Sunday, July 24, 2016

Oreo Moon Phases- SUCCESS!

Yes, we tackled the Oreo moon phases challenge!

The challenge for me was : Can mommy make this poster without eating ALL of the oreos?

The challenge for 5 year old little P was to attempt the following:

  •  Draw the earth. include North and South America as well as the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
  • Prepare the oreos in relation to the pinterest page we found here: (this involved leaving one whole, and scraping off various amounts of filling for the rest, cracking off pieces of the chocolate cookies, etc) 
  • Place around the earth by looking at the pinterest picture and placing in the proper places. (P did these three above steps with minimal direction and lots of positive motivation)
  • Discuss opposites as they are discovered (led by mommy)
  • Add vocabulary words to our repertoire: waxing, waning, gibbous (new word introduction led by mommy; we knew the words new, full, moon, third, first, and quarter, though not necessarily in this context) 
  • Practice and point a few times.  (led by mommy)
  • After a short break with a full tummy, return to draw each of these moons on the page so you can keep a poster with your work. :) We are on that step right now.  
We hope you will try this as well. It was really fun!

Plus we are doing a SPACE theme at camp this coming week where little P is in my classroom with me. See, below, a picture of one of our rocket posters, and our BLAST OFF counting poster for a movement activity we will do this week. Not pictured, we also added planet, astronaut, and space rock manipulatives to the sand table. wheeeeeee- such fun!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My prek/K child is supposed to be doing academics, right? I mean what ARE they learning?

There is a tug of war in our preschools and kindergartens these day.... common core, competition, and more have increasingly pulled and pulled at the time, freedom, and spirit of PLAY.

Common Core and Competition. Hmmm those are some hefty C's.

They are part of our lives, but let's leave room for play.

Ah, p-l-a-y, a small word with a broad meaning, which Harvard and many other prestigious institutions tell us is UBER important for the brain and social development of our youngest charges!!

But how about these C's: Cognitive Development, which requires play and discovery in such areas as problem solving skills? When you are 4 years old there is not so much social or otherwise trouble shooting on a ditto, but there is much of this happening in the kitchen play center, at the block building construction zone, and certainly on the playground where one must learn the ins and outs of the sand box with 5 of their buddies about.

And how about Curiosity which is tended and given wings through play and open ended opportunities?   The nature table, the water sensory bin with new and exciting gems to find with one's cups and colanders....

We teachers must stand up for the importance of PLAY.

We parents are a great support to our children and teachers when we realize the importance of play and we welcome it with open arms, seek it out for our children, and celebrate it each day! 

We hear so much about academics. Is this important? YES, of course it is!

For one, I believe in academics, bring them on, baby. But let's look at how that term is defined for our youngest learners according to all of the brain research:
Journals, scientist> they are all shouting LEARN THROUGH PLAY.

In an Early Childhood Classroom, especially of the younger set, to have "Age Appropriate Academics" means PLAY with teacher led awareness, and open ended opportunities.

Yes to one-on-one time with child friendly journaling, yes to maths at circle time with the patterning at our calendars and top down/left to right progression (which TEACHES pre-reading skills), yes to a print rich literacy environment, yes to all of this!!

The idea of journaling is so wonderful, but let's break the mold!! Let's remember that our young learners are ego involved and let's really ride that wave. Johnny wants to show his friends his pet salamander today> Great, let's all make a letter S in our journals and draw a salamander. Then let's each make up a name for our salamanders and the teacher will write those names on our experience chart.

Let math include manipulating oranges and apples, or how about jumping like a kangaroo on the 10 20 30 40 50 number line and then crawling like a turtle on the 1,2,3,4,5 number line, let literacy include tracing a "shopping list" of apples and bananas at the Kitchen play center.

Include the shaving cream play, creating time for making pies in the mud kitchen, and making dress ups available for exploration.

Does it hurt to have a journal and dittos? No. But there is a time for this, and the rest of the majority of the time should support those academics with PLAY PLAY PLAY.

It is what the professionals are telling us...and if we look closely at our children they have been telling us all along as well. ;)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Our Sand Tent is a SUCCESS!!

Have you seen the sand tenst on pintrest?

Perhaps you heard your fb friends talking about their sand tents...

I had seen and heard both and was excited to try this at home...boy, am I glad I did.

This little tent was purchased from zulily for Kev on a previous Father's Day.

This week when we pulled it out of the closet and realized it had a lip on the bottom edge, a nice strong water proof plastic, as well as a bug screen and several zippered areas at the entry we knew it would be a winner!!

The sand is from Home Depot, we used 3- 50 pound bags in the tent/  It does not fill the tent, instead appears to cover about a third of the inside area. P likes that as there is a spot with no sand where she can sit if she does not want to get particularly sandy (though believe me, she LOVES to get really sandy)

If you wish to fill a tent of this size you will need so much more sand.

There was a special >> 4- 50 pound bags for 9 dollars on the "play" sand at our local Home Depot this week.  :-D

We used 3 bags worth in the tent and saved one of the bags for P to play with in a tote where she could wet the sand down. We simply poured the sand and some water in a very large plastic bin, where she played to her hearts content.

In the tent I made sure P had a soft rounded shovel to keep form poking holes in the tent floor, we added a plastic spatula, pail, and various soft plastic cups, etc.

She is enjoying the dry sand in the tent!

After a few days the sand is completely dry and clean, as well as bug free. The last week here in our neck of NJ the weather has been muggy, there was a BIG rain storm, and there have been ants, bees, and lots of beetles in our yard....people, the sand is DRY and CLEAN.

I declare this project fabulously successful!

Here are some photos of Kev and P putting the tent together.

Please leave a comment and let us know if you have tried this as well. Thanks!