The Storyteller, October 2016
Observations and Reflections
Developing an Identity for the Atelier of Taste:
A space of care and attention, research, pleasure and community
“Special care in offering tastes, in the good and attractive composition of the dish, in the aesthetics of table setting, the pleasure of sharing lunch with friends, and the opportunity to encounter the kitchen as a multisensory laboratory, are important strategies for creating a welcoming atmosphere for all and highlighting the individual in the group” (Maddalena Tedeschi, 2008).
Dear Families and Friends,
Children, teachers—and parents, too—are enjoying their experiences in the new atelier at our preschool: the atelier of taste. However, this space is about much more than taste. It is about transformation and about relationships—relationships with food and with the community. And, by connecting our school garden to the new atelier, we hope to provide a context for the living organisms that become part of our kitchen and our meals, further developing children’s relationships with the organisms and their importance in our lives– from the standpoint of nutrition and health and also in an aesthetic sense.
Teachers and I agreed that we would begin with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Grapes have been the first subject for children’s research– through deconstruction, investigation on the light pad, drawing and painting, tasting and eating, and juicing with hand methods and with the powerful juicing machine. Using clear glass pitchers, children have been able to observe the beautiful colors of the different varieties of grape juice and then taste the differences in the diverse varieties. Drying grapes to make raisins is another possible direction. Teachers have also brought in grape vines from their home gardens so that children could examine them and appreciate the connection between the grape and the vine. Apples are the subject of our current investigation, with many transformative possibilities. Of course,pears, pumpkins and pomegranates are also on our list ofseasonal foods to explore together this season—as are vegetables for juicing and for making soups and salads. . .
The atelier is, additionally, a place for small groups of children. The discoveries are so much richer when shared and scaffolded by a small group of friends and teachers. Next, the sharing of the findings and preparations with the rest of the class becomes an additional exciting and satisfying experience.
Another of our intentions in this new space is to emphasize beauty and care. “The sensitivity toward all the actions of feeding and eating becomes an essential and shared condition of personal care and taking care of others” (Tedeschi). How do we present foods to the children? How do children then choose to present foods to their friends? The creation of lovely table settings—including tablecloths painted by children and by parents—is part of this intention to create a beautiful experience for each other—for the community.
“We must not forget that one of the most important links between people and food is the principle of pleasure: the pleasure that derives from using the senses, but also the pleasure of discovery, the pleasure of manipulating raw materials to create foods, the pleasure of play and the pleasure of company, which at the table becomes conviviality” (Fabbri).
We thank parents for generously supporting the creation of our atelier of taste and we thank the Lufkin Family Foundation for the matching grant that was presented to the school in September in response to the fundraising initiative last spring. These donations allowed us to renovate over the summer and to create the new atelier. We so appreciate the support of our amazing parent community.
With warm wishes to all for a beautiful fall season,
Parent Education Meetings
with our community once again this school year. This first meeting with Tandy will take place on Tuesday, October 4, from 9:15 to 10:15 in the Library. Please let Karen know if you are interested in participating and we will maintain a wait list once the group is full (12 parents). Tandy will be meeting with us once a month (on a Tuesday) throughout the current school year.
To learn more about Tandy’s very interesting work and accomplishments, please consult her website:
Nancy is looking at the calendar in order to include monthly morning meetings with parents and teachers in our Library for the sharing of documentation of previous explorations and of current work, as well. Please look for an announcement of these opportunities to look together at children’s and teachers’ investigations.
Professional Development with Lella Gandini
We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to be mentored once more by Lella Gandini! Dr. Gandini is an Italian author and educator best known in the United States for her role as a leading advocate for the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. She is one of the authors of the important resource, The Hundred Languages of Children (Edwards, Gandini and Forman, 2012) and numerous other fascinating books and articles. Professor Gandini has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Lesley College, and Smith College. She is originally from northern Italy, but lives in the U.S. and travels as an international speaker on the subject of children’s rights, children’s play and the Reggio approach.
Dr. Gandini has kindly agreed to join our faculty for two days during the last week of October—Oct. 26 and 27–to share her experience and wisdom regarding the topic, the image of the child—one of the essential elements of the Reggio approach that influences our approach to working with young children. She would like to observe in our environments during the mornings and meet with our faculty during those two afternoons. In order to make this possible, we will follow an Early Dismissal schedule on Wednesday, Oct. 26 and on Thursday, Oct. 27. We appreciate the understanding and support of our parent community as we embrace this wonderful professional development opportunity. Thank you!
On Friday, Oct. 28, we plan to hold our annual PPS Halloween Parades. Children in all classes come to school at their regular times—in their costumes. Cherry Blossom and Rosemary children start the morning outside, as usual, and parents stay to watch the parade from about 9:00 to 9:30. (We use the bike path as our parade route.) Following the parade, the CB and Rosemary children will go upstairs for the Halloween party put on by the parents who signed up to create that celebration. All children are welcome to participate in the parade. Cherry Blossom and Rosemary children will go home at 11:00/11:15.
Meanwhile, the Lavender and Sunflower children will come to school at 8:45 in their costumes and will begin their parade at 9:45 on the play yard while parents watch and take photos—and then come back inside at 10:15 for their classroom Halloween parties. Lavender and Sunflower children will go home at 11:30/11:40.
We advise that costumes be generally comfortable. It may be difficult for children to move safely with masks or cumbersome clothing. Please leave any props that are weapon-like at home. Super Hero costumes are okay for Halloween (but we continue to ask that no Super Hero clothing come to school after Halloween). We request that costume themes be appropriate for preschool ages. Please check with us if you have any questions. Thank you.
While the celebration of Halloween is not really a part of our curriculum, it is challenging to avoid Halloween-related topics at this time of year. “Real vs. make-believe” is one area of concept development that we like to support and the exploration of masks is an interesting possibility that helps children to better understand the difference between the character and the real person underneath the mask. We enjoy wonderful language and music/movement activities associated with Halloween as well as the lovely seasonal elements—pumpkins, gourds, fall leaves, etc.
As “commercial” as our LA Halloween can be—we will do our best to make it safe, natural and joyful for the children.
November Educator Tour and NAEYC Conference
The annual conference organized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children will take place in Los Angeles from Nov. 2 through 5. Our school has been invited to participate as one of five Reggio inspired preschools in Santa Monica in a Pre-Conference Educator Tour on Tuesday, Nov. 1. This is a great honor for our community.
Dr. Lella Gandini and her colleague, Amelia Gambetti, will be keynote presenters at First Presbyterian Nursery School on the morning of Nov. 1. Following their presentations, participants will be transported by bus to our school and the other participating schools: The Growing Place, Branches Atelier and New School West. About 50 educators will have lunch with us, listen to presentations given by our faculty, and tour our environments. A second group of 50 educators will arrive in the middle of the afternoon to listen to the presentations and to tour.
The day will conclude with reflections and a reception held at First Pres. We are expecting a total of about 250 educators to tour the five schools. Each school will be able to include (free of cost) 25 parents–just for the presentations at First Pres. Please speak with Nancy if you are interested in being a part of the parent group. The preschool will be closed on Monday, October 31 and on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Holiday Wreath Sale
Yes, we are getting started with this small fundraiser organized by Karen each year. Karen will distribute order forms for the beautiful fresh wreaths during the week of Oct. 10 and orders will be due to her by Nov. 7. The wreaths will be shipped to your home—or as fragrant gifts to the home of the recipient. Please speak with Karen for more information. Thank you.
Friday Night, November 18 at the Annenberg Beach House
Please look for your Silent Auction evite coming soon! Thank you, Ken, for creating the invitation for us again this year! We ask that parents RSVP by Wednesday, Nov. 9. The evite will include instructions for the purchase of the tickets.
We thank Celina Meites and Elizabeth Kendall for serving once more as Co-Chairs for the Auction! Again this year we will be using a mobile bidding system using cell phones.
This event is our large fundraiser for the school year and includes our own community (toddler parents, too) as well as extended family and friends (if the Annenberg has space once preschool families are registered).
Dinner and dessert, wine, beer and entertainment are part of the evening’s experience.
We ask that each family donate 2 Auction items–which can include tickets to sporting events, concerts or the theater, certificates to restaurants and spas, jewelry, art, wine, electronic equipment and passes to the LA Zoo—to name a few! Some families choose to put on a party of some kind (for children, for adults or for families) as their donation for the Auction.
We suggest that you check in with Karen regarding your donation choices to ensure that we do not have too many of one kind of item. Donations and the donation sheet with the description and estimated value of the item will be due to Karen by Wed., Nov. 9. Party information is due to Karen by Nov. 1. Elizabeth and Celina will be coordinating the dates for the parties once Karen has that information from parents. Karen will be creating an Auction Program in advance of the event that includes all of the donated items and parties. The list of items will be visible through the mobile bidding program .
Room Parents are also coordinating one or two Class Baskets for each classroom and parents have been asked to make a contribution to these themed baskets in addition to donating two items to the auction.
Vacation Homes and Hotel Accommodations are often part of the Live Auction that takes place at the end of the evening!!
We greatly appreciate donations to help cover the catering and beverage costs—and other aspects of the event such as flower arrangements/table decorations. Thank you!
We thank our Silent Auction Committee for putting on the event and our Room Parents for coordinating the donations for the Class Baskets!
We thank Karen for all of the work involved in organizing the auction items!!
We hope you will all join us for an ENJOYABLE and SUCCESSFUL fundraising event on Friday, Nov. 18!
We would like to express appreciation to our Room Parents in each class for holding the Class Coffee meetings to launch the activities that will support the Silent Auction, as well as the teachers, children and parents in each community. Thank you: Michelle, Ann, Cindy and Glenda (Rosemary); Melanie, Brandy, Angela and Celina (Cherry Blossom); Michelle, Celina and Erin (Sunflower); Catherine, Elizabeth and Robyn (Lavender)!
- Tuesday, Oct. 4—Tandy Parks from 9:15 to 10:15
- Thursday, Oct. 6—Parent Tours of the preschool
- Friday, Oct. 7—Toddler Parent Orientation meetings from 9:00 to 10:15 and from 10:45 to 12:00 in Library
- Monday, Oct. 10—Preschool closed for Columbus Day holiday
- Tuesday, Oct. 11—Wreath materials become available this week
- Wednesday, Oct.12—Auction Committee meeting in Library at 9:15
- Friday, Oct. 14—First class meetings for Toddler Explorations groups in Parish Hall—9:00 to 12:00
- Wednesday, Oct.19—Party Book information meeting in Library at 9:15
- Friday, Oct. 21—Preschool closed for teacher work day
- Wed., Oct. 26—Preschool open—Early Dismissal day (12, 12:15, 12:30 and 12:40)
- Thursday, Oct. 27— Preschool open—Early Dismissal day (12, 12:15, 12:30 and 12:40)
- Friday, Oct. 28—Halloween Parades, Parties and Early Dismissal (11, 11:15, 11:30 and 11:40)
- Monday, Oct. 31—Preschool closed for professional development
- Tuesday, Nov. 1—Preschool closed for Educator Tour
Pictures from School Events
Atelier of Taste
New Atelier of Construction (with light)
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