Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

I love March! There are so many cool things that we do in the classroom but one of the most fun is starting the month off with Dr. Seuss.  It's a great time to introduce rhyming words if you have not done so already.  If you have introduced them then it is a great time to reinforce the concept.  Dr. Seuss' birthday is March 2nd and a great opportunity to pay tribute to this man who added so much fun to children's literature.

I hope you are enjoying all of the books that Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote under the pen names Dr. Seuss and Theo LeSieg?  Today I'm adding some links that I think you'll enjoy.  Have fun with Dr. Seuss.

Ten Apples Up On Top Activity

15 Seuss Books with activities (not all are appropriate for pre-k so be selective and think of the abilities of the children in your care).

I like this idea for making Seuss hat patterns from TeachPreschool, it's simple to prepare and will inspire some creativity.

If you have computers in your classroom and are able to connect to the internet then here is a link to online Seuss games from apples4theteacher.com that will keep children occupied and learning.

One of my favorite books is Green Eggs and Ham.  Every year my class makes green eggs and ham on or around Seuss' birthday.  It is a lot of fun and they find out that they do, they like them, Sam I Am.  Here are some other activites you can do with this story.

Well, that's just a few ideas to to get you started.  You don't need to wait for his birthday to celebrate Seuss' great books.  I think year round is the appropriate time to celebrate these awesome, imaginative and fun books!

Circle Time Jobs (Part 2)

Last week I posted about our morning circle routine and talked about the jobs that the children have in the morning.  Today I'm going to finish that post (which is a week late) and show you the rest of what morning circle holds.

We've already talked about the flag holder, song leader, elephant question jobs and the next job up is the mail carrier.  This job initially was named because I have a mailbox in the classroom and each morning one of the children's job would be to check the mail and find a letter addressed to himself. He would open the envelope (not an easy task) and remove the letter and I would read the letter to him.  It might say something about what we were studying like,

Dear Johnny,
I see you love strawberries. 
What other fruits do you like?
Love, Mrs. Lee

This little letter would mention something that I had noticed about the child and ask a question for him to answer.  It is a very simple way to make every child feel noticed and give them a voice in circle.  It would also extend the theme of whatever we were working on, for instance, what is the difference between fruits and vegetables and our recognition of them.

As we spent time with the letters the children loved it but to change it up a bit we also have added the "brain quest question". 

We still call it the mail carriers job but the child comes up and I choose a brain quest question for him to answer and he then gets to share the answer card with the class.  The kids love this!

The next job is the weather bear. 

This child comes up and puts clothes on the weather bear to match the weather outside.

 I've attached velcro to all of the clothes so this is very easy.  The child then places the arrows on the weather wheel and I ask, "Johnny, tell me about the weather today."  The child responds by saying "the weather is __________". It might be hot and sunny, windy and rainy, cold and cloudy etc... It is the child's idea and the only thing I say "no" to is snow.  We do live in Florida after all. Some of the children have taken to listening to the radio in the morning to hear the weather report and that child might dress the bear in his rain gear because the weather man said it is going to rain later.  I love this.

After weather we take care of our calendar.  That child comes up and answers any number of questions I might ask about what day it is, the month, what number comes next, what is tomorrow, etc... I know the abilities of my little learners and each child is asked questions that they can answer with confidence.  I do not want the children to dread coming up front and then to feel alone or uncomfortable because they do not know the answers to my questions. 

The children also really enjoy putting the number on the calendar and figuring out what comes next in the patterns we use with the number.  We do not start the year out with patterns on the calendar but wait until patterns have been introduced and the children feel confident in that also. 

So, those are my circle time jobs.  We start with a little exercise to get our bodies ready to sit in circle.  It takes about 30 minutes to do circle in the morning and that includes all the jobs, a couple of good morning songs in different languages and reading a book (or two) with some great discussions.  It's a fun way for the children to share and learn. 

The rest of the jobs on the chart are taken care of through-out the morning including our pet feeder, who feeds and waters the hamsters, our line leader, door holder, my helper, who takes care of any job if children are absent and is also in charge of carrying my clipboard if we leave the room, and then the caboose who brings up the end of the line and also turns off the lights.

I don't know what I would do without my little helpers.  If I can give any advice it would be to make sure and pay attention to your little people.  If they are active and fidgety then change things up.   I sometimes suspend all jobs and have a short circle and extra outside play.  If that's what the kids need then that's what we do because if they are not going to be able to sit then no-one is going to have a good time and learn in the process.  This is pre-k, remember these little guys are only 4 or 5.  They will learn all this stuff when they are ready. Our job is to make sure they think school is FUN! So  HAVE FUN and be silly, the kids will love you for it and you never know what they are learning in the process!

What do you do in the classroom to encourage growth in the children's independence? I'd love to hear all about it!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Circle Time (Jobs Part 1)

Everyone does circle time a little different but if you're like me it is one of your favorite times of the day.  There are opportunities for the children to lead and to follow, to encourage one another with applause and to help one another when an answer is elusive.  Circle time is a community meeting where everyone belongs and has a say.

This is my helper chart.  The blue pocket chart cost $1.00 at the dollar store and has 12 pockets.  I have 11 jobs that I made headings for.  We start at the top during morning circle and work our way down.  I use clothespins with each child's name written on them.  They move clockwise every day.  The children who do not have jobs (right now that is 2 because I have 13 students) are in what we call the waiting place (hanging at the bottom of the chart).  Because the jobs cycle every day then that means each child has a job 11 days in a row and then is in the waiting place for 2 days and then the cycle starts again. They all know the routine and are happy when it is their turn.  Some jobs are more coveted than others.

We start with the flag holder. The flag holder holds the flag straight and tall while the other children stand at attention.  When everyone is ready with hand on heart then the flag holder says "Ready Salute!" and leads the class in saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing My Country Tis of Thee.

The second job every morning is song leader.  That child comes up and chooses the first two songs out of the song pouch.  She/he then chooses which of the two songs they will help lead the class in.  They stand at the front of the room while the rest of the boys and girls remain seated unless it is a stand up type song. During December all the songs are replaced with holiday songs.  As we learn the songs I am able to add new ones that go with whatever theme we are learning.

I make the song cards myself by using cardstock and printing an appropriate picture on the front and the words to the song on the back and then laminate them.  That way anyone subbing for me always has many songs (right there on the circle time wall) and if the children ask for one specifically they can show the sub and she has the words right there.

The next job is the Elephant Question person.  That person gets to come up and pick the first Elephant Question.  The whole class helps me do a drum roll on their legs and then I announce (very dramatically)"The elephant question for today is..." and read whatever the question is.  The question might be something like "What did you have for breakfast?" or for instance, after we had fire prevention week the questions I added were "What do you do if you catch on fire?", "What number do you call if there is an emergency? What is an emergency?".  The children LOVE getting the elephant question.  I explain to them at the beginning of the year that elephants are supposed to have really good brains for remembering things and we are going to use our brains to remember things too.  The elephant question job is probably one of those most coveted jobs I spoke of.  Every child will have different ideas and everyone can be right.  his is also very encouraging because it encourages those shy, quiet children to speaks in front of their peers. 

Those are the first four jobs we do every morning (after our morning exercise). Look forward to how we incorporate more jobs tomorrow...

 I would love to hear about your circle time activities.