COUNTRY FUN

an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

May 23, 2016
by countryfun
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2016 Garden Off to Good Start…….

Last year I received a grant from Opportunity Alliance for extending the gardening season. With it we built a seedling grow station, a small hoop house and purchased row covering materials. We also purchased materials for supporting a lot of tomato plants. Everything except the hoop house worked as hoped for last year. The hoop house didn’t take us through the winter as hoped, but it did lengthen the season some. This year I changed up the usage of these materials some to really support growing our own food source and not just experimenting.

Decided to grow only seedlings we had success with last year and ate: cabbages, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squashes, kale, lettuce and herbs. I’ll support our local farmers with some seedling purchases of broccoli, brussels sprouts, and early crop of lettuce.

2016Garden

Some seeds were early into the garden and sprouting under row cover. Our warmer weather seedlings are hardening off outside during the day and in at night this week. They’ll make their way into the garden shortly, as frost date is past and warmer regular weather. Also have a good variety of seeds that like the warmer soil and onion sets to get in the ground. The onion sets and larger seeds are very small hand friendly for my young planting helpers. The herbs are into the hoop house this year to see if we can lengthen their harvesting season.

We also have last year’s leaves to mulch the rows with, mixing in newspaper we’ve recycled and been using for scissor practice.

Gardening with children of any age offers so many learning opportunities. At the preschool age the following indicator areas of the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS) are supported:

  • Emotional Development – self concept, self-regulation
  • Social Development – building relationships with adults
  • Approaches to Learning – initiative & curiosity, engagement & persistence
  • Early Language and Litaracy – comprehension & collaboration, presentation of knowledge & ideas, vocabulary acquisition & use, integration of knowledge & ideas, research to build & present knowledge-writing
  • Physical Development and Health – nutrition, fine motor, gross motor,physical health status
  • Math – mathematical practices, counting & cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, geometry, measurement & data
  • Science – earth science, life science
  • Social Studies – civics and government, economics, geography, history

May 16, 2016
by countryfun
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It’s Rhubarb Time!

We’re back in the garden! Harvesting from the rhubarb bed has started. That means lots of kitchen time with the children here. We’re using some of our favorite recipes which you can find in postings on Countryfun is Cooking. Just search “rhubarb”.

This morning we made the Rhubarb Muffins to have for our afternoon snack.  A quick, easy and tasty recipe that also freezes well.

I enjoy being in the kitchen with the children. So many learning opportunities and there is usually something unexpected. Let’s start with Reading – idea of written directions in a recipe, names on ingredient containers, alphabet identification

Team work – gathering of materials, positioning to watch and help, working with peers and adult

Language – ingredients, tools, techniques, questions raised and answers provided

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Math, science and social studies –  measuring ingredients and counting. We also compare measuring tools and talk fractions. Smell for vinegar and vanilla. Taste brown sugar.

Where do eggs come from? Love getting the store as an answer:) More discussion on eggs coming from chickens with the farmer bringing to the store. Even better answer of “Ducks!”

More science as oil and milk blend. Then brown sugar dissolving in liquid. Flour going from dry to wet as we mix ingredients together and finally the baking. More math when we set oven temp and time the baking.

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Did you notice we used 3 different sized spoons in today’s baking? One of the children did. Thankfully he commented on the difference size handles, so I could take advantage of the observation for more learning. So of course we had a closer comparison of the 3 spoons for bowl size, handle length and a discussion on why they worked better for the reasons used for today. Largest for mixing. Middle for scooping dough for muffins. Smallest for scraping dough off scooping spoon.

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Last counting for this morning equaled 24. The recipe made 2 dozen muffins loaded with rhubarb – one very healthy and underused early spring vegetable.

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March 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Milk to Plastic?

Milk to Plastic?

Sometimes you see something in your resources and you just have to try it. We had a lot of building happening here this morning along with a observation of a pair of Mallard ducks that visited our bird feeders. I thought I could bring in a little science experiment. If it worked we could use it for building/modeling with. If not then it’s a different type of learning.

This experiment came from How Wee Learn. It about the process of turning milk to plastic. She has been very successful in doing this within her K class.

I try not to use food as part of our play, but I also hate to waste food. I have some milk that is beyond date and will use most of it for baking, but thought could use the remainder for this experiment. Where I use vinegar as a cleaner I always have that on hand. Small group this morning so perfect time to pull in a science experiment.

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As gathered supplies we expanded language, worked on following directions. We smelled the milk and vinegar – good sensory! Measured out milk and into microwave. As numbers got low enough we watched and counted down. Measured again for the vinegar. Compare measuring tools and counting each TBLSP. Then it was taking turns as we used a fork to mix.

Now the observation of change in matter/ chemical reaction between the vinegar and milk. I did not explain why this happened because this young group really wouldn’t understand about milk protein. We just noticed solid and liquid.

We discussed how to get the water out and decided needed paper towels. We used our muscle power to push down until no new wet spots occurred. Then we explored our “Plastic from Milk”.

Ours was a lot of crumbs. It didn’t stick together really well, so we used for sensory and descriptive words – soft, rubbery, squishy, cold…..

We thought about why maybe we didn’t get a ball of plastic? Our milk was skim milk without much fat. We think the fat is what makes the milk balls that squishes together for the plastic ball. We’ll try whole milk or cream next time and test that thought out.

Sometimes it’s good to have an experiment not work as expected. It provides that opportunity to test your thoughts, ideas, make changes and try again. Learning from failure is as important as from success.

March 21, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Exploring Usage of Seesaw: The Learning Journal

Exploring Usage of Seesaw: The Learning Journal

I have been using technology tools for years in documenting the learning that occurs here. With new apps and programs being developed this usage has continued to evolve.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 1.18.59 PMI have just recently been introduced to Seesaw: The Learning Journal a student driven digital portfolio. I didn’t initially explore this app very far because I saw it as student driven and I wasn’t sure how it could be used with my young group. Lucky for me as part of pulling together a workshop for other providers about e-Portfolios I was connected with an early grades teacher who uses Seesaw with her group. From First hand knowledge she was able to explain that yes the students have an ownership, but the teacher also can easily post. The other part is that parent have direct access to their child’s acct. Loved seeing that this app would involve teacher documentation, student direct engagement in their learning and parent involvement.

So…………

  • IMG_0805I have set up an account for our class.
  • The classroom QRS is posted!
  • I’m watching tutorial videos to get as good a handle on how I can efficiently use this within our space, especially in teaching the children to take responsibility for documenting the learning that’s important to them.
  • I’ve started documenting and posting to student accounts.
  • Once I get a few more posts up and organize the student accounts, I’ll be sending home the invite to parents/guardians to access their child’s portfolio.

 

Believing that the connection with families is very important to a child’s development, being able to find alternative ways for this engagement to happen is important to me. With Seesaw families will be notified of updates to their child’s Seesaw journal. They will not have to remember to periodically check into the current e-Portfolios.

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Knowing the connection that has currently been built through Country Fun’s social media platforms, I expect Seesaw’s immediate, visual updates to actually get viewed by parents.  This will allow for more informed discussion with both me as teacher and their child.

So………..

Parents be on the lookout for that invite to Seesaw………thinking within the week.

January 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on No Snowpant Play

No Snowpant Play

With warmer weather and a clear driveway my young group wants bikes, cars and chalk when we head out to play. That means “no snowpants play” and much easier movement for young ones. But I want them to also explore the snow. How to combine the two depends on how I can engage the current interests. Often with this group I just need to start doing something and they want to know what I’m doing and try it.

That worked today!24521279442_33ea1732a0_o

 

Making and throwing snowballs. Grab a handful of snow from the edge of the drive. Smush it together and throw as far as you can.

 

 

Making a mini fairy snowman. I made the body and started to collect natural elements to finish it off. Then the children wanted to help which meant adding more snow. Watched a young one add, have it fall, add again, then take it off, add again. Smiles and laughs throughout each step. I’m thinking interesting way to learn about how snow sticks together, weight affecting it, push and pull and some fine motor work.

fairy snowman 1/16/16 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

 

24334108230_b37600d0bf_o24521309252_9334138d10_oTopped it off bringing out the snow painting squirt bottles. Definitely frustrating for little hands, but they stick with it to see the snow change colors.

 

 

 

What happens when you use chalk in water?

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Why does ice and snow melt? How fast does it happen? Which disappears first?

All this between the bike and car play.

1/26/16 community helpers vehicle play from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

January 28, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on A Snowball Sensory Box

A Snowball Sensory Box

Sensory play is not only fun, but it’s an important learning experience for young children. Today I brought out one of my winter sensory boxes. I think of this one as the “snowball box” because it’s all white and contains mostly round objects. The ribbon lengths add some of the glitter found with new snow.

To take this experience further I added some different tubes to the table. This group enjoys putting items into containers. They like to stack building blocks. They like to count. Knowing this and providing materials to support their interests, as I expected, the play changed.

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To expand the learning I was able to direct the exploration into sizes and textures. We used different descriptive words starting from the concept of opposites. While exploring in this direction the children discovered that different sounds were occurring. They directed their learning at this point.

One simple sensory box =

  • cooperative play
  • fine motor
  • descriptive language
  • expressive language
  • self-esteem
  • math – shape, counting, volume
  • opposites/comparisons
  • sound
  • focus/attention span

One full morning of fun!

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As part of ongoing authentic assessment the videos here and additional ones taken will be used in planning future learning experiences and documented in ePortfolios connecting with the Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS).

Here are 10 of the MELDS that were demonstrated this morning:

  1. Communicates math ideas verbally and non-verbally
  2. Recognizes the relationship between numbers and quantities
  3. Transitions from rote counting to 1:1 correspondence
  4. Matches similar shapes
  5. Explores three-dimensional and two-dimensional shapes in the environment
  6. Begins to speak audibly and, with prompting and support, express thoughts, feelings, and idea
  7. Chooses individual activities
  8. Develops increased capacity to share materials or caregiver/teacher’s attention
  9. Uses materials and equipment purposefully, safely and respectfully
  10. Explores objects and materials, and interacts with others in a variety of new settings

January 6, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Oh, Elmer’s Special Day!

Oh, Elmer’s Special Day!

We have our hands on books all day long here.

We also like retelling using our flannel board.

Then we have our interactive ebooks both borrowed and owned.

A favorite ebook that always loaded on the iPad is Elmer’s Special Day by Oceanhouse Media. (I have found Oceanhouse Media is a great first source for interactive book apps.).

With 2 children here today that love to paint it was no surprise child directed learning lead to a painting activity. This one came about after enjoying the interactive Elmer’s Special Day book app multiple times. Elmer’s Special Day allows for a variety of extension activities about color, being unique, and friendship just to start.

You can use one of the available patterns online (find some on my Elmer’s Pinterest board), but I just drew out the simple Elmer elephant shape to fit the larger paper we were using. With small paint pots of multiple colors and cotton swabs gathered, the children provided the fine motor and creative imagination needed for this activity.

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They asked for the elephants to be cut out to take home. Which I did as cutting skills are still about learning to work the scissors right now.

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