Month: October 2011

What We’re Scared of….

This post will attempt to address a couple things ; 1) the hilariousness that is my class of 2 and 3 year olds and what they claim to be afraid of and 2) how easy it is for teachers to provide great, meaningful documentation.

We had just finished a journey through the book “Quick As a Cricket” by Audrey Wood. I highly recommend this book for not only it’s beautiful illustrations of all kinds of animals and habitats, but also it’s wonderfully simple way of teaching opposites, feelings and diversity. So along comes Halloween and as these kiddos are about to turn 3, they’re officially getting into this holiday – the decorations, costumes, and the concept of “scary”. I decide to ask them all what they’re afraid of which I have done with several classes of mine in the past, but never at such a young age. The answers were so genuine, so random, and so priceless and I decided I must send out an email to the parents…….The email consisted of the following message and then the list with each child’s name and their scare of choice.

The good news: we are developing some great vocabulary and beginning to recognize our feelings.

The bad news: there’s some scary stuff out there!




*the Music Teacher



*When my food mixes on the plate

*Being prey

*the Dark

*Bubble gum


*Tigers and Lions

As it has been in the past when I’ve sent out this email, I got immediate responses from the parents, most in hysterics and saying I had just made their dreary Wednesday. A lot of them said they forwarded it to grandparents or copied it into their Facebook pages or shared it around their office.

Attention Teachers: this is as difficult as documentation needs to be! Not hard, right? This exercise took about 5 minutes to put together and provided the kids and parents with a memorable, hilarious glimpse into all their differences, feelings and fears. When I’ve done this activity with older kids, we have then found pictures in magazines that represented our fears, cut them out, pasted them next to pictures of the kids, and made some great storyboards for the classrooms. Not only did this extension of the activity provide fine motor development with cutting out collage material, but also provided some great conversation opportunities for the children about their differences,”Matthew’s afraid of spiders but I’m not, I’m afraid of skeletons”.  And by the time Halloween’s over, wouldn’t you know it, some of our fears were gone. So again, all you teachers out there feeling overwhelmed by the desire to create meaningful documentation, but thinking you’re too busy – don’t think too hard. Just ask the right questions and type away:)

Scary Face:)

Don’t Rock the Boat!

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Leave well enough alone. All cliches we’ve heard countless times. But you know what? Chiches exist for a reason. They’re true. So sometimes as a teacher, when the dynamic in the room is positive, or calm, or when the children are intently focused on something……don’t rock the boat!

So when I noticed 3 of my very active boys sitting on the patio playing with ramps the other day and realized it had been at least 5 minutes since they moved, I made an executive decision- I was going to do everything in my power to not change the dynamic they had working. As a preschool teacher, redirecting kids away from an interesting activity is not normally standard operating procedure. However, that is exactly what I begin to do here. I grabbed the camera, moved my chair near the boys, asked my co-teacher to try and engage the other 6 kids, and redirected children toward other things when they sauntered our way.

So 20 minutes in I know I have something really special here. These boys are delegating jobs – ramp holder, ball roller, ball fetcher. They are taking turns, showing patience, persistence and enthusiasm. They are counting, comparing ball speed, changing the angles on the ramp, using their legs as tunnels and basically having a “cause and effect” field day.  These boys are 2 years old.

40 minutes in. I am amazed and fascinated by these kids. They are completely absorbed and using such positive, mature social-emotional skills. Why would I EVER want this to end?? This becomes my “group activity” for these 3 for the day. Did they join the other 6 kids in singing songs and reading books that day? No. But did they accomplish a level of play that some children twice or three times their age can’t achieve consistently? Yes.

As a teacher, sometimes your job is to not rock the boat.


According to most toddler development books it’s too early to form friendships…..Not so say my little ones. These two have been “best friends forever” since approximately 18 months of age. 


I actually have several sets of “buddies” in my class of toddlers and these friendships are tight! Upon arrival, one will ask immediately where the other one is. They will play almost exclusively with each other for the majority of the day. They seem to not only understand each other’s wants and needs, but also to have their own little language.  In fact, with one little girl, the teachers couldn’t always understand what she was saying but her best bud could always be counted on to translate for us.

They like to be in contact with each other, either holding hands , sitting next to each other or hugging. Besides friendship, empathy is another concept that is supposedly out of reach for a toddler. Again, not so say my kiddos. Maybe it’s empathy reserved only for their best friends, but it’s empathy nonetheless when someone helps you up, brushes off your pants and gives you a hug after you tumble. Some adults won’t do that and these children are 2!

Interestingly enough I have noticed that the 3 tightest friendships are all comprised of 1 boy and 1 girl. This was the case with both my own daughters as well when they were younger, their first best buddies being boys.  Not sure what that pattern is about but I’ve also noticed that “like personalities” make up these friendships as well. So as early as 18 months the “rough and tumble” kids hang together and the quieter children are drawn to each other. And apparently, never the two shall mix. One of the quieter kids tried to hang with the tougher couple yesterday and walked away crying when those two played WWF with him. Lesson learned – stick with your initial instincts when choosing BFF.

I always wonder if not for people moving or ultimately attending different schools, would our first special friend still be the same? Now that I think about it, growing up my BFF was also a boy.  Maybe I should track him down on Facebook:)