Rainy day extravaganza 

Since wordless Wednesday passed me by (this week was a blur) I am posting our excitement from our rainy day! Lemon Squares made with fresh lemons from a student’s tree! My friends worked on the recipe from start to finish and they thought they tasted delicious! Thank you to the parent who let us borrow the juicer and the teachers who loaned me more eggs and butter! You all rock! 

They even cleaned it all up at the end! 


Ms. Tina

Let them be little…

In the last few days there have been many discussions between myself and colleagues about developmentally appropriate activities.

Specifically how do we encourage others to embrace them- how can we encourage parents to live in the moment and not feel the need to push their child past what they are ready for, and most importantly what is it we are trying to accomplish.

I am a firm believer that there does not need to be an end result to every project we provide. I am all about process over product. So how do I explain that to parents looking for an end result and administrators looking to see if we have met the standards? I simply show them the work we are doing and each of the domains we are covering, and let the activity speak for itself.

Duck duck goose- child initiated- taking turns- patience- large motor skills- and learning to win and lose with grace and dignity.

Building models- small muscle coordination- perseverance- a sense of accomplishment- and hand eye coordination. This is about 6 models that do not belong together. The children don’t care- they screw and unscrew parts and create their own masterpiece that changes with their mood.

Blowing bubbles for the sheer joy! We used small coffee stirs and built up our lung capacity while we worked. It’s hard work to blow air through a tiny opening- determination!

Prewriting activities. I have a few friends that still won’t write their names- but when I see that they can control their grip and create snowflakes I’m not worried. When they feel like their names are interesting enough they will write them!

Snack time exploration. I could have stopped this and asked him to eat- instead I followed his lead and he spent 15 minutes telling me about canoes and how they are built. He also explained the apple was the hull and the pretzels were part of the outboard! Finding the teachable moments is what we do- so let’s slow down and embrace them!

I am encouraging you to find those teachable moments- throw out the lesson plan for a day and follow the children’s lead just to see where it will take you.

You may end up on a soapy, canoe in January but there really isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be!


Ms. Tina

Mostly Wordless Wednesday:

Mostly Wordless Wednesday will become an encouraging weekly post- enjoy! 

Learning about tally marks and 1-1 correspondence. 

Best way to POP bubble wrap- fingers, chins, elbows, and tummies. 

Puzzles help with cooperation and spatial understanding. Almost non-existent in many classrooms since the technology craze, I encourage puzzles daily! 

Using push pins to write names- close work allows me to assess correct grip and hand preferences. 


Ms. Tina 

Not on the lesson plan…

It finally rained – something we have been waiting on for months. My friends all know that when it rains the worms come out looking for oxygen. 

It was cold enough for frost this morning too- a perfect opportunity for the tree to lose all of its leaves!

This made for a perfect storm of wet leaves all over the yard and saturated soil- sending the worms to venture out of the soil looking for a secure, covered place to spend the day. They were everywhere! 

My friends decided that counting worms, collecting worms and dispersing worms to those who didn’t want to touch would be a great idea. They even picked some lettuce from the winter garden as food for the worms. 

I was excited to watch the magic unfold. A few boys who are typically too involved with large motor activities to observe the little moments actually stopped and GOT THEMSELVES IN A LINE while they waited patiently for worms. They did this over and over again. 

This hour long activity may not have been written down anywhere as a curriculum plan for the day- but you can bet I took many photos and will be documenting the learning process to showcase our development. 

It is in these moments of emergent curriculum that I am most humbled. When we set the stage for a strong academic foundation we are encouraging children along a path of life long success. 

Giving them time to explore their world and decide what is important allows me to design meaningful provocations that will ultimately teach the foundations- so now I am off to learn more about worms! 
Ms. Tina 

Winter Wonderland

Their ideas are always better than mine…. always…. period…. no question!

Today was set up like any other; winter themed provocations ready and thoughtfully presented.

We have been studying snowflakes and the symmetry of 6 sided figures. Today we planned on advancing into building towers that are symmetrical; covering our engineering, math, and 3 dimensional art components.

This is where our day took on a whole new direction, and following their lead, allowed for critical learning. Before I knew what was happening they had moved the provocation to the floor with the train track, created an ‘avalanche’ and cooperatively removed the snow from their ‘village’.

They used vocabulary that was beyond their typical academic level, asking questions about snow safety, snow removal equipment, and hazardous road conditions.

The most interesting piece of today’s learning is that we live in sunny central California where it NEVER snows, and the coldest it gets is around 30 degrees. I was intrigued by how much the children knew about arctic weather many of them have never even seen or experienced.

They even built a snowman at the end to use up the left overs from the ‘spill’.

This activity lasted over an hour, with a group of about eight 4 year olds. Had I stuck to my original plan, where I required the children to build and erect symmetrical structures the plan would have lasted maybe 15 minutes.

When we allow children to lead, and show us their interests we are able to reflect on our curriculum plans and expand on child led ideas.

Tomorrow we will be learning about snow storms, blizzards, and how to prepare for an avalanche, planning to enhance their learning until they are ready to move on to a new topic.

My hope for each of you is that you would take the time to veer off the lesson plan, follow the children’s lead, and see where it takes you. I promise the standards will still be covered, the children will still learn to write, they will still begin to have a mathematical understanding, and most importantly they will develop a love of inquisitiveness along the way.


Ms. Tina

Curriculum Overview

Why do we offer play based environments for children? To increase their self-awareness and encourage scaffolding within the academic domains, preparing them for a life-long love of learning.

Can anyone create an environment that promotes deeper thinking, observational skills, and academic success?

The answer is absolutely, AND with little, to no, out of pocket expense. Use what you already have and rethink how you are presenting the content. An old game board that is missing pieces becomes loose parts, a puzzle that is missing a section becomes an opportunity for children to practice creating the missing piece using their artistic ability. A huge window that cannot be covered and lets the sun beat into the space, becomes part of the learning environment, encouraging children to learn about reflection/refraction, and color chemistry.

The following curriculum guide is an overview, a place to start, and encourage you to start small, and rethink the program you are presenting. Nothing is meant to overwhelm you; the transformation of my space has taken 3 years to accomplish.

CAPreschool-Standards-Outdoor Classroom

Each month I will upload an additional curriculum plan that covers a specific academic domain, and each week I will share what is working in my classroom; from the environment to specific transitional activities and songs. Follow me on Pinterest for activity inspiration and Instagram and Facebook to see regular updates of what we are working on and inquiring about. I am so glad you are joining me on the journey to ‘make learning visible’.


Ms. Tina