Thursday, September 12, 2013

Juicing with Josh and G!

I was at a party this weekend chatting with a friend who mentioned that she liked our projects but thought it would be helpful if I added some insight as to how we come up with inspiration for the things we do. It’s funny because before she asked the question I never really thought that anyone would be interested in hearing about the Willy Wonka think tank inside my head that churns out projects. That thing is always droning on and on and on.... even in my sleep!

The children sniffed lemon, ginger, oregano, basil and rosemary. We’ve had many conversations about how herbs have powerful antioxidants to clean out the insides of our bodies. Often the kids will graze on herbs from the garden during play in the outdoor classroom.

Truth be told, half the time I’m not really sure what we are going to do until I am in the midst of gathering supplies for a project and even then things are subject to change. Ideas just sort of emerge and take on a life of their own. Often one project gives birth to another and another and another until it fizzles out then I scavenge around for something new to explore. Sometimes our project plans are fantastic, other times they’re not - every once in a while things go dastardly awry and it’s an absolute failure. On those days we learn that failure can be a really great teacher of patience and persistence. We still end up learning something, just not the thing we set out to discover.

The actual inspiration for our projects comes from a variety of places; following the children’s play, observing other AMAZING teachers at work, stumbling across a long lost toy, surfing Pinterest, pictures in magazines, art shows, concerts, window displays at the mall, a gazillion books or some random thing I think the kids might find interesting from my own personal hobbies. Where ever I go I am always on the look out for unique things to share with the children, and when the right combination of elements come together, voila! a project is born.

Going to Arts, Beats and Eats had a lot of really great inspirational pieces for mixed media art projects. I met the coolest artist who helped me trouble shoot on some of our "failed" glass projects from last year.

The inspiration for this particular project came from watching the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead with my husband. It sounds like a depressing place for a children's project to be born but the documentary was actually pretty empowering. In the film Joe Cross goes on a 60 day juice fast to see if he can rid hid body of toxins and ditch the medications he relies on to keep his autoimmune disorder in check. He inspires a bunch people, who inspire a bunch of other people and pretty soon the whole thing takes on a life of it's own. If you would like to hear more about Joe’s amazing story you can check it out here

Kale, apple, carrot, ginger juice - looks and sounds disgusting but it's actually pretty awesome! The kids all asked for seconds.

In his travels, Joe spreads the good word about the harnessing the power of plants as a means to provide the human body with the ability to heal itself. The subject of nutrition is particularly important to us, because my husband lives with pancreatitis.  Josh has never had a drinking problem or any of the other pre existing conditions that can cause pancreatitis so understanding the underlying cause and management of his illness has been a challenge for both of us. Slowly we are making progress and working together to re-imagine our version of living happily ever after as we work together to find ways to restore his health. 

Washing, chopping and juicing veggies is a great way to explore new foods in a non threatening way.

Our personal story has this whole trickle down effect on how we interact with the children. We believe strongly in putting children in control of their own well being by educating them in ways that they can care for their own bodies. We talk about all the things our bodies are telling us so that they know they have the power to change the way they feel. For instance, our real life discussions such as: If you can't make poop, your body probably needs more vegetables, if your tummy is upset, it might be trying to get rid of some germs, if you can't sit still, your body needs to run and if your body is out of control, you might need a minute to "get it together" before you are ready work on your problem - happen on a regular basis.   

After hearing about Josh's cat scan the kids wanted to Google the procedure to learn more about it. Later they helped him practice for his appointment by pretending to be doctors then they built an ambulance in the dramatic play area.

In our little realm the kids know about Josh’s condition; we talk about it often so that they understand why he doesn't feel up for wrestling some days or why he doesn’t eat lunch with the rest of us. We all care about Josh so his health serves as a meaningful representation of what it means to take responsibility for your personal well being. Discussions about how he is working to heal his body by eating more vegetables, fruits, herbs and healthy grains are more meaningful because he is their role model. As Josh and I discover the nutritional value of foods we introduce into our diet, we share our new foods with the children. We also talk about other foods like hot dogs and chicken nuggets that are okay to eat sometimes but aren’t as healthy as a nice chicken breast or herb filled pesto. 

Pulp makes a great sensory experience in the outside kitchen. The kids made all sorts of “pies,” “salads,” and “soups”. They enjoyed smashing, mixing and sniffing it as they worked.

Giving children the wisdom to understand how their bodies work is a gift they will carry with them throughout their lives. Putting it in real life context and practicing every day makes it something they are likely to pack away in their little tool belt for success when they venture out in the world beyond our doors.

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