COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

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 ūüôā

 

 

 

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.

 

February 3, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Butterflies in February!

Butterflies in February!

Having a good collection of materials that reflects common interests of young children means I can quickly gather items to be used to expand the creative play of the young children here.

As part of our kitchen gear, I have small plastic spice jars with lids that snap open/close or twist off. The twist is a bit too hard for the motor skills just yet and the snap open/close while a challenge is interesting for the children. Yesterday afternoon found the jars being played with as normal – open/close, open/close. Then there was a change……

…….”my butterfly flied away.”

I watched to see where this would lead wondering how I might encourage¬†an expansion of the play. Another child asked where the butterfly was and an answer was provided. I asked what color it was. “Blue”. I then asked if they could see¬†any other butterflies fluttering around the room? Immediately started to look around and jump up to catch them with the jars. The play keep building. I thought of the butterfly nets I have in storage (usually used in the summer – fall). I got them out and some interesting butterflies managed to be caught….. fork, wrench, stuffed turtle, book……. Parents began to pick-up, so play ended. I left the nets on the shelf wondering if might get used another day…….

Morning play found the nets in use, so I decided to expand the learning some more РWhat supplies were readily at hand?

Water color paints, coffee filters = circle, primary color and color blending to secondary colors,

divided bead storage containers and pipettes = fine motor and some science, counting, language

pipe cleaners and jumbo craft sticks = Butterfly Stick Puppets

We have reached an age where developing skills and interest is allowing for some fun creative projects, so I asked if they wanted to make butterflies this morning. “YES!!!”

Aprons on, materials ready, ¬†demonstration of pipette done, so it’s time to explore………

Two coffee filters wasn’t enough for “B”, so some scrap paper to use up the rest of the paint. All about the mixing colors now.

Off to play while drying. Once dried comes the harder part, definitely needing more adult hands-on.

  1. Gather (“smash”) the coffee filter so it makes a long, not ball shape.
  2. “Kiss” the 2 ends of a pipe cleaner and “smash” together so you bend it in half.
  3. Place the gathered coffee filter into the folded pipe cleaner. Twist it about halfway up.
  4. Now open up the filter – “It makes wings!” ¬†(I did not show a finished product, so here was the first true view of their butterfly.)
  5. Bend ends of pipe¬†cleaners for the antenna. You’re done. Or not………

I thought the children would have more fun if the butterflies were made into stick puppets. (Also thought they might last a bit longer.)

Hot glue on one end of the craft stick,  turn it over and push it down onto the pipe cleaner = a butterfly puppet.

Butterflies in Feburary from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

October 25, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Remembering Summer 2016

Remembering Summer 2016

30539186345_b40680dfe5_oAs we welcome Fall and the many changes to our days that come with truly transitioning to another season, it’s fun to look back at snapshots from our days over the past summer.

Whether it was the exploration of the nature around us on our summertime walks – like 1 garter snake saved from tires “smushing” it……..¬†img_1176_29584086402_oor garden harvests for meals – like homemade sauce……..30058070832_8a0832f1f1_o¬†or enjoying eating white raspberries with a friendly¬†grasshopper………..¬†29875285895_ef69663322_o¬†We enjoyed both our outside¬†………..

outside

and inside time………inside

 

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?

24261926649_99e56e7e39_o

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.

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!

~~~~~~~~

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

December 11, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on A Clear Dust Collection Hose + Children = Learning

A Clear Dust Collection Hose + Children = Learning

I’ve been teaching a long time and have a good file of teaching ideas to pull from, but I get excited by new ideas and approaches. For that reason I enjoy following the blogs and Facebook pages of others who work with children in many capacities. Play Counts¬†has a clear tube that the children in her program use for exploring. I was able to add one to our space and have not been surprised by the usage. When children are allowed to explore their environment it’s exciting to observe where they go.
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