Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Let's Play!

If you are a follower of my on Facebook, you might have read some of the articles I've shared about the importance of play in kindergarten.  It's a real shame that our littlest learners are being cheated out of valuable play time because someone decided that kindergarten needs to be rigorous.  We are hurting our students by not allowing them to play.  A recent trip to the wonderful Chicago Children's Museum helped to illustrate that fact that little kids NEED TO PLAY!  

The first stop on our visit was the room with the boats.  The girls loved it!  We spent about an hour in there while they captained a two level tug boat, and cooked a bunch of yummy Lake Michigan fish in the quarters below deck.  Isabella & Olivia sold bait at while Amelia waited for her speed boat to be refueled.  A real sailboat, fishing poles, nets, and life jackets added to the make believe fun.  My darling granddaughters were not only having fun, they were working hard!  The article cited below supports the importance of allowing Kinders to have free play everyday.

"Young children work hard at play. They invent scenes and stories, solve problems, and negotiate their way through social roadblocks. They know what they want to do and work diligently to do it. Because their motivation comes from within, they learn the powerful lesson of pursuing their own ideas to a successful conclusion. Research shows that children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills than nonplayers, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean. They are less aggressive and show more self-control and higher levels of thinking." Source

The sign posted on the wall of the water room offers a great explanation of why water play is so good for kids.  My own daughters loved to play with water, and so do their daughters!  This was little Amelia's favorite part of the museum ~ she was wet from head to toe.  But, hey, it was just water! It might not be possible to have water play in the classroom, but there are other sensory activities that can be included into the classroom.  

"We know that young children are oriented toward sensory experiences. From birth, children have learned about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. Sensory play also contributes in crucial ways to brain development. Think of it as “food for the brain.” Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning." Source

Movement!  The museum offered so many opportunities for the kids to move around, jump, climb, slide, etc.  The girls were so tired at the end of the day!  Isabella & Olivia loved the fire pole in the fire station.  Amelia was too little to do it, but she love the slides. The sign says it all ~ kids need to move.

"Learning is a function of the whole nervous system.Children have difficulty learning if all of the sensory systems are not helping them to process what is on the page and in their environment. The more fine-tuned the sensory and motor systems – the more one can learn and the easier it is to learn." Source

"Kids simply need a supportive environment to tinker with an idea long enough to make it work, Stager said. They don’t need to be burdened by explaining which stage of the inquiry process they’re demonstrating. “We need to ask ourselves is there less we can do and more the kids can do?” Sager said." Source

When I asked five year old Isabella what she liked best at the museum she said the room where you can make stuff.  She really liked using the power drill!  Olivia (2 1/2) enjoyed using the hammer more, and Amelia (almost 2) liked playing with the wall of stuff to move around.  I know power drills aren't something you can have for Kinders, but you can have building blocks, Lego, Playdoh, and Lincoln Logs.

Check out the links to the sources for more information on the importance of play, so when you let your students have playtime you have proof that it is vital to the learning process!  

PS, here are some pictures of my wonderful family.  

Sarah is a kindergarten teacher, too! 

Emily is an author & her husband teaches third grade.

Gabrielle works in advertising.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Bucket List

By now I think most teachers are on summer break ~ I've been out since June 5th.  That was actually a little later than was originally scheduled. (Blame it on the snow...) So, whether you are just beginning your summer break, or have been out for a while, you probably have an overflowing Bucket List of things you want to do.  I know I do!  Here is a sampling of some of my Bucket List items. 

I have the best family in the world! Summer is gives us the chance to spend more time together. The picture on the right shows Hubby with his girls (daughters & granddaughters) on Father's Day.

Nothing is better than granddaughters!  I have so much fun with these little girls. (They LOVE to help Papa in the barn.)

The rain has kept us away from the beach so far this year, so I had to go online to get these shots of the Dunes.  Who would have thought that Northwest Indiana has white sandy beaches? 

Lucky for me I have a covered porch, so I can do lots of porch sitting! Porch Puppy, Macie, keeps me company.

 I just finished Julie & Julia today, and need to decide what to read next.  

I have August/September, October, November, and December done & uploaded to TpT.  Hopefully I'll get the rest of the year finished in July.

Nearly the entire teaching staff from my school got to attend the Smekens Literacy Retreat in Middlebury, IN (Amish country).  It was a combination of exciting learning and relaxing & shopping. My brain was a little bit on over-load when we left ~ so many great ideas!  I'll grab a glass of lemonade and sit on my front porch to review the materials & read the book I purchased.

Now it's YOUR TURN!  Tell me what's on your Bucket List for a chance to win my August/September Morning Work set!  I'll pick a winner using Random.org next week.

Morning Work for August & September


Friday, June 12, 2015

Fun Day in Kindergarten

Our PTO sets aside $5.00 per student for field trips.  We didn't use up all of our allowance so we were able to purchase some items for a day of Kindergarten fun!  With the help of a few parent (and great-grandparent) volunteers we set up a mini field day just outside our classroom doors.  The weather cooperated which contributed to a fantastic day!  Here are some pictures of the fun.

 Sight Words Beach Ball Toss

 Bozo Buckets & Corn Hole (Midwestern terms ~ what do you call these games?)

 Indoor Break for coloring & puzzles

 The kids really enjoyed puzzles!

 Back outside for some hula hoop fun

 The sidewalk was covered in chalk kid shaped outlines!

 Bubbles & jump ropes

And, finally ~ a pizza party!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Home for Hermit Crab

One of our recent craftivities was based upon a favorite Eric Carle book ~ A House for Hermit Crab.

We read the book while we were doing our ocean themed week & the kiddos had a great time decorating their crabs' shells with all sorts of colorful sea creatures.  Check out their work.  I really love the expression on the little guy on the right ~ he was so exited to show off his picture! 

My set includes retelling cards, vocabulary activities and writing page, and hermit crab facts in addition to the templates for the craftivity. Click HERE to purchase. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Keeping the Piece

Do you follow Who's Who and Who's New?  It's a great blog that covers just about anything you can think of ~ educationally, that is.  I am an author on this blog and just posted about my beloved mushroom tubs.  Hop over there to read it!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

$1.00 Sale!

Tonight might be the end of my Spring Break ~ but, it also marks the eve of another great Dollar Sale brought to you by some of my fellow Indiana Blogging buddies.

Here's what you can get in my store for $1.00 ~

A Basket of Long Vowels Literacy Center Activities

                                                               Click HERE to purchase.

Watching the Grass Grow - a Primary Science Project.

Click HERE to purchase.

Serving Up CVC Words ~ Aligned to the CCSS

Click HERE to purchase.

Number Bonds Flash Cards

Click HERE to purchase.

Check out the savings at this linky.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Break!

Yay!  I'm on Spring Break ~ only it doesn't look too springy out.  Because we aren't going anywhere I have time to relax, catch up on projects, hang out with one of my three granddaughters (2 of them are in Disney World), and generally do as I wish.

I do wish, that the weather is a little better.  OK, I wish it was A LOT better.  At least not snowy...

What's going on?  We didn't have a flake of snow in December when we would have appreciated it!

Here is a little color for this dreary weather.  One day these two little cuties got out the tub of buttons to sort.  I didn't even realize that they were rainbow colors!  They did this on their own!  I emailed this picture to our art teacher.  She was very happy to see that they arranged them in correct rainbow order!  (I'm not sure if the picture in the background served as inspiration...)

Last week my Kinders enjoyed playing this St. Patrick's Day themed game.  It includes an Easter version of all the game boards ~ and is only $1.00!  Click HERE to buy.

Cabin Fever followed by Spring Fever left some of my little darlings a bit out of sort.  We created Positive Posies to help us to remember happy thoughts.  First, we brainstormed a list of feel-good ideas.  The kids chose bright paper, traced & cut out pieces, and then decorated their creations with positive messages.  Everyone was left feeling pretty happy with these colorful flowers!

The postcards are back!  This is what we have so far.  Last year I offered a giveaway to readers who sent me postcards.  If you would like to win any product from my TpT store, please send me a postcard from your state (or country).  On the back, clearly print your email address and the name of my product that you would like to win.  I will select a winner on April 4, 2015.  Good luck & THANKS! See info below to enter.