Cooking on Wednesdays

We’ve decided we like cooking so much we have designated Wednesday as cooking day. So far we’ve made Irish Soda Bread and rice and seaweed rolls. Both were a big hit! Next week we’ll be making ice cream. Cooking with children brings math and science to life. It can also allow choosy eaters to try things they might not normally try.

We’d love to have some parent volunteers come in and cook with us. Let me know if you’d like to join us.

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What are Loose Parts?

“In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.”

-Simon Nicholson, Architect

In the early 1970’s, architect Simon Nicholson developed his theory of loose parts. His idea was that loose parts, materials that can be moved around, designed and redesigned, create more opportunities for creativity than static materials and environments.

Did you see the loose parts table at Innovate SSIS? Here are some designs children made:

EC AB Loose Parts

EC AB Loose Parts

We use loose parts in our class to provide opportunities for open ended play, design and creativity. Loose parts can be anything from jar lids and old marker tops to natural elements like seeds. They can be used on the light table, in the block area, in the dramatic play area. We set up provocations in the classroom to inspire the students to use these materials in creative ways. At first, many children are not sure how to use loose parts but with exposure and practice they begin to use them in purposeful, creative and complex ways.

EC AB Loose Parts

EC AB Loose Parts

EC AB Loose Parts

EC AB Loose Parts

EC AB Loose Parts

EC AB Loose Parts

Center Time

We have a daily center time in our room. During this time children have a mix of teacher-directed small groups and self-directed opportunities. Here is a glimpse of what center time looks like and what children are working on during that time.

IMG_8088Problem Solving and Building in the Block Area

IMG_8095Teamwork and Spatial Relations With Puzzle Building

IMG_8093Fine Motor Snipping in the Sensory Tub

IMG_8096Number Recognition and Fine Motor at the Light Table

IMG_8113Building Hand Muscles With Playdough

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Counting and Number Recognition With a Math Game

IMG_8120Letter-Sound Recognition and Fine Motor Skills With Our ABC Book

How are you feeling today?

In an effort to help the children understand and regulate their emotions,  I have added a new aspect to morning check in. The children now find their name and indicate that they are present, but also how they are feeling when they arrive at school. We’ve already had some very good discussions about how feelings change and that sometimes you will have to move your name to indicate that. We have also validated that all feelings are acceptable. It is okay to feel mad or shy or sad. We have also talked about how we can feel strong feelings but some of the actions associated with those feelings are not acceptable. For example, it’s okay to feel angry but it’s never okay to hurt someone. Instead we are learning to use self-control. If someone is doing something you don’t like you:

1) Say “Stop!”

2) If they do stop, move on, but if they don’t, get a grown up to help.

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Metamorphosis

The children have been very interested in observing animals on our playground. Many children spend their outdoor time looking for and watching worms, snails and caterpillars. We decided to put one of the caterpillars they found in a little classroom habitat with some leaves, a wet paper towel and some twigs. We watched the caterpillar form a cocoon and finally emerge as a moth. So exciting! We looked closely at the moth with magnifying glasses and then released it. When we let it go it decided to hang out on Taki’s face for a while. The students are learning to be curious, gentle and respectful with animals.

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New Year- School Life!

We’re settling into the new school year. During our first unit, School Life, we are learning what learners do in school. We’re exploring in and outside, learning how to take care of our classroom and becoming a community that takes care of one another. Here is a look at some of the exploring we’ve done so far.

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Block Play

The block area is an important part of our classroom. The structures the children are building have become quite detailed and intricate. We’ve used some picture cards with famous buildings for inspiration but most of the time the children are creating structures of their own designs in cooperative groups.

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), blocks help children learn in the following ways:

Socially – Blocks encourage children to make friends and cooperate. Large block play may be a young child’s first experience playing in a group, while small block play may encourage an older child to work with others in solving problems.

Physically – When children reach for, pick up, stack, or fit blocks together, they build strength in their fingers and hands, and increase eye-hand coordination. Around two, children begin to figure out which shapes will fit where, and get a head start on understanding different perspectives – skills that will help them to read maps and follow directions later on. Blocks help kindergarten and primary grade children develop skills in design, representation, balance and stability.

Intellectually – Blocks help children learn across many academic subjects. Young children develop their vocabularies as they learn to describe sizes, shapes, and positions. Preschoolers and kindergarteners develop math skills by grouping, adding, subtracting and eventually multiplying with blocks. Older children make early experiments with gravity, balance, and geometry.

Creatively – Blocks offer children the chance to make their own designs, and the satisfaction of creating structures that did not exist before. Beginning at the age of two, children may use a variety of blocks for pretend-play. Children may become life-sized actors in large block structures, or use figures to create dramas in miniature landscapes.

Pictured below are some of the amazing structures created in our classroom.

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Fine Motor

Control over the small muscle movements in the hands is referred to as fine motor control. Fine motor develops at different rates for different children. By providing developmentally appropriate fine motor activities, we can help strengthen the muscles needed for learning to write. Some students in our program are already writing, others have not yet determined their handedness. We can support children in developing fine motor skills  by providing opportunities to strengthen their hand muscles and by not pushing them to write before they are ready. Here are some examples of fine motor activities that happen in our EC program.

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working with playdough

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stretching rubber bands to make shapes

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unstructured time with paper, tape, glue and scissors

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snipping and glueing

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threading straws on chenille stems

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using hammers and small nails

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painting on an upright surface

There are many things parents can do at home to support the fine motor growth of their children. Click on the link below to find some suggestions from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Building Fine Motor Skills

Field Trip!

Many thanks to Alex’s family for hosting a field trip to their restaurant, The Greenhouse. After the children had been playing pizza shop in our dramatic play area, it was wonderful to have the experience of making pizza at a real restaurant. While there, the children got to roll out pizza dough, add toppings, practice waiting tables and eat pizza for lunch!

EC AB Pizza Field Trip EC AB Pizza Field TripEC AB Pizza Field Trip

EC AB Pizza Field Trip

EC AB Pizza Field Trip EC AB Pizza Field Trip
EC AB Pizza Field TripEC AB Pizza Field Trip EC AB Pizza Field Trip
EC AB Pizza Field Trip We ended the trip with some ice cream for dessert. Thank you again Alex and family!

Animals Near Our River

We’re digging deeper into our Animals Near Our River unit. The children are using science tools like magnifying glasses and bug jars to take a close look at the animals.

EC AB Animals Near Our River We’re making a chart to keep track of the animals we’ve found on our playground.EC AB Animals Near Our RiverWe’ve been reading lots of nonfiction text about the creatures we find. We read about spiders and worked on making a huge model of a spider as a class project. We talked about what we already knew about spiders and what we wondered.  EC AB Animals Near Our RiverEC AB Animals Near Our River We’ve also done some observational drawing. The children are practicing looking very closely and drawing just what they see.  EC AB Animals Near Our River EC AB Animals Near Our RiverEC AB Animals Near Our RiverEC AB Animals Near Our River Next we’ll make a great, big ladybug! EC AB Animals Near Our River