teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Posts tagged ‘maths concepts’

Elephants. What’s not to love?

It never ceases to amaze me that children are so eager to learn! In every interaction, every experience, every routine task and every moment of chilled calm or frenzied playing, there is so much going on that you can’t help but hope that the kids we share our time with won’t ever forget the joy of learning and searching.

I spent a few weeks in the Babies Room recently. This meant I was privy to some of the most joyous leaps of development, as well as an integral part of following up on their interests. I found that the sensory seekers – you know the ones who love to climb over their friends or push at them – could be redirected easier into appropriate play after a quick ‘toss in the air’ game. Setting all those needs for physical connections and movement into adult interactions has been fun! I’d generally follow this up with games of ‘Row, Row, Row your Boat’ or Peek-a-boo if there were a few rowdy ones ๐Ÿ™‚

The quiet ones were seeking their connections through the toy phones, or sharing eye contact before offering a hand to play with. Building trust in the bond we’d share, getting their permission to move in before laying on my tummy in their space and sharing their toys. As with any age group, the boisterous ones would try to join in with my play, effectively locking out the more gentle of play. It takes talent to hold a gentle conversation whilst throwing balls or building towers out of our zone, so that the interactions can remain and be encouraged.

I found that all the babies we have are loving sitting in laps or mini group times to look at books. This pleases me greatly! I hope they continue to find joy in the written word, that their imaginations can be allowed to run wild and that their connections to their life and all that it encompasses will be better understood, because of a love of books.

I found a rather large book with bright illustrations that the babies loved, so of course I read it repeatedly ๐Ÿ™‚ The whole thing could be sung jauntily to hold their interest longer too, so we added the song to our music grouptimes!

“One elephant went out to play,

Upon a spider’s web one day.

He thought it was such tremendous fun,

That he invited another elephant to come!”

You can see where this is going yeah? ๐Ÿ™‚ย  So lots of re-reading, lots of singing, lots of elephant noises and lots of fun! What better way to extend on this interest, than by putting up a display of elephantsย  on to a woolen spiders web and sharing the words on the wall, so that the parents could see what we’ve been doing, feeding their need to know that their children are safe, cared for and that positive thought is being put into their child’s development.

And you know what? Educators Connecting, Children’s Learning and Parental Confidence aside….it was Fun! ๐Ÿ™‚


Who wants an Ice Cream?

Anyone who has worked with me for any length of time, would have heard the holler of “Who wants an Ice Cream?” echoing around the yard ๐Ÿ™‚ I love getting involved with the kids role play, so when a castle is turned into a restaurant or someone sets up shop in a corner, I’ve found myself balancing most successful with personal comfort by engaging in ice-cream shop role play. Personally, I can’t follow-up on McDonald’s franchises opening up in our healthy eatingย  and learning environments, but will attend them until I can ask for a fancy dessert to redirect play ๐Ÿ™‚

When visiting ‘That’s not Garbage’ I came across these old thread cones and couldn’t resist them becoming part of our play!

Painting them with glue and filling the insides with fluffy white cotton balls was a great way to explore full and empty –

but was certainly the precursor to the real fun the kids wanted to have!

We drizzled more glue over the top, then sprinkled an array of glitter on for topping!

If only we’d thought of adding the paper covers to all the glue tables, it would have been a quicker clean up!
*as you can see, not everyone likes their cones to hold ice cream – and I’m cool with that :)*


Once all our glitter was spread, we moved on to the ‘lolly table’.

Realistically threading colourful foam beads on to small skewers, we called them lolly sticks,

fostering our imaginations.

With most children completing at least 2 ice creams and all the cones gone,

we used our beads to make necklaces and bracelets.

The photos look so calm and happy, but in all honesty it was a flurry of activity and the threading of bracelets was a fantastic way to calm the group.

Yay for intrinsic follow-up activities!


Ourย  ‘shop’ย  was visited by all, with everyone excited to take them home. Some were used in our outdoor Role Play area to continue the shop idea,

and I couldn’t have been more proud ๐Ÿ™‚

Outdoor Classrooms

Our Centre is not one that can easily support indoor-outdoor play. We ensure a large amount of play time in both areas, but are just not equipped to fully supervise both areas, without putting too much pressure on staff, thereby losing quality interactions with our kids. It’s something we have learnt to work with and although we dream of the centres who can allow free flow between their indoor and outdoor learning environments, we rate the quality of our interactions and supervision higher than that wish.

Which is why I love coming across images like this on the computer ๐Ÿ™‚

This shows me that the girls from the other room have valued their children’s interest in water play and have tried to encourage it in a positive way – especially during our colder months! You can see here the old boat run we have. Some of the rubber stoppers have worn away and it is prone to leaking. It has been used for ball runs and water play in summer months, where puddles abound and the kids can enjoy the cooling water on their feet.

The children are actively involved in getting the water moving, using scoops and watering cans to add more water to the track – which extends into the sandpit and disappears until the sand forms walls that push the water further down its waterway. The concepts of maths, science, environmental effects and sharing jobs and space would all have come into play. Not that they knew the words, but they certainly learnt the ideas!

More building and construction to continue the waters flow, working together towards a common goal – not an easy task as any teacher form a two-year old classroom will tell you! This activity was done over the school holidays, so the mixย  of 3-4 year olds in with the 2 year olds probably helped with the sharing of ideas and building on the raw concepts. It’s a great activity, I wish I was there to share in the fun! But I’m so glad that this happened while I was away too ๐Ÿ™‚ It just goes to show the quality of our team, the pride they take in creating play based learning experiences, and the love they have for our kids! Well done girls!

Maths in action


As we near the end of the month (and the end of my holiday!) I thought I’d catch you up on some of the great activities the kids have been doing. Maths Concepts is such a great monthly theme, it opens up so many opportunities and discussions during play!

Like this dial board. A variety of circles connected to a large board with split pins. shapes are decorating the dials and the children spin them, finding differences in speed that relate to size!

Admittedly, this was done in the next classroom as they explored shapes, but it’s worth including as a great activity! Recognising rectangles, getting sensory feedback about high and low, in and out, not to mention the shapes and counting and stacking and colour mixing that’s going on!

Cooking! One of my all time favourite (and yet seriously under used at child care) things to do! Mixing, measuring, watching dry and wet mix to create a new texture. Seeing colours change and making something you can eat!

Maths andย  Literacy are important to our everyday lifestyles, therefore important for our kid to learn. But it’s not like we have to actively teach this stuff. It comes from the interactions and importance we place on it. How we share it with our kids. From writing shopping lists to asking for help picking a certain number of things. So let the everyday learning happen every day!

Loking at Lost things to create something new :)

I love my laminator. I know that not everything needs laminating, and I certainly don’t make a habit of having all shiny, smooth poster like art around my class room walls. In fact, I’m often found searching for different textures and mediums to adorn our environment!

Sometimes though, they just make a dead toy fun again.

Last term, I took every single puzzle in our centre and sorted them, completed them and found missing pieces. I was left over with some puzzle pieces whose boards are long gone. I photocopied the pieces, to create dark shadows – although you could colour copy them for true matching – and popped them in a bag with their newly laminated matching boards. By adding small magnets to the back of the puzzle pieces and taping this to the fridge or filing cabinets, you’ve created a new play area in a dead space ๐Ÿ™‚

Not a difficult exercise for my kindy kids, possibly more suited to the younger age groups, but certainly a nice way to reuse otherwise ‘lost’ pieces. My other ideas for the remaining puzzle pieces include baby mobiles, as part of eye spy bags or adding magnets to their backs for use on filing cabinets ๐Ÿ˜‰

I recently made a selection of eye spy bags, and tried to find an alternative to food based fillings like rice and beans, but each thing I tried just didn’t have the flexibility and movement these bags require. It makes me sad to put good food into a toy, especially when so many people with kids are doing it hard. I never do pasta threading or used food for non-edible art. I have been known to share out a mix of cheerio’s cereal and fruit loops, for the kids to make their own candy bracelets and necklaces, but they got to eat those right away or bag them up and take them home! I remember when I started my child care studies, over a decade ago now, my tutor telling me a story about her time in childcare, where one Mum looked at the pasta and rice on her collage table and said “That would feed my family for a week!” It’s an eye-opening statement for many people. Recognising that the things we throw away or consider ‘broken’ can be reused in so many ways. By Using old puzzle pieces and repairing things with the kids, I hope to subliminally embed the idea that most things can be fixed and we don’t need to throw away nearly as much stuff as we do. After all, today’s catch cry is Reduce, Recycle and Re-Use!

Get out the leads and I’ll follow!

Circles are cool! It’s one of the first shapes that kids can master. They’re great for drawing faces and figures, they create the base of many letters, they look pretty and help us enclose things. HAve you noted how children like to enclose things? Creating a space for themself to work on, putting all their toys into a bag, basket or pocket. Enclosing things links to a sense of ownership and appreciation. “It’s mine!” or “It’s mine, for now!”

When we spin in circles, we get dizzy. When we follow circles, we end up where we started. When we draw circles, we need to make the ends join.

These children were invited to help make circles. To mark their progress and join up the ends. Alternatively, they could walk around and around trying to make the circles join, but seeing that their progress fluctuates and try to alter their path to make ends meet.

We used hoops from the “Outdoor Twister” game, tying ribbon to them and tying that to side-walk chalk. The exercise would be better off being repeated with those little, wetsuit, icy pole covers you can buy from Coles (or make yourself from old stubby holders) as they would give more support to the chalk, meaning less breakages.

However, it drew interest and experimentation in its short lived state. Preparation time was next to nothing and could easily be repeated and set up by the kids.

The end results were pretty and I’d love to try this with wet chalk or water paints ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, the children showed me a new use for our rings! We’ve always loved our doggy role play around here and today bought in a new adventure, collars! I’ve been wary of the children tying things around their necks, but the hoops are a great size for fitting heads through and escaping from easily. They also won’t bend or tighten to a choking point and make both sides of the dog walking party aware of their limits!

Some dogs like to run and jump,

while others prefer to sit and behave:)

Either way, it’s nice to see the kids respecting the authority they have as the “owner” as well as being able to be led. No one likes a leash to be pulled onย  or dragged somewhere. Having people listen to us and use their intuition on our motives and directions is wonderful. But most of all, we just want to get there together ๐Ÿ™‚

With a snip over here and a snip over there…

I am officially on two weeks holiday, two weeks at home with my kids and my man ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve slept for massive portions of the day, played lego, painted ponies, helped come up with story ideas and been able to hang out on the couch with my family.

However, before I left for my holidays, I assembled a heap of activities so that my kids at school could still have the input from teh Maths program that I’d originally set. I’m a bit of a control freak, I know!

Here is my reinterpretation of an activity I’d seen on another blog. They had hung reams of wool hung off of a hoop, placed over a large tray. The children were encouraged to cutย  it randomly into the tray. Seeing as I don’t have much in the way of table frames or ceiling beams to hang things down to kids level safely, I worked withwhat I have.

And what I have are paper plate and streamers ๐Ÿ™‚ (I did try the wool, tied through holes, but it really didn’t have the volume I wanted the kids to see)


Just a few strip held together with a staple, positioned around half the paper plate (which had it’s inner circle cut out for another activity ages ago) and we have hair! How better to experience long to short concepts than with a pretend hair cut!

This photo was taken as part of a practice run and I immediately saw that it wasn’t going to work for everyone. Scissors can be scary and it’s important to remember that when we give kids the power to use things safely the weight of acting responsibly can scare them too!

Instead I’ve planned for the children to draw faces that can be stuck to the plate, hidden by the hair. These will then be stuck to easel boards and the children can merrily chop away until their person appears ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish I could be there when they do this! It just looks like it’ll be a lot of fun!