Sunday, May 20, 2012

Creative Presentation of Resources

It seriously doesnt have to cost a fortune ... It will cost more than the plastic baskets at the $2 shop mind you, but they will last forever and they look warm and beautiful and inviting and they are natural materials to boot!

This set of wooden bowls + a wooden square plate I forgot to add to the photo cost $20. There is a little crack in the large wooden bowl, but that could be filled up easily enough with some filler and then sanded back then oiled. They are so warm and beautiful.

So even if you displayed plastic animal figurines in the bowls, at least they are presented in a beautiful way.

The "You'll Never Guess Game!"

I had an idea ... its something I've done for years ... but it just kinda found a 'place' while I was cleaning the kitchen ... cleaning out an old plastic jar actually for the recycling ... I thought this is a somewhat funky plastic container ... and then it hit me! I can (re)USE it! This is a simple, cheap, easily adaptable, transportable group experience!

I've used this guessing game since about 2007 ... but it kinda came and went in my teaching practice - I haven't used it for aaaaages ... I just started using it again last week and it was loads of fun! It's actually extremely useful for a 'bag of goodies' if you are doing casual teaching or you need something quick, easy, and portable to grab to hold the children's attention.
Gather your supplies:

You will need stuff ...any sorts of stuff ... I'll just create a random list: miniature plastic animals, insects, toys, buttons, beads, counting/sorting toys (you know those bears or dinos or fruit or insects, coloured ribbon, stones, sticks, pompoms - whatever you think will be interesting for the children to try and guess - and make sure that its not too abstract to start as you have to give clues to guide their guesses!


A jar, box or other sort of easily tranportable container.

I start this game with:

"I bet I can trick you! I bet that you can't guess what's hiding in my hands!"

They love a challenge and they love a tricky-teacher!

I give varied clues like this:

It has four legs. It's a mammal, which means it has hair on its body and it feeds it's baby milk. It lives in two places in the world: Africa and Asia. It's very big. It has a long nose. It has grey skin and two big ears. Sometimes it has two long tusks. "Elephant!"

It has four legs. It's a mammal (this is often where you'll get "elephant" shouted out all over again!). It lives in the jungle. It hunts for other animals to eat. It has stripes (often you'll get zebra at this point!). It is orange and black and sometimes white and black (yeah, you guessed it, zebra again!). Tiger!

It's got 6 legs (spider! is the usual guess at this eager excited point). It is a type of insect, but its not a spider, its like a spider. Spiders have 8 legs! It hops! (rabbit! No, it has 6 legs! Rabbits have 4 legs and are animals). It makes a noise that is a chirp chirp chirp. (Insects are very tricky I've found for the children to guess. I find that I show them a part of the toy in my hand it helps).

Sometimes you'll get that "psychic" child who will just call out "horse" and yes, you have a horse in your hand. I make a melodramatic face and pout and carry on that its not fair that they guessed too well and I wasn't able to trick them! They love it.

I just pass the toys out as we go, if the children don't guess, I just give them a toy or item anyway so only one child gets one at a time ... This keeps little hands busy, helps focus their attention, helps to support them feeling engaged with the game depsite not guessing right.

I get my supplies from around the way ... I've got bits and pieces at home that I've just accidentally brought home with me over the years and they've ended up in the washing maching or under the lounge. Or I go to the discount stores and buy the toys for about $1-$2 a set. I then mix and match the toys inside. This way the game is always fresh. I actually got the animals I'm using now from Big W for I think $1 a pack - sea animals, insects, farm and wild animals etc. Just use whatever you think is interesting.

This experience is excellent for:
* problem solving and creative thinking
* learning about animals, insects, nature etc (which ever 'characters' you are using).
* this can be a follow-up to what the children have learned about whichever project they are using (eg vegetable gardening, or insects, etc) which helps to reinforce their knowledge base.
* language and literacy - introducing new descriptive words or creative language.
* classifying and sorting and describing.
* turn taking - sharing within a group.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Prescribed Curriculum & Professional Challenges

Today it was a challenge to be a professional when faced with a petulant self absorbed miserable little so-and-so ... on the bright side, all the children were gorgeous (even the challenging ones) ... pity about their carer (I wont even use the word educator to describe her) ...

I know that sounds harsh ... but it was like being in high school ... Passive aggressive bullying.

I'm there to be with the kids and to teach them ... I'm a teacher, not a stop-gap measure for ratios ... I'm a TEACHER and that is what I do ... I see what the kids might like, or what they need, and then I provide it.

And I'm struggling with the room which is all from a website ... its all prescribed and structured and boring ... Its all printed out in colour, laminated and then put on the walls and every which place ... That is not a project! They are following themes and then doing highly structured stencil craft on that theme ... I can't call it art. I just can't. And the room is so insanely visually busy that people dont even notice what is in there! It doesnt even tie in with their current play 'themes' ... I can tell you 3 different things that I am doing with them that they are really loving and really embracing (but due to being somewhat anonymous, I'm not going to at this point!)

I just don't appreciate people being nasty ... and I'm dealing with it as best I can ... but its such a struggle sometimes. In fact, this reminds me of another situation I was once faced with ... when someone you work with wants to be "best buddies" with you ... and you just aren't feeling it ya know? Then because you aren't as in to them, they then start getting petty and creating drama ... I wonder if its that? Or if perhaps its because the children are really engaging so well with what I'm providing for them?

Can't it just be about the children? Can't it just be about spending time with them, giving them wonderful memorable moments that support them to grow and be happy and enthusiastic? And these aren't "my" kids! I just met them not so long ago and they are just delightful - even the ones that are a bit difficult! They are so much more chilled out that my old group, and I might add there are more of them AND there are more developmental issues ... and this feels like a working holiday compared to the hair-pulling I went through before! I don't feel so bad as an educator now! They were a difficult group! I struggled. I'm human. I walked.

I just don't get it!? Its not about YOU! Its not about YOU standing there TELLING them what they should LEARN! Its not about interrogating them on a subject and then calling it "their voice" or "their ideas" ...

They say way more interesting things than "the sky is blue" or "cows go moo" just because you did a whole theme on such and such.

But hey ... each to their own ... She would so hate working with me on a long term full time basis ... I would totally upset her prescribed boat of blandness.

Ok, that was a bit narky. Oh scrap it, I'm feeling narky! So, I'm embracing it.

Rant over.

Thanks for this space to express.

(c) Teacher's Ink.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Oh. So. Tired.

Just started back working full-time hours and I am exhausted!

Plus there has been other complications ...

But I've been having interesting experiences ... I'll have to do some reflecting!

Hopefully dramas go away, I get used to working f/t again ... and then I can play with this!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

$1 Dinosaurs ...

I found some dinosaurs when I was wandering around BigW one weekend ... $1x4=$4 ... Not a bad investment ... Yeah I know, they're plastic not so fantastic BUT they're durable ... just imagine all the fun that would occur out in a rough patch of garden?

Four Dinosaurs Roar!

This is my favourite dinosaur ... Of all time! Its a stegosaurus! I think that its important that you have a favourite dinosaur. This is the dinosaur that one of my students from a couple of years back, dubbed the one that goes "ching-ching" with its tail ... I just LOVED that and I won't ever forget it. This is the Dino that goes Ching-Ching!

And this is Lukey's dinosaur ... Lukey LOVED the brontosaurus in our room ... it was a light blue ... lighter blue than this one ... it was his. His favourite, and his character when they played. All the kids knew it. They would find it after he'd discarded it, and they would take it to him even if he were playing in the sandpit or on his bed. Now that dinosaur belonged to Lukey, and Lukey belonged to him.

This makes me remember once something I'd wanted to do with the kids and the dinosaurs ... I never finished it mind you - things happened and time passed and the kids lost interest and I didnt have time to complete the project ... But we took the dinosaurs outside to the blushland reserve adjacent to our service. We set them up in different ways and took photos ... then we came "home" to school and we started to write a story using MS Publisher with the pictures ... I made speach bubbles for when the dinosaurs would have something to say ... it was hillarious!

So I share this idea with you ... Take some critters or creatures, dinosaurs or animals or people - set them up in spaces indoors or out and take photos of them ... Then write a story about it ... print and enjoy! Or you could be more organised than I was, and write the story first, then use the characters to illustrate it ;)

At some point (maybe) ... I will find where specifically this relates to the EYLF ... but just off the top of my head - this would be the children driving the curriculum - making choices, being creative, using technology, literacy and communication, as well as working collaboratively ...


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just Another Day Book Sample

This is just another version of the same sort of thing that I would do from time to time ... I wouldnt write anything at all myself ~ I'd involve the children and interview them ... These are the sorts of things they would say ...

The Day Book ~ My Style Explained V.2

Like last time ... I've added numbers as reference points ... Numbers 1-4 are explained in my previous post as well as number 7 ... I'm hoping its not too confusing but I didnt want to cut and paste it and add numbers in different orders etc. I'm assuming you have read or will read V.1!

5.       This is where I got clever a couple of years ago when it was suggested that I show the children’s voice more – this was even before the EYLF ... So I would call some children over and simply ask them a few different version of essentially the same questions:

a.       What did you play today?

b.      What did you like playing today?

c.       What did you learn today?

d.      What was the best part of your day at school?

It really depended upon who I was talking to – their language and comprehension skills etc. But you get the idea ... ask an open ended question about their play and then write down what they have to say. This is their voice. Their words or voice reflecting upon their day.
6.       This is where the author of the daybook is acknowledged – and the staff for the day written as well. I’ve also previously written what types of music we’ve listed to, or what we had for lunch so it was all there for parents to read – a one stop shop.

So this is just another version of what my day book entries used to look like ...