Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Choo Choo!

Most of the children were engaged in centers time. Some of the children played legos, others were in house nook, while still others were busy making art at the art center.

It only takes one child to change the classroom dynamic...

While I was busy picking up blocks, two children came to talk with me. They sat in chairs while we discussed, when all of sudden, she had a brilliant idea! "Lets make a choo choo!"

What began with two chairs lined up, ended with this:

The other children abandoned their activities to help make the "choo-choo." I could have asked them to return to their centers. I could have had them go clean up before joining the activity. I could have...but I chose to get my camera out instead!

I was pretty amazed at the leadership, teamwork and cooperative play I saw being displayed, as she assigned roles: "I'm the driver, and you're the passengers!" As more children joined the train, the others scooted closer together to make room.

Amazingly, this scene occurred with no bickering, arguing, or fighting. As quickly as it happened, so it dispersed. 2 minutes after this photo was taken, the chairs were returned to their tables, and the children moved on to other play.

Happy playing!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recyclables Sculpture

A child's imagination is a marvelous thing. It is amazing what the children will come up with when presented with a box, a bunch of scraps, some glue, and of course, recycled items. 
I planned for this project to be done at the end of the week, but that will depend on the children's interest.

I have no idea what the sculpture will look like when completed, but so far, the children have enjoyed working on it.

Sometimes they work on it for the whole free-choice period, and other times they drift in and out, making their additions a little at a time.

By the way:
  • When your child squeezes a bottle of glue, he/she is strengthening little hands for writing.
  • When your child makes a decision about where a scrap piece will be glued, or where to paint, he/she is building self confidence and independence.
  • When your child mixes paint colors, or glue with paint, he/she is building scientific skills needed for inquiry--the process of asking questions and investigating to find the answer.
  • When your child needs a paint brush that someone else has, he/she is practicing precious social skills ("Can I use that paint brush?")
  • When the teacher asks open-ended questions about the project, your child has the opportunity to build vocabulary, and use descriptive language.
Isn't learning fun?

Happy playing...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere!

I am in the habit of recycling. Since becoming a teacher, things that were once "garbage" became castles, things to paint, painting tools, collage materials, sorting objects, play dough instruments, and sand/water accessories. 

Last night, as I put my groceries away, I stared at the red netting bag that comes with those mini mandarins. My husband asked me what I was doing, to which I replied, "Do you think I could reuse this in my classroom?" "No," he said, and went back to watching T.V.
The red netting
I am not that easily deterred. 

I just KNEW I could figure out some sort of use for it, so I poured some Dawn dish soap in a bowl, added a little water, and dipped the netting in the bubble solution. 

I blew into it, and VOILA! Dozens of bubbles! 

I felt my inner child come out as I started laughing excitedly. "LOOK! I MADE BUBBLES! COME SEE!"  My husband just rolled his eyes. Doesn't he see? Doesn't he get it?
Bubbles are magic!

Do you remember the first time you successfully blew your OWN bubble? Most of these children never had the chance. Their teachers blew the bubbles for them. They used bubble machines. 

The biggest and fastest children laughed and chased the bubbles; meanwhile the smaller, quieter children watched miserably by the wayside. 

Imagine their surprise when bubbles filled the sensory table? Check out their excitement! 

The group congregates around the bubble table, which is filled with bubble solution, at least 50 bubble wands, and six-pack plastic rings.

Inquiry in process. The children experiment with different ways to blow with their mouth to make that oh-so-satisfying bubble! 

Brandon figures out an easier way to make bubbles!  Do you think he's blowing slowly or quickly? How do you know?

The other children follow suit.

"I did it! I blow bubbles!" For Beyza, whose first language is Turkish, this is a wonderful opportunity to expand her vocabulary!
 Allowing children to blow their own bubbles offers a multitude of learning opportunities. It gives a concrete foundation on scientific concepts such as "air," "surface tension," and "density."

It allows for that ever-so-important process of INQUIRY, in which the children pose a question, and test many ways of finding a solution. Imagine the possibilities for scientific inquiry with bubbles! What would happen if you add more water to the solution? What would happen if you added corn syrup? How could you blow a gigantic bubble? How could you blow a lot of really small bubbles?
Am I making my point?

I got the idea to make a bubble center in Lisa Murphy's Ooey Gooey books. She is my unofficial mentor! This spring, as the weather warms up, invest in a few bottles of Dawn dish soap. Walmart sells a container of 50 bubble wands for about $5 (I got mine for $1 at the end of the summer!). If you don't have a budget for bubble wands, then you can use pipe cleaners, berry baskets, six-pack plastic soda rings, your hands, PVC pipes, wire coat hangers, the red netting that comes with oranges, cardboard napkin tubes, pasta strainers, hoola hoops, etc...

Happy playing!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring garden

I've never been much of a gardener. I was at first resistant to the idea of a classroom garden, because it was out of MY comfort zone.But, one day, Lachlan asked me, "Ms. Gina, how do flowers grow?"

How could I resist a blatant learning opportunity like this? We discussed how plants grow during circle time to gauge both interest and knowledge base. Most of the children had no idea!

I explained that plants need water and sun to grow, and since it doesn't rain every day, we would be in charge of watering the plants! Outside, we gathered some squirt bottles to water the plants. 

The bamboo plant was very popular:

Of course, we couldn't just leave it at that! It IS spring, after all. The children asked if we could plant some plants for the garden, and I forced myself to leave my comfort zone.

I asked the children what they wanted...vegetables to eat or flowers to bring the butterflies?

The butterflies won.

I figured we could all learn as we go. I bought a seed starting kit at Walmart for about six dollars, and spent all of 2 dollars on seeds

I wish I had thought of my camera while they were planting, but I didn't!

The other classrooms are growing vegetables in the outside garden, and we will too, but for now, we are starting off with some flowers to bring the butterflies!

Each child got to have his/her own flowers!

And it only took about a week to get some results!

We just got a generous donation of tires. I see tire "planters" in our future! The only question is...what to plant?

Happy playing!
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