A Place to Connect Teachers and Support Children

As we work on our farm project, children have been wondering what animals are on a farm.  They also have been wondering if the animals think the same type of food that smells good to us smells and tastes good to the animals.  This discussion arose as we learned and studied silage. photo (63)

Today, after trying cabbage from our garden a child wondered if our bunny, Rio, would eat it. The children ran over calling any adult or child in their path to join them.  Children all joined near the bunny and a child fed the bunny some cabbage.  To the children’s surprise, he ate it!  The children now wonder, “Do horses and cows like cabbage?”

 

A few mornings ago, a child handed me a scarf and told me all of the things that they can do with a scarf including wearing them in the winter, putting on your head, dancing rhythmically with it and wearing it as part of your outfit. I mentioned that sometimes I will use a scarf if I am dancing (For those of you who do not know, I am first generation born in America.  I was raised and taught all of the traditions of our Greek culture). I then explained to the children that many of the dances we dance include the use of a scarf.  The children started to ask questions and we then brought up a few videos of several different dances.  After watching the videos the children wanted to learn to dance!

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A CD was located in the classroom that I had made.  I then taught the children three traditional dances.  We would start by labeling the dance and then watching it on YouTube.  We then would try out each dance without music and then adding music to it when we felt we had learned the steps.  After teaching each of the dances, I had to walk away to help a child.  When I returned,  a child was teaching other children each of the four dances I had taught with complete accuracy.

After sharing this anecdote with mom later that day, she shared her daughter taught her how to do it as well!

Please share any experiences you have from teaching your children things that are important to you!

A season of change

Change.  It happens to all of us.  This time of year always brings so much change.

  • The change of the seasons from Spring to Summer.
  • The sun is up so much longer.
  • Our lives seem to get so busy with sports.
  • Our children transition from one year of school, to home, and then eventually back to school again.

In our preschool room, we are beginning to talk about change as we are losing more than half of our class to Kindergarten this year!  We are discussing the changes of routines for our old children and then the new routines for our new children.  A quote our children say frequently during this time of year is, “our new friend is learning!”

I often times hear from families what can I do to support my child as they prepare this transition from their current school to their new school.  Some ideas can include:

  • Reading books about Kindergarten
    • The Night Before Kindergarten
    • Kindergarten Rocks
    • Kindergarten, Here I come!
    • The Kissing Hand
    • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
    • Welcome to Kindergarten
  • Visiting the new school (if possible–inside and outside)
  • creating a picture book of new and old to support the child
  • have discussions with your child about the new routine
  • each night as your child comes home discuss things that went well or didn’t go well
    • how can you change the didn’t go well

What great ideas do you use at your home? How do you help support your child with these changes?

 

Reflections

Many times, I am asked by students who do practicum hours in my classroom (for those of you who do not know we are a lab school and I have students join the room who are freshman to seniors to experience life in a preschool room.  Depending on the class, the students may observe, teach lesson or facilitate a project.) what is my favorite part about project work.  I felt  like this was  perfect time to share with you my thoughts.  Please feel free to add your own to the comments.

*The individual learning of each child!

-Some children may write a word for the first time.

-During this project, a little guy who is slow to warm has started the project work activity (whether it be my idea or his) every morning for three weeks (and counting!!)!

-Another of my little ones has remembered the origin of the ukulele and shares that with others.

-One of my older ones created his first three dimension representations and dealt with some frustrations along the way appropriately!

*The things that I learn as a teacher!!

- I learn about my own teaching such as how to engage children effectively with a project, what items I need to transform my room, and different ways to document the children’s learning.

-I also am able to see how amazing three, four and five-year olds are and always will be!  I see them grow in their own learning, begin to learn to represent, set goals for themselves, and work together as  a team.

-I learn details about specific items such as I now know all the parts of the ukulele!

*How caring our community  (both classroom and beyond) are to our children!

-We had the opportunity to meet with a local weather man who was more than gracious to our classroom!

-Families have been an outpouring support whether in my classroom or the community in our building.  This is also a wonderful way to get to know others and help teach the children about kindness, caring, and giving.

 

What’s your favorite part?

 

Winter Blues

Cold! Frigid! Freezing! No matter how you put it, if you live in the Midwest, you can probably add more words to this list.  If you live in the Midwest, you are probably thinking are we EVER going to make it out of this cold weather funk!  As I look at the forecast, I feel there is no end in sight and if I believe the groundhog six weeks of winter are here to stay.

So….What can you do with your child or families to beat this weather?!

 

  1. Family Game/Movie Night
  2. Create a bowling alley in your home.  Get the whole family involved encouraging children to create the pins.  Children can decorate paper towel tubes, milk jugs, or pop bottles.
  3. Create an obstacle course in your house.  Children can help set it up and the children can practice running, jumping, climbing over, under, tiptoeing or walking heel to toe.
  4. Visit the local store’s craft department.  Many local stores have picture frames, puzzles, wooden blocks, trinkets that can be painted and given as gifts.
  5. Cook/Bake! Bake a batch of cookies and take it to the local police and fire department.  Make pizza for dinner that evening.
  6. Take up a hobby!
  7. Bring the winter weather in! Put snow in your tub.  Put younger children in snow pants and put them in.  Older children can build just bending in the tub.
  8. Become crafty with materials in your home! Use a highlighter to find letters or words in old newspapers.  Cut up old magazines, papers, and find materials around the house to make collages.
  9. In your area or neighboring areas visit the library, museum, or discovery centers!
  10. Make play dough.

No-Cook Play Clay

¼ cup salt

1 cup flour
¼ cup water
Food coloring

Mix the salt and flour in a bowl. Add water and food coloring. Knead dough to make a clay consistency. Note: This dough doesn’t last as long as the cooked recipe.

Oatmeal Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 cups oatmeal
Mix everything together in a large bowl. Then knead for a few minutes. This play dough has a nice lumpy texture.

Homemade Silly Putty

2 cups white school glue
1 cup liquid starch
Mix together and set aside until dry. Store in an airtight container.

Long Lasting Play dough

Gathering Materials from kitchen: pitcher, spoon, measuring cups, tablespoon, teaspoon

2 cups flour

2 cups water

1 cup salt

4 teaspoons cream of tartar

4 tablespoon oil

Kool aid

Mix and cook

What are your favorite things to do during the Winter Season?

Cozy areas at home

One of the most common questions I have from parents during conferences is the topic of guidance. Often times, I share with families various techniques and ways for families to adopt these new techniques at home. I not only use these techniques with families and in my classroom, but I also use these same techniques at home. I have the pleasure of being a mom to a one and a half-year old. As my daughter started nearing her first birthday I knew I wanted to use all of the techniques I had learned over my teaching career with her. One of the most important ideas I knew I wanted to recreate at home was a cozy area.

When a child is older we encourage the child to be a part of setting this whole process up as much as possible. I began to reflect about how could my daughter be a part of this process at such a young age. I completely believe that I am building her a foundation for self-regulation and understanding of her own feelings, but also knew that I would have to present the materials and techniques in  a different manner than I would with older children.  I began the process of creating a cozy area at home by purchasing frames that she could paint on that wood.  She decorated four frames. Two frames have sign language (we are teaching her sign language) stop and help.  The other two have two house rules we made. We then added soft items to the area including a large stuffed animal, a small pillow, and a large pillow covered in a soft blanket.  Beside the pictures are emotion faces. When an incident occurs, we point out the emotion and sign the emotion word as well. Under all of this is a basket with feelings books , two stuffed animals, and my daughters “blankie”.

As we began to set up the area we added a few items at a time so that our daughter could explore each of the items before it was all ready. We then did a lot of teaching about the items as they were added. We also did some role-playing as well. Once it was officially set up we began to use it. Any time our daughter was upset we would offer the opportunity to go into that area to as we call it “calm your body”. We continued this for several weeks and she would start to use it even when she was scared of loud sounds. We have now had our area up for about four months. She uses it often and also encourages her stuffed animals and me and my husband to use it as well.  When she comes out from calming her body we ask her if she is ready sometimes she will say no and returning by herself to her cozy area. When she is ready she returns and we talk about whatever the reason that sent her to the cozy area.  We might be talking about scary noises, feeling over excited, feeling mad, and/or sad.  Below are pictures of ours cozy area.

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20140101-094434.jpg If you have created a cozy area at home, tell us about it.  What worked? Didn’t work? What questions do you have?

Cozy Area

One of the options to help children who are feeling over stimulated, sad, angry, or just need some quiet time is a cozy area.  In our classroom, the cozy area is tucked under the stairs of our classroom loft.  The children can bring a blanket or stuffed animal here if they need that to help  calm their bodies.  The area is in an area which is in a spot that does not have a lot of traffic.  The area is protected by staff and other children for children to have the opportunity to have this time.  Often times, when I am having a long day/week, I set time aside for myself to relax.  This may be taking time for me by reading a book, taking a warm shower/bath, or going to bed early.  This space is designed for children to be able to take time for themselves as an adult would and relax and/or calm before returning to their room and peers.

In my classroom (a three, four, and five-year old room), we use a tool called ECERS-R which stands for the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale-Revised.  The rating scale is composed of 43 parts and two of the 43 parts is a discussion about space and private areas for children.  The section labeled “space for privacy” reads that a “high quality program would have more than one space” available for children. Spaces for privacy include areas where children have the opportunity to work alone or with one other person.  In our classroom, we have spaces like this around the room including the computer, the provocation (a table designed to spark children’s interest about an item and sketching, scientific inquiry, and conversations can occur) table, the reading area, and a large adult sized chair by the children’s cubbies.  These are all spaces our children can gravitate to if they need some time to themselves or with only one other friend. According to ECERS-R, “the soft furnishings in the cozy area must allow a child to completely escape the hardness of a typical early childhood classroom.”  Our cozy area is equipped with a bean bag, stuffed animals that are nearby, a chart developed by Dr. Becky Bailey which offers children an opportunity to identify their emotions and which technique they will use to calm their bodies, and books nearby if a child needs those to calm their body.

As new children come to our room, we model and teach about the areas available to the children.  Children who have been in our program before also teach the new children how to use the areas as well as checking on them as they begin to feel better.

Do you have one in your classroom? If so, what is in this area and how do the children use it?

Stay tuned as I will share how to make a cozy area at home next time I blog!

Until next time,

AIH

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