“Experience Baby” does STEAM!

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

Our program begins as early as 6 weeks of age- does STEAM really apply? Absolutely! Do infants and wobblers really need curriculum? What are they learning anyway?  Glad you asked!

We love that the “Experience Baby” curriculum set understands the variety of skills and abilities for these tiniest of students. Having activities planned allows the teachers to focus on the care of the children and not so much on planning. It also guarantees that our little ones have quality, engaging activities designed for their development.

“Experience Baby”, from Mother Goose Time, is set up a little differently from the basic curriculum, because the skills of a 3 month old are drastically different from a 12 month old. The lesson plans come in three colors (content areas) and they are numbered. For example, they might do Orange, Purple, and Green, number 1 on Monday, 2 on Tuesday, and 3 on Wednesday. Then on Thursday and Friday, they can do any of those that they didn’t get to, didn’t go well and want to try again, or were favorites. The cards outline what supplies we will need, a basic plan, and then what to expect from different ages and stages. The teachers are able to track how the child approached the activity and communicate to parents what we did that day. The set comes with a book for each child to go between home and school- such a valuable tool for those who cannot yet communicate! This is not an extensive run down of Experience Baby, but I highly recommend it for any program that offers infant/Wobbler care!

Here are just a few STEAM Activities happening during “My Small World” unit with our Infants and Toddlers!

Engineering!

Math! They loved these cards so much!

Science! This was a fascinating activity to see how truly engaged they were.

Developing Hand-Eye coordination!

Art! They love to paint and this was their version of the Eiffel Tower.

Science with Jell-o… They loved this! Testing bounce, squish, color mixing!

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And just a little more cuteness! These little ones are so precious and busy. I love that their teachers not only meet their basic needs beautifully, but strive to give them fun and challenging interactions with the world around them. Thanks for all you do Teachers!

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STEAM Around the World!

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Mother Goose Time provides so many opportunities for these skills to develop naturally. Here are just a few ways that we used STEAM in our classrooms this week with our “Small World” unit!

Swirl World was one of our favorites! There are many options for how to approach this activity, but we opted to play with the shaving cream and then make a marbled print. To do this, we put shaving cream on a plate, added liquid watercolor (green and blue, of course) and then the children gently swirled it. Once it was swirled, but not totally mixed to one color, we put a piece of card stock on top. We used the side of a ruler to scrape off the shaving cream and the most beautiful prints were left behind. We cut them into circles and glued them inside the provided paper plate to hang in the classroom.

The Wooden Airplane activity tested our engineering skills, and they became quite artistic in their design as well. Some children had fun using as much glue as possible to stick the wooden sticks in every which direction, while others studied the photo carefully as they constructed the body, wings, and tail.

On “Rug” day, our older children really enjoyed sewing their own rugs. This type of activity is why we love Mother Goose Time so much. The fabric, string, and plastic needles were individually cut and ready to go

Our younger children had a different variation of the rug activity in the Little Goose Supplement. They used tape to make a design on paper and then painted over it. After the tape was removed, their design showed through. Our preschool and Pre-K children liked that idea, but they got to tape the design themselves.

Mother Goose Time is packed with STEAM opportunities within the basic curriculum. An addition to the weekly lesson plan book this year is STEAM stations. The first couple pages of each book has a variety of ideas for how to incorporate STEAM into the classroom. Thank Mother Goose Time for continuing to improve the education opportunities for our children!

 

 

 

Celebrating Love Around the World

On the first Thursday of each month, our center hosts a Family Night (6:00-7:00) and everyone is invited to participate. One of our wonderful parents volunteered to organize these events and it is such an amazing addition to our school community. We began in December with a pajama story time with milk and cookies. We had a wonderful Storyteller from the community come to share “The Christmas Spider”. Then in January we had a Bilingual (Spanish) story time with a fun craft, organized by one of our Spanish Speaking families.

For the month of February, we learned about traditions surrounding Valentine’s day from around the world, which tied in very nicely to our Mother Goose Time unit, “It’s a Small World”. One of the Pizza restaurants in town was kind enough to donate a few pizzas (Thanks Papa’s Pizza!), so as the families arrived, we fed the children and explained the activity to the parents. Each family was in charge of a country and their job was to teach the others about the traditions from that country. The children worked together to fill in the blanks on their worksheet. When they thought they had them all figured out, they earned a small prize. Then we all sat down and each family got a chance to share about their country while we looked at pictures of children from around the world.

To round out our evening, we had a photo booth for each family to get a Valentine’s picture taken. We had each child make his/her hand prints on a large poster heart. We added the family pictures and the pictures of the children from around the world, and this poster will decorate our classroom.27336683_10155341813251527_4873058863418775222_n

This morning, we took the flags from each country, the traditions that happen in each country, and the Mother Goose Time Map and put them all together. This way we have a reminder of the fun things we learned and it will be part of our study of the world around us this month, (and Valentine’s Day, of course).

Attached are links (hopefully they work) to the activity we used and the Powerpoint with the photos of children around the world.

VALENTINES AROUND THE WORLD

Valentines around the globe

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Positive Time Out and Empathy

Here at Wonders, we believe children who feel better, behave better. We encourage children to explore their world, interact with friends, and engage in activities. Children are encouraged to use words to identify what they are feeling and communicate with their friends and teachers. We try to approach each situation with a positive attitude and outcome in mind. We want children to behave because they know what is right, rather than fear of punishment. The goal is to teach children that their actions have an effect on the world around them and it is okay to take some time and space when needed, or ask for what they need to feel better- wouldn’t the world be a better place if adults understood this very thing?

When a child decides that he/she does not want to behave in a kind way toward a friend, teacher, or material, they will be asked if they need to take some space until they feel better. If the child chooses not to take space, they will be asked to mend the situation (i.e.: pick up the thrown toy, show a gentle touch, check on their friend, etc.) If the child really needs a little time to cool down, but chooses not to do it on their own, the teacher will go with them to the designated quiet space and help them calm down. When the child is ready, they can return and help find a solution to the problem. A child will not be forced to stay in the quiet space for any length of time, just until they are calm and ready to mend the situation. It is a place for the child to go anytime they feel like they need to calm down, have some quiet time or space to themselves (we all need this permission sometimes) and they can return when they feel they are ready. If the child returns to the group, but doesn’t seem to be calm or feeling better, they will be encouraged to go back to the quiet space until they are really ready.

When the child returns to the group, they will be greeted warmly and asked if they are feeling better. The child will be reminded of the situation and asked to help find a solution.

Example: “oh Johnny, I am glad you took a little space to calm down. Are you feeling better? (Child has time to respond) “I understand that you were frustrated, but when you pushed Molly down, she got hurt and it made her feel sad. Can you show her a gentle touch and see if she is alright?” (For small children, guide their hands to show gentle touches until they can do it on their own.) “Nice job! Next time you feel frustrated, remember that we don’t need to push. You can take some space anytime you feel like you need a break.”

If a child is abusing a material/toy, they will be asked to change their behavior. “If you stand on that toy, you might break it or you could fall and get hurt. Can you please get down?” If the behavior continues, the child will be asked to use the material/toy correctly or to find another activity. If that still doesn’t resolve the situation, the material/toy will be removed and the child will be redirected to another activity.

We try to use a lot of redirection and positive language with our children. Instead of saying, “Don’t stand on the chair” we say, “I need your feet on the floor” for example. It is challenging at first, but this technique reminds us to focus on the positives and to be direct with our language.

As far as “The Space” goes, it is great to have the child (children) helps design a space that is comfortable and welcoming. There can be tools or reminders there of strategies (stress balls, anger hands, breathing techniques, etc) or maybe something to snuggle. Sometimes all a child really needs is a hug to feel better.

(For more information on this technique, check out “Positive Time-Out” by Jane Nelson)

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Holidays with Mother Goose Time

Being a teacher is so fun this time of year and there are many wonderful activity ideas out there. But let’s face it, on top of the many things to do, who needs to run around searching for red pom poms, googly eyes, and wooden spoons? Mother Goose Time has us covered with their Holiday Packs! These can be used as an Open-house to involve parents or just some fun activities for the children on a festive day.

The Holiday packs come complete with their own lesson plan book and the materials to make it happen!

The other day, we were trying to come up with a fun snack idea for our party. We searched the internet and finally decided on this cute little Reindeer, went to the store to gather the ingredients, and then when we opened the Santa’s Workshop pack, there was the same cute idea. We should’ve known there would be something so fun in the lesson and we could’ve saved our precious time searching for an idea! The children loved making their own Reindeer snack either way, but I love the Mother Goose Time developers put their time, energy, and heart into these activities!

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We didn’t get to everything, but we had fun decorating our playdoh trees, counting with Santa, making spoon puppets, and a delicious reindeer snack as part of our holiday celebration!

Math is Everywhere!

How do we teach preschoolers mathematical concepts? Number recognition, one-to-one correspondence, spacial awareness, ordering and patterns… Mother Goose Time has thought of it all!

Let’s begin with the amazing Math Manipulatives that are included each month!

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For the month of December (Winter Wonderland), we received a set of colored cubes and snowflakes for each class. To go along with these useful manipulatives, there are activity cards, games, and lessons in which they are used, all spelled out in the Teacher Lesson Plan Book. The activities pictured above were from two different days. One was “Snowflake Math” and the other was all about the shapes of Arctic Gear. We have used these manipulatives in the sensory table, at the math table, they have been built with, stacked, and sorted. They have even been used creatively at the carpet with other toys- the fun is endless!

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One morning, the children were having so much fun stacking the cubes, but we couldn’t quite stack them as tall as each other (there weren’t enough and they wouldn’t stick together). So, we got inspired to pull out some other cubes that would stick together. We pretended they were ice cubes and measured how many ice cubes tall we were. We broke our really tall stack into groups of 10 to count them a bit easier. It took us a while to count the ice cubes for each child, but they were excited to have a turn and help each other.

In a similar way, we measured each kiddo compared to a small Spruce Tree on the wall. Children love to have a turn and it is fun to compare ourselves to the things around us.

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During our “Winter Wonderland” unit, Mother Goose Time provided a variety of fun activities for spacial awareness. There was a snowman puzzle matching game that we laminated to help it last the rest of the month because it was so fun.

When we learned about snow leopards, the activity was to cut the given picture in half, glue it to the white background paper, and then draw the missing half of the picture. This was challenging, and it was so interesting to see how each child approached this task. For our toddlers, their teacher cut the picture of the snow leopard into a few pieces and they put it back together like a puzzle (Little Goose Supplement).

 

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Each month there are a variety of math games included. There are games for counting, patterning, number recognition, and anytime we count, add, or subtract, we are learning one-to-one correspondence.

big_D2C00A37-2991-48CC-A3B5-16C9E711FF3BIt may look like these cuties are just playing with blocks, but they are actually using spacial awareness to create a tree line that fits within the blue line on the wall. They are stacking blocks to be tall enough, like trees, and all of these skills are quite challenging- this is not “just playing”. (This activity was not in the MGT lesson plans, but it was so clever and the children loved it.)

Not only is so much included in the monthly curriculum to foster mathematical skills, but there is also the “Toy Box” recommendations from Mother Goose Time for fun things that will coincide with what we are learning. We have not actually purchased the toy boxes (because we have been doing this long enough that we have most of the toys/games/puzzles, etc. in our collection) but as I understand it, the toy boxes come with cards for even more ideas of how they can be used in the classroom. We look at what items are included so we can pull from our collection as we plan for the month. Each of these activities foster counting, balance, shape/color recognition, stacking, and are just plain fun. We have loved this Winter Wonderland unit and we love Mother Goose Time!

Teacher’s are only one piece of the teaching!

We love to engage our parents in the learning process! We want to provide a variety of ways for teachers and parents to work together. One way that we do this is by sending things home for children to complete with the parents, and then return to school. It helps parents to know what we are working on at school, how their child is doing academically, and it provides for parent/teacher. Here a re a few ways we facilitate that home-school connection!

  1. Reading Logs24173685_10155185723201527_748842498333817452_o.jpgAt the beginning of the year, we sent home a letter to parents explaining the importance of Reading and our goal for the year. Children and parents read together at home and write the titles on their reading log. After 20 books, they return the reading log for a prize and they get to add a leaf with their name and number of books to the Reading Tree board. This is such a fun way to encourage reading at home and to work towards a collective goal. Last year we read over 4000 books in the course of the school year and we gave out a Gift Certificate to a local bookstore to our top Pre-K readers at graduation.
  2. Homework from Mother Goose Time
    1. “I Can Read” books: Our teachers use these books as homework. They will use them as outlined in the lesson plan book in class and then they will send them home. The children read the book 5 times at home and color in a star on their paper for each time. When they have all 5 colored in, they can return it for a sticker prize.
    2. More Literacy and More Math Books: Our teacher will use some of the pages from these Add-On books as homework and some to supplement or challenge kiddos in class.
  3. Whole Group Projects: 

    Each year, we send home a solid-colored card stock in a sheet protector with a slip of paper that explains the task. Parents are asked to work with their child to create a Family Scrapbook page. When it is complete, they return it and it goes into the Family Scrapbook binder. Throughout the year, if we add any new children, they get to add to the Scrapbook. It is so fun to get to know each of our families, but also to incorporate everyone in our School Family.

    Sometimes we use our Community Board to involve parents as well. This month, we made a Thankful Board and put up a feather with each child’s Name and Picture. Then we sent home an additional feather for families to decorate. They could bedazzle it, paint it, add words or pictures… whatever they wanted to do, and then we added their feathers around the edge. It turned out so cute and the children that returned their feather from home were excited to hang it up.

  4.  Family Night24232157_10155185775911527_5457529972648247757_n.jpg What is more fun that watching families spend time together? This year, we are beginning Family Night’s to get parents to come and play with their child. We will do a variety of activities for an hour just after we would normally close, once per month. Our first one will be a Storyteller. Children are invited to come in their jammies, enjoy a story with his/her parent(s), and then we will have some small snacks. Other ideas are playdough making, crafting, or cooking together. We are very excited to host these engaging times for families and we hope they are enjoyed!

Let Us Count the Ways!

Millennial parents are said to be more involved than generations before and what they need most is instant communication. They want to know what their child is learning at school, what they ate for snack, who they played with, when they slept, and most of all, that their child was loved. It is important to share verbally at drop off and pick up, but the fastest way to communicate is electronically or visually.

At our centers, we use a program called HiMama to communicate and share information electronically. Parents can check in via their smart phone or computer to see updates throughout the day. We can share photos, and input everything about their day, and that report will get emailed directly to the parents each evening. We can also use HiMama to share information about upcoming events, classroom needs, etc. It is a very useful tool!

In addition to HiMama, we love all the ways that Mother Goose Time provides for instant visual communication with parents. There are pieces that are sent home daily explaining our work, things that are hung in the classroom and hallways… Let us count the ways!

  1. Theme Web and Skills Chart23722616_10155166616136527_5952528475991481107_n Each month in our curriculum kit, there is a Concept Map and Skills Chart to show what we will be learning and what Early Childhood Standards we will be meeting throughout the month.
  2. Activity Calendar23722701_10155166639526527_1937044144423930350_n We hang the Activity Calendar at the Sign-In Desk so Parents can see the plan for the day.
  3. Family Newsletter 

    Each month, we receive a copy of the family newsletter for each child. There is information about what we will be learning during the month, a child development topic, a copy of the Theme Web, and some fun song/rhyme and book recommendations to support what we are learning. Having this resource communicates to parents about what is happening at school and the value of their continued support from home. It also saves our staff from having to take the time to prepare such comprehensive materials.

  4. Daily Notes23795294_10155166616226527_5541963172335457694_n (1)We love this new addition to the curriculum kit! Everyone who has been around small children has received a lovely piece of artwork and had no idea what it was, or why/how it was made. These cards communicate to parents what the work was all about and provide a prompt for parents to engage with their child about the work. These go home daily with the child’s work and are such an amazing tool!
  5. Daily Topic Poster and the Circle Time Board23167853_10155123644426527_3686715316261368706_nThis display is such a helpful and engaging tool in the classroom, but it also communicates to parents how much learning is really taking place each day. There is space for the Theme Poster and the things we practice daily, such as the calendar, letter, numbers, days of the week, weather, shapes and colors. The calendar follows a different pattern each month, so even the calendar work itself is academic. One of the best pieces, however, is the Daily Topic Poster. This shows parents and children what our focus is for that particular day. It helps begin our discussion at circle time, assess what the children already know or wonder, and the pictures are always wonderful. Some of our teachers have been cutting apart the Topic posters and making a large wall collage of the pictures throughout the month. Once again, having these comprehensive materials prepared saves so much time and is invaluable to the teachers.

STEAM in the Rainforest- Week 1!

A buzz word in education right now is STEAM stations and you will hear us use this term often because it is all over the Mother Goose Time curriculum. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. What that means is we offer children the opportunity to use critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and questioning throughout the activity.

The first week of our Rainforest Adventure Theme, we implemented two STEAM activities that were laid out in the Teacher Guide. Week 1 was all about the forest floor. We began a science experiment that we will continue throughout the month. We cut a potato in half, pushed sticks into the base so it could balance on top of a plastic cup, and then we filled the cup with water. 23031576_1558512954239665_8237372388337483612_nWe discussed how the forest floor is covered with decaying materials (leaves, fallen trees, etc), and it is home to many animals, plants, and fungus. We made some predictions about what we think will happen to our potatoes. Potatoes are a root vegetable, but will they grow roots of their own? Will they turn to mush? Will they sprout something new? What do we need for something to grow (light and water)?

The second activity we decided to try was the Root Vegetable Marketplace.

We set out a variety of real root vegetables and talked about the different shapes, colors, and names. The children had so much fun stuffing all their vegetables into bags and pretending to buy them. Then they would sort them back into the baskets and do it all again. They naturally took turns being the shop keeper and the customer. We talked about how much money they thought the vegetables should be and how many they had. Maybe next week we will add in a scale and do some weight measurements. I never realized how many root vegetables there are and I know we even missed a few (no Beets!) This was such a fun activity and we will probably continue it for another few days (or as long as the vegetables survive).

These types of activities lead to Authentic Assessment and real learning. I love that Mother Goose Time has adapted the Teacher Guide to include STEAM stations!

Navigating Change

Our program is currently undergoing a big change! While it is very exciting, there is so much to learn, and how things are handled can make or break the shift. We have been operating a Certified Childcare Center and this is our fourth year in our current location. The opportunity came about to expand by joining forces with another program in our town. They have a professional gymnastics gym where the children spend part of their morning, but the classroom time was struggling in the academic and management department. We are so excited to share Mother Goose Time, among other things, with another group of children! In just two weeks, it is already making such a huge difference!

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The children are so excited each morning to come in and see what we will be learning. It is amazing to watch their self-control and focus when they are engaged. I have seen so much growth in the children with some simple structure and new material. The reality is winning over children is easy… but earning the trust of their parents is another story.

The biggest piece that was missing was communication with parents. There was no way for the parents to know all that their child was doing while they were away or what was coming up. We are currently using a program called HiMama to document our day. Parents can check in via the app, or an email will be sent to them each afternoon with their child’s Daily Report. This is a helpful tool, but the structure of the curriculum is our biggest asset.

We have a research based lesson plan packed full of learning and new experiences with Mother Goose Time. Each month there is a Family Newsletter to send home, detailing the topic of the month and some things parents can work on at home with their child. This month we are going on a Rainforest Adventure! Parents can see the Theme Web, The Activity Overview Calendar and the Skills Chart posted in the classroom. The Daily Topic Poster is always hung on the Circle Time board before the children arrive, and when they look around the room, there are purposeful activities that send the message, “We are learning here!”

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Here are 5 Lessons we have learned so far on this new adventure, but good to remember for any program change!

#1: Always be honest! Speak only to what you know for sure, not what you think they want to hear. Change is hard, but if you say one thing and do another, it does not inspire confidence in your program.

#2: Focus on what is to come! It is important to learn more about how things have been done in the past, but the reality is that the future is the only thing we really can control. Never speak poorly of what was, but focus on the great things that you are bringing to the program for the future.

#3: Ask Parents what they want! We are talking about other people’s children and what they need/want is important. We are on the same team and truly want what is best for each child, so asking for parent input in a new situation is the best way to begin open communication.

#4: Make a clean break! Communicate very clearly with parents what is going to happen and when. It is important to have a clean shift from one leader to the next so care remains consistent and parents know who to talk to with questions/concerns. We run into problems when their is a communication loop between the old and new, and if both are present as is our current situation, we have to be on the same page.

#5: Try not to take things personally! Not all families will be willing or ready for the change. They may take their child elsewhere or need to take a break while the dust settles, and that is perfectly acceptable. It is not about you and it is important to let them do what they feel is best for their family. Focus on the children and families in your care and do your very best to meet their needs.

We are so excited about the days ahead as we expand our program. We love Mother Goose Time and the amazing stability, communication and asset it is to our program. Our teachers have what they need to succeed and our children are excited to learn!