Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gingerbread! Children's Art & Educator Excellence

Gingerbread Paintings: Gingerbread Man with Gingerbread House via RainbowsWithinReach

GINGERBREAD in Children's Art? What could be SWEETER? 

My heart is so full!!! Yesterday was a 'travel' day for me, returning to home-base surrounded by palm trees and blue skies after having spent some quality time with hundreds of kindergarten & preschool teachers at the SDE conference in Atlanta. There are so many things racing through my head and heart.  Where do I begin?

2nd Grad Gingerbread Painting via RainbowsWIthinReach

Coming home. I thought this post was going to be about Gingerbread. Gingerbread and children's art. Art displayed in public places. Children's art in Airport concourses. That's what I thought. Luv me some children's art as I zip to my terminal! 

But then I put my laptop on my new little desk, in my new little studio and there on the corner awaiting my arrival are some building blocks from another era. Cubes. Three dimensional. Old school. Building blocks. 

So now this article is about Gingerbread and building blocks. Just how can I pull these two dissimilar pieces into one whole? The Gingerbread people are painted with such organic shapes. The building blocks have such hard edges. Can I merge them together? We shall see! 

Building Blocks at RainbowsWithinReach

My heart is really full right now. Maybe I already said that? I am absolutely overflowing with gratitude. Let me see if I can elaborate just a wee teeny bit. The list that follows is what I get to experience as a consultant. As a road/air vagabond. As a Keynote presenter. As a music-lady-author-illustrator gypsy, have guitar-will-travel type. Let me see if I can enumerate just some, a mere shining sliver of what unfolds, so you can appreciate my level of gratitude. In quasi-chronological order.  

  • I get to travel. I get to be in one climate on Monday and experience something utterly different by Wednesday.
  • I get to meet incredible individuals in airplanes and airports, on shuttle rides and Metro trains. {I sit next to Dr. Janet on the first leg of my Southwest Airlines portion of this most recent adventure and listen and talk and talk and listen, non-stop, about the psychology of the power of influence from an international research expert on the subject! Pinch me! I get to ask her questions and in turn answer hers. My heart is squealing before I make my way to the luggage carousel. I am reminded of how fortunate I am, Part 1.}

Early Elementary Seasonal Gingerbread Paintings via RainbowsWithinReach

  • I get to meet eager educators.
  • I get to be the recipient of hugs from brand new friends in brand new area codes at brand new events.
  • I get to meet my cyber-friends who have lived happily in my computer 'talking' to me for weeks and months, {in some cases: even years} and suddenly, IRL, I get to hear their voices and savor their laughs before the ice water arrives at the dinner table. How utterly charming to hear Southern laughter sprinkled with ya'all sugar and be reminded once more about Sweet Tea.
  • I get to share tears with people that I have only just met. [There's something about a shared experience, on the road, after travel, that heightens all the emotions of the moment. There we are, a group of six, huddled together over the best-meatloaf-on-the-planet, having a little shared cry together. Actually more than one. Perhaps we're just a little hormonal? Tears. Hugs. Sweetened by laughter. Sweetened by the opportunity to come together on a school night, to see if our cyber impressions of one another match up with the real deal. And it is good. Because they do! I am reminded of just how fortunate I am, Part 2.]
Blogger Meet-UP via RainbowsWithinReach
Moi, Nicole of Lanier's Lions, Danielle of Kroger's K, Faith of 1st Grade Fantabulous, DeeDee of Mrs. Wills K and Kathy of K Griffin Teaching

  • I get to meet enthusiastic educators. I get to go to bed at night KNOWING I am going to be met with enthusiasm. 
  • I get to meet teachers who have wrangled, wrestled and rumbled to participate in a continuing educational experience. In these economic times, that is no small fete. I know that there are some who have negotiated to take a personal day, or pay their expenses out of their own pockets or perhaps even both. They have written out sub plans in depth and made preparations for their classroom full of energetic children during their absence. They have prioritized their attendance to improve teaching skills, to add tools to their toolbox, to get inspired, to hear the latest, to be reminded of why they slog on in an ever increasingly difficult and often undermined profession, to share time with their brethren. Their tribe. Their fellow believers-in-the-future. I get to meet them! I get to celebrate with them. I get to add fuel to their fire.
  • I get to hear the very first early-bird teacher picking up her registration packet say how thrilled she is to be here, because 'what with her husband's surgery she wasn't certain if she would be able to participate.' 
  • I get to meet excited educators. 

Gingerbread Mixed Media Collages in Early Elementary Art via RainbowsWithinReach

  • I get to meet EXUBERANT educator-presenter-consultants! 
 I get to squirrel away a few moments of lunch with the UBBER super-power 'do-it-all-gals' who still hold down a classroom of responsibilities and balance those expectations with family blessings, all while blogging and creating materials ~~becoming teacherpreneurs, building their business and brands, while now joining the ranks of the traveled and true. My head spins as they share their stories over actual chicken soup. Chicken soup for the consultant's soul? Hmmmm. How do they have time for clean underwear, too? [BTW: Doing our familial laundry is my ONLY remaining domestic contribution, I might add. This is where I reflect on how grateful I am. Part 3.]
Moi, DeeDee of Mrs. Wills Kindergarten & Mary of Sharing Kindergarten 
  • I get to meet euphoric educators. 
  • I get to meet a gaggle of teachers who stop me in the hallway and speak to me about how they've used my picture book "You're Wonderful" as part of their graduation festivities. Others tell me in elevator rides about their eagerness to meet up since they have been following my antics on Pinterest {where I am nearing 140K followers, just sayin'} and feel like they know me already. Others follow me to my room to have me to personalize their purchases of my materials. I get to feel like a contributor. Like a K-RockStarDiva. I get to feel grateful. Part 4. 
 Gingerbread Painted Collage in Mixed Media via RainbowsWithinReach
  • I get to meet elastic educators.... those that can stretch in a gazillion directions all at the same time. 
  • I get to share my story of perseverance. I briefly mention my cancer story in a Q&A about my excitement to return to the SDE circuit.
  • I get to meet other 'survivors' and exchange encouragement. I get to be the face of hope. {Yesterday I was HOPE to Vicky, newly diagnosed with cancer, awaiting her bilateral mastectomy between now and Christmas. We had a chance to hang on to one another on Monday, in a heart-felt hug and share some details. I could be empathetic about how the initial diagnostic shock is indeed so incredibly difficult and complicated because of the hundreds of decisions that must be made in the midst of all of the unknowns and the swirling roller coaster of emotions, all while icing holiday cookies and the desire to march along acting like nothing is wrong. After our rah-rah hug, Vicky then went literally running out the conference center door, because her 10 year old was puking in the school nurse's office. Enough already. Yet she prioritized her continuing professional development to return on Tuesday! As I was leaving for the airport I saw ONE participant. Vicky. She coming in the building. Me exiting. Serendipity? Angels? In our quick, second exchange she was able to report that her son still had a stomach ache but was much better and that she just HAD to hear some Pete-the-Cat magic from Eric directly! While making her cancer treatment decisions and with a sick child, she returns to her participation at SDE. I get to meet elastic educators. The teaching profession is full of heroes and Vicky is now at the top of my list of resilient and incredible individuals. And I am reminded of how grateful I am. Part. 5.
So what is the recipe for gingerbread and educational excellence? 

Educational Excellence via RainbowsWithinReach

Check Martha Stewart if you're looking for a g'bread recipe. If you want to direct students to create something similar to these incredible Gingerbread house and people paintings? I can reverse engineer these fine specimens above and suggest that you get brown construction paper and a whole lot of white paint! These were created by second graders and you can see that maturity in the details.  

If you're considering the building blocks of excellence in education? Attend an SDE event! You'll literally swim in excellence. You'll be surrounded by it on all sides: from the presenters up front to the participants on every side.

Thanks to the INCREDIBLE DeeDee of Mrs. Wills Kindergarten fame, I have these images to share from during my keynote presentation. Everyone in the audience is signing 'wonderful' in preparation for our singing "You're Wonderful" together. Smootchies to DeeDee for getting these action shots! 

I am so excited about next week where I get to launch the SDE Kindergarten event in Indianapolis with the opening keynote for my fellow Hoosiers. We already have a group of bloggers making plans for dinner together. Stay tuned for further building blocks of excellence! 

Educator Excellence: The E's that Make it EXCITING! via RainbowsWithinReach

If you came here today actually looking for Gingerbread inspiration.... I had a RoundUP of ideas last year in this article. There are quite a few examples of excellence in early education gingerbread! Go back in time to see those expressions of creativity in early literacy exploration. [Note to self: I'll have to add today's collage and link forward there to this article. Yes. A blogger's work is never done.]  

Gingerbread RoundUP at RainbowsWithinReach

I would be completely remiss if I didn't tell you one more tidbit. 
I had the GREAT.GOOD.FORTUNE. to have Mary Amoson of Sharing Kindergarten, privately tutor me on the use of my new iPhone. 

 Kindergarten Math Anchor Chart for Numeracy Development via RainbowsWithinReach

Like Tiger Woods coaching you on how to putt.
Or Vana White holding your picture book as you read from it.
I know I am a very fortunate person. Part 6.  

I personalize a copy of my picture book for Mary's two daughters selfie

I am always grateful for every set of ripples you initiate by pinning from here. 
Thanks for spending part of your day with me.
You will also appreciate this collection of Christmas/Holiday Bulletin Boards seen on my travels. 

Christmas Bulletin Boards via RainbowsWithinReach 

Or if you're looking for some simple craftiness..... here's a few ultra simple ideas! 

Simple Christmas Tree from a Paper Plate at RainbowsWithinReach

Simple Christmas Tree Craftivity for Children at RainbowsWithinReach

Santa Stars via RainbowsWithinReach

Snowman in a Snow Globe Winter Art Project via RainbowsWithinReach

Winter Cutie Snowmen with Sticks for Arms via RainbowsWithinReach

Anchor Chart for Early Math: Melting Snowmen via RainbowsWithinReach

Let's conclude with my newest favorite quote! 

"A teacher affects eternity." #quotes at RainbowsWithinReach

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