Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dragons and Castles - Teacher Jennifer

Preschoolers love imaginative play and dragons and castles fit right into this mode of playing!  Part of our jobs as teachers is to extend activities that we know the children are really interested in.  This is called "emergent curriculum" and we plan projects taking into account the skills, needs, and recent interests of the children.  We noticed when we brought out the castles and dragons with Chinese New Year that this was an area that deserved an extension based on the excitement of the children!  We combined the interests of castles and dragons with this group's consistent interest in wanting to BUILD! 

We moved the big castle, knights, dragons, and princesses to our seed table so that friends could gather and play.  We also buried jewels and treasures hunt for.  Later in the week, we replaced the castle with our shape foam builders for the children to build their own castles.

The water table was filled with our foam builders and water.  Once these blocks are wet, they stick together.  We wanted the children to build their own castles.  The engineering and height was impressive with many of these structures!  When we moved the blocks to the seed table, we turned the water table into a big moat complete with crocodiles and jewels to capture.

A good castle builder needs to practice hammering and working a drill.  Both of these activities provided fantastic fine motor and hand/eye coordination skills.  

Teacher Lisa hung many different pictures of castles around the classroom as provocations for the children to be inspired by when building.  The slotted builders and colorful shape builders provided many opportunities for castles to come alive next to the pictures at the light table.

The cardboard brick blocks combined with a wooden structure provided the stage for many different castles to be built, knocked down, and to hide behind!  This open-ended activity allowed the children to practice sharing, collaborating ideas, and problem solving.

The wooden blocks did not lose any luster this week!  The engineers built many racetracks and castles together.

The self help table used the recyclables that you all brought in (thank you!) to create a huge castle throughout the week!  Colored tape, glue, and plenty of imagination helped everything stick together.  This masterpiece is displayed on the top of the case in the hallway.

Spy Barbie Girls, shall we take a look at what our art and math/science activities were over the week?

On Monday, Teacher Lisa took small groups out into the hallway to work on a directed draw of a castle.  The different shapes and lines were discussed and pieced together to create a majestic castle!  The children used oil pastels to draw with.  As you all know, we believe that the majority of the art in our classroom is process based and led by the children.  However, we also feel that there is some importance in having the children "learn" how to look at an object, pay attention to the shapes and details, and follow directions to make that object come to life! The fun part for us to see after leading a directed draw is watching the children re-draw their creations with new variations as they explore new ideas!  With a directed draw, children learn tricks, techniques, and different shapes to use in their own art.  We love seeing the variations and beauty that emerge in each child's picture.

After the children drew their castles, they brought them into the art table to paint with watercolors.  The oil pastels resisted the watercolors which was a fun technique for them to observe.

On Wednesday at the art table, we had they children use their own painted hand prints to stamp and smear a DRAGON to life! The castles from Monday needed protection! After they decided on how long they wanted the dragon to be, they added legs, wings, and eyes.  This process-based project was also based on "emergent curriculum" as we have noticed that the children love painting their hands at the easel.  We wanted to bring that interest over to the art table and to have them practice a new technique.

On Friday, we combined the stamping technique with children observing the different shapes of a castle to create huge shape castles to hang in the hallway!  The foam shape builders were brought over to the art table to "build" in a different way.

On Monday at the math/science table, we took some time to reflect on the month of February and added special items to our memory boxes.  The children filled out a book detailing the things they "love," added a special heart gem, fortune cookie, and Chinese candy to their boxes.

On Wednesday, we introduced the building game of Jenga to the children.  To work on our continued goal of number recognition of 1-20, we added the numbers to the blocks.  As the children pulled out a loose block, they said the number that was on the block before adding it back to the structure.  We provided number lines so that if they did not know the number, they could practice counting from one until they reached the number they had.  This game continued to be a favorite at the table on Friday.  This would be a great addition to your home game closet!

On Friday, we added in some science with our number recognition.  Every castle needs a CATAPULT!  We tested out two different catapults in the hallway.  One was made of wire and the other was made of wood.  The children catapulted marshmallows, gems,  a toy apple (all were different sizes and weights) towards paper plates with numbers written on them.  It was great to see the problem solving that took place figuring out how to make the catapult work along with figuring out which objects would travel the furthest.

We shared many wonderful books about dragons and castles at group time.  The children learned how to sing "Puff the Magic Dragon" and we even did the "Dragon Pokey."  One of our favorite stories of the week was an extension of Chinese New Year.  We read a book called Two of Everything.  Teacher Lisa had the group help her retell the story using pictures on our flannel board.  The children were drawn to this story in our library for the rest of the week retelling it with their friends.  Can your child remember any of the parts to tell to you?  Can they tell you what they would want two of if they had a magic pot?  The class library was full of books about giants, fairies, and castles which provided many opportunities to do "book looks" with friends and teachers!

We will take all of this practice of building and will combine it with the bravery of facing dragons into next week when we bring to life The Three Little Pigs and how to outsmart the Big Bad Wolf.

Until next time..........

Teacher Jennifer and Teacher Lisa