We have all heard that business of children is play. It is how they learn and how they process their work. The question of the day would be how to assess children in an environment where there isn’t the traditional ability to assess children of this age group. I have spent hours of time and research attempting to figure out a way to probably assess children so that I could give them the best education. I have found for children this age that there are 4 main ways that have helped me to gauge where a child is currently and how fast they move to reach their next goal.
This topic will be split into four sections:
Before we dig into the First Observation description, we need to talk about what you are Observing. Using the Mother Goose Time’s Developmental Continuum can make the job very easy.
This chart comes with the monthly curriculum, with an overall poster being sent at the beginning of the year. The four areas I use for observations are very helpful in trying to figure out what you are going to observe. For each of the 4 areas I have broken down I will be sure to include examples of how I used the chart to help assess the children.
When assessing, the lesson plan book sent by Mother Goose Time is something that is needed. It can help you map out what you are looking for that day. I will use the theme of the day Little Jack Horner. If I was assessing this theme I would be able to use the Purple Collage, we did for the day. This would fall under the Art Observations. On the Developmental Continuum chart, it would fall under Visual Arts. After that you pick the age group of the child you are working with. My age group would be Preschoolers. Follow the chart down and label the art project under whatever you think the child accomplished for the day with the project. Did they Make choices throughout the artistic process? Or did the choose an object or art tool to use with a given medium for a desired effect? Maybe they did both. Make a note on a sticky or on the note cards that are given on the Mother Goose Time website.
During this next week, I will use examples from the daily themes to show how to assess and showing where I store any writing or art observations!
Before I forget! We have a winner for our give away!
Please email your information to email@example.com.
Until Next Time!
I am so so excited! I will be hosting a give-away with Mother Goose Time! This give-away is for the manipulatives that come in the Mother Goose Time Curriculum every month.
These small toys are very important in the use of the curriculum of the children. They help children with the abstract concepts that are introduced throughout the lessons of the month. The manipulatives are very often related to the theme of the month. The children love them and the way I have the classroom set up they have access to the new manipulatives all month. They take advantage of this to the fullest and are drawn to using them constantly. We use them for counting. Not just from 1-10 but counting backwards, and introducing counting by 5's. Or using them to teach how to tally. Another way we use them is learn to group them by shape, size and color. Last month we had pig manipulatives that were the same size and it was hard to tell the difference in the sizes of the pigs. But it actually worked out better than I thought. The children paid closer attention to the manipulatives in order to figure out which pigs were the mommy pigs and which were the baby pigs. They also used them in their pretend play. They would build farms and use them when they played vets. I also had someone play cooking and fry a pig. That was a bit weird...and scary. But it was imagination time! So, fried pigs was good I guess. :/ At least they know where ham comes from.
This month we got lacing blocks for them to practice their fine motor skills and pattern building. There are three colors with the lacing blocks red, yellow and blue. I tied the end of the laces and the children added the blocks in whatever pattern they wanted to make. This allows them to put to use the different types of patterns we have been learning during the school year. It has been very fun watching them whisper "AABB" as they build their patterns on their laces.
Manipulatives may seem like simple counting toys. But in the hands of a child they can become so much more and open so many doors in their brains. A single blog post is not enough to fully explain how awesome simple small toys can be in an early childhood classroom.
So in order to help you use the manipulatives I am hosting a give-away thanks to Mother Goose Time! Click below to enter! The contest ends on the 20th of Feb! Good Luck!
I have spent a ton of time adjusting my routines to fit the group that I am teaching. Sometimes that means removing certain aspects of the day to make it run smoothly. Mother Goose Time gives you a frame in which to follow for your classroom but you are by no means stuck with that frame. The most important part of any curriculum you pick for your classroom is to make sure that it can be made to fit your classroom.
At the preschool age a curriculum that is fixed is not always the best idea because preschool children are not fixed in their reactions to certain information and the way it is delivered. Some times they can have the information delivered in small group and sometimes it needs to be one on one. So making sure you are paying attention to how children are absorbing the information and how they are reacting to the routine being set up is very important.
My classroom routine:
We follow the circle time routine set up by Mother Goose time . Morning greeting, weather, calendar, discussion of the theme and the schedule and a song or finger play for the day.
I set up centers according to what Mother goose time has set up for the day. I have six children so I have 2-3 centers a day. One of the centers will be Art, unless the art activity involves some one on one time rather than small group. An example would be Day 16 of the Baby Animals Monthly theme.
Art was Caterpillar for invitation to create.
Math was I am Big. This activity was using paper to measure and trace hands feet and then outlining the child.
Writing was Now and Then Postcard. This is when the child would draw a picture of themselves as a baby and what they look like now.
After snack we would then have story and go into free play/ individual time. Individual time would involve having the children come and work with me on skills they are being introduced to or something they need to work on. For Day 16 Block Measuring from the steam station is what is worked on during individual time. This helped them understand better what they did at the math center and why.
Closing Time is usually something done when it's almost pick up time but I decided to move it around and we now do reflection through out the day. I find they are able to retain the information if it is being discussed and more information is being given throughout the day as oppose to waiting until the very end of the day. Instead of a dance we read a story of their choosing at the end of the day.
This is the way I run my classroom and while there is so much research out there for why a classroom should be run a certain way, my main reason is because this is what works for the children and I. They are the reason why I am here and it helps no one if I am not doing what is in their best interest. When choosing a curriculum make sure that it is something you can bend and mold to fit the children of the class. Not only that but it something that will keep them engaged.
Science. Now I have a designated day for certain subjects I want to introduce to the classroom. I go though the Teacher's Guide and I pull out projects that have to do with science and cooking and put them in my own lesson plan book for science days during the month. Our Dance days we do Dance n' Beats.
Dance n'beats is easy to add to the routine because the dance class is already mapped out in different 45 minute sections. Or you can break it up anyway that works. I do not do all of the art activities in Dance n' Beats because they maybe time consuming or it may cost too much to do the project. It is easy to modify the project though or to remove things if needed. Makes it easy to do the Dance lesson!
I know it seems like busy work, but I promise once you see all the fun they have learning and understanding the routine it is much easier to run the classroom. You may find little tricks you had to your curriculum that I didn't even thing to add!
The best part of my day last week was hearing the above quote from the children. It actually is what gave me the idea for this blog. We spend so much time trying to make children fall into the same box and hit milestones with their peers that we forget to stress this thought process. I am so so glad that all my weird has helped them to see something so important and to have a conversation during lunch about being different means that something is going right in my classroom.
It important that this be stressed when you are having them do art projects. Some children get stuck on having their art projects look the same as an example or the same as their friends art projects. Many of the art projects we have been doing with Mother Goose Time have encouraged creativity and the ability for children to think for themselves. As they begin to perfect their motor skills with cutting and manipulating the materials alone they build the confidence to ask for different materials. Several of the activities we have been doing this month have encouraged the children to expand what they think an art project should look like.
This month we have been working on baby animals with Mother Goose Time. The art projects have had many parts to them and it has been hard to maintain a hands off approach as some of the children struggled to use the pieces in their art work. But it was a success! They worked very hard and made the projects their own with stories. I have played around with the idea of writing down the stories of their projects to give to their parents. I may try it out soon. The problem with this maybe that I am taking away their ability to tell their parents themselves. Telling the story out loud is an important skill. Which is why I have show and tell at the end of every week. I want them to practice using words as their vocabulary expands every day.
Another way that they are showing their differences would be in the way they use the toys. Every month I get a toybox from mother goose time and switch out the toys. Some of these toys have specific uses. I try and refrain from telling them how to use the toy at first so that they have some true exploration and figure it out for themselves. This month we got the nesting blocks. As the days have gone by they have been using the block to pretend cook (despite the cooking toys we have). They have been used to hide dinosaurs and they have been used to help build a town with the trains and other blocks. These toys have so many possibilities that it has been wonderful watching as they create the things we have learned during our various sit down times.
I think the fact that we have learning about the different ways baby animals live and need their mothers has made them pay attention to the way they need the special people in their lives. They have remarked on how they are taken care of and how it is different from the way their mothers take care of them. They also have used the toys to play vet (without me setting up the area) and have worked on being gentle. These are the types of messages you hope to get across during lessons but you never really know until they have free play and can work out and process the information themselves.
I've been around Daycare all of my life. The most important thing I think that get lost during the creation of regulations for states is: Not all children are the same. This is important to acknowledge because many of the ways that a high quality childcare is identified is not by the teachers but by all the things you have in common with another. For example a cozy corner. A cozy corner is an area in the space for children to sit and chill out alone. This is a great idea. It also presents a problem because according to the same regulations you are not allowed to separate a child from the rest of the group.
So addressing the cozy corner issue. They want soft things like pillows or chairs in the area. Now if you have been working with children as long as I have or even longer, you know that not all individual children are in the same and groups of children are not all the same. What worked for one group may not work for the next group. Knowing this is half the battle when trying to make sure that you are providing the children with a positive educational experience. For some groups of children the soft area is actually calling to them to throw the chairs or pillows at their friends. This can lead to all sorts of problems within the program. This is not something I am ok with and as the person with the children you would think I would be allowed to make the best decisions needed for the children I care for. But that is not the case for providers. Many of the regulations do not allow for the provider to feel like they can make decisions. As more of the regulations move to treat family childcare homes like schools, the people creating the regulations have forgotten that we do not have the space or funds to do elaborate set ups or have as many things out and available. They also not treat the providers that are doing the job like professionals. We are still seen the way the field got it start: Moms just babysitting to help the neighborhood or for extra cash. The field has evolved and we have many experienced and educated professionals in the career field.
The not allowing children to sit alone is not a good practice. Children are not the same. I need to stress this. A child sitting alone is NOT A PUNISHMENT! A child sitting alone gives them time to re group and learn how to control their emotional levels. Preschool children are suppose to be learning how to mange their emotions. Sometimes they need to sit alone in order to do this. Making a child feel like they have to stay around people at all times can be very overwhelming and I am convinced this may be a reason so many children have a hard time in large centers. A cozy corner is not the way to solve this issue because the cozy corner is not technically an alone area. I also think that these regulations do not address that there are children with social anxiety or any type of anxiety in fact or autism. These children need to have time to process away from the group. And sometimes away from the teacher. It is not a bad thing for a child to sit and learn to breathe and come back to the group. Ultimately, I feel that some of these regulations are taking away the ability for the provider to make the best decisions for the children in their care and preventing the parents from having a say in the way their children are cared and educated. Which is not what you want.
This also applies to the type of curriculum that is used. I researched for years before settling on Mother Goose Time. The thing I liked about Mother goose time is that we are able to make the curriculum our own. While the curriculum gives us enough things to do, we are able to look at the ages and stages of the children in our program and pick out what they can and can't do. For example, some of the science I am not able to do because of the Military FCC regulations. They are by no means dangerous, but many times there is an overreaction to something that has happened and it prevents others from providing a well rounded learning experience.
If you work with babies mostly or toddlers there are two enrichment curriculum that allow you to introduce all the preschool materials, but in a way that the younger children can experience. This may seem crazy to you but trust me it is never a bad thing to introduce young children to abstract concepts. As long as you go into the learning experience with open eyes and the ability to have fun the children will pick up way more than you thought and learn to apply it as they get older.
The most important part of working with children is remembering that blanket generalizations helps no child enjoy the learning experience. The best part of a small group is that the providers are better able to pick out curriculum for their class that can work for all children and on an individual basis. My next blog will be about how to break down pieces to address the different children that you may have in your home or business!
Til next learning time!
So this months theme for Mother Goose Time is Baby Animals. So every month I try to set up my classroom according to the theme. This often can be very stressful for me. We are winding down the end of the month and I need to decorate for the next month. Its very stessful for a teacher.
When I opened up in 2012 I had been researching Montessori and decided that I would like to use some elements in my classroom. I have Ikea shelves in my classroom, I set trays or baskets on these shelves or just the toy itself, one per shelf. That way the teacher is able to control the amount of toys that are out in the classroom at anyone time. It also helps so that the child does not feel overwhelmed by the choices in the classroom. There is a whole system in a montessori classroom that I did not feel comfortable putting into action in mines because the classroom wasnt montessori in the way it was run. Which means implementation would be lost or cause confusion. Most of the ideas I loved about Montessori had to do with helping children learn to take their learning in their own hands.
Every Mother Goose Time Box comes with Manipulatives for the classroom now. They are stamps of the shape of the month, Play doh letter cutters and counting manipulatives. I put the stamps in the stamp baskt and the cutters in the play doh basket and replace the manipulatives from last month with the current month. I then go about removing anything off the shelf that does not go with the theme of the month and anything they have lost interest with. I use the toy box as a way to replace the toys on the shelf every month. Because I have been buying the boxes for awhile, I have a pretty decent library going. I can now pull out other toys from the other months to use on the shelves. I know I have done a post about the toy boxes before and how I use them but I wanted to be specific this time. So for this post I will be taking a picture walk through my classroom showing you what came in the box and how I set up the classroom and explain why I decided to remove toys and how it might not apply to the theme of Baby Animals for the month.
It is important to remember to never remove toys the children are still using in the classroom. This will actually cause some issues. Especially if you have a child who uses certain toys to calm them down during the transition from mommy to preschool.
The cards that come in the box are to help the teachers figure out how to use the toys that come in the toy box. This is helpful, because if you have your classroom set up to do centers some of these toys can be set up in that way. I have centers set up with different concepts to address. I have a group of 6 everyday so centers is either partners or broken up into three's. One center is always art. Mostly because art can address multiple concepts at once. Another center will address Geography and another will address Math. Each center is fun but helps to increase a skill or introduces a skill.
I think the fact that I am able to adjust the toys for classroom to fit the theme makes the experiance that much better. The toys they are playing with have a direct line to the things we are learning for the month.
Having fun this month with the Baby Animals theme!
Live long and learn :)
It is nap time here. And I am busy eating my lunch, researching and contemplating when I should start the dishes that are currently in the sink from lunch and breakfast time. This is my normal day. Nap time for preschool still happens here. I know the children are sleepy and I refuse to do a way with something that helps them process the information that they have gathered during the day.
Last week was tough for me professionally. I won't go too much into detail, but after dealing with the aftermath of me having a big mouth it left me wondering:
How do I continue to be an advocate for Providers and Children without damaging the reputation and career I have built up?
It is tough wanting to help family child care providers when you are constantly told to put your head down and just not to be seen. I have never been good at those things. I am a big mouth from birth. I also think that if I am not willing to stand up and fight for the people who teach the next generation, how do I teach the next generation to fight for what they think is right?
Our career field has shifted far far too much in my opinion. We are not allowed to tell the children "no" because it is too negative. So now we have people walking around who look like they will crumble when they hear the word no. Children are suppose to be taught how to manage their emotions.....but they are not allowed to sit alone if they are feeling overwhelmed. Teaching children to sit down and wait for their friends to be done with their food or to politely ask to leave the table is expecting too much of them.
I mean these are normal every day things. We are not allowed to help parents reinforce the lessons of manners, emotional management, patience and respect, because someone decided that a child learning to wait and that sometimes the answer is "no" because the person in charge has said "no" is harmful. We are living in a great time technologically, we have the ability to introduce the most amazing concepts to children and SHOW them how things work. It doesnt have to be done with them sitting for hours and hours in a seat. We can dance and learn to count, we can read a story while acting out the words, we can go outside on a pretend bear hunt to learn to follow the rules and watch where we are going. Teaching is more than the little box and check marks that the field has been reduced too over the last couple of decades. It is more than the standardized test we have the children take, or that teachers are being forced to teach towards.
Teaching is about....my ears bleeding because I was dumb and gave a 4 year old an instrument to play....loudly. But they love it, so next time I will cover my ears. Teaching is finding little papers everywhere because a 2 year old mastered using the scissors but she refuses to cut on the lines. Then giving her the scissors the next day because, even though she is not following the path she mastered cutting *kanye shrug*, let her cut! Teaching is my bathroom covered in paint because we did an experiment and it got EVERYWHERE. Teaching is finding glitter in my hair and on my butt because a kid pretended to do my hair and another dumped glitter on my chair and I sat in it before I saw it.
Teaching is Messy. Learning is Messy. Why have we forgotten how to make learning fun for kids? Why are we so obessed with making everything appear so perfect for them in childhood, that we have forgotten that we are suppose to be preparing them to deal with the world not being so perfect.
So this blog started out bumpy. I was trying to find my voice. I wanted to inspire and leave a mark on the world. And after last week, I offically think....no I KNOW, I found my voice.
It's a little loud and squeaky though. Just a warning. :)
Until next time, Get Loud and Messy!
When most parents and even some teachers think of patterns, it's in the most basic ways. Patterns are suppose to help children learn how to pay attention to detail, the first real lesson in learning to read. But learning to recognize patterns is about math also. It's not just about pictures, it's about counting the pictures before the next pictures, learning to recognize the colors. All of this is math related and mastering them is an important buillding block for young children. Sometimes in our eagerness to teach children to read we forget about the steps that lead up to reading. These steps are just as important as the reading itself and can ripple out and help children with music, science and other subjects.
I have noticed that there has been a shift in the information we teach children in the last couple of decades. Subjects that are considered too abstract, such as the calendar have been removed from most preschool and Kindergarten classrooms. The calendar is a great way to help children learn about patterns. The concept of different days of the week and months of the year can be grounded in something tangiable for children. Simple things like identifying the holidays in each month can help children remember what month they are currently located in, or using sign language. Below is a video of me showing you how I teach children the days of the week with the Mother Goose Time song and sign language. By doing this they are able to see the days of the week and can find the pattern of how the days fall. I have been doing this for years and it is amazing to watch 2 year olds pick up the days of the week.
The same goes for the months of the year. I do not use signs for that area but we do a dance for the song. At the bottom I have a video of us doing some of our circletime routine.
There are other types of ways that patterns are used in the Mother Goose Time. The materials that are sent can all be used to help children develop their sense of patterns.
One of the materials used is the pattern mat. I usually laminate and then cut out the pieces and use them at a math center. When they are done with finishing the pattern, they can then work on creating their own pattern. Many of the math resources sent can be used to teach children to find patterns in math. Such as the manipulatives. They often come in different colors and can be an easy way to help the younger children learn how to create simple patterns.
Patterns are not just about expanding math knowledge, it's about helping children learn to reason their way through problems. It is important that they not just learn the right answers to the questions, but that they learn how to find the answer themselves. Patterns and calendar concepts can help with learning to use logic and reasoning.
As they learn to remember what comes before a number and after...or what the day before was and what follows after the current day, they will begin to use their own reasoning and logic for why they remembered the answers. And isnt the most important part of education to teach them to think for themselves? Do not forget during the learning of these concepts to ask the children...WHY. Why did they come up with that answer and talk them through til they figure out the right answer.
Til Next time!
*Ms. Tessie recieves free products from Mother Goose Time for an honest review.