Desert Nights

We have reached the end of our “Desert Discovery” unit with Mother Goose Time– March flew by so fast!

Our Days were full of fun and STEAM learning, but one of our favorite activities was the Desert Night activity.54190728_893778610953336_8911803895043325952_n54346727_2248534465211715_6073759784396390400_n

This project took two days and led to some great conversations. We began by drawing in crayon some things we thought we might find in the desert at night. There were animals, cactus, other plants, bugs and snakes. We talked about what animals might be awake and what might be sleeping at night, and why. Then we painted over our drawings with thinned black paint. The next day, when the painting was dry, we added sparkly stars in the night sky. This was one of our favorite projects.

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Books give us good information to lead our thinking!

Another favorite activity from our play shelf was the balancing cactus. Sometimes children were stack them independently, and sometimes we would use it as a cooperative game. We always love the new puzzle for each month from Mother Goose Time. It is a great way to add to our collection of available activities each month!

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Balancing Cactus and Theme Puzzle

Each month with Mother Goose Time, we receive two new books (one Forest Friends Book and one exclusive MGT book) and we use the Recommended Book List to gather other great books from our collection or from the local library. Mother Goose Time is such a complete package program!56180231_10156263943456527_1762856368726867968_n

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Spring Break!

For the last week we have been on Spring Break at our school. We understand that for some parents, this is inconvenient, but what we do takes so much time and energy and we need breaks to refocus and rest. Spring break is always much needed, not because we don’t like what we do, but because our brains need a break. We spend all week looking after young children, planning and implementing lessons (thanks to Mother Goose Time, most of our lessons are already prepared for us), answering emails, cleaning, budgeting, menu planning, and grocery shopping (and no, that’s not all ).

We think about the following week, the following school year, special activities, and extra things we can do to help the young children in our care succeed (and no, that’s still not all).55545382_10156257741746527_6982316912789159936_o.jpg

It takes a lot to keep a licensed childcare center running. And if you are like us and share a space, our weekends are cut short due to setting up our center on Sunday’s. This means family time is cut short. Burn out is very real in the world of education. Breaks allow us time to re-charge. Spring break offers time to catch up with our own families. We get to spend quality time together, check-in with one another, and create more memories together. 

Self-care is vital. When you spend most of your days looking after everyone else, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Educator’s tend to put everyone else before themselves, and breaks allow us time to take a step back and do something for ourselves. Not to mention, educator’s don’t stop thinking about their jobs just because they are on a break, they think about fresh ideas to start implementing as soon as they return. We really do love what we do, and we certainly have earned the breaks we have scheduled.

Educator’s shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a break – it is part of self-care and we have certainly worked hard for it. Here are some highlights from how some of our staff spent their Spring Break with friends and family!

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Portfolios

53140437_823869567993479_7352586172226338816_nWe love that Mother Goose Time sends Portfolio Dividers with each unit. It is fun looking back on each unit throughout the year and the dividers help us remember all that we have learned, and what work went with which unit. These are found in Lesson 20 of each theme. We like to pull these out right away and get them in their portfolios so as we go through the unit and are collecting work samples we can put them in their portfolio right away – doing this makes it easy to keep up with a portfolio for each child!

 

 

 

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With each new unit, we have a Continuum of Skills poster that shows how we will be meeting the National Standards for Early Childhood throughout the month. When there is a star, that is a prompt for the teacher to collect a work sample, take a note on how the child approached the activity, or even take a picture of the work being done to add to the portfolio.

 

 

 

 

 

In Pre-K, we have the portfolios sitting on their writing shelf. They love looking through their portfolios every so often and seeing their work. We try to collect art and writing samples for each month, along with pictures! It is so fun to see how their work progresses over time!

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54436944_1247327818777724_5761777788126232576_n.jpgWe use 1-inch white binders for their portfolio’s, make a cover page that lists our school, the year, their name, and then we put their hand prints on it. The portfolio’s come in handy during Parent/Teacher conferences, when we want to show parents what their child has been working on. The parents love looking through their work samples and seeing the photos. We send the portfolio’s home at the end of the year. They make a special keepsake!

Cowboy Process Art

Our Littles!

As we mentioned in our previous blog post, we did some rearranging last week. We combined two smaller groups within our center (our Wobblers and Toddlers) and it has made for an interesting dynamic for sure. It is so fun to see our younger children engaging in dramatic play, building, and art, while our older children have enjoyed exploring more large motor opportunities than they previously had available.

They now have a much larger space that is closer to outdoor access. That makes us all very happy!

Our Wobblers (12-24 months) were working hard on sharing space and parallel play, and they were using the “Experience Baby” curriculum set. Our Toddlers (24-30 months) used the “Little Goose” supplement and were learning the structure of a classroom with Circle Time and Activities. Now this class is doing some of both! This opens up new opportunities and experiences for all of the children in the group, while meeting the needs, interests, and capabilities of each one. The teachers can divide up the group and do separate activities with the different ages, or they can combine and all work on one task. 6BA0710C-71C2-44D1-B69E-B63CA4814370

We all enjoyed decorating the Doctor Bags (Make and Play) and taking care of our bears on Thursday. (Health week, February MGT “Health and Fitness”). It is so fun to see how much empathy and compassion these little people already possess.

The younger children are welcome to join Circle Time, but are free to come and go as they need to. The older children are encouraged to join in with stories and songs, and because they were used to doing Circle Time already, they set a good example for the younger ones. 1ADC93AF-50F2-4496-A04C-8B2ED9174D1B

It has been so fun to see this class take shape. We love that the Mother Goose Time program is so versatile and there is always something for everyone. The activities are fun, engaging and easily adaptable for a mixed group, such as ours. Having a combined group does present its own challenges, but they are really getting the hang of it. Nice job, Littles!

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!

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/

Children Must Play!

So much research has been done on the benefits of play to the development of young children. It stimulates their creativity, math and reasoning skills, artistic and scientific thought, social interactions, and linguistic abilities. On the NAEYC website, there is a collection of articles on play-based learning and why it is so important to development in young children (this may also be a good resource to share information with families in your care).

So, as an early childhood educator, I am just supposed to watch them play? Wrong!

We are there to provide play-based opportunities to learn and that is where Mother Goose Time comes in. We are so thankful for a curriculum that looks at the whole child and provides the framework for learning with so much freedom. With a new theme each month, our classrooms rotate books, games, puzzles, and toys to meet the theme. After 4 weeks of playing with and reading those, they are ready for something new. But, how do we decide what to put out on the shelves? Mother Goose Time to the rescue again!

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Mother Goose Time has developed Experience Play Toy Boxes that can be added to the curriculum subscription. At this point in the life of our program, we have a number of these suggested items already, but we use this part of the MGT website as a resource to see what we should pull from our collection. That usually leads us to more ideas of things we can add, since we have 5 classrooms in which to provide.

For the Month of February 2019, our theme is Health and Fitness. Our toys, games, and books are all centered around being active and healthy.

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Mother Goose Time also provides a Recommended Book List under their Member Resources. We use this to collect books from our own bookshelves, as well as the public library. The children are always so excited to check out all the new books when we begin a unit.screenshot 2019-01-28 at 1.04.57 pm

Here are some things that will be on our classroom shelves this month in addition to the MGT suggestions above!

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