Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Learning Through Water Play - Teacher Elaine

Children love water play. They will scoop and pour for extended periods of time.


We filled our water tub with colored water, various sized pitchers, large containers and small, colored plastic animals. We just stood back and observed the children's play.

We wanted to promote children's curiosity, to experiment and ask questions (what causes what to happen?), to practice the skills of problem solving and cooperative play, to help grasp the "more vs. less" concept and number sense, and to lead to an understanding of volume and measurement.

Children learned that it takes a lot of small pitchers of water to fill a large container. Some pitchers hold "more or less" than others. We can sort the animals by color. We can fill a container faster if a friend helps. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Taking Time To Reconnect - Teacher Sydney

Welcome back! It was wonderful to see everyone again after the summer and it was obvious from the smiling faces that the children were all happy to be back too. We decided to focus on reconnecting and working together for the first couple of weeks, since practicing the social skills needed for these concepts are an essential part of what preschool is about. With those goals in mind, we structured most of the adult-guided activities to encourage the children to work in groups of at least two or more.

We did group gadget printing and practiced using glue bottles and glitter where everyone worked on the same big piece of paper.

Children worked in pairs to make marble paintings. You can see they had to work together carefully to make the marbles go where they wanted them!

We practiced using all the materials at the Invention Table to make a group invention. This took lots of co-operation and problem-solving to figure out what to make to add to the bigger creation. It also took lots of imagination to decide what we could possibly be making!

We also wanted to spend time in our school garden in these first days back to see how things had grown over the summer. Keeping our focus in mind, we had the children go outside in small groups. They looked for things that had changed since last spring and as a group chose where they would like to have a Welcome Back photo taken. Then they each chose one flower to bring back and put into a big bouquet to decorate our classroom.

During Group Time we continued to keep the focus of reconnecting and working together in mind by choosing some favorite books that illustrate those points such as Swimmy and I Can Fly. Both show how the characters can solve problems by working together with their friends. We also learned some new songs about being happy to be together.

We are definitely happy to be back at school with friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why We Play in Kindergarten - Teacher Lisa

I think about play quite a bit - probably because I find myself in a position to defend it so often. This past week I observed our new kindergarteners as they navigated their first week of school. Here are some things I noticed:

Recess  and  Free Time  are the two cards on our schedule that almost everyone learned to recognize right away. They were the cards that all others were measured against: "After Table Work we get to go to Recess!" "After  Rug Time we have Free Time, right?"

It's not that the other activities weren't engaging or developmentally appropriate.  I think they were. But it's during play that children get to be their most authentic selves. They can do what interests them, try new ideas (and safely fail with new ideas), create whatever they want, be silly, be serious, talk a lot - or not at all, do something over and over, quit when they're frustrated or tired, make up pretend games, argue and problem solve, compromise, listen, practice self-control, AND they get to do it all (or most of it, anyway) in the context of joyful fun.

As teachers, play-time is a wonderful opportunity to step back and observe our students: how long they engage in a particular task, how they compromise with each other (or don't), what activities they are naturally drawn to, how much or how little physical activity their bodies crave. If we are intentional about our observations, they make us more effective. Our observations inform the way we teach, and our teaching informs what we notice when we watch children.

At our very best, we implement curriculum in ways that honor, inspire and engage our students. But even our most enlighted plans can fall short of igniting the same energy, interest, motivation, creativity, language development, and relationship-building that occur so naturally when children are at play.

That's why we play in kindergarten.