Last night, I turned off the alarm on my phone. I consider myself a morning person (early to bed, early to rise, makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy and wise), but I’m finding the 6:30 alarm to be a real drag. Or perhaps it’s not the alarm so much as that it’s the jolt that starts a quick succession of activities: find socks (cold floors!), make coffee, get breakfast started, pack a lunch (or four), wake up Leila, tell her to eat (quick, quick, quick!), think up creative ways to get her back upstairs for clothes and teeth brushing, zip her up in snow pants and hustle her out the door.
This morning, my feet didn’t hit the floor until a few minutes after 8:00. I called the school to say I was keeping Leila home and sipped my coffee while looking over the agenda for the day. The kids worked on some individual things while I cleaned up breakfast, and then we dove into this month’s Little Passports package. The featured country was Sweden. The kids want to move there now, mostly because we learned about one Swedish tradition called fika, “a time of day that Swedes spend eating pastries with friends.” Sure enough, at the end of our activity booklet, was a recipe for a sticky chocolate cake called kladdkaka. Are you laughing yet? We had a heyday with this one: clod…caca…sticky…brown. Anyway… We got to work making kladdkaka. With only one hen laying on a regular basis, we were lucky to have the three eggs the recipe calls for; and anything with this much sugar and cocoa is bound to be good.
I stuck the kladdkaka in the oven, and then it became rush time. Thursday is a Nook day, and I was teaching an 11:00 class. We rolled into the parking lot at Quinn Farm just a minute or two before 11:00 and hustled upstairs. Today, the newspaper team was doing a mock-up of our first newspaper. All session, we’ve been learning about news articles, feature stories, opinion pieces and advertisements. The kids have been writing, revising and preparing their articles for print. And today we got to do the mock up! I didn’t realize how long it would take, but many of the kids worked all the way through their lunch hour, and two hours later, the job was done. It was really satisfying to see it come together—and I bet they’ll be even more thrilled once we get it printed. I asked them if they wanted to continue the Nook Newspaper in the Winter Session and got a resounding yes. I thought I might take a step back from teaching so many classes at the Nook, but the kids’ enthusiasm gets me every time. When a child (or ten children!) want to work, want to learn, are enthusiastic about a project—it’s such an exhilarating feeling. The work and preparation that I need to put into it all of a sudden become a joy.
Our prep continued into Aita’s art class time slot, and so when we reached the end of our mock-up and realized we needed something for the back page, I asked one of the art students to let me print her snowman word art drawing on the back. Problem solved.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and soon it was time for my 2:00 class. Nearly 20 kids came to learn about land and water forms. In true Montessori fashion, we went through the sandpaper forms (island, lake, cape, bay, peninsula, gulf, isthmus, strait, archipelago and system of lakes). I used the three-part cards to play a matching game, distributing the picture cards and the word cards randomly and having the children find who had their corresponding card. I held up photos of real-life examples of these land and water forms, and the kids guessed which ones they were. Finally, they picked their favourite land or water form and made models out of clay inside a plastic plate, pouring in water.
By 3:00, I had cleaned up and was out of that classroom. I peeked in on the yoga class as I put supplies away. The last time slot of the day is always a favourite: Building Club. Today, Luba had the kids making chairs for their stuffed animals using only paper. The challenge was that the chair had to hold the stuffed animal for at least one minute. I love the creative challenges Luba comes up with and how the kids work together. Walking into that classroom, it looks like chaos—but stay awhile, and you get to hear the excited chatter, the careful planning, the inspired collaboration, the little acts of genius.
Put Building Club together with the fact that birthday parties happen in our space at the Nook over the weekend, and Thursdays are a major clean-up day. When I finally turned the lights out, three other families walked out with us to their minivans (yes, we all have minivans!), hauling bags, into the darkening parking lot. It feels like winter. Magic in the air.
At home, the kids played the “Sweden” game on Little Passports’ website while I grilled some chicken and made hearty salads and carrot soup for dinner. Of course, we were all really waiting to try the kladdkaka for dessert. In the end, for all the Swedish hype, it’s a brownie. Still, a win.
The day ended with a “voyage au centre de la terre” (trip to the centre of the earth), reading more about the fascinating, microscopic life forms in the soil, in a magazine that a dear friend from France sent me. La Salamandre is the most beautiful and most interesting nature magazine I have ever read. If you understand French, you should subscribe to Julien Perrot’s “Minute Nature” channel on YouTube. You’ll be hooked.