Monday, March 29, 2010

Flashback to September

Last fall we welcomed Kate to our LPE Family- and how lucky we are. A good game of chase is one of the reasons we love her so much!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Parent Must-Read (if you haven't yet)

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A few months back, a mother of one of my students was telling me about this great book she was reading about parenting. She mentioned a few of the topics including; praise, lying, tattling, and race. I mentioned it to my "much more in tune to the world outside of Vashon Island" husband Brian, and he of course knew exactly what I was talking about, "Oh yeah, Nurture Shock, I read that praise article." The original article that author Po Bronson wrote, How Not to Talk to Your Kids; The Inverse Power of Praise, was published in New York Magazine in February of 2007 and had such an impact that Mr. Bronson went on to collaborate with Ashley Merryman and write an entire book filled with all kinds of findings relating to what parenting has become in today's America.

So, I got online and reserved a copy at the Vashon library, discovering sheepishly that hundreds of others were doing the same. And some months later, here I am having just completed the first chapter, which happens to be The Inverse Power of Praise.

In high school, I remember sitting in the stands at a basketball game with one of our visiting French students. She was struck by all of the praise being shouted out onto the court and in her lovely French accent asked, "Why are they yelling, "Good job!" when he didn't even make the basket? I don't think it was very good job." This was the first time I started thinking about praise and what it really means. Years later, when I was teaching high school, I had a strange experience with a student questioning why I hadn't praised her for remembering to bring her work to class, "Aren't ya gonna say I did a good job? ". She not only expected me to say "Good job" for something that was expected regularly of every student in the class, but she seemed to need it. In the moment, I congratulated her accomplishment, but the incident has remained with me for years, understanding that in some instances, society has created children (and adults) that require regular pats on the back for regular everyday deeds.

As a parent and a teacher, meaningful praise that focuses on effort and builds confidence is fundamental and fostering the enjoyment of learning rather than the reward of praise a daily goal. Nurture Shock's first chapter is a great read that reinforces these ideas and reminds us how to implement them - find it online at, or order the book Nurture Shock New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman at your favorite bookshop. Also, follow the Nurture Shock phenomenon at

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blast Off!

Last week Mary's class wrapped-up their space unit with full-on astronaut costumes and a launch into space. Above, Sabine shows us her silvery space suit, decorated with glittery stars and moons. Below, Connor prepares for "3, 2, 1, d├ęcollage!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Playing with Clay

Playing with clay or in this case homemade salt dough is one of our most popular table activities at La Petite Etoile. Kids squash, roll, press and pile their play clay into all kinds of shapes using their imaginations and creativity, while their brain is soaking in the cause and effect that results from the movements of their fingers. Their little hand muscles (and sometimes whole body muscles) get a workout, providing a fun way to strengthen small motor skills while finding satisfaction in the process. Our big kids like it too, in fact when its out on the tables we teachers find ourselves squeezing the soft stuff right along side the little ones.

For more on clay play check out this article by Marvin Bartel
Clay for Toddlers and Preschoolers How and Why?