"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pay It Forward...

Shortly after beginning our blog I discovered a Pay It Forward program circulating among early childhood bloggers. This is the path I discovered: New York to Tennessee to Australia to Canada back to Australia to Ireland to Maryland. Lesley Romanoff of Takoma Park Nursery School then put out the invitation to participate. I jumped at the chance. 

Since beginning the blog, I've been able to connect with other early childhood educators/bloggers from around the world. I've been sharing with my preschool class about some of the locations around the world, with which I've been able to connect and wanted to make it even more real for my kiddos. I signed up and in a short time was notified by Lesley that we had been chosen. How exciting to find out we had been chosen and we eagerly waited for our package to arrive.

I wanted to children to get a visual of where our package had
come from, so I put arrows in the general vicinity for them to see.

Lesley and her children sent a lovely photo of the school, the
class, and some general information about them and where they live.

The children enjoyed looking at a photo of the children that
sent our goodies to us.

We discussed how each state has their own flag and each friend
enjoyed waving the Maryland state flag.

We discussed that the president of the United States lives
in Washington DC, near our Takoma Park friends and
spent some time looking at a postcard of all the presidents.

We learned about the two week long Cherry Blossom Festival in
DC and read a book about it along with viewing the beautiful
cherry blossom images.

We discussed how people from all over the world visit Washington DC
and they don't all speak English. We enjoyed viewing brochures in
various languages.

We also received a map of the DC area and postcards of some of the most famous sites.

What an amazing way to make geography come to life for your students! Ready for your turn? If you would like to play AND are willing to PAY IT FORWARD from your own blog, here's what you need to do: Leave a comment on this post letting us know you'd like to play and we'll randomly choose three participants. You can be from anywhere in the world, but must have a blog.

These are the rules:

  • To the three participants, you will receive a package reflecting California, US and more specifically northern California, where we reside
  • You must be willing to PAY IT FORWARD to three more people/bloggers.
  • If chosen, you will send me your postal address so I can send your package.
  • After you receive your package, you will need to PAY IT FORWARD in the same way on your blog.
  • Comments will remain open until May 19, 2012.
I'm so glad that our class chose to participate and would love to share the experience with you and your little ones!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How Does the Music Make You Feel??

Last spring I met Ms. Dana at a Montessori class we were both taking at our local college. One of our assignments was to set up the environment in the college classroom in an aesthetically pleasing way. She brought in some of her paintings, which I loved, and I asked then if she would be willing to come into our preschool classroom and paint one day. She agreed to do so. 

Dana's paintings are unique. She listens to music and paints as it inspires her to do so. I love the concept and thought it would be very interesting for the preschoolers to see the process, then try it for themselves.

We cleared out an area of the room for Dana to do her painting. She set up her easel, we got the CD player cued up for her, set out viewing chairs for interested children, and she was good to go.

The children watched intently. We encouraged them to watch quietly so Ms. Dana and they could hear the music she was playing and watch how it inspired her to paint. A few friends made predictions about what they thought she was going to paint and some stated what they "saw" in the painting. 

Ms. Dana completed her painting and we gathered for our group time. She spoke to the children. She shared that she painted based on how the music made her feel. She talked about certain colors creating particular feelings in her. She asked the children about some colors and how they made the children feel. 

Ms. Dana showed them a color wheel and discussed complementary colors and how many people use them in their artwork. She showed another painting she had done before with blue and orange and showed the colors to them on the color wheel.

After speaking to our group she told us that she was letting us keep the painting she had created in our classroom. How exciting!!

We now plan to get some canvases and acrylic paints, select some choice music, and let the children experience painting as inspired by music themselves. Thanks so much, Ms. Dana!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lots of "Ele-fun" and Learning, Too...

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” Chinese Proverb

Elephants and Their YoungThis is the mantra of high quality early childhood programs. Children learn best when they are part of the process through hands-on opportunities and experiences. 

This idea is the focus of GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) Studies.These guides are part of Lawrence Hall of Science's curriculum (the public science education center at the University of Science at Berkeley, CA). You can go through a GEMS training and then check out the kits, but even if you don't have access to the kits, you can still purchase the guides and use them effectively. More info can be found at www.lhsgems.org.

We began with a discussion of what the children knew (or thought they knew) about elephants. During the course of the week, we were able to confirm or modify our facts. We also did some still life art by observing elephant models. One friend created her own "elephant dance". We learned how elephants use their ears and made our own headbands complete with elephant ears.

One the second day we learned about elephant tusks and their trunk. We compared how long our preschool friends were compared to actual tusk size. We learned that female elephants can have tusks up to 5 feet long and male elephants can have tusks up to 8 feet long. Wow!! 

We made elephant puppets out of paper plates
and used our arms as the elephant trunk.

We did role-play to learn several ways
they use their trunks.

 On the third day we compared preschool friends' feet to the size of an adult, teen, and baby elephant and we estimated how many chips it would take to fill each footprint size. 

We viewed a foam-board model of a life-size newborn elephant. Many friends were shocked that a newborn could be so big.
We read the story of Seven Blind Mice
accompanied with a flannel board story where
we turned one piece at a time to see what
each blind mouse was examining.

We learned about how elephants use
mud as a sunscreen to protect their
skin. We mixed up some and applied
it on them, leaving them to dry.

 We worked on still life painting again, but this time with an easel versus the flat surface we used earlier in the week. We used paint this time instead of the pencils and crayons. We also discussed how we "made" grey paint by mixing the black and white paint together to make a tint. This friend's close observance of the details of the face was pretty amazing.

We were excited to see how the mud dried on the
elephants as their sunscreen. We then worked
together to wash them off.

We had so much fun and learned lots of stuff. We determined how many of the "facts" were accurate and which needing modifying. We found a new respect and love for these amazing creatures.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Feelin' Groovy...

One of the things I try to do in my class is give the children hands-on opportunities to make learning come to life. When we are focused on a particular letter of the week, we often do activities or create events to celebrate the letter. For example, when it's letter H week we culminate the festivities by having a hat parade, etc. 

This last week we were learning about letter G. We discussed the soft G and hard G sounds, brought in shares that started with the /g/ sound, enjoyed a borrowed "gathering drum", etc., but we just wanted a little more of an emphasis or knowing me, I just wanted an event, an excuse to be a little more silly than usual and to create something memorable for the kiddos. 

Therefore, we declared that last Thursday was GROOVY DAY, and boy, was it ever. We encouraged the children to dress in their "grooviest" outfit, which needed a little explanation, but we overcame the obstacles and proceeded.

Love this friend's braids infused with flower petals!

We had coffee filters laid out where the children could use the Bingo bottles filled with liquid watercolors to make a 'far out' filter painting. 

I know many ECE professionals think coloring pages are taboo and I don't have them out often and ALWAYS have lots of plain paper where children can create whatever they like, but the kiddos were very enthusiastic to color this very cool VW Groovy Bug.

Everyone brought in a white t-shirt and chose their two colors
for tie-dying. Our amazing former preschool Mom, Heather graciously
volunteered to brave the dyes and do the tie-dying for us. Each child
was able to sit on the counter top and watch as their t-shirt became 
something totally new and different. How exciting!!!
Thank you so much, Ms. Heather!!

I had brought my lava lamp from home so the kids
could check it out. We made sure everyone was a safe
distance away from it and it was a great conversation starter
as we discussed, "Is it really lava? What makes it move? and more..."
This is a cool article about how they work:

We also listened to a kid sung version of "Yellow Submarine"
and learned the song with hand motions to go along with it.
The kids enjoyed seeing some of the ASL signs we have learned
being used in the song. We talked about submarines and periscopes.

Our day is never complete without some photos
of the fun. Some friends posed with others and near
the end of the day we had a Groovy Parade where each
child was given the opportunity, if they liked, to parade in the 
group area to show-off their groovy outfits. So cute!!

Peace signs, flowers, pastels, and neons

Tie-dye and denim

This friend had flowers, denim,
tassels, and wanted to make sure
that we saw her braid.

Peace sign and tie-dye

Crazy hat, tie-dye, and a peace sign scarf

Beads, flowers, headband scarf,
and beautiful colors

Tie-dye and lots of groovy sticker patches

We had so much fun!! I can't wait for the kids to see how their t-shirts turned out. Thanks so much to the parents for assisting in this event through their support and wardrobe creations.

Wishing you all a very groovy day!!