Sunday, May 29, 2011

Church of the Sand People!

There's a little guy in Bumblebee Boulevard classroom who says he knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.  He's going to be a priest!  Yep, you heard right.  He's five years old, and wants to be a priest.  Here's the truth...I would bet money on the fact that he will do just that!  (OK, OK...maybe betting money on this isn't the best move!  I do believe him, though!)  More power to him.  He knows what his calling is!

Now, when we received new materials for our outdoor area, we also received some long plastic tubes with connectors to add to the loose materials area.  Never mind that these are plastic!  Apparently, someone missed the boat on the whole NATURAL part of this. :)  That's OK, the kids love them anyway!

This little guy knew from the start EXACTLY what he was going to do with these.  He built a VERY tall cross...balanced it carefully while walking to the sand pit...placed the bottom of it down into the sand to keep it steady and stood very still while holding it up.  (He had to stand on the bench to hold it steady!)

According to him, this was now the "Church of the Sand People"  :)  When a caterpillar walked along the sand it became the "Church of the caterpillars"!   Every once in a while he looked down lovingly on his small flock of children in the sand pit and smiled at them.   They continued with digging and building and raking the sand; never asking him what he was doing!  He didn't seem to mind; he was just proud of his newly formed congregation!

Later, his teacher noticed him struggling with the "cross" on his back.  He wanted to know how to nail it to himself.   Yikes!  Masking tape on skin...only masking tape in preschool!  But can you keep a young child from his calling!?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Parents and the Transition to Preschool!

As a teacher, how do you assist parents with the idea of sending their "baby" off to preschool?  Personally, I've always tried to remember how I felt as a parent sending my own "babies" off to preschool for the first time!  Then I remember that my children went to a traditional preschool for 2 1/2 hours 3 times a week...NOT 6 hours/day- 5 days a week!

On top of that, I didn't have to start my child's preschool experience with an IEP meeting!  No matter how hard we work to help parents feel comfortable, that first IEP meeting (when your child is just turning 3) can be pretty darn scary!  

So, here are a few of those "little things" I think are so important to remember:  
  1. Make sure parents know that they are welcome to drop in, to call or to e-mail!  Often just knowing that they have access to their child's teacher helps parents feel more comfortable!
  2. As you talk to parents, remember to leave pauses!  Often, questions, concerns and fears may come up during these small pauses.  It always helps to voice concerns rather than silently wondering what may happen!
  3. Let parents know of several concrete things that they can expect!  I always let parents know that I will send home daily notes and that I love to take photos of those first few days and will send home photos with the children as well.  
  4. Don't assume that parents will know what goes on in preschool!  Make sure they know that the children will go outside each day, will participate in art activities and music activities, listen to stories etc.  (Sometimes parents become concerned that a child with special needs will be left out or won't be able to participate in these things).  I always make sure parents understand that we will provide the support necessary for the children to participate in all the activities. 
  5. Answer questions and address concerns...and do this again, and again, and again...until the parent feels comfortable!  Some parents may find it fine to hear verbally about the classroom, some will want to e-mail or call and ask many questions, some will want to come visit the room to see what goes on during the day and others may want multiple visits!  There is no right or wrong way to become used to this idea!   Work with the parent at the pace they are comfortable with!
  6. Make sure you are friendly and accessible; but also be professional!  Make sure there are no surprises!  Assist parents in making sure forms and paperwork are filled out if possible!  This can reduce later surprises! 
  7. Finally, convey to the parents that as an early childhood teacher we are not the "authority" on a specific child; we are PARTNERS in the child's education and care.  When parents feel their opinion and knowledge about their child is valued, we can create a true partnership!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bugs in the Grass!

Today we enjoyed a very simple activity- Bugs (or insects) in the Grass!  We used tongs and our fingers to find pretend bugs hidden inside the grass (Easter grass). 

This provided the children with a sensory activity as well as fine motor work!

We used some of our wooden bowls to collect the bugs.  The children found bumblebees, spiders, ladybugs, grasshoppers and tarantulas! 

We put the bug box on top of a grass green table cloth on the floor.  This provided for quick cleanup as we could just fold up the cloth and empty the extra Easter grass back into the box!

For most of the children the tongs are a difficult skill to master!  Some children attempted the tongs.  Some attempted with help from an adult.  Some decided to use their fingers to find the bugs...and some just wanted to fill up their bowl with the Easter grass! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Muddy Animals!

We have done a number of activities recently to go along with the book Mrs. Wishy Washy.  In the book, the animals jump and roll and stomp in the mud and poor Mrs. Wishy Washy has to get them clean.

So, of course, we had to do the same with our pretend animals!  We used brown paint for the mud and danced, rolled and stomped our own animals in the "mud". 

The children then enjoyed washing the animals in tubs with water, dish soap and various sponges from the dollar store.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy has really has been a bit of a "break-through" book for one of my little guys.  After reading this book for about three days, he began to be able to help "read" parts of the repetitive rhyme with me!  This was such a huge step for him!  He was so proud of himself when I would pause and let him fill in the last word of the sentence!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Making Use of Those Wonderful Resources Part II !

Previously, I have written about making use of those wonderful "people resources" in the classroom.  What about resources for finding reasonably priced containers to hold items for the classroom?  I'm sure there are lots of "secret" places for finding these types of items.  Recently, I have been visiting Goodwill stores,  Salvation Army stores and DAV stores  to treasure hunt! :) 
A wooden bowl to hold shells in our sensory table!  I got 4 small bowls this size and one large bowl all for $3.00 total!
I have been on the hunt for more baskets, wooden bowls and interesting and unique containers.  These items are just too expensive to buy new for the classroom; and there really is no reason to spend tons of money!  These generally hold up very well and often can be found used in excellent condition!  
A wicker basket filled with shape sponges!  I paid $1.00 for this!

I rarely buy any type of pre-used toy at a store like this; and all of the items I'm purchasing are used to simply hold objects.  This way, I don't have to worry about small parts or pieces.  The items I am looking for are natural wood, so I don't need to worry about paint.
My favorite group time supply holder!  It has pockets on the front and 2 large sections to hold supplies! 
I paid less than $3.00 for this!  (it was originally a magazine holder)

Of course, you could also visit garage sales to find pre-used items.  I would look very carefully to make sure the items are in good shape and do not have any loose parts or small pieces that might be choking hazards. There are certain items that tend to hold up better than others: wood and wicker baskets both seem to hold up very well and are generally in good condition even when purchased pre-used!  When you buy from one of these stores, you know that you are reusing items as well as providing funding for needed programs in the community!  Here are photos of a few other treasures I have found.  Have fun searching for your own treasures for the classroom!

2 small nesting treasure boxes I found for 88 cents!
A shallow wicker basket to hold our animals!  This cost me $2.00!

Here is that large bowl that came with the top set...holding our sensory balls/toys!
Another set of bowls I got for $3.00!
This is my very favorite!  The leaf bowl on the bottom part of the photo is AWESOME for sorting natural objects outside!  I paid $3.00 for this!  (The other items in the photo were NOT purchased at Goodwill :)
Anther set of bowls with tongs for less than $2.00!

A very cool wicker tray I found for $1.00

Yes, this is just a Mancala board...but it's very large and perfect for one-to-one correspondence with natural objects, patterning or sorting natural objects.  This cost me $1.00.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Scrubber" Prints!

We have been having a ton of fun reading the book "Mrs. Wishy Washy" and "Splishy Sploshy" (both by Joy Cowley).  We've also listened to the song "The Wishy Washy Washerwoman" (on Baloney by Carol Peterson)!

After spending last week exploring scrubbers and sponges with soap and water to wash dishes and our animals; today we explored painting with the scrubbers!

We found very quickly that the round scrubbers made perfect round bubbled prints!  Depending on how much paint the child used and how much was previously on the scrubber, the circle was wide and bubbly or thin and perfectly symmetrical!

We also used bath "poufs" which didn't work quite as well for prints, but were lots of fun to scrub across the paper (or hands!)

Thank goodness we chose to tape large paper on the table!  Our scrubber circles were lots of fun, but they sure took up a lot of space! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Just Giving my Brain a Break!

I think my brain just needed a break!  Maybe that's why I have avoided blogging for awhile!  I had my fill of dealing with challenging situations this week...not children by the way!  I think I just needed to focus on one thing at a time. 

So, mid-way through the week I had an odd dream that I was climbing a million stairs to get away from some horrible impending doom!  I've had this dream before; but I have never actually made it to safety!  I always end up with some horrible thing happening (of course, I'm never sure exactly what happens!).  Then I wake up.  When I go back to sleep, I re-enter the dream only to start all over again! 

This time, however, I did make it to a small (apparently safe) room at the top of the stairs!  I was with thousands of other people on the stairs.  Only a handful of us were safe at the top.

Here's my own analysis of my dream :)...

Good news:  I must feel confident enough in myself that I feel I can overcome whatever horrible thing is happening. 
Bad news- apparently, I'm pretty sure everyone else will perish!!!  Hmmm...I think this fact was more disturbing to me than if I didn't actually make it!  (Don't read too much into this, I think I was just a bit too stressed!)

OK, in reality, things weren't really that bad this week!  I think I really was just thinking about too many things!  I think I wore my poor brain out!  I needed to rest up those brain cells!  Ahhh...a much needed brain break!  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Work Sampling Blues!

This blog has been quiet for a bit!  There is a reason why...there really is!  I've been working feverishly to organize all my photos and anecdotal notes for our Work Sampling Spring Assessments. 

I love taking photos and I love using them in assessments.  The process is just time consuming...especially when you have neglected to organize those photos on your computer in any reasonable way!  Yes, that would be what I did...or didn't do!  I also had the added difficulty of photos on my classroom computer as well as my home computer! 

But, here I am, sitting at my computer typing this...and...DONE finding and sorting through the photos and anecdotal notes and creating the documents for the assessments!  Woo-hoo!  So, Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!  Here's hoping you too are done with all your work and can relax on your Mother's Day! 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Keeping us Busy...Quick and Easy Transition Prop!

I found this cute little bumblebee at the Dollar Store.  It's technically supposed to be used as a bath washcloth for a child...but he's awful cute hanging on our Parent Board near the doorway!  Best of all, if we find ourselves waiting for a minute or two before we head outside I can pull him down and sing one of the bumblebee songs. 

Either "Hickety Pickety Bumblebee,"  ("Hickety, Pickety Bumblebee will you say your name for me?") or Busy Bee (from Teach Preschool).   Sometimes all it takes is a quick little transition prop and song to keep us busy for a minute or two while someone finishes up in the bathroom!

Grab the "How Long is this Hall" Button!

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