Sunday, September 22, 2013

Making Friends

"One of life's greatest joys is the comfortable give-and-take of a good friendship.  It is a wonderful feeling not only to have a good friend but to know how to be a good friend yourself.  Learning about friendship begins at an early age when children graduate from playing side by side to playing with each other.  There is so much to learn about sharing toys and sharing loved ones as children begin to share themselves with others." ~ Fred Rogers

Apples MUST be September in Maine

"I know a fruit that's good to eat and apple is it's name-O"
Every fall we talk about apples here at Helping Hands.  I think this is true for most preschools (especially in New England).  We spend a bit of time on the subject of apples these first few weeks of school because they are both plentiful and versatile. Did you know there is a star inside every apple?  Most 3 year old children don't know this interesting fact and are delighted to discover it. Did you know that there are OVER 7000 different types of apples?  This month we've taste tested 10 different types grown here in Maine.  The children who tried them, LOVED everyone of them!
  We've measured the children by comparing them to apples piled high.  We've introduced the names of the parts of an apple, we've washed apples, counted, sorted, matched and labeled apples. This month in our sensory discovery box we've had green split peas and small red pom-poms with baskets and scoops for imagination play.

One favorite activity was lacing a pipe cleaner 'worm' through a card stock apple.  Of course, the apple cooking projects were very popular and YUMMY!  Applesauce (cooked in the crockpot) is very easy and delicious.  If you would like the recipe, just ask.

On our playground REAL apples are growing in an apple tree in my neighbor's yard, just over the fence, it's heavy branches create a shady spot perfect for young children to stand on their tippy toes and reach for the apples in the low hanging branches.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Be in control of what your children see and hear

My heart aches for the victims of today's bombings; many of whom were children. Below is information from Parent's magazine about how best to address this topic with your children. My peace be with each of you.  Love Jennifer
The news of the explosions at the Boston Marathon once again necessitates that parents take control of what their kids will hear and see. Here are a few key points to keep in mind.
Be aware that coverage (TV and online) of these explosions – and the coverage will be continuous and extensive – will have some graphic footage. There are recordings of when the explosions happened. There are images of injured people on stretchers. You will see the aftermath which can be disturbing.  It will be on TV. It will be online. Keep this in mind in terms of what your kids will see. Kids of any age will find this disturbing. It’s a good idea to monitor your kids now so you can be in control of what they see – and be on the ready to switch off quickly if there are things they shouldn’t see.
In addition to footage, remember that interviews will contain graphic talk. People will be describing what they saw and heard. Many will be distressed. The talk may be graphic and reference fatalities. Online, you will read quotes by witnesses. Again, you might want to actively screen this information.
While shielding your kids from footage and conversation that is upsetting, it’s also important that you be the source of information for them. You can explain things in the best way possible without deviating from being honest. Keep your descriptions short and factual (“Yes something bad happened. Some people were hurt.”) without going into much expansion. Allow your kids to ask you questions and answer exactly what they are asking. For example, if they ask if anyone died, you can simply answer “Yes” and see if they ask anything else. Try to be calm and in control even though these catastrophes rattle all of us. Even though we can’t assure our kids that we can keep them safe every second of the day, we do want them to feel safe with us and have some sense of control.
Finally, be aware that your kids may have questions for awhile, as this tragedy will undoubtedly be in the news for some time. Keep the lines of communication open and be ready to have frequent and short conversations about it – kids may have a question here or there and they are only looking for an immediate answer to it. You can rely on your knowledge about your kid’s personality, but do bear in mind that kids typically don’t want the level of detail that we adults would pursue.
And of course do what you do best – hug your kids. That will speak volumes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cat In the Hat Dress Ups!

More Cat In the Hat

Yes, I LOVE Dr. Seuss so here is another language idea.
The Cat in the Hat: Story Extension
Using the words and images from this familiar story I created an Object box (2) work for the 3-6 year old classroom.
Materials needed:
box, tray or basket containing the following
phonetic objects (or in this case drawings of the objects)
  • cake
  • rake
  • cat
  • hat
  • cup
  • fish
slips of paper
a pencil
and printed labels cards to match the objects

Preparation for this work: the moveable alphabet and Object Box 1
Elementary movements (rug carry, bringing materials to rug etc.)
Language used by teacher:
"I'm thinking of one of these objects and I'm going to give you a clue."
teacher writes the word and draws a simple picture of the first object on the rug on a slip of paper, folds it (dramatically) and passes it to the child. The child reads the word and places the paper label next to the object on the rug.
T: "You just read the word _____"
Once all the objects have been presented and labeled, review each object and word, replacing the paper word with the label cards.
T:"This is a cat, this says 'cat'. This is a hat, this says 'hat'...." all the way down the list, hand the child the paper word as you do this step.
Next, remove one object at a time, leaving label card. When object is removed, read the label card together, continue doing this all the way down the list until on the rug is left only the label cards. Again review the label cards.
T"This says 'cat', this says 'hat'....." encourage the child(ren) to read the words with you.
again the control of error can be the book The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss or without the book obviously, the teacher.
end with elementary movements.

This is a fun way to introduce rhyme and has many extensions.
1.) child creates word book from the slips of paper by stapling them together and writing their name on the back.
2.) child writes the paper labels.
3.) Child and teacher write each other 'notes'.
4.) making a book from metal inset sized paper of the Object box words with pictures!

Enjoy!(Again if you do not want to draw the pictures yourself, make color copies of Dr. Seuss's illustrations if not for re-sale.)

March Peacemaker: Theodor Seuss Geisel

During the month of March we celebrate the great late Dr. Seuss.  His stories and pictures are just a part of what makes him one of the Peacemakers we study.  Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel, shared with children what he believed were lessons everyone should learn early.  Through his stories he educated his young audience: The Lorax (1971), about environmentalism and anti-consumerism; "The Sneetches" (1961), about racial equality; The Butter Battle Book (1984), about the arms race; Yertle the Turtle (1958), about Hitler and anti-authoritarianism; How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957), criticizing the materialism and consumerism of the Christmas season; and Horton Hears a Who! (1950), about anti-isolationism and internationalism.

During the month of March we vote on our favorite Dr. Seuss books and characters.  We play games that help illustrate the messages he brought forth to young audiences. We ask the children to share what they have learned from Dr. Seuss and what they already know about their emotions with each other. We believe that is it through the sharing of who we are as individuals, that we grow as a classroom community. We as teachers nurture the children to act cooperatively and encourage them to support one another and to express their delight in each other’s accomplishments. We honor each other’s voices and messages given and promote making choices that will benefit the group as a whole.
Each morning, we gather at circle and greet each other with a song. The circle itself is a wonderful symbol of community. It has no beginning or end, no front row or back row. Each sitting space is equal in rank, indicating that each person in the circle is equally important. It is our hope that the children look forward to gathering together, sharing their stories and thoughts and to learning along side one another. It is our goal to establish a loving, safe environment where our children can grow and develop, not only a love for learning, but love for one another and respect for their valuable place in the amazing cosmos.

Dr. Seuss and his books help us to do this. Besides, he's a ton of fun!  Hey, that rhymes, what do you know? Happy Dr. Seuss month!