Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tasty Thursdays

Thursdays are called Tasty Thursdays in our classroom and children are always excited for the day because they get to make yummy treats with Angela. So far this year children made smoothies, granola cookies, hot chocolate, apple cookies, muddy buddies and this week fruit salad. Children's tasks include cutting the fruit, measuring out and mixing the ingredients and of course eating! Usually children prepare the food during the activities time and eat at our scheduled snack or lunch time, but this week we decided to go out for a picnic to enjoy our special treat. We went for a short walk around the school's campus and stopped at the grassy area to enjoy the picnic and the sunshine. After children were done eating they looked for nature's treasures and each found a pinecone to bring back. Later that day we took some time to reflect on our little outing.

  What do you think about the walk and the picnic we had today?

Landon: We bring the pinecones to our classroom.
Scarlett: It was fun!
Landon: It was not fun, it was bad!
Marta: Why do you say that Landon? I had fun and Scarlett thinks it was fun.
Landon: Because it was long walk.
Matty: Good. There was Sheryl from the parking!
(Sheryl, our parking attendant happened to walk through the campus while we were picnicking)  
Arlo: Pretty good.
Amaya: It was good.
Declan: Good.
Bradley: I like strawberry, I like fruit salad.
Scarlett: I like fruit salad.
Nora: I like the fruit salad.
Nalini: I love fruit salad, we were sitting and we got some pinecones after that.

We all had a good time and it just seems fair to add the picnics to our weekly Tasty Thursday routine. 

     Cutting the fruit for the salad

Nature's treasures

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Tree & The Tape

Children really enjoyed the bales of hay we had prepared for the fall. Now, the Holiday Season is approaching, Angela suggested that we get a Christmas tree. And so we did! We are calling the tree - "Our Tree" instead of "Christmas Tree" out of respect for the families that do not celebrate Christmas. In general, we do not focus too much on celebrating holidays, but when we do - we like to include the different traditions and believes of our families to make it meaningful for the children. Finally, Christmas trees are a nice reminder of the winter season in our part of the world.
Back to Our Tree... the main reason we brought it in was to enrich our outdoor environment. Children spend a lot of time outside in the play yard and it's important to us to make it exciting and engaging. In order to do so we switch things around, bring new things in and create opportunities for new experiences every so often.
I love watching children's reactions to any novelty that is introduced in the classroom. This time was no different. Angela bought the tree during her lunch break, and when she brought it in most of the children were still napping. The few of them that were awake watched her with big smiles on their faces. The first reaction came from Bradly who exclaimed with joy: "It's Christmas day!"
After the nap, while eating snack and waiting to go outside, we asked the children to think about the things we can do with this tree. The responses were priceless:
Declan: We can dance around it.
Nalini: We can climb it.
Marta: No, we can't climb this tree because it's too small. We need to be gentle with it.
Landon: We can eat it.
Marta: I dont think we can eat this tree. Do you have other ideas?
Landon: We can jump over it, and we can go under it... Maybe we can play hide and seek around the tree?

We continued the conversation the next morning. Before we went outside, I reminded the children about our tree in the play yard and asked what they thought about it, and what other ideas they had.
Matty: It's Christmas tree, we have to play hide and seek.
Nalini: Play hide and seek, we have to touch it gently.
Landon: Can we put the tape on the tree?
Marta: Sure, we can!
I got out a couple of rolls of color tape. As I was looking for other materials children got busy with the tape. They taped the floor and started wrapping the furniture, and when it was time to go outside they got busy decorating the tree with the tape. Many children eventually moved away from the tree, but they continued to explore the tape.

Children worked on the tree all morning, enjoy the pictures illustrating the progress below.

Next day couple of children were interested in painting the tree.

The following day children were offered to paint the fabric and then to rip it - they enjoyed the ripping activity a lot, later on some children added the fabric to our tree. 

Tape exploration kept children engaged for two days. Below pictures illustrate some of the activities and various ways children used the tape for. 

Taping the floor and wrapping around the furniture

"Now I am going to start following. I am going to follow the road' Nalini

"I am making a road for my tape" Scarlett

Stretching the roll out / measuring with

Pulling/towing the cars & other items 

Matty swinging the car for heavy work

Winters' project took at least half an hour, she worked until she run out of pink tape. Winter started stretching the tape on the floor in the art area and moved through most of the classroom taking time to wrap it around the furniture and classroom materials. She was so busy and focused she didn't stop to explain her work when I approached her asking what is she working on. Judging from the amount of time, focus and effort she put into her work I know she had a big idea.

It was a joy to watch children work this week. I am curious to see where will they take the tree project next and what other activities and explorations will result from it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Harvest Season

Autumn doesn't really exist here in California and even though I love the permanent sunshine here in San Diego, I do miss the change of seasons sometimes. Since we don't get to experience all of the beauty of the fall season, we (Angela and I) brought the season of harvest into our preschool. We started with exploring pumpkins and gourds, followed by hay and farm play. Children enjoyed various squash activities involving arts, science, literacy, math and physical exercises, of course.

Gourds Exploration
Children used senses of sight, smell and touch to explore variety of small gourds. They used magnifying glasses to take a closer look at the plants as we talked about the different colors, sizes and  textures. Later we cut the gourds and pumpkins open. As I was cutting the pumpkins, some children engaged in a conversation about the insides; wondering if they all looked alike and predicting the color of the seeds.

Indian Corn Experiment
I placed an Indian corn in the water and invited the children to observe it daily and notice the changes. It took couple of days for the corn to start sprouting. Below are some of the children's observations as they took a closer look at the plant using magnifying glasses.


Marta: What do you notice when you look at this corn?

Winter: Look at corn! (touching the corn and picking the sprouts)

Nalini: Corn! it has this... sprouts!

Declan: they long, so many! (pointing to sprouts)

Anthony: (wondering) Why the seeds are coming out? Are seeds coming out in the water?


Marta: What do you see?

(no response)

Marta: What color are the sprouts?

Declan: Green and white

Bradley: (holding it up) wet, it drips


Marta: What do you notice about the sprouts, friends?

Declan: so high!

Anthony: they grew!

Once the sprouts got big enough, one of the dads planted a couple of them in our garden. Children were happy to help prepare the soil with water and compost.

Painting inspired by gourds, as well as painting and decorating pumpkins of different sizes.

Farm Play
We set up a dramatic farm play in the sensory bins with hay, pumpkins, Indian corn and farm animals. Children's play involved feeding the animals, transferring hay from bin to bin using shovels, and transporting the pumpkins from place to place in trucks and wheel barrows.

Bales of Hay
At first we set up farm play on the bales of hay but after few days children were interested in climbing on the hay more than anything. I added ramps for the children to climb up and down. I marked one ramp with arrow pointing up and another with arrow pointing down. Children not only practiced their gross motor skills going up and down and balancing on the ramps, but also practiced patience waiting their turn as the area was very popular and got crowded often!

Children are having a blast and my heart is happy!