Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween Pictures 

Pumpkin Patch Field trip PicturesOctober 21, 2015


Firefighter Visit!
October 8, 2015
We had a very special visit from our local firefighters and they brought along all of their equipment and even their firetruck to share with our class! Splitting up into two groups one got to explore the truck and learn about all the different parts, as well as have a seat inside.  The other group learned about fire safety and talked with two firefighters in our classroom.  The two groups switched so everyone got a turn and experienced both opportunities.

While learning about the firetruck Paul got to spray a fire extinguisher and we all got to see just how far and how much water it sprays!  The firemen also were very generous to show us how their giant hose works and how far it can reach in cases of large buildings on fire.  While looking at the firetruck and its many different features, the children learned about the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine.  A fire truck has a ladder and a fire engine does not.

Fireman: “How long does it take you to get dressed in the morning?”
Paul: “45 minutes!”
The children were shocked to hear how quickly they can put on all their heavy gear compared to how long it takes them to get ready for school!  The are ready and dressed in 45 seconds!  We got to see what the firemen look like in their full uniform and how they sound with their oxygen mask on.  They talked to the children about how they may look scary but they are there to help us and we should always go toward them if we need help, not away and not to hide.

Caira: “I can hear him much better without the mask.”

In the classroom the firefighters talked to the children about the difference between a tool and a toy.  They showed the children a toy firetruck which the children agreed was a toy.  Next he showed them a large ax, and then a lighter.
Fireman holds up the lighter: “What is this?”
Ellie: “A fire.”
James: “It might burn you.”
Fireman: “Is it safe to play with?”
Gabriel: “No because of fire.” 
Once the class understood that tools were meant for adults to use and that we must be very careful with them, they talked about where smoke goes in a fire (up in the air) and how to get out if it’s in the air (by crawling).  Brandon demonstrated crawling as we should if there is smoke in the air.  We also talked about what we should do if we burn ourself.  Most of the children knew to apply a band-aid, but now know it is very important to put cold water on a burn immediately, and then apply the band-aid.
Safety was an important topic during this visit and the children were able to show a lot of their previous knowledge as well as learn more.  When asked what number to call in an emergency many knew to call 911.  Also, we had several students including Brandon, Mathias and James demonstrate what to do if we are on fire (stop, drop, cover face, and roll).
It was so meaningful to have actual firefighters visit and talk with our children so that they can trust them and better understand what they do.  Establishing that relationship builds so much appreciation and respect for them and the job and inspires the children as well.  Our intention with this visit was to give a meaningful experience to the children that they could enjoy together and start to investigate deeper into this interest.  According to an article by Sylvia Chard about the Project Approach, “Children, with teacher support, can now make decisions about what to investigate, how to find the answers to questions, and who to talk with or visit. They have the knowledge to progress in the project because the teacher has taken the time to focus the children on the topic, listen to their interests, and build the common experiences that will be the foundation for investigation and exploration”.  We look forward to moving forward in this topic and gaining more knowledge through experiences, books, and dramatic play.
C. Chard, Sylvia. "The Project Approach in Action." ECAP Collaborative. Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative Department of Special Education. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.
Firefighter Visit Quotes

When do you call 911?

Sophia: “When a kitty in a tree it go up and it get stuck.”

Russell: “When it’s a fire against water fight, the water wins.”

Mason: “If your mom or dad have fire in the hallway you have to call 911.”

If there’s smoke, where does it go?

Toby: “Up in the air!”

What do you put on a burn?

                     James: “Band-aid!”

                         Why do you use an ax?

                       Amanda: “Cut holes on top of roofs and doors.”

                             What do you do if you’re on fire?

                   Paul: “You blow on it.”

                   Madilyn: “Water on it.”

Snails and Slugs!
Stephanie Vorrises
October 5, 2015  

The children have been great investigators when observing our snails and slugs! Over 
the past week the children were noticing and hypothesizing what the snails and slugs like to eat, where they like to go, and body parts make them unique. Once the children to ventured over to snail and slug table, they began manipulating the flowers, leaves, orange peels, broccoli, and carrots to create a variety of environments for the snails and slugs. Some of these creations have included detailed houses, beds, and areas for the snails and slugs to “play” in. We have also been assembling a class snail and slug book as the children continue to become familiar with both bugs. Some of the pages in the book contain pictures the children have drawn while observing the snails. Other pages are photos of real snails and slugs in a variety of environments. As children are look through the book, they narrate what they think the snail/slug is doing and why. As they construct their own pictures for the book the children are also narrating what they believe the snail/slug is doing, as well as, observing the unique movements and habits of the snail or slug.  
As James looked through the book he commented on multiple pages:
“The snail is on a leaf. The snail on a leaf flower. The banana slug have a mouth. He eat. He likes to eat a lot of things. The snail is on the orange. The snail is eating a apple. Banana slugs have eyes. Banana slug is stick. Banana slugs have big eyes. Banana slug eat and they do that. They wanna be on shady places.”
Sophia expressed: “Well, they sleep on something soft tiny. Maybe the banana slug sleep in the grass and the snail sleep on the orange peel.”

Mason said: “ Yea, I was right! Just like I said! See in the book.” (referring to Sophia’s comment about where slugs and snails sleep).
Mathias saw another child drawing a picture of a slug with a rock: “He eat it!”

My intention for creating the book with real pictures of snails/slugs along with pictures the children drew at the table was to create opportunities for them to share what they know and what they are learning. When they draw pictures of the snails/slugs on the table, they are able to pay attention to specific details such as, body parts, how they move, what they are moving toward or away from, etc. Many of the children also take great pride in the pictures they have worked so hard on. They are more motivated to communicate descriptions of their pictures to teachers and maybe even write their own narrations.  The reals pictures of the snails and slugs were intended to encourage children to hypothesize what they thought the snail or slug was doing. I also thought the pictures could act as a reference tool for children who had questions about our bugs. We will continue to add to our class book as we continue to interact and observe snails and slugs with a variety of materials.
Research says, “Coaching children in observation skills taps into their eagerness to sort, classify, and see how things are alike and different. Noticing details helps them with spatial relations, drawing, and literacy skills. Coaching children to observe closely will also aid them in reading facial expressions and body language (emotional intelligence), distinguishing letters on a page (literacy learning), and looking at objects under a microscope (science learning).”  Pg. 128-9 Learning Together With young Children- A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers, Deb Curtis and Margie Carter.

Walking Field Trip to Spressa Coffee Bar
Wednesday September 30th, 2015
By: Andrea Posadas

The “Restaurant” in the House Area has been busy with multiple types of dining these past weeks! I have observed fruit smoothies from Jamba Juice, fast food meals from McDonalds, sit-down style Chinese and Japanese cuisine, and coffee shops. It was apparent to me that the children have many experiences eating out and ordering food with their families outside of school! Because of such a variety within the category of “restaurant,” we decided to bring the children to a close by eatery. My intention was for the children to gain a shared experience with each other, as well as for me to find out what it is about restaurants that they are actually interested in.  
Before going on our trip, we used Circle Time to make some predictions on what we would see in the coffee shop. I asked the children, “What do you want to find out about the coffee shop?”

Kaylee: “Is there chocolate milk or chocolate there?”

Kaylee: “Is there bread there? Does the bread come from Costco?”

Madilyn: “Do they have vanilla cupcakes?”

Amanda: “Is there apple juice in the fridge?”

Toby: “Food and coffee.”

Paul: “Is there lots of cooks?”
Brandon: “There’s gonna be juice, coffee, Caprisun, and chicken nuggets there.”

The coffee shop was about a 15 minute walk from Utopia. As soon as we arrived, we served snack, which gave the children time to look around the store. They noticed the many photos on the wall, the baked goods, the TV, and all the assorted desserts, soda, juice, and candy around the store. After eating snack, each child was able to draw pictures of what they saw in the coffee shop. I predicted the children would be interested in the transactions made by the customer and the cashier, Jackie, as well as how she prepared the food. However, from their observational drawings, I found that most of the children focused more on individual aspects of the coffee shop, especially the treats! This showed me that their interest within the field trip was the food you find at the coffee shop, rather than cooking or buying experience.

The following day, Paul suggested that we take out the bed from the House Area in our classroom because “There are no beds in the restaurant.” This prompted me to move around the furniture in the House Area to mimic the setting of the coffee shop. This, along with the coffee cups and carrying trays I brought from home, gave more attention to our House Area, and during their play the children assumed the roles of the cook, busboy, cashier, and customers.

In the future, I want to revisit the coffee shop with some of the same children, and see how their observational drawings change, as well as how this may or may not shift their play in the classroom. This experience with the restaurant as well as the coffee shop visit has helped the children work on skills such as fine motor skills from their drawings, social interaction as they role play with one another, use of materials as they figure out what to use as they “cook” and serve the customers. The restaurant also helps develop their language as they talk to each other and explain their play.

“Pretend play is much more than simple play activities; it requires advanced thinking strategies, communication, and social skills. Through pretend play, children learn to do things like negotiate, consider others’ perspectives, transfer knowledge from one situation to another, delay gratification, balance their own ideas with others, develop a plan and act on it, explore symbolism, express and listen to thoughts and ideas, assign tasks and roles, and synthesize different information and ideas. In this creative play description, we could just as easily be describing the skills needed to successfully manage a work project for an adult as describing children’s pretend play.”  

The Importance of Pretend Play in Child Development. (2015). Retrieved October 7, 2015.

Exploring Fabric, Felt, and other materials!
September 28th- October 2nd

Documented by Maria Tanedo
Starting this week, we've made the transition into creating different articles of clothing for some of the dolls and puppets in our classroom. Our intention for this activity is to further explore the interests that some of the children have had with creating 'costumes' and 'clothes' with the play dough. The children seem to be interested in being able to create outfits and clothes for the people, dolls, and puppets in our classroom using various materials. They also show an interest in using the people, puppets, and dolls for an opportunity in dramatic play. Offering new materials as another mode of exploration in this process, we started with a few supplies.These supplies consisted of fabric, tape, and scissors. We presented this activity by showing the children that the dolls and puppets in our classroom needed some clothes. Some of the children drew their plan for what they wanted to make, and other children began the process right away.
Within this last week, the children have come up with different ideas to begin the process for their clothes and/or costume creations. Mason created an armor for the dinosaur puppets eyes."An armor! This protects his eyes!" (9.29.2015) Kaylee and Amanda made dresses for the dolls they were working with.
Amanda shared her ideas about how to make flowers for her dress, "You can use paper and a marker to make a circle for a flower!" (9.30.2015)
Evelyn created a dress, a blanket, and pillow for the doll that she was working on.
    "I make all the way! (as she cuts through the fabric) I make a lot of blanket! Now I
    a circle for the flower!" (9.29.2015)

James expressed interest in creating a superhero costume for one of the puppets.

Roman made a superhero costume, and named it "Batman, Wolverine, Superman."

Caira made a doctor costume.
    "A doctor costume has a red 'x'!" (9.30.2015)
Brandon and Russell created a cape for one of the rubber ducks in our classroom. For the next few days, after the children became familiar with the supplies, they began their creation process, or continued to add more to what they had created previously. In the process of this  phase, we've discovered that it is little bit more difficult to cut through the fabric. After this discovery, some of the children started using paper for what they wanted to create. Moving forward, we want to allow the children to continue to create articles of clothing for their dolls and/or puppets. We also want to allow the children to explore the offered materials such as the fabric and the felt with the teachers support. We want the children to be able to explore what our different articles of clothing look and feel like, and the different elements that are a part of it. 

Walter F. Drew and Baji Rankin (2004) write about the importance of open ended play and offering open ended materials, they say, "Play and the creative arts in early childhood programs are essential ways children communicate, think, feel, and express themselves. Art making, fiddling around with bits of wood and fabric or pieces of plastic and leather, reveals the gentle spirit creating simple forms and arrangements, touching the hands, hearts, and minds of young children—and adults. Children will succeed when they have access to a wide variety of art-making materials such as reusable resources, and when they are surrounded by adults who see and believe in the creative competence of all children and are committed to their success in expressing themselves. As we trust the process, as we encourage and observe the emerging self-initiative and choice making of the children, we come to more fully understand the intimate connection between the spirit of play and the art-making process." (p. 7)

The different skills that this activity encourages are: fine motor skills (using scissors to cut the materials, applying glitter onto their articles of clothing, using tape to stick multiple materials together), language/literacy skills (the children plan and discuss what they want to create, they refer to experiences in and outside of the classroom), cause and effect (the children discover what materials may stick together, or what happens with certain materials when you cut them or add glue to them), mathematics (the children explore different shapes, and sizes for their dolls and puppets.)
Reference: W.F. Drew, & B. Rankin (2004), Promoting creativity for life using open-ended materials. Young Children.

Exploring with Ramps
September 3-30, 2015

For a month the children have been building all different types of ramps in the block area and testing them out to see how they work.  Together they are gaining a wide variety of skills.  From math, to writing, social skills, colors, shapes and sizes.  There are endless opportunities to learn in all areas using blocks in their play.  


We encourage the children to experiment and communicate what they are discovering with each other and to their teachers.  Recently they have been learning about ramps and just how they can manipulate them to do what they want.  Combining trains, cars and balls they are rolling them down the ramps they create and watching to see where they go and just how fast they move.  Adding blocks to catch the balls or trains at the end or to continue them on their path, they are working on planning out how to build something based on the effect they are seeking. “Mathematics is everywhere: children engage in spatial reasoning as they decide where to position blocks or how to align the ramp sections; they experiment to figure out how to use angles so marbles will turn corners; they count blocks to compare heights and predict how many more blocks they will need—the list of math concepts could go on and on” (Young Children).
The most recent excitement has revolved around a racetrack built by Brandon, Gabriel and Russell which includes two different ramps.  Many other children have joined in on this fun! They have created a space leading out of the block area and are now taking turns writing their names on a waiting list then sharing the track so each person can race their car and see how far it goes.  Once their car stops moving they can lay tape on that spot on the ground and mark it with their name.  We are seeing the children practice writing their names, counting how many friends are on the wait list, comparing their cars and trains (colors, number of wheels, sizes), establishing boundaries and respecting each other.  Amanda saw that children were walking in the space where cars were racing and decided to make stop signs so that others would know to stop and walk around the track.  We are excited to see how this progresses and encourage them to continue their play.
Also this week the children have started looking at pictures of past structures they have built involving ramps and talking about what they used.

Russell: “Brandon remember when we made this! We used the long piece!”

Recalling their past structures helps to encourage their thought process as they continue building. “The process of revisiting, reflecting, and extending is of great importance for the development of focused learning orientations, especially when the inquiry is interest-driven.” To see the children excited about what they are making and engaged in how they can improve it is so fun to see and the learning shows throughout their play. “The children’s identities as learners develop through their experiences in actively engaging in the world to explore their interests in a focused way. They create understandings by gathering and integrating information, and through collaborating and communicating with others as part of the process.”
Our intention with pursuing ramp exploration is to integrate science into the block area and continue to learn through trial and error.  We are seeing that the children are beginning to plan more around what they want to build and talk about it before putting the blocks together.  They are writing out rules for their play and focusing on communicating to each other rather than just setting down blocks.  In just a month we have seen such a dramatic change in how they build with ramps and we are excited to continue learning and building!

Scheinfeld, Daniel R., and Karen M. Haigh. "School Readiness." We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in Urban Settings. New York, NY: Teachers College, 2008. 100. Print.

Zan, Betty, and Rosemary Geiken. "Ramps and Pathways Developmentally Appropriate , Intellectually Rigorous, and Fun Physical Science." Young Children (2010). Print.

                                                            Drawing our Bugs!
                                                           September 1-30
As we have been collecting more slugs, snails, beetles, rollie pollies, lady bugs and more we have started to take a closer look at what we have in our classroom bug tank! In the afternoon we have come together as a small group and talked about what we notice on our bugs and started to draw out these details.
When we look closely at our banana slugs we talked about how how they get around with questions like, “Do they have feet? How many feet do you see? What do they leave behind when they move?”.  We also talk about what they eat, what color they are, how many eyes they have, and so much more.  This leads to a lot of discussion because there is still so much we have to learn about banana slugs! We found a great start to getting to know them would be to draw what we notice.  Some banana slugs were smaller than others, some snails were larger than others as well.  We did a lot of comparing based on sizes, colors, details such as antennae, and more.
After drawing all the parts of the bugs that they see and have talked about, the teachers have been writing down what the children say on their drawings.  This is helpful for them to revisit what they noticed later on and can share this information with their friends and family.  “The widespread practice of teachers writing down and often typing up children’s dictations to accompany their drawings provides children with frequent opportunities to revisit their drawings/dictation combinations and those of others.”  The children love to have their words written down and repeated to them later because it gives value to their ideas and words and encourages them to learn to do it for themselves.
As we have added more of an environment for our bugs in the tank it has given the children a lot more detail to notice and draw.  Leaves, sticks, fruits, and spraying water have been added to create a more suitable environment to sustain life in the tank.  “The process of drawing while observing sustains children’s focus for a longer period of time.  It also encourages a greater attention to details, relationships, patterns, structures, and forms than if the children simply were observing.”
Our intention in this activity was to draw more attention to detail and encourage the children to draw what they are seeing and talking about while they are learning.  Since they have all become involved in finding the bugs and taking care of them, we wanted them to start to learn more about each bug by taking a close look.  Once they can understand all the parts that a bug has they can start to learn about what they do and how they survive.  Banana slugs seem to be the most exciting bug that we have in our tank and the largest followed by snails.  Often the afternoon group goes out to look for more bugs and are starting to talk more about what environments they can be found in and like to live.
We will continue to explore and collect bugs as we find them as well as research what we have. As we progress we can revisit their original drawings and compare what new details they have noticed and how much new knowledge they have gained!
Scheinfeld, Daniel R., and Karen M. Haigh. "School Readiness." We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in Urban Settings. New York, NY: Teachers College, 2008. 100. Print.

By Stephanie Vorrises
September 16, 2015

A recent discovery of slugs in our playground has sparked a growing interest over the past 2 weeks! It started when a few children were exploring the new environment outside and found a variety of insects in our plants ranging from worms to rollie pollies to slugs! After a few days of digging in planters and looking for bugs, I noticed a lot of excitement toward the slugs and decided to focus on supporting the children in learning more about these new interesting creatures!
In the beginning, we only had one slug and the children were interested in finding a friend for it. We searched outside in our playground, but couldn’t find any so I thought we could go on a “slug hunt” around the school and church properties. Before we went on our hunt we asked the children “Where do banana slugs live?” Here’s what some children had to share:
Paul: “Banana slugs live on the ground, in a plant.”
Patrick: “In dirt.”
Roman: “I don’t know.”
Kaylee: “In the forest.”
Amanda: “In bushes.”

                 Unfortunately, our walk around the school was unsuccessful and we didn’t find any slugs, but this did create an opportunity for great discussions! Paul acknowledged “If they in the sun, they might get sunburned!” Patrick shared “They come out at night because it’s quiet and no one can catch him.” As we continued on our walk I realized that the children knew a lot more about slugs then I had realized. They even noticed evidence of slugs by finding their tracks and slug droppings! We also talked about what we items we could bring back to our classroom for our aquarium with the slug. Children brought back rocks for a “bed”, sticks, pieces of plants, and leaves.

Over the next few days I covered a table with black paper and put the slug on top. This gave children an opportunity to get an up-close experience with the slugs with minimal distractions. This was when children really started to notice physical characteristics such as, eyes, antennae, slime, the tail, and a large hole on the side. We also found another slug during outside time, which assisted in attracting more children to the table. Some conversations that occurred were:
Fynn: “Look at its neck! I think it’s the other skin!”
Laurent noticed a trail: “It go over there! It rack.”
Sophia: “Because his eyes show him which direction he need to go!”
While looking at the bottom of the slug some children hypothesized:
Amanda: “It’s the muscles!
James: “It’s the slime. That the nana slug."
Fynn: “No, it’s how he breathes.”
Throughout the activities there were also multiple discussions on whether the slugs were boys or girls and trying to figure out how we could tell. We also discussed how the antennae go inside the slug when it is scared and ways we could be gentle with them.
My intention for the hunt was to give the children even more opportunity to observe, hypothesize, and become familiar with slugs and their environment. Since we weren’t able to find any slugs we were able to find out what the children already knew about slugs and where they live. They were also able to become investigators when looking for evidence. This established a great time for children to communicate with one another and allowing each other to share their thoughts and ideas. They were able to recall what they learned/observed in the past and relate it to a present experience.
The table activity was intended to encourage the children to really observe the slug and its characteristics. In doing so, they were able to remain focused for a prolonged period of time and hypothesize what they thought certain body parts were used for. Many children were able to use descriptive words as they observed and act out what they couldn’t describe verbally. Since we only had two slugs, the children were encouraged to share the table space and time for observing the slugs up close. 
As we continue to learn about slugs we will begin to understand the movements of slugs and how their bodies work. We will also notice their environments when we go on more “slug hunts”. As we find more slugs we will be able to compare their similarities and differences.
Research states “Science in the preschool years is about children observing and investigating objects and events in their environment. Through a planned, play-based, supportive environment, they expand their existing knowledge and experience of their everyday world. Science is about providing children with basic skills of scientific inquiry, such as observing and describing, comparing and contrasting, classifying, experimenting and recording, and using the scientific vocabulary associated with these skills. (California Preschool Learning Foundations Vol. 3, California Department of Education Pg. 49)

Restaurant in the House Area
By Andrea Posadas
September 1- 4, 2015

The first few weeks we have spent in the House Area has been an exciting time for the children! With new materials for them to explore and use, I’ve noticed many ideas of interest that the children bring into the classroom when they play. One significant topic that the children have been consistently playing is the concept of a restaurant. I’ve watched as the children have taken turns setting the table, ordered food from a waiter or waitress, written down orders on a piece of paper and reported to the cooks. This Dramatic Play that we see in the House Area is a direct reflection of what the children see when they have visited a restaurant with their families, or watched as their parents or other adults have cooked in a kitchen at home.  

The children have also been using the toy cash register to pay for the meals that they eat. Specific children have spent long amounts of time carefully examining how the cash register works: pressing the buttons, opening the tray, counting money and giving it to their friends when they are “paying” for their food. They have also created their own paper money by drawing on paper and cutting it out. It is important to take note that they are excited of this concept, and want to learn more about how money works! Cash register play also helps their understanding of role-play, numbers, counting, as well as strengthens their fine motor skills when they are cutting out pieces of paper to use as money.
Observational Quotes from September 1 - 4
Kaylee: (while holding a clipboard and pencil) “Hey what do you want? This is Chicken Noodle Soup Restaurant!”
Ellie: “I want chicken nuggets, rice, fries and a burger.”
Amanda: “I’m going to clean up the table with the dishes!”
Paul: “I can help cooking!” 
Patrick: (holding a megaphone to his mouth) “The restaurant is closing! The restaurant is closing! We close at 12 o’clock!”
Roman: (bringing chopsticks to the table) “We need two, right?”
Teacher Andrea: “Can I have a glass of water and a sandwich?”
Perry: “I can get glass of water and sandwich.... Here you go!”
Gabriel: “What you want? This is Andrea’s Cafe! I can be the waiter.”
Sophia: “Where are the menus? And I need a fork! Where’s the fork?”
Madilyn: “We go to the hamburger place, and then I drank all my soda in the car.”
Brandon: “I wanna be the waiter and the cook.”
Teacher Andrea: When you go to a restaurant, what comes first?
Paul: Find a table. Then read the menu!

Dramatic play in the House Area has been important in helping the children construct their understanding of how a restaurant works and operates. I noticed that some of the children will jump from role to role (from the cash register, to the kitchen, to the table as a customer, and then take another customer’s orders, all in one sitting). One thing we are trying to understand together is the different jobs that take place when we go to a restaurant. Since all of the children have different experiences in visiting restaurants, it is important that in the classroom that we find out what they already know, and give them the space to talk about it and act it out.

In the future, I want to bring in more outside materials to focus their play, especially for the different jobs that a restaurant has: aprons for cooking, hats, menus, to-go boxes, money and credit cards. This will help us understand what they already know about restaurants, and what they are still learning. The children have already taken an active role in teaching their friends about what we do at a restaurant. I also want to explore the differences between a fast food restaurant experience versus a sit down restaurant. There are a few places to eat close by to our school that we could possibly go on a short walking field trip to in the future.

“Dramatic play is a type of symbolic play and is evident when children use objects, take on role plays and invent scenarios to make meaning of who they are, where they’ve come from, how to learn about others, the world they live in and their place in it. Dramatic play is instrumental in helping children develop an awareness of their identity, culture, and community.”

Rowell, P. (2010, December 1). The world is a child's stage -- dramatic

play and children's development.Putting Children First, 16-18.

Making Playdough
August 28, 2015

      Some of our friends noticed we needed more playdough for our classroom, so our afternoon group got to work making two new batches! Gathering around the table we talked about what ingredients we would need to mix to create our playdough and gathered them together.  The recipe for making playdough was at the center of the table for us to follow and read out loud.  We talked about how much of each ingredient we would need and measured out the necessary amounts.  We learned about how each step was very important, because if we were missing an ingredient it wouldn’t turn out how we wanted.  Taking turns, each child measured, poured and mixed the contents.  As each child took their turn, the rest of the group would watch and talk about what we were doing as they waited.  This was a great opportunity to learn through watching our friends and practicing waiting for their turn.  In between turns we talked about what we would need to add next, how it felt when mixing, and what colors we might want to make this play dough.

      As a group we talked about what colors we have had so far and what we might want to make these two new batches.  Together the group decided they wanted red and purple.  The teacher asked the group how we could make purple if we didn’t already have a purple watercolor to add.  The children talked about how they could make it by mixing the red and blue.  As we mixed the colors they could slowly see it change to purple, which was very exciting to watch.  The more red we added the brighter the purple became.  When adding the red watercolor we noticed it was more pink than red.
      Once everything was mixed and the colors were just how we wanted, we took the playdough out and began to mix it by hand.  The children talked about what they noticed and felt while using their hands.  When the playdough was sticking to their hands, they would add flour to keep it from sticking.  After quite awhile of mixing flour with the playdough and playing with it enough to keep it altogether we decided it was ready!  The children were very proud of their new playdough and excited about the colors they chose.  This was a great opportunity for the children to create something together that we can play with in our classroom while learning about so many new things.  Together we learned about cooking, measuring, colors, textures, cause and effect, taking turns, and shared space and materials.
     Our intention was to give the children the opportunity to learn about how our playdough is made and discover more about the areas of cooking, colors, textures, cause and effect and so much more.  After some of the other children in the class heard about the group making playdough, they now are excited to learn how to make some as well.  According to an NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) article, “Playdough also helps children build literacy skills.  For example, as the children follow the playdough recipe, they gain valuable experience with print awareness and early writing concepts, make connections between written and spoken words, and learn that writing can be used for different purposes”.
     We look forward to doing this activity again soon with a new group of children to continue the learning and next time we may add some more exciting things to our playdough to enhance the experience and include some new senses into their play.
Documented by Nicole Porter
Swartz, Mallary. "Playdough: What's Standard." Young Children (2005). Print.  

Documented by Nicole Porter

Exploring Playdough! 
August 17, 2015- August 28, 2015
Exploring the playdough and the offered materials. 
    For the past few weeks at our sensory table, the children have been experimenting with and exploring playdough! Within the first few days, the children were making use of the materials available for our various sensory activities. Materials include: scoops, molds of different shapes and sizes, cookie cutters, rolling pins, and scissors. Our intention for putting out playdough is to allow the children an opportunity to engage in a sensory activity along with other choices during activity time. Playdough is an activity where the children are constantly using their hands to manipulate the different tools and objects. Pushing, squeezing, rolling, cutting, and scraping the 
material enhances their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Through playdough, the children gain strength in their hands and fingers. Mallary Swartz (2005) mentions, "They also gain strength and improve dexterity in their hands and fingers, critical areas of physical development for writing, drawing, and other purposes."

Teacher Maria: "How does it feel?"
(August 24, 2015)
Angelina: Like applesauce!
James: Soft.
Patrick: Like a pillow!
Paul: Yeah, like a feathers pillow!
Clara: It's soft.
Evelyn: This is playdough, feels soft. 

    With the playdough, the children can roll it into different shapes, flatten it into something they want to make, mold it into a scoop or spoon, and cut it. While at the table, some of the children share what they were making:

(August 19, 2015)
Evelyn: Cupcakes, I put toppings! 
Sergio: Gonna make a big, big, big snake!
James: I made a 'x'! I cut the 'x'!

A New Material 
    One day, I noticed that the children started to bring a new material to the table...people!  Mason came over and said, " I found the guy! I'm gonna make him an armor!"  He proceeded to cut little pieces of playdough with scissors, flatten them, and wrap pieces around his person. As other children observed, they began to do the same.  The next few days, we put the people out for the children to use with the playdough. Some children dressed their people up, and others covered their person full of playdough explaining that their person was cold. Here, the children created different scenarios for the people that they had on their trays. 

James put a pile of playdough on his persons head and said, "It's a hat!"
Evelyn put some playdough on her persons head and said, "She's going to the snow! It's her hat! She's wearing a snow. 
Mason made a blanket for his person. 
Clara covered her person and said, "She's a pirate!" 
When Kaylee noticed that her person had a hollow head, she put playdough inside of it and explained, "No! It's his brain, he doesn't have one! See?" 

    In the article, Playdough: What's standard about it?, Mallary I. Swartz (2005) explains, "Young children learn best through manipulation of materials in which they can see the effects they have on the world around them. Many of these experiences come through play. Creative experiences with materials like playdough offer children many valuable learning opportunities." (p. 100) 

With playdough, the children practice multiple skills such as: 
Turn taking and sharing: Cooperating with their friends in using the various materials available. 
Cause and effect: James making an 'x', What happens when James cuts the x?
Dramatic play: Evelyn dresses her people up for the snow!
Fine motor skills: Pounding, pushing, flattening, rolling, cutting, and shaping the playdough. 

Moving forward, we will continue having playdough out. We will observe what the children will do with it, along with the other available materials.  More specifically, we will observe if the children's interest in the added material (people) will continue on. 

Reference: Swartz, I., M., (2005), Playdough: what's standard about it? National Association for the Education Young Children Young Children. https://www.naeyc.org/files/tyc/file/TYC_V3N3_Swartz.pdf
Documented by:
Maria Tanedo

Transportation in the Block Area
By Rachelle Frantz
August 31, 2015

For the past two weeks, the children have been exploring the block area and the wide variety of materials provided in the space. Throughout their exploration of the block area, I noticed an emerging, common interest in transportation, specifically cars and trains. Patrick, Paul, Roman, Toby and James returned to the block area on a consistent basis and started to work together to create train tracks and roads. Initially, most of the children were building independently and were focused on connecting trains together. As their exploration continued, they started to work collaboratively to create long train tracks for the trains. Toby, Mason, and James worked together to create tracks that were so long they went outside of the block area!

Mason: “Hey guys! I’ll help you. I’m building.”

Toby: “It’s so long it goes out of the block area! They’re going to drive on the road.”

James: “We need more! Beep beep beep!”

James: “This is a man he drives the train.”

Rachelle: “Oh, he’s the conductor?”

James: “Yeah, he’s the doctor. He bumped his head. This guy, he drives the train, right?”

The following week, the focus in cars and trains continued, but started to include an interest in community helpers (police officers, firefighters and hospital workers). The children continued to use the trains and cars, but also began to build structures that supported their growing interest in community helpers.

Paul picked up a police car and said, “Woo woo woo woo! He’s going to the police station.”

Rachelle: “Where is the police station?”

Paul started to build a structure using blocks and said, “Here’s the jail. These are the police.

Amanda: “There’s police girls too. Police boys and police girls.”

Later on in the week, we had a fire drill and the children were able to see a fire truck and some firefighters! This experience seemed to enhance the block play and gave the children new ideas!

Paul: “I’m building a fire station right now. And there’s the upstairs.”

Patrick: “Wooo woooo wooo wooo. Nee naw nee naw.”

Paul: “I need firefighters!”

Patrick: “The firefighters are saving the day!”

Patrick: “These guys crashed!”

Rachelle: “Oh no! Who do you call if there’s a crash?”

Paul: 991!

Mason: “No. 911.”

James built another structure nearby and said, “This is for the sick people! They have beds. And this is the medicine room. These guys are sick, but the zookeeper is all better now. He’s leaving.”

Patrick: “Someone vomit!” Patrick handed him to James to put in his structure.

As our exploration of the block area continues, we will continue to follow the children’s interests and provide a variety of materials related to transportation and community helpers. Currently, we are also trying to arrange for the local firefighters to visit our school with their fire truck! We are hoping that the children will have the opportunity to explore the truck and that this experience will spark new ideas about transportation and community helpers.

My intention with this activity is to explore what the children already know about transportation and community helpers and to encourage them to build with the materials provided (blocks, train tracks, carpet squares, people, flashlights, etc.) to represent their knowledge. In addition, this activity supports positive social interactions, problem-solving, sharing and spatial awareness.

Research states that, “well-known theorists have stressed the importance of play in the learning process of young children (Bodrova & Leong 2004). Play provides an intrinsically motivating context in which children come together to understand their world. Constructive play, with its emphasis on hands-on inquiry, is ideally suited for helping children learn the academic skills and concepts found in states’ early learning standards (see “Connections between Arizona Early Learning Standards and Constructive Play”)….When teachers encourage children to explore and think about what they are doing and talk and plan together, there is potential for skill development in a lot of areas . . . language, science, social competence, as well as positive dispositions toward learning and learning how to learn.

Citations: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in
Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8, Third Edition.
Constructive Play: A Value-Added Strategy for Meeting Early Learning Standards
Walter F. Drew, James Christie, James E. Johnson,
Alice M. Meckley, and Marcia L. Nell