Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nurturing Literacy Everywhere - Teacher Sydney

Over the last couple of months our Writing Center has often been one of the busiest areas of the classroom.  It is the obvious place where we nurture the written word.  Yet, if you look closer, literacy learning is everywhere!  Sometimes it may look like a game or seem like "simply playing".  However we know that play is the basis for childhood learning and, looking carefully, we can see it happening.

The children love to write letters and "mail" them to friends.  They especially love receiving their own letters during "Mail Call".  Since we remind them that the way to get a letter is to send one, the Writing Area is the center of much daily activity.

We pay close attention to what is happening in this area and, if interest seems to be waning, we add something new to the center: seasonal stickers, alphabet stamps, colorful paper, etc. to keep the momentum going.

It has been especially wonderful to see the interaction between children as they help each other with writing letters and spelling words like "to", "from" and "love".  The power of peer support and modeling is invaluable!  Their interest in sending letters often also provides the ideal place for the teachers to step in and give instruction, the "teachable moment".

Enticing children to want to learn to read and write, obviously also includes helping them to see the purpose for writing.  Examples of this happen everywhere in the classroom:

Following a written recipe for cooking

Remembering something by writing it down (like the note we wrote for this child to remind her that she wanted to write a letter on the next school day)

Having them dictate and illustrate a journal page to add to their notebooks

Using the flannel-board to retell a story read during Group Time

Practicing writing their name for our Sign-in cards

Sharing a book with friends

Creating and writing down verses for a song at Group Time

Playing a game with alphabet letters

Sharing a book as the start to an activity

Building a block structure and adding it to our Builder's Notebook

As you can see, the examples could go on and on!  It may require a different way of seeing, but with a little practice you can discern that the nurturing of literacy takes place everywhere in a busy preschool classroom.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Let It Snow - Teacher Lisa

Although the scene outside our classroom windows remains decidedly green, the weather inside is a different story...

Cutting snowflakes together was one of our first activities after the children returned from winter break. As they were  cutting they were also busy chatting and reconnecting with one another. They all seemed very happy to be back!

Our finished snowflakes provided a beautiful backdrop for this play area. We hope the preschoolers enjoyed it!

The project naturally led to some symmetry exploration...

...and an activity to practice counting by 3's. We built representations of snowmen with unifix cubes, calculating the number of snowballs necessary for various collections.

Then children cut snowmen out of folded paper (more symmetry) and glued them to a background, adding their own personal touches.

They wrote out the 3's counting pattern and added it in the space below.
We moved from math to art and literacy with snow globe scenes.
Children rolled marbles through white paint for their backgrounds...
...then completed the project with paper collages.  
 They dictated stories to display alongside their art and enjoyed hearing them read aloud during snack time one day.

We looked at photographs of snowflakes and conducted our own crystal-growing experiment.

Finally, we put out some templates, glittery fabric paint, and wax paper during free time so that those who were interested could try their hands at creating window clings.

We're keeping our fingers crossed for the "real stuff" outside, but for now the snowy scenes and stories inside the classroom will have to do!


Friday, January 3, 2014

Holidays, Lights and Traditions! - Teacher Rebekah

The holiday season arrived in our classrooms with much excitement. If you parent volunteered in the last month I am sure you could feel the energy! Shortly after Thanksgiving we were lucky to have the Gassner family from the Younger Class come and share their traditions for Hannukah. Angie explained to the kids that each night for 8 nights, they light a Menorah at home and receive gifts. They brought in a wooden Menorah and dreidels for the kids to see. It was such a special treat!

Teacher Marah shared her family tradition of lighting an advent wreath.  She brought in a table wreath made of evergreens with 5 candles. A candle is lit each week of December.

Our classrooms were decorated with all of the art activities the kids did this December. Teacher Marah and a friend from the Older Class also decorated the play house with lights. Our classrooms felt very festive!

The fun continued with our tub turning into a wrapping station. The kids loved taping, cutting, wrapping and did I say taping?! They used the recycled boxes donated by our families. This activity was not only fun for the kids but great for working on fine motor skills.

A little more of our holiday fun……

The kids have had a wonderful season of sharing their own family traditions with us. We hope this holiday was filled with lights, traditions, family and friends! Happy Holidays!