Huron Playschool Cooperative

Scenes from the After School Program

Lots of creating was going on at playschool's after school program on Friday. Thanks to playschool parent Ingrid who was on co-op duty and managed to keep the kids still long enough to take a few pictures of what they were up to.

PS For a counterintuitive take on contemporary "maker" culture, check out this article, "Why I am Not a Maker." 

Duct tape fun




Glue gun fun

Early Days

In September, the walls at playschool are clean and bare, ready to be decorated with the artwork our children will create throughout the year. And the work has begun, with the display of these collages, a fun exercise and shapes and getting gluey. It's remarkable to think about how much the art will have changed by the end of the year, with the children having learned and progressed in their skills, ideas and manuel dexterity. It's all such a process, and wonderful to see. 

A chance moment

Do I admire my goldfish mug (my favourite mug!) because it reminds me of playschool's resident goldish, Mr. Bubbles—or do I admire Mr. Bubbles because he is a goldfish? The answer to both questions is probably yes. In Feng Shui, goldfish are meant to symbolize good luck and prosperity. Certainly, observing their bright colour and serenity brings about in one a sense of wellbeing. 

My mug was created by artist Phillis McCulloch, whose work currently occupies the window display at Clay Design Studio and Gallery, not far from playschool at 170 Brunswick Avenue (at Harbord Street). Along with her beautiful works (which are available for purchase) the display includes a short write-up with goldfish facts ("The collective noun for goldish is 'troubling'") and an artistic statement from McCulloch about how she believes "the fish gracing her pottery have been caught in a chance moment." 

As people who spend time with small children, we all know plenty about moments like that, and the days are packed with loads of them...the most chaotic of which, it's true, are always made better by a good cup of tea. 

Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards


There's always something good on offer on the playschool bookselves, and selections are switched up all the time! If you're interested in keeping your kids' book selection at home just as enticing, then do check out the finalists for the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards, which were just announced, and represent the best and most exciting new books in Canadian children's literature. (We're particularly fans of all the titles nominated for the $20,000 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Prize!) These books are all available at your local library, and available for order in all the places where good books are sold.


Dr Tastebuds (...or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Playschool Snack)


It was four years ago this fall that I came down with a condition I self-diagnosed as SNACK ANXIETY. It was my first time preparing snack for my daughter's playschool class, and I felt like the pressure was on. During the weekend before our family's first snack week was to begin, I actually had snack anxiety dreams, about sad sunken muffins and emaciated carrots. I was worried about what to bring, and how much, and what the teachers would think about our offerings, and what if the children hated it? 

Thankfully, these days the snack anxiety has subsided. I haven't dreamed about muffins in forever, and I could rig up a snack menu with my eyes closed. And to get you too to this peaceful place of snack duty bliss, I'm pleased to impart a few things I've learned over the years. 

1) Don't worry about "doing it right." Everybody does snack their own way based upon culinary skills, cultural background, time constraints, and children's peculiar eating habits. Own your snack week. Let your snack selves shine! 

2) Remember that nobody's going to go hungry. Snack is nicely sandwiched (see what I did there?) in between the more substantial meals of breakfast and lunch, and if a child happens to refuse what's on offer, she'll have another change to eat within the next 120 minutes. Everything is going to be fine. 

3) Make the foods that you know your child likes! This is why snack during our family's week is fruits than veggies. Full disclosure: this post is accompanied by a photo of peppers, and my children have never, ever eaten peppers ever. I'm working on it... But in the meantime, it will be apple slices and sliced strawberries on our end, carrot sticks in a pinch.

4) Take it easy on yourself. I have an old snack stand-by I keep on hand for the evenings when I barely have time to make my family dinner, let alone snack—thank goodness for whole wheat bagels with cream cheese, and a bag of apples! Snack is ready in a snap. 

5) Pay attention when you're on co-op shifts or check out the snack menu posted on the kitchen door. And then totally steal other parents' ideas. We are each others' best resources. 

6) Remember that snack is a snack and not a meal. Huge portions are not necessary. 

7) Don't be afraid to try new snack ideas. (See point 1 about OWNING YOUR SNACK WEEK.) The worst that will happen is that some children won't like what you're serving. But here's a secret: somebody's going to always not like what you're serving no matter what you do, so you might as well have a bit of fun. 

8) Fruits/veg and grains are relatively easy to prepare; protein is more of a challenge. Here's what I do: hummous, cheese, edamame, black bean brownies, chia chocolate pudding, chickpeas, or yoghurt. If you come up with another idea during your snack week, I'll probably steal it too ;)

9) If you're feeling really creative, do themed snacks. One parent did a different colour for each day of the week; another did a snack make up of different geometric shapes. I'm partial to baking scones and like to do an Afternoon Tea snack sometimes. And if you choose not to do anything like this, nobody will even notice.

10) Don't be afraid to make something amazing on the days that I'm on co-op duty. I will praise your snack prowess and probably love you forever.  

Back to School

We're so excited to be heading back to Huron Playschool for the 2016/2017 school year! 

See You In September!

While it is true that three weeks of Playschool Summer Camp are just getting underway (and the program is looking so good!!), we've only just said farewell to the 2015-2016 Playschool Year. On the last day of school, each of the children in the morning program received their own personal learning story with photographs and artwork documenting how much they have all grown and changed from September to June. The learning stories too document the memories, friendships and other strong relationships they have taken away from their playschool experience—it has truly been an excellent year. 

And if we weren't all feeling emotional enough, Tracey read just one more book before it was time to pack up and go home, and that was What a Wonderful World, the song made famous by Louis Armstrong, illustrated by Ashley Bryan: 

"I hear babies crying, I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than I'll ever know. 

And I think to myself—what a wonderful world." 

Thanks to all of you who make it so. 

Happy Pride Month

"When children don’t see themselves reflected in books they read, or when the few images they see in stories, TV and movies are negative or stereotypical, that sends a powerful and silencing message." —Robin Stevenson, author of new book Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community

Check out Robin's post at Canadian books website about the importance of there being a LGBTQ canon for young readers, and also some great book recommendations

Happy Pride Month! 

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