Saturday, June 23, 2012

taking the time...

 I work as an assistant teacher at a preschool that teaches children 18 months to 5 years of age. Much of my job is scurrying about escorting tots from one area to the next and being an extra pair of eyes when needed. The cool part is that I get to work with all the kiddos. I spend time in each classroom observing, teaching, playing and I enjoy it immensely. My favorite part is the observing. It is where I can apply all my fancy-pants education and see which theories may apply or not. It challenges me to reassess whether or not what I believe has value or not. Also, it is never dull.

As I wrote up above, my favorite part is observing. I like to set out supplies with one goal in mind and see what the kiddos do. I make predictions in my head as to which kiddo may actually use it in the manner it was intended and which will clutch the supplies and horde them. There are no incorrect ways to play, this is how they learn. When given enough time, a lot of learning can develop in their little noggins, even if it appears all they are doing is pouring water or gathering dowels...or playing with my watch.

I wear an inexpensive slap watch at the school so that I can get myself onto the next transition in a timely manner. It has gotten left behind on numerous occasions, as well as dropped and buried in sand. I have to admit, not only does it get me to the next transition on time, but it works at bribing the kiddos when a good bribe is needed. When I write bribe, I don't mean if you do this now, you can play with my watch. I use it more as a tool for coaxing a kiddo to transition.

"Hey Bella, when you finish in the water table can you hold my watch for me and make sure it doesn't get lost as I wash my hands for snack? Come with me so I can hand it to you at the sink."

Stuff like that.

Now the kiddos often ask if they can try my watch on. The toddlers especially like it. It works great with an antsy tot that needs a diaper change.

"Oh, can you hold my watch while I get yer diaper on?"

Last week, one of the toddlers asked if she could sit on my lap during outside play. I said sure and she climbed up and immediately asked if she could take my watch off. I sat there with my wrist elevated as she took it off and put it back on, over and over again. As she did so, I talked about what my watch does, how it helps me and what time it was. At one point she asked me what time it was and I told her it was upside down and that I could not read it. She took off my watch and attempted to turn it around and put it back on upside down again. So she went through the process of trying to correct the angle of the watch and I watched and saw where she flipped it so that it was upside down. Rather than say anything, I just watched and after a great many tries she exclaimed with a huff that she couldn't do it. I simply said you have to turn it around. So she turned my wrist around and kept trying. She spent much of the outdoor time flipping the watch over and around until finally she got it and when she did she beamed. BEAMED! As I looked at my wrist I exclaimed "Hey, it's not upside down!" And so she asked me what time it was and I told her.

Later that day, after lunch, she climbed back up on my lap and took my watch off. She put it back on upside down on purpose and had a good laugh at the joke she played on me. She took it off and put it back on right-side up. I write about this to encourage you to allow your child all the time she or he needs to master a task, be it minutes, hours, days or weeks. Kids don't need the next big thing to keep them entertained or busy. By allowing them time to master a task or skill you are helping them build confidence, strengthen autonomy and master relationships. If you get a chance and if you have the time (so to speak) slow yourself down, get out the blocks or fill a tub with water and some cups, sit back, take a breather and observe. It's when we are quiet and not a part of the playing the magic happens.

**okay, can i just say that it must have been the antibiotics that i am on that made me think it was a good idea to title this post slap happy? seriously, i was thinking of the slap watch which made me happy and i thought slap happy would make sense but now i see that well...that wasn't one of my better ideas. i do hope yer still sticking with me.  happy July!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

use your noodle

 While the idea of purchasing a long tube of styrofoam gives me a bit of an eek out, I do have to say that the product is quite adaptable for the preschool and kiddo world. From car washes to garlands to light sabres the possibilities just keep astounding!
I picked up two noodles from the dollar store plus two jump ropes. Sliced 'em up with a not so great serrated knife and dumped them into a pair of tubs. The jump ropes were unknotted then tied to one noodle-bead each/ The frayed ends were given a once-over with an open flame and set to cool.
I set the whole she-bang outside for the kiddos and watched. There was some great hand-eye co-ordination going on as the toddlers attempted to thread (and horde, we have a young one who LOVES blue) beads onto the rope along with math as patterns and sequencing happened. Science appeared as some of the beads made their way to the water table...they float! And dramatic play ensued as the older tots turned the two ropes into ENORMOUS fancy necklaces.

This took me all of 15 minutes to prep so what are ya waiting for, it is pool noodle season don't ya know?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Skip to my Lou {Craft Camp}: Circle Circus

 Greetings, friends! Skip to my Lou's Craft Camp is upon us and here is my small contribution to the fun. The beauty of this project is that you can let your kiddos go wild with color or you can limit their color palette to all one color or two colors, complimentary colors or more. You can make this on a L A R G E scale or a teeny tiny scale, it all depends on the circumference (lookie, I have even supplied you with new vocabulary words) of your largest circle. Skip on over for the details!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

invisible pictures

 One morning, I handed a small group of toddlers a white crayon each. We talked about the color of the crayon and the color of the paper in front of us. When the kiddos eagerly got to drawing, they stopped abruptly with confusion on their faces.

"Mine is broken!" 
"It doesn't work!"
"I need a new one!"

I explained that their crayons did indeed work and that they were drawing invisible pictures that would show up once we added watercolor to the mix. When presented with the idea of water color, you can bet the crayons were immediately abandoned as the kiddos clamored for paint. After a little coaxing, and demonstrating how they could feel the wax on their paper, one of the three-year-olds told me she could see the crayon. That's all it took as the rest of the small group got to squinting at their papers.
Much scribbling was done and then liquid watercolors were passed out. 
I love the magic of children when they paint.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

skip to my lou craft camp is here!

For the month of June, Cindy of Skip to My Lou has organized Craft Camp. This is its third year and you'll be sure to find something awesome to make with your kiddos no matter their age. Thirty bloggers, thirty days, thirty crafts! Don't forget to visit!

Friday, June 8, 2012

put a pipe cleaner in it

There is something fun about pipe cleaners. Maybe it is the happy colors or the bendability, who knows. One thing is for certain, kiddos love 'em! I spotted this nifty project on pinterest and put it into play once I rounded up a trio of happy colanders from the Goodwill bins.
I set out the supplies on a low outdoor table and stepped back to see what the kiddos would do. In between hand grabs of pipe cleaners and the head wearing of colanders, there was a smidge of poking and weaving magic. Even though the pipe cleaners were mostly twisted up into a massive mess, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the little minds create.