Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Sensitive Period Observed

I was observing “C” the other morning spooning beans from one bowl into another. This practical life activity is good for fine motor control, its a nice sensory experience because the beans sound nice when they are dropped into the wooden bowels and it supports a very practical skill – using a spoon. Sometimes I forget that activities like these are also helping children sort out other concepts. As “C” was spooning the beans from one bowl to another he made the following statements: “Now there is more in this one”, “Now this one is empty.”, “This one has less”. I realized then that he was not just spooning beans he was developing a math skill. Later in the day when we went to the park to play in the freshly fallen snow that was the perfect snowman making consistently I observed “C” again. This time he was helping friends build a snowman. He was rolling a snowball and saying “I'll make the medium one.”

It occurred to me that “C” is in the sensitive period for learning about measurement. He did not come to me and say “Miss Melanie, I want to learn about volume and measurement.” Instead he did something more profound. He found activities that were relevant to him and used them to explore a concept that he was trying to understand. That is the beauty of a prepared environment where children are free to choose their own learning experiences.

Posted by the other Ms. M

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Harold and the Purple Crayon

In the last week our weather has limited us to either staying put in the classroom or walks around the neighbourhood due to the wicked windchill, ice and treacherous conditions at playground making it just not safe.

So what to do?

One of these days I pulled out Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and I invited a group of children to stay back and listen to the story and draw. I started first by just reading the story and then I pulled out some really big paper and gave each child a big space, paper and a purple crayon. The idea was to have them draw their version of the story. Wow, I can't even begin to tell you how amazing that experience was.

The children were completely into the experience and the story and I have posted some picture of the the exercise.

Sometimes it is the simple things like good old paper and crayons that make for the most fun and imaginative play and the biggest adventure!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Juice eh?

One of the best bits of work that I like to put out is making orange juice. It is especially welcome during this time of year when the oranges and head colds are plentiful. It is so rewarding not only to me the observer but it is very rewarding to the child who masters making his/her own glass of juice.

This is a great treat and even something you could set up at home. Our tray is set up with a small drinking glass, a bowl of clementines, small wet sponge and a glass reamer set into a glass bowl. It is lovely to watch a child take this out and make a glass of juice. It is especially fun to see how they notice that there is magically juice in the cup and then there is that look to the teacher (do you think I should taste it) and they do and well, then we are filling the bowl all morning long with fresh oranges! Not only are the children making their own glass of juice but they must wash and dry all the pieces on the tray and place it back to the shelf as they would have found it so that the next child may come and enjoy this work. It takes a good 20 minutes or more for this work to be complete and placed back to the shelf for the next child. Hmmmmmm making juice and washing dishes- Sounds like a dream come true.

We have had this out for two weeks now and it will be leaving the practical life shelf soon. I encourage you to keep a small bowl of clementines on a shelf in your fridge that your child can access along with all the other parts to enjoy a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Maybe this could be a new Saturday morning ritual while someone else is making the pancakes!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thinking of Spring?

Today at the end of playground a child, actually my child came to me with these branches and said, lets have an experiment with them. I said what do you have in mind?
My girl suggested that we take them back to the school and put them in water and see what happens.
I thought this was a wonderful way to leave the playground especially since it was so hard getting to the playground with my girl today! Perhaps I am having mama guilt today and I needed to see, feel and embrace the beauty in this moment. It is not easy having your daughter in your preschool and being her teacher is even more challenging. So even with our push/pull struggles, when she came to me with these branches it warmed me on this very cold day in a way I cannot put into words.

So now I am thinking of Spring and the possibilities of our garden and how I will connect not only with my daughter but all the children. Hope you were able to enjoy the day today!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sink or Float

Sorry I feel like we only just got back into our groove at the school and yet I feel like it has been way too long since I last posted some work.

Ms. Wendy is a great source of advice and ideas and she came to school one morning with this work ready to go. The work consists of a tray with a large clear bowl of water and a small bowl of objects. The child is encouraged to see what sinks to the bottom and what floats on top. We have watched many children come to this work over and over again. I am convinced that any water related work is way more fun than anything else we have. You can see that this little girl is carefully testing out her theories on sinking and floating.

We have some more fantastic stuff coming. I've been working over time putting new stuff and projects together as we head into our winter studies. Stay tuned!