Preschools in Vancouver, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning


I can’t remember the name of this plant, but I saw it at a friend or family’s place a few years ago and I really liked it. ¬†So the following spring I bought my own plant. ¬†I usually try to save the tags, but for some reason I did not save this one. ¬†When it rains the leaves stand up and when it is sunny they seem to lay down. ūüôā

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It is just now flowering and as you can see the flowers are super tiny and a yellow-green in color. ¬†This plant loves coffee fertilizer too! ūüôā

I also should mention the soil is more sandy and drains really well, so I like to water this plant every other day.  If the soil is still wet when I go to water it, then I just leave it one more day.  It likes a spot that drains well.

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I have three spider wart plants, above, and they traveled!!!! ¬†I didn’t think they could!? At least I thought they needed some assistance with relocating or starting a shoot elsewhere. ¬†I didn’t know where they are located that the conditions were such that they could move on their own. ¬†Anyway there is one in my small planter box, one by my window and one tiny guy out in my lawn! ¬†I will have to dig that one up and put it in a better spot or else it won’t make it. ¬†Does anyone else have this happen with plants you didn’t actually move or plan to?

I finally got around to planting my seeds yesterday. ¬†So I can’t wait to see which ones actually come up this year. ¬†I planted pansies, marigolds, foxglove and poppy. ¬†ūüôā ¬†I looked for my burgundy sunflower seeds and couldn’t find them. ¬†So when I do I have a spot I will plant those too. ¬†Last year I planted sunflowers late and they did come up, but they were not quite as tall as they would have been if I’d followed the directions and planted them earlier in the spring. ūüôā

Please share the types of spring/ summer flowers you enjoy seeing year after year or the new ones you have added to your gardens! ¬†I would love to read all about them! ūüôā

Enjoy your day! ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Posted in Preschools in Vancouver, WA, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning (Marigold)

Continued Small Space Interest Areas

I have a few other interest areas that I utilize in my small preschool. ūüôā

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On this side of the shelf is standing space for wooden dolls and paper clips!  Two children can engage in this standing space and still have elbow room.  If your preschool space is small too, then you know what it is like arranging things so you can get the most out of your space.

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I’ve seen this done and I’ve done variations of this type of provocation. ¬†Set up whatever mathematical picture you want. ¬†Above I made a circle shape, pattern and an arrow for direction. ¬†Take a picture and set up the real materials along with some pictures for the children to have some ideas to go off of. ¬†Then you can step back and see what patterns, shapes or pictures the children create using everyday office supplies. ¬†

With loose parts and found items being very popular now days, it would be great to also use materials the children have collected for your picture provocations. ¬†That way the children will have one more way in which to use their loose parts and found items. ūüôā

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If you find the standing interest areas are getting too crowded because they are popular with your students, you can always create another rug space on the floor if you have the room. ¬†I have an area where the coat racks are that I could put another cushy rug in case more children at a time find the provocations to be a “must do” on their list of accomplishments for the morning. ūüôā

Please share some of your provocations! ¬†What worked for your small spaces and what did not? ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning


Posted in Preschools in Vancouver, WA, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning

False Daisies

My false daisies are finally in bloom! ūüôā

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After three treatments of coffee fertilizer the stems and leaves are getting darker. ¬†They are not as dark as I like, but they will be. ¬†These are great because with the right amount of fertilizer and room they grow wide and tall! ¬†When I first planted them they were huge and through the years when I did not take care of them they died out and I thought I’d lost them. ¬†A few years ago a couple plants came back and last year for sure I fertilized with coffee grounds all spring, summer and fall and this year they are so nice and big!

After it rains the yard smells like brewed coffee! ūüôā

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I know it takes time, but clipping off the old blooms will allow energy to go to the new buds. ¬†If taken care of I should have nice yellow flowers and dark green leaves into the fall. ¬†In the past these flowers did take over quite a bit, but since I only have about three plants left they don’t seem to be crowding anything out at this point. ūüôā

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My california poppies are right next to the false daisies and they too are doing really well! ¬†These little guys are really¬†hearty¬†and are the type I can pull out and since they reseed they come back fresh and pretty! ¬†Yellow and orange are not my personal favorite colors, yet I can’t deny that flowers of almost all colors and varieties are so pretty. ūüôā

If you have false daisies or any type of flower you really enjoy please share! ¬†I would love ¬†to read about your flower preferences. ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Posted in Preschools in Vancouver, WA, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning (Marigold)

Standing Interest Areas

Standing interest areas for small spaces is great for young and energetic people! ūüôā

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I created a butterfly easel which has space for two small children to paint together or one alone.¬†On the shelf there is space for one person to color. Many of my students have been “movers”, so standing and creating is something young people do naturally. ¬†Sitting is not always the preferred position when children are in the midst of creating. ¬†

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The branches are from a rhododendron that has seen better days.  I liked the fact that the branches have so many different twists, turns and textures so I added it as an inspiration for a drawing.  

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In these pictures I did not open the paint because I prefer to do that when I actually have little people using the materials. ¬†I just wanted to set up these provocations so I could show how I use them in small spaces and how they can be¬†aesthetically¬†pleasing.¬†I’ve discussed being messy before, but that is very true with paint! ūüôā ¬†So I like to make sure I’ve gone over the clean up routine with the children prior to engaging in a messy lesson. ¬†Once children know what to do they quickly adapt. ¬†Again, patience is really important because getting messy is part of the process and the process is far more important than the final product. ¬†

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Part of the Reggio Inspired approach I use is to document what the children are doing with each provocation. ¬†I like to take pictures and notes so I can understand what each child is thinking of and draw out more information from them during a meeting. ¬†I also like to document the play patterns, interests individuals and the group seem to be displaying through the choices being made. ¬†One thing to remember is that a “Play” based learning environment does not mean a free for all. ¬†All of the interest areas in the classroom are designed for multiple layers of content areas such as, math, science and literacy (drawing, writing and reading). ¬†With a class of children aged three to five their are many levels of learning happening at once and each area needs to draw out the skills that are appropriate for not only the ages of the children but the developmental levels of each. ¬†

Social/ Emotional development is the primary focus of young children and is a life skill that young children will continue to develop into adulthood, yet the basics are really heavily¬†dealt¬†with in preschool.¬†The goal in mind is to help children naturally develop the ability to speak for themselves, have opinions, learn how to understand their peers, gain empathy and be able to work in¬†cooperative¬†groups or¬†individually¬†in a productive way.¬† ¬†I have been fortunate enough through the years to see that young children often times are more experienced and successful with cooperative group projects than older school aged children who are not given a choice and simply placed in groups to work “cooperatively”. ¬†At least in my experience preschool children have naturally formed those groups and have been successful.¬† I believe one key aspect to their success has been an internal interest and shared goal. ¬†Without a shared goal and the willingness to work together those cooperative and productive groups would have had vastly different outcomes. ¬†

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There are more skills and rules to learn when children are older and the goals and interests are often not theirs, which is true in life. ¬†However, I wish children all through their school career had a bit more autonomy when it comes to cooperative project work. ¬†I believe they loose that internal joy that is present when young as they grow older and choices are taken away from them and imposed by adults that have the¬†attitude¬†“I know better.” ¬†Of course this in not always the case and their are many more reasons and ¬†theories followed in schools as children grow older.

Small spaces can be used to the maximum benefit with the needs of the children always kept at the forefront of our minds as Teachers, Parents and Educators. ūüôā

Heidi, Th Marigold School of Early Learning

Posted in Preschools in Vancouver, WA, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning

Reggio Inspired Natural Provocation

I have this tree/ shrub that is very evasive, so I don’t mind clipping off of it now and then. ¬†I also have some lemon mint, so I decided to set up an alphabet and number provocation using those two plants. ūüôā

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I set up paper, small glue cups, paint brushes, pencils, water and the two greens I discussed above. ¬†Now at first you may think the children would¬†immediately¬†just glue or draw what I have set out; well, not so. ¬†Usually when I¬†set up a provocation like this it looses it’s open-ended feel for the children, so they change things to the way they would prefer. ¬†However, there is always one or two children that become a bit more curious about what and why things are set up the way they are. ¬†It doesn’t bother me if the children change the entire provocation. ¬†What is important to me is that the children each take interest and go deeper with their curiosity. ¬†

By going deeper with their curiosity, I mean that I enjoy watching and listening to children discuss their ideas among each other.  I enjoy the fact that they have questions and can share information they know.  Children enter the classroom with knowledge and sharing things they know only encourages and opens up the world of education.  Learning through play and through the valuable interactions among peers is so very important.

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With this particular provocation I took the time to set up both the beginning letters of “mom” and “dad”, yet those letters can also represent the beginning letter in a child’s name. ¬†I also set up the numbers one and two. ¬†The children can either choose to glue the leaves in the formations they are¬†arranged¬†or they can glue them in a different way. ¬†If they want to use the pencils to trace or free draw their own creations based on what they see that is also fine.

Another aspect to this provocation is that the children will notice the tiny vanes (carrying oxygen and nutrients to the plant) in each leaf (lung of a plant). ¬†If the children have had prior crayon rubbing experiences, they will know to put a leaf under their paper and use a pencil to color over the top. ¬†Most often I have introduced this particular concept to the children, yet once in a while a child will remember the experience and share with others, which in my opinion is the best way. ūüôā

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Displaying how letter and number symbols can be created and used with nature gives young minds experience exploring and manipulating two symbols that will become vital skills as they grow older. ¬†Seeing a letter can spark a discussion about names and how we spell names. ¬†It could also spark a discussion about how old each friend is. ¬†There are many directions this provocation can take children’s discussions and interests. ¬†As the Teacher it is my responsibility to make sure I find ways to support each child’s curiosity and make it a real experience we all can learn from. ¬†Reading and writing early can happen when we are able to see and hear the children’s needs and respond to those academic developmental needs in a concrete and play based way.

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Another aspect I wanted to discuss is the texture and scent of both leaves.  One leaf is smooth and long, while the other is shorter and rougher.  And one leaf has a strong lemon-mint smell.  So many discussions and further studies in this one provocation.  Science, number and letter recognition, texture, relation to real life experiences and so much more all from this simple provocation using materials we all have access to.

An important reminder to all that introduce scented plants to children. ¬†Make sure you’ve discussed eatable plants and no-edible plants with ¬†the children prior to their working with those materials. ūüôā

I also wanted to point out that this provocation will become messy and that is great! ¬†Children can learn how to forget themselves while in the process because learning is more important than keeping things super neat. ¬†Once they have finished is when we practice taking care of our materials and making sure the interest area is ready for another friend to explore. ¬†Through a lot of practice children become used to the routines and the environment becomes not only a “third teacher”, but a space in which the children learn how to respect and value. ¬†Patience is the most important thing when I set up all the interest areas. ¬† Being messy is a part of being a curious child and a part of true learning. ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Posted in Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning

Wooden Dolls and Stories

These fun wooden dolls are the modern version of paper dolls. ¬†Or at least that is my opinion. ¬†I love how the clothes come complete with shirts, sweaters, pants, skirts, dresses ¬†and shoes! ¬†And a magnet enables the dolls to wear all these fun outfits! ūüôā¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†school pics 017¬† ¬† ¬†¬†

There are times when a child may play with these dolls alone and most definitely out load for all to hear. ūüôā ¬†I have¬†witnessed¬†many young children jump head first into the¬†imaginary world of their own story telling adventures with no one but the dolls in the area. ¬†When I have been able to listen to the child, I am so pleased with how happy, innocent the ideas are, and how freeing it is to be young and not care if you are “alone”! ūüôā

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When two children come together and collaborate on a story through the dolls it is amazing! ¬†The dialogue and creative imagination that flows from children enjoying their “play” is so rewarding! ¬†Now you may be wondering if this is a gender specific interest of play, but no it is not. ¬†Both girls and boys enjoy story telling through dolls and often dramatize real life events too. ūüôā ¬†

What I like to encourage when I hear great story telling from either one or two young children, is to bring those ideas to the literacy area. ¬† We can go deeper with their ideas and the project may then take longer than one day. ¬†I’ve had young children take a few days with their project or a couple of weeks. ¬†It all depends on the interests of the children involved. ¬†When the stories are encouraged to go on they become more¬†elaborate, thoughtful and entertaining.

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As we all know stories do not always come from children’s minds. ūüôā ¬†I love ¬†the fact that in our time we have so many wonderful children’s books! ¬†Stories that are endless and feed the greed to read! ¬†Take some time to relax with you child or spark a discuss with your students by reading some favorite stories. ¬†You never know what you might learn or be reminded of when you pick up a children’s book.

Please share some of your favorite children’s books! ¬†I would love to see if I’ve read them or if they may be new to me. ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Posted in Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning

Dramatic Play

Dramatic Play is for both boys and girls and their imaginations can be very entertaining and enlightening! ūüôā school pics 014 In the picture above we see a table setting for desert, yet it doesn’t really matter what materials or props you have available for a kitchen area, because young children will use almost anything to represent what they want. ¬†Both boys and girls benefit from having an area that daily living skills can be practiced. ¬†Young children observe their families grocery shopping and cooking all the time, so it is natural that they can easily fall into role play if a kitchen area is set up. When young boys and girls engage in role play they are¬†reenacting the behaviors of their parents, grandparents or¬†guardians¬†while at the grocery store or in the kitchen preparing meals.¬†¬†¬†And if you were wondering, yes, that means they do often times repeat the conversations they overhear. ¬†In their young minds they make sense of whatever the adults around them discuss. ūüôā ¬†So be aware of what you say around your young child because what you discuss may become part of the role play they engage in when in the midst of dramatic play. ¬†Don’t worry, I have always interrupted any dialogue that I found to not be appropriate and¬†steered¬†the children in a different direction by bringing attention back to what they are actually¬†working on together. school pics 012¬† ¬† ¬†¬†Like any other interest area when I am able to observe and listen to the conversations the children are having while in the midst of play, I can gather a lot of information on what interests they each have. ¬†From that information I can plan an “emerging curriculum”. ¬†Whenever children have internal interest in what they are engaging in, learning becomes much more meaningful to them and we can dive deeper into the content areas. ¬†A strong foundation for a school career starts with early learning environments that support a child’s natural curiosities and abilities to engage in multiple projects. ¬†Dramatic play enables young minds to role play any ideas or experiences they have in their day to day lives. ¬†As a Teacher it is my responsibility to provide as many opportunities as I can to extend their interests. school pics 021¬†¬†Whether your school is large or small does not matter because Dramatic Play is a¬†necessity¬†to a well rounded early education that pays close attention to the whole¬†child’s developmental needs. ¬†My preschool is small and only has eight spots each day, yet all areas are designed for multiple ways of expressing dramatic play. ¬†Children can enact certain roles in a kitchen area, or with wooden dolls and with pen and paper through story telling. ¬†Role play is a natural part of dramatization and can represent real life or imaginary experiences. ¬† Through the years I have read that young children’s behavior is similar to “obsessive compulsive” behavior, yet it is a very natural part of human development and is not a “psychological condition” when young children express this behavior. ¬†Repeating the same roles and actions each role requires through a child’s mind is a normal part of childhood development that enable him/ her to practice life skills until they have mastered those skills to their own satisfaction. (I am not a¬†psychologist¬†so if you want to know more about mental health issues in adults and children you will have to seek¬†another source preferably in the medical profession. ūüôā )

Take the time to watch how happy and excited your child or students are each time they engage in dramatic play and take on roles they really enjoy. ¬†You will see the change in their self confidence if they are allowed to express these natural developmental skills. ūüôā

Please share your Dramatic Play spaces and experiences!  I would love to read all about them!

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Posted in Preschools in Vancouver, WA, Preschools The Marigold School of Early Learning

Encouraging Dialogue through Block Play

Blocks are a favorite of almost every young child I’ve taught. ūüôā

school pics 015  Blocks offer a child a gateway to the imagination.  Add a few extra props, such as cars and the imagination explodes with endless adventure!  Suddenly materials objects that may have had only one purpose have now opened up to many different ideas, yet sometimes young minds need a little prompting to get started.

Setting up a provocation like this can entice young minds to question why blocks and cars are set  up together.  Maybe they have yet to explore the two together which gives me the opportunity to ask some questions, find out what ideas the child has in mind and start a dialogue to see what I can help bring to light.

Sometimes all we have to do is ask a child a few questions and they will respond with their own experiences or story ideas. ¬†The story ideas usually take on the form of an endless run-on sentence if actually written down as they say each word. ¬†Or the child may recount the experience or experiences he/ she had with blocks from home or a friends house. ¬†This wonderful play experience could have happened recently or a year ago. ¬†In the mind of a young child three to five sometimes events¬†transcend¬†the normal time line us adults think¬†of. ¬†We must remember a child’s mind is uncluttered and free to have crystal clear thoughts. ūüôā

Either an event that actually took place or a story the child chooses to recount, this is a great time to type or write down those wonderful thoughts the child is willing to share.  When we take the time to listen to a young mind and value his/ her words we are showing the child we value their thoughts and ideas and forming a relationship of mutual respect.

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The more elaborate or creative the structure and use of other play materials, I notice the child can be silent as he/ she is in the mode of creative expression. ¬†And there are times when a child’s words flow freely as he/ she creates and I had better be fast enough to capture all the words spoken or else I will miss important details. ūüôā ¬†Whether the words are describing real life events remembered due to the provocation sparking a memory, or the provocation is a catalyst for an imaginary story, my purpose remains the same. ¬†I am here to be a support, scribe, facilitator and challenger of the mind. ¬†With a child’s permission I can frame those words, take pictures and hang up the memory or story for all to admire and appreciate. ¬†Displaying the child’s ideas with dignity and respect also encourages the child to keep growing and taking an interest in creating more¬†fascinating¬†structures with blocks and integrating other play materials into the projects.

As a Teacher I want to push the children to a state of¬†disequilibrium¬†only to the point at where they can jump to the next¬†level of understanding. ¬†Challenges are meant to be attained. ¬†If the challenge is too difficult, or if there is too great of¬†disequilibrium¬†the child will become frustrated and give up. ¬†We don’t want a young mind¬†to come to that. ¬†Remember in life we have enough challenges that may be too difficult to overcome. We as adults and Teachers do not need to create challenges that are too difficult to attain or else we will have successfully stopped the learning journey. ¬†

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Encouraging dialogue is the best way to continue to show you value your child or students. ¬†So keep the doorway to communication and understanding open. ¬†We want these young minds to grow to be productive and positive influences on our every changing world. ūüôā

Please share your block play or other fun learning experiences! ¬†I would love to read all about them! ūüôā

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning