November 2014 SFF Newsletter


  • I attended a gathering of Heads of Friends Schools at Pendle Hill, PA on October 16-17.  There were over 30 folks present.  The focus this year was Transparency and Healing:  Coping with Difficult issues in a school community.
  • On October 22, Julie Baron, Ebonne Dupree, and I attended a gathering for teachers new to Quaker schools at Sidwell Friends, here in DC.  Sabina Zeffler also attended as a presenter.
  • The following day Drew Smith, new executive director of Friends Council on Education, which we are a member of, toured SfF and met with me.  It was his first visit in his new position.

THANKS – to Ann-Marie Mason and room parents Andrea Repetto Vargas, Dorris Lin, Alexis Albion & Stacey Bosshardt for organizing a very sociable dinner on October 21.  Over two thirds of our parents were present, and in spite of the rain, we had a wonderful time.
WELCOME – to our new family in the Quaker House classroom – Satya Chandy and her moms Sunu Chandy and Erika Symmonds.  They have just moved to Adams-Morgan from Brooklyn.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION – On October 29 we practiced an emergency evacuation by walking to St. Margaret’s Church on Connecticut Ave.  If we were ever forced from our site and couldn’t shelter in place, that is where we would go.  At the following staff/faculty meeting we debriefed on what we learned in order to make such an evacuation more efficient if ever we need to use it.  All the children walked well.

Coming up this month:
November 11th – Veterans Day (No School)
November 19th- 21st – Fall Conferences
November 23rd – Annual Fundraising Auction
November 27th + 28th – Thanksgiving Holiday (No School)



A Cure for Whining?
Whining; a behavior that every child will try sooner or later. It’s that grating mewling sound that will cause parents and teachers to do almost anything just to make it stop. Children whine for a very simple reason.  It works. Preschoolers have a low threshold for frustration and when any changes occur such as saying goodbye to a parent in the morning, the arrival of a new sibling or transitions throughout the school day it causes the child to seek attention, even if it’s the negative kind.
Children who whine in an attempt to get what they want lack proper communication skills. Do not blame your child for this behavior because when parents give in to whining, it shows the child its acceptable behavior. Giving in or ignoring without communication hinders the child from learning to communicate appropriately.

The Cure: How can you stop it?

  • Point out whining when you hear it.  If your child has trouble hearing the difference, let them know how it sounds to you (without making fun).  
  • Respond with I-statements and model the way you want the child to speak. Say something like, ‘I don’t like it when you whine. If you want a cup of water, say it like this.’ Then model the exact words and tone you want the child to use.
  • Distractions with a cleaver trick; using a “whine” cup, or bowl or bucket or whatever’s at hand. “Whenever your child starts say, ‘Here, go pour out your whine and bring me your regular voice.’ It usually gets a smile then they’ll usually change their tone.” Then thank your child for using a “pleasant” voice.
  • Whisper a response back. Your child will have to get quieter to hear what you are saying.
  • State: “I’m sorry, but when you talk in that voice, I can’t understand anything you’re saying. Use your normal voice and I’ll try to listen to you.” Then ignore them until they start to comply.

Finally remember to be flexible and patient. Whenever possible, meet your child halfway (compromise). “”Ok we can stay on the playground for five minutes then it’s time to go home.”



Choosing books to include in the Rainbow Room curriculum is both rewarding and challenging.  While I [Makai] can find books that will work well with the topic at hand, I notice the lack of children of color in these childhood treasures.  Earlier in the year, there was an article published in the New York Times titled “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature” by Christopher Meyers. The article states that “of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people.” This troubling statistic is a reminder that even though it seems progress has been made regarding the inclusion of people of color in the media, there is a long way to go. Meyers calls it apartheid of literature because “characters of color are limited to the townships of occasional historical books that concern themselves with the legacies of civil rights and slavery but are never given a pass card to traverse the lands of adventure, curiosity, imagination or personal growth.”  Books serve as mirrors for children to see their reflection not only physically but also as a way to show the possibilities of what one may accomplish in reality or fantasy.  Images in books and other media can be identity affirming tools but as Meyers states “children of color remain outside the boundaries of imagination.” The main point of the article is that it is up to the adults to advocate for, write, illustrate, and put in the hands of children more books depicting diverse children in a variety of roles. Even though there is a plethora of children’s literature including works that include diverse children, it is important to notice the ways in which roles are given to characters.
The Council on Interracial Books for Children published “10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism.”   Here is a brief summary of the ten things to look for when screening a children’s book.
1. Check the illustrations. Look for stereotypes, tokenism, and who is doing what.
2. Check the story line. What are the standards for success, how are problems resolved, and what is the role of women?
3. Look at the lifestyles. Do illustrations offer genuine insight into another lifestyle?
4. Weigh the relationships between people. Who has the power? How are family relationships depicted?
5. Note the heroes. Whose interest is a particular hero really serving?
6. Consider the effect on a child’s self-image. Are norms established which limit any child’s aspirations and self-concept?
7. Consider the author’s or illustrator’s background. What qualifies the author or illustrators to deal with the subject?
8. Check out the author’s perspective. Is the perspective patriarchal, feminist, Eurocentric, etc?
9. Watch for loaded words. Are there insulting undertones and sexist language?
10. Look at the copyright date. The date can be a clue as to how likely a book is to be overtly racist or sexist.

Please let me know if you’d like a copy of the complete “10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism.”

Rainbow Room Reminders:
-Please provide two sets of seasonal extra clothes 
-As the weather changes, snow pants can come in and hang on the hooks until needed
-Label all items 
-Please sign up to bring in fruits and veggies to supplement snack 



The school year is off to a great start, and the Blue Room friends are becoming settled and more familiar with our routine and their surroundings every day! Now that we have that great foundation, it is time for fun, creative, and developmentally appropriate activities.  October has been full of themes including: exploring our classroom, all about me, leaves and trees, and fall foods. Along the way Cyana, Staci and I (Elizabeth) have incorporated process-focused art experiences. In order to better explain this concept I recently re-read an article from TYC entitled: How Process Art Experiences Support Preschoolers. The article can be found via the NAEYC website but I would like to highlight a few key points, showing how beneficial process-focused art is for the Blue Room.

First, some characteristics of process-focused art experiences include:
– there are no step-by-step instructions
– there is no sample for children to follow
– there is no right or wrong way to explore and create
– the art is focused on the experience and on exploration of techniques, tools, and materials
– the art is unique and original
– the art is entirely the children’s own
– the art experience is a child’s choice

This encourages and praises each creation no matter how the final product eventually turns out.

Throughout these experiences the children are growing in a number of areas.  Physically they are using their fine motor skills to paint, glue, use clay, and make collages. Cognitively they can compare, contrast, plan and problem solve. In language and literacy development they can discuss ideas and build vocabulary, and in social/emotional development they can relax, focus, feel successful, and express their feelings.

There are numerous opportunities in the Blue Room for these creative process-focused activities, including:
– easel painting with a variety of paints and paintbrushes (with no directions)
– watercolor painting
– exploring and creating with clay
– finger painting
– stringing beads independently and creatively
– making collages using tissue paper, various sizes of paper, glue, paste, glue sticks, scissors and recycled materials
– and many more!

By approaching art with a wide variety of new and interesting materials and plenty of time to ensure each child can carry out their plans and explorations, each creation is full of not only growth and development but fun!



Sensory play is an important part of early childhood development. It lets children explore and learn about their world through what they do best – play.  We do lots of different kind of sensory play in Green Room, and I thought I would show some of the materials we have used this year so far and some information came from article By Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on November 6, 2011 on Every Day Sensory Play in Preschool. I also added comments and pictures of Green Room children playing in sensory material.

Children love sensory play.   Sensory play can be messy and fun.  So the key is to approach sensory play with the right mindset. First, it is important to remember that children learn best when they can actually touch, see, smell, taste, hear, and manipulate the materials in their world…

As children scoop up seeds or rice or other small items and fill up a container, they are discovering how much that container can hold before it overflows. Sensory play promotes spatial awareness, mathematical thinking, and scientific exploration and discovery…

Sometimes sensory play is simply a great way for children to relieve their stress. Sensory play can be very soothing and relaxing to a young child…

Sensory play is also a great way to foster fine motor development. Rolling and cutting up play dough or scooping and pouring water and beans all involve eye -hand coordination and fine motor control. In the process of playing with these materials, children are building the skills and muscles they will need for handwriting and other more formal educational processes down the road…

Sensory play can involve just about any kind of material you can think of from sticks and leaves to water, play dough, goop, beans, rice, pasta, paper, straws, and the list goes on. If it can be put in a tub along with a few tools for play and the freedom to explore and manipulate, then it can be used for sensory play…

Adding tools for sensory play is always a must. We have an entire bin filled with cups, laundry lids, shovels, measuring spoons, tweezers, magnifiers, and other items. We rotate the items frequently and the children use those items in the sensory tubs. It is more fun to scoop up pasta and pour it from one container to another than just to have a container of pasta. Tools for play help make sensory play more interesting and engaging…

We have some sort of sensory play out for the children just about every day. We are starting to have at least two sensory tubs or some kind of sensory activity out for the children to explore.  On most days, we even have more than one kind of sensory activity for the children to choose from…

We set out materials and tools for sensory play in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we set the materials out in tray and other times we use tubs. By giving the children a tray or tub, they have their working space to explore…

We also use water and sand table that we rotate items for sensory play in…

Just because we use a material once, doesn’t mean you can’t use it again. Children don’t mind playing with the same materials many times over. Each time they use the materials, they will invent new ideas for play and imagination…