Our day was filled with games, games, and more games! Why do I love games so much you ask? There are so many things that can be taught with a game and so many ways to incorporate games in your classroom and at your home. We were lucky enough to be invited to the University to participate in a college class called Games and Rhythms. In this class, university students majoring in education (early childhood and elementary) prepare an hour of games for us. This year, we had five stations including an obstacle course, a parachute, a relay race, a game involving throwing, catching, and hoping, and a dancing and following directions station. At the end, they provide us with a small puppet show. Upon arrival, we spent some time relaxing after our trip. As we engaged in play for the little time we had left before lunch the eleven children we had all engaged in more ……(you guessed it)GAMES! Children broke themselves up in groups and we had three different games going on at the same time! At lunch we spent time reflecting about our day and the children were talking about how we can recreate the games we saw at the University at our school.
Games can help children with the following skills:
- turn taking
- following directions
- interacting and building relationships with adults and children
- gross motor and fine motor skills
How can you incorporate a “game” night at your house? What might you need to make this happen? Do you have a game your family has made up you’d like to share? If you already have a game night, what are your favorite games? For teachers: What games are you classes favorites? Currently some of our classroom favorites include Apples to Apples (Jr), Sorry, Trouble, Monopoly (Jr), and card games (Go Fish, Garbage, Phase Ten, Slap Jack, War)!
Until next time!
We brought a green pumpkin in from our garden and several small orange pumpkins in our classroom. We began by sketching the first pumpkin from our garden as friends gathered at the table. During this time, children took their learning into their own hands by working together to determine how to spell pumpkin. Several children spent time observing the pumpkins and only used green or an orange colored pencil to sketch their pumpkin.
After children had the opportunity to sketch, the children began to investigate the small pumpkins. We ordered them by size, sorted, classified, and measured them. For the first time, we used a scale which measured in ounces. At the beginning, the children would say, “This is zero! How can it be zero?” We then discussed that the scale was measuring in ounces. We began to identify the measurement of each pumpkin and documented this by adding the information to a chart. Most of the pumpkins were about 8 to 20 ounces.
We then created a chart about what color we thought would be inside each pumpkin. Each child had an opportunity to document their prediction. Most children thought that the green pumpkin would be orange inside and the orange pumpkin would be green inside. We opened them and were surprised to see so many differences and similarities between the two pumpkins so we decided to then make a Venn diagram. For those of you unfamiliar with these, we made two circles that interlocked. In each circle, we put the characteristics of each pumpkin. In the space where the circles interlocked, we put the similarities.
This activity started as sketching and ended up meeting objectives, encouraging the children to work together to cut through the pumpkins (I only verbalized ideas but never helped the children cut through the pumpkins!), and provided us opportunities to use our scientific inquiry skills.
Is there a teachable moment which took you further into learning? How did it start? What made you encourage the children to keep working despite the “agenda” you already had?
We find it very important to talk and base our play around meaningful experiences for the children. With election day being on Tuesday, the children came in on Monday with so much to share! They shared the news reports they had been seeing, who the candidates were for president, and how you needed to cast you vote. This began our two-day voting sessions! Two children sky-rocketed this event by creating their own polling stations. They used small pieces of paper and had children write their names on these and then as the voting continued children then wrote their candidates names.
On Tuesday, children were voting all morning. Polling stations were prepared and children voted for their favorite candidate. We kept our computer and Ipad turned to CNN and Fox news for any information about the voting! Some children were curious about who exactly were Mitt Romney and Barak Obama so we found information about the two of them. The children were surprised to find out that they were parents too! We than discussed how adults can have many different “roles” and “jobs.”
Some objectives we were able to document in the Creative Curriculum for included:
- Social Emotional: 2a.Establishes and sustains positive relationships through peer interactions
- Language: 10a Uses appropriate conversational and other communication skills: Engages in conversations
- Cognitive: 11a Demonstrates positive approaches to learning: attends and engages
- Cognitive: 11b Demonstrates positive approaches to learning: persist
- Literacy: 19a Demonstrates emergent writing skills: writes name and writes to convey meaning
- Social Studies:30 Shows basic understanding of people and how they live
How can you make an experience meaningful for children? Have you already? If so, how? We’d love to hear it!
The next kind of tree we heard the children discussing where apple trees. The children shared their personal experiences about trees by making small apple trees. They used tan colored paper to wrap the poles of our loft. They then added red circles to the paper to represent an apple. One child created a three dimensional apple using model magic and a pipe cleaner as the stem.
The children investigated three types of apples including red, green, and yellow. The children had an opportunity to cut the apple if they would like and they were able to taste test them. After the tasting was over, the children created a graph to compare and document observations of the tree kinds of apples. After the list was done, the children signed their names on the sign to identify which was their favorite apple. A day later, a child decided to create her own survey on the apple tasting. She created four different apples, red, green, yellow, and brown. She remembered that brown was not a color of an apple they tried so she crossed it out. She then went around to each child in the classroom asking them their favorite kind of apple. When she was done, she counted up each vote and found out which had more and which had less. This took so many skills in this one activity! She met many of our objectives from the Peoria Pre-Primary Curriculum, here are a few:
- showing beginning control of a writing or art utensil
- writing words for work and play
- beginning to show comfort with self as someone growing in skills and abilities
- shows interest in quantity and number
After the investigation of the apple tree was over, a child decided that we needed to re-create the apple trees to be more accurate. They found a tree book called, How does an Apple Grow? With the book near her, she created a list of items she needed to gather to create this tree. With the help of her peers and a teacher, she sounded out each word and created a list. She then gathered the materials to begin to create this new tree. The children used tan paper but also colored various shades of brown on the tan paper. One child shared, “not all trees are the exact color brown!” They then cut green leaves to add to the apple tree to represent a Spring Tree. They then created three dimensional apples by painting lids red and stuffing them with fluff or taping them together.
As a teacher, you can help support this survery or collaborative work by:
- supporting the children
- taking baby steps
- thinking out loud with the children
It will take time to begin to make this a classroom norm, but soon it will just be another way to investigate and discovery. The children will begin to lead these surveys without any teacher guidance!
Until next time,