Monday, April 29, 2013

Engaging Preschool Hearts...

I am a big believer that one of the main goals of Preschool is to teach social skills (hence the "... & Hearts" on this blog title). Before ABC's and counting and writing, preschoolers need to learn about themselves- their feelings, their bodies, etc and how to get along with others. Getting 20 preschool kiddos to live in harmony with each other in 1 small classroom can sometimes be tricky, okay, who am I kidding, is tricky! I am constantly coaching and reminding them of the social norms that we adults take for granted. (Please ask him for a turn, say "Can I have a turn please?" Hitting him is not okay.)

In every class is the one kid who struggles with peer interaction. We all have them, you are probably picturing your current kid who walks up to a peer he or she wants to play with and WHACK!, then doesn't understand why that child just isn't interested in playing anymore.

I've got one. Awh, who am I kidding? I have like five of those right now.

I was brainstorming ideas of how to incorporate being friends into more than just our on-going conversations of the day and put it into a formal lesson of sorts. I remember talking about social stories in a Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) training that I went to a few years ago. I headed over to their site and found their "I Can Be A Super Friend" social story, but the pictures were just... odd  not to my liking. So I set out to create my own using a site I've fallen in love with recently:
I used her free clip art to create a customized version of "I Can Be a Super Friend!" for my classroom, and I want to share it all with you for use in your classroom in hopes it makes teaching those oh-so-important social skills a tad easier. My kids are automatically drawn to this book just because of the two super heroes I put on the front. =)

(Click the picture to download on Google Drive)

Print, laminate, and slip a few binder rings on it and it's ready to go! This is the first one I made, and since then I've worked on a few more that I will share.

If you have any questions, or would like the wording changed in some way, please feel free to contact me! I would be happy to help. =)

Until next time-- play, create, and get messy!--

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Insect Imaginative Play

Well, it's been awhile yet again. Insert normal lack-of-blogging excuses, and another promise to get better! I will... promise. :)

This has been the biggest hit this week so far. We are studying bugs and butterflies and waiting (kind of) patiently for our baby caterpillars from Insect Lore. I am excited as this is my first time doing the live-hatch kit with a class. But enough about what's going to happen-- this is what my kids have been borderline obsessed with this week- chocolate play doh, plastic flowers, and plastic bugs.

I used this recipe from Mama Miss for the chocolate play doh, but added a smidge more oil. My kiddos LOVE it. It's smooth and smells amazing. We did talk about how it wasn't food and wasn't to eat. (We celebrated successfully not eating it by having chocolate milk at snack.) The plastic bugs were in Target's party section for $3. They are bigger and a bit more detailed than the dollar store bugs so worth the investment. I got the flowers from the Goodwill and a local re-use store for cheap. Tomorrow a fellow teacher friend of mine suggested rocks and twigs so we'll give that a go. I also think we'll make fossils from clay and back them to keep them since the kids seem to enjoy that aspect.

We've been singing a bug anatomy song and today I caught a few of them singing it as they played. Last year I vividly remember the previous three year old teacher photocopying bug life cycle worksheets and them coloring it was their activity (I was in the two year old room at the time). This activity has brought so much more to the table: lots of language and talking about what's going on. Social skills- asking for a turn with a certain bug or flower, suggesting to share their play doh to make a bigger mountain. Math- comparing, matching- lots of them would imprint two bugs into their doh and then matching them back up. Comparing what characteristics each bug has (wings, no wings).

I saw this today on Facebook and it just hits home my point: (substitute worksheet/ditto for textbook)
Photo Credit
Next time I will hopefully be able to report that our caterpillars have arrived! I can't wait to get them and start watching the changing to butterflies!

Until then, play, create, and get messy!-