Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School
Nov 28

As much as I’ve said I’d NEVER have workbooks in preschool, I’ve learned never to say never.

The reality is, children’s fine motor skills and upper body strength have diminished over the past ten years or so.  Some kindergartens’ expectations have increased.  Pre-Kindergarteners need to be comfortable drawing and writing some letters.  (Pre-K’s, not threes.  While some CAN, it’s still developmentally inappropriate to expect a 3-year-old to write letters!)

We’ve started a good, developmentally appropriate program, Handwriting Without Tears’ Get Set for School.    The program utilizes sticks, (long line, short line, big curve, little curve) play dough, songs and other hands on activities before and while the children write.  The “workbook” does not require children to form letters over and over.  It reinforces what they’ve already created and handled.  It begins with proper pencil grip, using small crayons. Yes there are songs about how to hold a crayon.

Below you can see children working on the correct pencil grip and color by moving their fingers, and not their wrists. Developmentally, children begin to color by moving their entire arm, then their wrists, and eventually must refine it to just moving their fingers.

The alphabet on the previous page goes along with a song on the CD about dogs singing the alphabet!  They are not required to  write those letters yet!

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A big favorite is Mat Man.  The children sing about him and create him cooperatively using the wooden shapes. That follows up with the children drawing their self-portraits. What a difference Mat Man makes!

This is Mat Man at the NAECY (National Association of the Education of Young Children) conference I attended. See the little guinea pig on his shoulder?  That’s the stuffed animal the children voted on for me to take with me!

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This is a Mat Man the children created in the classroom.

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Children need to play now more than ever.  They’re also required to develop academic skills now earlier than ever. What better way to introduce these skill than through play, songs and play dough?

That’s why I attend the national conferences.  *I* am constantly learning. I adapt my strategies to what each class needs to learn, and combine that with what I’ve learned to help them however I can.  There’s nothing like coming back to class reenergized and ready to share and bring new life into our program!

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Nov 17

Ok, yes, that’s a bad pun!  We are still exploring seeds and plant life (among other things, of course!)

The children had planted grass seed and the seeds we took from our pumpkin.  We’ve had some growth! Some pumpkin seeds have grown, others have not. Some grass came in thickly, others a bit sparsely.

On of our goals is to get children to really LOOK at nature and really pay attention to what they see. What are the colors?  What shapes do you see? Are there straight  lines or curves?

The children had the opportunity to look at their grass (and pumpkin sprouts) and observe, touch, and even smell their plants!   The put unifix cubes into “towers” to match how high their plants have grown. “Mine is 13 high!”

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Because grass is pretty straight, the actual drawing of it was pretty simple. One child wanted to color it pink.  Since the goal was to draw and record what they saw, I asked if she saw pink. “No, but I like pink.”  I asked, “How about if you draw a picture of YOURSELF in pink next to your plant?”  Her eyes grew wide, her smile deepened, and she said, “WOW!!! YES!”

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Some delight in squeezing their grass!

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The children then dictated or wrote a description of their plant.

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The finished entry?  “This is a grass. It is amazing.”

 

The children were give the option of cutting the grass (with scissors) if they chose.  The loved it! They cut a little at a time and took much longer than we’d expected!

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What did we do with all of the grass clippings?  We gave it to the guinea pigs and rabbit, of course!

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