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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

The Benefits of the Outdoor Classroom

How do you teach living and non-living? How do you teach the growth cycle? How do you teach about shadows? insects?

I hear these questions from parents, training teachers and SAU students as they try to learn more about our program and our classrooms.  We are lucky enough to have a wonderful outdoor space we call the Beehive.  This environment is my third and best teacher! It allows me to support and foster learning, curriculum goals, a love for nature, living things and the world around us.

As I was touring a family last week, the parent told me that they love our “playground.”  He then said, “This area is not a playground! This is an outdoor learning space! Learning is found everywhere.” As he looked around, he looked at each of the activities being facilitated at that time.  I looked around with him and couldn’t help but think the same thing.

Photo Jul 30, 11 11 02 AM

Here is a picture to capture the beauty of outdoor learning.  If you look really closely on the child’s hand you can see our discovery! (I’ll give you a hint, it’s green!) Happy learning!

Space

Last week, I posted about space.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here.  With that post, I was hoping for all of our followers to think about their spaces whether it be their classroom, their child’s room, or even their own room and begin to think about what space does to a child, an adult, or you as an individual.

As adults we can remove ourselves or prep ourselves for situations that are over stimulating or overwhelming. As an adult, if I am overwhelmed in a situation I can do many things.  First and foremost, I can recognize that is how I feel. As soon as I am able to do that, I can begin to find ways to help cope during this situation.  I can take some clutter away, dim the lights, work through some of the clutter and take a break, or even take my work to a less cluttered space if needed.

Let’s think about children.  How do children tell us they are overstimulated?  What does it look like as a one year old, two-year old, preschooler? What opportunities are we giving them to cope? If not, how can we offer them opportunities to handle the over stimulation?

Please comment below answering any or all of the above questions. I will continue to post on space over the next weeks.  Stay tuned!

-AIH

Reading Aloud to Children Part 3 – Flannel Stories

My three part series will come to a conclusion with a post about flannel board stories.  Flannel board stories are a great way to take your standard children’s book and make them a hands-on learning experience.  This is a great way for children to tell and retell their favorite stories.  Flannel stories are great for reading, listening, retelling, sequencing, language, turn taking, fine motor skills, math, and beyond.

Flannel stories can be done in several different ways.  I made my own flannel story for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and used it last year with the Ladybugs (2 year old classroom) and this past week with the Leapfrogs (3-5 year old classroom).  With both classes, I did the story in different ways.  One way you can do it would be to hand out the pieces to the children to hold on to and they can put them on the board when they hear that event or character appear in the story.  With my particular flannel story, I made a caterpillar that the children would feed the food as he ate it in the story.  The first time through I gave the children pieces to hold and when I read a particular food, they would have to search their pile to see if they had that piece and then they were able to feed it to the caterpillar.  photo 2-3

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Another time when I did it, I placed all the pieces on the flannel board to begin with and had the children take turns taking the pieces off the flannel board and into the caterpillar’s mouth.

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For retelling, I had a child place all the pieces on the flannel board and he wanted to feed the caterpillar without looking at the book.  He retold Monday through Friday by figuring out which pieces had multiples and making the connection that one piece would be the first day, two pieces would be the second day, etc.  I was impressed with his technique.

I had an amazing experience when I did this flannel story with the preschoolers.  After going through the story a few times, I had a child ask me, “Where’s your butterfly?”  I told him I did not have one, but maybe we could make one.  He agreed and we went to the table and I opened the book for him as a guide and he got out a paper towel roll, construction paper, markers, glue, and pipe cleaners.  Once other children saw what he was doing I had others join to make butterflies and caterpillars.  They were all so proud of their work.

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If you are looking to make your own flannel story, they are actually quite simple.  I have provided photos of the one I made, along with the pieces for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a canvas and felt.  I simply laid the felt over the canvas, wrapped it over onto the back and little bit and stapled it.  For the pieces, I looked up real-life photographs of the food.  I feel like the children are able to relate real-life photographs to their lives versus cartoon photographs.  I then laminated them and put a piece of circle velcro on the back.  You can also make the pieces out of felt.  If you are not going to use real-life photographs, I suggest using pieces that match the images in the book; that way children can simply match.  Another route to take would be to copy pages out of the book to use as your pieces (if doing so, the photos must be used for educational, personal, and nonprofit uses due to copyright laws).

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(Note: For the pieces that are multiples, I made them all.  Two pears, three plums, etc.)

For popular children’s book, the internet is a great resource to use for flannel story pieces.  Many of them are free printables that you can either color yourself or print out in color and use.  I have provided a few websites that contain pieces for popular stories that you might find of interest.  It is pretty easy to find printables if you have a specific story in mind that you would like to use.  Flannel board stories are such a simple lesson to do with children and they love being able to interact with their favorite books.  This is something that contains no age limit; all children are able to participate and enjoy flannel stories in different ways.

http://www.dltk-kids.com/type/felt_board.htm

http://www.preschoolprintables.com/felt/felt.shtml

Stay tuned for more,

~ Chelsea

Reading Aloud to Children

I recently came across an article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) about reading aloud to children of all ages that I felt was important to share.

Why is reading aloud to our children so important?  I think the opening statement of this article lays out the importance of reading aloud to children in one sentence.  It says, “The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”  Motivation becomes noticeable when children are read aloud to.  When you show your children that reading is enjoyable, they will become more motivated and enthusiastic about reading as well.  This goes for all aspects of learning for all ages.  If you are showing interest and enthusiasm, children are going to do the same.

Another aspect of reading aloud that is so important to learning is that of background knowledge.  The beginning of any lesson should begin with finding out what your children already know about the topic.  Background knowledge correlates with reading aloud because children are able to use what they know and make sense of what they are seeing, hearing, and reading.  Their vocabulary is expanding with books, especially due to the fact that the language in books differs from your typical language used in daily conversations.  Books are much more descriptive and use more formal grammar.

I think one of the best, most important components of reading aloud to your children is it encourages their imagination to run wild.  In one of our 3-5 year old classrooms at Children’s Campus, we have what the children call our “Friday book” that we read to them every week.  It has popular folktales in it, but almost no pictures.  With that, the children are forced to use their imagination in order to interpret the story.

The best part about reading aloud is that it can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime.  We naturally think of parents reading to their children, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc could be included in the mix as well.  Do you have older children at home?  This would be a wonderful opportunity for them to work on their reading skills, while helping their younger siblings and forming a special relationship with them as well.  I see parents come into the classroom quite often and I love when they stick around to read a book to the children.  I think it is important for the children because it is showing them that their parents think reading is interesting and enjoyable.

Discuss.  Discuss.  Discuss.  I cannot stress that enough.  The article describes, “It is the talk that surrounds the storybook reading that gives it power, helping children to bridge what is in the story and their own lives.”  This can be done before, during, or after reading.  Involve your child while reading.  Get their opinions, predictions, thoughts, and reflections.  You might be surprised at how they relate stories to their own experiences.

Be on the lookout in the upcoming days when I break down the importance and provide tips and strategies for infants through primary-aged children.

Stay tuned for more,

~ Chelsea

Good Teaching

It’s official, Chelsea Rakuc has finished her first blog post.  I couldn’t stop reading it!   We can not wait to hear from her more!  Enjoy! -Andromahi

After teaching a plethora of lessons throughout my methods courses, I have always reflected upon the question of, “Am I being the best teacher that I can be?”  I always thought good teaching depended upon the assessment of the students and the self-reflection I did about myself.  While both these concepts are equally important, good teaching is all about how you implement the lesson to and with the students.

I am currently enrolled in a course entitled History and Philosophy of Education.  I entered the course thinking it was going to be centered around popular theorists and their viewpoints on education.  Where as we have touch based on these important figures, we have also expanded into a direction that has caught my interest.  We have dove into article readings, current events, and research of various topics.

One of the first days of class, we received an article to read and reflect upon.  The article was entitled The Source of Good Teaching by Daniel A. Lindley, Jr.  The first time I read the article, I was so engulfed and intrigued that I had to keep reading even after our time was up.  It answered every question I ever had about myself as a teacher.

I think the most important characteristic a teacher should possess is that of devotion to becoming a life-long learner.  This goes beyond keeping up with current events and the newest research.  This extends to learning alongside our students.  Lindley says, “Good teaching is not done to students.  It is done with them.”  There is always something to be learned and if we have the ability to do this with our students, it could be a huge motivating factor for them.  We are working with the students in what they are learning and that has the potential for students to feel as if they have a colleague with them along for the ride.  “The source of the energy that drives good teaching – is the child in the teacher.”  Now this does not mean we have to act like a child.  I interpret it as being interested in what the students are learning, having the feeling of being a student, and joining in on the learning that is happening inside the classroom.

Children surprise us on a daily basis with their knowledge, questions, and realizations.  Just as they learn from us, we learn from them.  Lindley speaks about this in this article by saying, “A good teacher must stimulate the knowing adult in each child.”  Children are capable and absorb more than we could ever imagine.  I think this is something we, as teachers, can use as ‘teachable moments.’  One thing I see often is how the teachers are learning with the students.  If the students proposed a question that you did not know the accurate answer to, be honest with them.  This could be an answer that you and your students could look up together.

I remember one of my first times ever being in a preschool classroom.  I walked in and could not find the teachers.  I thought to myself, “There is no way the children are in here unsupervised.”  To my pleasant surprise, I walked deeper into the room and there were the teachers, fully engaged with what the children were doing.  I specifically remember one teacher who was playing restaurant with a small group of children.  The children offered her a variety of items off their menu, in which she selected chocolate cake.  One child said, “I’m going to put it in here,” while placing the cake in the oven.  The teacher took this as a teachable moment and responded by saying, “Oh. That’s an oven.  You’re going to bake my cake.”  After her cake was finished baking, she ate it and told the students how delicious it tasted.  I felt this was so crucial in the student’s learning because they were actively engaged in what they were learning, the teacher was essentially one of them, and she was providing them with vocabulary that was scaffolding what they were role-playing.

This article is a great reminder to students, teachers, and parents that we must never lose sight of our inner child, for it has the ability to motivate our students in a way that could change the learning environment in a positive way.  This really made me think about how I interact with children in all environments.  Always keep in mind that we must pretend with them, talk with them, and most importantly, learn with them.  “One of the great gifts teaching gives us is the privilege of sharing our own journey with those who are given into our care.”

Stay tuned for more,

~ Chelsea

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