COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

April 1, 2014
by countryfun
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It’s Time to Get the Sun Lotion Out!

I sat at my desk with the sun lotion in hand as snack finished up and immediately upon seeing it the children lined up. They know sun lotion means lots of outside play.

It’s so nice to see the Sunshine with warmer days again. We took full advantage of it this morning and you can be sure the afternoon will be the same. We made it through a very cold winter that saw limited outside time by staying busy inside, but there is nothing like outside play for an active group of children.

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March 18, 2014
by countryfun
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New Incident Report Form

bandaidWe do pretty good around here when it comes to injuries, so I haven’t worried too much about just noting what happened, discussing it with the guardian and having it signed off on. In continuing to work to be sure I am meeting licensing  and Quality for ME guidelines, I have been cleaning up and/or developing forms. Some of these you will never see, but the Incident Report is one you might.  The new form will be online in Google Drive. This makes it easy to access, complete immediately, and maintain for records.  I will be able to email a copy to the guardian while maintaining one for my records. This format will also include the ability of visual documentation as appropriate.

The form will look like this:

incident

 

Unhappily, found out today it works as I had hoped for easy documentation. Be sure I am not planning on having to use too often.

March 11, 2014
by countryfun
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“No, I saw it yesterday.”

The end of last week found us outside doing a little animal track hunting. The snow is crusty enough to allow for walking on top of and with a new dusting of snow there were lots of animal tracks to observe.

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As part of figuring out what tracks belong to what animal or bird we have also been observing and noting the visitors to the bird feeding area.

  • Crows
  • red squirrel
  • lots of gray squirrels
  • variety of birds
  • neighborhood cat
  • hawk

Then Sunday my husband spotted a opossum in the lilac bush. I was able to get a few photos and video I figured to share with the kids. This is not an animal I had seen up close before and figured they might not have also.

possum

While sharing the photos and video “R” came over and then headed for the window because she wanted to see the possum. As I was explaining to her these pictures were from Sunday, she started to talk about the possum she was watching. The other kids and I went to see this. Sure enough that possum was back at the feeding tray.

How often would something like this happen?

We’ll take advantage of grabbing their interest and do some unexpected learning/lesson around this special visitor. Be looking for the facts we dig up.

 

March 6, 2014
by countryfun
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Language Basics?

DSC04026

Having mixed ages in the program means I always have many developmental levels here at any given time. Language/speech is always an area where discussions on development and possible concerns are occurring with parents. I have my training in language development, but am always on the look out for relevant and understandable information to pass along to families.
This blog article from Twodaloo , a speech-language pathologist, clearly defines language, speech and communication.

I love how she starts from the belief point that before one can begin working to support a child’s language development, there needs to be a basic understanding of what language actually is. Makes sense doesn’t it, but how many of us understand the difference between language and speech?

That is what this series on Language Basics is going to support or develop our knowledge about.

I have enjoyed reading all the posting in this series. (Click here for a direct link to all postings.) On the same page you can also link to articles on developing language through sensory play, music and art.

I look forward to discussing any questions or points raised through these readings with you.

March 5, 2014
by countryfun
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Thinking About Social Media’s Impact on My Job……

What is my job as a teacher of young children?

For me it is to provide the children that come into my care with the tools and knowledge necessary to succeed at whatever they choose to do.

How do I continue to update my practice and refresh my ideas?

It can be very isolating being an Early Childhood Educator who has chosen to operate her own in-home child care. One might have organizations that meet monthly in their local area and annual conferences, but how do you keep yourself refreshed daily? Over the years, I have been fortunate to develop a small personal network with different child care providers in my area that I can call on at any time for support, as sounding boards and resources. There is also a very active local group that draws from a wider community, so I get exposure to more diverse perspective on issues, concerns and solutions. With the growth of online training I have also been able to broaden the issues I can gain knowledge on. For me the biggest change has been in the growth of online communities that are all about sharing. It has been incredible to connect with others working with children from all over the world. It has been professionally stimulating becoming involved in in-depth discussions online with peers. It is both reaffirming and inspiring.

How to balance time being involved with an online community and social media……

thAs I stepped into the online community time management was a concern. Learning something new though often takes additional time at the beginning, so I set aside time where I could focus on what skills I needed to acquire to “see a return” on the time spent. As I became more knowledgable and thus comfortable with sites and what each offered me, I have found that I actually spend less time in the development of lessons and researching current trends and issues. Having these online communities means rather than being one person trying to find all the information for herself, there are hundreds gathering their resources and sharing. I am getting exposure to resources I never would have found on my own. I have taken shared ideas and developed alternative organizational methods that have not only cut time in lesson development, but freed up space by going paperless. My computer has become my go to teaching manual, my lesson plan book, my filing cabinet and my staff room. As this change occurred it was a real eye opener to see the time saved by accessing online files verses paper notes, tagged teaching books or even storage boxes labeled by theme or month. As I stated, initially, I did have to spend time getting everything in place or in an order that worked for me, which is often the case whenever you start something new. Once there I find my time better spent. I can accomplish so much more in the same amount of time. I also find I am continuing to challenge myself to explore new ideas and new tools. That is a great side benefit.

To follow most of the blogs and websites I repeatedly find relevant information on, I use a RSS reader. Others are followed through Facebook and Google+. I broke up who I follow between these 3 programs considering information gained. Ones where I am most likely to want to read the complete post are in my RSS. With the RSS reader, I do not waste time checking each blog to see if there are new posts that day as they only highlight new blogs posts. Ones I found myself commenting with and pinning from are in Google+ if they are there. The rest are in Facebook. It’s easy to change things if I find the need. With this set-up I can scan all this material in under 20 minutes a day. Nothing is done through email notifications which frees up my email.

The biggest change came when I became aware of Pinterest and was accepted into it. I am a visual person and immediately loved how it was set up as virtual bulletin boards. I liked the freedom to organize my boards in an order that made sense to me. That I could group/title/theme boards as I wished. It was wonderful to be able to take all those neat ideas I was finding online and gather them in one place. I had been bookmarking, but found half the time I could not remember the title of the idea, so spent tons of time hunting through my ever growing list of bookmarks. To add a picture took multiple steps and cost$. Pinterest is free, you grab a picture, add notes/tags/key words and best of all there is a direct link back to the original posting attached to the picture. For the few articles that do not have photos I still bookmark, but most sites today have something you can pin. I also repin the ideas that others find, again saving time searching resources over many venues. Again gaining from the larger community. A little time investment for a large return.

For many on Pinterest the question is:”Do you use anything or do these pins just sit there?”

I’m a user. Just as I gathered tags in books and paper clippings in file folders, I gather pins. I am continually using ideas gathered here. I find it such an easy resource tool that it is the first place I go when an idea is needed.

An example of how the value of my online connections improve my teaching:

Photo: What is your job as a teacher?</p><p>For me it is to provide my students with the tools and knowledge necessary to succeed at whatever they choose to do.</p><p>How do you continue to update your practice and refresh your ideas?</p><p>It can be very isolating being an Early Childhood Educator who has chosen to operate her own in-home child care. One might have organizations that meet monthly in their local area and annual conferences, but how do you keep yourself refreshed daily? Over the years, I have been fortunate to develop a small personal network with different child care providers in my area that I can call on at any time for support, as sounding boards and resources. There is also a very active local group that draws from a wider community, so I get exposure to more diverse perspective on issues, concerns and solutions. With the growth of online training I have also been able to broaden the issues I can gain knowledge on. For me the biggest change has been in the growth of online communities that are all about sharing. It has been incredible to connect with others working with children from all over the world. It is both reaffirming and inspiring.</p><p>If you are involved with an online community or social media how do you balance the time? </p><p>Initially this question about time was my main concern. However, I have found that I actually spend less time in the development of lessons and researching current trends and issues. Having these online communities means rather than being one person trying to find all the information for herself, there are hundreds gathering their resources and sharing. I am getting exposure to resources I never would have found on my own. I have taken suggestions and developed alternative organizational methods that have not only cut time in lesson development, but freed up space by going paperless. My computer has become my go to teaching manual, my lesson plan book, my filing cabinet. As this change occurred it was a real eye opener to see the time saved by accessing online files verses paper notes, tagged teaching books or even storage boxes labeled by theme or month.</p><p>Initially, I did have to spend time getting everything in place or in an order that worked for me, which is often the case whenever you start something new. Once there I find my time better spent. I can accomplish so much more in the same amount of time. I also find I am challenging myself to explore new ideas and new tools. That is a great side benefit.</p><p>If you are reading this you are already accessing knowledge through blogs and the community offered there. If you are not connecting further through social media, I would encourage you to explore that. Getting involved in social media sites like Facebook and Google+ have proven to be a quick way to see what is happening in other ECE environments. Through the comments I am able to find out what others find helpful, as well as links to new sources of information.</p><p>To follow most of the blogs and websites I repeatedly find relevant information on, I use a RSS reader. With the reader, I do not waste time checking each blog to see if there are new posts that day. I also do not have to go through hundreds of email notifications. I broke up who I follow between these 3 programs. Ones where I am most likely to want to read the complete post are in my RSS. Ones I found myself commenting with are in Google+ if they are there. The rest are in Facebook. It's easy to change things if I find the need.</p><p>The biggest change came when I became aware of Pinterest and was accepted into it. I am a visual person and immediately loved how it was set up as virtual bulletin boards. I liked the freedom to organize my boards in an order that made sense to me. That I could group/title/theme boards as I wished. It was wonderful to be able to take all those neat ideas I was finding online and gather them in one place. I had been bookmarking, but found half the time I could not remember the title of the idea, so spent tons of time hunting through my ever growing list of bookmarks. To add a picture took multiple steps and cost. Pinterest is free, you can grab a picture to pin quickly, notes could be as long as you need and best of all there is a direct link back to the original posting attached to the picture. For the few articles that do not have photos I still bookmark, but most sites have something you can pin. I am also repinning the ideas that others find. Again gaining from the larger community. A little time investment for a large return.</p><p>Now the question is do you use anything or do these pins just sit there?</p><p>I'm a user. Just as I gathered tags in books and paper clipping in file folders, I gather pins. I am finding it such an easy tool that I am continually using ideas gathered here.</p><p>An experience I had yesterday, really brought the value of my online connections to the forefront. I try to develop my lessons around the interests of the children, but also around what they need developmentally. There are many times that the interests are so general that I am choosing the theme  from areas I know generally interest children. This morning I had a mom tell me about how her son had developed this sudden interest in killer whales. To take advantage of this information, during rest time I went online to my Pinterest boards - Ocean Theme and checked to see if I had anything on Orcas. I did - a photo of a classroom bulletin board with sharks and orcas on it. From that I was able to check to see if there was more information, but the lesson was on sharks. However, I was able to get a close look at the orca and figure out how we could make it. I then went searching for any paper activities online. Found a coloring page and with Google Docs I made a dot to dot. Found a general information site that I will use the length, years of life etc. for working with number awareness and comparisons. This took me less than an hour and provided materials that have allowed me to teach to an interest. I don't think I could have done this that quickly without using technology and social media.

I try to develop my lessons around the interests of the children, but also around what they need developmentally. During a morning discussion, I had a mom tell me about how her son had developed this sudden interest in killer whales. To take advantage of this information, during rest time I went online to my Pinterest board: Ocean Theme and checked to see if I had anything on Orcas. I did – a photo of a classroom bulletin board with sharks and orcas on it. From that I was able to check to see if there was more information, but the lesson was on sharks. However, I was able to get a close look at the orca and figure out how we could make it. I then went searching for any paper activities online. Found a coloring page and with Google Docs I made a dot to dot. Found a general information site that I will use the length, years of life etc. for working with number awareness and comparisons. This took me less than an hour and provided materials that allowed me to teach to an interest over multiple days including multiple educational domains.
 
I know I could not have developed these lessons that quickly without using technology and social media.

March 4, 2014
by countryfun
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What is Too Safe Play?

Are environments and experiences becoming too safe and/or sterile for children today? Does this support their development or actually hinder it? How do we balance the benefit of learning by trial and error/failure/taking chances and society’s need for everyone to be super safe?

I really like the reflection in practice this article and the linked resources bring up ~ http://notjustcute.com/2014/01/08/wheres-the-danger/
Having worked with children in both the public schools and in my home child care for over 35 years I have seen a change in both what is allowed and expected while children play.
I come from the school that everything needs to be in balance. We can safely provide experiences for children to challenge themselves, face some fears and earn some sense of accomplishment.2011Outdoors
Children can climb trees – just limit how high and have limbs trimmed up enough that they need some body strength to reach them – no boosts allowed.

or

SANY0185 Light saber play ~ Set up a special place for it and make pool noodle saber for the younger ones to use.

Where do you draw the limit on safe play/activities?

March 3, 2014
by countryfun
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Self-Regulation in Young Children

Self-Regulation is the ability to control our personal responses in and to a situation.  For some children this is a significant problem and negatively impacts their behaviors and interactions with both peers and adults. Healthy development of self-regulation skills contributes to children becoming independent learners, as well as preventing aggressive and anti-social behaviors.

With the large variety of ages I provide care for I find myself in lots of different discussions with parents about what we are observing, what is expected and what are possible areas of concern. I thought it might be useful to note some of the developmental markers I am looking out for and use in working with the children here whether it is for toy selection, space usage, specific lesson ideas, or discipline.  Some children seem to have personalities where they seem to have this self-regulation all in place. However, self-regulation is a skill set that we need to teach and then continually reinforce. Being consistent/constant in expectations, developing routines and modeling solutions to situations support children in developing self-regulation skills.

6 months -

  • child enjoys being touched
  • actively interested in their environment
  • self-consoles (cries have a reason)

9 months -

  • is playing with an object for multiple minutes
  • attends to an individual directly interacting with them

12 months -

  • interested in music and moves body to its rhythms
  • daily has a solid daytime nap and sleeps through the night

18 months -

  • enjoys messy play
  • shows a preference for certain toys

24 months -

  • plays with a purpose
  • entertains self for 5 minutes
  • free plays with coloring materials, play dough

3 years -

  • wants to do things independently
  • participates in group play and activities

5 years -

  • daily daytime naps are usually done now
  • attends to an activity without direct supervision for at least 10 minutes

Our newest program addition this winter has been daily yoga time. thI have also found the use of an old magic wand (clear tube with glitter and colored liquid) as our “quiet stick” a good tool for focusing attention with a natural timed element to it. We sit quietly watching the glitter settle from one end to the other (about 3 minutes). Was surprised the first time used this at how quickly it quieted everyone and how calm the children were afterwards.

A “calming jar” is a mediation tool to use when one feels stressed, upset or overwhelmed. Simple directive is to shake the jar, think of the glitter as everything floating around in your busy brain (head/mind). As the glitter settles image your brain slowing down, calming down.

There are many postings for “calming jars” pinned on Pinterest that provide easy directions to make at home. I like the plastic containers and they do not need to be large. If you do not want to super glue the cap on, I have used duck tape with really good results. I have also added larger glitter pieces and even tried with a small marble in one. 

A “calming jar” is a mediation tool to use when one feels stressed, upset or overwhelmed. Simple directive is to shake the jar, think of the glitter as everything floating around in your busy brain (head/mind). As the glitter settles image your brain slowing down, calming down.

Past post with a mediation link.

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