COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

December 12, 2017
by countryfun
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Adapting a Tree Activity

For multiple reasons, I do not go all Santa for activities in Dec. A main reason is not everyone I’ve had in care over the years celebrated Santa. So in years past, I started looking for alternative lesson options. There are many out there. With this current group where abilities and developmental levels are very diverse, I figured that my evergreen tree lessons would work well. All families here this year have Christmas trees, so that also ties in well.

Evergreens are present in our yard, so it’s easy to get natural lessons in from a point of reference. You’ll see posts of some of our activities on Facebook, or specific to each child in their Seesaw portfolios. I’ve chosen to post on this activity here, because I wanted to explain how I adapt one lesson to meet a range of needs.

This lesson started with a large square sheet of paper that I purposely cut to make a large solid triangle. With a square find the mid-point on one side. Cut from that point to a corner on the opposite side. Cut from the mid-point to the other opposite corner.

You can fold, trace a line or I use my paper cutter.

The 2 cut off sections when glued together also make a large triangle.

It’s appropriate for the preschool age here to be working on scissor and tracing skills. Using the largest triangle and a wide ruler they can trace straight lines across the triangle. The initial direction was given about how to trace the lines and then to cut as close to the lines as possible. They will follow these lines for cutting practice.

While doing that the toddler was busy gluing the back of the 2 cut sections. I glued them in place. Then I provided a sheet of colorful dots (circles) for working fine motor and eye-hand coordination. We also had some crossing the midline because of working on the floor and reaching over to place the dots.

Once the oldest completed cutting along the lines, it was time to step into the next part of the lesson – size sequencing. Directions: lay out the cut sections largest to smallest. Once that was done the gluing began. Glue the pieces onto a larger sheet of paper to reform the triangle. Some children have to glue up tight, others will leave space. Here you can see the cut lines because a bit of space was left between each section.  Also got the colored dots.

When the intended lesson was done, as the interest was still present, I provided some additional star stickers. Always looking for ways to extend an activity as directed by the children.

All working in the same space with the same basic supplies. Each ended up with a decorated triangle tree that worked skills appropriate to their developmental level and needs.

 

 

November 16, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Running and Music

Running and Music

Over the years it seems I keep having groups of children that love to run to special songs on favorite soundtracks. No matter what they were/are in the middle of doing when the song comes on the running starts. Since we play music throughout the day, there are many chances to run! The running also is always around our inside climbing gym, no matter the physical changes to the space.

The past was from the Cars movie soundtrack. This was a favorite for years…………..

The current is from Moana, a newer Disney movie.

Thankfully both soundtracks have good music with lots of variety, so listening to over and over day in and out is ok 🙂

 

 

 

November 7, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on A New Painting Tool

A New Painting Tool

It’s fun to paint with lots of different tools. It opens up the creative process for young children. One of my favorite painting tools is recycled oatmeal containers. Today, these came out for the first time with my current group of young learners.

Oatmeal containers are the perfect size to fit a regular 8×12 paper, with a large enough opening to be able to easily add items of different shapes and sizes of items to paint with. They are also the perfect size for young children to handle – shaking, rolling, or tipping.

Today’s creative activity started with the primary colors: red and yellow. I asked what color we would get when we mixed them together – not comfortable or immediate knowledge for everyone. As I began to mix however, the answer came strongly – “Orange.” We have a pretty good handle on colors, but not how the primary colors combine to form other colors – that’s where the lesson comes in.

We used our recycled salad servers for handling the movement of our collection of acorns from our orange paint to the oatmeal container. Great for fine motor, eye-hand coordination, and problem solving. This group also saw a good bit of crossing the midline the way they were using the tools. Then it was time to get the covers on and make their container move.

It was discovered that by adding more acorns at a time the paper had a lot more paint on it.

Now our paintings could go home as is, but thinking it will be more fun to use as a background for another creative project…………

October 12, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Beans Stalks in Our Future?

Beans Stalks in Our Future?

Last week I posted a picture of an experiment we set up to see if some bean seeds would grow. Well, we’ve been watching and they have grown.

It was time to take the experiment apart, examine results and expand our learning:

  

  • How the outer shell splits and comes off the bean;
  • Where roots begin to sprout from;
  • How a shoot begins to grow;
  • How you can see the green bean split and leaves start;
  • How the green beans wrinkles (dries up) as the leaves grow;
  • How the roots spread out;
  • How all look alike!

Then we got to plant the beans to see if we can grow some bean stalks. 

Another chance to observe over time………….. Who says gardening is only for the Spring 🙂

October 6, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Fall Lessons continue……..

Fall Lessons continue……..

We’ve worked in Apples and Pumpkins through daily activities, stories, snacks and lunches, exploration boxes and just general conversations. Most of the interest is currently on seeds.

Tied seeds and apple work together to make a book that compressed the life cycle of an apple. Our life cycle was seed – blossom – fruit – harvest. This group has an understanding that plants grow from seeds planted in the ground. That plants need water and sunlight to grow. That the food grows from a flower. That the food has more seeds inside it and these will grow into the food they came from if planted.

To make the book we colored a large sheet of drawing paper using the colors of apples we had to explore.

   

This sheet was then folded to make our book. The children glued the pre-cut images into their books. I added words with our discussion on the images and apple cycle.

   Of course the books headed home.

Then our seeds exploration headed outside to gather different seeds. The Fall is actually a great time for this because it’s when plants and trees are loaded with seeds.

We brought the seeds inside to explore further. We had seeds from weeds, grasses, trees, herbs and a couple of the beans for drying that were not dry yet.

First we took the beans out of their pods and set up a growing experiment: glass jar, paper towels, water and beans. We’ll be checking to see if the beans sprout on the south facing windowsill.  

The rest of the seed heads were handled, checked with magnifying glasses, shaken in small tubes, smelled, hammered, blown …………..

 

Still checking maple pods to see if they contain seeds while outside at play. More acorns keep finding their way inside also.

September 17, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Learning Happens from “Can I Help?”

Learning Happens from “Can I Help?”

I spent Saturday in the company of a diverse group of professionals and parents that are interested in where early childhood education is heading nationally, but especially in Maine. It was interesting to talk with a Montessori Preschool teacher, public school Pre-K teacher, center director and staff, parent ambassadors, College professor, and Head start teachers, about programs. A good amount of discussion was around structured curriculum with planned activities done on schedule, but wanting to be flexible to go where children lead. Research supports the importance of play in a child’s learning and the value of child directed activities. As teachers we also have options about how we approach our roles to support, encourage, challenge, and expand a child’s learning.

I shared how I’ve got unit/curriculum plans developed that work with the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards, but I see the ultimate learning for young children as coming from involving them in normal daily life activities. Dramatic play is fine, but real life is best. Our dramatic play reinforces the learning experienced in the real activity. I think back to what I experienced as a child. I played outside, exploring my environment and my place in it, all the time. When inside I had free access to art/craft supplies, puzzles and books. Today, I take the experiences of my childhood and add in my teacher skills to reinforce the learning opportunities that occur just as part of our normal day. I do get to pull in some of those planned unit activities that are on file in the reinforcing and expanding.

I believe that children learn best through their play, guiding us in what they need, but they also benefit from having any learning opportunity expanded. It’s having that balance of leaving it up to them to guide and finding the opportunities to expand learning that is always the fun challenge for me.

Here’s the example I shared in the discussion:

I have always hung laundry out to dry in good weather. Not an activity many of today’s children are exposed to, as most families use the dryer today. Whenever we head out back to play and the children see a clothes basket at the clothesline they want to help me. I don’t think about that it will take longer, I immediately think about which child is asking to help and what learning can I support.

  • Do we count clothespins needed to hang clothes – 2 shirts means 4 clothespins, 2 for each item = 2+2 = 4, then it’s counting out the clothespins to me. For some it also means sorting clothespins to find matches, as I have 2 different kinds of clothespins and they want them to be the same. It doesn’t matter to me.
  • One helper always wants to practice clipping pins, so I make sure to hang pants up first. Pants they can reach the bottom of to clip to. There isn’t much better fine motor with some science thrown in than working clip clothespins.

 

  • We sort out socks, sort colors, etc.  I now also hang different types of clothes on different lines for even more sorting.
  • We talk about where you wear what. This leads to expanded story play with what we call the “Ooops” book (Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton which is a daily read within our space and can be retold easily). It’s fun to talk about wearing pants on our head,before I hang them. That always gets an “Ooops” and correction on where to wear them. You never know what will be worn where. Young children are creative and love “silly”.
  • Language expansion with color names, labeling body parts, and when a preschooler tells you the clothes are all “twisted” – expand that – what is meant, how are they, other descriptive words for “twisted”……
  • Science of why hang the clothes?, what dries them?, with it be fast today? – sun and wind
  • Counting the items – in total, by group, by color, on each line
  • Compare number of items hung on each line, why more or less
  • Weight of wet clothing

The children come and go with helping as they want and need. All this learning isn’t forced. It’s chosen by the child. It also includes teamwork, self-esteem, sense of responsibility, sense of accomplishment, self control and aware of abilities that are important developmentally for young learners.

My goal every day is to have this type of learning happening all day long.  A Head Start teacher stated she would so liketo be offering the same type of learning opportunities, but is required to have written plans that are done ahead. We actually did a bit of brainstorming to see if there might be ways to write out skills/standards met by everyday daily life activities that could be linked to on her plans, so she could move her program in this direction.

I appreciate that the families here understand how their young learners are being supported through including the children in what are normal life activities and expanding learning within those activities.

 

September 6, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Apples, Apples and Apples

Apples, Apples and Apples

Rainy day, so no stick collecting today. Perfect to make applesauce and do some of the apple activities I have gathered for Fall lessons.

It all starts with observation of our apples:

  • numbers 1-12, one-to-one correspondence
  • shape: 2D circle and 3D sphere
  • parts:
    • stem (“hangs from a tree”)
    • blossom
    • skin
  • compare size and weight
  • color:
    • red
    • green
    • yellow

Then it’s off to the kitchen to make a simple applesauce. We used my apple peeler. This simple machine peels, spiral cuts and cores the apple safely allowing the children to participate.

    

When the cores snap in half we also get to see the “star” (another shape) inside each apple. The children immediately observed the seeds within the star. Another chance to count.

After getting the apples onto the stove we enjoyed some painting. Red and green paints on manila (yellowish) paper.

    

Also used the broken cores to stamp stars onto our apples. The children had earlier observed that the Paula Red apples had dots all over their skin. The star gave a little of this look.

While the applesauce cools down, we read:

  • Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson
  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

We began to learn an action song: “Two Little Apples”

Way up high in an apple tree,
2 little apples smiled down at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down came the apples,
Yummmmmmm, were they good!

Back to the kitchen to taste test the sauce. Success!

Perfectly tasty plain, but will add a bit of cinnamon sugar for lunch today. We’ll keep the rest plain to use for some baking later this week.

Finished up our morning exploring the new flannel board. We sorted red, green and yellow circles into 3 separate baskets. Then it was about putting them back up on the tree, sort, place back.

     

This activity will be openly available to use during the day.

The books will also be available for reading with our iPads and QR codes.

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