Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fine Motor Experiences

As Preschool Teachers, we all know how important it is for our preschoolers to develop their fine motor skills. The experiences we provide allow the children to build the small muscles in their fingers and hands which enable them to hold and use writing equipment appropriately, a very important pre-writing skill!

In my preschool room, I aim to have a specific fine motor experience out for the children in every session. This may include a normal experience such as puzzles and threading, or it may be an experience specific to the theme we are studying at the time such as play dough with space figurines. 

Some of the fine motor experiences I have provided in my classroom include :

Dye Drop Pictures : Using pipettes with dye and paper towel. The children have to use their finger muscles to draw up the dye into the pipette, as well as control the flow of the dye on to the paper to ensure it all doesn't all come rushing out at once!

Cutting Experiences : Children love cutting things and much of this often ends up on the floor! To contain this experience, I placed different materials in a large sand tray. This included scrap pieces of paper, streamers and straws (which the children are obsessed with cutting, I think becuase they fly off everywhere when chopped). We provided a jar of scisssors and off the children went!

We also provided magazines, paper and glue and allowed the children to cut out their own pictures.

Sewing : We provided hessian, wool and saftey needles. I wasn't sure how the children would go with this at first, but they loved this experience and we saw many beautiful creations!

Puzzles : The chiildren always love these experiences. I often try to link this to the theme we are studying at the time.

Threading : Any type of threading experience, including purchased items such as the tree's below or providing materials for the children to create their own threading to take home are always a popular experience, especially with my three year olds!

Construction : Different types of construction allow the children to develop those small muscles in their fingers, especially construction that takes a bit of effort to connect such as zoob.

Screws, Nuts and Bolts : I have provided this type of experience in both the example seen below which is a construction set and with real nuts and bolts that I had purchased from the hardwarde store. I can't seem to find a photo of that experience! I just purchased a bunch of different sixed nuts and bolts and the children had to work on matching the pieces together. Another idea that is similar to this is to include different sized padlocks and keys.

Tap Tap : This experience is always a popular experience in my classroom and holding and tapping a nail without hitting a finger is always a challenge! The children also love the real woodwork area we have in our outdoor environment.

I also like the following experiences and plan to use them in the classroom in the future...

Plate Sewing : Can't wait to try out this idea in the classroom, could be a lead in to the hessian sewing experience.  

Sorting Pom Poms : Love how colourful this experience is, the children would be instantly drawn to it. 

Washing Line : I have done this before using baby clothes and the children love it! I mean, water play and three year olds, need I say more? I need to remember to provide this experience more often. 

Buttons and Pipe Cleaners : Love this diferent threading experience.

I can't wait to try out some of these new ideas in the classroom.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Preschool Football Day

As we come to the end of september we reach something important here in Australia, the AFL Football Grand Final! As our national sport everyone has a team they follow and many schools and preschools celebrate this event through a variety of activities.

Last year my group of preschoolers were very in to their sport and loved being involved in group games! As the Grand Final is usually on the middle weekend of the school holidays, we decided to have our Footy Day on the last day of Term 3. 

The children are always very excited for these special event days and I like to encourage the excitement by providing a variety of experiences related to this event. The children were all invited to come dressed in the colours of their favourite AFL team, and every child came dressed up, which was wonderful to see. 

Some of the indoor experiences were provided included...

The children loved playing this AFL team matching game that I made using the logos' of the different teams. They enjoyed playing in small groups and we also used it as a transition activity throughout the session.

We enjoyed making our own streamers, which the children were seen using to cheer on their friends in the different sporting events that were taking place in the outdoor environment.

We also enjoyed creating our own flags using the colours of our favourite football team.

As part of our group time I had created a Interactive Whiteboard file with all of the children's photos in their football outfits (I quickly made it on my lunch break). I had the team flags down one side of the page and the children would come up one at a time and move their photo to the team they followed. When they had all done this, we counted how many followed each team and worked out who had the most supporters, a great maths activity!!

In the outdoor environment the children also enjoyed playing games with different types of balls, being involved in running races and joining in with different relays, including tunnel ball and under over. We also enjoyed listening to football and sport themed music and doing "exercises."

Special event days are always a very busy but extremley exciting experience for everyone involved, and a wonderful way to work all areas of learning in to an activity that the children are very excited about. 



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Celebrating Birthdays

With my own birthday coming up, I have been rethinking how I celebrate the children's birthdays at preschool. This is a very special day for the children and I want to make sure that I am making them feel the way a 3 turning 4 year old should be... loved, special, valued, excited and happy!!

I work in a preschool program that is part of a childcare centre. We have many children with allergies and since we provide all meals for the children we have a policy that no food from outside the centre is able to be brought inside. Therefore the families are unable to bring in any food items to share for their child's birthday. The families are able to bring in something of the non food variety and we have seen balloons, gift bags, a pass the parcel game, colouring books and many other items! Some of the parents are very creative!!

In terms of my own classroom celebrations, here are a few traditions that we have :

- The child can choose to wear either the Birthday Badge or Birthday Hat or both if they wish!
- Each child gets a Happy Birthday stamp on their hand.
- At the end of the day I give the children a special bag that includes a birthday certificate, a balloon, a birthday card from their teachers and a birthday hat.
- The child also gets to pick a gift from the Birthday Box, which is a decorated shoe box filled with pencils, glow sticks, bouncy balls, small toys and other little items that children always enjoy!
- After all of this we sing Happy Birthday and the child gets to blow out some candles on our "cake" (candles that look like cupcakes).

I also love these ideas that I found while searching the web...

Birthday Books : Love the idea of having a special Birthday Book Basket that the children could look through during the day. They could also choose one to read at group time.

Making Birthday Cakes : Proving play dough, candles and patty pans would enable the children to create cakes for their friends birthday!

Birthday Wreath : I like this idea from 'Teaching the Little People'. Julie hangs this on the classroom door when it is someone's birthday to welcome the children. She also takes a photo of the birthday child with the wreath.

Birthday Book : I also like the idea of making a Birthday Book. On their birthday each child could decorate a page to add to the book, which could also include the photo you take of the above wreath. This could be added to the book area for the children to remember their special day throughout the year.

I would love to hear if any of you have other ideas for celebrating birthdays in the classroom!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stormy Weather

Not too long ago we had some wild storms here in Melbourne, with quite a lot of flooding in the area I work in. Some of the children had difficulty accessing their homes and many had substantial damage to their home environment. When children experience something like this first hand, it becomes a stong interest and we begin to observe it become part of their everyday play.

We overhead many conversations about flooding between the children, especially in the sand pit area where they had to use the large tractors to "make it through all the flooding."

On one of these days we decided to all sit at the large windows we have in our room and observe the interesting weather that was occuring outside. We observed heavy rain, hail and large puddles forming in the yard. The children discussed these aspects amongst themselves, including why puddles were forming in some areas and not others?

To extend the children's interest in this area, we decided to provide some experiences for them to explore.

We provided different materials for the children to be able to represent their ideas of the storms they have been observing and hearing about. This first experience, provided drawing materials, as well as cotton wool and blue cellophane. This resulted in some wonderful stormy weather pictures.

The children also explored storms through painting... 

...and by using collage materials.

We also enjoyed exploring the weather on the interactive whiteboard by looking at weather maps and images. And once the rain stopped the children also enjoyed exploring first hand by stomping through the puddles in our gumboots!!

I also like these experiences that you could use to explore this topic even further...

Cloud In A Jar : This would be a great science experiment to do with the children to show how the rain comes through the clouds.

Weather Matching Game : Print of two of these sheets, laminate and you have a great weather matching game.

Weather Window : I like the idea of the children creating their own by drawing pictures of different types of weather around the outside of the frame. The children could then use these to find out what the weather is like each day.

I hope these experiences help inspire you in your own weather investigations!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Literacy Experiences

The group of children I taught last year were extremley interested in learning and writing the alphabet. These three and four year olds amazed me with how interested they were in this topic, so much so that they would come running to the mat when it was group time calling out "Yay it's time for another letter, I have lots of words today." 

Sometimes it can be hard to keep the balance between becoming to "school like" in the preschool setting. Being in a place based environment, I always want to provide the children with experiences that are of interest to them, that encourage them to explore, engage and develop their learning. 

Below are photos of the different experiences that I provided for the children while they were interested in this topic. This interest lasted a whole term! I included the ABC Dictionary and framed Alphabet Chart at each experience to help reinforce the pre reading and writing skills to the children. 

This experience provided kinder circles as a diffferent and interesting writing material, as well as a variety of different pens and pencils. The children's name cards were provided in the small container to encourage name recognition and writing. 

Here the children explored letters and some even created words using play dough and alphabet cutters.

We also used the letter cutters as stencils with a variety of writing materials.

To extend the letter stencils, we also added foam letter stickers as well as some envelopes for the children to post their letters. We had a letter box in another area of the room that the children would post their letters in and we would deliver them at our end of day group time. The children's faces would light up when they would get a letter from a friend!

Whiteboards and dry erase markers. The children loved exploring this different format.

Notebooks, alpahet stencils, word cards and greylead pencils. When the children discussed a word they wanted to write, we would create a word card and add it to the group. We also had smal cards for each letter of the alphabet so the children could experiment with creating their own words.

In this experience the children explored using alphabet punches. The children enjoyed punching out the different letters before pasting them on their paper with the glue sticks. 

The children loved exploring all of these different experiences across the term and the knowledge they development from them was incredible!!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Beginning...

I am a preschool teacher from Melbourne, Australia who is hoping to share her ideas with other preschool teachers around the world.

I get to spend my days teaching amazing three and four year old children who constantly suprise me with their eagerness to learn! They also keep me on my toes all day long!!

I believe in a play based education for young children where they are able to engage in meaningful, interest based learning experiences. I believe in providing an environment where children feel free to explore, create, experiment and achieve.

I decided to start this blog to share my ideas with others out there. While I can't share photos of the children, I plan to share ideas for expeirences and table set ups from my preschool rooom.

Hopefully you will enjoy what I have to share!!