A love for teaching young children

Supporting parents in the educating of their child

Thursday, July 7, 2011

from The Mailbox blog--fun catchy way to remember to motivate

It's been awhile since I posted! I need to share this wonderful way to remember the different areas of student motivation. Diane Badden shared this on the new blog at The Mailbox (The Education Center publications for ECE and ELEM teachers). It's also a wonderful way to share at staff meetings and/or respond to directors or principals when they evaluate your teaching.

Motivating students involves 5 areas of the classroom life, interactions between teacher and student(s), environment, and teaching activities. You motivate by using FOAM or being FOAMY:

F = feedback; give each child proper, honest responses
O = opportunity; find ways through the environment and activities to give each child multiple ways each day and/or week to be/feel motivated
A = atmosphere; make the room feel exciting; make the room after large group areas and small group and if at all possible even some private spots; also find many ways to have each child's name and/or photo throughout the room (and not just for labeling their backpack hook or cubby space or desk)
M = meaningful; show children the value in what they are learning; why are we learning this letter, this sound, this shape?
Y = yippee; create fun interesting ways to show life's joy; change elements in your classroom frequently, too; that shows everyone your interest in your teaching--I was always advised by my college education professors to not have bulletin boards up for more than 6 weeks with older students; in ECE=2-3 weeks; classroom rules, safety reminders, schedule, and calendar are the key items to leave up all year

So keep this word image in your head each day as you teach and interact with students in your classroom--I've got to be FOAMY with student motivation!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

recognizing milestones--physical development--baby teeth

Tooth fairy--aka--my husband does delivery in person and my mail for my nieces and fairly soon for my youngest nephew! To recognize these steps in the physical developmental domain, because of living over 2 hours apart, I have had to create little pocket cards to send tooth fairy money to each niece in the past 5 months.

Here are photos for the older niece's pocket card last November and for her sister/younger niece last week:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Creativity and literacy: Creative way to practice hand-writing of letters

Non-edible way that's a great cleaner-upper is having children practice their letters and numbers using their finger in several squirts of shaving cream. (Try to buy un-scented version and warn to keep away from eyes and mouth.)

Another non-edible way is to use modeling clay or "Play Dough"  and have children use a wooden popsicle stick or tongue depresser (depending on age) to capture letter and/or number symbols in a clay wad.

Edible ways to practice are with jelly, pudding, or whipped topping! Give each child a section of waxed paper to keep his/her work on (6-8" square should be big enough for 2s & 3s and 4" square for 4s & 5s). Give them a heaping tablespoon or two and use their clean pointer finger.

More helpful hints: Photo documentation=take photos from an aerial/overhead position while working and then when they get a letter or number for you to assess, have them hold up their waxed paper for a quick snapshot and a thumbs-up signal from you.

Phonemic awareness/alliteration reinforcement=think ahead for this activity or changing for upcoming days or weeks ahead by matching their 'play medium' with a letter to practice formatting: 'j' for jelly; 'g' for grape; 's' for strawberry; 'p' for pudding; 'w' for whipped; and so on.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

cute products for outdoor garden play and indoor infants room

Today I received a new catalog from Lakeside Collection http://www.lakeside.com/ and some products grabbed my attention to brainstorm possibilities: (1) 12 piece gardening trolley playset for $25.95 designed for children ages 3 and up (even though the girl pictured only looks like 18 months!); there's a push trolley cart, shovel, fruit picker, lawn rake, garden rake, 4 types of hoes, broom, watering can, and waste catcher bag; (2) and (3) baby photo collage frames=the girl style is a cute two-tone pink dress with 12 small flower shaped openings for photos (and they are labeled for each month of a child's first year) and the boy styles is a cute two-tone blue overalls with 12 small star shaped openings for photos!

The baby photo collage frames ideas could easily be changed into a scrapbook layout or even wall decor piece using cardstock and/or patterned papers. They are too, too cute!!! Documenting the growth of little ones is very important, especially for working parents who miss out so much of the precious watching and observing.

science and literacy with food theme

Be creative and resourceful with this idea starter for your next food theme, especially if it is Italian cuisine. I came across a Buitoni advertisement on thicker weight glossy paper in a magazine this month. The large photos of 6 food items caught my attention. The Italian words' first letters don't match their English equivalents so you will have to make adjustments for that. The photos are: linguine, clams, lemons, tomatoes (they used salad...don't know  why), herbs (should have used basil), and yellow bell peppers. The photo 'cards' are perforated so they can be easily separated. Attach each one to heavier weight cardstock and use for inspiration in the dramatic play kitchen zone or use them for a literacy game. Lots of possibilities.

science ideas for grade 1

I just finished scanning the digital issue of a current 1st grade edition of The Mailbox http://www.mailbox.com/ and several science ideas are keepers! They are worth your time to incorporate into the curriculum you use. I like the Venn diagram idea that was submitted to compare pond life with ocean life. Have photos, clam and mussel shells to touch, story books and science books to look at before you create the Venn diagram with students.

There's also a layout full of insect theme activities to sharpen skills across the curriculums--math/addition, science/observing, writing, etc.

Monday, March 21, 2011

tried and true resource

If you are not familiar with The Mailbox magazines and resources, then get acquainted. Mailbox

If you are a college student and need resource ideas to know what concepts are age/grade appropriate, the resources through The Education Center/The Mailbox will help give you a fairly good knowledge parimeter. School districts and states do vary on their curricular standards so check with local parents and teachers, check school websites to see if they post any of the curriculum maps/standards (can be by grade level or subject area), and also compare textbooks.

Another good resource to check for age and content standards are the national organizations. I will post some of those soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

math and science: rethink how the sand/water table is used

In ECE programs, using what is known as the sand or water table can offer young children unlimited learning opportunities for math and science topics. Using water in the table, most day care providers and early elementary teachers probably think sink and float experiments are the only way to use it. Using sand, rice, or oatmeal in the table, most ECE staff think only of archaelogy-types of unearthing buried 'treasures' or giving children funnels to scoop and sift.

Stop. Take a strategy from decorating room makeover shows: empty out the table and look around your room's environment with a different outlook. Help your children gain in pre-reading skills along with the math and science. Pre-reading involves observation and discernment (or discrimination/detecting differences and similarities) just like math and science. What can children observe and separate?

With sand, rice, or oatmeal in the table, try hiding objects that are two colors next to each other on the color wheel like red and orange. Have children put found red objects on one end and orange at the opposite end. Examples to use are unlabeled chunky crayons, plastic butterflies or snakes.

I've even used a similar idea outside as science/pre-reading activities. I have the children wait at a certain spot and will toss about 6 plastic objects or unwrapped crayons using yellow, beige, and brown items for sand area and green, yellow-green, and brown items in grassy areas. They wait for my signal before they can go searching. Previously I have told them to watch the direction of my hand's throw and that they need to use their eyes to track where the item(s) have landed. They also are told ahead of time that we will do this many times, so that everyone will get a chance to find and retrieve at least one object.

Continuing with sand, rice, or oatmeal type item in the discovery table, give children number sense with concepts of more and less. Put a posters on the wall near the table to indicate the steps to do: (1) look, find, and gather ? items to middle; (2) sort/classify and/or count (depending on age and skill level) into a big group (the more) and a small group (the less); (3) move the big/more group to the left end and the small/less group to the right end;  and (4) check with teacher before starting over or leaving the discovery table area.

Similar to this would be size differentiation (large, medium, small). This time have children sort items into 3 size groups.

Using water in the table (or in a sink or plastic tub) can give children many experiences with learning volume if different sizes and shapes of plastic containers are provided.

Children can do similar more or less and size sorting if net bags or plastic colanders/bowls are provided as the collecting stations for like items in the water.

Sensory exploration (besides feeling the texture of sand or rice or oatmeal or the wetness of water) can be provided by cleaning out the table and putting lots of ice cubes in. During the winter if your area has snow, put it into the table.

Think about the discovery table in a new way. Tape photos of funny faces to the surface and then cover up with your dry substance and whatever your objects are for the day or week. Imagine the surprised reactions to the first few children that are using the area for the day!! Tape photos/old calendar scenes/ etc that go with your theme or alphabet letter, too.

Observe the sensory/discovery area. Watch how the children act or don't act in the area. Do you hear them using math, science, or reading vocabulary? If not, bring the children around a table or rug area and discuss using the table. Ask them if they are bored with what has been provided or how things have been managed/utilized by you, the adult provider, and used by them, the children scientists. There are too many ways that a discovery table can be used as a learning tool. Don't get 'nailed down' using it 1 or 2 routine approaches. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

science topic: elementary and older students reading suggestions

ICR's (Institute for Creation Research; http://www.icr.org/ ) latest Acts & Facts has a great profile article on Louis Agassiz, a paleontology/comparative zoology scientist and Harvard professor.

Before that article, there is one on the subject of dragons. The author uses and compares different Biblical mentionings for dragons or leviathans or the Hebrew word 'tanniynim'. He also explains how the descendents of Adam and Eve before Noah's time (before the Flood) would have had vast herds of dinosaurs or these 'tanniynim' (translated as dragon or monster) in their environment.

Check out what they've researched and studied (from DNA to genetic diversity to geologic processes).There are creation-based science curriculum supplements as well that can be purchased.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

science topic: creating outdoor nature/natural activity areas

If you haven't heard about Nature Explore Classrooms yet, keep reading! Nature Explore classroom certification should be a goal for daycares, preschools, and elementary schools. Doesn't matter if your location is urban, suburban, or rural.

To receive certification your facility must show three things: family involvement, staff development (a staffer has attended a N.E. workshop and shares to concepts, goals, and values with co-workers), and a designed well outdoor area.

Learn more by visiting the websites of the two collaborating organizations: http://www.arborday.org/ and http://www.dimensionsfoundation.org/.

How did I learn about Nature Explore? My husband and I have been donation members of Arbor Day Foundation on and off about 15 years and for the past 2 years or so I have read Nature Explore feature articles in their bi-monthly newsletter.

In this day and age when technology gadgets and hectic life styles are even dominating the lives of young children, we educators need to give youngsters the experential acquaitance with nature that many of us enjoyed with our parents, grandparents, and extended family members as children.

As a young child growing up along both sides of the Illinois/Indiana state line, I loved taking walks in the wood and discovering mushrooms, turtles, birds, insects, worms and beetles under old logs, etc. There were also times of squatting along the Wabash River and picking up pebbles while watching the water flow by. Other times enjoyed were of sitting in the yard picking dandelions or laying back and looking for shapes in the clouds. Ah! the good ole days!

Monday, February 21, 2011

article indicates indirect instructional help to science and social studies

I'm trying to find articles that encourage increasing or at least giving equitable science instructional time at the elementary level. Since No Child Left Behind was enacted, there are many articles that indicate science is disappearing from the elementary classrooms.

However, there is a little ray of hope. Read this article of Philip M. Katz's titled, "Research Round Up: Field Trips Down, Ignorance Holding Steady, Museum Visits Booming."


article recommendation about lefties

An interesting article that give you some history about medical theories on left-handedness as of 10 years ago was written September 8, 2000 by Jeanie Lerche Davis for WebMD Health News. The title of her article is: "Does Being a Lefty Affect Health, Creativity--and Sexuality?"

On the right side of my blog page I have a link to the website. Use the site's search engine to access this archived article.

Quick topic: handedness for lefties (aka southpaws)

To understand handedness in lefties, the first thing to identify in a child regarding writing style is how the child uses his/hers hand--does he/she hook or twist the hand around a pencil or crayon or does he/she hold or grip similarily to a rightie (just with opposite hand position)?

If the child hooks the hand around, that forces the writing tool and consequently their pensmanship in a very very slanted to the right side of the paper looking style.

If the child holds with the pincer-grip or something similar, their penmanship style may lean to the left some depending on the wrist location/rotation with the paper surface. However, the overall production of their writing (printing or cursive) can be held to grading evaluation standards similarily to right-handers once the basics of letter and number formations have been introduced to the child.

For lefties that hook their hand for writing, grading evaluation standards will have to be adjusted. Teachers and parents will need to realize that recognizable letters, numbers, or words needs to be the focus. Working with a "hooked hand writer" will have challenges. Make sure the child is not gripping the writing tool excessively. If the child complains that writing is too painful, check to see how tightly they are gripping/holding. The amount of applied pressure can also be quickly assessed by seeing if the paper surface is tearing/ripping frequently and also by how heavy or thick the pencil lead or crayon wax looks on the paper.

Parents can model writing examples and gripping examples if they sit opposite to their child creating a mirror-kind of reflection. If you have a relative that is left-handed, they also can help model hand-gripping and examples of letter/number formation for the leftie child.

Parents and teachers can also check how a left-handed child holds other items that are included in fine motor skill development: different size puzzle pieces, puzzle or wooden stamps that have a small knob or handle on top, picking up beads, holding food utensils, holding and using scissors, toy tools, and similar household items.