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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