Friday, November 22, 2013

Being thankful

Of course we talked about being thankful this week; is there anyone who didn't? (Seriously, I'd like to know. Post in the comments).  I described it as being something that makes you happy.  For a writing activity, we asked children three things they were thankful for, then encouraged them to draw it on a turkey feather while we dictated. That afternoon, my wonderful assistants made footprint turkeys with the kids and glued the feathers onto them. (Literacy with a 2-part project bonus!) Most of the kids did really well, although there were some that wanted to draw whatever they wanted. Here are some of the responses they gave us:

Mom and Dad
My sister
My skateboard
Fred (a giant stuffed dog in our calm-down area)
My toys
My toybox
My family
All my friends and teachers at school

It sounds like they got the concept just fine!

Join me after Thanksgiving for pictures of Stone Soup, a Thanksgiving tradition in my class! Have a safe and happy holiday.

The perfect time of year to talk about friendship and all we have.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bragging time

It's good to reflect every so often and find moments to brag on the kids. We finished up our fire station week with the book The Fire.  We talked about what was on the cover and the kids did great using descriptive words an predictions. The book itself is about a family whose house burns down and learns that the most important thing they have is each other.  The children took everything in stride and commented on what was happening in the book and the emotions the family had on their faces. I have a smart group of kids.

One of my favorite moments from today: A child looked a little sad after he came in, which happened to be during a busy transition time. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, "You didn't say hi to me today!"  I leaned down and hugged him, saying, "I'm sorry! I'm glad you're here." He brightened immediately. We never know the impact one little greeting will have on a child!

Praising your kids is important and not just in the boundaries of the classroom. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Call to Arms

I'm afraid I have something shocking to tell you: there are such a thing as Preschool Worksheets online.  I know! In this day and age!  In my bio on Teachers Pay Teachers, I mention that I don't do worksheets and I stand by this.  I've even had some parents ask why I don't send home worksheets to show learning. But you're good teachers; you already know why you do what you do. Hopefully this post will give you some talking points to bring up to parents or colleagues next time they talk about worksheets. 

What are we trying to teach with worksheets?

What's Wrong with Worksheets?

"Too Much, Too Soon" When children circle something on a worksheet, they're not actively engaging with materials. 

They push too soon and can actually limit interest in reading. Really, who actually likes to do worksheets? 

It's just not how we work as humans. Also see Vygotsky's theories. Note that this study was on adults; it doesn't change. 

This could go on all day.

Think about it: what were your best classes when you were learning? The best workshops you've been to? Were you filling out forms and told what to circle? Or were you discussing, interacting, and exploring? 

Can Worksheets Ever Be Effective?

In some cases, yes. 

The Handwriting Without Tears program effectively uses worksheets in combination with multisensory materials 

Here's another article about worksheets being successful with children with disabilities: 

*Note that both of these articles deal with children with disabilities. They have different thought processes and motor connections than "typical" children. They need the more rigid structure just to be able to write their name in capital letters. But did you notice? The focus was still on the process. They're also not doing it all day.

"What is it that children do all day at your center?"

Play. Play play play play play. And through playing, exploring. Inventing. Experimenting and failing. Persisting. Focusing. Communicating. Writing. Numbers. Letters. Social Skills.  Even a rudimentary form of telling time. 

I titled this post "A Call to Arms." So here it is. Take back Pinterest. Take back TeachersPayTeachers and TeachersNotebook and whatever resource you use that also mentions worksheets. Let's take back preschool and show people that yes, we play all day. And as preschool teachers, it's the most important thing we can do.

Which class would you rather be in? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Joys of Parenting

Sometimes the best moments come not from the kids, but from their parents.  Every year I head to the used bookstore and get a whole bunch of books to give out as birthday presents. The kids love getting something for their birthday from me and the joy on their face when they show it to their friends is wonderful.  I happened to be working late today when one of the parents came in. I said, "Xavier(not his real name), did you get your book?"  Xavier got the book from his cubby and proudly showed it to his dad. His dad "oohed" and "aahhed" and made all the appropriate noises, looking a little tired and wary. Then he asked, "He doesn't get to keep this, does he?" I said, "Yes he does! It's his birthday present. Everyone in my class gets a book for their birthday." The dad beamed just as big as the kid, if not bigger. I couldn't ask for a better end to the day.
Birthday books are the best books!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Power plays

Happy Weekend! :D
By the way...have you heard of Allie Brosh? No? Then here's her latest piece on being a terrorizing four-year-old.  Some of her other posts have some profanity, but they're all amazing (try the one about the cake!)