|Beansprouts Early Learning Childcare Center|
It is not easy being a parent right now to a toddler or preschooler. We’re all still learning how to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 quarantine. Who doesn’t need an activity their child can do (semi) independently? Whether you have bought play dough off Amazon or made your own (video tutorial at the bottom of this blog post), play dough can provide your child fun and learning while at home. In the past two weeks I have frequently found myself getting the play dough out for P to play while I answer emails or quite possibly sit in the bathroom alone chugging coffee.
Growing up on a small island off the coast of Maine, I learned the importance of living and working in an authentic, caring community of people who support, love, and respect one another. Every day I am honored to work for a Freeport company that values community and supports the community’s needs by helping to make it a better place to live and work.
We have a mission at Beansprouts: to provide a safe and secure environment for the children in our care and prepare nourishing, homemade meals from real food. We intentionally plan an environment that is joyful, clean, and calm while creating a learning curriculum that supports and prepares every child for the transition to more formal schooling. Another aspect of our mission (and very important to us) is our commitment to community: supporting local farms as suppliers for our food and reaching out to local businesses for maintenance and hardware expertise. We value and respect our fellow business owners and support one another in our business ventures, often working together to host events and coordinate programs. Our commitment to community also extends to the families and children who live in Freeport because we care about the community of Freeport and the people who live here.
On Thursday August 25th, Beansprouts will be hosting a benefit dinner for Vivenne Crowell and her family. The Crowell family, who live in Freeport, are facing a health challenge: 3 year old daughter Vivenne is having her 3rd open heart surgery. Because we believe wholeheartedly in doing our part to give back to our community, we are hosting a dinner to help raise funds to offset the cost of Vivienne’s medical expenses. A donation jar (with suggested donation of $5) will be at the door and overflow parking will be available at the Shaw’s parking lot. Please visit our Facebook page or call 869-5457 to RSVP.
The connections Beansprouts shares with the businesses and people around us have motivated us to build a stronger and more inspiring Freeport community. We hope you will join us for dinner and work with us in our mission to support our community.
Inspired by Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are...And inspired by a Beansprouts child’s Spiderman costume and his inspiring idea that we can all be superheroes who save the world and be kind.
The day he wore his costume and
Used powers of one kind
His mother called him “Spider Man!”
And he said “I’ll save the world!”
So he was sent to save the world and everything.
That very night in his room
And brewed…and brewed
Until the room was full of trouble
And the people needed saving everywhere.
And an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for him
And he sailed off through night and day
And in and out of weeks
And almost over a year
To where the superheroes are
And when he got to the place where the superheroes are
They tied their colorful capes
And used their incredible powers
And donned their colorful tights
Till the child said “Be Still!”
And tamed them with the magic trick of tying his Spiderman belt all by himself
And they were humbled and called him
“The most super-est of superheroes.”
“And now,” cried he, “Let the wild saving start!”
And they saved a kitty up a tree.
And they saved a friend who was feeling sad.
And they saved a ball that went over the fence.
“Now stop!” he said and sent the superheroes
off to save the world by themselves.
And he was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.
And from far away across the world he heard his Mom calling
So he gave up being the super-est of all the superheroes.
But the superheroes cried: “Oh, please don’t go!
We need your help to be superheroes!”
But he said “No!”
The superheroes tied their colorful capes and
used their incredible powers and donned their colorful tights
but the child stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.
And sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks
and over a day and into the night of his very own room
where he found his Mommy waiting for him.
And she was ready with a hug.
At Beansprouts, we love to celebrate! We celebrate birthdays and when babies learn to walk, staff and child accomplishments, and graduating from Pre-K! The children in Pre-K have worked hard over the past year as they prepared to transition to Kindergarten and we have celebrated their accomplishments (both individual and group) with a short and sweet graduation ceremony.
The world’s opinions on graduation ceremonies for young children vary widely from “cute” to “ridiculous” but I want to share 4 reasons why I LOVE our Beansprouts graduation ceremony:
#1: I know how hard they have worked.
Today’s Kindergarten is not like the Kindergarten you or I attended as a child. US News went so far as to declare that “Kindergarten is the new first grade” (article link below). Researchers at the University of Virginia have discovered that today’s Kindergarten is more similar to first grade in terms of classroom structure and teacher expectations. In the past, Kindergarten was the classroom where your children learned the alphabet and early literacy skills, developed proper pencil grip, learned self-care and independence, navigated the social world of peers, and learned beginning math concepts; however, in today’s Kindergarten, children need to go in with a foundation of those concepts.
At Beansprouts, our Pre-K program focuses on developmentally appropriate practice while preparing the children to transition to Kindergarten. Our well-rounded, thoughtful, and interest-based learning experiences have helped our children develop the social, cognitive, emotional, and physical skills needed for Kindergarten.
The children worked hard to get ready for today’s Kindergarten. Celebrating that work with a ceremony (and cake!) is well worth our time and efforts.
#2: It’s a good practice for confidence and courage.
Imagine this: you are 5 years old. You’ve been practicing for graduation and the day is finally here. As you march in and look around, you realize that every seat is full and you know only a fraction of the people smiling at you. So you hesitate, look at your teacher (who smiles and nods to you), and take the first step toward your chair. The rest of the ceremony is flawless: you stand and sing, you sit and smile, you shake hands and receive your diploma, and you take your final bow.
I recognize and applaud the courage and confidence it took for every child to march into that room full of smiling parents…to stand and sing in front of a group of people…to walk across the room to receive their diploma…to smile proudly and take their bows.
It is a confidence and bravery that will carry over when they take their first step into their new Kindergarten classroom. It is a confidence you will see when they do music performances in their new school. It’s the very beginning of future confidence for walking up to a new friend, auditioning for a play, walking into a college interview, or getting a first job. Practicing courage and confidence helps our children take that first step toward their future goals and it starts in Pre-K.
#3: We LOVE them.
At Beansprouts, we LOVE the children in our care. We know what makes them happy, how to help them have a great day, and how to help them smile when they feel sad. And we are so sad to think about your children leaving us. Having a chance to say goodbye and watch them take that final bow is something we need just as much as they want to do it.
We are so thankful you share your children with us and we are so proud to share in this moment of their lives.
#4: The children are SO cute. Look at them!!
As I say goodbye to this amazing group of Pre-K children, I am preparing to welcome a new group! The Class of 2017 walks into my classroom on Monday morning and I am looking forward to sharing that journey with you. Be sure to like our Facebook page (if you haven't already) for photos and updates as we love and grow with your children.
Link to US News Article:
As I approach my 1 year anniversary of working at Beansprouts, I have been reflecting on the many things I have loved about our amazing program! So for this blog post I offer you: 101 Things I Love About Beansprouts!
December has been a magical time at Beansprouts and, as we say goodbye to 2015 and head into the New Year, I wanted to share some of those special moments I was blessed to share with Pre-K throughout the holiday season.
...Singing holiday songs for our moms and dads…Being encouraged by our parents even when we felt nervous…Our moms and dads and grandparents singing carols with us afterwards…
…Sharing leftover gingerbread house pieces with toddler friends so we could help them build gingerbread triangles…
…Exploring and learning about the holidays of December…Playing dreidel and trading pennies…Finding France on the map and leaving out stockings for treats…Making latkes to honor Hanukkah…And holiday crafts as we counted down to Christmas…
…Counting the days to the movie day…We got to wear pajamas to school and watch an amazing movie together…
…Thinking about the gifts we would give the world…Trees and sparkles and families and bells that make sweet sounds…
…Pre-K and Preschool drinking cocoa and snuggled together to watch The Polar Express…And clapping at the end when the boy finally hears the bell…
…Yearling teachers who stay late so an assistant doesn’t have to be alone…
…Toddler teachers inviting others to share a rainy morning together…Because getting through a rainy day together is always more fun than being apart…
…Infant teachers who bring elf babies up to Pre-K to show off adorable pajamas… AND
…Former Pre-K children who have graduated but come back for a hug, a quick snuggle, a quiet moment, or to share a story about something amazing that happened that day…
Those little moments we share are the true gifts of Beansprouts and children carry those gifts with them far beyond the classroom. When former Pre-K children come back to visit and run into our arms for a hug or when Pre-K has leftover materials for gingerbread houses and wonder with whom they can share it so others can be just as happy as they were building, these are the special moments we share. Little moments of love and compassion…these gifts last longer than today or next week or next month. And our children carry those gifts into the world to share that same love and compassion with others.
Ah, LOVE. It's why I do what I do...And why early childhood education is so very important.
“Mom, just tell me the truth. Is there a Santa?”
Ten little words I didn’t think I would hear from my young son for at least another year. But I figured if he was asking me to tell him the truth then he already knew something was up. Many of my mom-friends have asked what I told him and I wanted to share it with you as well.
My son's name is Benjamin.
First, I told him that he was right: I buy and wrap all of his Santa gifts and fill everyone’s stockings. Then I told him he now gets to learn about the real magic of Santa at Christmas and shared with him a brief version of the story of Santa. A long time ago there lived a man whose name was Nicholas…He was kind and filled with love and gave gifts to those who had nothing. Many were inspired by his love and kindness and, when he passed away, people around the world continued telling his stories and sharing gifts with others. This has happened for hundreds and hundreds of years.
I shared with Benjamin that knowing the truth about Santa comes with great responsibility: showing others how to believe in the things we can’t see: love, kindness, hope. I told him about the special magic of caring for those around us and sharing our time and love with those in need. How when we share love like that, it can multiply until it fills the world with magic and compassion and love.
I want my children to keep believing in magic. Believing in the things you can’t see is what gives us the confidence to change the world in which we live. Believing in the things you can't see is what makes the scientist continue looking for a cure for cancer. It’s what pushes the young inventor to keep tinkering with ideas in his room. It's what pushes the pre-k child to create the most incredible block buildings or write imaginative fantasy stories in a journal. Believing in magic will someday save the rainforests, stop global warming, create peace, and find renewable resources for the future. Believing in the things you can’t see is what will bring peace and love and magic to our world.
Magic that changes the world...It starts in childhood.
Benjamin took our conversation very well. Whenever a younger cousin mentions Santa, Ben gives us a knowing look and smiles. When we do our Advent acts of kindness each day, he enjoys it more than he has in the past. I was worried that finding out the truth would take away some of the childhood magic for him but there’s been a different kind of magic this year for our family. For that, I am thankful.
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist…how dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world."
The above quote is from Frank Church’s 1897 editorial response to 8-year old Virginia O’Hanlon when she wrote to the newspaper asking if there was a Santa Claus.
Recently we were proud to host our Preschool and Pre-k families for a Harvest Lunch at our school! Throughout November, as we all reflected on the things for which we are thankful, we thought a lot about our Beansprouts families. Families play the most important part in helping us love and educate the children in our care and, feeling so appreciative of the support and love from our families, we decided to invite our Preschool and Pre-K families to a homemade Harvest Lunch.
At Beansprouts, we are all about food! We understand that providing our children with the most fresh, organic, and unprocessed foods will help build a foundation for a long life of healthy living and good choices. All of our meals are homemade in our kitchens by our chef Sage and, as we prepared the menu for the Harvest Lunch, we were excited to share that aspect of our day with our families. Everything we ate for the Harvest Lunch was sourced from local farms and businesses.
Here’s what was on the menu:
White house roasted chicken from Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds, ME
Garlic mashed potatoes from Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, ME
Roasted squash, carrots, green beans from Levesque’s Farm in Leeds, ME
Cranberry sauce and stuffing with cranberries from Sugar Hill Farm in Columbia Falls
Fresh baked dinner rolls from Bow Street Market in Freeport
Apple and pumpkin pies from Bow Street Market in Freeport
Even the salt came from the Maine Sea Salt Company and our chef used Kate’s Homemade Butter, which is churned in Arundel
As we prepared to share lunch with our families, we also explored a curriculum that supported the special event. We incorporated Literacy and Writing as we made homemade, written invitations for our families. We explored Science and Math as we helped Ms. Sage with food preparation. We used our Creativity to plan and decorate the tables on which we would serve our food. We explored where foods comes from and how important it is to eat healthy, fresh foods. We also engaged in Community and Social Studies by working together to host a magnificent event and showed off the table manners we practice every day at our family style meals.
This Thanksgiving I was thankful for many things: my family, my friends, good books and sleeping in, and chocolate. I am also thankful for all of our Beansprouts families. Every day you share your children with us and I feel incredibly blessed at the love and care you continue to show us each day.
Last week the Pre-K class planned a trip to Wolfe’s Neck Farm for a visit with the farm animals and a morning of hiking along the trails! With palpable excitement and sturdy mud boots, we ventured our way down the road for a visit with our family and community-friendly farm neighbors: Wolfe’s Neck Farm!
Defined on its website as “a place for all…to learn about agriculture…visit the animals, explore the natural world…and enjoy the Maine coast,” the 626-acre saltwater farm has been part of the Freeport community since founders Eleanor Houston Smith and Lawrence M.C. Smith purchased the land in 1947. Knowing a visit to the farm would be abound with opportunities to expand on the teaching we do in Pre-K about preservation of resources, caring for animals, and protection of our lands, we set out for a visit to the farm.
First we made a visit to the animals! We saw the goats, sheep, cows, chickens, and rooster! We failed to capture it on camera but we were all laughing at one goat who defiantly stood on top of the hay stack, lording over the other goats who were eating. We were wondering how he would get down when we got to witness the incredible feat of his jumping over his compatriots. Watching him land solidly on his feet and walk away from the group, we had to admit perhaps he had earned the proverbial title of "king of the haystack".
The chickens and cows were fun to see as well! The chickens "chattered" to us the whole time and the rooster called his welcome nice and loud for all to hear again and again. We were happy to learn more about the chickens from the informational signs posted on the pens and were appreciative of the time it must have taken to hang the signs.
After a lovely visit with the animals (and observing the vet lovingly care for a mama cow), we made our way to the Farm Loop Trail so we could spend the rest of our time hiking the trails. With bridges, natural steps, and beautiful fall foliage, the trail was well maintained and provided something fun around every corner to keep the children engaged in nature and observing the beauty of the natural world.
We followed the signs to a Heron Sanctuary. Though we saw no herons, it was a perfect opportunity to talk about the importance of land preservation for the animals with whom we share our land.
Not wanting our hike to end, we followed the trail signs to the Marsh Landing Outdoor Classroom. How impressed we were that our simple morning hike brought the children through 3 different types of habitats with different plants and opportunities for hands-on experience learning about the environment. It was also a perfect spot for quiet reflection and taking a break.
Another favorite aspect of the Wolfe's Neck trails were the several "outdoor classroom" circles set up, encouraging our little group to rest and snack and take a moment to sit together in the woods.
Giving our children access to nature and the opportunity to develop an appreciation for preservation and diversity plays an important part in the way we teach at Beansprouts. We are committed to helping our children connect to our natural world in a way that helps them become stewards for preservation and lovers of nature so they may grow up and care for the world in which we live.
It was a lovely visit to the farm...and we were sad to leave (though excited to arrive back at school just in time for lunch!) Wolfe's Neck Farm is open to the public, free of charge (though guided school groups pay a fee), and open from dawn to dusk every day. Be sure to make your way to Freeport to visit the amazing work Wolfe's Neck and its employees/volunteers/interns/supporters are doing every day.
You can learn more at their website too! www.wolfesneckfarm.org