Bringing learning to life is about more than bring learning experiences into the classroom. It's about creating learning experiences out of the classroom also.
For our first week of Down on the Farm we went to a local farm here called Murray's Farms. The Farm was so adorable the kids were able to do basketball throwing, throwing baseballs and we are able to go sledding (well the best you can sled down astro turf. In the middle of the California desert). We were able to go on a hay ride and learn about the different crops of fruit they grow on the farm. Fridays are self guided tour days and it was the best thing I think I could have done for this age group. A guided tour for this age group may not have worked out. The children were so excited about being on the farm that rounding them up was probably going to make the field trip miserable instead of the super fun time that we had.
Below is the picture of the outfit I wore for the field trip. This month we are doing 24 days of Halloween, this is where I wear a costume everyday for my classes. For the field trip I was Ms. Frizzle. I even got a Liz purse!! I got the Magic school Bus shirt here.
During the field trip the children were able to pet some of the farm animals and this means that we will be able to a conversation during circle time about the same and differences in seeing animals in real life and seeing them in the book Old McDonald Has a Farm By Leslie Falconer. I loved this book and will be doing a one minute book review. I will say that this book was great in the way it addressed being welcoming to people who are different. It also opened up the conversation to rescue locations and what types of animals might be in these places.
The book was able to get across a pretty complex thought in an easy to understand message. I will post more about it on the Youtube channel.
Visiting the farm was a great way to connect the lessons from this month to the real world. I have managed to incorporate many videos from Youtube, National Geographic and PBS into my lessons to give the children a real life association for what we are learning about. I hate teaching and having the subjects seem abstract because they have not seen what we are speaking about in real life.
I love the summer time and I always miss it when its gone. All the outdoor learning we do during the summer makes it so much fun. But the coming of cooler weather, allows for different types of learning opportunities outdoors and a chance to dress up. I am excited for all the things to come this month and to share them with all of you.
Live Long and Keep Teaching!
The picture here is showing the difference between a two year old and a three year old. The top is showing a child who is three and is starting to draw people in their pictures. The bottom picture is a 2 year old that while still scribbling told me what the scribbles represented. This is the postcard that came in the curriculum box for Mother Goose Time. This activity involves the children writing a postcard to their family and friends.
An important thing to remember about emergent writing skills is that they will change dramatically as the children grow. This chart from the NAEYC website shows the stages of writing that children move through as they get older. In my program I teach children from the drawing to the Kid writing phase. I have kids that enter the final phases of emergent writing but it it not expected for the children to enter those phases.
One of the most important parts of emergent writing is giving the children freedom to be creative with their writing. The postcard prompt is a good example of this. I told the children what they were doing and then I gave them the materials needed. While they were doing the projects I asked them what their pictures were about, some said they were drawing their families, one child told me their purple scribble was a unicorn. It was awesome watching their creativity bubble to the surface as they decided where their drawings were going.
Another part of emergent writing is that the children should see different types of handwriting. So they should see you writing when you do work for dictating their story. Watching you write down words will help them learn the process of handling the pencils and forming the letters. Also read out loud as you are writing the words.
Even as you do these things sometimes it will seem like they are making strides in their writing and that they are not showing interest, but if you keep writing samples you will be able to see the changes in their writing over the course of the year. It will shock and give you hope. While not all children move at the same pace, there is a reason for the way they are choosing to do what they do and it is ok.
Live Long and Keep Teaching!
An unintentional consequence of teaching children to self-regulate could be that they learn to suppress what they are feeling because they think the only acceptable emotions to show and express is that they are happy. That is not the lesson that we want children to receive. We want to teach them to recognize when they are upset and the proper ways to express themselves.
We learned about emotions with Mother Goose Time as apart of the families and pets theme. This makes sense because we feel a wide range of emotions directed at families and pets and learning that it is ok to acknowledge them is an important lesson. Especially right before Kindergarten.
One of the emotions that does not get enough time spent on it is being Grumpy! Everyone feels grumpy. Sometimes like the fellow in this story by Suzanne Lang you just wake up grumpy. We all know that children have those days where they are upset and they do not know why, they tell you they are not grumpy and then they end up having an epic melt down. So, I used this story on the theme day of sad to show there are different types of sad and to engage them in ways they can address their sad, grumpy or mad emotions. It was great! We discussed if it was ok for Jim to yell at his friends. We asked if we should yell at our friends or family just because we are happy and we asked the super important question....Do we always need to try and cheer friends up when they feel bad. Grumpy Monkey introduced the concept of just.... sitting and being there for a grumpy/sad friend. We don't always need to smile to show we are happy and you don't have to pretend you are happy if you are not. Making sure they understand that can make a world of difference in the way a child can and will process their emotions. Having a place in your home or classroom for someone having extreme emotions to sit and calm down when they are upset is important. It needs to be somewhere they can go themselves and they need to know it is ok to go there when they are upset.
For my preschool class we go through the entire Mother Goose Time day as written in the lesson plan book that comes with the curriculum. So one of the fun hands on projects to do, was to have a tea party with stuffed animals. Which turned out GREAT! this happened on the day devoted to sharing and we had a tea set on the table where they brought their friend with them and shared their tea. I purposely made it so that the children did not have enough tea parts so that they HAD to share different parts and pass them around the table. It encouraged my shy ones to speak to their classmates and for everyone to use their manners and to be KIND. I had forgotten how much fun tea parties were and fully intend to have one again with them....but with real food and a tea set I do not have to remind them to not put in their mouth.
Overall the emotions of the week have been healthy and I hope that our willingness to talk about them in class and to discuss the not so fun emotions helps them to know that feeling them is ok and normal. Please stress this to your little ones and remember to.....
Live Long and Keep Teaching!
One of the fun parts of doing Mother Goose Time is that because the curriculum comes in the box already, I can focus more on the design of the classroom. Which is why I was so excited about getting a Cricut last month from Hobby Lobby. It was the Explore One. Which I am still learning to use. Instead of going small like it would make sense to do for my first project, I decided a whole door was the way I should go. I also realized that over the years I have collected a great many objects that would go great with this theme.
The theme being Families and Pets. During our open house before the first day of school I took pictures of the families to use in the classroom. The plan was to create a family wall for my students. Especially those who were in my 2-3 preschool classroom who may experience separation anxiety. The better idea I though after I got the Cricut was to create a classroom door scene.
I think for my first classroom door it came out so awesome. Well a little less than awesome...but a bit better than ok. After setting up the door I needed to figure out a way to set up the classroom so that the children would connect what we were learning about with what was happening in the classroom. So that is when I remembered that I got a great deal at Target last year from Antsy Pants on a Vet Clinic tent. The vet clinic solved what to do with the pets part of the theme, but the family part I was having a hard time with. I have a kitchen already in my classroom but I wanted to do something different and exciting. I decided to try out a baby area in the classroom. I bought a baby doll changing table and a high chair for the baby dolls. The children loved the addition so much. I left the baby nurse costumes and the vet costumes out for the children. They have been dressing up and taking care of the babies and the animals for the last couple of weeks and do not even miss the kitchen area.
Inside the vet clinic is a Melissa and Doug dog set, a medical kit for pets and animals, a Melissa and Doug animal care kit, animal puppets a barn and tons of animal figures and stuffed animals. Also fish, because who doesn't like fish. Maybe not to eat lol. There is also a beehive sorting set.
I have enjoyed watching the children come to life with the new set up and using their imagination. This will now be a regular thing I do in my classroom. I did change out toys and decor during the month usually, but I think the massive switch out really encourages the children to expand their imagination and stretch their wings. I encourage parents and teachers to change up their learning spaces often. Maybe not be as crazy as I am, but I think that the extra work done is well worth the gains you see within the children.
Live Long and Keep Teaching
We learned about Gravity!!!! We had fun! Especially, since we did everything hands on as a way to explain it!
First thing we did was come up with a motto to explain why gravity was important to us. Our motto was
GRAVITY PULLS US DOWN!!!
We chanted it, yelled it and said it randomly during the day. Hopefully they will remember this long after pre-k. One of the games that came with Mother Goose Time had to do with an apple falling from a tree. The children had the throw a pop pop and try and land on the apple. We took turns trying and cheering on our friends and reminding each other that GRAVITY PULLS US DOWN!! I loved it because we were able to figure out this complex concept just by playing a hands on game.
pull. Another concept that was hard for children to grasp until we did a hands on activity was force! The children needed to do something so they could understand what I was talking about. So I took out some natural blocks I got from Michaels, and I had them push and pull the blocks from across the floor. We laughed and giggled while making muscles and showing off how strong we were as we used our FORCE to move the wooden blocks.
I think we really had a lot of fun learning about science concepts with hands on activities that caused us to laugh and enjoy ourselves. Remember Learning is fun and Messy! Also....
Live Long and Keep Teaching!