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! 🙂                                                                                                         school pics 017      

There are times when a child may play with these dolls alone and most definitely out load for all to hear. 🙂  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”! 🙂

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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. 🙂  

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. 🙂  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. 🙂

Heidi, 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! 🙂 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. 🙂  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. 🙂 )

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. 🙂

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

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Encouraging Dialogue through Block Play

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

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. 🙂

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. 🙂  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. 🙂

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

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning



A Rhododendron with Lavender Curly and Delicate Petals

Below is another one of my older rhododendrons. 🙂

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This rhododendron is a lovely lavender just as another one I have.  This one has more curly and delicate petals.  The darker purple are the little buds getting ready to explode! 🙂

Oh, when I clipped it from the bush to bring in for my provocations, I noticed something dark moving!  Sure enough it was a moth that was slumbering inside one of the small flowers towards the center.  I quickly, and I mean quickly ran back outside and shook it out.  I was careful, because my intent was not to hurt the little bug, but to get it off the flower and not in the school! 🙂  And of course, I really am not that big a fan of bugs.

school pics 044  The second picture I took with the flash off.  Sometimes my old camera will think it needs more light, when in fact it may not.  I kind of prefer natural light to a flash when possible.

I had trimmed a good deal off of this plant last year and earlier this year pulled some nasty blackberry vines out from underneath the bush.  Now my poor old Rhododendron is much happier.  If you can tell with these two pictures, the leaves do not have those yellow dots. 🙂

If you have a rhododendron like this one or similar please share!  I would love to see pictures and read your thoughts on these lovely flowering bushes. 🙂


Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Flower, Paint and Crayon Provocation

This may look daunting, but just wait, I will explain. 🙂

school pics 003      I set up a lavender rhododendron, purple and pink tempera paint (washable), two different paint brushes, green and brown crayons, small rectangular paper and finally blue play dough.  I also made sure there were half filled jars of water with rocks at the bottom for weight. (No tipping 🙂 )

school pics 004  The idea behind this is for the children to explore a provocation with a multiple layer of artistic materials.  Due to there being more materials to work with and the table being much more busy than with just one provocation, I like to have a class meeting to inform the children of items they will use.  Then I like to generate a discussion with the children to find out from them what kinds of ideas they have for those materials.

Here are some ideas we came up with:

* making flowers out of the dough and painting the dough.

* counting the round dough and writing the numbers with the crayons and then painting over the crayon.

*painting the flower and using the dough as a name tag or marker for the kind of flower each person paints.  Then using the crayon to add the stem and leaves.

*making flowers out of the dough and using the paint to outline the flowers.  After that adding the stems and leaves with the crayons.  Asking Ms. Heidi if she would write our words for our pictures. 🙂

*Ms. Heidi can write our words for our stories. 🙂

Preschool Tour!

Saturday, May 30th, 2015 will be a Preschool Tour! 🙂

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Please join me at The Marigold School of Early Learning from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for a tour of the preschool!  I would love for you to come and see what this amazing small in-home preschool has to offer your growing child ages three to five years! 🙂

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Please email: marigoldschoolofearlylearning@gmail.com or phone the school number:360-597-6307 if you would prefer to schedule a tour.  For your convenience let me know the days and times that best work for you and I will pencil you in!  

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning 🙂


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The above picture is of my red rhododendron.  About two years ago I trimmed it way back and it came back strong and healthy the next year, however this year it seems to have a problem.  The leaves have a spotted yellow color instead of the nice solid green.  Does anyone else have this issue with rhododendrons?   My rhododendron shrubs are all older plants, yet I’ve always heard they can live super long if they have proper fertilization and care.

The whole bush is blooming strong with really nice large flowers, but it just looks unhealthy to me.  If there is an organic fertilizer that is better for this type of flower please let me know in the comments. 🙂

I would love to have students enjoy the flowers disease free if possible. 🙂



Thank you so much I appreciate any advice on this subject! 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning