Time to Refocus

The month of February has been all about health and wellness with Mother Goose Time. We have spent a lot of time focusing on healthy foods, and how to take good care of our bodies. Valentine’s Day also brought up good conversations about kindness and how we all need love to be our best selves. In our program, we believe children that feel good, tend to behave in a more kind way, make better choices, and are better learners.

As a teacher, it is important to be flexible when it comes to classroom management strategies and techniques. The same strategy that was working in the beginning of the year may no longer be working halfway through the year. We always focus on being kind, that is what matters overall. Teaching our young children to be kind to their friends, how to problem solve, knowing when to recognize that they need some space, and when to walk away and talk to a teacher are important skills.

As a Pre-K teacher, I want our children to have a basic understanding of these skills before we send them off to kindergarten, and their world becomes a lot bigger. What do you do when some of your students are testing their listening skills, not only with their teachers, but their friends too? What do you do when some of your students are really close, and though this may not be intentional, they are starting to leave others out of
their group, resulting in classmates feeling sad and left out? And, sometimes, it is intentional – “You can’t play with us” being a popular phrase suddenly. Some of our friends have become more pushy with each other, pushing their friends when they need space or when they are frustrated rather than communicating.

At this age, communication can be hard. It isn’t always a skill that comes easy. As teachers it is part of our job to teach them how to communicate when they are upset. It is also our job to communicate with their parents, to find out if some of these things are popping up at home too. We want to better understand the whole situation, so that we know how we can support them at school. Staying consistent between home and school is really important for a child’s learning. I’ve learned some children have started testing boundaries at home too, so it isn’t just for their teachers at school. A little understanding goes a long way!

I thought about what I could do to make my classroom more manageable when children seem to be needing some space. They needed a productive space where they can have some alone time when needed, refocus, and then feel ready to join our group again. The goal was for them to recognize when they needed space before things felt too crazy. I set up a Refocus Center in my classroom. It is complete with a book, “You’re Here for a Reason”, a Feelings Journal, crayons, two stuffed bunnies, a stress ball, and a sensory bottle.

So far, this center has been a game changer! We talked about this new center at circle time, and how they can come talk to me when they felt they needed some space, or, if I felt that they need some space from their friends, I may ask them to go to our “Refocus Center” for some quiet time. They are using the journal exactly what it is for, to draw how they are feeling. I’ve had children come up and tell me they felt they needed space, then they sit down and immediately start drawing how they feel. One student in particular told me they felt they needed some alone time. I told her she could go to the Refocus Center, and she sat down to draw how she was feeling. We talked about her drawing and she told me she was feeling sad and lonely. I asked her why, and she said that nobody wanted to play with her. We talked about who she was wanting to play with, and how she could let them know how she was feeling. She went and talked to her friends, they all started playing a game, and she was feeling much happier within a few minutes!

This center has helped to give me insight into my student’s day. Talking to them about their drawing lets me know how they are feeling and what kind of a day they are having. They are allowed to feel frustrated, sad, happy. We have to help them understand how to control some of those feelings, being frustrated in particular, so that everyone stays safe and we can all have fun in the classroom. The bunnies allow them something to hold onto, and sometimes are a good distraction, along with the sensory bottle and stress ball. If you are needing a new classroom management strategy, setting up a Refocus Center really seems to do the trick. Children don’t always tell you how they are feeling, but having them be able to draw how they are feeling and then talking about it allows you some insight into their day and how you can better help them problem solve. This center has helped make our classroom feel more calm.

In addition to some new strategies in our classrooms, sometimes our space needs a “refocus” as well. Teachers are notorious for saving things that could be used again someday. The problem with that is our center has very limited storage and our classrooms have to essentially disappear at the end of the week, as we share the space with a church. To meet the ever changing dynamics of our groups and the needs involved, we decided to do a whole-center classroom shift. We discovered a variety of things that we no longer needed and cleared a lot of things that didn’t spark joy. 🙂

The new Toddler Space

The new Pre-K Space

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The new Preschool Space.

Sometimes teachers, spaces, and children need a chance to refocus. Time to think about what is most important, how we feel about it, and how to make a plan for improvement.

Now we are really excited to finish up with “Health and Fitness” and prepare for “Desert Discovery” with Mother Goose Time!

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The Food Groups- “Health and Fitness: Week 1

We are loving learning about the different food groups as part of our “Health and Fitness” unit with Mother Goose Time! The children are quickly learning what food belongs in which group, why the different food groups are important, and how to create a balanced meal. We have had so much fun extending the food group lessons that Mother Goose Time has sent us!51078358_10156152407711527_1941098572367790080_o.jpg
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Our Pre-K class made their very own food pyramids. I used small poster board to make them each a pyramid. I printed out outlines of different food from every food group for each student. They colored and cut them out, and then they glued down their food in the correct food group. This hands-on activity created a great visual to really further their learning of what foods make up the different food groups.

37E6D20F-A487-4A2A-BED8-7B17AB46AECCOur preschool class used the same food outlines that Pre-K used, but they did a “What’s on my plate?” activity with them. They created a balanced meal on their plate using the different food pieces. This extended their learning of the food groups by learning what foods can create a balanced meal.

We have really enjoyed all of the materials that Mother Goose Time has sent us for our first week of the Health and Fitness unit. The cow puppets from “Lesson 4: Dairy”, are really cute and they all turned out so different! Pre-K cut out all of the pieces themselves and had fun constructing their cow puppets. They were surprised to learn that a cow has four stomachs!

To wrap up our first week of “Health and Fitness”, we did a taste test. We put out foods that they would recognize, as well as some new things, like Dragon Fruit. We let them try all the items and try to put them into the correct food group. It was so fun to see how much they have learned these past few days- Even our Wobblers got to give it a try!

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Thank you, Mother Goose Time for all of the fun lessons and supplies! Our “Health and Fitness” unit is off to a great start!

Letters!

With Mother Goose Time, We have three focus letters each month. We love extending our learning on these different letters by doing fun writing projects or art. Our Pre-K class is creating their very own alphabet book using their hand prints. For the month of February (Health and Fitness) our letters are A, G, and Q. We created hungry alligators for the letter “A” and gloves for the letter “G”.

For example, at the top of their paper I put “A is for Alligator” with their alligator hand print below. 51561966_371303453651427_5370532363681923072_n.jpgAt the bottom of their page I put the month, year, and their name. It is fun to look back and see how much their hands have grown since September. At the end of the year we will put all of their letters in the correct order creating a fun keepsake book for them to take home at graduation.

I also love using big letter outlines and combining art/writing. For the letter “G” I cut out purple circles for “Grapes”, since we have been learning all about the food groups. They glued their grapes inside of the letter G outline and at the bottom of their page they wrote “Grapes.”

 

51559169_10156152589331527_5311992234315350016_oWe use the included MGT letter materials as part of our daily lessons. We love the Loose Letter Parts that are included this year, as well as the Pocket Cube cards with coordinating activities. It is so fun extending our learning with the different letters each month, and these extra activities really help with their letter recognition!

Visit the Mother Goose Time Website for more fun and learning at https://www.mothergoosetime.com

Vegetables

In our previous post, we mentioned the Member Resources page on the Mother Goose Time website. As part of our “Health and Fitness” unit (February 2019), I printed the Vegetable Puzzles on the Member resources, just because I thought they were cute, but then when I looked in the Little Goose Teacher Guide (ages 18 months-2.5 years), it all made sense! These vegetables were to create a Tray Play activity, and they loved it!

This activity was simple and fun. I printed the names of the vegetables to add a language element and laminated all the pieces so they will hopefully last for the month. 🙂

Tray Play activities are such a great style of activity for this age group. Parallel play is very common and sharing can be challenging, so having a defined space for the pieces for each child, gives them a safe place to work at their own speed.

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Since we already had the outlines made and the children were requesting a painting project, we turned our vegetable puzzle into art! We talked about the different colors of the vegetables and tried to paint the outlines with the same colors.51398387_383224985569026_6659847018699030528_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about the Mother Goose Time program, visit their website at https://www.mothergoosetime.com/