Friday, October 29, 2010

Leaves, Leaves and More Leaves

What would you have done with this collection of leaves?

Would you take out construction paper and glue and invite the children to paste the leaves and then call it art?

Children always find a way to guide us. These young toddlers took the opportunity to sort the leaves.

This excerpt tells us why this is a valuable exercise in constructing knowledge.

Understanding Same and Different (Classification)
Authors: Jandy Jeppson with Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE

Children who create a leaf collection or a bug collection are learning other things, too. They are learning how to classify leaves and insects by putting them into groups. When you plan meals for your family or your childcare program, you are using classification, too. Deciding whether a food is bread, vegetable, or dairy product is classification.
Putting together things that are the same is called classification. When children classify, they are using information about what is the same and what is different. This learning happens over time. At first, children classify items based on how they look, sound, and feel.
Children first group things by appearance. Young children may believe that a ball and a head of lettuce go together, because they are both round. A child may learn the word “doggie” after petting one. The next day he may see a cat and say “doggie,” because they are both animals with four legs. An apple and a stop sign go together, because they are both red.
Young children also learn that things can sound the same or different. Babies learn very early to recognize people’s voices. As they get older, they learn that some musical notes are the same, and some are different.
Children like poems, because some of the words sound almost the same.
Later, children learn that some things belong together because of what they do or how they are used—their purpose. An umbrella and a newspaper could be classified together because they can protect you from the rain. A birthday card and a newspaper may be the same, because you can read both of them. But they don’t look alike.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nature Provides the Perfect Tools

This collection of pine needles proved to be quite useful for these two young children who were inclined to make this beautiful representation of an autumn tree.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What are Wrinkles?

Andrea draws a self portrait, capturing the details of her happy face with the use of fine lines around her mouth and below her eyes.
The teacher asks, "Why did you use lines?"
"A happy face needs line because that is how my face looks when I am smiling."
"Do all people have lines on their faces?" asks her teacher.
"No, not everyone."
"What about old people, do they have lines?"
"An Old Lady has less lines than me," answers Andrea.
Andrea's first drawing of The Old Lady without wrinkles.
The teacher takes Andrea to the computer and they search for photos of an Old Lady. Andrea studies them and returns to the drawing table.

"I changed my mind. An Old Lady has lots of lines, these are wrinkles."
Why does she have wrinkles?"asks her teacher.
"Wrinkles mean she is old and had lots of birthdays. Wrinkles are happy lines and sometimes sad lines. When I get old I will have wrinkles just like her and I will be beautiful!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010


"Lisa's castle has two towers!"
"These are my happy hands!"

The emergence of symbolic play in toddlers marks a milestone in their journey as learners.

Symbolic play usually can be observed during the beginning of the second year of life. It is of particular interest because its appearance demonstrates that the child has developed the capacity to substitute one object for another. The child can hold onto a mental picture of something and recreate it in his own mind and in his own way. Because of this the child's play begins to include pretend roles, imagined scenes and symbolic manipulation of objects and language.
Symbolic play has been linked to emotional and cognitive problem solving, creative abilities, and emotional well-being but most importantly, this early use of symbols ultimately prepares the child for the abstract symbols of reading and writing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Singing Band

There is no doubt that we are born with an affinity for music. Music transcends generations, crosses
borders and joins the world together in one voice. Have you ever been on the other side of the world when all of a sudden you hear a song that is familiar to you. Such is the power of music.

Studies have supported the fact that music
stimulates intelligence and emotion development. In fact it has also been determined that children who play musical instruments have a higher level of
success in school.

Young children watch and listen to the cues in their environment; collecting stimuli they begin to form their own interpretations of what they see and hear.

This experience in the block centre demonstrates how pop culture influences children. It was not only the physical elements of making their own band that drew our attention it was their assimilation of “pop band lingo” that was fascinating to watch.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Daughter's First Day of School

To be a teacher is a gift. Entrusted with the world's newest citizens, it is our obligation to ensure that each child is valued and respected for his/her unique qualities.
It is our responsibility to support them when they make mistakes; punishment serves no purpose other than making the child feel small.
Honour every child's achievement based on effort. Each child learns in his/her own way and not every student will achieve high test scores.
It is our job to support their journey as students and human beings. Treat them as you wish to be treated.
Long after the facts are forgotten, the memory of kinds words of encouragement will resonate in their hearts.
Have patience, nurture them, and be the teacher that they will remember all the days of their lives!
I found this letter tucked in my desk; the author is unknown but I felt I should share it with all of you.
Dear World,
I bequeath to you today one little girl in a crispy dress with two blue eyes and a happy laugh that ripples all day long and a flash of blond hair that bounces in the sun when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.
She's slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning.. and skipping off down the street to her first day of school. And never again will she be completely mine.
Prim and proud she'll wave her young and independent hand this morning and say,
"Goodbye" and walk with little lady steps to the schoolhouse.
Now she'll learn to stand in lines and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She'll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school bells and deadlines and she'll learn to giggle and gossip and look a the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy 'cross the aisle sticks out his tongue at her. And, now she'll learn to be jealous. And now she'll learn how it is to feel hurt inside. And now she'll learn how not to cry.
No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch steps on a summer day and watch an ant scurry across the crack in the sidewalk. Nor will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn and kiss lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she'll worry about those important things like grades and which dress to wear and whose best friend is whose. And the magic of books and learning will replace the magic of blocks and dolls. And now she'll find new heroes.
For five full years now I've been her sage and Santa Claus and playmate and father and friend. Now she'll learn to worship with her teachers which is only right. But, no longer will I be the smartest, greatest man in the whole world. Today when that school bell rings for the first time, she'll learn what it means to be a member of the group with all its privilege's and its disadvantages too. She'll learn in time that proper Young ladies do not laugh out loud or kiss dogs or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in summer.
Today she'll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. And I'll stand on the front porch and watch her start out on her long, lonely journey to becoming a woman.
So I bequeath to you today one little girl in a crispy dress with two blue eyes and a flash of light blond hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The are many ways to weigh a Pumpkin!

During morning assembly, we discussed the weight of the pumpkins collected on our field trip. The children were using the terms heavy and light to describe the weight of the pumpkins. Based on their size, they sorted the pumpkins from heaviest to lightest with the biggest being the heaviest and the smallest being the lightest. Next, we wanted to compare the weight of the pumpkin to other objects in the classroom such as rocks, blocks and even their own bodies.
The children were able to use a standard scale for the smallest pumpkin but faced a challenge when it came to the larger one. Arash suggested constructing a scale using the large unit blocks. His classmates quickly took to the challenge. The pictures tell the story of the outcome of their work.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Even Birds Need Bridges

Why do we need bridges?

"Bridges takes us over things like water and rocks."

Who uses bridges?

"Mostly people in cars, or sometimes on bikes. And even if you're walking you can go over a bridge like the one at the park."

"Wait!" shouts Josiah. "Even birds need bridges. Or else how do they get from one tree to another?"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Under the Apple Tree

"The apples grow all summer long. Then when autumn comes we can eat them. Sometimes the apples fall under the tree and those are for the squirrels to eat!"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Subway Mouse

Story time is common in all child care settings. But what do we do with these stories after we've read them to the children. How do we gauge their understanding of the plot, characters and setting?
This story board, done in clay, demonstrates how a group of four years old was able to retell the conclusion of the story, The Subway Mouse.
"The Mice were tired of living in the tunnels. They heard that at the tunnel's end there was a beautiful place and they wanted to get there to see the outside world. And it was nice!
They saw the moon and the city lights, the street and all of the trees."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Autumn Tree-Working with Loose Materials

“Loose Materials” are powerful in
provoking children to think and
construct knowledge.
Their very suggestive nature calls the
children into the process of weaving what they already know and have
experienced in the world with new
potentialities and perceptions of what could be. These materials encourage children to
notice beauty, diversity and detail.
In this way, as constructivist would
suggest, children build and rebuild, while
engaging with the materials, an
increasing awareness of the world and their place in it.
Each material offers its own particular qualities to the child and each child
offers his or her particular qualities and
experiences to each material. As the child
engages he/she builds a new
understanding of the richness and
complexities of the world.
(Caldwell 1997)

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Family Tree

Drawing by Dylan

Family is a child's first social network. It is through this group that children are nurtured and raised. As a child grows he learns about the roles and responsibilities of each member and how they contribute to the larger community.

Learning about a child's family helps teachers to bridge the life of home and school.
A group of four year old children was asked the following questions.

What does family mean? Who is in your family? What do they do and why do you love them?

I have a big family. I have a mommy. She plays games with me. I love my mommy because she invites my friends over to my house and that makes me happy.
I have a daddy and he always watches football, I like to watch it with him sometimes. Sometimes we even play football together inside the house upstairs. My daddy is fun! I love my daddy because we do boys things like wash the car.
I have an uncle and an aunt, it’s daddy's brother. They come over and visit sometimes but they live far away.
My mommy has a mommy and a daddy; that’s my grandpa and grandma. The live far away too but I talk to them on the phone. I love them because they are funny on the phone.
I have a Nonna and a Nonno, their names are Maria and Stefano. They are daddy's mommy and daddy. I get to see them when daddy goes to pick them up and they come over. Nonna and Nonno speak Italian. Nonna is teaching me how to speak it. I love them because they are nice to me.
Family means when you love each other and play together.