Monday, September 27, 2010

A Successful Day

Today was pretty successful at least compared to most other days lately. I was able to work with the younger group which I prefer, but I’m no longer so picky about it. At one point in the morning, I was told to take a small group of kids in for snack and then keep them in the classroom for a half an hour. I was surprised because the director doesn’t usually leave the group to me as their substitute. Anyway, they quietly were eating their snack and the director eventually left the room. I asked them what they’d like to do after snack. They had a choice of any kind of art, puzzles or leggos. One of the girls chose art and the rest chose leggos. I got out some crayons, stencils, and two different sizes of paper. Then I brought out the box of leggos.

The kids finished up their snack and one girl went to the art table as expected. She drew a picture and put it in her cubby. She drew a kitten. Then one of the most rowdy boys at the center decided that he’d do art and draw a dinosaur instead of playing with leggos. I was surprised with his choice, but I encouraged him. I told him it was great that he wanted to draw. Then the girl asked if she could paint, but there were no paint brushes so I had to run out of the room and grabbed some paint brushes out of the art closet which probably took maybe a half a minute at most. The director was in her office and asked me on the way by if things were okay and I said things were fine.

The girl was happy after starting her painting. She discovered that mixing blue and red makes purple. And the boy was still busy with his dinosaur. The other kids were still playing with leggos. Then at once, two of them wanted to paint so the first girl started playing with puzzles and the first boy started his painting. A second girl wanted to paint, but there was only one spot available at the easel so I convinced her to draw a picture instead. The boys in the leggo area were making donuts, phones and microphones. When it was almost time to clean up, the director was back asking if things were fine and she seemed surprised those things were just fine and that all the kids were busy. She even commented on how all the kids were busy working. A few minutes later, we cleaned up and I took them down to music.

Then at lunch time, one of the teachers was missing because one of the kids was having a melt down so I took over in her room. Normally, I’m told to sit at a table in the room with the director since the room is larger there are more kids in there. That leaves me in charge of one table of usually the most rowdy kids who don’t listen to me or the director. In today’s room, there were two rowdy boys who weren’t eating their lunch even though I kept telling them to settle down. I don’t know why they put them together because they always play around and get the other kids to follow them. I did well with the other kids. The rest were only two and a half and usually they follow along with the two older ones, but today they ate their lunch and didn’t really pay attention to them. Some of the kids in my room were done before the kids in the other rooms and I think it ran smoothly. It was another instance where the director kept peaking in and asking if things were fine. Pretty much every time she does this, they are. It seems like she hovers over me more than anyone else, but I can’t let that bother me. I can do my job no matter what they think. It always helps to have people around who appreciate your work, but if they don’t, you can look back on your successes and see that your work is valuable. Even though my successes today were small and probably seem insignificant, especially to people who have been teaching for years, I was able to create opportunities for the kids to learn and I got practice with classroom management on my own.

Families Theme Lesson Plan

Make family portraits.
Have the children draw with crayons or markers on paper or a paper plate.
If the portrait is on a paper plate, you can attach a piece of yarn to it to hang it on the wall.

Make a family collage:
Have the children cut out pictures of people and pets from magazines. Then glue them on to paper. Let the children tell you about their picture. They can tell you why they picked the pictures and who they resemble in their family. This would work better with children who are at least preschool age.

What I like about my family book:
Have the children bring in pictures of each member of their family. Make a book for each child or have the children make them by stapling pieces of construction paper together. Glue a picture on each page. Then you can ask the children what they like about each member of the family and write it for them.

Dramatic Play:
You can use doll houses with the different people figures. I’ve seen the figures that are made to look like grandparents, babies, bigger children, people of different races etc.

Have a corner set up like the home. You can use a kitchen play set or turn a sensory table into a dish washing center. The kids I work with loved that one. One boy said, “we’re being like grown-ups.” We put water, a tiny bit of dish soap, plastic dishes, sponges, dish rags and a scrub brush.

Last year, I also turned the sensory table into a baby washing center with babies, soap, brushes and wash cloths. The kids always love anything to do with water so there’s always a waiting line.
You could do cooking, cleaning, taking care of babies or get other ideas from the children. Ask them what sorts of things they help out with in the home or what they do with their families.

For some extra sensory play, let the children use baby powder, baby shampoo, baby oil, lotion and wipes to wash babies. It’s probably a better idea to only use one or two of those things at a time since it’d make a huge mess.

To include some science and sorting in your family theme, play a file folder matching game. I don’t have one made up so I can’t take a picture of it, but cut out pictures of mother and baby animals. Tape one picture to the folder and laminate the corresponding picture. Have the children match the mothers and babies. You could also have pictures of animal families and match it with pictures of the same single animal. That way it would be asking the children which family does this animal belong to.

To learn about social studies, you could also have families bring in photos of each member and have the children glue them to paper trees. You can compare families and discuss different types of families. Some families only have one parent, some have two parents, some families are living with grandparents, some families are big while others are small etc.


Are You My Mother?

I Like It When...

Just Like Mommy
They have a version for dads as well and you can find it through the link above.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Open Ended Projects and Creativity

Yesterday, I worked with the kids on an art project that had specific directions, but could be creative. I didn’t come up with the idea. Since this week’s theme was fall colors, the kids had to take five foam shapes, one of each color and glue them to construction paper. After they glued the shapes, they were aloud to draw with markers.

At first, the kids avoided the art table and only came over when another teacher sent them. I tried to get them involved in the activity, but they were bored and I understood why. I felt I had to hold the shapes container so that they wouldn’t take more than five and one of each color. I didn’t want to have to keep telling them, “no, only take one” or, “you have to use all five colors.” I preferred to have a more open ended approach where there was maybe one condition. I might say that they should use all five colors, but it wouldn’t bother me if they decided not to. As long as they were creating something, making choices about where they wanted to place things and which colors they wanted to use it was fine with me.

With the first few kids that came over, I had them follow the directions. When I’d ask them what they made or to tell me about their picture, they were so disinterested. They said they made something but they didn’t know what it was or they were done after gluing the five pieces. They weren’t interested in drawing at all unless they didn’t want to glue.

When the next group of kids came over, I decided that I’d try my open ended approach to see if they’d be more excited about this project. First, I gave them the five pieces, but when they were done, I asked if they’d like more and put the container between them. I told them to use whatever shapes and colors they liked. They started to have fun gluing shapes and using more glue than was necessary. They started naming their creations. One boy called his a beaver and was pointing out where his head, eyes and tail were. The other boy was calling his a race track and talking about engines, a caboose and the door that you went through to get on to the track. I think it was a cross between a train track and race track, but it was creative anyway. I was glad they were having fun at the art table! With kids, less direction leads to a lot more learning and creativity.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lack of Inspiration

I’m writing to explain why I haven’t been posting regularly. It’s because of a lack of inspiration. Recently, I applied for a job at a childcare center. The job was working with two-year-olds. They had one teacher working with four or five kids and it seemed consistent. I liked how one teacher worked with a few specific kids who meant that you’d really get to know them instead of trying to keep track of fifteen kids and all their information. They interviewed me and I had an hour of observation time at the center. Obviously, I didn’t get this job and it was disappointing.

In the spring, a similar thing happened when I applied to a new program working with infants and toddlers. They interviewed me, but there was no follow up. At least with the second job, they contacted me to tell me that I didn’t get it. This has been going on since I graduated last year and it’s been frustrating. Every time I start thinking there’s hope for a new beginning at a new center, it falls through.

That’s one of the sources of my lack of inspiration. The other source is my current job. I’m not saying anything negative about where I work. I’m only saying that there’s no room to grow as a substitute. When I was an intern and last year when I covered for someone who was out for many weeks, I was able to do my own lesson plans and I felt like I was contributing something. I miss the creative part of the job. Also, as a substitute, you don’t have much input into anything. You just do what they tell you and cover for whoever is missing. Yes, you gain experience by working more days with kids than you would have otherwise, but, then what? They also have a few volunteers that come in too and it makes it difficult with so many adults in the room. The kids aren’t sure who to listen to or who will be there from one day to the next. Sometimes I feel bad because I’ll be there all week and then I won’t show up again until another whole week has passed. All the kids know me since I’ve worked there for a long time so when I’m not there, they wonder where I’ve been. The other thing is with all those adults, some of us end up with nothing to do. On some days, we’ve almost had one adult per child and that’s usually not necessary especially in the older group. If you want to be actually working on something with the kids, you have to almost race to get there first.

I’m not saying the job is pointless because you can always be there to assist or play with one of the kids. I’m saying that I’d like more responsibility and to have more say in my work. Once in a while, I’ll find special books to bring, make a homemade display or plan a quick activity when everyone else is out of ideas, but I haven’t been able to do most of those things for months. In most cases, when I bring something special or plan something, I feel like it’s not wanted or like I’m invading someone’s territory. Some of the people I work with get very territorial about their groups and will only let certain people help them out. I’m not a pushy person and I usually ask before doing anything there, but many times I think, why did I bother? I wondered if anyone who reads my blog has felt that way.

For now, I think I’ll focus my blog more on lesson plans and if I get more inspiration to do random activities I’ll post those. I’ll try to do a couple lesson plans per week since they take longer than the activity posts. I think my upcoming themes will be families, colors, pets and of course Halloween. Then I can start getting into winter themes and I always have fun with those. I’d like to thank all the people who have posted comments. I appreciate all of them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Simple Ghost Puppets

I remembered this idea the other day while I was working with the kids in the art center. They had free choice and were drawing and started making trick-or-treat bags. It made me think of Halloween and ghosts. I had found this activity years ago and hadn't tried it. We didn't have pipe cleaners out, but we had popcicle sticks so that's what I used. I prefer using the pipe cleaners because later, I tried making one at home and with the pipe cleaners, the ghost is more like a puppet. The activity is very simple to do.

Tissue Ghost Puppets

Two white tissues,
pipe cleaner,
black marker.

1. Have your child lay one tissue open on a table and have her crumble the other tissue into a ball and place it in the middle of the opened tissue.
2. Pull up the corners of the flat tissue and twist the tissue to create a ball head.
3. wrap one end of a pipe cleaner around the neck of the ghost, holding the head in place.
4. Loop the other end of the chenille into a holder.
5. Using the holder, show the child how to manipulate the ghost up and down or to fly.
6. Draw a face on the ghost with a thin black marker.

Here’s the variation on that activity.
using a popcicle stick. I used some white scrap paper to cover the stick for the ghost I made pictured below. I used different colors for the mouth and eyes to try to get the kids interested, but they had finished making some trick or treat bags and moved on to another activity. You could also add googley eyes instead of drawing them on. That would be neat for the ghost because those eyes move.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quotes from Preschoolers

Me: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Boy: “First you have to go to college.”
Me: “Okay, what about after college?”
Boy: “I want to get a motorcycle and ride around on it all day.”

While reading a story:
Teacher: “Why do you think the mom is in a wheelchair?”
Boy: Because she’s painful.”
Later in the conversation,
Teacher: “How do you think she goes down stairs?”
Boy: “When wheelchairs go down stairs, they go bump bump bump bump!”

Before an art project where kids are supposed to draw their families.
Teacher: “What else do we need to draw to make this a person?”
Boy: “A belly.”
Another boy: “A head.”
A third boy: “Arm pits.”
A fourth boy: “Stinky armpits!”
A fifth boy: “Yeah. Stinky armpits!”

Here are some of my older favorites from past children.
Me: “Can you tell me about this picture?”
Boy: “It’s a pile of dung.”
Then he turns to another boy and says, “Look at my pile of dung!”

Teacher: “Does anyone in your family play any musical instruments?”
Boy: “My dad plays Guitar Hero.”

After giving a girl a plush unicorn before she moved away.
Girl: “Thank you for my friend.”

Me: “What are you doing?”
Girl: “We’re making tomato heads.”

Girl: “Do you know what a fart is?”
Boy: “Whaaaat?”
Girl: “It’s something that smells stinky like poop, but it is
You don’t see it. It just. It does this.” She makes a farting sound.

Me: “Read this book to me.”
Girl: “I can’t read. I can’t read a word!”

Another girl climbs to the top of one of the slides on the playground.
Me: “Can you see the man cutting the tree up there?”
“Girl: I can see him now.”
Me: “why do you think the man is cutting the tree down?”
Girl: “Cause some trees get sick.”
Me: “How do trees get sick?”
“Girl: They’re playing and then they get really tired and then they get sick.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fall Theme Lesson Plan

The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle
A counting book, The Case of the Disappearing Acorns
Math: Sorting leaves, pinecones and acorns by color or type of object.
Sensory: Grab bag.
Contains fake apples, pumpkins, gourds, acorns and other fall related objects.
Children are to guess what’s in the bag before looking at it.

Apple Match
Cut out apples of green, yellow, and red. Put corresponding apples on a manilla folder.
Have your children match the apples.
You could also do this with pictures of food made from apples or make another matching game using pictures of different types of leaves.

Fine Motor:
Have two baskets.
Fill one with nuts and a set of tongs.
Have the children transfer the nuts from one basket to another using the tongs.
If some of the children are allergic to nuts, use fall colored pompoms or acorns.

For dramatic play, you could turn an area into a farmers market since they are selling fruits and vegetables through the fall.
You could include:
Cash register,
Fake money,
Fake fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, pomegranates,
Fake vegetables such as corn, gourds, pumpkins etc.
You could include boxes and or jars of foods that can be made with those fruits and vegetables.
For an extension of that area, you could set up a small tub of water where the children could pretend to wash the fruits and veggies.
I thought of this idea on the spot so if you can think of anything to add, feel free.

Take a nature walk to collect leaves and other fall objects.

Dried leaves,
Construction paper,

1. Gather a small bag of fallen leaves.
2. Dry them out completely.
3. Crush the leaves.
4. Cut a piece of paper into a leaf shape and give it to the child
5. Cover the leaf shape with glue and sprinkle on the crushed leaves.

Discussions: Different types of leaves and the trees they come from. Also, discuss when seasons change and the cycle of how leaves fall off trees and new leaves grow next spring.

Leaf Wreath
What You Need:
Leaves (various colors preferred)
Paper Plate
What You Do:
Have your children collect interesting leaves.
Next, cut the center of the plate out and let your children attach their leaves.
Painting with Apples
Cut an apple in half and let the children stamp or paint with it.

Frozen Pumpkin Treats
For each child, mix 1 tsp. pumpkin-pie filling with 3
Tablespoons whipped topping. Spread on one graham cracker and top with another
Graham cracker
. Freeze.

Individual Pumpkin Pies
For each child: Measure 1/4 cup of vanilla pudding, 1
Tsp canned pumpkin and dash of pumpkin spice; mix together. Put mixture in single bowl. –serve with graham cracker crust and top with one candy pumpkin.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fall Sensory Grab Bag

For last year’s fall theme, I made a sensory grab bag. I put in two plastic apples, one pomegranate, one larger pumpkin, two little pumpkins, a couple of gourds, corn, and to add some natural materials, I used some acorns, pinecones and leaves. I stapled the top of the bag shut, but left an opening big enough for a hand. I wanted the kids to reach inside, feel the object and guess what it was before showing the rest of the class. For the most part, it didn’t work out that way. Most of the kids didn’t want to reach their hand in the bag at first. Then when they decided it was okay, they were rushing to pull all the objects out. After all the objects were out, we talked about fall and how things change color. We talked about the color and size differences between the apples and pumpkins. Most of the kids hadn’t seen a pomegranate so we talked about that, but I should’ve brought one in for them to taste. We did a taste test for three different colored apples. The kids learned that some apples are sweet and some are sour. They enjoyed looking at the new objects and tasting apples. Below, I have a picture of some of the things I put in the bag. I found all these things at the Dollar Tree. You can also find these fruits at Walmart and a lot of other department stores.

Sound and Object Matching Activity

I did this listening and matching game with last year’s group of kids. I put several different objects in small juice bottles and covered them up with contact paper.
Here's what they look like
The objects were pompoms, paper clips, sand, popcorn, rice, macaroni, coins, beads, rocks etc. For the first part of the game, each kid took one bottle, shook it and tried to guess the sound. If he or she couldn’t figure it out, other children would start guessing. Since this was a new game, I’d give hints like, “what do we eat when we’re at the movies?” Another hint was, “what do we find on the beach or play in outside?” Once we knew what all the objects were, we compared sounds. The pompoms are a quiet sound and the rocks were loud. The beads and popcorn made similar sounds. The coins, paper clips and rocks made sounds that didn’t sound like any of the others.

Then for the second part of the game, I brought out the cards with the objects taped to them. This way, they could match the cards with the sounds. Each child picked a card. When it was his or her turn to share what was on their card, the other children shook the bottles until they identified the sound that match with their card. It started as a listening activity and then they were able to use sight and in most cases touch, to match everything up.

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