It seems so simple. It can't possibly hold the paramount task of training the brain for math concepts. Does it? Making faces...with shapes? Looks like he's "just playing."
I KNOW!!! PERFECT!!!
This is one of my favorite things about math in the preschool environment. It's so simple. It masks itself in the ordinary, but it's really a GIANT of learning.
These colorful shapes are called "pattern blocks", or "Tangrams." They come in all shapes and sizes and are made to fit together so the child can see different patterns or relationships between them. In the above picture, the relationships are "two triangles make a square."
This little fella' observed that a square was not the desired shape he was after. So he tried again. These seemingly simple toys actually are the foundations for adding (two triangles equal one square), subtracting (what happens when we subtract one triangle), fractions (6 triangles equal a circle), and later geometry (how they fit together to make three dimensional shapes).
These little two dimensional gems are loaded with learning
Each month Mother Goose Time sends us these fabulous pattern matching cards that demonstrate to the children how different shapes go together to make patterns, people, and objects. This is S.T.E.M. in play!
What do all these images have in common? MATH!
Mother Goose Time does a fantastic job of incorporating math into it's daily routines. This spans from the turn based games we play like the upper left image, to our circle/calendar times which give us turns in counting the days of the week, months of the year, the numbers of focus for the week/month (1,2 for September), to the books we read,("A Big Problem!" had logical problem solving included in the plot), to their curriculum enhancement books as age appropriate.
The month of September was Friends and Feelings, therefore everything we did circled around that theme.
We played the turn based game featuring our site words that helped us with not only recognizing our site words, but being able to place letters in proper sequence.
Sequencing whether numbers or letters, patterns, or thoughts is logic. This is a real world math foundation being built that will serve a grander purpose in coming academic years. We build this in preschool with these types of turn based games, books, patterning, and activities that capture our children's interest disguised as play!
"By carefully planning classroom experiences, one can help children develop logic and reasoning skills that they can use to make sense of their world." - http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/ages-stages-helping-children-develop-logic-reasoning-skills
Why developing math skills is so much more than writing numbers...
Developing a "math brain" is more than a child learning to count 1-20. It's more than being able to trace numbers 1-10 before the Kindergarten entrance exam. It involves a process of thinking that shapes (no pun intended...o.k....maybe a little intended!) the way we look at a problem, and ultimately are able to reach a workable solution. It's critical thinking and it happens, for the most part, off the worksheet.
Critical thinking happens on the playground and in the playroom while playing games with a friend and reaching a problem, then coming up with a solution. We facilitate this thinking by providing tools, social/emotional development, books, games, and materials that will allow them to recognize, hypothesis, and create solutions to problems as they arise.
Critical thinking skills that begin as making a pie with six triangles become Algebra II. They become the man that builds your house.
With all these considerations for the children of differing stages of development how do we make certain each child is being properly served?
Here are some more great articles on the power of play and developing critical thinking skills necessary for mathematical development.
As always...I wish you well and I hope you get to play today! - L
What a sweet time we had at our Open House! We spent time together eating snacks, making "I Love You" hands, playing a game, reading stories, and relaxing with mommies and daddies at school!
The children always want their families to come in and stay a while, but in the day to day business of life it's just not possible. But for this night, we had a bit of preschool fun WITH our family while we played, talked, and got to know each other a bit!
Hosting an Open House is so much fun for the children and their families and is an important part of a child's preschool experience. It actually benefits them academically, social/emotionally, and far into the future. We don't JUST do this because we want to get together to know one another more (which we do!), but we do it because research shows it is a highly beneficial part of a child's educational process.
Studies show that programs that involve families for festivals, celebrations, Open House, holidays, and other events, "is associated with:
- higher student grades and test scores
- better attendance
- higher rates of homework completion
- more positive student attitudes and behavior
- higher graduation rates
- greater enrollment rates in post-secondary education
The same researchers also noted that when parents are involved, children achieve more regardless of their socioeconomic level, ethnic/racial background, or the parents' educational level (Henderson & Berla, 1994)." - https://www.cceionline.edu/newsletters/September_09.html
Everything we do is for the benefit of the children...
Isn't the above research incredible! THIS is why we host celebrations, holiday parties, Open House, and INVOLVE families as much as possible. It's a lot of work to make sure everything is ship-shape and "showcase" ready, but it is vital to the continued positive educational experience of the little ones we love!!
Our Open House was a huge success and I am so appreciative of all the families that made it!
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today! - L
I can't think of a better expression than the one on this sweet fella's face! He was hiding his "sharing" boxes. He was only supposed to have one. That one was to be filled and given to a friend in an extension and practice of "The Keys Of Friendship - Sharing" lesson.
He is 3. Sharing doesn't come naturally at this age, so we practice. We learn. We fail. We try again. Each conflict is a welcome opportunity for another lesson in kindness.
This past week we have been learning about kindness and the letter "K!"
The weather here in the Ozarks has been amazing. We have taken our learning outdoors as much as possible. Today, our yoga instructor brought her mats and our yoga class was held in the fresh air, cool breeze, and mid 80's. It may not have anything to do with the letter "k," but haaAAaave mercy...it was divine! We even had full participation from all our littles stretching, bending, and reaching for Sun Salutations, Downward Dog, and Warrior poses. They were amazing! (and yes, you can do yoga in cowboy boots :))
Sharing experiences while having fun!
One of our little one's LOVES to bring treats to share! This went perfectly with our "Keys of Friendship - Sharing" lesson. We brought the preschool outside as much as possible to soak in the beautiful fall days this week. Our preschool curriculum, Mother Goose Time makes it easy to take our games, emergent readers books, and preschool experiences on the go.
We learned that the Keys of Friendship are choices we make. We can choose kindness, generosity, forgiveness, patience, helpfulness, and respect. When this little one brought her sherbert treats, she learned she was practicing generosity and kindness!
This little guy was SO proud of himself sounding out the "S", "M", and "G" to determine the words in his Emergent Reader book from Mother Goose Time. What a GREAT accomplishment!! Emergent Readers are such an important part of a quality program and need to supported to continue to build on these foundations. The below referenced article further explains the differing stages of Emergent or "Aspiring" Readers and what to look for in providing them with materials to aid in their development. Mother Goose Time does a fantastic job in providing these age appropriate materials to support young readers.
"Aspiring readers are just beginning to grasp the basic concepts of book and print. They are acquiring a command of the alphabet with the ability to recognize and name upper- and lowercase letters. They are also developing many phonological awareness skills, such as recognizing phonemes, syllables, and rhyme." https://www.readinga-z.com/learninga-z-levels/stages-of-development/
Lana the Iguana
Ms. Angie from the Greene County Health Department brought us another lesson in being healthy with Lana the Iguana and the children LOVED feeding her fruits and vegetables and discussing what grows in gardens. She always has something new and fun for us to observe!
What else have we done this week?
Literacy, math, puzzles, patterning, games, taking turns, sharing, friendship, feelings, yoga, and lots of play - OUTSIDE! What a perfect way to learn and play!!
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!
Favorite photo of the week goes to this crew right here! "Surprise" day has been my absolute favorite of all the emotions we have studied, and by the looks on these little faces, it's theirs too!
The Emotions Game!
Sounds like a sitcom...I know! But this cute little game was PERFECT fit for our Emotions, Feelings, and Friends Study. It is a simple little turn based game from Mother Goose Time that we quickly learned to play. Each side of the cube had a cute little face displaying an emotion; from bored, to surprised, to happy, to sad...they were covered. My little preschoolers took turns rolling the cube and acting out the emotion. They rolled and rolled, excited to try the next feeling on for size! My favorite part about this game was that it was easy for all my children to play it. Even my little 18 month old got into the play! (unfortunately I didn't get a pic of him!)
When it looks like all we do is play....
"Play offers more than cherished memories of growing up, it allows children to develop creativity and imagination while developing physical, cognitive, and emotional strengths. A previous manuscript described the benefits of play in fuller detail.7
Play enhances physical health by building active, healthy bodies. Physical activity beginning in early childhood prevents obesity.13 In fact, play may be an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children and, therefore, may be included as an important strategy in addressing the obesity epidemic.14,15
Play contributes to healthy brain development.16–18 Children engage and interact with the world around them through play from a very early age. Even in the academic environment, play helps children adjust to the school setting, thereby fostering school engagement, and enhances children’s learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills.19–31 In addition, play and recess may increase children’s capacity to store new information, as their cognitive capacity is enhanced when they are offered a drastic change in activity.19,20
Play is essential to developing social and emotional ties. First, play helps to build bonds within the family. Children’s healthy development is mediated by appropriate nurturing relationships with consistent caregivers.16 Play allows for a different quality of interaction between parent* and child, one that allows parents to “listen” in a very different, but productive, way. When parents observe their children playing or join them in child-driven play, they can view the world through their child’s eyes and, therefore, may learn to communicate or offer guidance more effectively. Less-verbal children may be able to express themselves, including their frustrations, through play, allowing their parents an opportunity to better understand their needs. Above all, the intensive engagement and relaxed interactions that occur while playing tell children that their parents are fully paying attention to them and, thereby, contribute to a strong connection.17,32,33 Play also helps forge connections between children. It allows them to learn how to share, to negotiate and resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills when necessary.34,35 It teaches them leadership as well as group skills that may be useful in adult life. "
Guess who wrote the above.....(hint...not a preschool teacher) It was a group of physicians writing for "Pediatrics" The Official Journal For The American Association For Pediatrics.
Play is a powerful force in the lives of young children
So, as always, I wish you well and I hope you get to play today.
It ain't easy being little. It's the force of teen-age emotion vacuum -packed into a pint-sized package and baby sometimes she's just gotta' BLOW!
This is normal. This is toddler-hood. This is WHY we take an entire month at the beginning of our school year to focus on feelings and friendship.
It gives us the skills, the vocabulary, and the beginnings of habits in acting and reacting to stressors, situations, circumstances, and schedules that may be out of our control.
This is true for both the child and the teacher. We practice these skills as the adults. We Stop, Take a deep breath and Relax (S.T.A.R. - www.consciousdiscipline.com) when the poo hits the fan (you think I'm joking about the poo? Okay...maybe a little joking!!) We sing a song and sit down for a story break when everyone is beginning to climb the walls. (Diversion, singing causes deep breathing, re-framing our focus)
We speak with kindness to the littles in our care and to one another as teachers regardless of the busyness or stresses of the day (lead by example...little eyes are always watching!).
You see...when your 3, everyday is Monday. It's "Monday" because it's fresh and new filled with endless curiosity, wonder, and experiences.. It's "Monday" because all the tenacity, turmoil, and energy is takes to be 3, keeps the teacher reachin' for her cup o' joe!
So.....how do we support, teach, and train young children to have the coping skills necessary for life? Why is a focus on feeling and friends so important?
In preschool "Self Concept" is created as a child becomes "Self Aware."
"Although forming one's self-concept is a lifelong process, how the child feels about himself in the early years (positive or negative) can set a pattern for the rest of his life."http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/ages-stages-how-children-develop-self-concept
Habits...patterns...this is they why we focus so heavily on building the positive self-talk, vocabulary, and behavioral patterns for our children. It's because these patterns will carry them through childhood, adolescents, and adulthood.
This requires intentional teachers. This means anticipating the needs of the child. The need to practice conflict. The need to tantrum. The need to be held and snuggled and reminded, "You are safe. You can handle this." These are the necessary tools to help the child understand his/her emotions and how to express them safely to himself and those around him. This is the stuff a resilient child is made of. The kind of stuff that produces resilient adults.
We use Mother Goose Time and Conscious Discipline as we PLAY!
We read stories about conflict, problems, and how to solve them. We read and practice as real conflicts occur.
We give them choices as a means to explore new skills. "Was that helpful or hurtful?" is often heard in our classroom. "What is his face telling you?" and referring to our "Emotions" chart from Mother Goose Time is another helpful way to engage children in determining if, in fact, their action toward a friend was "helpful or hurtful."
We play turn based games that go along with the books we read like the one below from Mother Goose Time that help children to understand that taking turns is fun, their turn is coming, and to practice patience.
We consider ourselves a "school family" that loves, cares for, and sees the best in one another.
Through our circle times we provide "uniting activities that are designed for everyone to do together and help develop a sense of belonging."
Through singing, reading and telling stories, and allowing children a "safe place" to unwind after conflict we "disengage stress to teach children how to calm themselves when they are upset."
Through games, centers time, inside and outside play we engage in "connecting activities that provide opportunities for children to interact with each other, which builds healthy friendships, increases attention span, and fosters cooperation."
Through consistency in boundaries, conscious and loving discipline we show "commitments, the final component to the school routine, to teach children to make and follow through on pledges to keep their classroom safe and take responsibility for their actions."
All of this in a day of play at Woolsey Academy!
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!!
"F" is for Friends, Feelings, and Family!
What an adorable week for the letter "F!" We practiced writing, recognizing, and the sound of the letter "f," for both lower and uppercase. We made these CUTE and sweet "family and friends" puppets for dramatic and pretend play with "f"eathers, lots of glue, and googly eyes! Some of my littles got VERY creative and made monster friends too! We discussed our feelings of happy, sad, angry, excited, joyful, scared, and surprised while making our little puppet friends.
As they dried (and it took a LONG while for that as my babes are generous with glue and since Creative Arts and the process are the real goals, I just let them squeeze, and smush till their little hearts are content) we made our "F" is for Faces site word and Emergent Reader take home book.
**Families, please read these with your littles this weekend and point out the sounds and letter "f" to help bring the learning home!**
We had a "f"un week of learning and play making our "f"oxes, our "f"riends and "f"amily puppets, "F"aces Emergent Readers, and our "I'm a Special Person" "f"eelings trees.
We introduced a new book this week in addition to our weekly favorites. The children LOVED it!
A Big Problem! by Carter Oosterhouse
As a teacher, I LOVED how the children came together at the end to solve the problem and how the book ended with the picture above of "Solving a Problem!" This goes RIGHT with our Feelings and Friends theme and incorporates the logical/critical thinking skills to help TEACH us HOW to recognize, approach, and ultimately solve a problem! This will come in handy as a new approach to our social/emotional skill building as we work together to solve problems with our friends!
Needless to say, "A Big Problem," was a BIG hit with our preschool family! www.experienceearlylearning.com
"F" is for our "F"UN Enrichment Classes This Week!
Not a week goes by that we don't host guests in our classroom. This week we made a new friend from Zoo Encounters! Ms. Emily brought us some "f"urry, and "f"eathered pals to meet, discuss, and touch with our Zoo Encounter class!
Pictured here is Cashew the Chinchilla! He was SO SOFT! All our children did an amazing job of following directions! We also got to meet and experience Orville the Pigeon!
Ms. Emily asked us to use only two fingers to gently pet the animals, wait our turn, and be very quiet as to not scare the animals.
I have the BEST children! They all did super!! Even our bittiest babes followed directions. Look at this pic, those two fingers are ready and waiting!!!
SOOOOO FUN!!! Ms. Emily wasn't the only new friend we made this week. We also hosted Ms. Angela from the Greene County Health Department for a hand washing class! We sang songs while we washed, received stickers of accomplishment, and had some squishy, soapy fun learning the proper methods for hand washing! Thank you Ms. Emily and Ms. Angela!!
But that's not all! We had some math "f"un too!
How are letter puzzles math related you ask??? Well, let me explain!!!
Puzzles play helps develop several areas of the brain for young children by giving them the ability to place object in order, spatial relations, recognize geometrical boundaries, and something being a part of a whole. These are VERY IMPORTANT skills to possess for building on the blocks of math learning through play. But don't take my word for it!!
"The ability to mentally transform shapes is an important predictor of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) course-taking, degrees and careers in older children. Activities such as early puzzle play may lay the groundwork for the development of this ability, the study found."
This is why you will always see puzzles as a place of prominence at Woolsey Academy for Young Learners. It may look like play, but it is vital to a child's early development and a great way for us to observe their level of skill and readiness for furthering education.
We practiced counting, recognizing, writing, and adding the numbers 1 and 2 in our More Math Enrichment Books from Mother Goose Time! We also, as we do daily participated in counting our days of the week and recognizing the sequence of numbers and days on the calendar. We discussed the proper order for the numbers and days as we sang our Days of the Week and Months of the Year songs each day.
We also played a fun new game that helped us get to know ourselves and our friends even better. This game, provided by Mother Goose Time, is a turn based game that included moving our pieces up a color coded playing surface to the finish. With each turn of the spinner we stated one thing we liked about ourselves and one thing we liked about our friend before it became the turn of another child. Our babes LOVED this game! I am laminating it and adding to our centers as a great addition to our daily social/emotional plus math play!
WOW! What a week of learning and fun!!!
What an amazing week! We learned, we played, we had SO MUCH "F"UN!!! I can't wait to see what's in store for next week!!!
I can give you a hint....we will be placing a great importance on our grandparents and families with upcoming Grandparents Day! We will be making something extra special to send home with our littles for the special grandparents in their lives!
That's a wrap!!!
Our preschool days are back in full swing again.
Since my kiddos are aged 1-5, in a mixed age setting; what makes us feel happy, sad ,mad, hurt, angry, excited, frustrated, and scared are hot topics for us DAILY.
We have said, "Goodbye," to those entering Kindergarten and, "Hello," to new friends. This makes it the PERFECT time to engage the children in a Friends and Feelings study while encouraging social/emotional and environmental choices.
Let the play begin!
Allowing the classroom display to be on their level and always available encourages the children to ask questions. They may not yet know what the letters are, or the colors, or the shapes; but giving them the time and freedom by encouraging them to touch, hold, and interact with each other and the teachers gives them the opportunity to ask, "What is it?"
Conversations like these provide us the open door to teaching and learning. We teach by answering their questions again and again, we learn by listening to their questions, observing when those questions begin to develop into more complex ideas and "follow-up" observations. We can, with that information, determine what they are ready to learn next and what their interests are.
I love a mixed age group. I love watching them make choices of who to engage, the verbal and body language they use with their friends of differing ages as they create an invitation to play, and stepping in to provide them with the skills to help them further their conversation and understanding of their friends.
So What Are We Learning Today?
We began our preschool day with discovering all the new aspects of our Friends and Feelings display wall from Mother Goose Time Preschool.
We are discussing the numbers 1 & 2, the letter and words that start with "F," the circle, and color blue. We went around the room with our "blue brush" tapping on objects that were the color blue. We then got out our "Global Friends" from Poland, France, and Korea as we learned the words they use to say, "Hello!"
These are challenging and we are working on them!!! We then went to our free play time encouraging the children to move to Dramatic Play, Manipulatives, Blocks, Library, and provided our More Math curriculum enhancements books to those that wanted to further discuss and practice writing the numbers 1 & 2 and give representative drawings of the numbers.
We believe choice is essential to the willingness these children have toward learning. We do this by providing several elements of play in all areas of appropriate development for all our age groups. Our block area will have blocks that range in size, texture, and color. We have MANY options so children can choose to work together or independently.
In our Dramatic play, we have puppets and dolls with the differing emotions of happy, sad, excited, mad, and scared that allow our children to extend their conversations to include scenarios of emotion.
"Making choices is part of problem solving. When given choices, children stretch their minds and create new and unique combinations of ideas and materials." - Morrison, 1997 http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=607
With providing a classroom full of options that are always available to each child, we are giving them the option to also display a wide range of feeling in themselves and others as they conflict and converse with each other. We are then able to help them understand their feelings and how they affect themselves and others. Often we ask the question, "Was that helpful or hurtful?" when child is in conflict or kind to another. We allow them to answer. From their answer we can determine their understanding and development.
Why Do Feelings Matter So Much Anyway?
" Studies show that the most important skills to learn in the beginning of the year are social: cooperation, self-control, confidence, independence, curiosity, empathy, and communication." - Why Social Skills Are The Key To Learning;http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/social-emotional-skills/why-social-skills-are-key-to-learning
Why? Because a child is a whole and complete person already. They are not a recording device (though trust me....they will spout out the most accurate description of your potty mouth at the most inopportune moments, wont they??!!). Our aim is to help the child develop skills as the whole person they already are.
What? Play-Dough Again??!!
Shapes, colors, fine and gross motor skills, social/emotional skills building, observations, and new experiences are all happening in this moment of "playing Play-Dough."
As they participate in group play, they have to ask one another to share tools, colors, and shapes. This can sometimes end in sharing and other times in conflict. However, conflict is NOT failure, it is VALUABLE opportunity for learning. In conflict we can practice using alternatives and choices. We will often prompt a child to ask questions like, "May I have that when you are done?" or offer trades. This helps both children to understand that both needs are important....the need to keep and the need to share.
Discovering Feelings, Celebrating Friendships, and Encouraging Choices.....Powered By Play!
We have celebrated a birthday, painted with our fingers, brushes and even noses, and have made FRIENDS.
When we allow the environment to revolve around the needs of the child, education develops optimally....naturally.
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today.
Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com