Family Activity Ideas
Build the Bag
- Books with crayon theme
- Box of crayons (good quality - nothing ruins a colouring experience like bad crayons!)
- Texture plates
- Adult colouring pages
- Children's colouring pages
Family Activity Ideas
Build the Bag
I have the toughest time designing my classrooms. Where I work, we are encouraged to follow a Reggio-Emilia design style, I WISH I had a Waldorf style classroom, and I am naturally a maximallist (which is the exact opposite of a Waldorf classroom style) and we are given stock furniture. Some of the furniture is the BEST, and some is awful.... and it all depends on your room.
The Views from the Door:
- My already messy teacher table is to the right. This is where we meet for whole group.
- The dragon flying from the ceiling was what the class worked on last year. A few of the kids are staying in the pre-kinder program due to age restrictions, so I wanted it to stick around - plus it is way cool!
- Below is our communal wash basin. We go to the bathroom for before snack, but I wanted a ritual as the children came in. Since the first thing we do is a sensory experience at the table, I thought hand washing might be a good idea. Idea completely stolen from the local Waldorf school!
- Below is the Prayer Table. Pretty basic right now... will soon be changed to an awesome Dragon scene in honor of Michaelmas!
Atelier (Art) Area
I was super lucky last year to have a separate space for my Atelier. We could keep all the mess and loose parts safely tucked away during certain times, and it was easy to close off when it was time for cleaning!
This time, I am not so lucky. That said, I am hoping this space will work well, albeit a much small space!
I love when teachers separate their crayons by colour - I think it really helps the kids with their categorizing and plus it looks beautiful. However, I hate the lack of functionality with separate jars. Do I (or do the kiddos) want to carry over ten different colours to the table so I can complete my drawing? Nada gonna happen! So I just grabbed a wood block from my shed and drilled some holes in it. It was going to be all beautifully stained, but I lose focus easily when I am doing DIY projects - so it is au naturel!
One of the stock furniture pieces we are given is this hard to describe house. It is a three-part divider, that on the outside looks like a house. However, it is wobbly and takes up a ton of room! Since I don't have a separate space for children who are overwhelmed by the activity in the classroom, I decided to make some quiet centers in behind this house area.
Table set up currently as a Math Table.
High interest puzzles.
Some science manips - natural tree blocks, magnatiles (my favourite!!!), and magnifying glasses. Next to this shelf is one of my large sensory tables, that will probably be filled with items from our Autumn nature walks as September goes on.
Light table under loft. There are light table blocks stored below, and in the plant hanger there are going to be other manips for the light table. The scarf hangers will eventually be used for ribbon weaving.
Our house center is located upstairs in the loft.
My favourite place to explore and play is the construction/transportation area, so as you can see, I gave it a huge space. We have ramps, large hollow blocks, lego, wooden blocks, a train set, wooden cars, hot wheels... I love me some construction time!
View from the construction area towards the front of the room.
I have a combined small scene (e.g. barnyard, dollhouse, etc) and dress-up area. The dress-up clothes are mostly scarves right now, but perhaps will expand.
The reading area below, which will sometimes include iPads.
A dear friend framed this quote for me one year, I think for Christmas. I have been known as the "messy" teacher, and she would already remind me that the majority of the mess in my room was from fun projects and activities we were doing! It makes me smile every time I see it!
Writing center below, and we will just be starting with our chalkboards. Below that is the only sensory bin I have for now, and we are using it as a "snip" bin for students to randomly cut things (paper, straws, etc) to practice their grip.
I didn't really take a picture of it, but I have two rectangular tables in the middle of the room put together lengthwise (or family style) for snack-time.
That is my room! We will see how much it changes as our community builds and our needs/interests change!
It has been forever since I have posted, but I promise I will try to get back at it!
The class has been exploring Outer Space recently. I brought in a book I got (on sale!) that has images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. I think it is this one:
The children would regularly browse through it, but I never took it anywhere. However, the images are sooo gorgeous, and I was inspired by a blog post from "Make it ... a Wonderful Life" that used pastels to create different nebulae.
My kiddos have not shown much interest in pastels, so I am not so sure they will buy into the provocation in the way I am hoping. However, they have done a lot of loose parts work with my co-teacher, and I think I will see a lot of creative designs from them using the glass dots and the recycled mini dvds. Here are a few more "Before" pics, and I will post some process ones ASAP!
What is this book about?
Working in the Reggio Way is an introductory book to the Reggio Emilia style of schooling originating in Italy. It is by an American teacher to spent time in Reggio Emilia working in their early learning programs, and how she has adapted the philosophies for North American schools.
Theoretical or Practical?
For the most part, this book focuses more on the "what" rather than the "how" of Reggio. That said, it never makes the theory feel heavy or academic. The book is an extremely easy read, and enjoyable. It is full of anecdotes and great moments. Was I able to go out the next day and implement practices? Nope, but I certainly had food for thought the moment I began reading.
Do I recommend the book?
100% yes! I loved this book and in many ways I felt like it was a slap in the face, but in a good way! A complete wake-up call for my teaching. She had so many excellent points about viewing our children as capable and competent and how to reflect on how that should change our teaching and classroom environment. Plus, it was an enjoyable read, which is always great when you are reading about educational practices.
- Easy, quick read
- Enjoyable narration without a condescending author
- Excellent points in every chapter
- Interesting anecdotal moments and stories from the classroom
- Short and sweet
- No photographs
- Limited practical suggestions (there were attempts, but I found them still based more in theory rather than "do in your classroom tomorrow" type stuff)
Quotes I Can't Get Out of my Head:
"In Reggio, the child is viewed as strong, powerful, rich in potential, driven by the power of wanting to grow, and nurtured by adults who take this drive towards growth seriously." Pg. 16
"If we see children as competent to construct their own knowledge, then the children must be given time to do this" Pg. 16
"it was possible to help the children discover and respect the dangers inherent in all environments and to stay aware of these for their own protection" Pg. 35
"It is much easier to be told what to do and to have your time scheduled for you than to do it on your own...The environment was set up and organized, however, to make it easier for children to pursue their interests without the need for adults to manage children, the space, or their time." Pg. 39
I could go on, but there were sooo many!
Buy, Borrow, or Forget it?
If you have any belief that the child is a competent person that needs direction but not dictation, then buy this book. If you aren't sure, borrow it. Whatever you do, DON'T forget about it!
Science today was a blast! I was not looking forward to teaching about the parts of the ear, but so far it has been pretty fun. We went to the Children's University website and went through an interactive ear tour. After that we went through it a second time but while molding the parts out of clay as we went to help us remember. I didn't get pictures of every part, such as the pinna (the formed the clay into bowl shapes to "catch" the sound like our ears do), but here are some:
The focus wasn't on having accurate representations. It was about remembering the names of the different parts and the order they come in, and the clay certainly seems to have helped!
Unfortunately could not find plastic eggs in time since it is more Christmas versus Easter right now, but oh well. I found some tiny dip containers at the dollar store, some army duct tape that the kids loved and we taped up some maracas. The kids loved them, although they weren't as pretty as the one from the blog Dana Made It.
The Best Part of Me (Edited by Wendy Ewald) is a beautiful book. It is a compilation of photographs of 8-10 year old children describing the best part of their physical bodies. The answers can be incredible moving and surprising!
In October and November, our class spent a lot of time discussing our unique selves. We looked at our learning styles, our intelligence (based on multiple intelligence's), our interests and finally, our physical selves. I wanted them to realize that sometimes the things that make us beautiful are not what people usually talk about.
I recently pinned this prayer style attributed to Pope Francis and I absolutely love it! If you click on it you can see a full size version form the blog, "With a Hopeful Heart". Summing it up, the prayer technique is as follows:
Thumb: Closest to us, so reminds us to pray for those who are close to our heart.
Index: Also known as the pointer finger. As such, it reminds us to pray for those who point us in the right direction. This includes our Church leaders, our Elders, our teachers, etc.
Middle: This is for our government and those who lead us, since it is our tallest finger. Some of my students took issue with this, as the government and the population of students I serve don't always get along so to speak. However, we talked about how hard it is to make good decisions, and since our government doesn't always make the right choices, we need to pray that they get the wisdom they need to figure out what is right and good for our country/city/etc.
Ring: As our weakest finger, it is for those who are the weakest in our world. This may be the poor, or the sick. I also included little children because that seemed to connect with my students.
"Pinky": Our smallest finger, it reminds us of ourselves. Once we pray for others, our problems often look small in comparison.
Part One: Praying with our Words
After going through the fingers, we each created a prayer of our own using the following template.
Part Two: Praying in Color
A couple years ago I bought the book "Praying in Color for Kids". It is a simple and quick read, mostly art itself. It has great ideas for how to get kids to pray using art and drawing, which is great for students who are weak in the area of literacy. One of the ideas is also to use the hands to pray. This was less formulaic, I just told the kids to trace their hands, and pray while they color. The children took it very seriously for the most part. Some used no words, some used many.
We have been studying color in art. Here were experimented with cool colors while doing some Inukshuk art! See Kid World Citizen for original lesson plan.
The goal: We are more the same than different...
In grade 3 in Alberta we have to teach about Global Citizenship. In particular we generally compare Peru, India, Ukraine, Tunisia, and our own country, Canada. I wanted to be very careful that our students realize that in the end, we are all people, even if we have different environments!
Snutt the Ift
We first read the book Snutt the Ift. It comes from the same publisher (Little Pickle Press) as "What does it mean to be Global?" another great book for this unit. The book Snutt the Ift is all about an explorer who goes to a far away planet that is absolutely wonderful! There he becomes lonely because he has no one to share his discoveries with... but then he meets a Waft. The Ift and the Waft explore together in slightly different but highly similar ways. It is a super cute book and the kids loved it and totally got the message.
Showing the Photo Essays
Recently a bunch of photo essays came out comparing situations in different countries. One was the typical groceries for a week, the next was a typical classroom, and one was where children sleep. I first took the classroom ones, put them on chart paper and students had to list the things they found similar and different to our own classroom. We discuss first that all of these were just examples, and just like how no two classrooms in our school are the same, no two classrooms in a whole country will be the same either.
A couple things to notice (other than our problems with spelling! I offered no help because I wanted them to focus on their ideas rather than their spelling):
- The noticed the basic environments were usually the same: desks, windows, roofs, etc
- They were very jealous about the kids who got to wear "Hats" in school
- They were surprised by the homogeneous looking classrooms. We are at a school that is all Aboriginal/Indigenous people to Canada, but due to a variety of factors the students may look very dark or very light. They can be pretty diverse looking, so they were surprised by classes that weren't.
- They liked the "Fancy" Japanese and Russian classes where children sit properly, wear bows and wear ties!
Even though most students had more "Different" than the same, they put a sincere effort into finding similarities. So much so that I am confident that in a real life situation they would try to do the same!