Month: September 2014

Become the Curriculum

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My willow tree helpers

I recently heard this phrase and it resonated so deeply with me. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll see I truly believe in this concept and I’ve done everything I can to embody it in the classroom. When my PreK class explored the United States last year, we didn’t just look at where the Southeast was on the map or learn there was a big river in those parts. We decided to “Go Big or Go Home” and our room BECAME the Southeast for a couple months. We had a willow tree in the corner, we had a huge laminated Mississippi River that ran throughout the whole class with all the states on it and their unique wildlife cut out and pasted along, and we had regional food of course:)

03c5d825221d11ce302c723fec3f285b9e7e0b38The wildlife on the Mississippi

We made peach pie, mint juleps, ran a “Kentucky Derby”, made a giant cardboard paddle boat, and went to a local cafe famous for their Beignets. Every one of those kids can tell you who invented airplanes, in what city Mardi Gras is celebrated, and who farmed the first peanut. We did this all year with each geographical area and it was one of the most memorable years of teaching in my 10 year career. I really encourage you to understand this concept and try it. LIVE the curriculum in your room and see what happens; the level of engagement will astonish you and your creativity will flow like it’s never flowed before.

498f55552dc4a64962b9382157974a9084faea75The beginning of our paddle boat construction

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25 Ways to Ask Your Kids About Their Day

As a blogger, I think it’s really important to never try to act like I have all the answers. I like to give credit where credit is due. This is an AWESOME article about to have an engaged conversation about your child’s day.

#1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)

#2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.

#3. If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)

#4. Where is the coolest place at the school?

#5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)

#6. If I called your teacher tonight what would she tell me about you?

#7. How did you help somebody today?

#8. How did somebody help you today?

#9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.

#10. When were you the happiest today?

#11. When were you bored today?

#12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?

#13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

#14. Tell me something good that happened today.

#15. What word did your teacher say most today?

#16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?

#17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?

#18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

#19. Where do you play the most at recess?

#20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?

#21. What was your favorite part of lunch?

#22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?

#23. Is there anyone in your class that needs a time out?

#24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with? Why?

#25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.

*****

So far…my favorite answers have come from questions #12. #15, and #21.

I actually love questions like the “alien” one (#12). They give kids a non-threatening way to say who they would rather not have in their class, and open the door for you to have a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn’t know about before.

And the answers we get are sometimes really surprising. When I asked question #3, I discovered that one of my children didn’t want to sit by a best friend in class anymore — not out of a desire to be mean or bully, but in the hope they’d get the chance to work with other people.

Sometimes we just need to figure out the right kinds of questions to ask our children….some questions may work better for some kids than others. That’s how it is with my own children. But I want to know what is going on in their lives and how I can help them. So….I will continue to ask…and ask…and ask…

http://www.simplesimonandco.com/2014/08/25-ways-ask-kids-school-today-without-asking-school-today.html