Saturday, April 21, 2012

moved to wordpress!

I jumped on that bandwagon: I've moved to wordpress.

Despite my love of google products, it seems to be just enough better.  (one-click migration helped, too!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rainbow Collage

First, a word on STUFF.

If you work in early childhood education, especially if you love art like I do, you start to see everything as a great potential project.  Nothing needs to be wasted, those scraps of yarn or construction paper or three blue sequins would be great in a collage.    As a result, you keep EVERYTHING.

So we have a lot of STUFF.
It's all useable, but if there's too much of it, or it's hard to find, it doesn't get used.

How do you make it interesting?
By sorting by color!

Kids three and up could help get the sorting started.
In a roomful of two-year-olds only too eager to help, I chose to simplify things by doing this step myself.

Now that the bags are started, we can just add bits as time goes on--I'm thinking eventually something bigger will be useful.

This lends itself to doing one of the many awesome rainbow collages on Pinterest right now.

My favorite variation was at A Happy Wanderer, because she demonstrated the really great idea of cutting the rainbow into sections so a large group of kids can work on it.

So here's how I did it:
We had a great big white circle of corrugated cardboard on hand.

I cut it in half, then arc shapes, freehand.
(This is what I wish I'd done differently - it wasn't really, really rainbow-shaped and didn't have room for indigo or violet.)

I covered the first piece of cardboard in glue stick, then invited the kids over.

"Feel it? It's sticky!"

I gave them the materials (one color at a time) and invited them to stick stuff on.  I covered each piece in glue as it went on so they could glue more on.  The pompoms invited a discussion of pressing hard, as they're kind of hard to glue on.  Holding it in place with my hand kept the peace--they all kind of wanted it for themselves.

I glued the completed pieces on the remaining half-circle of cardboard.
The collaging was all done in two fifteen-minute sessions.

I love how it turned out!

It's funny, you can kind of see the progression of their interest on the colors.  Red they were still figuring it out, orange they were really into it, by yellow they were kind of wandering away, and green and blue were a very small interested group the next day.

This project develops:

  • color knowledge (recognition and labeling)
  • social/emotional skills (turn-taking, letting your friend have a spot, what happens when your pom-pom falls off.)
  • Language (labeling colors, each kind of material)
  • Cognitive development (learning how to use unfamiliar materials, or using familiar materials in a new way)
  • Fine motor (pre-writing) skills

If I had it to do over again, I'd

  • Make room for purple
  • Make it bigger
  • use colored glue (like elmer's with liquid watercolor added) or have the kids paint it first.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Toddler activities on pinterest

A few posts are in process, but here are some of my favorite baby/toddler pinterest boards.

I also like the board for teaching strategies, which goes up to pre-k and publishes the curriculum we use at work:

Happy pinning!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Welcome to our Toddler Room!

In today's post, a bunch of great ideas from my toddler teaching team.

The hugely popular children's book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a rollicking alphabet rhyme, and our toddlers are crazy for it.  (It tells the story of mischievous little alphabet letters running up the coconut tree, until they all come crashing down and their upper-case guardians come and soothe their injured, sorry selves.  It's got a great rhythm.)

We've been exploring the book for a while, especially since the kids what to hear it OVER and OVER.

Here's what the team came up with:

First, there was understanding what happens in the book.  Most of our kids haven't seen a coconut tree in real life.  When we pointed to the coconut and asked what it was, we got responses like "A circle! The Moon!"

To make the book more meaningful, we could tie in what, exactly, a coconut is.  So we brought one in!

First, we explored it.
We felt it, and decided it is bumpy and hairy.
Then the kids got fixated on pulling the hairs off of it.
(language standards, plus fine motor!)

We held it and decided it is very heavy.
(science/cognitive content standards!)

The kids saw the little circles on one end, and talked about its color.

Later, when we broke it open, we saw it is a different color inside.

We did coconut bowling, too!

We also did the handprint palm tree that's been around Pinterest and other teacher sites.  We used alphabet stampers for the letters.  

The children were offered a variety of colorful stamp pads.

These stampers are easy to use, but honestly?
You could put alphabet foamie stickers on
bottle caps or wooden cylinder blocks instead.

Some of them used more colors than others!

There's so much motion in this one-like you can see the letters being thrown out of the tree.

That's our time with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

I've also been trying it out to get kids' attention.  I call "Chicka Chicka!" and the older ones, who are almost three, will call "boom boom!" in response.  We'll see if the younger ones start to respond!

A great preschool exploration of CCBB and coconuts is at the Greatest Resource Childcare site.  Their kids are a little older, but they did some very cool stuff, including painting with the coconuts by bowling them along freezer paper!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Birthday cake pretend play

Toddlers love play dough.  They love poking things into play dough.  And they really, really love birthdays.

As such, I give you: Birthday cake pretend play!

We used homemade play dough (unscented, though with kids who don't eat it as much some fragrance might have been fun), popsicle sticks, and green doilies.

The kids are very interested in birthdays, so I offered them these materials with the invitation that they might like to make birthday cakes.  

The got super-involved, which was nice at the end of the day!

Things started small, with them using the doilies as plates.
(I'd hoped the doilies would make nice imprints, but they're not thick enough)
This one is a hot dog

And here's the hot dog again after several minutes

And this is how your cake looks when your teacher finally lets you have as many popsicle sticks as you want!

They blew out the candles, sang happy birthday, named the colors of the sticks (without prompting) and used the sticks to cut their cakes into pieces.

Then we needed to have a little discussion about taking "pretend bites" instead of real ones.

This was our introduction to birthday play, using familiar materials in a familiar way.  Next week, we'll be introducing some new ideas into the mix.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Doll Detangler

I've seen this trick on Pinterest--posts claiming that you can untangle doll hair with fabric softener.

Just mix fabric softener with water, spray it in, and comb it right through.

It made sense, but it seemed a little too easy.

The result?

Successful, but not that easy.

This doll's hair was really, really tangled in the back, and the spray worked great for the little knots.
The big ones were just too much for it.

In the end I just wound up dipping the whole head in fabric softener, which worked much better.

The process, combined with the splatter from combing, was not pretty.
It took around 15 minutes.

It did leave a little greasiness behind, as I didn't rinse it out super-well, but it's been easier to brush out since.  The remaining bottle of doll hair detangler spray will do the job from now on.

Totally worthwhile for a favorite toy, but I will not be redoing the rest of the dolls this way!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bzzzpeek: Environmental sounds from around the world!

Onomatopoeia, or words for the sounds of things, like "creak" or "moo" are huge fun for young children.

They're fun for the rest of us, too, when you look at how much they vary in different languages.  

As such, I give you: Bzzzpeek.  Kid-friendly sounds from 22 countries, done by children who are native speakers.

There are many animals (like the cow) with only slight variations, but some real head-scratchers as well.  (the Japanese snake is a fun one).

No ads, no links, no distractions.

The ONLY thing not awesome about this site? It was, at last I checked, in flash and didn't work on iOS devices.