COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

June 22, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Control in Picking Up

Control in Picking Up

What is control? What is the value of having said “control”?

I originally posted on this in 2011, but find it’s a good topic to repost on. When working with young children I think it’s always good practice to reflect on what we expect and the why. That’s easier to do on planning activities, but what about “clean-up”.

Reflecting on what could I have done differently in planning activities for the day I think about the interactions between the children and myself, what materials were being used, time spent on activities, questions asked, expanded learning opportunities, and where it all fits with development. I questioned if they would have benefited by bringing in other materials? Maybe more controlled movement activities? More quiet play?…. Where I believe that children learn best through their own directed play, did I honored what they were requesting?

These questions have been my guide for years. However, one night as I’m thinking things through while picking up the play space I started thinking down another avenue. Toys were scattered around everywhere. In picking up I caught myself reorganizing even what they had picked up before leaving. I stopped myself.

Why was I reorganizing these toys?

They were in baskets and off the floor, what value was there to being in baskets sorted into like items? What was important here – picked up as I asked or in the “right” basket as I defined “right”?

I want the children here to develop responsibility on all levels and part of that is taking care of the toys and materials used during our days. I provide ways and places for this organization to occur that I think make sense, are easy to use and kid friendly. Do I also need it organized like I would? The answer is no.

What I realized then and continue to believe is that it’s important that they picked up, but they do not care that they are mixed together. So who is it that cares if the musical instruments are in with the kitchen tools? I realized I don’t. All those times I reorganized those baskets – no more. The toys will be played with tomorrow, mixed together in a totally different way by happy involved children. That is what is important to me.

I think this response gives control where it needs to be. I want a clean, safe space with children taking responsibility. They will follow through on that – just picking up and placing in the closest basket, because more isn’t important to them at this developmental stage.

These are the types of questions we need to ask ourselves when interacting with young children as teachers and parents. What is the purpose of our requests of them – pick up, wear certain clothes, follow rules, etc.? Our answers will all be different. Through raising my own children and over 28 years in child care I have often said “pick your battles”. Children need to have opportunities to “control” their environment and personal choices. How can I offer these opportunities?

No more sorting of the general toy baskets for me, but playdough will not be allowed in the table drawers. It does need to be put away in it’s lidded containers. 🙂

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…………

  • I 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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 1.05.12 PM

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.

November 4, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on It’s 60+ Out!

It’s 60+ Out!

We spend a good portion of our days outside, but when it’s November, blue skies and over 60 degrees, we are totally outside except for lunch and rest time.

Our outside play supports creativity, fine and gross motor skills, social interactions, math, science and language development.

22164363383_a15d0ca84f_o 22162745334_5b511e6a0b_o

22771981822_d23ef7cf95_o 22796731711_ba41d127d5_o

How Does It Work? from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

300+ crows flying over head will definitely get a WOW! An unexpected lesson on migration, listening for “caws”, labeling parts of a bird compared to ourselves, new words, and lots of movement flapping our wings as we flew around the yard 22162728764_bab836e197_o

IMG_0615 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.
Leaf play is daily occurrence around here in the Fall and some good exercise for the raker (me).

IMG_0641 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.
First time using the walking toy outside here.

IMG_0638 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

October 7, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on My Continuing Education

My Continuing Education

October is when I make sure I have all the paperwork together needed for my relicensing. That means CPR training, health record on pets, water tests, paperwork on children in care, and my training hours. For licensing at this time, I only need 12 hours of training, but being a Step 3 on the Quality Rating System for ME I need more. I also need CEUs for renewal of my teaching certificate. To acquire the variety of hours I need I take online webinars, monthly networking with local child care providers, college classes, and daylong conferences.

After 27 years in early child care following 10 in the public classroom, it’s also interesting what is triggered through conferences and training.

This past weekend I was involved in the Fall conference put on by MaineAEYC (NAEYC state affiliate) that was about the new Maine Early Learning Developmental Standards (MELDS) for 3-5 yr olds and how to meet them through Play. Not only did I get to work on this conference, but in attending I got to spend 6 hrs. with over 100 other professionals that through their work with young children understand the importance of quality child care. So much of my practice was reinforced through discussions, but a key point of reflection was that we can let too much into our spaces and that does not serve the engagement and learning of children. I had just that week started removing toys from the space that children where just leaving around. I was seeing first hand that there was too much within our space. So, I removed half. Stepped back and then removed half again. I then reorganized the storage containers to just 5 floor baskets and moved the large play pieces around. In removing items I made sure to keep in mind where interests as well as developmental needs are for the children in care. Play in the last 2 days has been more engaged, focused and actually I’ve even seen more movement with the additional open floor space.DSC07014

I has also taken training around curriculum and assessment this summer which have lead to refinement of philosophy and policy on PLAY which can be found within the parent handbook.

There are changes coming soon with licensing and we just received a listing of new training areas they are going to be looking for us to have ~

  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases
  • SIDS and safe sleep practices
  • Administration of medication
  • Prevention/response to food allergies
  • Building and physical premises safety
  • Shaken baby syndrome and head trauma
  • Emergency preparedness and response planning
  • Storage of hazardous materials and bio contaminants
  • Transportation of children
  • First aid and CPR

We do not know if this will be yearly, take once or repeat periodically. I have taken trainings in most of these areas, but it’s good to redo as there is always new material to learn and refresh yourself on. To that end I just completed a 3 hr. training by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Prevention and control of infectious diseases. Information was not really new to me, but I will be refining my health and illness policy to support parent understanding around exclusion. I also want to share resources around illnesses to support families. I’ll included quick reference sheets in the sidebar for easy and continual access on the common cold, signs and symptoms and fever.

These will also be posted on my Facebook and Google+ pages to be viewed and shared.

 

 

May 16, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on We Have a Mini-Hoop House!

We Have a Mini-Hoop House!

I had hoped to involve the children in helping to construct the mini-greenhouse for the garden, but found it was better to get it made over the weekend myself. It was not a structure that little hands would have supported the construction of. Instead we’ll explore it together and use it together as we plant, tend and harvest through the winter.

I started with a garden area that would accommodate a 4′ x 6′ mini structure. This size will allow us to work from both sides 2′ in which works fine. That means I needed 2 – 4′ and 2 – 6′ pieces of cedar 1″x6″ to make the box frame.DSC06569

The frame was supported with corner bracing that left space for the 3/4″ pvc piping to fit behind.DSC06571  DSC06572

There are to be 4 hoops spaced 2′ apart with the ends held in place with the bracing that left the 2 middle hoops to be held in with clamps. DSC06573

It was easiest to get everything that needed nails or screws together in the garage, carry the finished frame out to the garden, place and fill with soil before placing the hoops. DSC06574

Next it was time to cover the ends with clear 6mil plastic. I used clear plastic we had on hand, although special garden plastic is suppose to last more years. The end plastic was stapled to the frame and then taped up and over the end hoops.

I then cut a length of plastic to cover the whole mini-hoop house. This was laid out and a 6′ piece of strapping was used as the ridge pole laying it over the plastic covered hoops. I screwed through the strapping and plastic into the hoops. This will not only help hold down the plastic, but ties the hoops together and adds stability to the structure. The hope is it will also help hold up to the snow we get.

I cut the plastic oversized, so I could attach 2″x3″x6′ board along each side. I rolled the plastic around the boards that were laid tight to the frame and stapled the plastic in place. DSC06578 This will both hold the plastic down tight and allow for it to be easily rolled up the hoops to make working within the hoop house easier. It will also allow for keeping the hoop house open once summer weather gets hot. I’m also trying out black foam tubing for clips to hold the plastic tight. If this doesn’t work I’ll be hunting for something like chip bag clips.

I’m thinking we’ll plant the cucumbers in here to start the season. They are suppose to like the enclosed environment. They will also be done growing in time for a fall seeding of kale, swiss chard, lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach. All these crops should be able to handle the winter cold and provide a fresh harvest. Maybe we’ll also add a tomato plant or two when we do the cucumbers……..

 

April 10, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Unexpected Lesson: Birds vs Ducks

Unexpected Lesson: Birds vs Ducks

We are always open to taking advantage of the unexpected events that happen around our space, especially in our outside environment. Today was no exception. I was checking out the birdfeeders, when I did a double take because I thought I saw 2 ducks out there eating seeds and corn. IMG_2125

Now each Spring a dip in the field next to us floods with the melting snow and ducks come in before heading to area lakes and ponds, but I’ve never seen them at the feeders. I think the unexpected multiple inches of wet snowfall left the field pond slushy and here was an alternative food source.

DSC06434I immediately let the children know we had special visitors at the feeders and they came quickly to the window. When I asked them who the visitors were they answered “Ducks.” I began asking questions to stretch the learning from this event. Questions like:

  • “Where did the ducks come from?”
  • “How did the ducks get here?”
  • “How many ducks do you see?”
  • “What is different about the ducks?”

Their answers lead to other questions like:

  • “Why can’t ducks sit in trees?”
  • “Why do you think the smaller duck is brown?”
  • “What do ducks and birds both have?”

Their answers were so thoughtful and leading to further learning.

Mallard Pair from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

While watching the ducks until they left, I decided we needed to get the points from the conversation down, immediately thinking Venn Diagram. Two items with common and different parts we could compare and chart while keeping the conversation going.

DSC06435I asked if they wanted to make a science chart about what they know about birds and ducks. With a strong “Yes!” I got some paper and markers and we settled in as a group.

I explained this chart has 3 parts where we can write down about birds in one, ducks in another and what both have in the middle. I also told them this special science chart was called a Venn Diagram, because I think it’s important to expose them to mathematical and scientific terms when we can.

As you can see we filled in our chart quite nicely with all our observations about what is similar and different about Birds and Ducks ~DSC06438

I also had some help with the writing by my inquisitive 1 yr. old. Cap on so help welcome.

Now having the markers out lead to wanting to use them for drawing, so it was off to the art tables. I got out a variety of coloring tools and paper before I hung up our Birds vs Ducks Venn Diagram.DSC06439 DSC06441  DSC06440

Now this pair of ducks visited us multiple times over the day, so we had more conversations about them being a pair and that became “mommy and daddy duck”. At the end of the day we decided to see if we could see their footprints.

IMG_2131_2

* Update: 9am Friday and the ducks are back at the feeders. Will need to get some more seed out after they leave. Wonderr where conversations will lead today?

January 13, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Snaps of Our Days

Snaps of Our Days

A good part of my day is spent observing. This means I am watching and noting what individual children are doing, what groups of children are doing, how the space is working for the activities of current interest, what are those current interests…..just to start. I have found that having visual documentation of what I am seeing helps greatly in this. Many of the photos and video taken are posted separately for more detail about the activity or project.

But every now and then I like to just provide you with some of the snaps I’ve taken throughout the last few weeks………………..

Snow play means angels and shovels for toddlers and preschoolers…

DSC06057 DSC06051

Playing Doctor…….learning how the tools work….

DSC06030 DSC06038

Building forts……..DSC06074  DSC06076

Building towers…….

DSC06018 DSC06024  DSC06020  or exploring balance …..DSC06035

a visit from a hawk (to the feeders we watch daily)…..DSC06014

art & math – shape collage …DSC06033

math & science – shape graphing…DSC06048

sound exploration…DSC06007

body parts movement game (helping to get it made, so we can play)…DSC06064

lot’s of kitchen time…using tools, tasting, set-up and clean-up ….DSC06070

Little People are still of major interest…

DSC06039

Fixing the climbing gym is a close second…

DSC06025

Learning to watch out for and include the littlest one who is now totally mobile….

DSC06027

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Please prove that you are not a robot.

Skip to toolbar