Calling all Kid and Family Art for the

Kensington Memorial Day Parade!

April 2016
OpenMinds is going to be in the Kensington Parade again and we'd love to include a piece of your families art in our entry!

This year the parade theme is animals of Kensington.  So we are going to fill our parade entry with pictures made by the children and families.  We think it will be really fun for your children to see their picture marching towards them in the parade! 

Your picture can be of any animal, made up or real.  It can be any size, although the bigger it is the better you will see it.  

We will need all pictures by May 18th so we can build them into our entry.
Spread the word if you know other kids of any age who would like to participate.  Everyone's art is welcome!

You can drop them off at our studio on 4236 Adams Ave, Kensington 92116.  If you need some large paper or any supplies to create your animal - let me know  - we have lots of supplies and would be happy to help you get what you need to create your animal!

Meet back at the OpenMinds Studio, 4236 Adams Ave to pick up your art, meet the live OpenMinds animals, shop our stock of kid tested games, or purchase a snack and enjoy some beauty with your family and friends in our backyard garden space.

Also if you'd like to march, dance, or play your way through the parade with us this year, let me know - we'd love to have you along!  As my grandmother would say, 'it's a real hoot!'

 Games, Games, Games at OpenMinds

March 2016

I have a wonderful job where I get to watch magical moments happen with children!  I get a mix of many other things that children can dish out, but when theses magical moments happen they are priceless!  I was lucky enough to have one today.  

We are running a games camp today in our Kensington location and yesterday we taught three card games to our students.  Today we had a big group of new students so I asked the students who were there yesterday to partner up with one of the new students and teach them one of the games that we learned yesterday.  They could choose the game they wanted to teach.  

It was amazing.  They all did exactly what I told them to do.  And if you work with children you know that is incredible all on it's own.  But what made it magical was to hear the heart and care with which my young teachers worked with their students.  

As I walked between the groups I heard them carefully explaining the rules of their chosen game.  I heard them helping the other when they were stuck.  I heard them laughing with a new person that they didn't know before that morning.  

It was community forming before my eyes and it was amazing to watch.  I was so proud of our students and how well they worked together.  I was also proud of how couragous they were to work with someone bran new to them, both as a teacher and as a learner.  To risk teaching and to risk learning.  

​We adults could learn something from these young pairs of youth as they try something new, share their knowledge and risk being wrong.  And we should be so lucky to find communities in our own lives where we are comfortable enough to do all three with other adults.

​It is moments like these that I know I am doing the right work here in the world.  


A Healthy Start to Your Yoga Practice for the Day
OpenMinds offers yoga to youth and adults with several classes each week.  I teach a lovely class focused on people 50+ which is both rigorious, restorative - with a focus on strength building an stretching.  At the end of todays class I was speaking with several people about hydration during yoga to avoid nausea or dizziness, so I did some research and I thought it might be helpful for all of you to see.

Preparing for yoga class it is really the same as for any exercise.  You want to be sure you have had enough water, but not too much that it is sloshing around inside of you!  And you want to manage your blood sugar levels so check in on if you are hungry 30 minutes before class and if you are, have something small and healthy to eat so that you have the energy you need for the class.

Some other possible causes of nausea or dizziness in yoga class are shallow breathing, overexertion or an inner ear imbalance.  (This last one is interesting, you are putting your body in all of these new positions, and that can cause the inner ear to react.  If that is the case, stop doing the poses that are causing the problem and continue doing the ones that are okay.  Give your inner ear time to adjust to these new positions.  Try them again next week, but stop at the first sign of a dizzy or nauseous feeling.)

If it persists, you should also consult your Dr. to be sure there is nothing more serious going on.  So this is just something for all of us to keep in mind as we continue with our personal yoga practice.  

Make time to Play Croquet this summer!

Players choose a mallet color and a corresponding ball. The color choice indicates which player will go first as shown on the starting stake.
Wickets are placed in a single or double diamond formation with the starting stake at one end of the field and the turning stake at the other end. The United States Croquet Association has a diagram of how to set out your wickets as well as detailed rules of play.

Players must strike the ball with their mallet, aiming to move the ball through the two wickets near the starting stake. If the ball successfully makes it through a wicket, players win another stroke. Play continues with players hitting their ball through all of the wickets on the court.

If you hit another player's ball, you get two choices. You either automatically win an extra stroke or you can "send" the player, meaning that you can place your ball right next to theirs and hit your ball (usually with great vigor) to send your opponent as far off course as possible.

The goal is to be the first person to make it through the entire course. Once your ball hits the starting stake, you become poison, meaning that if you hit another player's ball, he/she is eliminated from play. It also means that the person who is poison comes out attacking with their sole goal being to hit each player's ball and eliminate them from play.

As other players move through the course and return to the starting stake, it is possible to have multiple poison balls out on the court, which makes play tricky and exciting. The winner of the game is the last player standing.  Take this a place to start and then make up any rules that make the game for fun for your family!  

Fiber Arts...There is more to yarn and fabric than you think!

June 2016

We have been running fiber arts classes (knitting, crocheting, finger weaving, sewing and so on) with children for the past 8 years.  We started them because I was did all of that when I was young and knew how much fun it was to have a fiber arts project going and I wanted to share that with the youth of today.   Our students love Knit~Crochet~Weave~Stitch!  They get very excited to learn the next skill and they build a real sense of accomplishment throughout our time together.  They are so excited to make a great gift for someone they love.  It is creative, relaxing and an art that is not messy and they can take with them anywhere.  

But I was recently curiosu about the research had to say about the benefits of getting children and youth involved in fiber arts.  Here is what they had to say:

  • Many teachers and doctors attest, improvement is noted in fine motor coordination, reading, math, comprehension, critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • Teachers also see work in the fiber arts increase persistence, focus and follow through, all life long skills that help in whatever your future holds!
  • Fiber Arts projects allow you to get so focused on your task at hand you can become lost in your work and enter that space known as "flow" which can be so good for your mental and emotional health.
  • Youth who find a creative outlet that they love have the chance to get commpletely immersed in a project and that can help their worries to fade away which can be one of the secrets to happiness according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his TED talk:3.
  • Fiber arts projects such as knitting have the same brain benefits to memory and cognitive function that we are learning come from word and number puzzles.
  •  One study revealed that craft activities such as quilting and knitting were associated with decreased odds of having mild cognitive impairment
  • A fiber arts project can induce your body's relaxation response, in a similar way to meditation.  This can include decreasing the heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing and muscle tension.
  • One study found a strong relationship between knitting frequency and feeling calm and happy.  

So while it looks all a soft and cuddly on the outside, fiber arts projects are also packed full of life-skill power that will help your youth as they continue to find their way through school, work and life challenges.

What Makes OpenMinds Camps Special?

May 2016

​OpenMinds is committed to making after school and camp time an enriching community for children and a place parents feel good leaving their children.  That does not just happen.  It takes a lot of focus and attention.  We do many small things everyday with that goal in mind.  Here are some of them that you might not realize we think about every day.

​1. We listen.  

This is probably one of the biggest things we do to create a great place for your students.  We listen to hear what they think, what they feel, what they need, what they are excited about, what they are NOT excited about and what they notice in the world around them.  Listening is a rare gift in this busy world we live in and you would not believe what happens to a group of students when the people around them will listen and respond.

2. We make space for creativity.  

We plan out every detail of the day and then we see whee our students take it.  They are amazing thinkers and have so many great ideas.  We make room for them to take our plan and make it into something that is best suited for them and gives them more of what they are looking for.  We also work to provide new experiences, new materials, or a new way of looking at something that is very familiar.  We do this to engage the imagination of our students, get them thinking and to get their senses involved in the learning process so they can explore things on many different levels.

3. We practice servant leadership.

​It is important to lead when working with young people.  They need boundaries.  Even when they complain about it, they really want us to set boundaries.  It is within the saftey of well set limits that students can stretch and grow to their fullest.  That is how we lead.  We then watch what our students need and want and use that information to affect where we are going and what we are doing.  We use this information to inspire and to shape the work we do every day.  Our students help to teach us.  They are one of our very important customers and we work hard to give them the respect, consideration and care that they deserve.  In this way we can lead and serve at the same time, modeling this valuable skill for our students.

4. We strive to build a supportive community.

I am continually struck by the magic of community.  I have watched it form in many different situations for students of all ages and I cannot believe the power it has to help people feel good, whole and cared for.  We want that for our students.  We want them to feel really good about themselves and their relationships with the other students.  We want them to feel connected to the others in the room and know that these people will be there for them, even if they are not their best friends!  We want them to learn to better know themselves through their interactions with those around them.​  We know that much of security needed to stretch comes from the base of a solid community.

5. We see the unique brilliance inside every student.

We know that every persons has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses.  When your student is with us, we take the time to appreciate the brilliance inside your student and magnify that, helping your student to trust more in their skills.  We want to help build that attitude of self confidence in context.  It is a context that allows each individual to be their best, appreciate the gifts of others and at the same time have empathy for all.