Sunday, December 29, 2019

December’s Paper Pumpkin - Outside the Box

Playing more with the December Paper Pumpkin this time playing outside the box!

The great thing about the Paper Pumpkin is that while a great resources for the 'beginner' crafter as it comes with everything you need to create stunning projects is inside the box they are also a lot of fun for the 'avid' crafter ... like myself to play. When I am in rush for quick and simple card I can play within the box and just follow the instructions but when I am looking to PLAY I can have some fun playing outside the box by adding some of my own stamps or accessories from my stash to the mix. This allows me to 'stretch' my box making far more projects than the 12 that typically come with it

So the other day I played and made the 3 projects that come with the instructions and today I used 3 of the card fronts and adhered them to a whisper white card stock base and than played with some of my Sale-abration Stamps.

The first card showcases the Happy Birthday to You Stamp set from the Sale-abration set shown here ... earn it free with a $60 order during Sale-abration. And the great thing is that you can choose to purchases prepaid Subscriptions towards Paper Pumpkin and than choose a Saleabration reward with your spending so you can have additional stamp sets or paper to stretch your box too!

I just LOVE the use of white on white embossing powder shown in my Celebrate words to create a unique texture to the background. I used a strip of the yellow polka dot from my Paper pumpkin as well as some gold foil and rhinestome embellishments for a pop of color behind my Birthday cake which is colored with the Stampin' Blends. I cut around the Birthday cake image by hand - but keep an eye out in February for the release of coordinating dies for this stamp set! The sentiment is embossed with white embossing powder on black paper and fussy cut as well. .

 The next card features the Lily Pad Stamp and coordinating dies that you can earn via Sale-abration as well.

For this design mounted the two strips of floral patterned card front from my Paper Pumpkin on a sheet of Old Olive card stock adhered on a whisper white card base. For a frugal tip - before I mounted the patterned paper I cut a flower, pedal and lily pad from the coordinating dies and than the floral paper covers the wholes these cuts left so you cannot tell as the only thing you see of that paper is the 'edging'!

I also used my leaf punch to cut some additional gold embellishments off the edges of the embellishment sheet in my Paper Pumpkin as well as made use of the little scrap of gold paper that the spiral embellishment left behind and stamped it with Stazon ink to make it into a shiny lily pad - waste not want not!


The final card was inspired with the Painted Poppies bundle from the new mini catalog.

I just love this bundle in fact I bought the whole suite cause I loved it so much ... all coordinating stamps, dies, paper and embellishments - I am excited to make many more projects with it!  

For this card I again mounted a portion of the front of the patterned paper from my Paper Pumpkin and some gold embellishments onto the front of a white card base. I stamped the poppies in Memento Black ink and colored with the Stampin' Blends and popped up on front. I stamped a coordinating envelope from my stash because no envelope should go out naked!  

I saved all the scraps from the 3 cards I cut apart hee from my Paper Pumpkin and did not use in these particular projects and plan to use them to make a Scrapbook layout in next few days to show just how far you can 'stretch' the Paper Pumpkin outside the box - so come back to check out how that project turns out! 

Happy Stampin'

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life

 *this post contains affiliate links

Friday, December 27, 2019

December’s Paper Pumpkin - Inside the Box

I love waiting for the Paper Pumpkin to arrive ... it is like being a child again where you buy those 'surprise bags' of candy at the store and anxious await until you can get some place to open it up and dump it out and see what goodies you landed! Decembers did not disappoint - you can see here how the kits come in the mail, contents and this months quick stunning designs coming together!

 Card 1
Card 2

Card 3

Quick easy and stunning - perfectly relaxing way to spend tie in the craftroom!

 If you would like to check out the Paper Pumpkin starting January I will be offering Paper Pumpkin classes! A great way to 'try before you subscribe' as well as for subscribers to make their Paper Pumpkin more 'social' by creating kits together!

Happy Stampin'

Live Well, Laugh Often Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life

*this post contains affiliate links

Monday, November 18, 2019

Give the Gift of a Paper Pumpkin this season

Christmas is just around the corner and the Paper Pumpkin makes the perfect gift to either yourself or the paper crafter in your life! Who does not love the option of HAPPY MAIL!

I love the Paper pumpkin kits because they remind me of my favorite childhood past time of saving up my loose change I found to buy the 'surprise candy bags' at the store. You know the ones where you bought one but did not know what was going to be in it until it came - the Paper Pumpkin kits are like that - they arrive monthly and contain a surprise paper crafting invitation for you to create and share with others. From home to decor to seasonal gifts to all occasion greeting cards and more - it is always something beautiful when your done!

December's Paper Pumpkin sneak teaser has something for everyone from the beginner to the avid stamper and features 12 cards for your to design and comes with everything you will need from the stamp, ink, embellishments and coordinating envelopes! All you need is adhesive and scissors. 
You can subscribe yourself or you can buy prepaid subscription gift cards for loved ones! No long term commitments either. If your life gets busy and you need a break from your monthly crafting box you can also choose to start and stop your delivery each month by logging in and choose to skip this month before the 10th when they ship them out or you can even order extra if your having company visit and want to share your crafting with others rather than miss out.

Subscribe to have the Paper Pumpkin delivered to you here:

To purchase prepaid subscription cards please visit my online website choose the shop now button and than the Paper Pumpkin link on the side bar will take you to subscription options!

Here is a little sampling of November's current paper pumpkin that subscribers are enjoying right now! 

A demonstrator I am here to help if you have any questions about your Paper Pumpkin subscription and can introduce you to other products and techniques. I can be involved as much or as little as you would like in order to help you have the best creative experience possible. 
As of January I will be adding the option of a Paper Pumpkin 'kit class' to the calendar at the end of the month - leaning towards a Sunday afternoon  - so for those who want to try the paper pumpkin out but are not sure they are wanting to 'subscribe' they can secure a spot in the class by sending me an EMT for $40 for the class fee BEFORE the 8th of the month.  Class fee includes all the contents of their own paper pumpkin kit plus there will be some 'add ons' from me during the class to show how class participants how they can create just with their kit but also use our other products with their kit to stretch its use and creativity. 

If you are interested in joining us around the crafting table the spaces are limited to RSVP early! 
Happy Stampin'
Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Are our kindergarten robbing our children of creativity?

As an educator and an artist seeing posters like this in a KINDERGARTEN room breaks my heart ... this was shared by a parent in a group on Facebook with a parent questioning her child's kindergarten teachers use of this chart and sending home coloring and art work with 'star' ratings on it based on following these 'rules'.

 In my opinion when we draw/colour/paint we follow our heart and do what we are feeling there is no right or wrong with art ... it is not something that should be pass or fail or 'graded' with stars unless one is older and taking a professional 'art class' and has already developed a strong sense of artistic expression and is looking to take a class that critics and takes their art to next level professionalism!

Staying “in the lines” is developmental skill and children will be motivated to do that and increase their fine motor skills on their own with practice there is no need for “shaming” they by awarding star points to their efforts! There if you've ever watch a sun rise or set there is not 'right' color for the sun it contains ALL the color spectrum's!

Sometimes I am feeling angry and I just want to scribble or throw my paint around when doing art and that’s OK it’s still art and self expression!

All preschool and primary school teachers should be required to read this story during their teaching practicum before being thrust into practice and REMEMBER what it means to explore ones creativity in mediums like colouring and drawing and painting! 

While I totally get that in certain circumstances you need to be able to have your pupils show understanding of 'true' when it comes to representational depiction or retelling of a story it is not developmentally appropriate curriculum to expect all children do this and 'grade' them with stars accordingly in KINDERGARTEN - what a way to turn children off learning as well as artistic expression when we use ART mediums to test this. 

It is one thing to have a 'goal' for children to be able to color within the lines, to show their understanding of colors and to follow directions when creating HOWEVER it is another to 'test' them on it or publicly make charts that shame them if they cannot yet do it.

As educators I also get that FAR TOO OFTEN our administration sets out expectations for us that are not 'realistic' however I guess I am one of those educators who would do my damnedest to 'educate the admin on developmentally appropriate practice' verses embracing what I know to potentially do more damage than benefit to children in my charge ... so sure I am going to encourage children to practice fine motor skills so they can master staying in the lines and sure I want them demonstrating understanding retelling of popular stories but there are BETTER ways that THIS style chart! 

When we KNOW better we should DO better ... it is time for educators to look past the way we 'used' to do things like these behaviour reward charts and focus on teaching to the child, meeting them were they are at and inspiring them to be life long learners who want to build on their skills and knowledge because it fills their internal cup not for some 'external reward or fear of punishment' system! I challenge us all when we come across these 'old school' practices to question and dig deeper about is there a 'better' way to seek the outcomes we need to meet admins demands while still keeping children's love of learning and creative expression alive? 

I love this second imagery someone shared in response to this first one  in the comments - kudos to the original teacher hopefully more will follow suit! Be the change in education we want to see!


Be inspired
Live well, Laugh often, Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life  

Saturday, September 28, 2019

So what if Greta Thunberg ... insert the numerous rebuttles used to discredit her

So many claims going around social media lately trying to discredit Greta Thunbergs work and message!
photo credit BBC

For argument sake I will asl the following .... so what?

So what if she is being paid in some manner to speak?

So what if she is being coached by experts in the field she is speaking about to ensure she is speaking ACCURATE FACTS backed by SCIENCE? 

So what if she practices her speeches so she can give them with flow and remain composed?

So what if she is 16 years old and not in school? 

So what if her parents are supporting and encouraging her passion?

So what if she has Asperger's? 

Show me one adult politician on a campaign trail who is NOT being paid to give their speech to the masses - yet we listen to them.
Being paid does not invalidate ones work or the facts or science behind what they are speaking about!
If that is true than we should be expecting ALL our politicians to work for FREE when they are out campaigning and spreading their messages of why should vote for them ... they should not be being paid one penny by anyone to fund their camppaigns including lobbyists, unions and big corps via their huge 'campaign donations' to be able to travel the country speaking about how they plan to change our lives for the better ... they should fund that out of their own pockets that way there is no concern that they are being paid to say something verses actually passionately believing what they are spewing based on their own research and values.

Show me one politician who has not been coached to say what they do during those speeches - and typically by those paying them via campaign donations in order to help them 'win' the election so that they can continue to curry their favor with the policies they make.

Show me one politician who does not either practice their speeches so they flow by heart OR uses a teleprompter to read them if they loose their place or BOTH? Show me one person who can stand in front of the nation and WING an eloquent speech that supports statistics and laws and research findings!

Show me that 'being in school' at her age would be supporting her to learn any BETTER the than she is in her travels of the world, networking with so many amazing leaders and experts and meeting so many people in different cultures? Speaking publicly about something she is passionate about and making a difference.
As an early childhood educator it is my role to encourage children to peruse their interests, to realize that 'learning' occurs best when children are passionate about their topic and when they can embrace their topic hands on with all their senses. We are taught that our role as educators we are to be researchers and collaborators along side our students and sometimes that means taking children 'outside the formal classroom' ... and this is what Greta Thunbergs parents are doing - allowing her to engage in her learning hands on, in a meaningful way pursuing something that she is passionate about. All the 'academic' lessons she would learn in a traditional classroom are MORE than being covered during her travels around the world - the world IS her classroom! I honestly wish that MORE children had a chance to get out of the traditional classroom and learn hands on doing what they love! What she is learning now will stay with long after any 'assignment' she did when in school!

Show me any parent who can not financially support their child in a way that allows them to thrive and excel and make a difference in the world because they do not have the means and I bet money you will see parent who WISHES they could be in Greta's parents position to be able to support their child in such a manner and at such a young age. Those who are naysayers are just jealous and trying to use Greta's parents affluence against them turning it in to a negative! People who have money in today's world can not win in the court of public opinion because if they do nothing with they are hated for being greedy self centred egocentrics but yet if they use their wealth for doing good than they are hated for having some sort of ulterior motive verses applauded for using their wealth to do something good in the world!

Show how any other activist with a disability is discredited for attempting to make a difference in the world by sharing something they are passionate about ... when Terry Fox ran across country to raise awareness for cancer no one said 'but he only has one leg'? When Michael J Fox gives a speech about Parkinson no one says 'but he stutters' .... why is it ok to attack this activist because she has Autism? She shes her autism as gift not a disability - it allows her to see outside the box, to have a fixated passion about something she believes strongly in and to not be affected by the 'haters' in the world the way your average 16 year old girl would be! Kudos to her and others like her who have the courage to take on the big boys on the global stage and hold them accountable at such a young age!

IMO the only difference is that Greta is not seeking POLITICIAN POWER through her speeches like the politicians she is speaking to on the national stage right now! She is seeking to encourage those who lead via political power to CHANGE the way they are doing things. to open their minds and listen to the research and statistics and stop 'denying' science in face of all the propaganda from big oil and other vested parties in the status quo ... she is sharing statistical information, science and facts with them to encourage them to stop doing the bidding of those large corporations that put these politicians in power whose profits are at risk because for years they have engaged in practices that are putting the climate and humans at risk of extinction! She is encouraging them to do RIGHT by the planet and those who inhabit it at a time when she should be attending prom and worried about what color dress she should wear not worrying about what kind of planet will be here in 20 or 30 years from now! She is asking for nothing in return - her and her family seem to be all about giving BACK to the planet!

Politicians have no business throwing accusations around 'motive' at this poor teen and those who do feel the need to take a long hard look in the mirror about why they are so afraid of a 16 year olds voice that they need to discredit her!

We need to BE THE CHANGE!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Annual Learning is Growing Conference

Learning is Growing Conference is held annually each Fall in Stratford
This year's theme for the conference is FUNdamentals. Participants were invited to come and explore our “inner child” and reflect upon the FUNdamentals in teaching children. To reflect on what attitudes we hold about the value of fun, why is fun necessary, and how does having fun impact learning?

Key note speaker was Marc Battle who spoke to us about reflecting on why childcare programs seem to place so much focus on 'measurable' indicators of success such as checklists for the ability to recite the ABC, 123 and matching of colours. That despite years and years of existances childcare programs today seem to be more mediocre than ever before and places of stress and discomfort for both children and staff.  To reflect on the reality that we seem to see the lack of value in the most important part of child development and why we chose to enter the field in the first place - our desire to have fun with children and to support the healthy development of the whole child in regards to self while instilling a sense of a joy of learning and having FUN in their early years!

My morning workshop a Beginner's Mind: Finding Fun and Zen

My afternoon workshop Waterfalls in your Playground 

Have an amazing day

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life

Monday, September 2, 2019

Why do ECE engage in Continued Professional Learning?

Read more on CPL  here

Reading lots of comments in groups on FB lately that seem to imply that many believe that the College had choice in the current reality of the CPL mandate for members - the reality is that in 2007 the Liberal government made it LAW for the College to be developed in order to be a stepping stone for the implementation of Full Day Kindergarten and having ECE working along side Teachers in the school board. Part of that law included them ensuring members engaged in ongoing professional learning.

For almost a decade the College felt that doing that on on voluntary basis was enough to meet their mandate. 

In 2016 the Liberal government changed it from a blanket 'members must engage in continued professional development with a voluntary process for documenting that to it being LEGALLY REQUIRED for the College to ensure we are all engaging in CPL and that the college has a measurable manner in which to ensure that members are accountable to the pubic that it is being done. The program we have now and all the mandated steps of it are laid out in the regulations by the government - it is no longer just a College policy but LAW that we engage in this process! 

And members should be aware if you are clicking YES in your renewal box and than are sharing on public social media in groups like this that you are actually NOT doing you CPL and refuse to and what not than sadly you are admitting publicly to not only in violation of the Code of Conduct for ECE but you are admitting to breaking the law and with that submission of your renewal form you are basically committing fraud by way of lying on a legal document. 

This is the Internet and sadly there is nothing to prevent employees of the College from being one of the 9,000 plus members of this particular group. Employees of the College who may be reading your public declarations of defiance to both the Code of Conduct and the Law. So many members of this group seem to believe that the College is a power tripping money grab out to get them and if that is true reality is there is nothing to prevent them from using that public declaration to figure out what name you are registered under with the College and AUDIT every member who is claiming not participate - and even if you submit on time than you are in the difficult position of having to explain to the College disciplinary panel why you were lying to other professionals about ones CPL conduct ... which is a catch 22 in regards to professional misconduct

Attaching the link to the law so no one feels they need to just take my word for it being legally binding requirement to participate in the CPL.

Also wanted to add because I am sure people will comment with the 'but teachers do not have to do this' .... my guess is that the challenge with a voluntary process that the College initially had as a policy is that it is hard to show accountability to the public and government
 that as ECE we are engaging in it. Reality is that unlike teachers, who are also required to engage in continual professional learning to be members of their College, most RECE are not public employees with one employer mandate in regards to professional development that is also inline with the OCT.
We need to STOP comparing ourselves to TEACHERS because while we do similar roles we are uniquely different in so many ways! The biggest one being this one that they are public servants with one collective employer - The Ministry of Education and the division of the School Board and most RECE are NOT!

RECE are employed in a wide range of settings with a wide range of employers all who have very different supports in place for professional development and different funding models - so my guess is that our CPL is unique in that the College needed a process were they would be able to tell the public that YES all RECE regardless of where they are employed are engaging in CPL so here is the process they ALL undergo to document their CPL and than members are randomly audited to ensure they are doing it and disciplinary processes in place for those who are not engaging in the process.

Personally I think the College has great potential to improve the quality of work environment for early childhood educators, raising the bar and standards of our profession and therefore better serving the public. 

I have engaged in continuous professional learning for my entire 30 year career in one manner or another and I actually love the idea that with the development of the College we now how a process that ALL RECE can engage in that has the same standard process while also allowing it to be flexible to each educators journey.

Change is hard. It brings fear of the unknown for many but change can also be GOOD for us. Without change there would be no butterflies! 

Have an amazing day

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Trauma and the Brain

This is an interesting article I came across today called the Bear in the Classroom - Trauma Informed Children. 

I have been increasingly interested in the role of trauma on the brain specially in the early years as I look back over the past 30 years as an education and ask myself 'what has change in the early years to see such a paradigm shift in the mental health diagnosis's in children SO YOUNG ... when I was a new grad in a childcare centre of 100 children it was rare to have ONE child enrolled that presented with special needs of any kind. Today when you talk to educators over 2/3 of the children will present with special needs and of those a 1/3 will have some sort of diagnosis and the others will just be labelled as 'challenging behaviours'. So why are so many children today that labelled as autistic or ADHD or OCD and the list goes on and on of things that were virtually unheard of in the children we served back in the 80's and early 90's? What has changed? 

The more I read about childhood traumas and the impact on the brain the more I realize that a lot of behaviors we label as challenging or attribute to Autism spectrum or ADHD or defiance disorder is actually more likely if we delved more deeply into the behavior and life experience of the child linked back to trauma and a brain that lives in a constant state of fight flight or freeze because it sees a 'bear' in the room at every turn that is out to get them.

From another website I had been reading they stated the most common causes of childhood trauma include:
  • Accidents
  • Bullying/cyberbullying
  • Chaos or dysfunction in the house (such as domestic violence, parent with a mental illness, substance abuse or incarcerated)
  • Death of a loved one
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Separation from a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse
  • Stress caused by poverty
  • Sudden and/or serious medical condition
  • Violence (at home, at school, or in the surrounding community)
  • War/terrorism
Reading the list of potential causes of trauma to the brain it totally makes sense to me how children today can be experiencing so much more 'mental health challenges than ever before when I look back on the average childhood of children from my generation compared to what the average childhood looks like today. 

Society in general has an up close and personal relationship with billions of people via social media! We get the news and stories and images of war and terrorism and fear and violence at every turn. 
Behaviors you might see from someone whose had a trauma overlap so many of the behaviors we attribute to things like ADHD and OCD and Autism spectrum:
  • Trouble forming relationships with teachers or peers
  • Poor self-regulation
  • Negative thinking
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Executive function issues
As an educator I totally want to learn more on how to better delve deeper into children's backgrounds and experiences outside the program to find the root of behaviors and to remember that  no good will come from trying to punish a child for a behavior born of survival. You are literally punishing an adaptation to extreme stress. All behavior is born of an unmet need and our role as educators is to investigate and determine what that need is so that we can than provide children with the tools and resources to advocate meeting that need. This is how we overcome those 'challenging behaviors' in our programs by helping children learn how to thrive ...
Here’s suggestions from the article on how you can help keep the bear out of your room –
  • Teach to the emotional age, not the chronological age. Meet the student where they are at in that moment in time.
  • Consider all extreme behavior within the context of survival to better understand ‘why he keeps doing that?’
  • Repetition and routine is important because with every positive experience the impact on the brain grows.
  • Traumatized children expect the worst and focus on the negative.  If you understand this, you will be better prepared for it.
  • Childhood neglect is the most damaging trauma.  The child must not have basic needs threatened in any way or survival will be all they think about.
  • At the point the child was abused, the brain was focused on survival not learning.  The development the child missed due to abuse will need extra attention.
  • Traumatized children will often score lower on IQ tests than their true ability.  Retest when their environment is helping them heal and watch the scores go up.
  • The goal in healing trauma is when the child becomes agitated to help them learn skills to reduce the agitation.  This repeated cycle is what most helps the child.
  • Promote play with traumatized children.  Play is very healing to the brain and the emotions.
  • Don’t give up hope!  The human brain is capable of healing in ways we do not yet understand.  It may be a long road to healing and the child may not get there while still in your classroom, but every situation makes a difference. (excerpts from Traumatic Experience and the Brain, A Handbook for Understanding and Treating Those Traumatized as Children.)
Have an amazing day

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much
Be Totallyawake4-life 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Healing Power of Connection and Nature

Last nights workshop was amazingly informative - and I totally loved that it was offered IN NATURE.

Speaker Niki Buchan came all the way from Australia to share her passion on protecting children's right and developmental need to engage in risky outdoor play and backing it up with lots of research and evidence to how this type of play builds resilience and improves educational outcomes for children.

We were encouraged to come prepared for outdoors with sunglasses and sunhats or shade and despite the very warm weather to choose long pants and socks and walking shoes to help ward off the pesky mosquito bites!  
Niki started the evening by having us recollect in small groups about our favorite childhood memories.  

We exchanged stories about climbing up through hay lofts in family farms and leaping off the16 some feet into hay piles below, jumping off quarries into unsupervised lakes below, playing in the local gravel pit building community forts including little fires to cook food snuck from home on sticks and some of us had access to quick sand within the gravel pit and would play games tossing things into it to watch them sink and than the older children daring each other to step closer and closer and than pulling each other back before they sank too deep. 

For me, like most others sharing, our favorite memories from childhood shared the theme of being outside with friends in the neighborhood from dawn to dusk and with very little to NO adult supervision while we engaged in what today would make most parents toes curl with risky play themes.

We than were asked to share descriptive words for how we viewed our childhoods and words like full of freedom, active and on the go, messy, imaginative and carefree came to the forefront.

Very few of us remembered our classroom or school hours as our favorite memories - long term memories were created after the bell rang. Our  evenings and weekends were spent with friends outside in our neighborhoods engaged in collaborative play with children of all mixed ages for hours on end uninterrupted by adults! 

We than moved on to reflecting on how we would describe the childhood of our own children or children in our programs and WOW what an eye opening paradigm shift the current generation faces in their childhood! 

Terms like over scheduled, bubble wrapped, helicopter parenting, nature deprived and electronic zombies were the most common to describe today's children.

Childhood today is VERY structured not only during their classroom school hours but their evenings and weekends as well. Children spend far more time in front of electronics today than ever before - we have access to screens everywhere from the kitchen table, to the vehicle while we drive, in the classroom, in our bedrooms they are everywhere!

I love this quote from Lady Allen of Hurtwood "Better a Broken Bone than a Broken Spirit. A bone can be mended where a spirit may never be." and at the core of educators advocating for the importance of protecting play for children is this very sentiment.

Increasingly we are breaking the spirits of children with increasing 'rules and regulation's designed by well meaning bureaucrats to keep children 'safe' but in reality we are doing far more damage to their mental health than the risk they were in in the first place! 

So many the rules adults put in place that prevent children from exploring nature and engaging in risky play are ground in fear rather than any actually research or fact.

The two biggest fears tend to be injury with parents and litigation due to injury by educators.

Reality is that injury is a part of childhood and not matter how safe you try to keep children they can trip and fall over their own two feet and break a bone so banning climbing and jumping and swinging out of fear of a broken bone is not worth all they loose from those experiences when done in age appropriate manners with minimizing risks in mind.

Children learn how to SAFELY take risk by being allowed TO take risks! Risk taking teaches children how to hypothesis what will happen if I and than to plan their experiment of the risk and reflect on what went right or wrong including the minor injuries of childhood.

As adults we can help minimize risks by doing a benefit and risk assessment analysis of risky play activities we approve in our programs and can easily show stakeholdes that the benefits of what is being learned and gained from risky experience typically outweighs any REAL risk of injury from the activity. We can also so these in a smaller scale WITH CHILDREN to help them to navigate their risk assessment and create plans for safety.

Doing a proper benefit and risk assessment that shows your contingency plan for minimizing the risk can also alleviate the risk of litigation. Niki shared that while she was not sure the statistics in Canada that in the UK and Australia despite all the fear from administration and educators there has not be one successful lawsuit in regards to a child being injured while playing in a childcare or educational setting and they are the worlds leaders in risky play initiative. 

Children actually LIKE to be a little scared - to push themselves past fear. Watch a little baby playing peek-a-boo - when you go 'BOO' they get that startled fear response for a moment, than realize they are safe and than they laugh and will than 're-engage' in the peek a boo game! Preschoolers LOVE to read stories about scary themes and monsters and will pretend there is a ghost or bear other other beast hiding in their place spaces. 

With the mastery of a risk often comes laughter and more and more we RARELY hear children's laughter today and there is direct correlation with the lack of risk and laughter to the increase we see in anxiety and depression in children and at younger and younger ages. Professionals are treating clinical level anxiety in children as young as 18 months of age today which was unheard of 20 years ago. 

To help show the connection of how learning in nature she showed how you can read a book with children in nature and than encourage them with a 'I wonder if' question to send them collecting items from nature to create their own stick man. 

Using just a few simple tools of garden sheers and twine we were encouraged to create our own Stick men .... educators rose to the challenge getting creative. Some choose to use long grass to twine together and keep their creatures all natural.

Some used flowers to create hats or heads for their stick man.
Finished stick man from some fellow participants

My friend Kim showing off her Stick-man with his lovely quaff of hair!
Love how this educator found a leave that already had two holes for eyes and inspired her to use it as his face!
Admittedly I was so busy wanting to document everyone's work that my own stick man lacks imagination!

Before we left for the evening spent some time connecting with the water life around the little Westminster Ponds! 

It is so true that spending time in nature relaxes the mind and body, reduces stress and anxiety and improves health ... we were not even particularly ACTIVE in nature this evening but  I slept like a baby when I got home!