Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Know it is a Good Day in Preschool when...

Our preschool program reopens for the spring semester next week.  We all have high hopes for another wonderful semester...which causes me to reflect back on those days when I was in the know those days when at the end of the day you took a breath and realized what a good day it had been.  This post is simply a random mess of the moments that made for a good day in preschool. 

  • fresh box of crayons...or finding a like new crayon at the bottom of the tub
  • bouquet of dandelions from your favorite little stinker
  • the invention of velcro made for many happy days
  • a "note" from a child presented in a sealed envelope
  • birthday cupcakes...bonus is sneaking an extra one at naptime
  • busy days where you never look at the filled days zip by!
  • no runny noses
  • HUGE block structures that no one knocks down
  • butterflies and ladybugs on the playground
  • chocolate milk
  • peanut butter balls for snack...with orange juice
  • Scholastic book deliveries
  • Valentine's Day exchange
  • finding enough money for a candy bar from the vending machine...then the vending machine dispensing two for the price of one!
  • taco salad for lunch
  • finding the right size of extra pants for someone in need
  • discovering a "fossil" rock on the playground
  • a nature walk that includes a surprise...snake, golf ball, construction equipment, dead bird
  • a nature walk that doesn't include a surprise rainshower
  • listening to the "Three Bears" and "Goldilocks" in the dramatic play center
  • a no-bandaid-day
  • stickers!  (Still makes my college students still get stickers!)
  • donated cardboard appliance boxes
  • a visit from a new baby brother or sister
  • hearing, "Please stop, I don't like it when you take my blocks" instead of hearing the thud of a unit block hitting a head followed by crying
  • paint that washes out
  • watching the first snow fall...the hushed wonder...the excitement...and my sore back from lifting kiddos to see out the window...what really made a happy day was the set of stairs my hubby made for my classroom!
  • baby birds hatching in their nest tucked into the playground equipment
  • a no jacket kind of day
  • hugs from my little friends

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yes...Kids Really do Learn Through Play!

We are just around the corner from another new semester...for both my college kiddos and the preschool kiddos.  The courses I teach change each semester with the exception of my early childhood curriculum course...which I know I shouldn't have favorites...but it is my favorite class to teach.  In this class we look and learn about all the developmental domains and create activities for preschool children to fit within a play based developmentally appropriate curriculum. sounds like fun doesn't it?  And to add to the fun factor...the students have to enroll in a practicum experience in our preschool lab.

My students get the idea of developmentally appropriateness...because I drill it in then in every single class that I teach!  Play based curriculum is another issue.  My students "get" that kids need to play and that they can learn through play...but when it comes time to plan activities the playfulness sometimes goes away.  Sometimes I think it is because they don't feel that a lesson plan should focus on play because a lesson plan sounds more like a  formal document that surely must not include play.  Another idea that crosses my mind is my students may have not had the opportunity to learn through play in their educational experiences...that push for more academics that lead to more worksheets and less dramatic play and block centers in the kindergarten classroom.  Then there is the final option that I do not want to even think about...that it might be that they just do not "get" it.

There are times when my practicum students mention that there needs to be a more focused academic curriculum in the preschool.  "The kids should be doing more learning activities."  What?  Learning activities?  What exactly do you think we do all day?  This is where I feel my preaching and numerous examples have failed.  In a prerequisite course I have my students defend play to imaginary colleagues, parents, and administrators...they can do it...but when begin planning they tend to focus more on product based activities.  I continue to point out examples of how children learn through simply is so much easier to learn something when you don't realize you are supposed to be learning something.  I was a master of physics as a child in the bathtub...just let me experiment with an empty cup and the water.  What do children learn by exploring fingerpaints...without a preconceived idea from their teacher of what their masterpiece should look like...they learn about textures, color mixing, properties of the paper, force of the push of their finger, how to move their arm, elbow...maybe even their nose?

I will start my semester on my soapbox defending learning through play...I will even "make" my students play to experience it on their own.  I want them to be able to stand up and explain all the benefits of the block area (or dramatic play, writing center, puppet stage, painting easel, sand table, tire swing, the list goes on) to a parent who asks, "Why do they play all day?"

Hello...I'm Still Here!

Life gets busy and the blog takes a back seat.  I am working on a new post to publish today...getting back into the swing of things after an almost 2 month break.  Stay tuned...