Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Diapering Disaster

I worked with the five babies again today. When I got there, Baby L; the one who loves the squishy seat was awake and happy. I played with him for a while. He was in the exerciser when I got there, but wanted to be taken out. He played with the rattles and sat in the squishy seat for a while, but I noticed he wasn’t feeling like himself. He’s had a cold and sounded really stuffed up today. He seemed out of it so he sat in my lap for a while. He started to get fussy so I took him to the rocking chair. The other teacher explained that it was hard to get him to sleep, but I could try rocking him. Usually, they just sit with him on the couch until he falls asleep, but in my experience rocking has worked so why not try it? He squirmed a lot at first until he started looking at this picture on the wall of a boy and girl. Each time we rocked, he’d scratch at the picture. Eventually, he put his head back and fell asleep. It took about ten minutes. The other teacher was a little surprised. He usually sleeps for 20 minutes, but took an hour long morning nap. After he woke up, it was time for a diaper change. I was a little nervous about this because I’ve never changed a baby’s diaper. The only diapers I’ve changed were for older toddlers who were in the middle of potty training. Baby L was fussing, moving around, kicking and generally giving me a hard time about changing his diaper. The other teacher was standing right there making sure I was doing things right. She was nice about it, but someone standing over me makes me really self conscious and then I’m rushing to get it done as soon as possible. Then the rubber gloves make it hard to feel anything especially when you are taping the diaper. You can see it, but it’s still kind of hard to do that with gloves on although I’m sure you get used to it. Luckily, there wasn’t a mess in the diaper for now. Then when it came to putting his pants on, he kept kicking his legs around to make it difficult to put them on. Finally, I tried standing him up to pull up his pants and he hit his head on the cabinet above the changing table. He wasn’t hurt and only cried for a minute. I felt really bad though because he could’ve hurt himself and I obviously wasn’t paying close enough attention. I was embarrassed too because the other teacher was right there watching my every move. She was nice about it, but I don’t want her to think that every time I change a diaper, there will be a disaster. I don’t mean to over react, but I’ve had experiences with people going overboard after I’ve made simple mistakes that didn’t have anything to do with children getting hurt. I hope other people have these horror stories too. I can’t be the only one.

After his diaper change, the foster grandmother at the center fed him, but later we played again. We sat on the couch for a while. I just talked to him and he played with my hands as usual. He did a lot of babbling today which was cute because it wasn’t all the same sound. From outside of the exerciser, he was able to pull down the toy that he couldn’t pull last week, but I could tell he wondered why it didn’t stay down where he had pulled it.

Then I spent some more time with baby J who is the three-month-old. He spends a lot of time sleeping in the swing because we have to strap him down to his crib and after we get him to sleep; he always wakes up when we buckle him in. It’s easier to strap him in the swing while he sleeps because he doesn’t wake up that way. We usually rock him to sleep in the chair first. After his morning nap, I fed him and he actually burped for me today which he didn’t last week. After his bottle, I sat with him on the couch for a while. He was happy just to hang out. He wasn’t playing with anything. He was just sitting there in my lap cooing and kicking his feet up in the air.

This afternoon, I spent time with crawling Baby who you can usually find standing up holding on to something. He likes to climb all over me. He kept playing with the phone on wheels and some other toys until he decided he wanted to practice standing up. I’d move backwards and he’d grab my hands, pull himself up and then try to walk towards me. It worked a couple of times, but then he couldn’t pull himself up anymore unless I was right in front of him so he used my hands for balance as he stood up and then climbed on my lap. He did this a few times until his family came to get him. He usually doesn’t leave that early. I didn’t get to spend any time with him this morning because he went for a walk around the neighborhood with the toddlers.

Before I left, I spent some time with Baby C. She’s the happy smiling baby girl. Today she had floor time. She’s learning how to role over and push herself around. She was getting frustrated a few times and at first, she didn’t want to move. I decided to put a few toys out of her reach so she’d have something to move towards. She liked moving towards the keys, but then got frustrated when she rolled over the wrong way. She started to cry, but kept kicking her feet. I reached out to grab one of her feet and she started to laugh so it became a little game. She continued to role around and was having a good time playing with the toys until she got hungry for her sweet potatoes. She’s a little younger than the babies who sit at the table, but with a blanket behind her, she’s able to sit in the big girl seat. She likes it and she was happy to be eating of course. That was it for my day with the babies this week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Assignment: Early Childhood Resources

I’ve created a new page for early childhood resources. It was an assignment, but I’ve wanted to put up a page with a list of links for a while. Many of the links and the list of journals were apart of my assignment. I’ve also added links to articles and recipes for art supplies that I didn’t want to forget. I’ll add more links as I find them. Some links I’ve included that weren’t apart of my assignment are to RIE, the Growing Years, Chopsticks and Counting Chips, The Case for Play, The National Institute for Play, The Maine Association for Infant Mental Health, etc. there are a few others, but I can’t remember them all. Here is the link:
Early Childhood Resources Page
From now on, it’ll be listed with the other pages in the sidebar.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Favorites for March 27, 2011

Here are my favorites for the week. I'm glad spring is finally here although in this area, it's still cold. Spring is the best time of year because the weather is nice, the birds start singing again and there's something about the spring air.

Cupcake Matching/Memory Game Tutorial
A homemade matching cupcake game. I'm a fan of anything using cupcakes.

My Busy Book; Sewing
One type of busy book made by Deborah Teach Preschool. Click here to see how to make them.

Cotton Ball colration
A simple way to color cotton balls. There are lots of uses for these.

Spring Activities
A variety of activities for spring.

Colorful and Educational Rice Bottles for Preschoolers
Some creative ideas for I-spy bottles.

20 Play-dough Recipes
A great resource for play-dough recipes.

Slow Cooked Play-dough.
A recipe for play-dough made in a slow cooker. Great for busy days when you don't have time to cook.

Candle Art
Art activities using candles.

Craft Recipes
Another resource for craft supply recipes.

Five Senses
Activities using the five senses.

Edible Birds Nest
A cute bird themed snack for spring.

Ten Baby Play Ideas
Ten things to do with babies.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What I Miss About Preschoolers

Since I started volunteering with the infants and young toddlers, I’ve realized I really miss the conversations that I had with the preschoolers. During my internship, Shy and I would usually have a conversation before her nap. Here’s some of one that I had with her before nap time.

Shy: “Is somebody sleeping in here?”
Me: No. David is usually here, but he’s sick today. So he’ll be back tomorrow.
Shy: Why?
Me: Well, he’s sick so he had to go home early.
Shy: “He need to go to doctor.”
Me: “He does. He has a doctors appointment.”
Shy: “Then he can come back here.”
Me: Yeah. He’ll come back here when he’s better. He’ll take some medicine and get better.”
Shy: “Yeah. I also go to doctor when I get all better.”
Me: “What do they do at the doctors?”
Shy: They check on my throat and my elbows and my hands and my hand.”

Here’s another conversation we had on the same day.
Shy: “I had to pee-pee on the potty.”
Me: “You’re getting to be a big girl.”
Shy: “Yeah!”
Me: Are you going to be big, big, big?” (She liked to say that things were going to grow big big big.)
Shy: Yeah! I’m going to just be more than you.”
Me: “You’re going to be more than me?”
Shy: “Yeah!! I’m gonna be bigger too when I come next time. I’ll come back in that door and I will see you.”
Me: “You’ll come back and see me when you’re big?”
Shy: “Yeah.”
Me: “I hope so.”
Shy: “You’ll stay here till you get back in your car.”
Me: “Yeah.”
Shy: My mommy’s coming after nap.”
Me: “I know.”

I enjoy working with babies and toddlers, but they can’t really talk to me and I miss hearing some of their thoughts. With the preschoolers, there was at least one conversation or something I heard as they were playing that would make me laugh every day. I also miss doing some of the activities you can do with preschoolers that you can’t do with younger kids. With infants and toddlers, you worry about a lot of safety issues. Not that you wouldn’t worry about a preschooler’s safety, but the younger the children, the more you worry. There is a bigger variety of activities they can do and toys that they can play with. However, you don’t get as much individual time with older toddlers and preschoolers because there are more of them. It’s also easier to manage a group of younger kids at least in my experience. I like that you have more time to work with the younger kids individually, the group size is smaller and they do other things that are cute and funny. Some of this balances out and makes the extra worries worth it. There is much more hands on work with toddlers and infants which I don’t mind. Of course, there are a lot of laughs with babies and young toddlers too. I feel that I’m better at working with them, but sometimes I miss the way things were with the preschoolers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Five Babies

Today was my first day with the babies. I was a little nervous about it because I haven’t worked with babies before. The only baby I’ve had any experience with was my nephew, but that was years ago and pretty limited. The infant room only has one teacher and she seems nice. Soon after I got there, the youngest baby who is three-months-old started crying. He wanted his bottle so she gave him to me. It was awkward at first because of the way I had to hold him and the shape of the bottle. I don’t know how to explain the shape of the bottle other than it was arched. You have to tip it up higher than regular bottles. After he ate, I had to burp him, but he wouldn’t burp. Then it was time for him to go to sleep which he didn’t want to do either. He was fussy until we put him in the swing. I know some people don’t really like swings and other equipment for babies, but it really helped in this case. After he fell asleep, the other teacher put him in his crib.

During the time when this baby was hungry, another baby started crying from the other room where the cribs are. His story is he didn’t sleep much last night and he was cranky today. Sometimes he cries himself back to sleep, but after a while the teacher realized he wasn’t going to do that this time. He was fussy during his changing and then he wouldn’t settle down. It was a challenge with both babies screaming. One waiting for a bottle and the other waiting for who knows what. After a while, the second baby calmed down after he was put in a squishy seat with three sides. The front is open so he could crawl out if he wanted to, but he’s not quite there yet. The sides are made out of material they make mats with. He likes this seat and will sit there with a toy or two for long periods of time. There wasn’t anymore screaming after the first baby was fed and the other was in the seat.

There are six babies enrolled right now, but on Wednesdays, there are only five. The oldest is fifteen-months-old. The youngest is three-months-old and the others are between eight and ten months. When I walked in, the oldest one said hi to me. That’s pretty much the only word she knows. She loves books and kept walking around with them. Some of them were heavy for her, but she didn’t give up on carrying them. I looked at books with her and she became interested in some of the other toys on the shelf. The other teachers were surprised by her since she is at that age of stranger anxiety, but she came right over to me. Another baby came in mid-morning and he’s a crawler. He comes over to sit in your lap for a few seconds, but then he’s off again. He spends a lot of time by the gate probably wondering how he can make his escape. He likes to play with a telephone on wheels. He moves the dial, but bites the phone instead of talking on it. He also likes one of the exercisers, but he’s too heavy to sit in it so he likes to walk around the edge while holding on to it. He finds the toys interesting and I wonder why he always picks this one instead of the other one. It’s funny how they already have preferences. Maybe it’s because this one is a little taller and is perfect for him to hold on to while standing.

The baby who loves the seat was put into one of the exercisers which he really enjoyed. He loves to jump up and down and play with all the toys hanging from it. He could investigate each toy for a long time without getting bored with it. He especially liked this toy that when you pull it down, it vibrates and goes back up by itself. His problem was that he isn’t strong enough to pull it down so for now, I was doing it for him. Each time I’d pull the toy, he’d try to pull it down himself when it got back to the top. Later, he went back to the seat where he played with some larger rattles and a toy with a mirror. He likes to drop his toys over the side, but his arms aren’t long enough to reach them. I picked them up for him, but I’d put them just out of his reach on the seat so he’d have to move forward to get the toy. He’s pretty vocal. He makes a lot of sounds to get your attention, but doesn’t have any words yet. He’ll probably be a big talker later. He spent a lot of time cuddling with me and he had a fascination with my hands. He kept pulling them, scratching at them, squeezing them etc. At one point he scratched me pretty hard. His little nails are sharp enough to leave scratch marks. I scratched his hand lightly so he’d see what it felt like, but I’ve forgotten that babies repeat everything you do and it probably felt funny or good to him so he kept doing it. I wasn’t trying to hurt him and obviously he wasn’t trying to hurt me. Then I told him that his nails were sharp so he’d have to be gentle and I started playing with his hands gently.

We also had another lesson about being gentle today. The crawling baby and the same baby in the seat often interact. The crawling baby comes over and likes to check out the toys that he is playing with or just take them for himself. Sometimes, he’ll practically sit on him. Whenever he’d come over, I’d tell him to be gentle. He likes to get in the other babies faces and will grab them. When the other teacher told me this, I’d touch the first baby’s face gently and then touch the second baby’s face gently so they’d know what to do. It seemed to have worked for today because they played side-by-side for a little while with no problem. We have to watch this closely since one baby is bigger and more mobile than the other.
Finally, in the late afternoon, the last baby came. She’s a girl who is nine-months-old. I only got to spend about an hour with her which most of it was spent in the exerciser. She enjoyed herself looking at the toys and jumping. At the end, I took her out of the exerciser to hold her for a few minutes. She was a happy baby; always smiling. They tell me she’s always like that. All the babies seemed happy.
I enjoyed myself today and will work with the babies again next week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Assignment Early Childhood Quotations

One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child." Maria Montessori

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening
to words but by experiences in the environment." Maria Montessori

"To Assist a child, "we must provide him with an environment, which will enable him
to develop freely." Maria Montessori

"The moment I decided to follow instead of lead, I discovered the joys of becoming
part of a small child's world." Janet Gonzalez-Mena

“We must be the compassion we wish to see in others!" Janet Gonzalez-Mena

the following quote was from a video called," "The Passion for Early Childhood".
"It made me feel whole. It made me feel creative and so it became my life long work; early childhood education and the passion to make sure that all children were taught in environments and in ways that truly nurtured their ability to grow and to develop to their fullest ability." Louise Derman-Sparks

Other quotes I've found:

"Play for young children is not recreation activity,... It is not leisure-time activity nor escape activity. Play is thinking time for young children. It is language time. Problem-
solving time. It is memory time, planning time, investigating time. It is organization-of ideas time, when the young child uses his mind and body and his social skills and
all his powers in response to the stimuli he has met."
--James L. Hymes, Jr., child development specialist, author

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." Plato

"As astronauts and space travelers children puzzle over the future; as dinosaurs and princesses they unearth the past. As weather reporters and restaurant workers they make sense of reality; as monsters and gremlins they make sense of the unreal.
Gretchen Owocki Contemporary American early childhood educator

"Hands constitute the infant’s first connection to the world. Hands pick the infant up, lay him down, wash, dress, and feed him. What a different picture of the outside world an infant has when quiet, patient, careful, yet secure hands take care of him. How different the world must seem when these hands are impatient, rough, hasty, unquiet and nervous."
—- Emmi Pikler

"School success begins not with learning ABC’s as a preschooler, but with
learning as an infant how to trust and feel secure, explore one’s environment, and form close attachments." ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Infant Toddler Policy Agenda
"Experts generally agree that taking all opportunities to read
books and other materials
aloud to children is the best preparation for their learning to read. The pleasures
of being read to are far more likely to strengthen a child's desire to learn to read
than are repetitions of sounds, alphabet drills, and deciphering uninteresting words."
-Lilian Katz

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekly Favorites for March 20, 2011

Here are my favorites for the week.
Moon Sand Recipe
An inexpensive way to make moon sand.

Marbled Easter Eggs
A simple project for Easter.

Baby Games How Infants Develop Social Skills video
Watch these babies playing together.

Rainbow Rain
A craft for St. Patricks Day or a weather theme.

Rainbow Cupcakes
Delicious looking rainbow cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day.

Pompom Doll Sized Ice Creams
How to make doll sized ice creams out of pompoms and some fun ideas for ice cream shop play.

Natural Consequences
A well written post from Teacher Tom about natural consequences.

The Developmental Stages of Block Play
An informative post about block play and its stages.

Giant Rainbow Collage
A fun rainbow project.

The Case for Play
An article about how play is essential for children's development.

Playing in the Mud
A thoughtful post on what children can learn by playing in nature.

Tribute to Knut the Polar Bear

Yesterday, I read that Knut the polar bear passed away. This is sad news. I've never seen him in person but have been watching his story since he was a cub. I'm a big fan of polar bears so I wanted to post a couple of links about him and some of my favorite pictures of him. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to teach children about animals and to treat them with kindness and respect. I think even the youngest children can learn things from being around animals. Usually it starts with pets like cats and dogs at home with supervision of course. Through books, photos, stuffed animals and field trips, children can be introduced to the diversity in wildlife.

Here's a link to is article on Wikipedia. I tried to find one from another source, but couldn't find anything with as much detail about his life.
Knut the Polar Bear
A book for kids.
How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World (Knut)
This movie about Knut is also kid friendly.
Knut and Friends

I can't remember where I've gotten these pictures. They were from articles I've read about him and I don't claim them as my own.

Friday, March 18, 2011

WhatWe CanDo With a Ball

This week, we played outdoors. The girl from last week who had trouble walking in the snow still had trouble. She’d take a few steps by herself and then fall. She was having trouble getting up because she kept sinking in the snow. She’d laugh when she fell though so at least she was having a good time. After a while, she grabbed my hand and I walked with her if she wanted to go somewhere else on the playground. She’d even try to keep walking by herself after balancing by holding my hand, but she’d grab my hand again when she would start to fall. After going inside, she started to be clingy and constantly wanted to be picked up. One thing I noticed was that she likes looking out the window. I’d bring her over so she could watch the preschoolers play outside. One of her favorite games is peak-a-boo on the climber. I sit beside the climber stairs because there’s a little window there. I look through the window and she sees me from sitting on the stairs. Then I disappear. When she stands to look over the railing, she laughs because she sees me on the bottom. We had fun looking at our reflections in the mirror next to the climber. The toddlers like to press their faces right against the mirror. Some of the boys kept spitting on the mirror. They thought it was really funny, but I reminded them about the germs and they eventually stopped.

Most of the morning play surrounded three balls. Two of them are the regular smooth balls and the other one is bumpy and a little smaller. They discovered that they could do a lot with these balls. They could push them around the room like their trucks. They can carry them, they can role them, they can try to bounce them; they can sit on them and bounce on them. This only worked for some toddlers. The girl I mentioned needed the smaller ball and then she was able to bounce on the ball. She discovered this after trying one of the bigger balls. She’d fall off and after trying a few times, I asked, “what about the bumpy ball?” She tried that one and it worked much better although it was hard for her to keep her balance. We can play pass with the ball. It started with me and another girl on the floor. We’d role the ball back and forth. Then she started throwing it. A boy came over and joined into the game until he wanted the ball all to himself. We can take turns with the ball or we can fight over it. The girl noticed the other ball wasn’t being used so she brought that one over. We rolled it down the slide a couple of times, tried to bounce it off the floor and throwing the ball into the air. She saw that if she rolled the ball farther away, she could chase after it. Then more toddlers got involved with chasing the balls around the room. They practiced kicking and then chasing. Then I’d throw the ball in the air to see where it lands and the kids would chase it until they caught up to it. We’d start all over again with our game. Some even used the balls to knock over towers built from foam blocks. Playing with a ball is a great way for toddlers to develop those gross motor skills plus it’s so much fun!

Another cool thing that happened this week was they are starting to know my name. One of the girls kept saying, “Darcey, watch this!” Since most of these toddlers aren’t talking much yet, sometimes I forget what they can really understand and remember. I hardly ever hear them say the other teacher’s names and they work with them all the time so I was surprised when a couple of them said mine. When I came in, the girl who plays peak-a-boo came over and brought me right to the climber. It amazes me sometimes how much they know and remember even with someone they don’t see that often. Next week, I will be volunteering with the infants since there will be more babies.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Assignment: Personal Childhood Web

The first person in my childhood web would be my mom.
While I was growing up, she worked a lot, but she was there when I needed something. She had office jobs and worked a lot of over time to make enough money to support us. She taught my brothers and I to work hard. My mom was my biggest advocate in school if they weren’t providing me with what I needed to be successful.
When I was a child, my mom would read bed time stories, we’d watch TV together, I’d help her with yard work and sometimes she’d play with me with blocks or dolls. One of her goals for me was to further my education beyond high school which I’ve done. She thinks education is the key to a better life and it provides opportunities that she was unable to have. The things she taught me that influence me today are to have a strong work ethic and to be kind to others. I’d put a picture of her up on the blog, but she is nervous about having her picture online.

2. The next two people on my childhood web would have to be my grandparents. I was closer to my grandfather because he lived a lot longer, but I can’t talk about him without at least mentioning my grandmother. My grandfather was an electrician who had his own business. My grandmother was a homemaker and they were married for over fifty years. She passed away when I was young, but my favorite memories of her were in her kitchen. She’d let me help her bake cakes and pies. I always liked rolling out the dough or making the dough into little balls for cookies. I remember her being a kind and caring person. My grandfather also had a strong work ethic and was kind to people. Since my father wasn’t around, he was the closest thing I had to a dad. I’d go to his house almost everyday until he came to live with us when I was in my teens.

One favorite memory is when he made a boat for me for a contest for my second grade class. I thought the boat was really cool and it actually floated! He painted it white and blue which were my favorite colors.
Boat floating in the bathtub
My other memories included hanging out in the shop and learning about all the tools, playing card games, helping him with his garden and his stories about the times when phone numbers had only three digits or there were only silent black and white movies. He grew up in a totally different time and it was interesting to hear about. He walked to school instead of taking a bus and grew up with eight brothers and sisters that he had to help raise and support. He wanted me to do well in school and find something that makes me happy. He also taught me to work hard, to be honest and taught me how to help others.

That candy dish was the last present I got to give my grandfather. We both loved candy so I thought having a big candy dish would be nice for him. The things along the side are shaped like different candies like Hersheys kisses, lollypops, peanut butter cups, life savers etc.

The third person on my childhood web is Alicia. She was my best friend during elementary school. Alicia was a happy girl who laughed a lot, very outgoing and fun to be around. I met her in second grade and we quickly became best friends. For a few years, we’d spend just about every weekend at each others houses. Some of my favorite memories are going to the beach together, playing video games and laughing at things that now would seem dumb, but were funny to us as children. We would always be putting on makeup, nail polish etc and talking about how when we grew up, we’d have our own salon business. By the end of elementary school, we drifted apart and our friendship ended. She started hanging out with a different group of people and became interested in different things and didn’t have time for me anymore. I see her around at the store, but we don’t keep in touch. We are totally different people now.
Our friendship was great at first, but then there was a lot of fighting. I’m still influenced today by our friendship because it changed the way I look at friendships and how I make friends. The picture below is us on graduation day in 2002. She came to see her class graduate, but unfortunately, she wasn’t one of them.

The fourth person on my childhood web is another childhood friend, Jenny. We met in kindergarten and I still remember her from the first day of school. Jenny was quiet, but after talking to her for a while you’d find that she was a nice person. We spent a lot of time together during our elementary school years. She’d come to my house and birthday parties. We used to talk a lot on the phone, play Nintendo and spent time together at school. Even though Jenny and I had our arguments, it wasn’t the same as the arguments with other girls. It didn’t feel like she’d stop being your friend over something stupid. She’d usually talk to me even when the other girls wouldn’t. We drifted apart too because our interests changed and we just never saw each other around, but once in a while we’d catch up. Although we don’t keep in touch today, she also influenced the way I view friendships and what a real friend should be. Unfortunately, I can’t find any of our childhood pictures together.


The fifth person on my childhood web is Mrs. Bailey, my art teacher from elementary school. She was my teacher from kindergarten to sixth grade. She inspired me to love art and creativity. She loved all types of art. Anything from painting, drawing, collages, to basket weaving. Not only was she nice, but I could count on her to come up with an activity that I could do. Since I couldn’t draw or paint well, she’d come up with other activities like making things out of wood scraps, weaving on a loom, 3d collages with shells etc. She also inspired my love of pottery. Even though we didn’t have all the materials available in elementary school, I started working with clay back then. I was pretty good at making shapes and designs. In high school, I was able to make my first usable pottery. She treated me like everyone else, made her classes fun and inspired me and hopefully others by her creativity. Now that I work with kids, I try to teach using creative activities and by treating children with respect and kindness like Mrs. Bailey did.
A pillow I weaved in Mrs. Bailey's class
Some of my best pottery:

A mother's Day present for my mom.

There are several other people I could’ve included in my childhood web, but I chose these people to represent family, friends and school. These people and others who were around during my childhood helped me grow into the person I am today.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pots of Gold and Lessons Learned

This is a St. Patrick’s Day project I attempted to do last year.

To make this pot of gold, you’ll need:

Paper cup,
Gold stickers,
A whole punch,
A gold pipe cleaner,
Gold materials such as ribbon, candy wrappers, Easter grass, yarn, shiny paper etc.
You could even use sparkly crayons or gold paint.

I punched a hole on each side of the cup and put the pipe cleaner through. On each side, I bent the pipe cleaner to make a little knot on the inside of the cup to make it stay in place and to hide the sharp ends.

In the pictures, you’ll see I’ve used a Styrofoam cup, but I don’t recommend it. One of the lessons I learned from trying to do this project was that the ribbon, Easter grass and gold lace don’t stick to Styrofoam. These would have come out a lot better with paper cups or bowls. The kids kept trying and trying, but the glue wouldn’t keep any of these materials on the cups. They enjoyed trying though. They also enjoyed the glitter and foam stickers. The glitter ended up everywhere, but that was the most fun part of the project for them since the rest of it wasn’t working. They ended up with sparkly cups on the inside and out. They had at least one gold star and a couple of other gold foam stickers. Since I didn’t have enough, they could each only have one letter. Usually, they picked the first letter of their name. They could also have one or two gold numbers if they wanted. The second lesson that I learned is to double the amount of materials that you’ll think you’ll need especially for projects like this. The third lesson was to try the project yourself first to see if all the materials work as planned. If I would have done this, I would’ve realized that most of the gold materials wouldn’t stick to the cup. Only a few of the children did this project because I got overwhelmed with the amount of children who wanted to try and with the materials not working as planned, I packed it up early. Maybe I should’ve left it out longer to see what the remaining children could do. In my own frustration, I thought it was a failed project, but maybe the kids could’ve turned it into something else by exploring the materials.

The previous year, I had an idea to do a two day project with pots of gold and rainbows. We had a rainbow printable and the kids could either draw or paint their rainbow. At the last minute, the head teacher made painting the only option. The kids liked painting their rainbows. The next day, the kids were supposed to cut out their rainbows and attach them to a small pot of gold. The pot of gold was a print out, but the kids were going to decorate them with gold materials or by drawing on them with sparkly crayons. Ahead of time, I gave them the smaller pot of gold template that I found and at the last minute, they decide to change the project altogether. They had cut out the rainbows for the kids and put them in their cubbies. Then they had printed out a regular larger coloring sheet with a pot of gold on it and then expected them to color in the whole thing. I was disappointed because my plans for the project were ruined. Not only was the creativity taken out of it, but so were the kids choices. They couldn’t choose how to decorate their rainbows, they no longer had a choice of how to make their pots of gold and an opportunity for them to work on a longer project that they would put together themselves was lost.

I learned some lessons from this project too. If you plan something, make all the preparations yourself unless you know that you and whoever you are working with are definitely on the same page.
I learned that too many people take the lazy way out. How do you expect the kids to learn to take initiative or to complete a task if you can’t yourself?
How do you expect attention spans to develop if you constantly change everything at the last minute to the quickest thing possible? I’m not saying that things shouldn’t be changed to meet the kids needs or if you are short on time. I’m talking about those classrooms that are so chaotic on a daily basis that the children can’t focus on anything. Also, how do you expect teachers to take time and pride in planning when you are constantly changing their plans and ideas without talking to them about it first? These are some questions and thoughts I’ve had over these past two years.
For this St. Patrick’s Day, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for me will be to watch toddlers make shamrocks. I won’t have to worry about planning or the final product. After all, my plans have been for the kids enjoyment and to allow them to express creativity.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekly Favorites for March 13, 2011

Here are my favorite activities for the week, but I also wanted to post some links regarding the recent earth quake and tsunami in Japan. I feel bad for those who have lost their homes and loved ones. I don't know anyone who lives there and I've never been there, but it doesn't matter. I think it's important to use things like this to teach children about empathy and the rest of the world and even though we have some differences, we are all people who have the same basic needs. I'm sure the people will get through this with time and come back stronger. It's amazing to me how one day everything is fine, you have your home, loved ones around you etc and the next thing you know, the world as you knew it has completely changed. That's what nature can do.
If you'd like to help by donating, click here.
That link is through and it's for donating to the Red Cross. If you'd like to find other links, I'm sure they'd come up through a Google Search.

The following are two links for tips on talking about natural disasters with kids and some science experiments you can do with kids to help them understand how a tsunami works.

Tips for Discussing Scarey News with Your Kids
What is a Tsunami?
Tips and experiments to help your kids learn about tsunamis.

A Beautiful and Simple Science Experiment
A science experiment with flowers and colors.

St. Patrick's Day Theme Discovery Bottles
Discovery bottles made for St. Patrick's Day.

Rainbow Play-dough
For St. Patrick's Day.

Un predictable Weather Play-dough
For a weather theme.

Marbled Shaving Cream
A fun art project with shaving cream.

Painting with Jellybeans
A fun painting activity for spring or around Easter when jellybeans are popular.

Fine Motor Ideas
A few fun ideas for working on those fine motor skills.

Shamrock Frozen Paint
A neat painting activity with frozen shamrocks.

Cooking with Children
Some tips for cooking with children.

Rainbow Shaving Cream Bath Paints
A fun bath time activity.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Assignments: A Child's Drawing

These drawings are from two girls who were apart of the first group of kids I worked with back in 2001.
The first drawing is called, “Stripes.” It’s by a girl named, Amanda. I worked with her for two summers and she was fun to work with. She laughed a lot. She loved to play in the home corner. One of our games was to play with the mirror and look at our reflections. We’d make silly faces in the mirror or pop up and then disappear. On the last day of my job, Amanda drew this picture. I asked her to tell me about it and she said it was just stripes. She asked me to save it for her which I did, but it ended up in the pile of drawings that other kids were drawing for me. She never got it back, but I’m still saving it.

The second drawing is by a girl named, Oona. It was also drawn on my last day. She said it was a present for me, but she didn’t tell me anything about the picture. I think it’s a creation that we can pretend it’s whatever we want it to be. One memory of her is when I first met her, she was near the garden. She had just picked strawberries and she was telling me about them. She loved strawberries, but then realized her shoe had came untied. As I tied her shoe, she was curious about me. She wanted to know where I lived, who I lived with, where my house was etc. She asked a lot of questions. One day, the group was on the carpet waiting to hear a story. One boy said how bored he was and then Oona said, “If you are bored, then that means you are a boring person.” That’s something that she heard from her parents or other adults I’m sure, but I suppose it’s true.

Thank You For My Friend

Some of you who know me already know this story, but I haven’t written it on this blog. One of my assignments for this week is to write a story about a child who touched my heart. Since I don’t want to use her full name, I’ll call her Shy. She was extremely shy when I first met her and always was around new people. I met her during my internship. It was my second day and the head teacher brought a new girl in the classroom. She had just got done crying. She was two and a half and had never been to preschool before. She brought Shy over to me and we started playing with her baby doll and making a bed for her out of blocks. She only talked a little that day and asked for her mom a few times, but over time we became friends. I’d see her every Tuesday and Thursday for the next few months. Since I became so close with her, they assigned her case to me which meant that I did the observations on her, her assessment and finally the parent teacher conference. After a while, she became less shy and interacted with the other teachers and children more, but I continued to be her favorite person. There are a lot of stories and conversations that I could talk about, but my favorite thing that she ever said was on her last day before she moved.

One day, she was getting ready to leave and all of the sudden she said, “You’re my best friend at school.” I thought that was so great! I told her she was my best friend at school too and I really meant it. She was the best thing about being there. Then on her last day, I gave her a gift. It was a huge gift bag with a few things in it. She was so excited to see the bag. She ran over smiling and laughing. It seemed like she couldn’t believe it was all for her. I knew that she loved her cat so I got her a touch and feel kitten book. She loved the furry texture on the front page. Another gift was a couple of shiny rocks from my childhood rock collection. Shy was very interested in the rocks outside. She liked to feel the textures and look at them. She loved to put the rocks in her pockets. I figured I’d add to her interest by giving her some different rocks. She thank me for the rocks. Her favorite candy was gummy bears so I put two bags of gummy bears in the gift bag. She was so excited about those. She wanted to open them right away. I included a little photo album with a picture of her on St. Patrick’s Day with a mask on and a picture of myself so she’d remember me. She liked the book and it had plenty of pages for her own photos. Finally, I have a unicorn collection and have loved them since my childhood. I have a unicorn necklace that I wear almost everyday and the children always notice it. I decided to get her a plush white and purple unicorn. She called it, “Horsie.” In my mind, I was hoping that later she’d see that unicorn and remember that I gave it to her, but she’s young and she probably won’t remember who got that for her. At least she can cuddle with it or make it apart of her princess play. Every little girl pretends she’s a princess at some point.

Her mother and I were talking and all of the sudden Shy said, “Thank you for my friend.” She meant the unicorn. Then a few minutes later, she said, “Thank you for being my friend.” Then she told me again that I was her best friend at school. It was really sweet how she thanked me for the unicorn and thanked me for being her friend. After she moved, I heard from them once. Shy is in a new school and has a new brother or sister. I don’t know which because I hadn’t heard from them after that. I’d include a picture of her with her unicorn, but I don’t want to put pictures of other people’s kids online out of respect for her and her family.
She left back in 2009, but I still miss Shy and there hasn’t been anyone like her since. She’s one of a kind and I have many great memories of her.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Testing The Limmits

Today was the first day that we’ve gone outside since I’ve been volunteering with the toddlers. We were out there for a half an hour. I thought it was cold, but it was good for them to get out and get rid of all that extra energy. They mostly walked around in the snow, but some of them went on slides and on the swings. One girl got angry because she couldn’t get on the slide that was made for the preschoolers. That lasted a few minutes until she found something else to do. The youngest girl who is sixteen-months-old was cautious about walking in the snow. She started to walk and then fell down. She laughed, but seemed worried about what would happen if she got back up. Eventually, she stood there, but wouldn’t move. I walked over and asked her if she wanted to hold my hand and try to walk through the snow. She thought about it for a minute and grabbed my hand. We walked to the swing set that was a few feet away and she started climbing up the steps to the slide. Another toddler seemed concerned about trying the slide, but had a big smile on her face when she finally slid down.

After we went in, the toddlers worked on today’s art activity which was drawing with crayons. They were given a blank piece of paper and a large crayon. Each kid had a different color. We went around the table a few times repeating names of colors. The children were confused about which color they had. One boy had orange, but the girl next to him had green. The boy thought he had green and the girl thought she had orange. That was never really understood, but the kids had fun naming the colors. Most of the kids did scribbles, some crooked lines and dots, but a couple of them were able to draw shapes like circles and squares. One boy informed us that circles were round. After a while the kids switched colors, but the coloring turned to crumpling of papers. That was until one of the toddlers discovered that if you tap the crayon on the paper, you’ll make dots. Then everyone started doing that until the teacher asked them to stop because they were being too rough with the crayons. It went back to the paper crumpling until the teacher took their papers to write names on them.

It was back to play time where the boys were riding bikes and the girls were walking around, climbing on the climber or in the home corner. They kept testing their limits on the bikes. One boy was insistent on crashing into another one with his bike until the teacher said it wasn’t safe, but he continued to do it until he almost got the bike taken away. Then another boy decided that he wanted to play with a bike and a puzzle at the same time. The problem was that someone else wanted the puzzle and the pieces were all over the place. We were trying to keep the puzzles and their pieces together on the table so one of the rules was that if you wanted to work on puzzles that you had to stay at the table. Finally, someone else wanted the bike too. The boy was mad about choosing and decided he was going to dump out his puzzle pieces and then put the flat part of the puzzle on top of his bike seat. That way if he was sitting on it, no one could get it from him. Eventually, we noticed and told him to bring the puzzle back to the table. I helped him back to the table, but he chose not to work on the puzzles. Meanwhile, someone else took the bike because he chose not to use it. He was upset about this for a few minutes until another bike was free. Then the group of boys decided to tip their bikes over and push them around and try to ride them with the wheels in the air. They kept getting caught in the bikes and falling off so we decided it wasn’t safe. If you wanted to ride bikes, you had to ride them the proper way. One of the boys got really upset because after three or four times of telling him that he could either ride the bike properly or not use it, we had to take it away. I asked him if he was ready to use the bike the right way and he said no so I left it under the table. Eventually, he was able to think about it and decided to ride the right way.

Then it was back to the puzzle table. One kid decided to throw all the puzzle pieces on the floor and a few other toddlers joined him. I kept trying to clean up the mess, but they continued to throw the pieces all over the floor. They were also stomping on the puzzles and I thought they’d break them so I tried to tell them not to stomp on the toys. They threw pieces on the floor almost all the way through clean up time. After several times of telling them to stop, they did, but then they went on to testing their limits with another teacher while they were washing their hands for lunch. They played in the water, were messing with the toilet and not coming over when they were called. Lunch went okay and then we read books. There were a few times during the stories where the children were pushing, but it wasn’t a big deal. Then at nap time, most of them settled right down because they were so tired. One girl who usually wants to nap kept crying and didn’t want to lay on her mat. I tried to calm her down, but she kept getting up and running around the room. She’s the youngest and was recently moved up from the infant room. It’s taken her a while to get used to the routine. She doesn’t talk yet and she spends a lot of time near the door. She eventually settled down after one of the regular teachers sat with her. Most of them slept up until a few minutes before I left. They seemed happier after nap. I know there are days like these. This isn’t the first one I’ve had and it won’t be the last. It was a day of testing limits.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Assignment: A Pocket for Corduroy

My favorite childhood book was A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman. I had trouble with reading when I was in elementary school so I wouldn’t read many books. The ones I had to read, I don’t remember anything about them. I remember choosing to read this book in first grade. I could relate to it because it was about a little girl who was looking for her adventurous bear. I liked to carry around either my plush seal or my doll, Kelly. I would get upset whenever I lost them. I totally understood how Lisa felt when Corduroy was missing. A Pocket for Corduroy is a good story for kids with nice illustrations.

Even though I no longer have trouble reading, I still don’t pick up a book unless I have to. However, I don’t want the children I teach to feel that way about reading. I always try to make reading fun by bringing in new books, finding books with added features such as textures or scents, having discussions about books so that the children can relate them to their own lives and finding books with subjects that the kids are interested in. For the most part, all the children that I’ve worked with love books. A lot of them will ask for a second story after we finish the first one. Reading is one of the most important skills a child will ever learn so I want to encourage a love of reading or at least the confidence in themselves so they can read when they are ready.

Assignment: Quote

While doing a research paper for one of my early childhood education classes, I found several articles by David Elkind, a child development professor who has written several books. You can learn more about him from the following link. His books are listed there as well. I think this quote summarizes my thinking in regards to early childhood education. For years, children have been learning by playing and practicing practical life skills. If it works, why change it now?
"In a developmentally appropriate classroom, children are busy taking care of plants and animals, experimenting with sand and water, drawing and painting, listening to songs and stories, and engaging in dramatic play. It is hard to believe that these young children learn more from work sheets than they do from engaging in these age-appropriate activities. In the end, there is no solid research demonstrating that early academic training is superior to (or worse than) the more traditional, hands-on model of early education. Why take the risky step of engaging in formal academic training of the young when we already know what works?"

Much too Early by David Elkind

Monday, March 7, 2011

Assignment: Photos

My first assignment was to add a photo of myself to the blog. I've decided to add a couple of childhood photos and one of me now.

As a baby.

A little older

As an Adult

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