"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."
Do you ever have to pull a child away from their play for a few minutes, promising them they can go right back? While we don't usually want to interrupt their play, sometimes it is necessary for a child to complete other tasks such as bathrooming, or to work with specialists. If a child is really engaged in their play, one of two things often happen. Either the child refuses, or they make you promise that you will save their toys for them. Either way, they are concerned that they will not be able to return to their play without it being disrupted by other children. Teaching all children in the classroom to use a type of "work in progress" visual can ease these transitions and eliminate the pile of "saved" toys on your classroom counter;)
Steps for using the visuals:
I've found that children pick up on this VERY quickly and it alleviates all the coaxing and reassuring that is sometimes needed. It is so fun to see when children start getting signs for their friends when needed.
Click below if you would like to download a free copy of my visuals.
As always, have fun!
"Everyone's Story Matters." William Joyce
Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books. But every story has its upsets. Based on the Oscar winning short film by William Joyce, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a charming story about the power of books, and the importance of every story being told. The illustrations are rich, and give you the feeling of watching a movie while reading. I have to admit, I still haven't watched the short film, mostly because I have trouble believing that it could be any better than the book. Having bestowed my love of books AND technology on my daughters, they quickly jumped from the book to the movie, and tell me that it's just as good! I love that depending on the age of the child (or adult:), this story can be interpreted differently. Initially, I wondered if preschoolers would be interested in or understand this book, but I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged they were. It was a good reminder, that through books we use our imaginations which makes each of our experiences with the book quite different. The little one's don't have to go to philosophical depths to enjoy this book, and it's okay if a 12 year old is sad thinking that Mr. Lessmore passes away, and a 4 year old is amazed at the flying books. That's the true definition of a book for all ages.
"Children see magic because they look for it." Christopher Moore
The weather has finally gotten nice in our neck of the woods, and our classrooms have been able to spend some much needed time outside. I like to keep the kiddos engaged to help prevent some of the "spring fever" behaviors as well as allow the kids to spend extra time outside without missing out on learning time. One of my favorites has been to combine a few of my passions...language, technology, and hands-on activities. I do this with a variety of scavenger hunts. Some have said "iPads on the playground...NO WAY!", but with the right iPad case, and some structure, this can be a great way to integrate technology in the early childhood classroom, and create an engaged learning environment. After you've completed the scavenger hunt, extend the learning by having the children share their "finds" during large group. This is a great way to work on their oral language skills. To download a copy of this scavenger hunt, including instructions, click here. Have Fun!
I've been on a quest lately to create a solid list of picture books to use for dialogic reading interventions with our preschool and kindergarten kiddos. Helen & Thomas Docherty's book The Snatchabook is now at the top of my list! I have fallen head-over-heels in love with this book. So much so, that I went out to buy a second copy for my own kids. This is a sweet sweet book with amazing illustrations that make it a natural fit for dialogic reading, and a great book to teach sharing, making amends, and forgiveness. The flow of the rhymes and the rich vocabulary are perfect for a 4 day read aloud (I had trouble reading it quietly to myself:) and your children will continue to notice new details with each read. So, please, follow brave rabbit Eliza Brown on her quest to solve the mystery of the disappearing books in Burrow Down and I know that you will fall in love with this story as quickly as I did.
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world." -Phillip Pullman
Story stones continue to be one of my favorite activity to do with students as well as my own children. I have made many different variations of these over the years, but since I don't always have time to do the whole find/wash real rocks, I usually end up using the great rocks that are available in the floral section of Dollar Tree. To see some other examples and tutorials, click here.
I use these in many different ways...here are a few:
1. Progressive Stories: These are my all time favorite. Place all the stones in a bag and have the children take turns drawing a stone out of the bag. The first child draws a stone and starts the story using the picture on their stone. Each child takes a turn adding to the story using the picture on their rock. These are my favorite because the children have to think how they are going to weave their picture in to the story, but I also love them because they get darn right silly sometimes. I love to hear the giggles from the kids. Before starting I alway go over rules for the game. These can be different depending on your situation. Below are the rules that I use that eliminate most of the issues that can possibly pop up during the activity. I go over these no matter what the age of the children.
2. Transition activities: I use the stones in a bag for transition between activities or while waiting in line in the hallway. I will have them draw a stone and make up a sentence using the word, say a rhyming word, describe 3 features of the item and have the other kids guess, etc.
3. Sorting/Vocabulary: I have stones that have pictures of different categories (clothing, food, animals, etc.), and I have them sort the stones in to different buckets/containers. These are so much more engaging that using plain old flashcards.
There's just something about these stones that kids love to touch! Let me know how you are using story stones...
When I first starting using my iPhone and iPad with my students, my challenge was finding good apps that were more than just entertainment. Using these devices in the schools was new, and there was a lag while developers caught up with the educational possibilities. Now, my challenge is sifting through the vast number of apps to find quality, reasonably priced apps. I often find myself saying, "This one is pretty good, but I wish it did...", or "That was a waste of $.99." When I came across Book Creator by Red Jumper Studios last year I was a little skeptical. It was spendier than I like for something I am trying out on a whim, but the initial reviews were good, and having been on an app drought, I splurged. This app is so intuitive that over the past year, it has become one of my go-to apps. I use it to make social stories, have students create their own artic books, work on vocabulary concepts, and my own kids even like to create books to share their activities with their friends and grandparents. During one of our school's technology trainings, I shared the app with our first grade team, and they quickly began to use it throughout their day. It is so fun to see the kids grab an iPad, open iBooks and read the books THEY have written....and yes, they CHOOSE to do this. The best news is that Book Creator is 50% off for the month of December!
When children are engaged, they are ready to learn!