teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Archive for September, 2011

What’s it like at your place?

My internet connection is having all sorts of dramas at the moment and I am incredibly frustrated by the inability to post up photo stories! So you’ll just have to believe me when I say that I was incredibly proud of the connection I was able to make with this child and so happy that his Mum was able to see that! As a family new to child care, she has many worries of her own, by following up on a conversation with this activity, I hope that alleviated just one of her concerns!

It all started after Mum left and we were having a cuddle whilst discussing what activities we had available in the yard.

My young man and I talked about what he would like to do and he replied ‘I want to make a machine that turns water into food’.

And there it was. My own kids movie watching had paid off. I knew this was a movie reference and was able to ask questions that could confirm this and extend our discussion.

“what sort of food?”

“Cheeeeez Buurger”

“what does it look like?”

“It has a circle on the top and one on the bottom. A place for water to go in and a bzzzzzzz for the cheeeeezbuuurger”

“What do we need to make it?”

“First we need Yellow Paper!”

(sooo lucky that I happened to have yellow paper amongst the colours I’d put out that day!”

I quickly took notes on what was needed then drew a basic picture of the machine as he’d described it.

By now other children were becoming interested in this conversation and we went together to collect collage items so that we could all invent something.

Masking tape, scissors and glue, paper for planning and we had a class of inventors!

My man and I worked on how to connect things together as we created ‘a machine that can turn water into food!’ Facing challenges of height, balance, fit and shapes we managed pretty well to identify everything’s needs and abilities!

I even made him a ‘cheeseburger’ out of cardboard and carpet off-cuts – which he declared ‘Yum’ πŸ™‚

So as I reflect on this connection between home, family and child I feel positive and validated. Watching movies can create positive interactions with those around us, develop thinking skills, help clarify concepts and create opportunities for creative play!


After all, it’s not every day that you can say it’s “cloudy with a chance of meatballs!”

Advertisements

And stories to tell…

 

If I told you this month we were doing an accelerated literacy program that involves the children creating a forest,

Working with coloured glue and paint to make some very special trees,

decorating a house with lollipops and assorted junk foods,


planning, drawing and following maps,

Would you have guessed we were reading, retelling and acting out the story of Hansel and Gretel?

So much fun to be had when we break away from literacy = ABC!


Awsome Assistants need bigger and better Job descriptions!

 

I’m thinking my Tegan needs to be called ‘Super Awesome Girl’ or maybe ‘The Wonder Wizard’, ok so they need some work, but I just want to share this with you.

Today, I started halfway through the day so that I could have time for morning appointments and such. I thought I started at 12:30, but I was meant to be there at 12. Not feeling fantastic after I realised this, I entered my room a sorry mess. However, my team let me know it wasnt’ a stress and then shared a little secret with me.

They’d declared today ‘Cleaning Day!’ and all the kids got involved in washing, sweeping and cleaning our outdoor area!

Mind you, some washed as they swept!

Others polished their favourite toys,

while some avoided the water altogether!

Awesome, productive, eco-friendly ‘water play’ on a sunny but cool day!

Don’t you wish your team mates were Awesome like Mine πŸ™‚

Linking in Literacy

Reading is great. Stories open a whole new world to us, texts introduce us to concepts and information and even advertising offers us something new.

I work with Kindy kids. over the last 10 years I’ve only come across two kids who were reading books. Yet somehow, parents of 3-4 year olds are expecting their child to be able to read every letter of the alphabet and write more and more complex things. I get that the world is changing, but if your kid is not showing those skills, I’ll scaffold their learning so that they can read when they are ready to. By all means, I’ll push for name recognition and writing, for the kids to start to link up the patterns of letters to the names of their friends, but I’ll also let them discover a love of letters for themselves.

FOr your viewing pleasure, a snap shot of my room and the literacy it supports.

Books, you can’t go by them! We’ve set up a book nook near a sunny window with cushions and a table near by, this lovely boy decided to make the most of a sunny day and sit on stacked chairs to enjoy his story. When I saw him, I wanted to be him! I’m thinking that makes my book area a success πŸ™‚


Letters are the base of all words, with the focus usually being on the letters in our names first. Magnet letters can be found in every second-hand shop frequently, formula tins go to the bins after use. So by combining these two complimentary resources, we now get to explore letters as we assemble them into words or patterns on our own workspace.

Puzzles are great, many children have learnt the ABC song by the time they hit kindy, so doing an alphabet puzzle is just like singing with your fingers πŸ™‚

We have a few random name puzzles that were donated to us and the kids love these too, especially as some ofΒ  the letters can be swapped between them, which of course helps with letter recognition!

I printed out the kids names (using the ‘outline’ option of my favourite font) then laminated them as individual cards. We use them with whiteboard markers for writing skills and as group-time flashcards πŸ™‚ I added the small whiteboards to the area so that the kids could extend their ideas.

This is just what happened to be happening one day. When I decided to assessΒ  the literacy in my room after a parent discussion. If these links are being made during regular play, then I’m sure that the children are going to be immersed in it over the next couple of weeks πŸ™‚

Balancing the load

One of the great things about working in childcare is that you are constantly reviewing your own bias’. We get opinions of experts, we hear from our peers and we share ideals, but when it comes down to it, it’s your own Bias’ that are most important to understand and learn to be flexible with.

Each and every childcare environment should be inclusive of sex, race, belief and ability. We are taught (and learn that it’s best) to leave our play spaces open – if boys want to dress up in fantastic fabrics and role play with dolls, we’re cool with that. If the girls want to get muddy in the sandpit as they dig with trucks or role play with dinosaurs, we’re cool with that. Often more so than the parents.

But children really do have their own agendas, their own favourite places to play. And that’s OK. If a girl is intent on carrying a baby doll with her everywhere, I’m happy with her doing so, exploring and working with her baby alongside. If a boy needs the physical feedback he gets from riding bikes, moving fast, kicking balls, let him have it!

The kids will express to you how they need the environment to change. Through increasingly diverse behaviours we’ll find ourselves wondering “What am I missing?” When in fact it’s the environment that is missing something. The challenges we need to take on are recognising the kids needs, interests and strengths so that we can include these in our daily environment and scaffold their learning with new opportunities.

There are so many educators and journalists have opinions on how to do this, but once again, it’s up to you. Challenge your bias’ on what is appropriate play and see how you can get the boys into the art areas. Rolling cars and big trucks through paint, using Ben 10 colouring in to scaffold pencil grips and skills, using house painting brushes to water paint on the walls and cement, just the tip of the iceberg. Adding materials,dolls, furniture or animals to the block area so the girls can create and learn about spatial awareness and balance.

I know this sounds kind of obvious, but this week I had an epiphany over one of my little men. My classroom has been female dominant for so long that his needs were not fully being met in our indoor environment. How did I not notice this? His behaviours were a form of communication, a connection, reaching out to me to tell me that he needed something more. Now my challenge is to change-up what I’m doing and see how he reacts to it. To watch how he uses the resources to see how I can better suit our environment to his needs.

It’s not going to be quick or easy. in fact, I think I’m going to be getting it wrong a few times first! But that is far better than doing the same things over and over again, yet expecting different results. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out I’d quickly go insane like that, but he did phrase it well πŸ™‚

Furry and cute, but not a dog!

Lately the caterpillars have started to come out. As much as they remind me of the ‘itchy bugs’ of my youth, I welcome them now as one of the few interactions we get with animals. I’ve seen children search for them, create homes for them, gentle rotate their hands so the bugs have ‘steps’ to climb. But most of all, there is a lot of watching and discussing going on.

When this one was found it was climbing the wall, we watched as it wiggled its way upwards, marvelling at how it stuck there. Children reminded each other to be careful with it and not to squash it or hurt it, reminding each other of earlier misadventures.

One of the children grabbed a cup and gently scooped it up to be placed on the floor for more viewing.

By now, the poor caterpillar was scared and rolled up in a ball. This gave us opportunity to talk about what would make it feel more comfy, what it needed to survive and how it could stop being scared of us.

A new ‘home’ was quickly found by the kids, with exploration for leaves and food. Once our little caterpillar was moving again, I helped release him into the wild, after all it’s not fair to take a creature from its home.

But to keep a bit of a memory of our ‘pet’ we grabbed some paint pens and created images that represented our ideas and experiences with our furry little friend πŸ™‚

Awash in a sea of colour

I love it when the sun shines but doesn’t make us sweat. I love seeing ideas shared between workers. I love seeing smiles on kids faces as they see us valuing their product.

Years ago the centre I was at was going through accreditation and one of the complaints she had, was that we weren’t “respecting the children’s art” enough. Her case in point was that one wall had all the children’s art mounted on different sized pieces of paper and put up in a wobbly line. As opposed to mounted identically and presented straight. Just to be clear. This is not what I am talking about. I’m thinking about how often the children will ask me to take a photo of them, their artwork, their building or a favourite toy. How this new generation recognises that photos are a keepsake, often more so than the art they take home.

I know I try to get the art we do for displays to go up straight away, to show the kids it’s theirs and it’s fantastic and it’s here. If it’s artwork to go home, I want it in their bags as soon as possible to show their families. But it’s not often we get to create the display as the children create the art. Which is why I love fence painting πŸ™‚

I still fully believe in the value of the process, the learning that comes from exploration and repeated use of new or familiar mediums. The up-scaling of skills as kids begin to form pictures or differentiate between colours, spaces and techniques.

These lovely large papers are free from any architects office, it’s printed on one side with building plans (fun for colouring in or map making) can completely blank on the other. We are lucky enough to get rolls and rolls of it from a family at the centre, but I have been known to approach nearby architects to rummage through their paper waste πŸ™‚

As the paintings are declared ‘done’ they are left on the wall to dry and be admired, owned and attached to. They create a gallery of communication in a sea of colour. They make us aware of our own abilities and open us up to ideas from our peers.

In fact, it prompted the idea that we should do this activity in the days leading up to our end of year party so that the parents have something to focus on and our children have something to show off and we have something to ‘prove our worth’ – plus it just looks really pretty πŸ™‚