A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Archive for the ‘Social and Personal Learning’ Category

Observational Drawing of Strawberries- A Sensory Experience

Strawberry is the flavour of the week as we explore The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. This afternoon we spent some time using all our senses to observe some fresh strawberries, their leaves and seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each child was given a strawberry of their own to observe, feel, smell and draw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They approached the drawing of their strawberry in their own unique way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some children chose to hold the strawberry as they drew, feeling the texture of the seeds and drawing the indents. Other children thoughtfully selected which aspect or side they wanted to draw and placed the strawberry accordingly on the table. This child noted the bend “like a banana” in his strawberry and decided to draw it from this perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children’s use of  drawing as a language demonstrated the depth of their observational skills far more accurately than if they were to describe their strawberry using words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After drawing the outside of their strawberry, the children cut it in half………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and drew the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his drawing J. has really captured the bumps he felt on his strawberry when it was whole and ……. cut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smell of the strawberries was very inviting and tomorrow we are going to make some strawberry scented playdough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they had drawn this view of their strawberry, the children were finally able to explore it with their final sense – taste. The 2 children who said they didn’t like strawberries prior to drawing them, thought they would like to taste their 2 halves. After tasting/eating their berry, the children selected another one to draw. This time we cut the strawberry in half the opposite way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This perspective was interesting to observe and draw as the centre of the strawberry looked like “rings of yumminess”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That were irresistable to everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum!!!!!! YUM!!!!! I think we had lots of hungry bears today who love red ripe strawberries!

Purple Snow

Today was one of those days when I stopped and thought “this is why I love my job.” As the children came into the clasroom this morning, one of my preppies presented me with some jacaranda blooms off her tree at home. After roses, jacaranda’s are my favourite and I told my little friend that today, in honour of her gift, we would read the book “Purple Snow” by Eric Lobbecke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a cockatoo who, whilst visiting the North Pole, compares the white snow on the ground to the purple carpet at home, created by the  jacaranda blooms falling to the ground from the trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After reading the book, we discussed the jacaranda trees in the children’s gardens and our school grounds and I told the children that one of my favourite things to do when I was a little girl was to thread the fallen flowers onto the fine twigs that also fell from the trees as the flowers were spent. To my surprise, none of the children had ever done this before, so taking the opportunity to share this childhood memory with my preppies, we went outside and looked for the nearest jacaranda tree. Unfortunately this tree was near a busy pathway and playground which meant many of the blooms had been trodden on but the children were so eager to participate in this experience that they searched really carefully for suitable flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and threaded them onto their twigs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children enjoyed exploring the different effects that were created as they threaded the flowers onto the twigs. Some were thin, some were thick and some were in a pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were disappointed that, because of the busy nature of where this tree was situated, we couldn’t see the purple snow/carpet effect. Some of the children said there were jacaranda trees on the edge of the oval and we should look there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To our delight, from across the oval we saw purple snow and the children rushed across to get a closer look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time I had caught up with them they were already settled on the grass under the trees threading flower twigs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was at this time that I paused and took in the scene……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of my wonderful 5 and 6 year olds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

enjoying the simpler pleasures of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as threading we spent some time on our backs, lying on the grass looking up into the jacaranda trees. When a breeze blew, some of the blooms would fall gently from their branches, just like falling snow. The children demonstrated quiet patience as they waited for purple snow to land on, or near them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly, with the lunch bell about to ring it was time to return to our classroom. As we began to walk back across the oval the children noticed all the patches of clover in bloom and embraced the opportunity for some more simple childhood fun with a game of “what does this remind you of? ”  If you use your imagination this clover patch looks like a map of Australia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In another game the children made up and with rules known only to them, they had fun jumping from one clover patch to another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we finally got back to the classroom and the children tenderly placed their threadings either on a table or in the vase with my original gift, I overheard them sharing our adventures with our Intern, a new Early Childhood Educator. As I listened to their happy chatter, I was reminded of one of the many reasons why our chosen profession is so joyful and rewarding…… the opportunity to not only relive childhood memories but to create them as well.

Our Calendar

This term I have implemented a calendar time into our classroom routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time as an opportunity to incorporate lots of literacy and numeracy learning into our daily routine. We begin with the name of the day and the date, which the children write into their calendar journal. I use this part of the routine to practice their letter and numeral formation. For the first week the children wrote over dotted lines to give them a size guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have also learnt the “secret code” for writing the date eg. 3.10.11 is the third of October 2011. We enhance understandings of yesterday and tomorrow, which are time concepts young children often find difficult to grasp by moving the days up this chart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We often sing our favourite Days of the Week song to help us remember which day will come next. The song is sung to the Adams Family theme song. Here is a link to a version of it on Youtube http://youtu.be/OPzIbbvoiMA 

During the year we have used graphs to record data about lots of topics such as our pets and favourite vegetables. To further enhance our graphing knowledge and understandings, we are recording the weather on a monthly basis using a graph. This graph is in the children’s journal as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also chart the weather on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The graphics for these charts were from a free web site called Pete’s Power Point Station.

After the weather, we record the number of days we have been at school. This is a great opportunity to practice counting, numeral recognition and numeral formation. The children record this number in a variety of ways each day.

On this page they write the numerals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the next page, the children are exploring the concept of Tally Marks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are also using concrete objects to explore groups of ten as we count the number of days at school. Every day we place a paddle pop stick in the ones cup. When we have ten we will bundle them up and move them into the tens cup. This activity is a real life way of learning about how we record and write numerals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final numeracy activity for Calendar Time is counting how many children are in class that day. All the girls/boys stand up and when counted (by tapping them on the shoulder) they sit down again. This number is recorded and the process is repeated for the other girls/boys. We also discuss how many children are absent. The children problem solve how many children are present in total based on all this information and then everyone stands up and is counted to determine the actual number present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final literacy activity is to review our Sight Words for the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each day I write them in the talking bubbles, with the children copying them into their journal on the Sight Word page. As I form each letter in the words, I use our Casey Caterpillar Handwriting language to assist the children with forming their letters correctly. This activity enhances both handwriting and sight word recognition.

When we first began Calendar Time it would take us approximately 30 – 45 minutes, which, despite all the learning opportunities is a long time out of our day but,  each day we have gotten a little quicker and can now complete the whole activity in approx. 15 minutes. The children really love filling out their journal and, during the first week, lots of parents asked about Calendar Time because the children were coming home everyday telling them about it.

Calendar Time is quite a formal activity in our classroom and I am surprised at just how much the children enjoy this daily experience. Sometimes I wonder if  it is because it is a real life experience or they like owning and completing a “real school type” book or if it is a sign of their readiness to move onto Year One. Perhaps it is a combination of all three?  Whatever the reason, it has proven a valuable and engaging way of incorporating literacy and numeracy into our play based curriculum along with teaching the children the valuable “learning to learn” skill of how to organise themselves and find the correct work page in a book.

A Story of True Love and Humanity

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received the following story from a good friend of mine and thought I would share it with you.

Two Choices

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered
a question:

‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do.

He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued.

‘I believe that when a child like Shay,who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realise true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story: Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were
playing baseball. Shay asked,

‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’

I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps..

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked
around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small
tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognising that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life,
moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first!

Run to first!’
Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline,wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay.’

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by
turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third! Shay, run to third!’

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay,
run home! Run home!’

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped
bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy,
and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

I don’t know the original source of this story,  but here is a little footnote to the story.

Many people send and share jokes via the internet without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate. Public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces but by sharing this story I believe we can all make a difference especially as early childhood educators.

We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realise the ‘natural order of things’ and through the internet and in particular social networking sites we are presented with a choice:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the
world a little bit colder in the process?

Our Tinkering Table

Throughout the year I have been fascinated to observe the intensity of thought that some of my preppies have put into their block constructions. One child in particular, carefully selects and considers the placement of each and every block he uses. His constructions and their exploration of balance, shape and complexity are astonishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late last term he brought in some metal nuts, bolts and springs he had collected from the site where a bus had been repaired after breaking down. He asked if he could look at them on the light box and experimented with putting them together in interesting shapes and patterns. It was only whilst discussing these loose parts with him, and listening to his thinking about where they might have belonged on the bus, that I realised he was interested in, not just how things were constructed but also how they could be deconstructed and so our Tinkering Table was born!

I had seen a post on the wonderful blog Irresistable Ideas for Play Based about just such a table and immediately looked for a place in the classroom to add our own version of it. For now we are using the water trough because it stops the different parts and paraphernalia from falling to the floor but with summer fast approaching I will soon need to find an alternative.  

Our sound for the week was /v/ and so it seemed appropriate that the first object we should deconstruct was a vacuum cleaner. We added a set of screw drivers and waited to see what would happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first the children explored the vacuum cleaner as a whole, opening and closing all the different compartments. They were excited to discover the cord could still be pulled out and retracted. An action they repeated over and over again. I was interested to observe that it was only after I posed the question “I wonder how that works?” that some of the children, including the child who had collected the nuts and bolts from the bus, chose to begin using the screw drivers and try to open it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they got started, the children demonstrated great persistence and concentration as they used the screw drivers and there was lots of celebrating when the first screw was finally undone. One down……… many, many more to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mathematical understandings were enhanced as the children matched the size and type of screw driver required to the screws, learning during the process, the difference between flat headed and phillips head screws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one part was opened up another problem would arise, as the children worked together to think through what needed to be undone next. They discovered that there was a system to deconstruction, just as there is a method to construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children have also discovered that deconstruction is not a quick process but when another part have been released from the screws holding it together, they are another step closer to finding out how it all works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 2 weeks of hard work the children have finally gotten through to the section of the vacuum that contains the motor and we are all really looking forward to this next stage of deconstruction.

Who would have thought that a simple everyday vacuum cleaner, a machine that can be found in almost every home would become such a long term and interesting project? Certainly not me….. but from now on I think that, just as construction with blocks and other materials is an everyday activity in our classroom, so too will be deconstruction at our very own Tinkering Table.

 

The Gentle Sound of Colour

Whilst investigating colour and light I placed some glass bottles filled with coloured water near one of our large bright windows. These bottles caught the children’s eye and invited them to explore the way the light shines through them and the effect of different coloured bottles being put together to reveal a new colour through the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst playing with the bottles the children enjoyed the sound they made when knocked together. The next day I placed some glass jars with coloured water near another window along with a small silver fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children seemed to be drawn to these as well and enjoyed making their own music, exploring and experimenting with the different sounds and ways to tap the jars with the fork.

In another area of the room they were provided with more glass jars and jugs of coloured water which they poured and filled and emptied to varying levels observing the differences in sounds and tones. They explored this simple music making experience for a long time and when they moved on and began to play and explore new ideas and interests I chose to leave the original bottles and jars in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even now, after several weeks have passed and the classroom is busy and loud, I often hear the gentle tinkling sounds of the coloured water and look over to see a child enjoying the process of making music.

Wordless Wednesday 14th September

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday