A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

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.

 

Zooming!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play is not Anarchy!

The title of this blog is a quote from a TedTalk.com video of designer Tim Brown talking about play and creativity in the adult world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image is from the video and is of the Googlplex dinosaur decorated with flamingoes. It demonstrates the value creative companies place on playful work environments.

Tim Brown uses analogies from our early childhood world to get his message across and makes some very relevant points including

  • children who are in a secure environment feel more free to play
  • friendship is a shortcut to play
  • playfulness is important. It helps our creative thinking
  • children are more engaged with open possibilities

and these were in just the first 10 minutes!

The video is almost 28 minutes long and you may want to wait to watch it,  perhaps with a cup of coffee or tea.

 When you are ready…….. here is the link –

 http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_on_creativity_and_play.html

Enjoy!

V is for Vortex

Our sound for this week is /v/ and our Did You Know……… Interesting Fact for the week is about vortices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Monday morning we discuss our Did You Know……. fact and I usually show a video about the subject as well on the Interactive Whiteboard. This weeks video was from SincScience#08 and is called The Beauty of the Vortex. In the video the children are shown how a vortex is created using a spinning motion. The children used their prior knowledge to relate this back to how water goes down a plug hole and when they heard the water gurgling began to use the Jolly Phonics action for the sound /g/, which is also a spinning action. They made comments such as “it’s like a tornedo” and “I can see a whirlpool”. They were fascinated by the images taken by a camera as it moved up and down inside the vortex and we discussed why there was no water on the camera lens even though it was in water.

I love the way science engages children in thinking, problem solving and oral language  and can be related back to their everyday lives. Here is the link to  the YouTube video –  http://youtu.be/GkbMJSeI25Q.

The video clearly shows how a votex is created by a spinning motion and we explored this further using our ribbons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children experimented with spinning and twirling the ribbons quickly and slowly and how the speed effects the spiral shape and effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rainbow pattern of the ribbons created  similar images to the ones seen in the vortex video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During Play Time  several bottles of coloured water, joined at the neck with a connector, were available for the children to shake and spin to create a vortex inside a bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This activitiy was also a great opportunity to use their upper body and hand muscles as the children shook the bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

They were very interested in the waterfall effect created in the lower bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children also tried looking down the inner part of the vortex just like in the video and even though this was unsuccessful, the conversations about why, were thought provoking and required lots of thinking and problem solving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some children recorded their observations of the vortex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their interest in spirals and concentric circles was further explored and exhanced as they created and used them in other areas of the classroom including the overhead projector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concentric circles……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loose parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and drawing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This drawing was also provoked through our exploration of the abstract work of Kandinsky, whose art was displayed and observed in the classroom and on the IWB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll write about this in another post.

From phonics to……. science to…….. loose parts to……. art……… it’s all part of the learning in a Prep classroom.

An invitation to explore and create.

Wordless Wednesday

28th September 2011

Warm and Cool Colours

One of our favourite books is One by Kathryn Otoshi and it explores the connection between colours and feelings. This provoked a conversation about colours being warm and cool and we decided to explore this further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First we looked at cool colours because blue was the first colour we met in the book, One. We looked at and discussed art images using blues and  greens. We talked about the difference in shades and how they effected the feeling of the images. We also talked about the lines that could represent ice breaking and what these might look like.

One of the pictures we observed carefully was this one by Picasso.

 

 

 

 

 

We explored his inclusion of yellow and red/brown in the painting and how it effected the feel of the painting and compared it with this very different picture that exclusively used blues and purples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it came time to create our own cool colour drawing, we used our observations for ideas. The children decided that “sharp”, “pointy” and “zigzag” lines would be best and drew 3 of each from the top to the bottom of the page. Next they turned their page around by 1/4 and drew another 3 lines from 1 side to another. The children then filled in the shapes they had created on the page using various shades of blue and green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once all the shapes were filled with colour, a white oil pastel was used to outline them with some children drawing zigzag lines in white over the top as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We used the same process when exploring warm colours. Here is one of the images we observed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also discussed what a fire looks like and the kind of lines that are created by flames and heat. The children decided that they would like to represent warm colours using “wavy” lines and this is the kind of lines they drew across their page from 1 side to the other. Just like with the cool colour drawing except “wavy not spikey”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again the children chose the colours, selecting shades of red, yellow, orange and brown “just like in a fire”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When complete some children chose to outline their warm shapes in a warm colour and highlight them using wavy lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to show you but when placed together the cool and warm effects were quite spectacular, with every image different yet belonging, a bit like the individual colours in the book. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our warm and cool colour investigation was an interesting part of a larger one on colour and light. Whilst these activities seem prescriptive, their purpose was about the process of representing their observations and thinking. The knowledge and understandings they gained through these particular activities have been demonstrated over and over again as the children comment on the colours used in other media including book illustrations and videos. They have also transferred these understandings into their own art, using them imgainatively and creatively.

I Spy Sight Word Bottles

By the end of the year my preppies need to know 50 sight words. Here is one of the fun ways we revise the words that have already been taught……. I Spy Sight Word bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I printed off and laminated the words according to what colour list they are from and put them in a plastic bottle filled to approx. 1/3 with rice. After the words are inside I topped off the bottle to approx.2/3 with more rice. This leaves enough room for the children to shake the bottles to find their words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the games we have played with them include I Spy where 1 child finds and names a word and the others find the word in their bottle and Bingo. In this game they have a bingo type card and need to write down the words they see . The first child to fill all the spaces on their card is the winner.

I first saw this idea on  Tunstalls Teaching Tidbits where she has lots of fabulous ideas for uses for discovery bottles. Here is the link.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Ftunstalltimes.blogspot.com%2F2011%2F07%2Fdiscovery-bottles.html&h=IAQANDIbGAQA5yP_8YHSxgUuspQpz27L9ni037HkRpKIVyw

When I make the next set of bottles with words inside, I will make sure I print the word on both sides of the paper as this will make it easier for the children as they shake, turn and  the move the rice around inside the bottle.

There’s been a lot of buzz about story stones on the blogosphere over the last few months and now that it is school holidays, I have finally been able to make some of my own.

It was recently Talk Like a Pirate Day and in honour of that day I thought I would make some story stones around the pirate theme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last school holidays I had made some alphabet, counting and sight word stones and still had plenty of left over rocks.I purchased some acid free stickers with pirate images on them and stuck them on the rocks. I painted 2 coats of PVA glue over the top. This glue dries clear and seals the stickers onto the stones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sticker pictures came in different sizes, adding mathematical language to the stories as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To store the stones I cut a square of red ticking fabric which can also act as a mat for telling the stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When finished, the children can bundle up the stones inside the fabric and using some thick cord, made into a loop, secure them inside ready for next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other side of the fabric, a treasure map could be drawn to add to the story telling. To stimulate dramatic play I have added some golden beads to the pirate bundle.

I’m now going to make some more generic story stones using other stickers I’ve collected.

Here are the links to my other posts about the sight word and alphabet stones.

https://playinginprep.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/scissors-paper-rocks/

https://playinginprep.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/alphabet-stones-they-rock/