Month: June 2012

Stop for a second…

and just let the kids watch the ant cross the bike path. While my last post talked about how we can always be teaching, please don’t forget that letting them observe and reflect is helping these kiddos learn too. Don’t you remember just parking yourself on the sidewalk when you were little and watching a bug go by? These two girls “studied” this ant for a good 20 minutes, (pretty sure they studied it to its literal death, but they called it napping), and were as engaged and thoughtful as any children twice their age.

All I did was provide the magnifying glasses:)

The Outside is the Best Side

We forget sometimes that the outside is just as big a part of the learning environment as the inside. Yes, it’s where we run, jump, climb, play tag, and dump sand. But it’s also where we can build, count, make music, engage in dramatic play, create art, and practice our social-emotional skills. Ways you can help enhance your outdoor space as a learning environment:

These kids have been at this table for almost 2 hours!

Be one with the dirt, mud, and water: Kids are drawn to these elements. Support their interest in this. Provide shovels, measuring cups, pitchers, funnels, and spoons. Talk with them about how they think it’s all made and what happens when it’s combined. Liquids, solids, weight, volume, temperature = Science!

Air Guitar Hero

Incorporate musical instruments on the playground: Hang pots and pans on the fence, bring out some of your older instruments, or create drum sets with stumps and buckets. Wind chimes are awesome in the tree branches and big pieces of wood can become guitars. Bet ya the kids will form a parade and put on a show for you in a matter of minutes.

Washable Paint & Plexiglass = reusable canvas

Bring the art materials outside: Let the kids paint the fences, draw on the sidewalk with chalk, and create rock sculptures. What better place to let them get messy and you don’t have to clean up the paint!

Loose parts in the sand box = dramatic play opportunities

Add loose parts: Cardboard boxes, pvc pipe, small blocks, sticks, and rocks can be used for dramatic play, building, art, or science and math.

Almost every activity you can do inside, you can do outside. We can continue teaching on the playground, and use the time of day that almost every child is the most excited about, to really connect and enhance their learning experiences.



Learning by Doing

Kids need to touch it, smell it, feel it, and yes, sometimes taste it in order to really learn about it. Whatever it happens to be. Bev Bos is one of the biggest proponents of this philosophy and as anyone who reads this blog knows, I worship Bev. Take a science lesson about solids and liquids for example. Which would be more interesting to you as a student? Reading about those two different states of matter and listening to a lecture OR playing with solid playdough in your little hands and splashing water at your friends? Hopefully, the second choice….

Attached is a great article about a American kids being over-tested and not experiencing or learning enough through making and building.

“Learning by doing” was the distillation of the learning philosophy of John Dewey. He wrote: “The school must represent present life—life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground.” He also wrote that “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

Rough and Tumble

Do the kids on your playground wrestle and kick and throw punches? Is that pretty much their go-to choice of activity every day? Do you constantly find yourself telling them to stop? Well, stop doing that! Big body play is essential to preschoolers’ development. Development of limits, the concept of cause and effect, the notion of rules, the importance of communication, and quite simply, the exercise, are all benefits of tumbling and wrestling.

Kids do this at home all the time with their parents, mostly dads, and it’s crucial that they learn to negotiate with their friends in the same way. When Nicholas tells Jake, “Ow that hurts!” or “I don’t like when you kick”, and Jake listens and stops doing that, it’s a huge developmental milestone! When Jake feels tired and stops wrestling, he’s learning about limits and what his body is telling his brain. So move aside the furniture and denote a safe area on the playground for the “rough and tumble”. Watch and listen very closely. You will be amazed at the negotiating skills these preschoolers are using, how attentive these children can be to their friends’ physical and emotional cues, and let’s not forget the FUN they are having.