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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jamie McDonald & Team Bumblebee....

I haven't been able to follow up my last post about TEAM BUMBLEBEE until I had some time to reflect on the week and the time we spent with Jamie. Julie gave us the opportunity to spend some time with Jamie in her home as he shared videos, stories and answered all our questions, some serious and some silly! Having just completed a very difficult portion of his journey,  running in unbelievably cold temperatures Jamie was still suffering the emotional toll that  had taken on him. But he was able to open up and share both the darkness & the light that came out of it. And as Julie mentions in her blog post I think we all hoped that spending time with Julie, and the rest of team bumblebee would allow Jamie to put those days behind him for good! The great thing about someone as inspiring as Jamie, is that each person can take away something different from his story! As Jamie says, if it's that his stories restore your faith in humanity,  or  gives you the push you need to take a leap, or if it allows you to believe that you can do anything- then he's done his job!

The thing that struck me most about Jamie, is the fact that he is just 27 years old! Generally speaking your 20's are not a time of great awareness of the needs of others. It can be a time of selfishness, of living your life within the small scope of those you interact with on a daily basis. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. However, the fact that jamie is in his 20's speaks volumes to his character, to his depth of compassion for others, his understanding of the challenges of today's world and suggests that Jamie is, perhaps a very old soul!

After we spent that evening with Jamie, we knew we needed to spend sometime running with him, just sharing in his journey a bit and keeping him company. We knew after listening to him that our job would be keeping him distracted from all the pain he is in after 170 marathons! We talked our way through the run as we delivered Jamie to another location to share his story, before we would run him out of Brooks. I don't think we felt a minute of cold or fatigue during that run, being there with Jamie but also because we were accompanied by an amazing little dude, that we'll call 'R'! He had run the entire morning with Jamie- over 10 miles! That's an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a boy of 11! We were all pushed to do our best to follow his example and of course the example Jamie has been setting over his entire journey! Jamie himself, humble as he is was really inspired by 'R' and we were lucky to share in the experience.

The time Jamie spent in Brooks also gave us a chance to see our community come together to support him as he raises funds for Children's Hospitals in Canada. All the money he raises while running in Alberta will go towards the Alberta Children's Hospital! Thanks to the hard work of Team Bumblebee, their auction held in honour of Jamie, raised over $12,000!

My sister, Tara and I left Jamie to run with another friend and BELA Dad, Jay Olson but not before we gave him some big hugs and held back some girly tears! ;) Jamie said to us, "whatever you do, don't worry!" We all laughed, as at this time Jamie was standing on the side of the highway with 4 Moms! Worrying is what we do best!  So we will watch, wait and worry a little until Jamie reaches his final destination and completes his 5000 mile journey!
Thank you Jamie....for the once in a lifetime opportunity! You left us humbled and inspired! xo

Monday, December 9, 2013

Team Bumblebee

Today, a little bit about the fabulous TEAM BUMBLEBEE! We are fortunate to have Mrs. Julie Jenkins as both a friend & a BELA Mom :) She has been working hard over the last several weeks to help Jamie McDonald in his cross Canada venture in support of Children's Hospitals. Jamie started out on this adventure months ago...his goal, to run 5,000 miles or 200+ marathons coast to coast, across Canada, without a support crew to raise money for sick children in Canada and the UK.  Jamie truly is a real life super hero! He is getting close to Brooks now and Julie has amped us her efforts by starting an online auction with all proceeds going to the Alberta Children's Hospital, in honour of Jamie. You can check out the auction items here and place your bid! On behalf of BELA we wish Jamie the best of luck and safe travels over the days and weeks ahead! And to Julie.....we are so proud of how you have stepped up to help a cause so very near and dear to your heart. You and your own little super hero are an inspiration to all of us!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Making Messes & Memories- A post from our Mrs. M, Early Childhood Educator

As I sit with my laptop writing my first ever blog post, I’m remembering Christmases past. Memories brought on by the delicious sweet taste of the mandarin orange that I just finished devouring.  Today and every single time I enjoy the sweet tasty treat of a mandarin orange, I am brought back to the age of 10, on Christmas Eve sitting on my Grammas’ knee in our living room. The smell of her hand lotion is strong in my memory, as is the scent of the mandarin orange that she is peeling for me. My mind sees the soft glow of the green-glassed jar candle on my mom’s coffee table that’s resting on an awful brown shag carpet.  I can hear loud chatter and laughter of the rest of my family in the kitchen enjoying a huge spread of “Christmassy” snacks.  A feeling of pure joy, contentment, peace and love overcomes me, remembering this time spent sitting on my Gramma’s knee.

You may wonder why I am sharing this memory with you. “It is through our senses that adults and children learn. Children learn best and retain most information when they engage their senses. Many of our favourite memories are associated with one or more of our senses.” (Developing and Cultivating Skills through Sensory Play, Danielle Steinberg).  In sharing one of my personal memories with you, it is easy to see the truth in the statement above and maybe even bring one of your favourite memories to mind. Just the scent of mandarin oranges brings on my favourite Christmas memory, that of sitting on my Gramma’s knee. Sensory exploration is a child’s way of examining, discovering, categorizing and making sense of the world.  

Since young children explore and learn with all five senses it is extremely important as early childhood educators and parents that we give ample opportunity for our children to engage in messy sensory play, such as finger painting, play dough, water and sand play. This messy sensory play “promotes sensory integration which is the ability of the body to integrate and process all of the information it receives from all five senses; touch, taste, hearing, vision and smell. Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning. Sensory play can be extremely calming for children. It’s not just about making a mess and getting dirty, it’s an essential component to learning that encourages exploration and discovery through play”  (Creative Connections for Kids) Sensory play often uses our fine motor movements and helps to build and develop these motor skills as children poor, scoop, measure and mold. It promotes pre-math concepts by comparing sizes big and small, teaches science skills as children learn what happens when they add water to the sand. Sensory play also promotes language development by building upon a child’s vocabulary.

But most important of all, it is a chance to have fun interacting while getting messy with your children. Watch their faces light up with joy as they learn a new skill or discover that they can make big waves with boats in the water table, build dinosaur mountains in the sand table or make tire tracks in play dough as they drive toy cars in it. The creative ways to engage your child, while helping them learn & explore are limitless.

I will end by leaving a recipe following this post for snow play dough that I cannot wait to make and put out for our children at BELA to explore and enlighten their senses with. It uses peppermint extract to ignite the sense of smell, silver glitter to promote visual stimulation and of course the doughy texture to mold with their hands promoting their fine motor skills and sense of touch. Stay tuned to the blog for more ideas about how you can create sensory play opportunities at home!

Have fun getting messy and discovering with your child!

Glittery Snow Play Dough
*1 cup of flour
*1/2 cup salt
*1 cup water
*1 tsp. Oil
*1 tsp. Cream of tarter
*1-2 tsp peppermint extract
*2-3 tbsp. Of ultra fine glitter
In a large saucepan, mix together the flour, salt and cream of tartar.  Add the water and oil and stir until mixed well.  Place on stove over medium heat, stirring constantly.  After a few minutes it will cook down to play dough consistency.  Allow to cool (cover with a damp cloth while cooling to avoid drying out), and then knead in the peppermint extract one teaspoon at a time. Once the peppermint extract is kneaded throughout the dough knead in the glitter one tablespoon at a time.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

"I Did It!" - A post from Jody Rutherford, Director of Education

“ I did it! I did it! Look how I drawed myself!”
“That’s awesome! I see your eyes, and nose and mouth, and look at the shirt you’re wearing.  Way to go!  I’m proud of you for working so hard!”   

Is there anything better than sharing the excitement of a child who has discovered success as a learner?  Most Early Childhood researchers and educators agree, “Play is the work of children.”

Research in the field of early learning in Canada, is frequently supported by the experiences of Australian and New Zealand researchers.  A 2010 publication Making the most of Childhood: the importance of the early years, quotes the organization “Zero to Three” booklet Getting Ready for School Begins at Birth,  “one of the most important things children learn in the early years is about themselves – that is, they develop a picture of themselves that affects the ways they approach any situation, task, or relationship with another person.  In other words, they develop a self concept.  An important part of that self concepts is the picture they have of themselves as learners: is it okay to be curious, to explore, to ask questions, to tackle problems, to try to figure things out, to experiment? Is it okay to try something and fail? Being a good learner means having a go, seeing yourself as capable, and taking reasonable risks.” (p.2 Getting Ready for School Begins at Birth, Zero to Three).

Our role, as parents, grandparents, early learning professionals and para-professionals, is to facilitate and encourage the development of this concept and a belief in oneself as a learner in these critical early learning years.  As we develop positive, caring relationships, which provide learning opportunities, and support children as they learn, we are laying the foundation for later learning success, and success in life.  The best, and most powerful learning children do, is by copying what people around them do.  Little eyes are watching, and little ears are listening! If the adults in their lives model the importance of their own learning, little learners will come to understand that learning is important, and enjoyable.  When that happens, we will have done our jobs!

- JR

Monday, November 25, 2013

Teaching Team....

Today a little bit about our Mrs. R. Her background and interest in Education & Psychology made her a perfect fit for BELA. Creative & nurturing, Mrs. R completes our team! Learn more by reading her full BIO.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Teaching Team cont.....

Mrs. M....... How lucky we are to have her as a part of our team! Her experience, her education and her compassion are just a few of the things that make her so valued here at BELA. Read her BIO to learn all about Mrs. M and her background, including over 16 years of experience working with children in our community!

Monday, November 18, 2013

ECD Coalition

Jody, our Director of Eduction & Programming is a member of the Brooks & County of Newell ECD Coalition. The Coalition promotes early childhood development with communities, services and families to understand and respond to early childhood development about the ECD Coalition here and learn more about the important work that they do.

Teaching Team.....

Today I want to share a little bit about what makes our, Miss S so special! She's a Mount Royal University grad and her enthusiasm gives our team and her students an energy boost!! Read her full BIO and get to  know Miss S better!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Teaching Team.......

Today....Mrs P! I can't say enough about how fortunate we are to have her on our team. An assistant in Miss. S's room, she offers vital support to our students. Her extensive background in Education and Psychology allow her to also support the team, as we are all learning from her everyday. Read her BIO to learn more about what makes Mrs P so special and why we feel so blessed to have her!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Teaching Team

I don't get to spend as much time with the teaching team at BELA as I would like to, that's not my role. When I do get the opportunity to work with them I always leave feeling humbled and motivated. Humbled by the level of experience and expertise of the team we have put together and motivated to share their passion for eduction with others. That motivation is what led me here. To a platform that lets others in, on a more in-depth level than  platforms we have used in the past. To let others into our environment at BELA, into our everyday life here,  into the minds of the team that teaches our students  and of course a glimpse into the heads & hearts of our students and the little (and BIG) things they do that make for some beautiful days at BELA! Over the next few posts I plan to share more information about the talented people that make up our team. I hope you will take the time to get to know them too!

Lets talk about Mrs. C...... an assistant in our classes and so crucial to daily success with our students. Did you know that Mrs. C  holds a Degree in Education with a focus on Psychology? Click here to read her full BIO  and see just why we value Mrs. C so much!!