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Archive for January, 2011

Knowledge Web

Each project has three phases in it.  In the first phase, we begin to gather information with both the children and with your teaching team.  The first phases is typically about one to two weeks. 

As I shared in the last post, the teachers gather information by creating the anticipatory web.  We begin, with the children, by creating a web of what the children know.  For children who have been a part of the project experience before, they have lots to share and typically do not need any prompts.  The younger children often begin to tell you personal stories where you are able to identify what they know from those stories.  For example, a child might say, “I have a tree in my back yard that has apples on it.”  As the teacher, you might say, “So what you are saying is that you know apples grow on trees?”  After being at the Engaging Young Minds Training with Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard last July, we also encourage the children to sketch and share stories about their personal experiences.  We gain so much knowledge from the children at this time!  We can even save the first time personal sketches and compare with the sketches at the end of the project.   Lilian and Sylvia taught us the importance of these stories as we followed this same procedures in our adult project.

Check out our knowledge web with the children!

Please let us know how your knowledge webs!  What are you strengths? What do you feel your weakness are when creating the web? Do you have any frustrations?  Please share, your concerns, thoughts, or ideas can help someone else!

“The greatest motivational act one person can do for another is to listen.”-Roy Moody

Keep Growing and Inspiring!


Anticipatory Web

The most important thing to remember when doing project work is that the best project is the ones the teachers learn from as well.  My assistant and I are always really excited to find out what we will learn next!  We have learned so  much from our past projects and we know we will learn the same amount if not more from our Tree Project.  We then have our own questions to add to the children’s web and when the children ask us a question, we can honestly answer.  I don’t know, let us write that question down!

Tree Anticipatory Web

When the new project is determined, we spend time creating an anticipatory web.  This web is what we anticipate the children to want to learn or have already told you they want to learn from the project.  My assistant and I spend five to ten minutes brainstorming.  We put each word we think of relating to trees on a post-it note.  An example for this web was apple tree, leaves, stump, etc.  Once we have stopped brainstorming ideas, we begin to put them in categories.  After we place them in categories, we create a large web on paper.  We then use each of the terms and add them under a heading for the category.  We then add our curriculum domains and our curriculum objectives.  We also add Spanish, Greek (my home language), and Sign Language to our web.  We will then incorporate these terms in those languages in our classroom.  We typically start off small by only having five words in all three languages.  As interest persist, we will add more.

This web is a working document.  You will add to it or maybe even change directions.  For instance, you could have started a web on boats.  The web might also have a category on fish.  You might find out several weeks after webbing that the interest is actually fish.  You would then re-web using fish as the middle.


Once we have determined a project, we begin to bring in materials for the children so that they can investigate and learn from there own experiences.  (Many of us learn best when we are able to manipulate something!)  As children were waiting for group to begin, several began to look though a book about trees and the rainforest.  They began asking each other questions such as:

  • Do different kinds of birds live in trees?
  • What animals live in trees?
  • What kind of  trees are in the book? 

 Children who were able to answer based on their experiences or from the story would, while others would encourage children to write it down on our questions we had already logged!

Inspire your children!  Support them!  Offer them the tools to succeed!  

Learning and growing as a team through the text.

You can do this in your room by adding the below materials based on your project:

  • books
  • website
  • photography
  • props

Until next time-


Catalytic Event

We had our catalytic event for our new project: Trees.

The children created the Trees for our Tree Project!

My assistant and I had just finished reading a book that was given to us by our director called Inspiring Spaces for Young Children.  During the early morning, several children started to decorate the poles that are in our classroom.  As they used paper to tape around the pole, Kara (my assistant) shared that it looked like the book we had been reading where the classroom used the poles in their classroom to construct trees.  One of the children asked Kara if she could bring the book into the classroom so the children could see it.  As they were creating, the rest of the children were with me at snack.  We began talking about what we knew was on trees.  The children created a long list of items which included: bark, branches, leaves, snow, birds, birds nests, and bird houses.  The children then created a list of materials for me to get when I took snack back.  These items included pipe cleaners, model magic, string, and “whatever looked tree like.”

Once the materials were brought to the children, Kara and I stood back encouraging the children to tell us what to do.  The children broke out in work sessions.   The children broke into groups including: wrapping the pole, coloring leaves, cutting tape and adding it to leaves, adding leaves to the trees, wrapping twine around the pole, making birds, birds nests, bird houses, covering paper towel rolls, and adding the rolls to the tree as branches.

Each child spent time creating something for the tree.  Some children spent thirty minutes in this process while others spent as much as two hours!!  As parents came in for pick-up, the children were so excited to share their hard work. 

How you can find the beginning of a project in your room…

  • begin documenting common threads on children’s play
  • share your ideas and thoughts with the teachers in your classroom
  • once you believe you have determined the common thread; bring in an item that would support that

Stay tuned for our next adventure!


Teaching Emails 1: Observation

Sit back and think of a time when someone acknowledge your hard work, how did that make you feel?  Close your eyes and put yourself in that position.  You worked so hard on a presentation for a meeting or for a class and after presenting you received the grade you wanted, inspired one person in the group, or conveyed the message perfectly.  It’s a great feeling isn’t it?!  Then, to top of this great feeling that you have someone acknowledges your work!  They understand how hard you have worked. 
This above feeling that I am talking about is a scenario we can create for children.  When we help children feel like this, like us they want to try again, work harder, and succeed.  We need to help create this feeling for every child in your classroom.  Now, this is a task that will not happen overnight but it can happen!  Our job as a teacher is to motivate every single child.  This upcoming week, find one child to touch base with, begin to create a bond with them.  As you create this bond and begin thoroughly observing them add tracking statements so that the child understands you acknowledge their work.  During these observations, feel free to take notes!  You will then be able to use this for future reference!
As your getting to know this child (or on a deeper level), try these techniques:
  • find out their favorite thing to do in the classroom
  • what motivates them
  • what makes them excited
  • track their behaviors/movements (more or less depending on age)
  • begin to engage in this activity with them daily or ask them about it if unable to engage

When I tried this I found out on a deeper level more about a child who had been in my classroom about four months and has a strong relationship with my assistant.  I knew he enjoyed working in block center but he truly enjoys combing blocks and family living.  He is motivated by gross motor movements and acting out roles of various jobs/people/animals.  He gets excited when he works hard on something for many minutes and is able to accomplish the task (he worked repeatedly on creating a boat and when pieces fell over became frustrated.  I encouraged him verbally and he was able to do it after several tries!).  I plan on continuing creating this boat next week.

For more information about the Teaching Emails, please read the post: Welcome!


“When a person feels encouraged, he can face the impossible and overcome incredible adversity.”  John Maxwell

Teaching Email 2

My classroom is currently knee-deep in our bakery project!  This past week, my assistant planned and implemented the process of baking Gingerbread cookies.  With the Children’s Campus, each of our staff members is required to fulfill one to two personal goals.  My assistant’s goals over the past few years have been to further her own knowledge on child development, lesson planning, and project work!  Kudos to her lesson plan, execution, and what her and the children learned, it was phenomenal!  She started the week by having the children sketch and predict what the ingredients (which were laid out on the table) would create.  On Tuesday, the children followed the recipe to create the cookies.  On Wednesday, the children rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters to make various designs.  The children started to share that they would like to share the cookies–so we followed the children’s lead and made another batch so we could share more!  On Thursday, the children created another batch and on Friday they cut out shapes and baked.  The children who baked both days began to feel more confident in the skills they gained Tuesday and started to use those skills by themselves on Thursday! In the afternoon on Friday, the children counted and added cookies in a bag to share with their families.  This is only one week in our project!  We have learned so much and the children’s interest is still driving this project! 
Often times, I hear others ask the question, “How do you combine the learning objectives from your curriculum in your project work?”  In the above scenario, I have laid out only a few of the many objectives:
  • use strengthen and control to perform simple fine motor tasks
  • show interest in quantity and number
  • participating in measuring activities
  • persists in play for six to nine minutes
  • make comparisons among objects that have been observed
  • represents ideas through pictures, dictations, and play

As you enter the classroom this week, begin to observe the patterns of your children.  Look to see what they are interested in and begin to start a small project.  If you need help along the way, let me know!  I’d be willing to help.  If you already do project work in your classroom please reply all and share your experiences.


For more information about the Teaching Emails, please read the post: Welcome!



Welcome Teachers!


I would like to personally welcome you to the SAU Children’s Campus Blog.  If you are a first time blog user, welcome to the club!  I am too and would love to hear any of your feedback via our blog or via email at harrisonandromahii@sau.edu.  Feel free to peruse the website and learn more about me as a teacher and about our program.  I plan on using this blog to help support other teachers so please ask anything.  I will leave with you with inspiring quotes, ideas to try in the classroom, and what I have learned thus far in my teaching career.  We want our children to enjoy learning and become life long learners and that is what I would like of you!

Prior to the launch of our blog, I had been sending out emails with ideas and things to do in your own classroom which included reflections, observations, and techniques.  I will add those emails to the blog for reference if you’d like to return to them. 

Please feel free to share this blog with any of your colleagues! 


Andromahi I. Harrison

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