Tag Archives: connection



When my son was 4 he built a playground for caterpillars. He made it from cardboard and it was an enclosed space with a slide, some swings and some ramps for the caterpillars to crawl up and down. It took days to make, and many caterpillars were encouraged to play in it. Then one morning he discovered there were no caterpillars in the playground, only caterpillar fluff. Seems my 2 year old son had found the caterpillars and the scissors and……well, all that was left was the fluff.

 Cardboard continued to be an essential play item for my boys, from making a miniature city of ruined buildings for warhammer, (if you have preteen boys you likely know what that is) to a giant skate board park for finger boards (tiny skateboards).

 Parents and ECE’s have long recognized the value of cardboard: it’s free, accessible, and multi functional. Add materials from the recycling bin, some glue, tape and paint and the possibilities are limitless. But without two key elements all these great materials will never reach their potential: time and space. Kids need time to develop something out of cardboard, which means they need to work over a period of days or weeks. Which in turn means that the project needs a place to be stored.  ECE settings are notoriously short on space, and time is often chopped into small chunks for play, snack, outside time, nap etc. But look at what can be achieved when these barriers are overcome!

My good friend Sarah Hilliard at Lansdowne Preschool followed the children’s interest in robots……

boxes, egg cartons, fruit flats, paint….
and hours of collective work, became this….
a robot with a crown.

And the next year her kids were fascinated with castles so…..

became this!

 And if you still need more motivation check this:  an international cardboard challenge inspired by a 9 year old boy and his cardboard creation. 

Imagination, creativity, hands on learning, building community, sharing stories, inspiring wonder, possibility, and engagement……all this can be had with cardboard!

Share your cardboard stories with us!


Permission to Wonder

Above my daughter’s bed I have a framed quote that says “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder, than one closed by belief.” I have no idea who said it. It spoke to me and it spoke to what I wanted for my daughter in this world. A life filled with wonder.

We often talk in our ECE circles about allowing that wonder in for the children. We don’t however give ourselves that permission to often. As Educators we insist on having the answers, knowing the theories and looking at things from a lens of being objective.

One of the most freeing things the Investigating Quality Project brought to my practice was the right for me to be subjective. All of a sudden my voice was allowed in my documentation and learning stories. I was allowed to wonder out loud why a child was engaging in play, what theories they may be testing and understandings they were building.

All of a sudden I didn’t need to know all the answers and I gave myself permission to wonder. I found myself observing more and being in awe of children in play. Allowing wonder reconnected me with my field. It brought the passion back.

Have you given yourself permission to wonder?

photo by Michelle Jones

The Wolves in the Woods

photo by Michelle Jones

 My family has a cabin on the Sunshine Coast. It sits in a little bay with a farm behind it. There are woods to the left of the bay. A month ago my parents decided to spend a weekend there by themselves. My mother was sitting outside by the fire pit while my dad walked up the hill to get something from his vehicle. When all of a sudden they started to hear the yipping of a pack of wolves heading along the left side of the bay to the creek that runs alongside their cabin. My mother will admit her first instinct was to go inside the cabin. My father on the other hand had a much different reaction. He could not contain his excitement when he heard them, armed only with a pen light that was on his key chain he ran into the woods to see them. The woods were dark and his pen light was not strong enough to see them. Eventually the wolves had enough to drink and my parents could hear them yipping to each other as they left the bay.

This of course was very exciting for both my parents. They shared the story many times with us.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My whole family decided to head out to the cabin one night for a weiner roast with all the kids. Benny my young nephew who is pictured above was very nervous about the wolves. He kept close to his family and didn’t dare venture close to the creek. Eventually he walked over to my father and said “Grandpa we need some bricks.” My father says he said this to him many times and my father didn’t make the connection. As my parents continued to tell me about Benny insisting on bricks I couldn’t help but smile.

Benny’s preschool had been talking about the story of the Three Little Pigs. He had connected the yipping wolves in the woods with the big bad wolf.  I loved this story!! It speaks to the power of a story, a child’s imagination and the value of an ordinary moment in a  preschool and how its effects can run deep.

As many of you return to your centres and/or classrooms after Winter Break remember that what you do is important. A simple gesture,song or story told can be a very powerful experience for a child and have effects you may never know about.

work 253

Dancing in the Ordinary Moments


Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!


A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with Branden the gentleman pictured above. He was a university student who worked in our out of school care program. Branden was also a dancer. When he ended up subbing in our preschool program for a month I asked him if wanted to do a weekly dance lesson with the group. He said of course. It was the highlight of many of the children’s week. We had one little girl who came decked out in her body suit and tutu on Dance days. Branden had a natural way of being with the children. He met the children at their level, wherever that may be.

One day while I was working in the Day care I looked out the window to see the above interaction happening. Isla wanted to know how to dance and she asked Branden if he would teach her. I immediately grabbed my camera and took a few shots. Isla was so full of joy as he walked her through the steps. Branden was so patient and soft spoken. They danced like that for a while.

Isla was so pleased with herself after they were done.

This interaction was one of those examples of an adult following a child’s lead and supporting their desire to learn something new. It was an example of an adult sharing a love dance with a child.  It is also the story of touch. How touch connects us, sometimes in the simplest and purest interactions.

For some reason this weekend when I was in my grandfather’s hospital room, realizing again the power of touch, this moment between Isla and Branden played in my head.  I am not sure why. Maybe simply because it was a beautiful moment. Maybe because when it happened a tear did slip from my eye as the thought “My grandparents would love this.” popped into my head. Maybe because Branden understood the power of touch more then anyone.  Branden was one of those rare men in childcare who understood a hug, a hand to hold or a friend for dancing with was a powerful thing.


The Power of Touch

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with
one another – and ourselves”

Jack Kornfield

Let me paint a picture for you. I return home from a couple emotional weeks away and its time to return to the classroom. My suitcases are still in the car, so I head to the classroom sans make up and as put together as my emotional self and daughter will allow for. I will have to admit I almost cancelled. I almost gave into the wallowing but  remembering the joy I get from being with the children I get in my car and go. Questioning my choice the whole way.

I walk through the door of the classroom and I am greeted by the kindergarten teacher. She is so kind, so sincere…… so inviting I start to think this was the right choice. I haven’t prepared like I usually do. I simply did the best I could the night before.  I get out my doll, book and pictures I will be using for this group. I straighten my hair as much as possible. The bell rings. Children run in and hang up their coats. They see me in the chair, they smile, they get excited, some want to tell me stories of what is happening in their lives. I can feel the joy entering.

We start our circle we are talking about why babies cry and thinking of questions to ask our baby’s mom. I see a young boy with special needs rolling around near my ankles. It doesn’t bother me, whatever allows him to be part of the group. He reaches out and touches my leg. It doesn’t bother me but his support worker helps him sit up and asks him to keep his hands to himself. He continues to roll around, I move through my conversation with the group. I decide we need to get up and move, so I stand up and ask the children if they would like to join me. I start to sing and soon I feel two small hands slip into mine.

I don’t have to look down. I know who it is. I continue to lead the group in singing and activities but I never let go of his hands. When I do look into his face I see calm. It is time to sit again. I keep one of his hands in mine.  The children and I are engaged in conversations about what they think our baby will be able to do the next time he visits. The boy is still.  Whenever I look his way I see calm. As I wrap up the circle with a small hand still in mine I feel calm.

We sing our goodbye song. He releases my hand. I look at him and we connect with our eyes as I sing the last verse of the song.  I smile and say “thank you Nicholas” and he gives me a knowing look.

When I walked into that classroom I was caught up in my own busyness, my own wallowing. Two little hands slowed me down and  reminded me I was not alone.

Thank you Nicholas!