Parent Education Power Point- Literacy

Literacy is a huge component of any early year’s classroom. Basing an entire unit off of a single children’s book is a common practice, and one that I feel supports not only the child, but the family as well. When parents are taught how to encourage a love of reading the entire family will benefit. Although the following list is not comprehensive it gives a start for new teachers just beginning to build their library, as well as an age appropriate list for parents as a jumping off point for quality children’s literature.

Children’s Literature List

In my own program I do not purchase media related books (ex: Dora, PJ Masks, etc), but rather try to include books and stories that are supportive of classroom environments (Everybody Needs a Rock, What To Do With An Idea, etc). Our center created a Free Little Library as a sharing space specifically for our parents; I have included a link to the Free Little Library site for more inspiration.

I have also developed a few different parent education meetings over the years. Each of them has been designed for a  parent participation program and offers valuable research-based ideas for development. This power point contains at-home activities that parents can easily do to encourage literacy.

I am including my Literacy power point for classroom use. Subscribers will have access to additional presentations.

Literacy Power Point

Always,

Ms. Tina

 

Inquiry Based Plans…SPACE

Inquiry based plans are those that evolve out of children’s interests. Rather than having a set curriculum plan, based on traditional themes over the course of the year, inquiry programs follow the lead of the child. This does not mean that there is no plan for the day, it just means that the plans cannot be written a year in advance. When I first started this approach I was scared to let go and follow the children’s lead! What of I didn’t know enough about dinosaurs, space, insects, etc? Over the years I have found that it really doesn’t matter because I am learning right alongside the children and I am usually amazed at how much they already know about a topic; ultimately teaching me in the process.

So while I know that space is an abstract concept for preschoolers that is what we have spent the last month learning about! I always start my inquiry with a “WHAT DO WE KNOW” chart. It is a simple sheet of paper where I ask the children to tell me everything they know about a topic. I write down every word they say and then we go back over the words I wrote, crossing out anything that has been repeated (Literacy/Math/Graphing/Language).

Then I spend the next day or so gathering information, scouring Pinterest, and checking out books at my local library. I then begin to present our topic, allowing and encouraging the children to add to the information as necessary. I follow the children’s lead as to how long a topic will continue (Space lasted almost a month). When I observe that interest is waning I start all over with another inquiry chart.

The biggest question I get from parent’s is “ARE THEY LEARNING ACADEMIC CONCEPTS? WILL BE READY FOR KINDERGARTEN?” I will allow the photo documentation to speak for itself!

Making space sand. The children made up their own recipe to create this black concoction of sand, soap, and cornstarch. They added jewels as space rocks. (Science/Math/Sensory)

Building rocket ships with loose parts. Magnatiles and alphabet blocks were used to recreate rockets. If you look closely you can even see the stuffed puppy along for the space flight. (Spatial Understanding/Engineering/Math/Blocks)

Art activities ranged from solar systems to space hats, mainly based on books we read. (Art/Language/Literacy)

Using color paddles to create reflections. We learned that the sun is necessary to break up light in order to show rainbows in water droplets, prisms, and reflective surfaces. (Science/Color Chemistry/Social Sciences)

Using the light table to observe colored rocks, and comparing them to our printed literature. (Literacy/Science/Ordinal Numbers/Math/Patterning)

Dramatic play was enhanced by making our own jet packs and space helmets. Every child was an astronaut for a day. (Art/Small Motor Skills/Creativity)

Building rockets on the light table. We learned that astronauts do a lot of their work in the dark. Turning off the lights and working like an astronaut was a special treat. (3 Dimensional Objects/Math/Size seriation/Dramatic Play)

Taking it outside, the children made rockets with large bricks as well as a cardboard box. They were able to get two children at a time in their box rocket, and made sure everyone took turns being a space guy. (Block Play/Outdoor Activities/Engineering/Cooperation/Team Work)

Once they were finished with the box as a space ship they turned it into a tunnel, showing me they were ready to move on to a new topic. (Inquiry BAsed Lessons)

Now I am off to learn everything I can about Postal Workers and how mail is delivered. We may even learn about the Pony Express!

Always,

Ms. Tina

 

Classroom Management Plan

As we get ready to enroll for the 2017/2018 school year I am reminded each year about parents #1 question for educators in a new program.

****What is your discipline plan?

I always answer with the same thoughts, we do not use discipline in our school, but rather REDIRECT the children and use the ENVIRONMENT as a teaching tool. When the children are engaged, and the staff is following the children’s inquisitive nature the plan comes together in a cohesive unit, where everyone is learning, and the need for discipline is lowered by the moment.

Throughout my graduate courses I have been asked to provide multiple research based plans regarding this topic. I am including the culmination of these findings in a power point presentation located at the bottom of the post.

My hope for each of you is that you will find the spark that motivates you to educate young children, and expand on their innate curiosity. This style of teaching leaves no room for discipline because the children are not causing issues based in boredom or disengagement. Rather children’s minds are engaged on the topics at hand and the learning environment is constantly changing, evolving with the children’s interests and abilities.

Find the teachable moments, use redirection and present a program that challenges every learner at their level for success in the early years!

Always,

Ms. Tina

Classroom Management Plan, Gabel, ECED340

Character Education- More than just being kind…

Young children need multiple opportunities for growth; growth in all areas, not just academic and physical domains, but also in emotional and social domains. Developing moral character is a component that needs to be taught in a visible, concrete manner with the under 5 crowd. Children need to be reminded to be kind, and shown how to accomplish that abstract task. When we offer opportunities for growth, model what we expect, and include all three aspects of a child’s character we are setting the foundation for successful, contributing, performing adults. Using literature and art as a backdrop for our character development curriculum, the following activities can be recreated in a traditional classroom setting or in a one-on-one relationship, such as homeschool, or Sunday school programs.

Moral Character: integrity, courage, honesty, and compassion, kindness

Performance Character: perseverance, diligence, self-discipline, cooperation

Civic Character Traits: tolerance, respect, community (family/classroom)

Using the following visual parents and educators can be reminded of important character traits for children to develop. When we think if the visual as a timeline for development, children can be expected to develop performance character, moral character and civic character as they grow in their relationships within the classroom community.

LITERACY DOMAIN:  We have begun to use a new story and set of dolls that encourages a child’s understanding of random acts of kindness. Using the Kindness Elves as a backdrop for our moral character education, we have increased the children’s willingness to help each other out (because Pop and Sparkle are watching), ultimately creating a classroom of helpers.

Teaching compassion and respect can be done in a few ways. In the Early years’ classroom books and literature are a sure fire way to help children understand key ideas. We have spent a week discussing how to be kind, how to be helpful, how to keep trying even when it is hard, and how to help others when it looks like they are struggling. We have introduced an additional book called Bucket Filling as a follow up activity that covers the moral development aspect of our curriculum.

ART DOMAIN: Concluding the unit by making actual buckets with the children, and encouraging them to fill up each others buckets with cards and words of affirmation uses the art domain to lend a concrete understanding to an otherwise abstract concept.

LITERACY DOMAIN: We read a story called Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, all about being different. The story helped the children understand the idea that when we are kind to ourselves that others will in turn learn to be kind as well. The story is a good one to teach integrity, self-discipline and kindness. Following up with a unit about self, where children begin to see the differences and similarities in classmates and CELEBRATE those differences, will eventually lead to a deeper understanding of all of the cultures and demographics in our schools.

ART DOMAIN: The curriculum plan culminated with a post office of sorts; where every child used the written word and art supplies to create ‘love’ notes for their friends. Each day the children found creative ways to show their kindness; whether through notes, art projects, or including someone in their play. They created mailboxes for one another and have taken to filling them up daily; including the mailbox on the side of the Kindness Elves’ house.

Next week as a follow up we will use an idea from The Imagination Tree, where we make our own Kindness Potion Bottles in order to add a scientific component to our character curriculum. Covering each of the developmental domains helps the children assimilate additional information. Scaffolding what they already know about character development, with new information on how to be kind to one another in every aspect of their lives.

I love tying curriculum to literature and art for the under five crowd, covering the necessity to READ with your children, understanding concepts of print, and developing important character traits along the way.

Always,

Ms. Tina

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! 

Always- 

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!

Always-

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. 

Always-

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! 
Always-
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.

Always-

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’.

Always-

Ms. Tina