Saturday, September 5, 2015

Joining Hands As Professionals

My visit at Leikskollin Stekkjaras during Play Iceland.

Over the last four years, I have learned a tremendous amount about the wide variety of things happening in Child Care and Preschool across the globe.  I owe a lot of credit to Facebook, Pinterest, and reading blogs that I have discovered through both.  I have connected with some very inspiring people. I have also learned that NOTHING compares to meeting other professionals face to face and exploring other settings in person. 

Tom and I during the visit to Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland.

Tom Shea, who is the owner of Child First Day Nurseries in the UK, contacted me in January about hosting a small Team of his staff in Maine for a closer look at best practices happening here in the United States. 

After reviewing many creative and thorough bids from many of his staff, five people were selected to create Team Maine.  They have had several meetings in person to work together and have also met with me through Skype. 

At the end of September they will spend 10 days in Maine investigating, observing, exploring, and taking notes at a dozen different settings in both urban and rural areas. 

The focus is to observe, interact and to be inspired by the providers, environments and the children themselves.

The journey doesn't end there. We will spend a whole Saturday with a group of about 25 preschool teachers and daycare providers reflecting, sharing, and discussing similarities and differences in all our settings both near and far. 

Me presenting at Play Iceland 2014

When they return to the UK they are expected to present to additional staff (and outward) regarding the ideas and observations they have gathered during their time in the US.

We can communicate across the world, but linking is more than just Facebook - we want to challenge and encourage - we want to visit and revisit - we want to remove the hurdles the best we can. Child development is far too important and where there is great practice we should be proud to share it." -Tom Shea

A bit more about Tom Shea...

Tom has been working in Early Childhood for over 40 years and is very passionate about PLAY and joining hands around the world to create a united front of advocates who care about healthy children's development.
Beyond his Nurseries, Tom is also involved in many other projects that are aimed at improving childhood. Fafu. Play Iceland. The Factory Where We Can Build Anything. And now it appears possibly... Play International?

We keep bumping into people who have the imagination and drive – we encourage some, support some, enthuse with some and grow stronger for the doing.... -Tom Shea

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Group Block Building

Today we practiced a lot of skills at our group meeting time. 

We had a platform in the middle of the rug that the children were gathered around.

Each child waited for their name to be called (mostly in groups of 3 or 4) and they sneaked through our secret entrance into the block area to choose two blocks to add to a group structure. 

My goals were for children to practice patience, turn taking and to create something as a team.

As I watched and guided the activity I realized that there were so many more skills being practiced. 

We talked about what we thought the structure reminded us of.
 Most children agreed with each other that it was either a maze or a city.

Making space and taking turns through our secret entrance.

I learned a lot about a few personalities when I realized many children were choosing only certain blocks from certain shelves, while a few were more interested in finding something unique to add.

As the city continued to become more complex, children needed to be more aware of other blocks that were already in place. 

Several children knocked over blocks which started a chain reaction of other blocks. Some children took the time to set other people's blocks back where they were. Only a couple children almost became upset when they knocked a block over or when something they had placed was knocked over. Some interesting observations about their social emotional development.

Some children reached very carefully through blocks to try and retrieve those that had been knocked, while others were unaware and knocked several more over in the process. Lots of observations about spatial awareness.

We talked about when you work together as a team on something, than everybody has to decide together when is the right time to knock it all over. We took a vote and destruction hit the city along with laughter and giggles.

Clean up and sorting. The children all worked together to deliver and sort the blocks on to their proper shelves. They continued to manage squeezing through the secret entrance. Not only were we managing our bodies and focus in a small busy space, we were practicing to put things away where they belong. 

Blocks are one of the items in the classroom that can be frustrating and overwhelming for children to clean up, but suddenly it was fun.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pizza Project

Today we made pizza, but we didn't eat it. Actually we did eat pizza, just not these ones. 
We were just Preeee-tending. :)  Lots of silly conversations about the differences
between making these pizzas and real pizzas. 

First you spread on the sauce. Some people like more sauce than others.

Then we added the cheese.

Then you add the toppings that you like best.

Some like to make  their pizza fast. Some take lots of extra time.

Place them in the oven to cook. 

Make sure you set the timer. 

Pizza is a great conversation starter.
They all look so different!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Circles, Spots and Polka Dots: Art Show 2015

This was our Third Annual Circle, Spots and Polka Dots Art Show.  The goals is to create art with circles using many methods over several weeks. The children love the repetition of using the circles. They love that we can find circles anywhere at anytime. 
It opens their eyes to the fact that circles are a huge part of our lives and world. 

The Art Work

The sculpture was created with recycled materials that families contributed from home.
The artists took turns adding pieces over the course of a week. They were able
to come back and add more pieces as the sculpture grew. The base of the
sculpture was a piece of artwork created for last year's art show.
After it was finished the artists each shared a title or words about the piece of art, which
were displayed around the edge of the table with their names. 

Each child selected circles from a large collection of paper circles that
had been cut from construction paper and hole punches. They glued them in layers
from largest to smallest. Each child had one circle stack displayed on this tower.

These circles were created with tissue paper and glue. The children chose their strips and
used glue sticks to attach them. The next step was to paint over them with watered down
white glue and a paint brush to create a shiny and smooth effect. They then folded the edges
onto the back or cut them with scissors.

The children each had turns to wet-felt balls from white and dyed wool. They also created clay beads.
Some children had a chance to paint the beads and others sewed the strings together.
This was truly a group effort. The strings were attached to a horizontal stick and hung from the ceiling.

The artists used three different sized tree blocks to print small, medium and large circles.
I loved how much their personalities were reflected in the way they chose to use these materials.
They wrote their names with a silver sharpie on the front of the display.

These were created with school glue that had blue watercolor added to it.
The children were shown how to slowly make circles by squeezing and moving the glue bottle.
They were also shown that they could make dots instead of circles.
A day or two later after they had dried, the children used watercolor and q-tips to add more dots,
fill in their circles or create new circles. The labels displayed the children's titles for their artwork.
Names such as: Ocean, The Future, and Circles.

 The Show

Families were invited to attend our art show on a Friday evening. They were encouraged to sign up to bring a circle themed food to contribute. Of course we always love seeing the children and some parents coordinate their outfits to match the theme. This was our biggest year yet and we decided to make it an indoor/outdoor event. The art was inside. Food table and activities were on the playground attached the preschool.

Each child could find a picture of themselves hanging from one of the balloons around the classroom.
The pictures were taken the week before to look as thought they are floating away.

I always love to display any extra circles that I can find around the classroom and
our favorite circle themed books. The children created
many of these circle garlands to hang around the art show as well.

The children helped draw chalk circles up our stairs and along our ramp
to welcome guests to the show.

Everyone seemed very relaxed and the artists were SO proud to have their families attend.
I was very excited that we had 100% of our children attend with family members.

Bubble blowing was a big highlight for the children outside.

The children were surprised to find a Ball Pool under the covered climber.
The enjoyed lounging around and being silly with friends and siblings.

There were many circle themed foods contributed by families.
This is a chance for the parents to show their creative side.
Notice even cups, plates and napkins have polka dots and circles on them.

Some of the menu:
Circle Pasta Salad
Pepperoni, Cheese and Crackers
Circle Cereal Mix
Circle shaped fruit salad
Mini Pizzas
Circle Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Circle Cut Veggies

 The children are so proud of their artwork and of course a chance to share their preschool with their families. A big thank you to all the families of Inch By Inch who continue
to make this event wonderful for us all.

You can find previous year's posts here and here.