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.
During our study of the different types of people and animal homes we discovered that we can live in houses, apartments, houseboats, and tents; but one thing they all have in common is they are all "home" when we have our family to share it with us.
One of our favorite parts of this themed unit has been the Map of the World (thank you Mother Goose Time!). It has allowed for MANY conversations about locations, continents, countries, animals, climates, homes of the world, methods of traveling from place to place!
A day doesn't go by that one of my littles isn't asking me another question.
"Where is this, Ms. Donna?" "Why does the whale live here?" "Can we fly in a plane to here?" "Will you take me?"
I L.O.V.E. these little moments of conversation that equal big learning for little minds. They are prompting the inquiry of information. They are engaged and interested. They are coming up with genuine questions about the world around them and it allows for lots of chatter about who we are, where we live, what we like, and where we want to go!
In the above image on of my little four's comes up to the map multiple times each day and states, "Ms. Donna, I want to go see the leopards...those right there in Africa!" He didn't know it was a leopard prior to displaying this map. He didn't know that leopards live in Africa, or where Africa was on a map....He does now!
Big learning, little minds, big conversations...
All in a day of play at Woolsey Academy!
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!
Erupting Eggs in Creative Arts!
I was bored with the typical Easter Egg coloring methods....BORED!
Is that a terrible admission?
Teaching preschoolers is my passion. I have been at "my passion" for over 10 years and when holidays roll around and the "typical" crafts to go along with it, I am less than enthused (insert sigh...) If you are the parent of more than one little one, I am certain you can share my sentiment.
I originally ran across this idea when looking into some letter "V" activities on several other blog sites.
Here and Here
When I ran across Dinosaur Eggs I KNEW I would have a major hit on my hands! These kiddos LOVE everything messy, everything fizzy, everything creative!
Set up was easy, clean up was a breeze, but the place did smell like Easter for a few days because when you have 10 children coloring eggs it takes a TON of vinegar!
THAT LOOK! This little guy is a HANDS ON learner!! I allowed the children to mix all their own ingredients. I simply provided the baking soda, vinegar, and food colors with appropriate clothing and let them create, mix, and observe the show! Here he has just dipped his paintbrush into the vinegar and baking soda, then colors and it watching it erupt at the end of his paintbrush. Sensory, Creative Arts, Science...all rolled into FUN!!!
Fizzy fun that resulted in questions, observations, color mixing, and LOTS of colorful eggs. Perfect for pre-k!!
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!
We have been "Off The Grid" as much as desired for several months here at Woolsey Academy. This has been quite an experiment for us and one I am so glad we ventured to endure.
What began as an attempt to keep my little ones interested in writing has become far more than I had imagined. My main goal, as I mentioned, was simply to keep their letter and number practice fresh and exciting.
My own little babe simply is not interested in paper. She has her moments, but for the most part, it frustrates her. At first glance she seemed to simply not want to try. She would fidget and fit, throw the paper and crayons. I tried markers, colored pencils, twistable crayons and chalk, thinking that maybe she was frustrated trying to hold a crayon. Nope, that didn't make any difference. I tried different types of papers, coloring books, construction paper, lines, no lines, printed with with things that interested her like bugs and butterflies and no printing at all....nope...still nothing!
After careful observation I determined that she has inherited her my "fear of messing up" gene. I too have a tendency to avoid that which I am afraid I will fail at. It is a harsh realization, but true. I am not one to "jump off the deep end" without knowing exactly how deep the water is, my clear path for exit, and having a good eye on the "life-guard." I am not a natural born risk-taker either, probably for the same reasons (not a good combo for taking on the unknown!)
When it comes to paper she has a definite idea of what she wants the end product to look like and at the first moment she determines that she has "messed up" the papers, crayons, arms and legs would go flying!
So, in an attempt to relieve her of the anxiety and help her understand that there is no such thing as "messing up beyond repair" and possibility of failure, I thought of a plan..."OFF THE GRID!"
This has completely freed her to create, think, and simply just BE in the moment of learning without any pre-conceived notion (on her part) of what her paper should look like.
I have had other children similar to her in the past, but, like snowflakes...no two are alike. In the above video is just one example of the learning we are now doing "Off The Grid." I call it such since it is a-typical for the traditional class environment. This does produce less "take-homes," but thankfully with social media I am able to share the children's creations with their families via images. This...too...is a great advantage as their pictures are captured in a photo that can be looked at anytime from Mom or Dad's phone, as well as, shared with family anytime/anywhere.
One thing I didn't foresee is what a GREAT crossing the midline activity having such a large space to create on would provide. We have practiced making large and small letters, numbers, lines, shapes, pattern, etc. It is like witnessing a little miracle when one of my little ones that used to move his or her entire body to reach the other side of their art space suddenly reaches across. I seriously get giddy!! Oh yes...what is "crossing the midline?"
Crossing the midline is a developmental milestone that we recognize with crawling. Imagine a big line that divides our bodies down the middle into right and left halves. Any activity that involves the right side "crossing over" into the left sides half is "crossing the midline." This seems so natural for many that it is undetectable to the untrained eye...but to those of us watching for it, it is a celebration! It basically involves activities that require that the dominate hand, or side of the body, cross over to do "work" on the other side...i.e: painting a large letter "X" on our great big window that starts with a child drawing a diagonal line from his left shoulder (using his right hand) all the way down to his right foot (still using his left hand) and remaining firm footed the entire time would be "crossing the midline
Read more about crossing the midline here... Crossing The Midline
ANYTHING can be accomplished with these great, big "canvases!" Another advantage is simply utilizing what you have for pre-k activities. It doesn't take expensive art easels to allow children the space to create. Windows, walls, floors...these are all readily accessible and with the right tools (washable crayons and paints) the clean up is a breeze!
What I do LOVE about this activity is that they are always excited to do it. It also gives each child much more room for freedom of expression AND space between children that are not quite mature enough to stay within their own "creation station."
Take a look!!
Each day is a day filled with the opportunity for play and learning. It's funny to me that those words are seperate...
Play IS learning and real learning takes place through play.
The following article Want to get your kids into college? Let them play... By Erika Christakis and Nicholas Christakis is a great example of why play-based, teacher facilitated learning is essential to success.
In my hands ON experience with children I can attest to the following, "Through play, children learn to take turns, delay gratification, negotiate conflicts, solve problems, share goals, acquire flexibility, and live with disappointment. By allowing children to imagine walking in another person's shoes, imaginative play also seeds the development of empathy, a key ingredient for intellectual and social-emotional success." Erika Christakis and Nicholas Christakis
Just some of our "play" today...
In this picture a few of my sweet girls were experiencing the differences of several sensory terms. We observed that the some of our newly made playdough was hot, warm, cool, and cold. We also added gold and emerald glitter allowing each child to choose which color and pointing out the names of each color to add to their white uncolored playdough. We then discussed how to knead the dough.
Following this, since it is St. Patrick's Day week for us, we talked about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and how we might go about finding it. We imagined several ways we might find the pot of gold and what we would do with a pot of gold. We practiced taking turns with the tools, pounded out pots and smushed them down to create something new.
We also learned a new song:
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