Monday, December 13, 2010

Quick, Take a Picture!

Documenting a preschool child's learning is essential.  Documenting with photos is a must since preschool children learn by doing, moving, playing and creating!  Of course, preschool children also move FAST!  And I tend to get my fair share of children who move at the speed of light. Many times I battle with finding activities that extend a child's level of concentration, self control and attention span and yet don't overwhelm or frustrate a child with a very limited attention span.  And then there's the second problem: Often activities move so quickly with some of my children, it is almost impossible to document the child's learning and interact with the children at the same time!
Take this activity that I found at Counting Coconuts.   The idea is to provide the children with play dough in order to create a Christmas tree, then "decorate" the tree with gems and other craft materials.  OK, one of those nice, simple and open-ended activities that work well for my classroom.  So, I dug out the gems and placed them in a container.  Tracked down the buttons and placed them in a container.  And finally found some colored macaroni and placed this in a container.    
And then the fun began!  As soon as I showed the children the novel items in each container and set the containers on the table we were off and running!  This activity probably lasted a good 10-15 min., which is a wonderful amount of time for my classroom!  We never did get to forming a Christmas tree of any sort out of the play dough, but just LOOK at the concentration this little one is displaying while pinching the play dough, picking up the buttons and pushing the buttons into the play dough, then pulling them back out again!  Looks like fine motor work to me!  Increasing his level of concentration...absolutely!  Increasing his attention span...most definitely! 
 So, I spent most of the time snapping pictures to document this learning, then handing off the camera to one of my teacher associates to snap more pictures!  But, how else would I have been able to document what this child was learning while doing this activity?  In my opinion, photos are some of the most powerful pieces of documentation for preschool children!

*a note on the containers:  these are containers our kitchen staff normally THROWS AWAY!  (I have stockpiled them and use them for all sorts of things)

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