Thursday, September 22, 2011

Teaching Youngsters to Share

Dan Gilbert from Primrose Schools expressed interest in guest posting on my blog. This article is the first of several that he'd like me to share with my readers.

Train Youngsters to Share:
Using Beginning Instruction on Collaboration

Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education. Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.
People who learn to cooperate as a child experience better chances for success later in life. Making a friend or working in a group setting as an adult comes naturally to those who learned this fundamental skill as a child. The willingness to share comes from the interactions a child has with a parent or a caregiver. Children especially start picking up on sharing and cooperation before age four, says Dr. Mary Zurn (Dr. Z), vice president of education for Primrose Schools. Primrose offers a safe, nurturing preschool environment for children to play, learn and grow. By following role models in play and playing with other children their own age, children can learn to take turns and share before they enter school.

“Cooperation and sharing are key character traits that teach children how to get along with others,” said Dr. Z. Collaboration skills do not come with instinct; they are learned. Success in our world comes more often than not to team players. Children who have mastered these abilities find they can enjoy relationships characterized by respect and congeniality. People are called upon to share every day, so those who learn to be generous, to care for others and to cooperate display the good character that makes good citizens.

Examples in Cooperation: Parents teach their children before anyone else, so they should make sure that they demonstrate a proper example of sharing and cooperation for them to follow. By helping others and working respectfully with other, parents send a signal telling children that these are desirable traits. Parents can reinforce cooperation by asking them to help out with the cleaning in exchange for sharing some fun time together afterwards.

Goals Families Achieve Together: Families are great units to use for the development of sharing and collaboration in youth. By choosing an activity and assigning each family member a role, children can learn how people who work together can achieve more than they can separately. When they see it’s fun to combine efforts, they will develop a habit that lasts a lifetime.

Cook to Cooperate: Preparing a meal makes a great educational environment for a child. They can see that they play a meaningful role in the effort and take pride once the meal is on the table. A Story called Stone Soup illustrates the positive role cooking can have in developing team values.

Reading Books: Parents can choose books that illustrate cooperative attitudes such as the story called Little Red Hen. These stories open opportunities for parents to extol the virtues and benefits of working together.

Musical Lessons: Another great way to teach children these crucial values of cooperation and sharing is to listen to music. After playing a clip from a band, children can help identify all the distinct instruments and sounds they hear. The independent contribution of each musician combines to make a symphony.

After learning about bands, parents can join with children to create a rudimentary band where each person plays a role in creating music. Just for fun, record the final rendition on video or audio and play it back. The masterpiece will live on for years as part of family lore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Floor Time

This morning, I spent some time with Baby E, the youngest baby. In my opinion, she spends too much time in the swing so when I’m there, I like to hold her or give her some time on the floor. Last week, we put her and Little Guy on the floor side by side. They enjoyed looking at each other and their reflections in the mirror. Today, I held Baby E for a while, but decided to give her some floor time. She was hesitant and cried for a few minutes. When she calmed down, she started kicking her legs and reaching up with her arms.

I noticed that she was playing with her pacifier so I brought her a set of keys to play with as well. She reached for them, but didn’t try to take them from me. To get her more interested in the keys, I moved them from one side of her to another and I noticed she was tracking my movements. I offered her the keys again and this time, she held on to them. When she dropped them, I made up a little game where I put the keys on her belly and asked her how they got there. This made her smile and laugh. Sometimes she’d move the keys and sometimes she wouldn’t, but she found it entertaining. Another thing I did was lay on the big ball and role over to her. She liked when I’d end up above her on the big ball. I’d reach down to touch her feet or hand and she’d usually laugh. Infants at her age need a lot of face to face interaction.

Next, I gave her some time to play on her own. She continued to play with her pacifier and the keys, look around the room, coo to herself and kick her feet around. She spent about forty-five minutes on the floor until she got tired. It’s important for infants to have floor time every day not only for interactions with those around them, but for their healthy development and their own free exploration. I’ll end with a post written by janet Lansbury called Set Me Free - Unrestricted Babies (And Equipment. She explains the importance of giving babies opportunities for free movement.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Assignment: International Perspectives Part 2

I’ve divided this assignment up into two posts since there was so much information. Click here to see part 1.

I asked my contacts about the issues of poverty and cultural diversity in their countries. Sherry told me that in Australia, generally four year old kinder is funded for low income families especially those who are receiving government assistance. For children who are at risk or from aboriginal backgrounds have three year kinder funded as well. In Northern Ireland, children are entitled to one year of free preschool either in a nursery class like Kierna’s or in a play group. The nursery class has one qualified teacher and one assistant where the play group may have one leader with a degree and two assistants with nursery training. Children go five days per week and the hours range from 2.5 to 5. Children who are socially disadvantaged get priority for places and then children get in by their birthdates. In Kierna’s class, out of 26 places, six or seven are usually for low income children. These children also get their lunches provided. For younger children who need day care, low income parents can get vouchers to offset the cost. The UK also has a program called, Sure Start that works with low income families. One of their programs is called, “Time to be Me” which teaches children play skills and the parents stay in the classroom with them one day per week. Kierna said she noticed that the children who attend this program are ahead. They already know simple rhymes and songs when they get to her classroom.

As for cultural diversity, it is still relatively new to Northern Ireland. Recently, there have been a lot of migrant workers from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Portugal. About 10% of children in Kierna’s program speak English as a second language. Funding is available to help these children when they reach age four and are in formal schooling, but not when they are in Kierna’s class. They have a teacher who will work with them in small groups to teach them words and phrases in English.

Sherry and Donna in Australia have had similar experiences. They have worked with very few children from other countries or cultures. When they did work with children from other cultures, they’d play simple games to get the child involve and invite parents to observe the program. Some of the preschools they’ve visited are more diverse. They’ve seen things like welcome notice boards in different languages, display boards that the families have contributed to explaining their customs, also dolls, toys, books, materials, musical instruments, posters, props from all around the world, cooking and games from other countries, and so on. Sherry found a video to a hello song. This is similar to songs they’ve used to expose children to different languages and to make children who speak different languages to feel welcome.

Assignment International Perspectives

One of my contacts, Sherry is from Australia and one thing she told me was that the biggest change in early childhood education is the implementation of a national curriculum framework called The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia which they haven’t had until recently. Read about it here.

It specifically states that children should be taught through play. “The principles of early childhood pedagogy underpin practice. Educators draw on a rich repertoire of pedagogical practices to promote children’s learning by (amongst eight other points) planning and implementing through play.” (EYLF, 2009, p.14)
This means that the activities should be child oriented and initiated, not
teacher directed.
Sherry stated, “Another issue in Australia is that the Federal Government has legislated that every child in the year before they attend school must have access to 15 hours of preschool per week (it is called Universal Access). As up until now children have had 10 hours, it is a big change to staffing, programming and timetabling.
Also the Government is bringing in the National Quality Standard which is divided into seven areas that contribute to the quality of early childhood education and care. These areas have been identified by research and are:
1.Educational program and practice
2.Children’s health and safety
3.Physical environment
4.Staffing arrangements (including the number of staff looking after children)
5.Relationships with children
6.Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
7.Leadership and service management
For the first time there will be consistency all across Australia in the Early Childhood sector.”

My contact Kierna from Northern Ireland also gave me an overview of their educational system.
She blogged about it here.
She said one difference between Northern Ireland and the US is that children start compulsory schooling at the age of four instead of five. They call it Primary 1 and she mentioned that it has become less formal over the years. Children now have more play based experiences, but they are still learning to read and write at a very young age. Kierna teaches in a nursery program for children ages three and four. It is not compulsory like Primary 1, but it is free. Kierna said that nursery teachers have to have a teaching qualification which allows them to teach children of any age in elementary school. She gives her class a lot of outdoor time and play based experiences. However, that is not the norm in Northern Ireland. There are classes that do not go out everyday or even have a good outdoor space. Kierna’s practice has been the most influenced by her experiences in Norway.
She discusses her experiences in European settings here.
She told me that the French and Polish settings were generally more formal and that she prefers the Scandinavian models.
Click here for part 2.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekly Favorites for September 18, 2011

This list is a little short. I've been sick this week and not tweeting or looking at the blogs as much. Here are some of the great ideas I found. Enjoy...

Homemade Fairy Dust
A fun activity that was apart of a very creative fairy birthday party.

Bubble Wrap Prints
Another twist on bubble wrap printing.

Reused CD Snail
Use those old CD's to make this cute craft.

3D Autumn Art
Art for the fall using natural materials.

Ice Eggs
A fun activity for a summer day or for an ice theme.

A Bottle Full of Spring
The author of this post is in Australia where it's spring right now. She has linked up to some neat spring activities.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Assignment: Sharing Web Resources

The organization I chose to learn more about is Early Childhood Australia.
Here is their mission statement.
“Early Childhood Australia will advocate to ensure quality, social justice and equity
in all issues relating to the education and care of children from birth to eight
Their values are The rights of children, leadership, excellence, respect, courage, honesty, openness, collaboration, diversity, justice and social inclusion of children.
Their newsletter is called ECA Web Watch. The first issue they discuss on their September issue is child protection week. More than 30000 children are neglected or abused every year in Australia. The newsletter discusses how communities, organizations, adults and children are doing their part to protect children from abuse and neglect. They have created programs for this purpose.

Play a part program
Aimed at children aged 0–8, their families and communities, the Play a part program is a local community engagement strategy that aims to prevent child abuse and neglect through the creation of child-friendly communities.

All children being safe program
Aimed at preschool and early primary children aged 4–6, the All children being safe program
uses non-threatening ways to help young children feel strong and stay safe in their communities, and to make people aware of support services available in their local communities.

Another issue that caught my attention was an article called, “For Full-time Fathers The Pressure is On.”

This article looks at how the lifestyles of Australian fathers have changed in recent decades.
Various research programs and studies reveal that on average, Australian fathers
are working more, spending more time with their children and helping with domestic
chores—and the pressure to ‘do it all’ is starting to show.

The newsletter offers a resource sheet which discusses Closing the gap in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. This requires a focus on early intervention/education of Indigenous young children (from birth), their families and communities. I mentioned this because it relates to culture and diversity which is the topic this week.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Tube

Here’s a simple activity that our toddlers love. We’ve found some long cardboard tubes. They are a little longer than wrapping paper tubes, but twice as wide. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures. We had one teacher sitting holding one end of the tube and the other end was slanted down to the floor. It looked like a ramp. Then the toddlers rolled balls down the tube and chased them across the room.

One toddler wanted to see what would happen if we held the tube straight forward with someone at each end. One person to put the ball in and the other to catch it. We found out that it the ball still would role down the tube. Next, he wanted to see what would happen if he held the tube closer to his face. He’d laugh whenever someone dropped a ball in the tube. One little girl experimented with putting a dish at the bottom of the slanted tube. The balls would role down, but the toddlers couldn’t see them. A couple of them weren’t sure where the balls were going so we asked them to peak inside the dish. They laughed when they discovered that the balls stayed in the dish.

The new teacher has several of these tubes and she’d like to add them to the gross motor room. She wants to mount them to the wall at different angles so that the children can experiment with the balls moving in different angles and directions. She also wants to try tennis balls with the tubes so that Crawling Baby can use them. The small ones that we are using now can be a choking hazard for him. He spent some time in the toddler room today and he was very interested in the tubes and balls, but didn’t understand the rules of our game. At one point, he wanted to drag the tube away. I wanted to see how he’d use the tube, but the other teacher brought it back to the group to continue the game.
I have a feeling that the children will do lots of experimenting with these tubes and that we can use them for a variety of activities.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly Favorites For September 11, 2011

I couldn't post my usual list today without saying anything about September 11th. I remember where I was when I heard the news back in 2001. We had just sat down at our desks for English class when our teacher told us that the two towers of the World Trade Center had been hit. As the morning went on, we heard about the Pentagon and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. I remember walking past the library at different parts of the day and it was unusually full with all the TV's on. I'm sorry for the families who have been affected by this tragedy and the innocent lives that were lost. It's unfortunate that people have so much hatred, but people here in our country really came together to help each other that day. I think that's what we should remember from that day is how people helped each other and stuck together.

Read September 11 tributes here and here.

Apple Pie Play-dough
A fall themed play-dough activity.

Bouncing Bubbles
How to make bubbles that don't pop.

Bubble Mountains on Aluminum Foil
A neat science activity with bubbles.

Stress Ball Balloons
A great way to discuss emotions.

Discovery Bottles
Discovery bottles filled with some interesting objects.

Pretend, Create & Learn with Play-dough
Links to many play-dough activities.

Cinnamon autumn playdough: leaf prints

How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World
A variety of apple activities.

Water Bottle Collages
An extremely simple activity.

5 Minute Fairy Wands

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Assignment: Establishing Professional Contacts & Expanding Resources

To find professional contacts outside the US, I contacted a couple of the bloggers that I follow. My first contact is Kierna from Northern Ireland. She has been a nursery teacher for over ten years and has been involved with Comenius projects which has allowed her to visit schools in Poland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and France. She writes a blog called Learning for Life. Much of her blog focuses on the importance of exploring nature and outdoor play.
My second contacts are Sherry and Donna who have taught together in Melbourne Australia for many years. They have a blog/website called Irresistible Ideas for play based learning. they share many inspiring and creative ideas for classrooms and write about their visits to other area preschools. I have received E-mails from them both and now I’m trying to figure out what to ask them first. Does anyone have ideas for what kinds of questions to ask?

The website I chose for part two of the blog assignment is Early Childhood Australia. I looked at a few of the other resources and this one seemed the most interesting to me. I chose this website because it has a variety of links and information to explore. I also subscribed to their newsletters.

I’d like to thank my two contacts for being willing to help. I appreciate them taking the time out of their busy days to answer my questions. I’m looking forward to learning new information from my contacts and through the website.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ten Activities to do with Infants

Here are ten activities that we regularly do with the infants.

1. Books:
Books are great for children of any age. Reading exposes infants to language, pictures in the books expose them to things they don’t normally see and having books around can spark an interest in reading. The infants enjoy looking at books themselves or when we read to them. Reading to babies has so many benefits, but to keep this post short, I won’t go into them all here.

2. Bubbles:
Bubbles are great for younger infants to track. Older infants can work on their fine and gross motor skills while popping or moving around trying to catch the bubbles.

3. Coloring:
We introduce our older infants to fat crayons. They will put them in their mouths, but we sit with them to show them what they are supposed to do with crayons. Some of them like making marks on the paper and others don’t care for it, but it’s apart of exposing them to creative arts.

4. Exercise ball:
Those of you who read the blog know I use the exercise ball a lot with the babies. I use it to rock them to sleep, bounce, play games etc. The ball can be comforting or a way to help older infants with gross motor skills depending on the activity.

5. Mirror exploration:
We have a variety of mirrors around the room accessible to our younger and older infants. Today, I sat in front of a mirror with Baby E and Little Guy; our two youngest infants. They’re too young to realize it’s their own image, but they were fascinated. I set up a mirror for Baby E on the floor and she liked watching herself move.

6. Music:
We’ll sing songs or put on music for them. Music exposes children to language and gets them to move around. Our oldest infant who has moved up to the toddler room loved to dance. I don’t usually do the singing, but I like to help the babies move to the music.

7. Sand box:
We have a sand box on the infant playground that the babies love. It’s filled with buckets, shovels, trucks and other sand toys. The babies usually just explore the toys, but some of them start dumping the sand in and out of buckets. They will eat some of the dirt, but that’s something we’ve all done as children. Most of our infants spend most of their outside time in the sand.

8. Shaving cream:
We allow the older infants to play with shaving cream. Sometimes we try to contain it by giving them a tray, but other times, it gets spread across the table. The babies enjoy squishing and spreading it around. Occasionally, we add paint for color or to make paintings. We do watch the infants closely so they won’t put too much in their mouths.

9. Walks:
We take the babies on walks as much as possible. Walks allow babies to get fresh air, hear and see different sights and sounds and learn new words as we describe what’s around us. Walks are also soothing for many babies.

10. Water play:
For water play, we put water in a small tub and let one or two babies play at a time. We’ve used water by itself for splashing and exploring. We’ve also added objects to the water such as fish or ducks. There are lots of possibilities for water play. If there’s a puddle on the playground, the older infants can explore it. The best thing about this activity is that it’s fun!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekly Favorites for September 4, 2011

Here are my favorites for the week. I've included a few posts from last week which I couldn't post last Sunday due to the storm. We lost power for most of the day. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the links. Have a great holiday tomorrow for those of you who have a long weekend!

Clay Pockets
A history lesson combined with a neat craft.

Easy to Make Instruments
A collection of links for how to make various instruments.

Art and Sensory Recipes
A variety of recipes for art, sensory and general messy play.

Goodnight Moon Sensory Bin
The story of Goodnight Moon put into a creative sensory tub.

Painted Sea Shell Magnets oceans
A neat ocean themed craft.

Beach Memories Kids Craft
A way to keep those beach memories.

Making Story Stones in Preschool
A neat way to help kids tell stories.

Homemade Moon Sand That Evil Stuff
A simple recipe for moon sand.

Water Bead Sensory
Some great ideas using water beads.

Glowy Nightlight
A glow in the dark craft.

Celebrating the ABC's of Teaching Preschool and You
A post to celebrate the 20000 members who have joined Deborah Teachpreschool on Facebook. This post shares many great ideas from a variety of bloggers.

Teaching Babies Language and Much Much More While they Play
An informative post on ways to teach babies language in an effective and age appropriate way.

Baby Washing
A new spin on a common preschool activity.

Crayon Melting
Creating art using crayons, wax paper and the sun.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Friends

The new school year has started which means we have several new friends to get to know. The first is another Baby J, but since there’s already a Baby J who is older, I’ll refer to him as Little Guy. That’s kind of his nickname right now anyway because he’s so small. We aren’t supposed to call them by nicknames because of the NAEYC standards, but once in a while, we call some of the babies Buddy or other nicknames, but we mean no harm by it. Anyway, he started when he was six weeks old. Now he’s closer to nine weeks and he’s already grown since he started. He loves to lay on the floor on his blanket and look around. That seems to be his favorite place most of the time. At other times, he can be fussy, but he’s usually happy after he gets fed. Some people are bothered by the fact that he hates his pacifier and gets really mad when someone tries to put it in his mouth. If only we could read his mind! I know he must be wondering why anyone would try to shut him up with that. After I tried giving it to him a couple of times, I’ve stopped because he obviously has his preferences. I think we should respect that instead of trying to shove a pacifier in his mouth just because it works for other babies. He’s one of those babies who fights going to sleep, but he isn’t the only one.

There’s Baby E who just started last week. She is tiny and looks like a baby doll. That’s the first thing I said when I picked her up to feed her. She’s six weeks old and is another one who doesn’t seem to want to ever sleep. I rock her to sleep, but she wakes up as soon as I put her down. She enjoys being held and likes to sit facing out so she can look at everything. I always make sure to have her leaning against me for support since she’s nowhere near old enough to support herself while sitting. We have Baby S who I’ll meet next week. She started last Wednesday. She’s a year old and I don’t know anything else about her.

We have some new friends in the toddler room as well. I met M about two weeks ago. He’s pretty quiet most of the time, but likes to get involved in what the other kids are doing. I’ve seen M playing drums and pretend to water plants with D. He also likes to pretend to drive using a steering wheel that’s mounted to a wooden post on the playground. He likes to look at books. He kept pointing out different babies in a picture book we were looking at together. Then there’s F who I’ve only met once so far. She started this past week. She fit right in and even started climbing the shelves and tables. We had to tell her to get down, but she seems to love her new school. She spent most of her first morning with us on the climber going up and down the stairs and slide.

In the preschool room, there are at least eight new kids who I’ve never met. Most likely, I’ll be only interacting with them out on the playground since I don’t usually work in their classrooms. It’ll take me longer to get to know them. There is also a new teacher in the toddler room and she has brought many positive changes. She’s brought organization, fresh ideas and she has introduced new toys, books and activities. I think this will be great for the toddlers this year. I will share some of those activities in later posts. For now, I’m looking forward to getting to know our new friends.
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