Tuesday, November 27, 2012

10% Off Holiday Special from MPMSchoolSupplies.com

The people over at MPM School Supplies generously gave me a $25 gift certificate to put towards the purchase of any product on their website. Since I work with infants and toddlers, I wanted to find something that we could use in the classroom. I bought a set of Textured Blocks 1In Thick 30 Pc.

I decided on these after browsing their site for a while. They have everything including blocks, art supplies, classroom decorations, pretend play toys and even sand and water tables. I found many products I’d like to have in my classroom like these shimmering water rainbow blocks Or this pretend food set Or if our center somehow got a lot of money, this light table, Once I decided on the blocks, the checkout process was quick and easy. I was done in less than five minutes. Just follow the simple steps on each page and you’re done! The next day, I received a tracking number and the package arrived a couple of days later.

The blocks were well packed and come in a plastic bag with a zipper. I introduced them to my toddler class yesterday and they loved them! We talked about textures like bumpy, smooth and how some of the blocks have squiggly lines. We talked about shapes like rectangles, triangles, circles, half circles, squares etc. Some toddlers even figured out that you can put two shapes together to make another. One girl was proud of herself when she discovered that putting two triangles together make a diamond. There was a lot of learning going on already and we haven’t even begun building.

Overall, I was happy with the pricing, product selection and customer service at MPM School Supplies! I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to purchase a new product for my classroom. In addition, they are generously giving a discount to my readers! Click here to get 10% off the first 10 purchases to help you buy those much needed classroom supplies!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Here are the winners of the What to Expect books giveaway!
Mags comment 3.
Jhanell T comment 11.
I have sent you both an E-mail. If it isn’t in your inbox, check your junk folder.
Thanks to everyone for participating even if you didn’t win. I hope to offer more giveaways in the future. Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 13, 2012

What To Expect Books Giveaway

The What To Expect series is now on its fourth edition!

The most recent updates to the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book include answers to dozens of new questions and a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. There is an expanded section for work place concerns and additional material covering physical, emotional health and nutrition.
Since I am not a parent, I have never read any of the What to Expect books, but when they generously offered to give two sets of books to two of my readers, I wanted to check them out. So I decided that since I work with babies, it would be useful to read What to Expect the First Year.

So far, I have been surprised about how much information this book covers. It covers everything from baby’s first medical exam, advice for soothing a colicky baby, signs of common illnesses in babies to baby’s first bath. It has a detailed section on breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding and the advantages and disadvantages of both. The month by month chapters show you what to expect during each month of your baby’s first year. The developmental chart of milestones is meant as a guide, but as the book reminds us, each baby is different and will develop at their own pace.

After your baby’s first birthday, What to Expect The Second Year picks up where What to Expect the first Year left off.
This book covers milestones (from first steps to first words, first scribbles to first friends). There are chapters on growth, feeding, sleeping, behaviors of every conceivable kind, discipline (including teaching right from wrong), and keeping a toddler healthy and safe as he or she takes on the world. There is a developmental timeline of the second year with special milestone boxes which help parents keep track of their toddler’s development.

Two of my readers will win a copy of each book! Meaning three books for each winner!
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post telling me which book you would find the most useful.
Additional entries:
2. Follow @play2grow on Twitter and leave a comment on this post letting me know.
3. Follow @whattoexpect on Twitter and leave a comment on this post.
4. Follow play2grow via Google Friend Connect or subscribe by E-mail and leave a comment letting me know.
Please be sure that you leave an E-mail address in your comments so I can contact you if you win.
If I do not hear back from you within 48 hours, another winner will be drawn.
The giveaway ends on Friday July 20th at midnight Eastern

Thank you and good luck!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bugs & Beans Sensory Tub

For spring, we set up a bugs and beans sensory bin in the toddler classroom.
Here’s what’s inside.

I found these Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch Bugs
On Amazon. The kids liked the bright colors and I liked that they were big enough for them to safely play with.
My co-teacher found these bugs from Oriental Trading Company. The kids did okay with them, but I thought they were a bit small for toddlers.
For filler, we added a variety of beans, scoops and cups for scooping and pouring.
The children loved this sensory tub and asked us to open it everyday. Their favorite parts were scooping and pouring the beans and finding the hidden bugs.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lemon Play-dough

During the first part of April to celebrate spring, I made this lemon scented play-dough!
It smelled so good!

Here is the recipe that I used.

    • 2 cups flour,


    • 1 cup salt,


    • 2 table spoons vegetable oil,


    • 2 table spoons cream of tartar,


    • 1.5 cups boiling water


    • A few drops of lemon extract,


    • A couple drops of red food coloring.


  • A few drops glycerin.


    • 1. Mix dry ingredients.


    • 2. Stir in oil.


    • 3. Add water and mix until lumps are gone and it comes together.


  • 4. Then kneed. Add scent, food coloring and or glycerin for shininess at kneading stage.

Store in an air tight container.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Assignment: Thank You

We are finally at the end of our communications course. I want to thank my classmates and professor for their feedback, encouragement and for sharing their knowledge and experiences. I have enjoyed learning and working with all of you. There are a couple of you who have been in classes with me basically since the beginning. Others I have met recently.

Now as we move on to our specializations, some of us will be taking different paths, but we all are passionate about and are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children. I want to wish everyone luck and success at work and in life! For those who are specializing in administration, management and leadership, I look forward to learning with you. For anyone who would like to keep in touch, you can reach me at play2grow@sent.com or on twitter @play2grow. I will also keep this blog open to share projects and activities in the future.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Assignment: Adjournment

This week, we learned how groups develop through five stages. For our blog entry, we were asked to focus on the adjourning phase. “During the adjourning stage, group members reflect on their accomplishments and failures as well as determine whether the group will disassemble or take on another project. To mark this stage, some groups hold a celebratory dinner or simply say thank you and good-bye. Alternatively, some groups may decide to continue to work together on new tasks” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2009, p. 235).
The most recent groups that I have been apart of were either through school or work. I participated in an internship in 2009 where I worked in the younger preschool classroom at a small childcare center. I had a lot of negative interactions with the members of that group, but there were positive experiences as well. Mainly they were with the children. On the second day of my internship, a new little girl came in. She was sad to see her mom leave and the head teacher thought it would be nice if I bonded with her since we were both new to the program. She was really shy at first and would only talk to me, but eventually started participating with the rest of the group. She was funny and extremely bright. Late in my internship, I was sad to learn that she was moving away. My internship was supposed to end the week before she left, but I wanted to stay with her until the end because she had so many changes going on. So I decided to volunteer for that extra week. On our last day, we celebrated! We had cupcakes and exchanged gifts.

The last time I heard from her was when I received a Christmas card from her family back in 2009 announcing that she would have a new brother or sister.

That last day represented success! I had completed my classes, the internship and would now be graduating. I was also proud because I had taken on professional responsibilities that I hadn’t been able to in my previous jobs. I had reached some of my goals.

It was bitter sweet because I was glad it was over, but I was sad to be leaving some of the children. Later that summer, they hired me as a substitute which started a whole new phase to this group. Our interactions did not get any better and I decided to quit in January of 2011.
The end of that experience meant that a new door was about to open. That’s when I started working with infants and toddlers which I really enjoy.

When I think about adjourning from the group of classmates from Walden, I don’t think it will be as hard as other groups because we’ve never met face to face. I also took a break around the holidays last year so when I came back, I had mostly new classmates. This will happen again because I am taking a break over the summer because I will be switching to another specialization. I’m sure there are a few classmates who I will keep in touch with. It has been interesting getting perspectives from people from many different places and walks of life. The other part of adjourning will be the uncertainty. A new door will open, but the question is to what? I will have to wait and see what the future brings.

O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2009). Real communication: An introduction.
New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s .

Friday, June 1, 2012

Assignment: Conflict Resolution

This week we were asked to discuss a recent conflict in our professional or personal lives and the strategies we used or could use to resolve it. I remembered a recent ongoing conflict between a coworker and I. When I started working in the classroom, this person did some things that made my job very difficult. I felt that these things made me look bad to our supervisors. This conflict was more about actions than verbal communication. One example was that when I was changing a child on the diapering table, this person would walk out of the room and leave the door open. She was only leaving for a minute to bring a child to another classroom or bring the snack cart back, but this left enough time for several children to leave the room. Since the children were not used to me, they didn’t listen when I told them to stay and this person would get frustrated with me for allowing them to leave. I told her several times that I could not leave the changing table with a child there. I would have to stop the diapering, pick up the child and then run to the door which just wasn’t practical. That just wasn’t going to work and even though I kept telling her this, she continued to leave the door open.

Finally one day during planning, she told me that if I had any problems that she hoped I would tell her. This provided a supportive climate for me to voice my concerns. I told her that one of my problems was when she left the door open when I was unable to stop children from leaving. I told her that I was worried about the children’s safety and I didn’t want to get into trouble for a child leaving the room. She said that she understood and that she didn’t realize she was doing that so often. She said that she would make sure that she closed the door if she had to leave while I was changing the children. After our talk, I noticed that she left the door open less. There were other issues involved in this conflict, but I am focusing on this one for the purpose of this entry because it was the only part of it that was resolved.

At first, I used escapist strategies for several reasons. People may use escapist strategies if they want to avoid the conflict, they do not feel it is the right time or place to discuss the issue or they are waiting for the other person to raise the issue (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2009). I was new to the class so I was reluctant to bring up concerns. I didn’t want to be viewed as a complainer or disruptive. Also, there were limited opportunities to discuss issues since we were so busy with the children. So when she asked if I had any issues, I thought it was a good time to discuss it. During our conversation, we both listened to each other. Many conflicts can be avoided if we just stop and listen.

Next, we used a cooperative strategy to come up with something that works for us and the children. It benefited both of us because I didn’t have to worry so much about children leaving the room and she realized that she was doing something unsafe that she was willing to change.

It’s interesting how we want to teach children to share, to show empathy, to be good listeners, to be caring friends, but as adults we often forget about those things. Those are all important skills no matter how old we get.

O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M. (2009).
Real Communication: An Introduction.
New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s .

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cornmeal Play-dough

When I first started working with my second toddler class in March, they were in the middle of a western theme. I had trouble coming up with activities that fit in with the theme that were appropriate for toddlers. One of my ideas was play-dough, but I wasn’t sure how to tie it in with the theme. My co-teacher suggested something textured, grainy or rough. I thought of mixing in coffee grounds or oat meal and finally we settled on cornmeal.

I used a recipe that I found from Little Wonders Days.

I added some yellow food coloring to make it a brighter yellow. This play-dough did not come out grainy, but it had a nice texture. It was squishy like regular play-dough and had an occasional rough or grainy texture when broken apart. This was the first batch of play-dough that I actually cooked and it came out well. The kids enjoyed it. We kept things simple using small rolling pins and cookie cutters. The toddlers were most interested in squishing, pounding and rolling with their hands. It’s good fine motor practice!

As a side note, I found a pack of these containers at Walmart in the Tupperware section. I’ve found that they work well for the play-dough. They seal pretty well if you push down on the center of the lid and they are just the right size.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Sticky Bucket

I got this idea from Deborah Teachpreschool. She has done various activities with a sticky table so I decided to create one of my own. Since I knew it wouldn't be possible to keep the contact paper on the table for more than an hour, I decided to make sticky boxes. I covered two small boxes with the contact paper sticky side up. some of the children didn't understand and ripped the contact paper off so we ended up adding the sticky paper to this bucket. When I introduced this activity, I started by putting out a basket of ribbons, pipe cleaners and feathers to see what the children would do. Some decided to make letters, shapes and elaborate constructions. Two girls sat down at the table and made a boat. They told me about diving boards, motors and wheels. They used every single piece in the basket. As time went on, I added different materials to the basket like felt and yarn. On the day when I was finally able to take a picture of the sticky bucket, I had set out sponge shapes for them to try. I imagined that it would be like building with blocks accept it would be 2d because the sponges wouldn't stay stacked. However we discovered that the contact paper wasn't sticky enough for the sponges to stay in place, but we tried.

This was the last time I was able to add to the sticky bucket with this class, but later I tried it with the toddlers. I covered a small table with clear contact paper sticky side up. The toddlers noticed the texture above everything else. They kept touching it over and over and saying, "Sticky." When they started to put their pretend foods on it, they noticed that some of them actually stuck and they were able to keep things in place. I am hoping to do more texture activities like these with my future classes.

Additional links:



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Assignment: Who Am I as a Communicator?

This week we completed three evaluations; the communication anxiety inventory, the listening styles profile and the verbal aggressiveness scale. We were also asked to have two other people complete them for us so I asked my boyfriend and a coworker. I surprised me that all the scores were so similar. First, I scored a 57 on the communication anxiety inventory. My boyfriend and my coworker scored me at a 59 and 55 which are still in the moderate category. “47-59: Moderate. Your score indicates that you feel somewhat concerned about a number of communication contexts, but probably not all. This mid-point level of communication anxiety is what we call “situational.” This kind of surprised me because I avoid speaking in public and in most cases I won’t speak up at group meetings. I prefer talking to one or two people at a time. This is even the case with children. I get nervous at the thought of leading a circle time activity, but don’t mind leading a small group activity with the children. According to these evaluations, people know I don’t like public speaking, but they don’t notice my nervousness. Feeling more comfortable speaking up in group situations and or leading activities where all the children are focusing on me is one of my communication goals.

For the listening styles profile, I scored highest in group one which means that I am a “People-oriented listener. You are empathetic and concerned with the emotions of others. This listening style helps you to build relationships, but it can interfere with proper judgment because you tend to be very trusting of others.” The others who evaluated me got the same result. I agree with this because I am empathetic and prefer to listen than talk.

Finally, on the verbal aggressiveness scale, my score was 40. The other scores I got were 30 and 33 which all fall under the category of low verbal aggressiveness. I don’t like arguments and I try to avoid them especially in professional situations. Sometimes it can’t be helped which can be very uncomfortable for me. There are times when it is helpful or necessary to be more verbally aggressive. I’m talking about being more assertive than aggressive. The evaluation implied that being verbally aggressive was related to attacking someone’s character or damaging their self concept which I almost never will participate in.

From this week’s discussion, I learned that I am hesitant to make assumptions about people from a first impression. In this case it was a photograph. It was impossible for me to choose what books, TV shows or activities the woman enjoyed. However, if her appearance were different, I might have been able to make a guess. This will help me professionally because I will take time to get to know children instead of making assumptions. Communication involves so much more than language. It involves body language, tone of voice, eye contact, the way we dress, our hairstyle and the way we carry ourselves. A good communicator keeps these things in mind and adapts them based on the situation.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Assignment: Communication Differences

When thinking about the assignment this week, I realize that I communicate with some groups differently. However, I’m not necessarily talking about people from different cultures. Professionally, I find that I communicate with the parents in the same manor. I may change the method of communication based on the preferences of the family. There were a couple mothers who preferred receiving a few short texts about their child’s progress throughout the day instead of waiting until pick up time. One mother told me that this helped her feel better while working knowing that her child was having a good day. There are some families who I have a better rapport with. I find that it’s easier to communicate with outgoing and inquisitive parents than those who are more distant or don’t initiate communication. This is partly due to my personality. I am generally quiet and it takes time for me to feel comfortable with new people. So if the parents are more outgoing and ask questions or share other information it helps shape our conversations. When parents are less comfortable communicating with me, it’s more difficult because I’m the one asking questions or giving most of the information.

With coworkers, it depends on the situation. I remain professional, but there are coworkers who I can laugh or joke around with. If they come to me with concerns, I do my best to listen and respond appropriately. One example was when another teacher wanted my opinion about whether I felt a child in her classroom should be referred for services. This was before I knew the child well, but I told her that I saw some things that might be red flags, but I wanted to observe the child more. As I spent more time with the child and in the classroom, it was apparent that he needed help in several areas. During our first conversation about him, I wanted the other teacher to know that I was listening and understood her concerns, but I did not want to jump to conclusions without enough information.

With my friends and family, I’m not formal, but I may or may not discuss certain topics depending on whom I’m talking to. In most cases, I feel more comfortable speaking my mind or offering advice or my opinion. One rule of communication that I feel applies no matter who I’m talking to is talk less and listen more. I get so frustrated with people when they ask me questions that they would’ve heard the answers to if only they were listening. Over these past three weeks, I have learned a lot about the patterns of my own communication.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Assignment: Communication TV Show

This week, we were asked to watch an episode of a show we were unfamiliar with. So I decided to look around for reruns and came across an episode of Home Improvement from the 90’s. As I watched the show with the sound off to observe nonverbal communication, the show appeared to be about a family. The first scene showed a woman talking to two children. I assumed this was the mother. Soon after, a man who I assumed was the dad walks in and kisses her. The mother points to a grade report on the refrigerator. Next we see a third child come in. He talks to the mother until she holds out a package of cookies which she refuses. One of the boys from a previous scene comes in and she offers cookies to him as well which he also refuses. I assumed there must be a joke behind that because kids don’t usually refuse cookies.

Next, they show the dad and an unrelated man working on a car in the garage. Things seem to go well until his wife comes out and it appears as though she’s bothering them. The husband appears frustrated and the unrelated man is talking with the wife about something. At another point, an unrelated woman comes in and I assumed that she was related to the second man. They have an argument and even give angry looks to the wife. After that, the wife goes into the yard where she starts to talk to a man who does not show his face. Another unrelated woman comes out and it appears as though they start arguing, but the wife leaves the conversation with a smile on her face.

Eventually, they all meet up at a veterinarians office with a turtle. The wife tries to talk to the unrelated woman, but she looks away from her. The dad smiles and says something before walking away from the two women. The wife hands the couple a card which the man tares up.

My assumptions were right about the show being about a family. While watching the show with the sound turned back on, I discover that Jill, the wife is a psychology student. She posted her own grade report on the fridge because she was proud of it although her husband, Tim makes jokes. The three boys are their sons. The one she offers cookies too is Randy and the cookies reoccur throughout the show because Jill believes that the best way to get people to talk is to offer them cookies. They also show Randy with a girl whom he likes which ends up being the daughter of the unrelated couple. The unrelated couple is friends with Tim and Jill. The conversation out in the garage started out with Tim complaining about his wife and she overhears. Then the friend starts complaining about his wife and Jill offers psychological advice. This is unethical because she is a student. This is what caused the arguments later in the show. The husband is upset with his wife because she has to do everything that her father says, but then their anger turns to Jill when they find out she is only a student. The husband thought she was an actual psychologist. The man who does not show his face is Wilson, their neighbor and the other woman who came out to talk to Jill was Judy, someone he was dating. Jill wanted advice about how to repair the relationship that she had broken up, but the couple kept arguing about quotes and poetry. Jill was able to take some of the quotes as advice and realized that sometimes it’s better to stay out of people’s arguments. She apologizes to the couple and offers them a business card for her psychology teacher Judy, but the man tears it up stating that they will find someone on their own. Jill wonders if she would really make a good therapist. Tim cracks jokes, but then reassures her that she will be great.

I was right about the show being light hearted and full of jokes. Tim and Jill had some serious conversations, but mostly they used jokes to keep situations calm and humorous. There were some parts of the plot I didn’t pick up from having the sound turned off. It was a little confusing with different characters being added in, but since they were paired off, I assumed they were couples. The verbal communication gives you information and little details that you would miss. For example, I didn’t realize that the woman talking to Wilson was actually Jill’s psychology teacher until I listened to the plot. While watching a TV show, small details like these aren’t that big of a deal, but in personal or professional situations, we need to listen more carefully. Sometimes the little details are important. Also, when we communicate with others it’s important to not just focus on one aspect of communication. We need to use information from both verbal and nonverbal communication to really understand what the other person is saying and feeling.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Assignment: Communication Role Model

This week, we were asked to think about someone who demonstrates competent communication. One of the people I thought of was a person that I work with. I thought of her because I’ve noticed that she is a good listener. She’s not one of those people who just says things without thinking. She actually listens to you and then responds to what you have said. She has a way of making people feel comfortable enough to ask questions or talk about problems they are having. She also takes the time to find out how someone is feeling about what’s going on instead of brushing it off. She respects people enough to keep things confidential when necessary. That is very important in a work setting. The times that I have used phone calls or E-mail to contact her, she usually responds quickly and in an appropriate manor. Some people have a preferred method of communicating and cannot adapt their communication style very well to other forms. For example, the people who leave five minute voicemails as if they are speaking to you directly (O’Hair & Wiemann, (2009).

I also noticed that she communicates affectively with the children. For example with the infants, she asks them questions, points out things or people who are in the room, gets down on their level and looks at them. At times, she tries to communicate with the babies using gestures or sign language. I feel this is important because even though they are babies, they are real people. The difference is that they are just beginning to make sense of the world around them which includes learning how to communicate with others.

Here's a short article called, "Baby Talk: Communicating With Your Baby."

I admire all of these positive communication skills. I feel that I am a pretty good listener and I do my best to affectively communicate with children at their level. I also feel confidentiality is important so I try not to pass on things that people tell me unless it’s necessary. I’m not sure if I’d call it a skill or ability, but I wouldn’t say that people usually feel comfortable talking to me about problems or concerns. I think this is something that’s important for an early childhood educator or supervisor. Families need to feel comfortable enough to discuss their children and educators need to feel comfortable enough to share concerns with their supervisors. I think I am getting better at reaching out to parents and there are families who I have a good relationship with, but that comfort level isn’t the same as it is with my supervisors and some of my coworkers with the families. Working on these communication skills will take time and will improve with more experience. According to O’Hair and Wiemann (2009) “We begin learning how to communicate during the first days of our life, and the best communicators never stop learning” (p. 5).

O’Hair, & Wiemann. (2009). Real communication: An introduction.
New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pink Raspberry Play-dough

I am behind on my blog posts, but am hoping to post some of the activities I’ve done over these past couple of months. During the month of February, I made raspberry play-dough for Valentines. The more obvious choice was chocolate, but I had already done that for the month of January. The raspberry smelled good and came out a pinkish reddish color.

Here is the recipe that I used.

  • 2 cups flour,
  • 1 cup salt,
  • 2 table spoons vegetable oil,
  • 2 table spoons cream of tartar,
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • A few drops of raspberry extract,
  • A couple drops of red food coloring.
  • A few drops glycerin.
  • 1. Mix dry ingredients.
  • 2. Stir in oil.
  • 3. Add water and mix until lumps are gone and it comes together.
  • 4. Then kneed. Add scent, food coloring and or glycerin for shininess at kneading stage.

Store in an air tight container.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Assignment: Professional Hopes and Goals

One hope that I have when I think about working with children and families who come from diverse backgrounds is that they feel welcome in my classroom.
I hope that each child and family is represented in the classroom in a respectful way and that all children can relate to the toys, materials and learning opportunities available to them.

Overall, I hope that each child that I work with feels accepted and feels good about who they are.

One goal I would like to set for the early childhood field is to educate early childhood professionals on diversity. Many of us don’t know how to talk about differences with children so we avoid them altogether which sends negative messages to children that are not from the mainstream or dominant culture. Biases and negative stereotypes also get in the way of building relationships with children and families from diverse backgrounds, teaching children or being a positive role model. Educating early childhood professionals on diversity and issues of equity and social justice would help teachers better understand these issues and bring this knowledge to the children and families they work with.

I would like to say thank you to my classmates. Thank you for sharing your personal stories which helped me to relate what we were learning about to the real world. I enjoyed reading all of your blog posts. I wish you success in your future courses and work with children.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Assignment: Welcoming Families from Around the World

The country I chose for the scenario this week is Martinique. Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The country is surrounded by Dominica to the northwest, St Lucia to the south and Barbados to the southeast. Martinique is one of the twenty-seven regions of France which makes it part of the European Union. Its currency is the Euro. The official language spoken is French although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole.
The north of the island is mountainous and lushly forested. There are active volcanoes and gray or black sandy beaches. This contrasts with the white sandy beaches in the south where most of the tourists go. Martinique's culture blends French and Caribbean influences.
Here are at least five ways in which I’d prepare for and welcome a family from Martinique into my program.
1. I would search for more information about Martinique. It may help to learn more about the geography, environment and culture.
2. I would prepare the classroom. I would start by talking to the children about how there is a new friend joining our class. I would put up pictures of the country and some of its landmarks like the different beaches, cities and volcanoes. I would also include pictures of everyday life. Since their official language is French, I could start incorporating French into the classroom environment. We have all our centers and toy bins labeled in English so I would label them in French as well.
3. I would meet with the family to talk with them about goals they have for their child, questions about the program, their child's favorite things, dietary concerns etc. I would encourage the family to visit our classroom to see how the program works and encourage the child to bring some things from his or her country to share with the class. They could bring toys, books, games, music, foods etc. I would also find an interpreter for communication.
4. I would add some of the child's favorite snacks or meals to the menu. This gives the rest of the class an opportunity to try new foods while making the new child feel more at home.
5. I would ask the parents to teach me key phrases in French or another language that they might speak. I would also put the list of key words or phrases up in the classroom so that other staff members and the children can read them.
I hope that with this plan of action that this family would feel welcome and respected as important contributors to our center.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Assignment: The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

Recently, I read a story online about a black high school student who was asked by his teacher to read a poem, “Blacker.” He was reading a poem and was stopped by his teacher telling him that he wasn’t reading it black enough. When he refused, the teacher demonstrated how she wanted it done. According to the student, “She sounded like a maid in the 1960s,” Shumate said. “She read the poem like a slave, basically.” He complained after she singled him out again while explaining to the students why black people like grape soda and rap music. Click here to read the whole story. The equity was diminished because as the only black student, this boy was singled out. This teacher was reinforcing stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes.
I was glad that the boy stood up for himself by refusing to read it differently. He did not want to be apart of the negative stereotypes that she was reinforcing. I am always half surprised and half not when I read stories like these. I’m surprised that people have such bad attitudes when they are supposed to want what’s best for their students. I’m also not surprised at the ignorance in the world. In today’s world these remarks and incidents shouldn’t happen as much as they do. I feel bad for students when they are singled out for whatever reason. I can relate to the feelings of being embarrassed and ashamed for being different.

This student is already on the road to promoting equity. He is resisting negative stereotypes and is speaking out on the matter. To have greater equity, the teacher would have to look deeper into her hidden and unhidden biases and change her attitude. The school district can use this as an opportunity to educate others in the district and around the country in terms of what is best practice. Finally, to achieve the greatest equity, society as a whole would have to change their attitudes, but I think that starts one individual at a time. Equity does not happen over night. It is a process and a goal that can only be achieved if we all work together.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Assignment: Practicing Awareness of Micro Agressions

This week, we were asked to observe for micro aggressions. I did not see any this week, but remembered some from another time. My mom went out to dinner with some former friends of hers a couple years ago. They went to a Mexican restaurant and at the end of the dinner, my mom’s friend asked to speak to the manager who also happened to be the owner. Many of his employees appear to be his family members. Anyway, she informed him that he needed to find waiters who spoke English. I was not with them, but when my mom told me I was surprised that someone would be that rude. Especially since I’ve been there many times and all the servers spoke clear and understandable English. Another time, my boyfriend and I went to the store with my mom and this friend. Somehow, she ended up finding a guy from Mexico in the store, she told him that she wanted to introduce him to my boyfriend and brought him over. My boyfriend’s parents were originally from Mexico, but moved here many years ago so that’s where she made that connection. There was some small talk between my boyfriend and the guy, but it was very awkward. This was a middle aged man and my boyfriend was in his early twenty’s at the time. This friend of my mom’s falsely assumed that all Mexicans or people of Mexican descent are the same and would automatically want to meet others like them regardless of the circumstances. There was never any point in bringing this to her attention because she clearly thought she was doing a good thing.

Around the time that hurricane Katrina hit, this woman also had many negative comments about black people and how they are bringing the way they were being treated on themselves. I feel that this woman was very unhappy with herself and her own life so she had to put others down to feel happy. Even though most of my examples included this one woman, micro aggressions happen every day and to many individuals or groups of people. I have also been a target of micro aggressions. A few months ago at work, one of my coworkers said that it was good that I finally got a full-time job rather than sit home collecting disability. I told her that even with a disability; I never simply sat home collecting disability benefits. I’ve either had part-time jobs, was a volunteer or student and I had looked for full-time work since my graduation. She told me she knew a lot of people who like to just get what they can out of the system. While that may be true, she shouldn’t assume I was one of those people. It doesn’t make sense because if I were one of those people, I wouldn’t have started working there in the first place. It’s also proof that once people have a stereotype in their mind, they don’t know how to react when they see something that goes against it.

The assignments this week remind us to think before we speak which should be common sense. However, some people get too comfortable voicing their opinion even if it is full of bias messages. We especially need to think before we speak while talking to families we work with. You can’t build a positive relationship with them if there are micro aggressions getting in the way. It’s best to ask questions and not assume things based on stereotypes.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Assignment: Perspectives on Culture & Diversity

I asked a few people this week for their definitions of culture and diversity. Here are some of their responses.
Culture a set of values, beliefs and traditions shared by a group of people. It’s about who you associate with.
Diversity is differences between groups of people or items. It’s also in the ways we do things. She gave an example of the ways we dress or cook. Even if we are from the same culture, there are individual differences.

Culture is a group of people who share the same language and live in the same geographical area. Culture also involves things like religion, celebrations, food, clothing and music.
Diversity is differences. There is diversity in everything like people, plants and animals.

Culture is the environment you live in that affects you day to day. It gives you an identity and a sense of belonging. There are so many different cultures. This person also mentioned how younger and older people are from a different culture because they grew up in different time periods. Their values will be different because of the ways they were raised.
Diversity involves differences between people and tolerance of people who are unlike you. Aspects of diversity may be age, religion, class, sexual orientation or race. There is diversity everywhere.

The aspects of culture and diversity that were mentioned that have been discussed in this class are apart of the surface culture. This is mostly the celebrations, clothes, music etc. However, a couple people mentioned values and beliefs which are a big part of culture. Things people left out were parenting styles, ability levels, and family culture and gender differences. The people I asked had the understanding that diversity means differences between people and or items. One person mentioned the tolerance aspect and mentioned qualities like race, class etc. One person briefly talked about individual diversity. No one mentioned diversity between families or family members. The people I talked to seemed to have a basic understanding of culture and diversity, but these words and concepts should probably be used and or taught more often.

People’s definitions of culture and diversity are as varied as diversity itself. I agree that diversity is everywhere even if it isn’t obvious right away. This assignment also made me think of how diverse we are as individuals. It made me think of my family and the ways we are different. One example is that even though my brothers and I had a similar upbringing, there are differences in our values, beliefs, etc. Even people who seem alike in many ways may be very different. That’s why it’s important to avoid making assumptions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Assignment: My Family Culture

If I had to evacuate and go to a foreign country, choosing only three items that represent my family culture would be difficult. First, I would bring my Ipod. I use my Ipod to communicate with family and friends, listen to music and many other things. My Ipod contains many important photos and audio recordings that I’ve made. I have photos of my pets, family and children that I’ve worked with. There are many memories on my Ipod. The other reason I would bring it is because it has many purposes. The second item I’d bring is a photo album that my mom started for me when I was a kid. It was a Christmas present one year and it contains old family photos, photos of childhood trips and I’ve added photos over the years. It represents my past and memories of family. The third item I’d bring is my favorite unicorn from my collection. I’ve been collecting unicorns since I was young and I would bring one that I’ve had for many years. It would be comforting to have something familiar in a strange place. It would be a reminder of my past. I think it’s important to keep something that I like with me so I don’t lose parts of my old identity. Even though the unicorn doesn’t represent my family culture, it’s important to keep something with you that represents you as an individual.

If I were asked to keep only one thing out of the three, I would probably choose the Ipod because it holds all the photos, music and recordings. Those are memories I would not want to lose. Honestly, I’m still not sure because it would be hard to part with the photo album and the unicorn.

Choosing three items was difficult. My first reaction was to bring our pets because I consider them family. We have two cats, a dog and two guinea pigs. It would be difficult to leave them behind. When I looked at the directions of the assignment, it said that you could only bring three small personal items. It would be a challenge to bring pets to another country though, but they depend on us for everything they need. I would not want to leave them, but I would have memories and photos of them that I could take. It wouldn’t be the same though as my pets are there unconditionally when everyone else is not. I definitely would not want to have to make these decisions.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Assignment: When I Think of Research

When I started this course, I knew almost nothing about planning or designing a research study. I learned about quantitative vs. qualitative research and the steps involved in creating a research design. One lesson that I learned was that it takes a lot of time to design research. It is necessary to break it down into steps and later you can go back and change some of the plans to fit your needs. I also learned that it is more manageable in smaller steps. When you look at designing the entire research project at once, it is intimidating.

My first challenge was choosing a topic and sticking with it. My first two topics didn’t work out because during the literature review, I didn’t find any information. However, I learned along the way that I wasn’t looking in the right places. Using the Walden library has always been a challenge, but it is getting easier. I finally settled on the topic of infant friendships and with some modifications for each style of research, I was able to use it throughout the course. Another challenge was developing a hypothesis. This is where I had to modify my research question to make a hypothesis work. Then later in the course, I learned that when you use qualitative research, a hypothesis isn’t necessary. This fit my study better because I was looking at more than one variable. Keeping track of the terms and what they meant were a challenge. Some of the terms that were confusing to me at first were independent vs. dependent variables and qualitative vs. quantitative research. Doing the research simulations helped me to better understand these concepts.

Now I have a better understanding of what it takes to do research with children. I don’t feel I’ve changed a lot as a professional after taking this course, but now I can easily read research articles. This will help as it’s important to keep up with the latest information in the field. I have more respect for researchers and the work they do. If it weren't for researchers, we wouldn't have as much knowledge in the field. I also learned that you don’t have to do formal studies to be a research project. We are researcher’s everyday when we ask questions and try to find the answers. For example, one of my questions at the beginning of this course was, how can I expand my preschoolers play themes past trains and cars? Since then, we have tried a few different things in our classroom. We have added some new materials to centers, have stopped allowing toys from home and we have introduced new themes. The trains are still a favorite center, but the children seem more willing to try the other centers as well.

When I think back to the first week of the course, I wondered how I would get through it. I did a lot of work, learned new information and am glad I finished the course. I want to thank everyone for their support and helpful and insightful comments on the blogs and discussion boards. I look forward to seeing some of you in the next course.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Assignment: Research Around the World

The website I chose to look at was European Early Childhood Education Research Journal.

Many of the issues they are researching are similar to early childhood issues here in the US. Some of their articles include, Introducing children's perspectives and participation in research, Early education for diversity: starting from birth, The influence of play context and adult attitudes on young children's physical risk‐taking during outdoor play, The dynamics of early childhood spaces: opportunities for outdoor play? What's so interesting outside? A study of child‐initiated interaction with teachers in the natural outdoor environment, Togetherness and play under the same roof: children's perceptions about families and The social and cultural contexts of second language acquisition in young children. This journal covers many issues. There are studies on topics ranging from diversity to professional development. I noticed that some of the more recent issues focused on a specific topic. One focused on children between ages zero to three and another covered different aspects of children’s learning outdoors. The other thing I noticed about this journal is that it’s very diverse. There are studies done in many countries and not just the European ones.

Since I’ve already taken the Trends in Early Childhood course, I wasn’t surprised by the things I found on this website. I had already learned that many issues in the field are similar in most parts of the world. One thing that I’ve noticed after talking to my international contacts from the last class and by looking at this website is that they are much more concerned with children having outdoor time. Here in the US, many school age children don’t have recess. Since the journals were mainly talking about younger children, I wonder if there is a push to get school age children outdoors as well. The other thing I have gained from this assignment is another useful resource for articles and information. Here is a link to their most popular articles as well. Click here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hot Coco Activities

Here are some of the other hot coco related activities we did this week that I don’t have photos for.
We made marshmallow sculptures using different sized marshmallows and toothpicks.
The kids made snowmen, sharks, flowers, houses, towers etc. The kids took them all home before I could get pictures.

We did pretend marshmallow counting. Cups were labeled with numbers one through ten. The children had to put the right number of cotton balls into each cup. Since we have kids of different ages, this is simply set out as a center and those who are able to complete this activity do it and those who have no interest or aren’t ready don’t.

We did the sensory coco powder and flour mixture. The children used spoons and measuring cups for pouring.

Some of the kids decorated their own hot chocolate mugs. We had a few different coloring pages for them to choose from.
They colored with markers or crayons and then glued cotton balls for marshmallows.

We did a hot coco taste test with hot chocolate, marshmallows or whipped cream and then made a chart showing how many liked marshmallows and how many liked whipped cream. Only one child liked whipped cream while everyone else liked marshmallows.

To end our week, we had frozen coco popsicles. Some had marshmallows frozen inside and others were plain. The problem was that we forgot to put the popsicle sticks in them so they were ice cubes instead, but the kids said they were good. Next time, we will definitely add the sticks.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hot Coco Puff Paint

I made coco puff paint, but I didn’t exactly measure my ingredients. Actually, I don’t know if it will turn out like puff paint, but I thought it would be interesting for the kids.
First, I used probably about a cup of glue.
Next, I added two or three squirts of shaving cream.
I mixed well and added three t-spoons of coco powder and mixed again until the whole mixture was brown.
It was the consistency of pudding.

We used the paint in the afternoon. Here are some of the paintings. Some of them were sharks, snowmen, houses etc. The kids were involved in painting their creations for at least fifteen minutes. Some kids did more than one.

Update: When the paint dried, it wasn't very puffy, but it had a smooth texture.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hot Coco Activity Box

This activity was inspired by the hot coco activity box created by Deborah Teachpreschool.
I used three small brown paper bags which I shredded for hot chocolate, cotton balls for marshmallows and spoons and paper cups for scooping and pouring.
The next day, we added measuring cups and spoons for a slightly different experience.

The kids enjoyed scooping and pouring the pretend coco and marshmallows. We had the activity available to them for most of the week. We also had a bucket of coco and flour mixed together as a sensory activity, but our younger kids decided that the pretend coco and the real coco should be mixed together. Needless to say, we ended up with a big mess, but they had a lot of fun!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Assignment: Research that Benefits Children

The piece of research that I found to share is called the Restoring Childhood Play Project by the Alliance for Childhood. The purpose of this project is to return play to kindergarten and preschool classrooms. This project was created in response to three studies conducted by researchers from U.C.L.A., Long Island University, and the Sarah Lawrence College Child Development Institute. These studies of kindergartens showed that “children in all-day kindergartens were found to spend four to six times as much time being instructed, tested, or prepared for tests (about two to three hours per day) as in free play or “choice time” (30 minutes or less). Classic play materials like blocks, sand and water tables, and props for dramatic play have largely disappeared.” There is a summary of the three studies here.
The project is using several methods to bring play back to classrooms.
1. A campaign to restore creative play and hands-on learning in kindergarten and preschool education.
2. A focus on playwork to help adults learn how to support children's play on school playgrounds and in parks, children's museums, and other out-of-school environments.
3. Outdoor play is an age-old and vital part of childhood, but it has largely vanished. The Alliance is partnering with others to support play in nature.
4. Support for public education efforts in conjunction with the PBS documentary Where Do the Children Play?
5. We maintain an updated list of resources for parents and educators relating to play.

I believe this research is a positive step and will benefit children because we were allowed to play when we were children and today’s children should be able to do the same. Play is essential for learning so many things. If this project is able to bring play back to classrooms, there will be many benefits. Children will be healthier because their physical activity will increase, they will be more interested in the material because it would be developmentally appropriate and in turn, they will perform better academically because they are interested in learning instead of being drilled with letters and numbers. It will be interesting to see how this project progresses.

Here is a video called, “Introduction on Playwork”. One of the things Penny Wilson discusses is taking risks during play which relates to some of our discussions this week.

Finally, they have an interesting link called, play resources which is a link I want to save for future reference. This might be helpful to some of you with your research simulations as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hot Coco Play-dough

This week, our theme is hot chocolate. I have a few posts planned for showing what we have done. The first thing is I made hot coco play-dough. The recipe I used can be found here. It smelled like brownies while it was cooking and it still has a strong coco scent. The only thing I did differently was add a few drops of glycerin and another spoon full of coco powder.

I added a special surprise inside. I found marble sized white beads to use as marshmallows.

The kids have really liked playing with these. The challenge is not losing them. The play-dough was a success! I’m sure we’ll be using it until it dries out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Personal Research Journey

This week, our assignment was to choose a research topic for our simulation. I had narrowed my research questions down to two possibilities.
What are the benefits of structured vs. unstructured play?

I was interested in this question because there is so much free play in my classroom and the children mostly run around pushing cars. I wanted to learn more about specific benefits of the two types of play so I could combine them to make a better classroom environment.

My second question was what is the teacher’s role in facilitating play?
The problems in my classroom also brought this question to mind. I want to expand their play themes. If they are interested in cars and trains, how can I expand this further than simply pushing them around? I would expect more advanced play from four and five-year-olds. Normally, that’s what I see the toddlers doing. This past week, I have been setting up small centers in the afternoons and that has helped. I also noticed that yesterday, the older kids were building an elaborate train track around the room and the younger ones were building a smaller version on the train table. The older children were even discussing how they would build each part of the track and which direction it should go. So this research question would give me additional information that would be useful in my job.

However, my entire research topic has changed. Honestly, I was very frustrated while looking for articles. The information was difficult to find, but maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places. There were some articles on play, but they weren’t helpful which was disappointing because I thought there would have been more information on my specific questions. Many of the articles discussed play and literacy, pretend play and outdoor play and safety. I searched mostly in educational databases. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. I also used many combinations of phrases without any luck.

While looking around for articles on play, I discovered an article called, “Peeking at the Relationship World of Infant Friends and Caregivers” by Minsun Shin... On this week’s chart, I answered the reflection question about what other research questions I might have. One of them was about infants and prosocial behavior so I thought I could use this article for a new research topic. The article states that there is little research on infant friendships. My research simulation will focus on how infant caregivers can facilitate infant friendships and peer interactions. I kept finding only the abstract of this article in the education databases, but eventually found the full text in the Sage database. I also found helpful articles in the Science Direct database as well as Academic Research Complete. Does anyone else have advice? Did anyone else have difficulty?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mitten Madness

Winter clothing has been our theme for the week. The kids decorated paper hats and painted pairs of mittens. We made these mittens by tracing two mitten shapes onto a piece of construction paper. Then the kids put some paint on each mitten and folded the paper in half. Then spread the paint around with their fingers which made the mittens look almost identical.

Later in the day after they dried, one of the teachers cut them out and hung them up on a piece of string to make it look like a clothes line. We called it, “Mitten Madness.” When the kids woke up, they were surprised to look up and see their mittens above them.

The one thing I’d change about this activity is next time, have the older children try to cut out their own mittens. They could also help with the hole punching and pulling the string through. I think it’s important that the kids are able to do all aspects of their projects either on their own or with some assistance. If the teachers have to do most of the work, then it’s not age appropriate and we have to adapt the original activity or rethink it altogether.

Monday, January 9, 2012

When I Play I'm Learning

I saw this on Welcome to Explore Education. It reminded me of the infants I work with and what they are learning through all the little things they do. It all has a purpose and I wanted to share it on my blog as well.

Caring for the Little Ones - When I Play, I Am Learning
by Karen Miller
Child Care Exchange
When I smile and coo back and forth with a special adult, I am learning I can make
people respond and that I am lovable.
When I play with my hands and feet, I am learning that those things are part of me
and I make them move.
When I turn an object over and over, I am learning that objects look different on
the other side.
When I make my mobile move by kicking the crib, I am learning I can make things happen
by moving my body.
When I crawl into small nooks and crannies, I am learning where I fit and about shapes
and sizes.
When I push objects off the high chair tray, I am learning that things fall downward
and are still there, even when I cannot see them.
When I fill and dump containers, I am learning that I can make exciting things happen.
When I crawl up and down steps, I am learning to coordinate my arms and legs and
When I push, pull, and haul objects, I am learning how heavy objects are and how
they move.
When I play peek-a-boo, I am learning that things and people exist even when I cannot
see them
When I lift flaps, I am learning to hide things and make them reappear.
When I look at books, I am learning to use symbols and to know that pictures represent
real things and have names.
When I stack objects, I am learning about shapes, sizes, balance, and gravity.
When I fit things inside each other, I am learning the relationship of negative and
positive spaces.
When I play pat-a-cake, I am learning to have fun with someone else.
When I play “Ring Around the Rosie,” I am learning a game with a rule — don’t fall
till the end!
When I imitate the actions of other children, I am learning that I am one of them
and can do things other people do.
When I chant sounds, I am learning the melodies, sounds, and rhythms of my language.
When I stick things in holes, I am learning to line things up properly
to fit.
When I bang objects on the floor, I am learning that things make all different kinds
of noises.
When I push a ball back and forth, I am learning it’s more fun to be with others
than by myself, and it’s fun to take turns.
When I pretend to feed my doll, I am learning what it feels like to nurture someone.
When I say “Hi” and “Bye-bye,” I am learning social interaction and what it feels
like to be a valued member of the group.
When I climb on a climber, I am learning balance and coordination and developing
When I scribble with crayons,
I am learning that I can make marks by moving my hands, and I can affect the shape
and quality of the mark.
When I line up blocks to make a road, I am learning the relationship of shapes and
to use symbols.
When I play with little people and cars, I am learning what it feels like to be a
When I dance to music, I am learning to enjoy music and to have fun with others.
When I splash water, I am learning to control this variable substance and create
my own fun.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Teriffic Snowballs

On Friday, I was working with one of the toddlers who is moving up to the preschool next week. This past week, he has been spending the mornings in the preschool room and then going back to the toddler room. Unfortunately, their schedules conflict so he hardly had any outside time. It was exciting for the kids on Friday because it had snowed really for the first time this winter. It was the first time they could actually play in the snow so we decided to take him out with the toddlers. We spent an hour out there just playing. At one point, I decided to make a snowball. B got very excited and wanted to carry the snowball around with him the whole time even while he was on the swing. I wanted him to hold on to the swing so I offered to hold the snowball. Then we talked about how the snowball might melt a little bit in my hand. When he was done swinging, we noticed that the snowball had gotten smaller so we added more snow to make it bigger. When it was time to go in, he threw it and watched it fall apart.

Some other things we did in the snow were follow each other’s footprints, brush the snow off all the picnic tables and drive trucks in the snow. I think every toddler and preschooler ate some of the snow too.

Later that afternoon, we went back outside and since there weren’t that many kids, the toddlers and preschoolers were together. B was there and wanted me to make another snowball, but he wanted it bigger this time. I found some clean snow on the roof of one of the houses and made him a snowball which he carried around until his dad got there. While I was making his snowball, the preschoolers became interested in what I was doing and they wanted me to make snowballs for them. After I started making them, I realized they were throwing them at my co teacher. We laughed when she realized I was the one making them. She didn’t mind the snowball fight so we kept making them until it was time to go inside. When B’s dad came, B decided to give his snowball to one of the preschoolers to throw. Once we got inside, S who is one of the new preschoolers I work with said, “You made terrific snowballs!” That’s what she talked about for the rest of the afternoon and even told her dad all about it. I was glad to be apart of something that they really enjoyed and that they finally got some real play time outside.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wintery Vanilla Play-dough

I finally had the chance to make homemade play-dough. It came out pretty well I think, but we’ll see how the kids like it. I got inspiration and the recipe from the Imagination Tree. She has so many great ideas and the recipe works well. The only things I added for this batch of play-dough were some glitter for sparkle and vanilla extract for scent. This will be apart of our snow and snowmen theme. I wanted the play-dough to stay mostly white plus the sparkles, but the vanilla discolored the play-dough a bit. It’s okay though because I wanted the scent there. It will be something different for the kids since all they’ve had for a while are the tiny tubs of play-dough from Walmart. I have so many more play-dough ideas that I want to share throughout the upcoming months.

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