Sunday, December 22, 2013

Glow in the Dark Flubber

My class has been exploring lights this week. Naturally this means means our light table had to have something interesting and engaging. We decided to make Glow-In-The-Dark Flubber. 

The children pulled out the light table toys to stick on the flubber. I loved this little butterfly.

When you press translucent materials onto the flubber, the light shines through from below. 

Here is the recipe:

      Get yourself 3 cups of glue, 6 cups of hot water (I like to microwave it for a does not have to be boiling), 2 tbs of borax, glow-in-the-dark paint, 2 bowls, and (optional) a mixing spoon. 
     In the first bowl, mix 3 cups of glue, 4 cups of hot water, and 2-3 oz of glow in the dark paint. Stir it up.

     In the second bowl, mix the 2 cups of water with the 2 tbs of borax. Stir it really well until all the borax is dissolved! Then SLOWLY pour it into the glue water mixture, mixing it with a spoon or your hands. Pour a little, knead it a little. When it starts forming a ball, and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, it is ready to be played with. 

Store it in an airtight container. It can be used for weeks if you take care of it.

**Note**The children can help with all of this, but depending on how hot your water is, make sure to have an adult supervising and helping. This recipe contains borax, which cannot be ingested. Be sure to make this recipe with children who are past the mouthing stage (ages 3 and up)!
Invite the children to touch and describe the water-glue mixture before adding the borax mixture. Then ask them how it feels after. They can all help mix with their hands for that sensory experience.This stuff is so much fun to play with! 

We put it on the light table, and then turned out the lights...

Happy playing!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Play-Based Library and Peace Corner

It's official.
Summer is over!
My co-teachers and I have been working very hard (as I'm sure many of you have been) preparing for this time. 

Parent handbook? Check.
Operation: "Clean and Organize?" Check. 
Rearrange the classroom? Check. 
We got this!

We agonized about the room arrangement. I really wanted to create a bigger art studio, but my original plan meant we had to move the library. This just would not work! The only other corners in the room were near a bathroom or an exit (high-traffic areas), and we still wanted to preserve the peacefulness of the cozy area. We finally managed to come up with an arrangement that fit all of our needs.

 I am very pleased with how it turned out.  I expect it to change throughout the year. We will add photographs of the children, rotate books, and display art and documentation. I'm sure we may try twinkly lights, or perhaps add more soft things. 
Here is the beginning of a wonderful Library!

This is a commercially bought canopy  from Discount School Supply.
 This was originally a canopy, not an entrance way. I had to fold the fabric in the back in half three or four times, until it was tall enough for an adult to fit through. (I intended to create a child-sized entrance, but I plan on spending time reading to individual children in this center throughout the year. For this reason, I made it adult-friendly.) I safety-pinned the fabric to make it stay folded.
My classroom has a low, drywall ceiling (just under ten feet), so I used a screw-in hook to attach it.

I tied the sides with a bit of yarn, and taped the yarn to the sides of the adjacent shelves. The fabric covers the tape, so it is still aesthetically pleasing, but the children are less likely to pull it down. It has been two full weeks, and so far, so good. (Knocking on wood!)
The artificial plant, (see-through) lace, and authentic-looking couch add a cozy touch to our library. The children may read individually or in small groups (no larger than three or four).

The shelf with the lace curtain above was originally a piece of dress-up furniture. It has a shelf on top for storage, six hooks for hanging clothes, and four more shelves down the right side for more storage. It has a full-length mirror down the left, outer side, similar to this:
I've re-purposed it as a "Peace Corner." The Peace Corner can fit two or three children at the most. It is a space for "hiding," but, of course, we are still able to see who is in there for safety reasons. 
Behind the curtain there is a mirror, some pillows to make it cozy, and there are puppets for role-playing on the side shelves.

The following pictures are the resources I have printed and laminated for children. They are on the top shelf of the Peace Corner. 

The Peace Corner is a peaceful area for those children who need a quiet spot to calm down, or for a couple of children who need help solving a conflict.
This is not a space for "time-out." I am very firm about this. When I bring children to this area, I make sure to let them know they are not in trouble. This is a place of peace and problem-solving. For more information about my child-guidance philosophy, click here.

First the children may point to the picture that shows how they are feeling. If they are angry or frustrated, we read the Tucker Turtle story together.Tucker Turtle Takes Time to Tuck and Think is a free resource you can download here. It is a social story I use to teach children self-regulation.

After we read Tucker Turtle, the child or children may pick a solution from the Solution Kit. I organized the solutions by type of problem:

"If you want something someone else has, you may..."
"If someone else wants something you have, you..."
"If someone is bothering you, you may..."

The solution kit doesn't solve every problem out there, but with consistency it can become a means to teach the children that there are many ways to solve any given problem. Having three solutions available to choose from narrows it down for the children, and streamlines the process. 

You may now exit the Library/ Peace Corner.

I will be posting more pictures of my classroom setup soon!

Happy playing!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Child-Guidance Philosophy

Next week, the official school year begins! As I prepare for the new year, I decided to review and share my philosophy on child guidance. I typed a modified version of this to add to my classroom hand book. (Do you have one? I will be sharing more about mine in a future post) I hope you find it a handy resource. 

As you read it, I hope you take the time to reflect on your personal philosophy. 

Is it similar? If your philosophy is so? I love to hear feedback, so share away! 


Child Guidance Philosophy  

I've come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”  -Haim G. Ginott

We take care of ourselves first. 
We understand that children learn by example, and that the positive, calm learning environment begins with us.We model the behavior we expect from the children. 

Children should be treated with love and respect.  
We will do our best to create a learning environment in which the child feels safe, loved, and is a respected member of the community. When a child feels valued, his/her self-esteem will soar. Teachers respect the child’s choices throughout the day, while still maintaining expectations that the child is safe, responsible, and respectful.

We understand that children are in the process of learning social skills. 
During this age period, children struggle with self-regulation. We teach them to identify emotions, how to cope with stress, and play together with peers constructively. Children learn through repetition. They NEED to be reminded of the same things daily. We anticipate this, and provide positive visual and verbal cues regularly. 

There is always a reason for the behavior. 
Children rarely act out “for no reason.” As teachers, we strive to find out the reason behind the act to better help the child solve the problem. When misbehavior becomes a habit, this form pretty handy to determine cause of behavior. Action Behavior Consequence Form. You may use it to observe what happened before, during, and after (i.e. how did you handle it?). 

Sometimes re-direction is necessary. 
We help the child find an appropriate choice, and state it in a positive form. “Please walk. It is safe to walk inside.” 

We do not solve the problem for them. 

Instead, we provide them tools to do it on their own. My classroom utilizes this free “Solution Kit" from Vanderbilt University. I love this video from High Scope: Conflict Resolution that demonstrates how to calmly approach a problem in the classroom setting. 

We give positive feedback.
We understand that children need to know what they are doing right. We give descriptive feedback, rather than a generic, "Good job!" For example, if a child shows responsibility by cleaning up his/her mess, we would say, "I see you cleaned up this mess all by yourself! That was very responsible of you!" 


What is your philosophy on child guidance? I look forward to reading your responses!

As always, 
Happy playing!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reggio Emilia: The Hundred Languages of Children

This photo came from the New York Times article, "The Art of Distraction", illustrated by Rutu Modan. 

     In the United States, the traditional classroom consists of a teacher who is the "Giver of Knowledge." The children are empty buckets, waiting to be filled with new information. They sit in desks, either loving school because they are good at memorizing information and taking tests, or hating school because they are not visual/auditory learners. 

     In the preschool setting, teachers plan themes based on holidays, seasons, and more recently, the new "cute" thing they found on Pinterest. (Guilty!) The children's interests and passions are of little importance. After all, the teachers are in charge, right? We also feel pressure from lawmakers, directors, and parents to get them KINDERGARTEN READY. Some preschools even proclaim to be "Getting your children ready for college!"

     The Reggio Emilia Approach has a different attitude about learning. The image of the child is that children are capable of extraordinary things! They are viewed as competent and naturally curious. The Reggio teacher understands that each child enters their classroom full of knowledge of the world around them. They are full of potential, and are able to construct  their own knowledge. They are active participants in their community of learners. (Gandini, 2010)

     Please watch this short video, entitled, The Hundred Languages of Children. You may read along below.  This poem, written by Loris Malaguzzi, is very touching. It reminds me that we as teachers are able to provide an environment where children can take the lead. Children can construct their own learning, and we are there as partners to facilitate this process!

The child

is made of one hundred.
The child has
A hundred languages
A hundred hands
A hundred thoughts
A hundred ways of thinking
Of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
Ways of listening of marveling of loving
A hundred joys
For singing and understanding
A hundred worlds
To discover
A hundred worlds
To invent
A hundred worlds
To dream
The child has
A hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
But they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
Separate the head from the body.
They tell the child;
To think without hands
To do without head
To listen and not to speak
To understand without joy
To love and to marvel
Only at Easter and Christmas
They tell the child:
To discover the world already there
And of the hundred
They steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
That work and play
Reality and fantasy
Science and imagination
Sky and earth
Reason and dream
Are things
That do not belong together
And thus they tell the child
That the hundred is not there
The child says: NO WAY the hundred is there--

Loris Malaguzzi

Founder of the Reggio Approach

#child #dreams

I challenge you as an educator/parent to give children a bigger role in their learning. 

Happy playing!

Works Cited

Gandini, L. (2010, September 13). Learning Materials Work. Retrieved from Values and Principles of the  

          Reggio Emilia Approach:

Malaguzzi, L. (2006). The Hundred Languages of Childhood. Retrieved from Reggio Kids Childcare


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