Unplanned teachable moments happen ALL the time in our little world. But one little lesson that I believe holds a significant amount of value is "repairing the broken."
It's so easy to want things to be black and white. It's tempting to want to apply a "one size fit's all" rule for everything.
If it's broken get rid of it.
I have been guilty of this. With 10 children in my mixed age, licensed childcare and preschool, it's EASY for things to become a bit less than perfect. With good intentions I often will put the broken aside on a "to be fixed" shelf, awaiting it's turn for repair, new batteries, a little tape, and sometimes the hopes of my graceful father to give me much needed advice on those things beyond my ability to understand and repair on my own.
And so they sit.....waiting.....
Then, after months of being on the "someday I will," I throw the broken...along with all my good intentions to the curb.
Then the questions begin, "Ms. Donna, why do you frow (throw) dat (that) out?" "Ms. Donna, where is 'such and such' toy?" "Mr. Donna, I wiked (liked) dat!!!" (no the Mr. isn't a typo!)
Those broken things had special meaning to the ones that loved them. Meaning that I didn't understand, but they did. They held memories, attachments, and yet to be uncovered potential that I had not realized.
Those responses do not trouble me as much, however, as the ones I begin to see in my older children. A toy breaks and they respond with, "It's broke!" "Throw it away!!" Instead of even asking or trying to fix the item, they assume that a tear, a misplaced doll arm, or slight blemish means the item is now worthless. THIS is the outcome of my rash actions that is concerning.
The attitude that imperfections, problems, loss of original purpose = trash.
Further, that everything is dispensable if it is no longer perfect.
It concerns me that my lack of follow through or quick decision making when a toy is broken to the point of being unsafe is so easy to throw away. I don't like seeing the resulting "unplanned teachable moment" of instilling life lessons into little hearts that could spell big trouble when real life problems arise and the determination of "worth fixing" is taken so lightly.
After all, play is simply children practicing for adulthood in a way that they can comprehend, right?!
How do we change this???
Instead of seeing what's broken, we determine to see opportunity.
It's a bit hard to tell what's happening in the above pictures. We received this sweet little book from Mother Goose Time. It was about a duck that needed help to get some creme for his hurt webbed feet and all the ways he tried to catch a ride. The children LOVED it. The problem....the third time we read the book, the binding fell apart and pages scattered on the floor. They are a great company and offered to replace it. "No....I like it just the way it is." I said.
The children squealed, "It's BROKEN!" "I don't want that book anymore! I HATE it!" (preschoolers have a way of wearing their tiny hearts on their sleeves when they feel scared or disappointed) "Frow it away!" "What if we fix it?" I said.
Ahhhhh....is that opportunity I hear knocking? Yes, yes, it is. I used this an an opportunity to teach the children that no matter how bad it looks, we can make it better by our choices. (Big lesson for little hearts.)
Out came the fix and out came the helpers. Tape rules in Pre-K world!
Each child insisted on taking turns helping once they saw what the tape could do. Once they understood HOW we were going to fix our problem AND that it really was working, they ALL wanted to take part. All they needed was to see it working...they needed a little understanding to WANT to make the effort.
PERFECTION in the imperfections....that's a wonderful feeling.
They had such a sense of pride in their accomplishments as an itty bitty team. They did a great job. Sure the book wasn't the same, pages were a bit out of order, nothing lined up quite like it had before, and it was certainly far from perfection, but they were beaming! We saved our book and it took it's proud place among our other beloved treasures....imperfections and all.
We can take the broken and make it better. We can handle imperfections. Life, and all it's challenges, doesn't have to be perfect to be worth it.
Isn't that what we want to teach them....even through our play?
As always, I wish you well and I hope you get to play today. - L
We all like to play... Isn't it easier to learn things, even as an adult, when we are encouraged, having fun, and relaxing with friends?
Our little preschoolers feel the same. That's why we strive to provide skill building exercises that are fun, educational......and FUN! (I said that already, didn't I?)
Our "Here We Go" theme from Mother Goose Time has been full of games that promote Language Arts, Social/Emotional, Creative Arts, and STEM games. These are simple, easy to understand and fun to play.
Plus, I just LOVE to watch them have a great day at school!
This game was included in our "Airplane" day circle time activities. Each child received his/her own "runway" for their airplane that we made using blue construction paper. Once the airplane was created, each child decorated their plane using shape stickers so no two would be alike.
These were VERY small stickers and required a bit of patience as they worked their little fine motor skills over and over peeling and then sticking stars, ovals, rectangles, circles, and squares in patterns on their planes.
We finished it all up with glitter glue (of course!).
I cut up one runway and used the numbered pieces as a number recognition activity/game. Each child had their own plane and would land their plane on the runway on the appropriate number as each number was called. This little game was a game of number recognition, shapes matching, and following directions. Since we each had our own playing pieces (runway and plane), we didn't need to take turns. We simply practiced calling out each number as quickly as we could and find the matching number on the runway.
Turn based games
Games are irresistible to children..
Just ask, "Do you want to play a game?"
I've yet to have a child refuse.. It will draw them in and give them a fun based experience for learning concepts and building social/emotional skills like waiting for and taking turns, being a graceful winner, and trying again!..
This game from Mother Goose Time focused on letter recognition and beginning word sounds recognition.
Our letter focus for this month are the letters "C," "W," and "T." This sweet game came after making our Creative Arts project during our "truck" day where we were discussing and learning about all the different things a truck can haul. We discussed delivery people, farmers, and floats! We also made a truck and practiced hauling all types of things in it.
We observed that when a load was too heavy for the truck, the truck bed would collapse and we would have to tape it all up again. This was a great way for the children to understand capacity (science).
After a bit of truck play we put this sweet game on the table. The houses with the letters on them were the point of delivery, the destination location for the "packages" we were going to later deliver. First, we discussed the letters and the sounds they made. Next, we placed pictures of several items beginning with those letters and the letters printed on the back all around our classroom. We then called each child, one by one, and instructed them to find and deliver a package to the right house. We made certain that they understood that the "right" house was the house that had the same letter on it that the word started with.
Then the game began!
They excitedly searched for the packages and carefully took time to sound out the word thinking about the beginning sound. We would discuss the sound as they were on their journey to the letter house to deliver each package. Then they would dump the package out of the bed of their truck and look to me with expectant eyes to await the verdict.
HIGH FIVES!!! The package was delivered to the right "address!!!"
They LOVED this game and spent quit a lot of time delivering packages and resetting the "parcels" to again play the game.
But that's not all we did this week!!!
We made elephant masks like the one pictured here during our discussion about, "How We Go With Our Animal Friends!" They even came complete with blower noses!!!
Everyone gets to join in the play! It does not matter how young...we make a way for play and experience. This craft was full of sensory as we squished and squeezed our glue bottles into puddles on our masks and then added several colors of tissue paper squares for colors, patterns, and decor.
Once each child was satisfied with their little creation, we had to let them dry out before adding the noses. This took the entire day as we allowed the children to use as much glue as they decided to use.
The results were pride filled projects that they are still requesting to play and pretend with.
Anything STEM is a hot commodity in education and our lessons from Mother Goose Time on Planes, Trains, and Automobiles are providing plenty of opportunities for engineering, constructing, critical thinking, and LOTS of math!!
Children love anything that says, "VROOOM!" Don't they? This theme from Mother Goose Time has hit a home run with all my little preschool babes! Here, we were just getting organized and studying how we could use the sticks and starch beads to make bridges.
Glue always helps! So, in our usual fashion, we used A LOT of glue. We squished and smooshed and stacked and bent our way to the bridges we wanted to build. Some fell down, but that just gave us an opportunity to rethink, redesign and rebuild.
I love this one! Creative Arts combined with engineering, sensory, critical thinking, fine motor skills.....I could die happy RIGHT NOW!
But why? Why is building, constructing and critical thinking so important to focus on in the early years?? "...construction toys might not be as flashy as battery-powered robots or video games.But as developmental psychologist Rachel Keen notes, parents and teachers "need to design environments that encourage and enhance problem solving from a young age" (Keen 2011).
Construction toys seem ideally suited to do that, and they may also help children develop
- See more at: http://www.parentingscience.com/toy-blocks.html#sthash.PruvcjKi.dpuf
Lessons that promote block, building, and critical thinking help develop areas of the brain that are linked to "advanced math skills later in life."
Even though the end result may look a bit more like "When Toddlers Attack!", this is really a vital learning process that is a foundation builder for later learning.
Traffic Signs and Lines!
This sweet project from Mother Goose Time emphasized placement of vehicles "ON" the road, creating lines "in the middle" of the road, placing and recognizing traffic signs, numbers, cutting (fine motor skills building), using differing writing instruments like chalk and markers, and gluing the road on the paper! When we look at the finished product we see fun, but to the little learner this is a challenging step by step process.
Even more, it teaches the beginnings of traffic safety and ties what we do when we are out of school to what we are learning IN school. Being able to make those connections brings the learning to life!!
We also began learning about directions and lines in the city as displayed in the above map provided by Mother Goose Time. We tied all this together with this sweet sound sensory book, "Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep! Listen To The City" by Burt Burleigh
Part of teaching children to "stay in the lines" is encouraging them to even NOTICE the lines! When we include this type of outcome based play into our daily routine, we can observe when a child is understanding that the lines exist; then we can move into "staying inside the lines." I prefer play-based ANYTHING over paper lessons, so this is my version of "staying in the lines."
It is so much more than learning to draw.
It is actually a developmental skill necessary for understanding math concepts as simple as geometric designs, because how can you truly understand the difference between a circle and a triangle unless you understand the basic concept of a line! This little (and so so simple) lesson also promotes concrete counting to 5. as each little enthusiastically parked their car inside the parking space. This gives the child a sense of a one to one ratio when counting that helps them understand that the number 1 means 1 object, the number 2 means 2 objects, etc.
It is so easy to become excited when we hear our tiny tots ramble off a memorized sequence of numbers correctly. It is an accomplishment of memory though, not of math. And though it is important and a skill marker, it isn't the same thing as counting 10 objects correctly. These types of math lessons where children are learning through play teach this concept in a fun and stress free manner.
Experiences, Observations, and Movement!
We practiced "Spoooooky Yoga!" with Ms. Melissa as we bent, folded, and breathed our way to some Halloween beats and fun fitness!
With Mr. Ninja (the nickname the children have given him) we worked on breaking boards which is my little learners ALL TIME FAVORITE activity! It makes them feel so capable, proud and strong. I love watching their faces as they break each board and ask to do MORE! These enhancement classes cost a bit more, but the experiences they give the children are WELL WORTH it!
<<<<WARNING>>> SOAPBOX AHEAD!!!
I recently read this little tidbit, "Today’s children are 4 times less active in their day-to-day lives than their grandparents..." (from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/nutrition-fitness/Pages/Increasing-Physical-Activity-in-Preschool-Years.aspx)
I see the results first hand. In our program we focus on allowing children to have LOTS of outdoor, free play time and indoor scheduled activities to allow them to experience fitness in a fun and safe environment to help promote a love of movement and pride of accomplishment. Children are natural movers and shakers. Just add time and space and watch their happiness and health increase. It is vital to their brain chemistry to have long periods of physical play, which is why I believe we are seeing such an increase of issues with young children. Too many preschool programs have little ones going from the crib to the cot to the table and back. This set them up for physical, mental and social issues as their little bodies were not made for sitting still. Their brains are wired for PLAY!
But that is a soap box for another time.....
Songs, Dancing Beats and Busting a MOVE!!!
Even our music has a Traffic theme! My young learners have asked to sing this particular song over and over during our circle time activities! We put out our hands in a "STOP" motion when we say, "Stop," and run in place, then jump and freeze! This one is a keeper!
We are thoroughly enjoying fall!!!
We rake the leaves over and over during our outside play! This gives us teachers a little bit of exercise too! The scent, texture, and cooler temperatures mixed with the bright sunshine makes for some beautiful sensory play outside. It puts everyone is SUCH a good mood and we have had some amazing nap times too! BONUS!!!
This was just the first week of November!
We have so much more in store for this month with our STEM lessons as Thanksgiving approaches! Keep in touch and let us know you enjoyed this blog by commenting and / or liking us below! As always...I wish you well and I hope you get to play today! - L
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