The Art and Joy of Giving at TCS

This kind of picture - pretty packages all wrapped and ready to go - is sometimes the image that comes to mind when we think of giving at this time of year. Many of our families will be celebrating some kind of holiday that will include the exchange of gifts. Here at The Children's School, we try to give our students multiple opportunities to experience "giving."

For example, as stated in our mission and values, we experience our values through action, one of which is contributing to the wider world. The Holiday Families Project is one such way in which our whole TCS Family can be involved in contributing to the enjoyment of this season by others. This year we helped 15 children (from 4 different families) receive something they wished for, and something they needed. It is amazing to be working with such a generous group of families. Your kindness is greatly appreciated!!

Another way for our students to experience the "sharing" of giving is with the following:
What you see here are the efforts of the Pre-K Class and several friends from Lunch Bunch. All that lovely candy donated for building Graham Cracker Houses, but which was not used is carefully measured, bagged and tagged by our students, and then...

SHARED!! Although not every student who hleped to bag the candy gets to go on the delivery trip next door to the Interagency School, they do all get to hear the wonderful comments written to them by the recipients of these simple but lovingly prepared packages!

And here is another example of how our young friends from the M-F, MWF and Pre-K classes can experience this holiday. If you find a package such as this one, know that the "shopping" was done with excitement and love as your child "picked out" something JUST FOR YOU, and then carefully wrapped it up using lovely gift wrapping resources of tissue paper and TAPE!
This simple practice of giving is designed to give a child all the fun of looking, choosing, and GIVING a carefully chosen gift for a loved one - without the complicating factors of money, gas, malls, and parking lots! Please enjoy these simple gifts in the spirit they were intended - the spirit of the joy of giving! Happy Holidays, Everyone!


De-Mystifying the "Inset!"

Well, here it is - IN ACTION!! The inset was designed by Dr. Maria Montessori to help children with the small motor skills needed to start writing. The board holds a metal plate with a shape cut out of it. The metal plate fits either on the left or right side. Pieces of paper, cut to fit the size of the metal plate, sit underneath. The child can then use their pencil to trace along the inside edges of the metal cut-out. At The Children's School, once the shape has been traced, they can then put the completed "page" into a booklet entitled "My Inset Book."

Repeated opportunities to work with the insets will result in practice making the shapes, not only by tracing the inside of the cut-out, but also by using just the blue shape (see above) and tracing the outside. This increased skill in tracing a shape translates into increased control of the pencil (or any writing implement), which in turn increases the child's success with writing letters and numbers.

We will also have children, like our friend above, who will choose to color in their shapes. He has colored in his triangle on the left, and a circle on the right. Eventually, some children will use their traced shape to create a picture - a rectangle may become a door; a quatrefoil, a flower. I found my daughter's inset book the other day. She's 9 now. Wonderful memories!


Snow + Wind = No School

Due to the unusual weather we experienced today, and the continued bad weather expected tomorrow, The Children's School will be closed until Monday November 29th.
Just so we're clear, there's "s'no" school tomorrow!! (Ha! ha!)

Snow Threatens - No School Today!

Due to the threat of snow today, The Children's School is CLOSED TODAY. Enjoy the day off!


Prek Thanksgiving Ideas

We read a book that prompted us to say what we were thankful for at Thanksgiving and which games we might want to play at Thanksgiving.
Amit-Chutes and Ladders
Leah-Little sister,Inky
Grace-Dog- Bodie
Caleb-Dog- Maggie
Skye-Cat- Molly
Andrew-Brothers -Ben and Will
Kate-Mommy and Daddy
Teacher Cinda- All of these wonderful children and my family


Leah,Andrew-Hide and Seek
Skye,Kate, Emi,Gavin-Duck Duck Goose
Lily-Clock Game
Teacher Cinda-Speed Scrabble
Have a great holiday...
Teacher Cinda


And What Are YOU Thankful For?

When Mrs. Banks asked her students what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving season, this is what they shared:

Teodosa: Crabs at the beach. Grandma's pumpkin pie.
Max: Baby Cousin. My mom.
Addison: The playground.
Julian: Rocketships.
Mielle: Mom takes me to the park.
Anishka: Riding a train with Mom & Dad & Nishan & Grandpa & Grandma. Pretend baby cousin.
Maddie: Mommy. Little babies.
Frank: Ride "Thomas" with Daddy. Mommy.
Amin: Train station. Spiders.
Jack: Mommy.
Clara: Being home.
Christopher: Turkey.


The Number Board - A Classic

How many times have you heard the phrase "Math is a language of its own?" You can really get a sense of this when watching a child try to put the symbols of numbers together with the act of using the names of these symbols while we are counting. We have to get to a place where we know that the counting of objects has symbols associated with those sounds we make while doing the counting. One way to start this process is with a number board. It's akin to learning to speak our first language, and then going to school to learn to read and write that language.

Here is an example of using the Number Board.

This is my friend Dominic's work. Dominic was presented with a blue board with a grid on it, a container with printed tiles of the numbers 1-20 in it, and a board with the numbers 1-100 printed on it in a grid. He was then challenged to recreate the printed board by searching through the tiles and start putting those tiles on the blue board in the same order he saw the numbers on the printed board.
As you can see, Dominic has navigated his way successfully, not only through the first container of tiles numbered 1-20, but the second container of 21-40, and had just emptied his 3rd container out when I snapped the picture. To assist Dominic in keeping track of where he is, Teacher Cinda has taped a paper to the printed board underneath the last row of numbers from this particular container.
So what is the teacher's role in this task? Well, that varies. For our friend Dominic, taping the paper in the correct spot is just about it. He is really quite self-sufficient and self-motivated in this task! We suspect Dominic may be completing the board to the number 100 relatively soon!
For others, just working with 10 tiles may be a challenge. The teacher may sit and hold a pencil or finger on the number the child is searching for, and continue to encourage that child to "not give up" until they have chosen a tile they feel is the one they are looking for. This reserved encouragement is much harder than it sounds. For many of us, the instinct is to "help" by pointing out the number, or maybe correcting the positioning of the number once the child has placed it on the board is simply too much to restrain from doing. But the magic of the Montessori method taught here at The Children's School is to applaud the work the child puts into the task - THEIR WORK, not the teachers. If it is not perfect, no worries. That child has shown focus and willingness for the time they have put into the task, and that is to be applauded. They will get another opportunity with the number board or any other Montessori task, and they will have positive memories of doing a good job, and the next time they will do more! It's a beautiful thing!

Silver Polishing Update!!

I am happy to report that Silver Polishing is alive and well at The Children's School. Our friends in the M-F morning class have been working with this practical experience for a week, and now MWF is having a turn. Some of them have shown not only curiosity at the task, but a real interest in producing a "product!" So if you are doing some holiday preparing and find a family heirloom that may need a little love and attention, teachers tell me that Teodosa, Addison, Christopher, Anishka, Maddy, Julian, Max and Mielle from M-F, and Amanda, Matthew and Leah from MWF have all shown they know how to use their elbow grease with this one!!


How DO you peel a carrot?

Here is how we have this Practical Life experience at The Children's School:

A tray with newspaper, a carrot, and a peeler is presented to a child. A short demonstration of peeling -- holding the carrot at one end with one hand, while in the other the peeler is placed at that same end of the carrot, and then drawn down the carrot, AWAY from the peeler's body, creating a "peel" of carrot.

Now the tray is placed in front of the child and with as little interference as possible, that child is encouraged and allowed to create as many peeled strips as he or she would like. Those peelings may be placed on a tray and offered to classmates, much like we do with bread after bread cutting.

Or for a lovely twist on things, the individual peels may be put on a piece of paper next to a ruler to be "measured."

The obvious purpose of carrot peeling is to learn how to peel a carrot, but there's more going on than that. We are learning about sharp tools, and their proper use. We are having the opportunity to watch and repeat a series of actions (instructions). With serving, we learn about community - sharing, offering what we have to others, how to say "Would you like ..." or "Yes, thank you;" or even "No. Thank you." When you add in the ruler, you offer the opportunity for yet another seemingly simple tool - but with all of those confusing numbers on it! So here is a chance for not only seeing a ruler, and one of its uses, but also the exercise and opportunity for comparison. Even if the idea of "measuring" a peel with a ruler is too complicated, very often just the act of comparing one peel to another is great fun!

So, does this mean we have created an army of vegetable peeling helpers just in time for Thanksgiving? Probably not. Take a look at these carrots --

We do not stress the need to stop peeling here at school, which may be evident from the examples included above. But if you would like to offer any of your holiday family and friends a plate of peels, you know who you can have do the job!


Silver Polishing - A Lost Art??

Here at The Children's School, our Montessori "magic" can generally be broken down to fall into one of 4 categories: Sensory (colors and shapes), Math (starting with number recognition), Language (starting with letter recognition), and Practical Life. For many of us, the Practical Life piece creates some of our sweeter moments here -- watching a child arrange flowers for the first time, serve bread to a friend, or carry a tray with soapy water to the table for a friend and then wash and dry it. These are all tasks that we as adults rarely think twice about, and all to often when we are at home, our desire to let our children participate brings up thoughts of spilled water, broken vases or other "inconveniences" we would rather skip, so we resort to "just doing it ourselves." Here at school, though, under the leadership of Mrs. McArthur and Mrs. Banks, we all work very hard at providing child-friendly opportunities for these practical skills.

With that introduction, meet the practical life task of SILVER POLISHING!! Children experience a sense of accomplishment and joy when the silver polish is rubbed on, obscuring the image in the silver, and through their own hard work, see that same object take on a real shine and brilliance.

If you have something at home that could use a little "love rub," this would be an excellent time to bring it in for our students in the Silver Polishing Shop to love your item to its greatest advantage.


TCS Celebrates Diwali

Thanks to the members of one of our families, we are learning about Diwali - a holiday celebrated this time of year (determined by the lunar calendar) as a celebration of light, good over evil , an uplifting of spiritual darkness (according to Wikipedia). Diwali can be literally translated to "row of lights."

Some of the items that one would see during this celebration have become parts of the latest Take Away Game!! Oh, you never played Take Away?! Ask your 3 or 4 year old (or a teacher); it is very fun. In the Diwali Take Away you will have a greeting card, clay pots, sweets, sparklers, containers with kumkum and tumeric (red and yellow colors, symbolizing blessings), and incense!

During this time of year, when days are ever shorter, and darkness is quicker to find us, finding an excuse to celebrate light is a blessing in itself. Thank you so for sharing this wonderful celebration!


We Appreciate Moms Groups!!

All of us who work and love and support The Children's School owe a great big "Thank You!" to all of the TCS parents who take the time to post to their local Moms Groups to share their experiences of our program. In the last year or so, we have received approximately 40% of inquiries (email or phone call) in response to articles written by parents who have taken the time to write a post for their group. This kind of positive "chatting" about our little program - especially in times when our resources are being stretched to their absolute limit - is simply priceless. Your support through this modern form of support community is so very deeply appreciated. I hereby send out a virtual hug of gratitude to all my helpful writers - those I know, and those I may not know about!! Thank you. (hug) Thank you. (hug) Thank you. (hug)


The Children's School Cafe-Open Everyday!

We have a new and interesting cafe on our playground! Lots of participants are working together there.
Ji-Hoon-peanut butter chocolate coffee
Caleb -coffee, chocolate ice cream,chocolate cake
Teodosa-salmon fish soup, samalo coffee
Maddie- strawberry cake, hot chocolate
Sadie-frosting pudding
Gavin- chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and cookies, sweet potato fries, castle cake
Kate- chocolate cake
Lander- coffee, cheerios, hot chocolate
Evan-chocolate pie, small castle cake, ice cream
Leah-blueberry muffins
Adrienne and Emilia- 10 birthday cakes

We like to practice asking "Won't you have a cookie?", please and thank you... carrying the foods with grace, balance, and confidence. It is such an honor to be served also!


A Musical Note...

We have a musical community here at our school and every once in a while there may be a note regarding upcoming musical events that might be fun to experience. Teacher Cinda is a singer in Orchestra Seattle Seattle Chamber Singers(www.osscs.org) and has been since 1993. She likes to sing very much. This Sunday there will be a concert at 3pm at the First Free Methodist Church at 3rd and Dravus St across from SPU .
Here is a Facebook address: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Orchestra-Seattle-and-Seattle-Chamber-Singers-OSSCS/110098262364476?ref=ts (this is an address that will show you about a young violist who will start our show!) We will play Handel's Royal Fireworks music and the choir will sing in the second half after intermission. If you are feeling inspired to listen to this music...come and see us. It can be very exciting!
Teacher Cinda


Take Apart Project

Hi Families of The Children's School!
This week the Pre-K class is doing the take apart project. We are learning to use tools, how things get put together, and generally how amazing the inside of these items look!
We can use more old items that are no longer in use...corn poppers, phones, coffee makers, radios, toasters etc.
This is great fun with Teacher BJ and
Dad Josh(James and Gavin's )...thanks so much for all your time and encouragement with the take apart experience!
Teacher Cinda



Hello Families! As you may already know, Nickelsville has moved onto a parking lot owned by the the congregation of UCUCC, the building we are located in. This lot is located behind our building on the corner of 15th Ave. NE and NE 45th St. They moved in on August 14th, 2010, and will be leaving no later than Nov. 14, 2010. We understand that there may be some concerns regarding this arrangement, and would like to address them to the best of our abilities.

Nickelsville came to UCUCC first in the fall/winter of 2008. At that time, we held a parent meeting at TCS to learn as much as we could. The minutes of that meeting are provided in a link on the right side of this page (Parent Lunch Bunch 12/12/08). If you're curious, please take some time to read this document and the nickelsville website. There will also be information available at your orientation on September 1.

If you have any questions, or need more information, please contact us at the school. We will do all we can to make this a positive experience for everyone.


It is with great sadness and also with joyful memories, that we mourn the loss of our teacher, friend, and mentor, Elaine Jaques.

Elaine passed away August 7th, after a long battle with cancer. Elaine will be missed by all of us. Her contributions to The Children's School for the past 5 years are too numerous to count.

Elaine was known for creating rituals for our children. An especially sweet memory is how she helped Joseph transition as his mother was leaving him. She would walk him up the hall toward a special treat, crackers. Maybe this sounds like a simple thing, but it is the kind of intuitive action that eased the day for both child and mother. Elaine knew and could creatively respond to the needs of those children in her care.

In safety preparedness, Elaine wanted to ease the potential trauma for students, so she started the ritual of going camping. After any fire drill, Elaine would spread a blanket, turn on a lantern, give the children each a marshmallow, and lead them in camp songs. This became a fun activity for the children and if ever there was a crisis or power outage, the kids would know what to do. Brilliant!

Science projects were a favorite for Elaine, and she helped the children do gardening activities, as well as keeping a science journal. She organized our library, to the great delight of all the teachers and staff. Elaine made board games for our activities. She made a safety board game, one for the Heifer Project, which helped bring these things to life for the children.

Elaine was in charge of teacher training and development. She was a mentor and inspiration to the new teachers and even to experienced teachers. She helped us define our own goals as teachers, and to collectively vision a path of growth for our school.

During Elaine's long illness, she remained enthusiastic and dedicated to her role at The Children's School. Elaine loved our children, and wanted to remain with them for as long as possible. Toward the end of her illness, Elaine was still busy planning her actvities for the coming year. Elaine's two loves in her life were her passion for teaching and her strong love and connection with her family. She was extraordinarily proud of her children, Carolyn, Owen, and Sheena, and happily (and frequently) shared photographs and stories of her grandson, Brendan. She was surrounded by love and gave that love freely. We, and especially the children in her care, were the recipients of her creativity, her intelligence, her joyfull personality, and her authentic love of others. We all miss her so dearly. We have been touched by her presence and we are all better for having known her.

We will all remember Elaine at her memorial service, on August 18th, 3pm at the University Congregational United Church of Christ. All are welcome, especially children. Contributions in Elaine's memory can be made to:

The Children's School


UCUCC Seabeck Family Camp (Contributions to this program can be made to UCUCC with SEABECK/Elaine Jaques - in the memo line) Send to: 4515 16th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105


The Chicken Report from Teacher Cinda's Flock

It has been blustery for us chickens lately. Wind has blown down a few branches and we like to hide in the bushes. This is a good place for us since sometimes an eagle has been seen in the neighborhood!
Hamburg(small black and white one) and Little Red Hen have each laid 5 eggs in the last 5 days.
Buff laid a pale pink egg today (first in a while for her).
Silverlace(big black and white) hasn't laid lately.

We like our yard, our food, and we like to keep our shells strong by eating crushed shell from the children's school! Thanks!
The Ladies



The letters for our Scholarship Fund went out several weeks ago, and so far we have received $1250! Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who have given so generously.

If you know of anyone that you would like to receive this letter, please contact us at school and we will send it right along.

See you at school!

And The Medal Goes To...

For the past several weeks, there have been many discussions at school about the Olympics. There were Olympic events in the hallway for our morning friends and some outdoor sports in the afternoon. Teacher Cinda's class painted the Olympic rings. We even had our own medal ceremonies! Bobsled was very popular this year along with skiing and figure skating. Many thanks to Mrs. Banks for designing and organizing the ceremonies (there was a podium and music and everything!). And to Teacher BJ who did all the event coordination for our Pre-K friends.


Mrs. McArthur and Griffin were working together one day tracing our dinosaur cut-outs. Now Griffin is one of our students who does know how to take his work to "the next level," so to speak. So Mrs. McArthur and he proceeded to fill in their outlines with some dinosaur personality! Griffin decorated with a polka dot bow tie, and Mrs. McArthur with a pair of shoes that many of us wish we could purchase for ourselves. Ask Griffin why his dinosaur has a hat on and he will tell you that the clipboard was holding onto the dinosaur ( so that he couldn't finish drawing the line all the way around), so he put a hat on him to cover up the top of his head! Now it just so happened that Mrs. Coleman discovered Mrs. McArthur's dinosaur at lunch bunch, and found the picture very entertaining - but there was no name on there. When I asked my Lunch Bunch friends who was responsible for this work, it was clear that Griffin knew the answer, but just couldn't recall her name right in that instant without help. (Mrs. Banks came along and filled in the blank.) What he could do, was to show Mrs. Coleman HIS version of this exercise. Well, Mrs. Coleman was stunned with the detail - thrilled - and very convinced this was a "blog moment." So Mrs. Coleman went to find the camera. "Now Griffin, just hold the clipboard in front of you. I have to tell you, Griffin, that I cannot take a picture of your face, because we do not put pictures of our kids on the blog." this explanation was included because Mrs. Coleman was sure that Griffin would notice the camera was not pointed at his face, and so an explanation for this positioning was included for Griffin's benefit. Griffin had his own interpretation of this statement, as his picture clearly shows. As for Mrs. McArthur's picture -- the staff thought it only fair!

Good job Mrs. McArthur and Griffin!
What a fabulous team!!


There are few pure joys in this world, but working
with tape should clearly be counted as one of
them. When given the freedom (NO LIMITS) of tape
and paper strips, Emory from the MWF classroom
created the following! BEHOLD!!!!


If I Had a Hammer!

When we returned from our vacation, the Pre-K class did a woodworking project with Teacher Bj. It was so exciting to see them working so carefully with hammers, nails, and drills! Here's a list of the things that they built.

Kevin: Monster Making Machine
Lewis: My Home
Bee: My House
Holly: A Bouncy Place
Charlotte: Where My Dad Works
Jacob: Lava Study Station
Max: A Jet With a Ball
Jude: Bunny Rabbit Kitchen
Carly: A Hawaii Airplane
Paige: The Restaurant
Julian: Scooby Doo and the Tar Monster
Karsten: Tractor
Wyatt: My House (A Science Lab)

They worked so hard, and put so much imagination into their designs. Thank you, Teacher Bj, for a wonderful experience!