Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our M/W/F week before Thanksgiving break began with imitating the story of The Three Pigs.  Above, we used popsicle sticks and sugar cubes to construct little pig homes, and then each child had a paper version of a pig to play act the story.

Oh, there's that mean wolf who likes to chase pigs! 

We connected these homes with a book about homes all over the world.  The children enjoyed figuring out what materials were used to build each house.  We decided we really wanted to build an igloo next time it snows a lot!

One morning, when I had all these activities laid out on the tables, Gunnar initiated some train play.  He wanted to make a really big track, so I suggested he start on the other side of the room.  Soon our whole class was involved. . .(and actually our friend Lilya was still sick, so no pics of her)

The children had to share trains and, then figure out how to have several trains on a track.  Everyone seemed to want to go in and out of the tunnel (interesting) - I eventually suggested they make more tunnels out of some blocks . . . 

This little event of train play was another excellent example of emergent curriculum, or allowing the children to take time for self-initiated activities that encompass their immediate interests.  This is a large component of the Reggio philosophy as well.  As a teacher, I find these opportunities invaluable, and I have to be on my game to recognize when they are happening, rather than push my own agenda for the moment.  When the children are encouraged by their own ideas, they can become extremely focused and the opportunities for learning is sometimes doubled in my opinion.   I took a picture of my position of observation with my clipboard handy for note-taking.  During these child-initiated events, it is important that the adult keep a healthy distance so that the children may freely interact.  As with the tunnel, etc., I tried to make a quick suggestion and then ease into the background again.

If you can read my messy handwriting, I cited many benefits to that day's play. . .

A teacher-guided provocation during the week was unfinished faces at the easel.  I wanted to see what the children would do here.  Very few of our classmates are drawing representationally (age appropriate), but I often find that if there is some introduction to the idea, we can move it along a bit.

By Friday, we succumbed to some traditional turkey projects!  

This activity offered some scissor practice.

We traced our hands, put a beak and eye on the thumb, added some feathers and . . .


We also made some yummy mashed potatoes together that everyone enjoyed.

Hope you all had a lovely holiday!

The T/TH group really enjoyed playacting The Three Pigs - especially imitating the wolf's "I'll huff and puff" part.   Elliott is playing that part (above) while the rest of the class uses chairs as  their houses.  It took us awhile to get the line "not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!

We also made pigs' houses from salt dough, popsicle sticks and sugar cubes . . .

On Thursday, we traced our hands to make some traditional turkey art.

We worked together to smash some potatoes to make mashed potatoes.

Owen enjoyed helping the kids add salt.  We learned that a "pinch" is just a little . . .

This group definitely gets more social outside.  Below Zoe and Camille get good at the teeter totter, while in the background, Elliott and Owen engage in their daily wrestling!

Elliott and Owen often make up their own games outside.

Zoe is starting to participate in the wrestling!

Oh so cute!  Hope you all had a nice holiday!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"I See a Nose and Two Eyes in the Bushes . . ."


Our highlighted piece of children's literature this
week was another great story by Mem Fox called,
"Hattie and the Fox".  Hattie the hen sees a series of
features in the bushes that, as the pages turn,
becomes a hungry fox!  The rest of the barnyard
pays no attention to Hattie's warnings, until the 
fox emerges.  The children took turns being the hen, 
the fox and the other farm animals.

Outside time became "look for the fox" time.  So we went on a walk and looked for the fox.  Kaden actually did see a fox in his yard this week!

We also took time this week to talk about what animals (who do not have a farm to live at) do in the winter to survive the cold and have enough to eat.  We talked about hibernation and created our own "homes" for our stuffed animals in some leaves and sticks we collected from outside.  The kids went to our kitchen area to look for food for the animals to store in their homes.

Using our Gak, we also made homes for our plastic animals.

I like how Kaden and Lilya are having their horses talk to each other.  While the children may do well playing and focusing on something on their own, I always encourage them to talk to each other and play with each other to further develop their language and social skills.

I thought we were ready for a new manipulative and brought out my unifix blocks.  These blocks are not only great for teaching counting and patterning, but they are just hard enough to put together to help strengthen the fine muscles in the hand and enhance eye-hand coordination.  We had a lot of funny faces and tongues sticking out as the children concentrated on putting the blocks together!

Outside the kids are really getting the hang of the teeter totter!

We had a surprise of a great hill of leaves to play in!

Signs of social accomplishments happen throughout the day.  I like how Karsten is helping Jane swing below...

 Good friends...

During a season where the light is waning, I decided to get out the overhead projector and let the children experiment with shadows.

They had fun figuring out whose shadow was whose!

Last day of Gak!


Our Tuesday/Thursday group had such fun in our BIG pile of leaves!!  I couldn't resist taking lots of pictures.  I think they could have played here all morning...

With a bit of teacher facilitation, ("Zoe, why don't you help Camille with that puzzle?") the children are interacting much more together, using language to talk to each other.  Instead of, for example, Zoe asking me what Elliott is doing, I encourage her to go ask him!

I purposely put the Gak pieces close together to encourage the children to talk and share with each other.  Sometimes I do not have enough tools for everyone to encourage them to ask each other for a turn with something...sneaky, huh?  It's working, as they are learning to, instead of grab or get mad at their friend, to say things like, "Owen, can I have that pizza cutter when you are done with it?"

We just had one BIG piece of paper to draw on one day to encourage interaction...

"Zoe, please pass the blue marker," said Owen.  Zoe even carried over a chair so that Owen could join she and Camille!

Cleaning together...

Elliott was contentedly playing with our "new" tow truck and Camille came up and he got protective of the toy.  I said, "Hey Elliott, why don't you show Camille where to shovel the pebbles and she can help you with the tow truck."  He looked at me like I just invented chocolate and like magic, they started playing together happily!  Good stuff!

This group also thoroughly enjoyed reading and re-enacting the Mem Fox story, "Hattie and the Fox".  We especially enjoyed taking turns being the fox and sitting in the pillows and slowly sticking out our nose, two eyes, two ears, two legs, etc.