Wednesday, December 29, 2010

preschoolers, meet ipad.

ms. wendi brought her ipad to school today, and much excitement and squealing ensued. one of my girls said to me: "ms wendi, i know this ipad! i watching tv, and i see this ipad."

i found two games so far that i liked the looks of enough to purchase- an alphabet recognition and letter-sound match game, and an app that basically just shows photos of animals and plays the sounds the animals make. both are fantastic for english-language learners, but i want to find something that helps little fingers learn how to form letters and numbers. i read about two montessori-influenced apps that are getting great reviews- i'm probably going to download them this weekend and give them a test run. i have one little boy, in particular, who is almost 5 and will be leaving for kindergarten in the fall, and he has absolutely positively NO interest in learning how to write his name or draw pictures. hopefully this letter-tracing app will be valuable for him.

the other thing that we did today was try out our new snow shovels. they were fantastic, and everybody had a great time movin' that snow. too bad i only bought 5 shovels. it was harder to wait for a turn with the shovels than it was to wait for a turn with the ipad, and that's saying something.

Monday, December 27, 2010

exploring snow

glorious snow!

i am not a native midwesterner. i am from los angeles, which means that when it snows, i become deliriously excited. and that, of course, means that i am on the same page as my preschoolers.

our class enjoys the other exciting aspects of winter, too: searching for animal tracks in the snow,  observing icicles, spotting squirrels and dreys in the now-bare trees. birds (including cardinals!) are more visible- and so are their nests. we have been spending time outdoors this year more than we ever have before, and i am very, very happy about this.

we have represented snow by using white paint and various painting tools:

on superfreezingcold days we bring snow indoors to play with (and we talk about the word frigid)

and of course, we have to taste it.

when the thermometer tells us it's 25 degrees or warmer, we go outside to slide!

and make angels, like peter in the snowy day

and get down into the snow for a full-body experience (this boy literally plants his face in the snow everytime. and rolls around. he digs right in. i love it)

but the most absorbing and intense thing we do with snow is: we move it. we pile it, lift it, shovel it, fill containers and carry them. i was not expecting this reaction- i thought snowmen and snowballs would hold more allure. but no. these children want to move this snow, and move the snow they shall. i bought six new child-sized snow shovels for outdoor time tomorrow. can't wait.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

a little catching up

whew. we have been busy!

first there was the two-day reggio emilia conference that addressed issues of culture in learning- it was fantastic, and refreshing, and motivating. we toured a few local reggio-inspired schools and came back with tons of ideas to implement in our center. of course, once we came back the task of change started feeling too momentous to consider. in my attempt to start somewhere- anywhere- i've emailed my director about purchasing a loft for the classroom. a big purchase, yes, but one that is desperately needed.

i also want to do away with our pre-set, monthly curriculum themes. to be honest i don't stick to them very strictly as it is, and we do make an attempt to select seasonally appropriate ones to explore, but i want to get rid of them altogether. it will be interesting to see how my co-teachers have to say about this at our team meeting on friday. hopefully they are willing to step off the cliff with me.

then there was thanksgiving- a very welcome break, but not a holiday we discuss very much in my classroom. when i asked the kids if anyone celebrated the day, i got a lot of blank stares and a thundering silence. my co-teacher explained that most of our parents work all day on thanksgiving, so even if they are familiar with the holiday, they aren't able to celebrate.

so instead we have been learning about the coming winter, very fitting as the first snowflakes of the season made their appearance today. so exciting, and so fun to learn the word "flurry."

we made lots of a simple flour + baby oil last week and enjoyed it for hours on end. so oily and satisfyingly squishy.

two of my guys who need to strengthen those tricky finger muscles were way into the dough, much to my delight

and today the chiffon play silks were hugely popular

"ms. wendi, i want it like batman."

nothing like a cape tied round your shoulders to make you feel like a superhero. or a ninja.