teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Posts tagged ‘stories’

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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? πŸ™‚Β  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 elephantsΒ  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! πŸ™‚


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!

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™‚

This is your life!

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is also the key moment when your heart skips a beat and you wait anxiously to see how other people see you. A telling example of your skills and abilities.

Today we had some cute little moments that made me pause so that I could use my everyday audience to do my reflective practice for me. It was almost as nerve-wracking as Accreditation!

Here you see the group crowded around their ‘teacher’. There was story telling and asking for input from the ‘class’, she pointed out parts of the story and told the girls what book she would read next. I was so proud of her – and me πŸ™‚

What I didn’t realise until after I’d taken the photo, and lightly distracted the class as the flash went off and they felt the need to turn and smile, was what was happening in the background.

Can you see how 3 girls up the line the other girls are facing the other way? That’s because there is ANOTHER ‘teacher’ up there telling more stories! She was even heard to ask the girls which group they were in πŸ™‚

I love it when kids play ‘teacher’, holding court in front of their peers or toys, emulating group times and remembering key stories or songs. It was as I was thinking of this that I realised that this play is how I played at being a teacher, but surely I was more than the person that held the book? And you know what, I am! πŸ™‚

I’m the person who taught them to sing ‘Ring a Ring of Rosies’ whilst holding hands and dancing in a circle.

They’re the ones emulating the same song whilst holding two dolls together at the hands.

I’m the person who showed them that sand can be about big holes, patted mounds and tracks in the dirt.

They’re the ones who create stories and jobs for their friends and trucks.

I’m the one who made them feel special as we sang for their birthday.

They’re the ones who come to me in the sandpit with cakes, songs and gifts of food.

I’m the one who offers hugs when they’re sad, help when they fall and advice when they struggle.

They’re the ones who reach out to their friends, who greet me with hugs and who want to help each other.

I’m the one who gets paid to spend my days teaching, playing, interacting, resolving and distracting.

They’re the ones who make it all worth while πŸ™‚

Recognition for Reconciliation

Reconciliation week has just passed and I loved our stories, art activities and mock corroborees.

When it came to the culmination of our week, I wanted to make something special that we could display in our room and remember,Β  talk about again, play with again and extend on the concepts we’d learnt. But uh-oh, we didn’t have any brown paper! So what’s a girl to do, but put the kids to ‘work’ by asking them to paint some up for me!

Before too long we had far more paper than we’d need, which was also far more fun than using coloured paper!

After a bit of prep, the now-brown paper was stuck on to some cardboard shapes I’d cut out to look like people dancing. This was by far the hardest part to get organised for!

Once inside, we read the story of “White clay and the Giant Kangaroos”, which retells the legend of how the Aboriginal people of the Wiradjuri tribe found fire and how one man’s bravery made the white clay sacred.

The children followed me in an interpretive dance of the story, likened to that of a corroboree. We followed all this up by making our own dancing puppet people. Cutting out their ‘undies’,

painting their sacred markings with ‘white clay’ ,

decorating a didgeridoo, a piece of bush or fire hands like their characters called for

and attaching them to cardboard tubes.

A fairly complex activity, but well received and enthusiastically participated in by all πŸ™‚

Once our puppets were dry, we took them for a dance outside. Re-creating our morning corroborees story with greater panache in the larger space. Because I was so fully immersed in the story and the moment, I completely forgot to take photos!

The theme this year was “Let’s talk Recognition”, inviting us to talk to our peers and to encourage us to relate how wonderful it feels to be recognised for a job well done, for a talent or an aspect of your personality that makes you who you are. To then take this thought and turn it around to see how wonderful it is to recognise other people for who they are.

Working with Kindy kids who are naturally open to exploring cultures and who have been celebrating positive behaviours and interactions with their “Warm and Fuzzy” sticker charts and through spontaneous play opportunities is a reward on its own.