EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Relationships Over Rules...Teachers Matter Too

    In the last several months we tackled the topic of relationships over rules in the world of students. You can read that post here. This time around, we’re diving into the world of relationships over rules with teachers.   As a second year administrator, I (Brent) have a lot still to learn about how to best serve, support, and care for teachers. In my 15 months that I’ve served in this capacity, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Some small, some not so much. I’ve had staff in the build ...

    by Jeff Veal | @heffrey
    Sunday, 19 November 2017
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    The Masks We Wear

    When you look at this photo what do you see? Are you sure? What if I were to tell you that at the moment this photo was taken my daughter had a terrible migraine and my son was as happy as could be? It may seem hard to believe, but it’s true. We oftentimes make judgements based on what we see. And that can be dangerous. But sometimes that may be all we have to go on. So we do the best we can. Then later we find out that we were off. Way off.   I had no idea. If I had only known. ...

    by Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd
    Sunday, 19 November 2017
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    A Teacher's Presence

    He woke up crazy-early. 5 am to be exact. That in my opinion is too early for a little kid to be awake. And it was apparent by the way he behaved. Or didn’t, to be more exact. I brought a blanket and a pillow downstairs, hoping he would lie down and maybe–just maybe–fall asleep. Or at the very least, rest. That wasn’t going to happen. At least not yet. He fussed. He complained. He acted as any kid would that was awake an hour and half earlier than normal. But then something happened. His sis ...

    by Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd
    Wednesday, 15 November 2017
  • sock puppet

    Click Farms & Sock Puppets

    The 2017 YouTube video #Socialnomics has recently reported that we are preparing almost 30% of students for jobs that don’t exist yet.  I’ve always wondered what kind of jobs they could be.  Sadly, we are learning about them in today’s times. I was exposed to three new terms this year that didn’t exist years ago: Click Barns Sock Puppeting Troll Factories For those that don’t know about these, I wanted to share them, as these terms are creeping into educatio ...

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    by Jay Eitner | @Jay_Eitner
    Tuesday, 14 November 2017
  • bad table manners

    Teaching Table Manners to Preschoolers: When Did It Go Out of Style?

    I had a couple encounters recently that really got me thinking about how we are teaching social skills to young children- or not. I was visiting a couple of my students at their child care programs, which I sometimes do, prior to their formal CDA observations. The first visit was in a 2’s room, with eight children and two teachers. I arrived just before lunch and watched as hands and tables were washed and children were placed into those built-in bucket seats. The kitchen had delivered portio ...

    by Debra Pierce | @easycda
    Sunday, 12 November 2017
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Nancy Striniste

Nancy Striniste

Nancy Striniste, MLD is the founder and principal designer at Earlyspace, LLC, a landscape design firm dedicated to creating earth-friendly, people-friendly landscapes. Nancy is a former preschool teacher with a degree from Wheelock College whose passion for creating spaces led her to become a landscape designer. She earned a Master's degree from the prestigious George Washington University's Sustainable Landscape Design Program. She specializes in creating outdoor play and learning spaces that connect children to nature.

Posted by on in Movement and Play

We know, and an extensive body of rigorous scientific research confirms that children who have access to green and natural play and learning spaces are healthier and less stressed, concentrate and learn better, and get along better with peers. Connecting children to nature and creating beautiful outdoor spaces is my passion, and as a landscape designer and former preschool teacher, I know a lot about it.  I love working with schools and early childhood programs to create beautiful, magical outdoor play and learning spaces.

I am well aware that a custom design is just not affordable for some programs.  So, I have come up with a new way to help DC area schools by sharing my expertise in a format that allows participants to plan and build THEIR OWN natural playspaces.... economically.

I am offering a special pilot program this winter that will include a series of workshops, handouts, templates, checklists and more, plus the support of colleagues who are working to change their outdoor spaces. I will provide great materials, ideas for natural playspaces that work, plant lists, planning worksheets, tips for organizing workdays – lots of great information plus answers to participants' questions as they go through the planning process.

I am currently hard at work in my business, creating earth-friendly, people-friendly designs and working with my partners at Green Earth Landscaping to build natural play and learning spaces for schools and children’s programs. I’ve never offered a DIY program like this before, and this may be a one-time series.

Participants in this program will be selected by application, so that I can be sure to work with local programs who are truly committed to making change.  The program will start this winter so that schools will be ready by spring to start working on their space.  I can help provide the outdoor magic  children deserve!

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Posted by on in Movement and Play

The sun was shining. The kids-- lots of kids-- were outside.

It was simple and inexpensive and fun.

Bamboo (harvested in advance from a grateful neighbor's yard)

Kudzu (pulled by kids from the edges of the schoolyard)

A ball of string

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

This post represents a summary of several talks at the recent "International Green Schoolyard Conference".  Although I agree wholeheartedly with all of the ideas described below, I cannot take credit for many of the thoughts.  Because the speakers' positions were so powerfully and clearly expressed, I have quoted liberally from my notes, in an effort to bring these inspiring voices to my readers.

 

Cam Collier of Canada's Evergreen calls it "bubble wrapped childhood"  and says we're killing our kids with caution.

 

By trying to keep them physically safe, we are depriving children of experiences that are essential to the development of a healthy sense of self confidence. It is not possible to create an environment that is free of risk, and in trying to do so, we remove rich play experiences.   In a natural setting with tall trees to climb, pointy sticks, slippery rocks and unexpected holes in the ground we worry that "something might happen".  "I would love for something to happen" says Dr. Petter Akerblom of  Movium and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala.  Their scrapes should be acknowledged as  proof that "you tried to do something!"

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Here is the story of a natural building project I love...

 

If you aren't familiar with natural building, it is, basically, using natural, non-manufactured materials to create soul-soothing, sculptural structures.  My favorite is earth-building, which uses in various combinations, a mixture of clay, water and sand, along with a fibrous material (grass, straw or wood fibers) for tensile strength.  A method called "Cob" combines clay, sand and straw and builds with wet bricks called cobs because they are about the size of a cob or loaf of bread.

 

I discovered cob about 7 years ago and tried increasingly ambitious projects (first birdhouses, then a garden wall) before diving into a natural building project that was a pretty life-changing experience for me and for Sandra Redmore.  Sandra is the director of the Clarendon Child Care Center, home of the sweetest pair of playhouses you can imagine.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

From coast to coast, this is school garden tour season!  This week I'm bringing you news of another city where exciting things are happening for kids.  I visited 7 wonderful DC school gardens on a recent rainy Saturday.

 

The theme of this year's tour, which capped off a school garden week full of workshops, contests and events, was to show the diversity of ways that school gardens "take root".  The tour highlighted parent-led, teacher-led, outside organization-initiated and even alumni-driven school garden initiatives.

 

Signage is always an issue in gardens where students and visitors need to understand the intent.  There were a variety of great sign examples on the tour.

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