Yesterday, one of our kindergarten students brought in a dinosaur made of scrap metal. He had received it as a gift over the weekend, and was so excited to show all of his friends at school. He brought it into the classroom in the morning and the children instantly began talking about dinosaurs. My teaching partner and I had them tidy up and meet us on the carpet. We allowed the student to tell us all about the dinosaur and then had a sharing time for all of the children to tell us what they wished to about dinosaurs. It amazed us how much they knew! We knew it was a wonderful opportunity to begin some inquiry based learning! We could sat on the carpet listening to the students for hours, but instead, we decided to quickly set up a few activities for them to actively share their knowledge instead. As the students were chatting on the carpet, and passing around the metal dinosaur, I set up the writing centre with pencil crayons, markers, pencils and writing paper so they could create stories with their knowledge. I also got out a large piece of mural paper so we could paint a scene where dinosaurs may have lived. In our book centre, I quickly gathered all of the dinosaur stories we had and put them in the centre of that carpet for the children to look at.
Later during the day, after nutrition break was finished, I set up some creative art centres for the students. I had printed pictures of dinosaurs for the children to do marble painting, set out toilet paper rolls for them to make 3D dinosaurs and put out construction paper/glue/scissors/markers for them to create their own dinosaurs. A small group of children also wanted to help finish the mural we had begun in the morning.
By the end of the day, we had created a dinosaur mural displaying our art, read 2 non-ficiton books about dinosaurs, hung several stories the children had created throughout the classroom and had time to share all of their knowledge that they already had about dinosaurs. The children were engaged in all of the centres throughout the day and are excited to continue to learn about dinosaurs.
Although Full Day Kindergarten is more than half way through its third year of implementation, there are still several questions out there regarding the partnerships between a Registered Certified Teacher and a Designated Early Childhood Educator in a classroom working as a team together.
Two of the most important elements in working in a team are communication and trust. Communication needs to be open, honest and respectful between the educators. By having an open system of communication, both educators can feel comfortable to share thoughts and ideas regarding the planning for the classroom, how to implement those plans, and observations regarding the students. By trusting each other, educators can allow each other to plan and implement activities he or she thinks the students will enjoy.
In the classroom that I work in, we try to take time before school everyday to discuss what we have planned together. We have developed a relationship (built on open communication and trust) so that when one of has an idea that we think the children will enjoy, we can talk about it and then plan it out. Sometimes, we write out a plan for activity and just ensure it is put into the daily planner. In a busy Full Day Kindergarten class, there are days where there isn’t alot of time for discussion. If it is one of those days, we just write our notes/plans out for each other and discuss them when we can. We trust each other to implement activities, even if the other educator isn’t sure it will work with the students. We also trust each other to give honest, yet constructive ideas after activities are done, and suggest possible changes to the activity, if the children didn’t find it engaging. Neither of us is there to evaluate or supervise the other. By sharing our thoughts and ideas respectfully, we are able to trust one another to ensure that we can work co-operatively, and value what each other can offer to the program.
On Monday, I brought an ice cube tray to work. I put small winter animals in the tray and added water. Yesterday, I took the animal ice cubes and added them to our water table.
To introduce the activity, we played “What Sinks/What Floats”. I also asked who thought the ice cubes would melt before we went home at the end of the day, and who thought they would melt when we returned to the school the next day. I made a quick graph on one of our white boards. In our room, each child has a magnet with their name on it so making a graph is simple and quick and is also interactive for the children.
I then left the ice cubes in the water table for the children to play with throughout the day. They loved seeing the tiny animals inside.
Before we got dressed to go home, we all gathered around the water table to see if the ice cubes had melted. They had. We did a quick review of the graph before going to the coatroom to get ready. I will leave the animals in the water table for tomorrow.
A fun way to teach children how primary colours mix to create other colours is by painting snow.
I went to the dollar store and bought 6 spray bottles. I took them to our class and we mixed small amounts of tempera paint, dish or laundry soap and water in them. This allows the mixture to be washable, should any of it get on the children’s clothing. We used only the primary colours (red, yellow and blue). I took small groups of children (6 at a time), had them dress in their winter clothing and then we ventured out to our school yard to paint the snow.
At first, I got them to take turns spraying only the colours I said, and where I said. This gave them a demonstration of how to mix the colours and see what happens in a more controlled setting. For example, first I asked the children with blue to spray a circle of blue on small spot of the white now. Then, I asked the children with yellow to spray directly on the blue spots. It only took moments for the snow to turn from blue to green. The children’s eyes grew large in wonder! I then allowed them to create their own colours, and asked them to tell me what they saw happening.
The children had a ton of fun creating colours and playing in the snow!
A simple change in your classroom to make winter feel like it is inside, is to change what is in your sensory table. Instead of sand or water, try adding cottonballs, fake snow and white yarn. We even put some silver sparkles in our table. If you want to make it feel like the holidays, you can purchase plastic ornaments, and reindeer from the dollar store and add them too! After the Winter Break, take the holiday items out, and the children can still enjoy the feeling of a “snow” sensory table.
Our students have really enjoyed this activity this past week!
Remembrance Day can be a difficult topic with young students. In our Kindergarten classroom, we discuss who soldiers are, what they do for our country, what they have done for our country and ways we can show our appreciation and respect for them. We make a wreath for our assembly. We also try to make one art project for the children to display for the other students and then take home.
This year, we are doing a poem, Little Poppy:
Given to me,
Help me keep Canada
Safe and free.
I’ll wear a little poppy,
As red as red can be,
To show that I remember
Those who fought for me.
We are centering the poem at the top of a white paper. Below, you can have children do whichever form of art you wish. You can sponge paint/cut & paste/draw, etc…a poppy or whatever symbol you want. Once the artwork part is dry, you can glue the paper to a piece of black construction paper.
Halloween is a great time to use objects from children’s lives to capture their interests in learning. Educators can pull in several aspects of this holiday for play-based activities, without making it a “theme” within your classroom. In our Full Day Kindergarten room, we have been focusing on the “big ideas” in the FDK curriculum and fitting in aspects of Halloween we find appropriate.
One of the curriculum goals in math is measuring. Pumpkins are a great item to capture the children’s attention at this time of year. We brought in pumpkins of various sizes so we could measure how tall they are, how “around” they are and how much they weigh. We did this activity in small groups so we could adjust to each groups’ learning level.
For all of the groups, we used unifix cubes to measure how tall the pumpkins were. For the students at a high learning level, we first used different lengths of yarn to wrap around the pumpkin and then used an actual ruler (a flexible sewing one that could wrap around it) to find out the length of the yarn in centimetres to introduce them to the concept of centimetres. For the groups who have never done an activity like this and were only being introduced to measuring, we only used the varying lengths of yarn. For weight, we used balance scales to see which pumpkins weighed more/same/less and then we used an actual scale for the children who are at a higher learning level to introduce them to the concept of grams. We used a scale that most children have in their homes, not a scientific scale that older grades may use. We had chart paper with us, so that we could record each group’s findings and post them in our classroom. The picture is one example of the findings. We also drew pictures of the pumpkins and used these pictures to record our findings.
For the rest of the week, we left the pumpkins, yarn, unifix cubes and balance scales in our math centre for the children to continue to explore when they wanted. We also made sure we had small enough pumpkins for them to be able to handle themselves. Tomorrow, we will add a squash for them to be able to compare to a small pumpkin.
A “non-turkey” Thanksgiving art activity is to create a Thanksgiving Tree.
To make a tree for your classroom, put up a large tree trunk with branches somewhere in your classroom. Have each child trace their hand on a Fall coloured sheet of construction paper. Once the students have cut their hands out, have them write their name and one thing that they are thankful for. These handprints are your leaves for your tree. You could also give each child their own individual tree and have them draw and colour their own leaves on and then write what they are thankful for on each leaf.