teaching thoughts · topic

Transitions

Ever feel like you are hearding cats just trying to get one or two children to go from playing to eating dinner? Did you ever wonder how your child’s teacher gets 18-25 children to move from one activity to another? Let me tell you a secret… it’s all about consistent transitions!

What is a transition? A transition is the movement from one place or activity to another. So in school that might mean going from circle time to learning centers. Or moving from the classroom to the playground or cafeteria. This is not some type of magical powers that good teachers have, it is all about laying a foundation of expectation, practice, review and independence.

Cueing children is the first step. Children, and adults, have a hard time dropping something without warning. Yes, they need to learn to do this for emergencies, but for the most part you know a bit ahead of time that they are going to need to stop. So, let them know. A five minute and then a 2 or 3 minute warning is more than enough to let them know a change is coming. When you start this process you need to state clearly… “In 5 minutes you will need to stop playing with your puzzle and come to table for dinner.” As you move into the independence phase you can shorten this to just 5 minutes until dinner as they know the expected behavior at that time.

The first few times you do this, you will want to help the process. What do you expect them to do in this transition time? Should everything be cleaned up and put away? If you are leaving the house in 5 min, do you expect them to already have their shoes and jacket on?

Another key factor is establishing independent and shared tasks. The more you can have your child do on his/her own the smoother things will go down the line. But… and this is key… if you want them to do it on their own, you have to teach them to do it on their own. ANDDDD you need to let them do it. In the beginning it will take longer, but if you do it for them it will not be an independent task.

This is a process. Teachers take the first month of school to teach transitions. Take the time. Walk through the steps. Do not get discouraged it your child forgets steps or melts down. This is all part of the learning process. Once you and your child see that these transition plans help smooth out life… it will all be worth it!

family activity · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Who is in your circle?

Today we will listen to the story The Circles All Around Us by Brad Montague. In this story, a young child draws a circle around their shoes, a place for just one. They then realize that there is more to the world than just one. They create a larger circle for their family a caring circle. But, is that enough? No! The child begins to realize that when you let people into your circle you find friends and others who care. You begin to accept not only people who are the same, but also people who are different.

We all need to step back and look at who we let in our circles. Is your circle small or large? Is there enough room for more, or do you need to expand?

As you begin your next journey in school, it is a great opportunity to expand your circle. Let in someone who is different from you, and appreciate the differences. It can be someone who is younger or older. It can be boys and girls. It can be someone who has hair, eyes and skin that looks different than yours. It can be someone who needs extra support to learn and grow. Or someone who just needs another friend.

Who is in your circle? And, how can you help not only expand your circle of caring, but others as well?

Parents… children need this modeled to them. They need to see you being kind to others. They need to see that you accept people who are the same AND those who are different. They hear your words and see your actions. Do you treat the cashier, the wait staff and others with kindness, acceptance and understanding? Do you speak of children of all races, religions, and abilities as people who are capable of loving, growing and learning? Do you appreciate what makes people different? Your child is our future… model for them a way to live in the world with caring and compassion for all…. different is beautiful. Different is special. Different is what makes the world a wonderful place to live!

STEAM · story · topic · writing

Sandcastles

Who doesn’t love to build sandcastles? Here are some great sandcastle books

Super Sandcastle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy (read by Stuart J. Murphy) -this story works on measurement

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk -this story talks about taking a problem and breaking it down into specific steps

Now let’s watch SciShow Kids explain how to build a perfect sandcastle.

Now, if you live near a place that has sand, go build your own sandcastle.

Don’t have sand nearby? No problem!! Build a castle out of blocks, rocks, Lego blocks, or other items you have at home.

When you finish your castle, measure your castle. You can use standard and/or non-standard forms of measurement. The draw a picture of your castle and include the measurements in your drawing. After, write a story about what is happening in your castle. Who lives there? What adventures occur inside?

STEAM · story · topic · writing

Mushrooms

This morning I went to go check on my garden and there were sooo many mushrooms. There are mushrooms in the grass too. As you can guess we’ve had both rain and heat lately. I decided that it would be a good day for you to get out with your kiddo and learn a bit about mushrooms.

Let’s start with some science about these fun-guys… Fungi: Why Mushrooms are Awesome from SciShow Kids

Here is a fun story, similar to Jan Brett’s the Mitten, Mushroom in the Rain adapted from the Russian of V. Suteyev by Mirra Ginsburg. How many animals can take shelter under the mushroom?

Did you find any mushrooms in your yard? Can you count all of them? How many different types did you find?

Now create a picture. You can create a picture of one of the mushrooms you spied in the yard or the one from the story. What do you think would fit under the mushroom. Be realistic or creative in your answer.

story · topic

Little Bird Takes a Bath

Today’s story is again about a bird, but I think you will see that this story is closer to realistic fiction than yesterdays. Little Bird Takes a Bath by Marisabina Russo. In this story, little bird does not like the rain, but the rain bring puddles and puddles means a bath for little bird. Follow along as little bird tries very hard to enjoy a bath in the just right puddle.

This story is perfect for a timeline project. Having children retell stories is important. We want them to tell the story in order. What came first, then, next and finally. But, often times there are more details that they want to share. The key still is to get the details in the right order. This is where the concept of a timeline comes into play. Teaching timelines and reading timelines will be beneficial as your child gets older and needs to understand and explain many historical activities. But, at this age, we work on the timeline of yourself and of stories.

Create a timeline of the book Little Bird Takes a Bath. Notice I didn’t add big details or write in full sentences. The key is to put the main idea with a picture clue. This will help your child retell the story. We are looking for the main points, and the picture cues are to help your child recall.

Another fun timeline project is to have your child make a timeline of their day. This can be done in one sitting or done over the day.

story · topic

Families Everywhere

Today we will continue to learn about families. Today’s story Families, Families Everywhere by Megan E. Mills is read by the author. This story explores what makes families. It compares and contrasts some family dynamics and celebrates these differences.

Today talk about other families you know. How are they the same and different from your own. What can you learn from that family? Do they celebrate different holidays, eat different foods, speak a different language? What is the same between your two families?

Maybe do something special for that family or with that family.

The goal is to have children see, understand and appreciate the differences. We want them to see that even when people/families are different from your own, they are still held together with love. And, when we see and appreciate these differences, we can learn and grow, together… in love.

story · topic

Families

This week, I decided we would learn about families. The concept of family is one that children understand, but they only relate it to the image of their own family. We need to help children see that all types of families exist and the glue that holds all families together is love.

First let’s read a story. Today’s story is Families by Shelly Rotner

Now have your child draw a “My Family” picture. Help your child label the members of the family they included in their picture. (make sure to use your “people crayons”). The story states that all families are different. What makes your family special? What do you like to do together? What are some of your favorite memories?

story · topic

Going Green

Today, listen to the story Mrs. Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli. Mrs. Fox challenges her students to think of ways to use less stuff (recycle), use less energy and use less water. The students then begin looking at the way they use things in their own homes and lives and figure out ways to live a greener life.

How can you live a greener life? Remember to turn off water, electricity and recycle. Those are easy ones. What about the use less stuff part? That is harder. In the story they have a toy swap. Helping your child learn to donate toys and clothes to charities is one thing you can do. Look into your local Buy Nothing Project and give and receive items is another.

Today is a good day to have your child go through all their toys and determine which ones they want to keep and which ones they can either give to a charity or other means of giving away in leu of putting them in the trash.

story · topic · writing

Earth

Today we will listen to Todd Parr read his book The Earth Book. This book talks about the things that you can do to help the earth… and why! Remember a big part of what we need to do in taking care of the earth is taking care of the natural resources we learned about yesterday. Children look to take care of things. Today use the format of Todd Parr’s book to write about what you do to take care of the earth and why! It is important to talk about the whys with children. We want them to understand the reason we reduce, reuse and recycle. Just learning the words and doing the actions is great, but understanding the need to preserve and protect will motivate your child to continue these actions beyond Earth Day, this week, this month, this year, their childhood…