3 Important Things

Each month, the Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassadors focus on a new umbrella topic. For the month of July the topic was “Tell your story, grow your program”. This post answers the question of what we believe to be the three most important things we do for children and how MGT helps us achieve those goals.

We believe that the three most important things that we do for the children in our care is teach them, listen to them, and believe in them and their ability to make good choices.

Mother Goose Time is a huge part of what we teach our children. It covers all of the content areas, but we also focus on the social and emotional growth. The goal of teaching is not just to be sure they are academically ready for kindergarten, but that they become well rounded and kind members of society. We are not only teaching our students the curriculum, but we are teaching them right from wrong, how to respect others, and be honest. Some of our students are here at least eight hours a day, if not more. We spend a lot of time with them and play an important role in their lives, although most of them won’t remember us. 

Mother Goose Time is helping us achieve these goals by providing us with a fantastic curriculum. They have planned out units that teach us about different cultures and parts of the world. At the beginning of the year there is always a unit that covers friends, family and feeling. We get to talk about how to manage our feelings and why we may be feeling a certain way – this is a great way to set the tone for the rest of the year. This curriculum provides more than just math, science, art and writing activities, but they focus on the whole child. We get to learn about so much more throughout the year and Mother Goose Time really helps us take the guesswork out of it.

We listen to our children in what they tell us, but also how they come to us each day. Taking the time to see them as small human beings with important thoughts, ideas and feelings, creates a safe learning environment. Our teachers know each child individually. It is also important to communicate with parents so that we are all on the same page with how their children are doing at home and at school. We use a program called HiMama to record their daily notes, send pictures and send emails back and forth with the parents. At the end of the day they will receive their child’s daily report. It is a great way to communicate with the parents because there often is not much time to chat with them at drop-off and pick-up.

Believing that each child is unique and capable of kindness is the heart of our program. If they learn all of their academics and make good choices, that is wonderful, but ultimately out goal is that children leave our program and know that they are loved! MGT helps us not only teach our children lots of fun things, take the time to listen and know them, but is truly the framework of our program. We love using this curriculum and all that it provides for our teachers and children!

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We Work Hard for the Money!

A constant struggle for Early Childhood programs is the lack of financial resources. We aren’t funded by state or our local community, and while I understand that quality childcare is incredibly expensive from the perspective of the parents, we barely make ends meet most of the time. So where does it all go, and how do we decide?

The basics are simple… Rent, Food for Snacks, Classroom/Safety Supplies, Cleaning Supplies, and Curriculum. We are so thankful for the Blogging Program with Mother Goose Time because when we write about this wonderful program and how we use it in our classrooms, we receive a good portion of our materials for free. We probably wouldn’t be able to afford this curriculum for all of our children without this trade.

Staffing expenses are the highest part of our budget. We believe that what our teachers do is truly important – the word “important” doesn’t even feel like enough. Some of the children in our care spend more waking hours with us than they do with their parents. A child is essentially who they will become in terms of basic moral code and personality by the age of 5, so the time we spend and the things we teach are critical. I wish that I could pay our teachers more for what they do every day. We provide Health, Vision, and Dental insurance to our full-time staff, as well as free childcare to those with little ones. I was fortunate enough to be with my kids every day in those early years, and I don’t want my staff to miss out on that time with their own children, while providing for others. There are also additional expenses for Worker’s Comp, insurance, etc. And don’t even get me started on the expense of field trips, but those adventures are so important to the children!

Now, on to the fun stuff- what do we play with? Early Childhood is all about Play and Mother Goose Time helps us prepare. The lesson plans lay out ideas for STEAM Stations and Tray Play activities (Little Goose). We try to purchase any materials needed to make those activities happen. MGT also has a Toy box Program. At this point in the life of our program, we have a lot of toys, books, games and puzzles. While we have never purchased the actual toy boxes, although the included activity cards would be nice to have, we use this resource as a way to decide what to pull out from our collection and what, if anything, would be new and fun to add. In our classrooms, we change out all books, and shelf activities with each new unit. It is a lot of work, but it keeps the children engaged in their learning and we avoid an abundance of “stuff” being out all at the same time. MGT does the research and we make it happen- a great partnership for sure!

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We are so thankful to work with precious children. In no other job do you have “co-workers” run up to with hugs and enthusiasm each morning. We truly have the best job, even with its challenges. We are thankful to work with parents who see the value in what we do and are so excited to bring their child to us each day. I know that quality child care is expensive, but it is so worth it!

Professional Development

July Blog Topic #1: How do you continue to challenge yourself and grow as a professional educator? How does using Mother Goose Time curriculum help you learn and try new things? What trainings, accreditations or programs have you participated in that has also been helpful? Any book recommendations?

Mother Goose Time Curriculum has given our classes some great ideas for STEAM. We have been able to try new things because of Mother Goose Time and the curriculum that they provide. We like to look at the curriculum ahead of time to be able to extend on the topics provided and be able to expand further the children’s learning. The curriculum provides great lessons that we may not have thought of and they go into detail on discussions we can have regarding the topic, ways to assess our students, and how to simplify a project or make it more challenging. They have also taken the time to correlate the lessons with National Standards for Early Childhood, ensuring our children are getting what they need and saving our teachers so much much time. Mother Goose Time has not only taught our students a lot, but our teachers as well!

In the State of Oregon, every staff member is required to take at least 15 training hours per year, and 8 of those hours must be in child development. Most of our staff have enjoyed trainings from the Applebaum Training Institute when they come to Oregon, and any of their training books are great. Attending the Applebaum trainings is a great way to gain new knowledge, ideas, and excitement! We come away from those trainings excited to apply what we have learned into our center. Our teachers also have a step in ORO (Oregon Registry Online). Our trainings are recorded in ORO, and when we have a certain amount of training hours we earn a step that shows our qualifications on paper. Most of our staff members have earned a step 7.5 or higher. The desire to earn a certain step in ORO has encouraged our staff members to take more training hours and work hard to earn a higher step because these qualifications are important.

If you ever get the chance to take a training from the Applebaum Training Institute, do it – you will not regret it!

 

Lodges and Dens- Lesson 16!

We are looking forward to the lessons this week – the children are excited to learn about different animal homes! The children enjoyed the materials that came with the ‘Beaver Lodge’ activity during Lesson 16 – Lodges & Dens. The teacher set out all the materials and the children got to decide how they were going to use the materials to create a beaver den. Some children decided to use all the materials that they were given while some only used a few to create their beaver den. It is fun to see how the children decide to use the materials with each activity. Thank you, Mother Goose Time, for the wonderful materials that you send with the curriculum! We really enjoy all the materials we are given and the prompts that you put with each lesson. It really helps us get a great conversation going!

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Outdoor Art

Now that we have a covered space on our playground the children have been enjoying their outdoor classroom. We have a table, easel, and a drying rack under one of the shelters and the children have enjoyed making art outside. Our older students enjoy looking around at their surroundings to get inspiration on what they would like to paint or draw. The children enjoyed spraying paint with the squirt bottles and watching the paint drip down creating a waterfall effect. They come and go, running around playing and then they will take a break to come and do some art. We have enjoyed taking our Mother Goose Time lessons outside as well. If you can create an outdoor classroom, do it! The children have fun getting creative outside while enjoying the fresh air. It is a nice change of pace from doing our lessons inside!

 

 

Our Nature Family Night

We love nature! Now that the weather is nicer, we have been enjoying the outdoors even more.
We recently hosted our June Family Night, and we all met at the park for a picnic and a nature scavenger hunt. We had a great turnout, and we all had a blast! It is important to teach children about nature and how to respect animals in their habitat. As part of our Alphabet House theme (Mother Goose Time- June) we have learned about all types of homes, including habitats for animals. During the scavenger hunt we searched for different things in nature such as spider webs, leaves, animal footprints and ants. We talked about where animals might build their homes and what they might use. After our scavenger hunt the children enjoyed Otter Pops and playground time, of course.

If you host family nights, consider planning a picnic in the park with your families and get everyone outside. This summer take your children out for a nature walk. Talk about where they might find a spiderweb, and search for different birds. Look for different shapes in the clouds with them. It is important to get out and enjoy the fresh air!

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Diversity

We love to have discussions about our “Daily Topic” during circle time. For the ‘Beans’ topic (week 4, lesson 18 in the “Growing Gardens” Teacher Guide) we tied in a diversity discussion with our Math. We went around the circle and compared each other’s differences and similarities. We talked about the different clothing everyone was wearing, how tall we are, and what our hair color is. The children enjoyed comparing their color of socks and would point out who had the same colors and who’s were different. We emphasized how wonderful it was that we were the same and different!

33124381_10211571254218882_3992048879020277760_n.jpgThe “Measuring with String Beans” activity tied in perfectly with our conversations about diversity! Mother Goose Time sends us Math Manipulatives with each new unit and for the month of May, we received a set of counting cubes. We brought in fresh string beans and the children enjoyed comparing the similarities and differences of each bean. We talked about how long they were and their different shapes and colors. We used cubes to compare the different lengths of our beans. They counted their cubes and told us how tall their bean was based on the number of cubes they had stacked up next to it. Then we laid out the beans on the floor to measure each other’s height.

 

 

It is important to teach children about diversity- To see and honor the ways we are different and unique, but also the similarities that tie us all together. This activity was an example of some of the similarities and differences that not only string beans have, but people too!

Family Nights- Fun for Everyone!

We have an amazing parent volunteer who helps us by organizing a Family Night once a month for our school. Our theme for family night is different each month, and usually ties into our current Mother Goose Time unit in some way.

In December (Winter Wonderland), we enjoyed a visit from a local storyteller. She shared the story of the “Christmas Spider” with our families. Blankets, pajamas and homemade cookies is a great way to end the day with friends!

Our family night in February tied into Valentine’s Day and we learned how people from all over the world celebrate Valentine’s Day, which correlated with “It’s a Small World”.

 

We had pizza available, so the families that joined us did not have to worry about dinner, and then everyone participated in a scavenger hunt. Each family had a different country, and the children visited each “country” and asked questions that were on their worksheet to gather the clues. We learned some fun facts about the different countries. We also had a Valentine’s photo booth- so fun!

 

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Game night was another fun family night we hosted. One of our families is very knowledgeable about a variety of fun games, so they brought in some of their favorites and we enjoyed playing together. We try to include some sort of snack/meal for those families that come straight from work and haven’t had time for dinner yet.

 

Our Family Night for May, we spent the evening on our playground, planting seeds and fresh flowers. Our families helped get our gardens ready for Spring planting (part of our “Growing Gardens” unit). The children also helped mix up a healthy and tasty trail mix. We enjoyed a fun evening outside together pulling weeds, planting flowers, and watering everything.

 

Our school is its own little community, and family nights are a great way to bring everyone together. Parents have time to interact with each other and the children enjoy having their parent(s) at school. 

Farmer’s Market

We love dramatic play! This month for our “Growing Gardens” unit (May 2018 Mother Goose Time), we set up a Farmer’s Market for our dramatic play center. Many of our families attend the local Farmer’s Market, so it is a lot of fun for the children to pretend that they are the farmers supplying the food and sharing it with their friends. We talk about where our food comes from, what a farmer’s job is, and how they help our community by sharing their fresh food with us. We have color sorting buckets and different foods to match each color. The children enjoy sorting the different foods into the correct buckets. This is a fun way to combine sorting colors and dramatic play. We also can tie in money counting skills, and taking turns in each role. Do you love activities like the Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Buckets? Mother Goose Time puts together toy boxes for each unit and this is a great resource for building a quality educational toy collection.

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We have a garden on our playground where we are growing strawberries, some veggies and flowers. The children have fun being gardeners and taking care of the plants, digging and watering are the best! They enjoy watching the garden grow and eating snacking throughout the summer!

Ocean Name Tags

It is so fun to see how the children’s writing improves throughout the year. The name tags are a great way to keep track of the progress that the children have made with their writing each month. With the name tag activity during our Ocean Commotion unit, came a fun discussion topic about swimming. The curriculum always includes an activity and we really enjoy them during circle time. The children had a fun discussion with their teacher about swimming, and then they got to show us what swimming looks like by moving their arms and legs. They really enjoy these movement activities and discussions with their friends. After they pretended to swim they got to write their names on their name tag. They use their name tags during circle time to see who is here for the day and who isn’t. The children get to use their name tag as they work on name recognition and identifying the letters that are in their name. These name tags have many uses and we love the different name tags Mother Goose Time sends us each month!33063053_10211558381777079_146258295152181248_n