Friday, February 28, 2014

A Day in the Life: San Mateo Infant Community

                                             We are cutting the eggplant and looking at the inside.

                                                      I am removing the leaves one by one.

Phrase of the Day: February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Day in the Life: Emeryville Children's House: It doesn't smell pretty, but the plants are going to love it!

We have discovered why Bokashi composting bran is so expensive: the process of making your own is cheap and fairly easy, but it takes a whole month, and is really, really smelly. Imagine leaving an open container of yogurt out on the counter for a few days... that's why we did this work outside.

Two weeks ago, we mixed a quarter-cup of rice with a cup of water, shook it until the water was completely cloudy, strained the water, and put it in a sealed jar under our sink for a week.
One week ago, we strained that rice-water through a filter and mixed it with ten cups of whole milk, poured the mixture back into the sealed jar, and put it back under the sink for another week.

Today, we brought it out and put on our aprons.

The first step was to strain the milk/ricewater into a large bowl. A large quantity of curd had formed in the jar.

('s probably best that you can't smell this...)

The residue was this yellow liquid.

We mixed a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses into it. Now we had achieved Bokashi "serum". Then we mixed some more molasses into three cups of water, and added some of the yellow serum...

... and poured it over a tub full of wheat bran


The remaining serum went back into the jar, sealed tightly and then bagged in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator. This will enable us to quickly make additional Bokashi bran mix throughout a calendar year!

The label reads: "Bokashi Serum for Gardening, good through Feb. 2015. Yes, it is supposed to smell bad."

After we had mixed the serum and water with the wheat bran, we sealed it into an airtight bag, inside a second airtight bag, inside a sealed utility bucket, with a label that says it will be ready for use on March 5th. Then we mixed that stinky mass of curd with some water and topsoil and used it to prep the vacant gardening bed where we will soon transplant our seedlings!

Tools. There is nothing quite as fun as working in the sunshine with gardening tools.
Although it has been time-consuming and stinky work, we are excited to incorporate the fruits of our labor into our composting ritual!

Phrase of the Day: February 20, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Day in the Life: Gardening in Emeryville

The rest of the country may be in the middle of winter, but here in Emeryville, we're getting started on our Spring planting!
Over the past two weeks, we have...
* completed the first two steps in the month-long process of making our own Bokashi composting Effective Microorganism mixture (this involved careful measuring and pouring, a little bit of math, and a whole lot of waiting);
* created our own illustrated planting calendar poster for the classroom wall that details what we can plant during each month of the year (based on the information in Golden Gate Gardening by Pamela Peirce);
* started three trays of vegetable seeds (snow peas, carrots, and mixed lettuces)...

... and weeded the itchy, nettle-like leaves out of the planting bed next to our picnic tables.

Before Spring Break, we hope to transplant our seedlings into the vegetable garden, water them with our collected greywater, and nourish them with the lactobacillus curd from the bokashi-making process.
We love gardening!

A Day in the Life: San Mateo Infant Community

                                                      We are setting up our lunch table.

                                                            I am peeling the egg shell.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Attention PRINTS Parents: Presidents' Day, Monday, February 17

Dear PRINTS Families,

Presidents’ Day is Monday, February 17th
School will be closed to honor all U.S. Presidents.

Thank you for your attention.

Attention PRINTS Parents: Staff Development Day, Friday, February 14

Staff Development Day, Friday, February 14th

Classes will not be held due to faculty and management professional development. Childcare is not available for this day.

Thank you for your attention.

A Day in the Life: San Mateo ErdKinder Spring Festival preparation

Getting Ready for the Spring Festival!

Last week, the Erdkinder students spent a lot of time finishing up their innovative costuming for the dance "Resilience" in our Spring Festival celebration. As always, in an authentic Montessori environment such as ours, we give students significant latitude to be innovative - which by its very nature means that obstacles arise, problems occur, and there needs to be the space and commitment from the teachers and guides to allow students to resolve issues for themselves.

 Here, the students are using UV "glow" paint to make designs on their black clothing so that these will be luminous under the UV lights onstage.
Checking our props and costumes are complete: the students are 100% responsible for ensuring that they have everything they need for the celebration. Each is given a grocery bag to collect and keep all of her costumes, props and accessories. Each student organized these in advance of and during transportation to the event.
Costumes drying in the classroom. Note that the closet door is open... as students finished painting their clothes, they went into the closet and shut the door. Then, they turned on the UV light to check that their painting was thick enough to glow properly. They were very focused on ensuring that the end result would be the best quality they could achieve for audience enjoyment and the satisfaction of a job well done.
The head covering was difficult to achieve. After trial-and-error, large opaque black tights were procured. They were then cut up and converted into head stockings. Tape was then affixed to the face portion of the head stocking in pairs of geometrical shapes: square, circle, triangle, etc., to symbolize how we need to work together to problem-solve and develop resilience - the theme of this year's celebration!
 And - even though all of this was happening, there was still time for our regular work. These students are working on European geography.
 This week, the students had to do some trouble-shooting on the community's Bokashi composting venture. It was a pretty smelly job, but all plunged in with a great attitude. Our compost collection needs to be "recalibrated" to ensure it is correctly balanced.

Finally, to end an exciting and varied week, a representative from NAEP (National Association of Educational Progress) came and administered national "STEM" testing for what is called the "Nation's report card". All of the older students (equivalent of 8th grade), were tested for their understanding of math, science, engineering and technology concepts. Here he is with our students - a retired high-school band teacher! - explaining how to conduct the testing using the NAEP's online testing tool.

Even though we do not "teach to test" at PRINTS, we always welcome the chance to have the students experience testing...after all, for us it is a practical life lesson!

Phrase of the Day: February 13, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014