Friday, April 29, 2011

Starting Small

Today my early childhood curriculum class finished watching "Starting Small" a video about teaching tolerance in early childhood classrooms.  I just wanted to share the link and the idea behind this program.  The program is available free to educators from Teaching Tolerance--A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center (temporarily out of stock).  Though the program is more than 10 years old it still has wonderful ideas about how children learn about how to live in our society.  The video makes me smile, laugh, and tear up all in the same hour.  I highly recommend this program. 

Along the same idea of helping children learn about themselves and others is another great resource for early childhood of my favorite books...Roots and Wings--Affirming Culture in Early Childhood by Stacey York.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Preschool Planner or Hoarder?

My experiences as an early childhood teacher have turned me into a semi-hoarder.  For the past few weeks I have been assisting the clean out of the storage cabinets and drawers in the preschool and it has helped me come to the conclusion that early childhood people hoard things.  We don't hoard in the sense that we are going to get a documentary show dedicated to us...but we are hoarders all the same...actually I would watch a show like that because it would give me ideas on what I need to "save" for preschool use.  Those of us in the field have even trained our significant others to watch out for the good stuff for husband has held up empty food container and asked if I needed it for school...the receiving office on campus has called to see if I wanted the boxes that held the music department's new tubas...mmmmm....yes please! 

Early childhood people are not typically listed on the Fortune 500 we may be a little on the frugal side.  I actually find it thrilling to come up with new uses for what others may think of as "crap".  I have a workshop presentation that I frequently do at conferences that is dedicated to creative ideas that can be done with inexpensive items...often junk or recycled items.  I also come from the school of people who like to make games and activities for kids...that way it targets exactly what I want it to.  While I was looking through a Lakeshore catalog the other day I actually marked a page with a sticky note that read "make this".  As an opening activity in my curriculum course I take in a bag of random items and have my class brainstorm things they could do with the items in a preschool classroom.  It is a fun activity that opens our eyes to the possibilities that ordinary items hold.  My student teachers have fully caught the preschool hoarding bug because they are forever asking each other to save water bottles and toilet paper tubes.  I feel that I am doing my small part in saving the environment by encouraging hoarding by future early childhood professionals. all the money that they will be making (ha, ha) they can tuck under their mattress because they can teach for cheap!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rainy Day + Leftover Easter Candy = Tired Preschool Teachers

Everyday I pass by a book on my file cabinet at work titled "Never, Ever Serve Sugary Snack on a Rainy Day" by Shirley Raines (love how her last name fits the book title and I love the messages in the book). is the day after Easter and we have been dealing with a crazy amount of rain here in the what should preschool teachers expect on a stormy Monday after Easter? 
  1. Kids are always tired the day after a holiday because of the unusual schedules that accompany family holiday events...therefore...they will be grumpier than a normal Monday.
  2. The day after a thunderstorm the kids are also tired because they didn't sleep well the night before with all the thunder, lightning and candy basket guarding.
  3. Someone is bound to have a tummy ache the day after and candy filled holiday--Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Easter.  It is probably a good idea to avoid vomit inducing activities on the day after a sugar holiday--spinning of any kind should be avoided.  Snacks and meals served to preschoolers on during their candy-hangover should be bland on taste and color.
  4. In order to keep up with the kids it is always a good idea for preschool teachers to keep a steady flow of sugar (and/or caffeine) in their own diet following a also helps prevent the inevitable sugar crash especially if said teacher has overindulged in his or her own candy basket. 
  5. If preschool teachers have their own children at home they also did not sleep well because of imported campers in their beds or on their bedroom floor.
  6. If teachers do not have their own children...rainy Mondays after a sugar buffet typically make it really, really hard to get out of bed which equals tired, sluggish zombie teachers. 
  7. Sometimes preschoolers "forget" about rules over a regular weekend...expect this slip of memory times four after a holiday weekend...the kids have been indulged by many people and who could blame them for trying to keep it going at preschool?
My list could continue but I would rather focus on positive things for the rest of the evening. last thought...could you name three things that would make a rainy Monday after Easter even worse?  Birthday cupcakes with blue icing, a surprise visit from the licensing representative, and a fire drill.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dandelion Cookies

Spring is here and so are my favorite yellow "flowers"...dandelions!  What preschool age kid doesn't love to pick these little golden gems?  Each spring when I was in my classroom I would make dandelion cookies with my kiddos...I cannot even begin to remember where the recipe came from or else I would give proper credit...most likely a Mailbox magazine circa 1996. 

Today in my college level preschool/kindergarten curriculum class we were talking about "cooking" in the classroom and all the wonderful skills and concepts that children gain from such experiences. "big" girls made their own dandelion cookies today.  Here is what you need:  vanilla wafers, white frosting, coconut flakes, and yellow food coloring is optional.  You can tint the frosting and coconut yellow to resemble fresh dandelions or you can leave it white to resemble dandelions that are ready to "blow".  They are simple to make--spread icing on a few vanilla wafers and dip icing side into coconut.  I remember pigging out on the leftovers at naptime back in the day...I have leftovers in my office fridge right now calling my name. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fashion Victim or Early Childhood Teacher

Why has working with little kids has changed my ideas about fashion?  Long ago in my undergraduate program my favorite college professor and later mentor mentioned that you can always tell who taught early childhood by their macaroni and wooden bead necklaces.  I laughed as did most of the class...then years later I found myself wearing a food coloring dyed ziti necklace that was strung on rainbow colored yarn.  I always wanted to be the "cute" teacher...sweaters or vests (egads...that dates me) to match the seasons or holidays...I managed to have most of the mainstream holidays covered about a year into my first teaching job.  I owned socks that matched almost every theme I did in my favorite were my farm socks that matched the wooden barn pin that I would wear on a red plaid jumper...with white Ked's type tennis shoes...Stacy and Clinton would haved bashed me in three way mirror.  I don't dress this way anymore...nor have I even dug out pictures to show my students what will eventually happen to them. 

I have learned a few fashion tips along my journey:
  1. Forget about wearing black pants--children will runny noses will leave glistening trails of snot on your legs when hugging you.
  2. Don't wear light colors or white...lesson learned carrying an easel painting to the drying rack when the gust of a running preschooler caused the painting to "fly" into the front of a white and yellow daisy printed jumper...some paint washes out better than others...unfortunately I found out which colors don't.
  3. Keep different shoes around for the playground...I was teased by colleagues that I looked like Mr. Rogers when I changed my shoes before going outside...but playground dust can be deadly to cute shoes.
  4. Consider keeping an extra set of clothing around...just in case...however if someone pukes on you sometimes it just feels better to go home and sanitize yourself before putting on your extra clothes...and chances are like the kid's extra might be missing essential pieces or they are now too small. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why smell the crayons?

When I decided to begin a blog dedicated to my experiences in early childhood education/development I thought about my favorite things...which for someone who has spent the past 16 years working with or near young children incorporates many sensory elements. Therefore, my first post is dedicated to my favorite things about young children...from a sensory side. 

My favorite things in the world of early childhood:

  • Smells
    • the back of a baby's neck
    • play doh
    • a new box of crayons
    • plastic doll hair
    • Lincoln logs
    • shaving cream
    • baby wipes (clean)
    • bubble solution
  • Tastes
    • black cherry Kool-Aid
    • fish sticks
    • 3 cent grape gum
    • M & M's
    • bubbles (not meant to be tasted but it always happens)
  • Touches
    • new smooth paper (the teacher in me)
    • sand in the sensory table poured over my hands
    • smoothed out play doh
    • bubble paper
    • Pat the Bunny
    • when a baby reaches out and touches me
    • preschooler hugs
  • Sights
    • sleeping children
    • block towers
    • children chasing bubbles
    • bright eyes during story time
  • Sounds
    • belly laughs of a baby
    • giggles of a preschooler
    • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star sung by a 2 year old
    • ABC song
    • "Mama"
I love that everyday is new and different when young children are involved...and this blog will help me capture my current experiences and recall those from the past.