Month: July 2012

Making the dinner table

Someone once told me that if whatever you did at school made it into the conversation at the dinner table, then you did your job as a teacher.  I try every day to either connect with each kid in such a way as to make that happen, or create an activity that gets everybody excited enough to bring the experience home. And it doesn’t take much. As we’ve been exploring the world of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we’ve been watching our caterpillars morph into butterflies.

Yesterday was our much anticipated release day and even though the event was approximately 45 seconds long, it was momentous enough to talk about all day long and well into the evening, as I found out this morning from the parents.

I imagine the development of those small caterpillars growing, changing, and finally being able to fly away is subconsciously so much like the lives of these 3 year olds so far….they just can’t help but relate and be excited.

Flying like a butterfly the rest of the day…..

Excitement like this is sure to make the dinner table conversation.

Be in the moment

Yes, I want to observe thoughtfully. Yes, I want to be constantly seeking out teachable moments. Yes, I want to document as much as possible. But sometimes, as we’re trying to do all these things that make us great teachers, we’re missing out on just being in the moment with our students, or our own children. Maybe sometimes we should just put the camera down, or the assessment checklist, and the pen, and just connect on the same level. Here I was yesterday on a whale watching trip off Cape Cod, trying to snap photos, document every little minute of the trip, and meanwhile I’m missing the whales, and my daughters’ reactions. So for once, I put the camera away, and then proceeded to witness the most incredible whale watching spectacle I could ever imagine. Breaches, fin slapping, tail waving, and ear to ear grins on 8 and 5 year old faces. Will never forget it, even without the pictures.

Here’s me not seeing the whale. Be in the moment.

Run Forrest Run!

And let’s keep running until childhood obesity is under control please! As more and more children are playing on Ipads and playstations, and sitting in school being tested for reading aptitude, they’re also getting more unhealthy by the second. According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years, and this generation of kids will likely be the first to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. As teachers, what can we do to curb this terrifying trend? Get these kids up and moving! Plan physical activity into as many moments of the day as you can. And it doesn’t always have to be running. We have a weekly yoga program at our school that the kids can’t wait to participate in every week. We take walks to neighboring parks as often as the weather will let us. We pretended to fly like butterflies yesterday on the playground. Just move and keep moving, and study after study has actually proven that you will get their attention quicker, and keep it longer, after they have engaged in some exercise. So next time you’re getting ready to have circle time, experiment with a dance session first, and then see how much more they focus.

Yoga time is our favorite time

Process not Product

While of course I always love and admire the beautiful “finished” artwork my children create, I am much more a fan of the work and mess that go into creating it. As we journey through the story of “The Hungry Caterpillar” in our class, we thought it would be fun to make butterflies with watercolors, coffee filters and pipe cleaners. Here is how our day went.

Everyone started out clean….

and then we embraced the concept of MORE. Much much more paint.

THIS is the fun part. I think we’re on package #4 of coffee filters.

Butterfly wings drying in the sun…

The beauty of painting outside is the rain is our windex…

Good thing we’ve trained our parents to embrace our messiness:)

The finished product.

But the process was, and almost always is, the best part. Get messy, let them use too much, talk about the colors mixing, how the heat of the sun will dry our wings, and let them take as long as they want to finish. The process is about the kids, the finished product is something for the parents to put on the fridge:)