Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Knew I Was Truly An Emergent Curriculum Teacher When...

As many of my students are now turning 5, they are going for their 5 year physicals.  This brought about a huge interest in going to the doctor and getting shots.  We started talking about doctors and exploring this idea further.  We brought in books and doctor tools for them to use to see if this would be a lasting idea for our next study.  

Unfortunately, soon after these provocations were put out, I ended up in the hospital for a week and a half.  I had to laugh at myself at times during my stay as whenever there was anything I could collect I would do it; " oh, that EKG print out has an error, can I have it?"  I truly knew I was fully immersed in this type of learning when I was lying on the examining table about to be put under for a test and I started asking the doctors in the room who would be willing to come and talk to my preschoolers about being a doctor and did they think we could come to the hospital on a field trip, and wouldn't it be cool to show my students the camera they were about to use, and.....luckily they controlled the anesthesia and were able to put me out before I could get them to commit. :-)
I am persistent, though, and left my hospital visit with phone numbers and emails of the doctors willing to work with us. 

Unfortunately, I was away from my classroom for two weeks, but when I came back I was able to take on the role of expert as a patient and the children were able to ask a lot of questions.  We put my collections right to work in our dramatic play center and they immediately wanted me to be the patient again.  I had to really force myself to play with them as they taped my hospital bracelets back on me and simulated the EKG machine wires that we had talked about, as I just wanted to be as far removed from these experiences as possible.  

However, this was a great way for them to make sense of where I was and what had been happening to me while I was gone.  It was also a very nice way for the children and me to reconnect.  Some of them were scared about whether or not I was contagious and if they would end up in the hospital.  Our play was a comfortable way to give reassurance where it was needed.  They asked amazing questions and their interest in this topic was sparked anew. 

We were able to have a dad come in to talk to us who is a physician's assistant.  The best part of having a parent as your expert is that he was so willing to stay and play with us.  This is even more valuable than the time he spent talking to them and answering their questions.  His time in our dramatic play center elevated their play to a new level of detail that is still being explored a week after his visit.

Monday we have a mom coming in who is a nurse.  She has been working on child safe ways to address all of their questions about shots.  

As you dive into your project topics, make sure to include your parents.  I find that they are by far, the best resource. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Musical Tires

We tried a new spin on musical chairs using the tires we had on our playground.  We put the tires in a circle.  While we set up the music, the children enjoyed guessing what we were going to do with the tires in this arrangement.

Then we explained the game.  Each time the music stopped they needed to sit or get some part of their bodies on a tire.  Each time the music stopped we would be taking a tire away-not a child!  The children were never out.  However, each time the seating became more limited and the negotiating for a place became trickier.

As the the number of tires decreased we were able to talk about how many children fit on each and  how many were in each group.  There were comments and observations about groups of numbers and predictions of what would happen next.  We played until we fit all children-all 16-on one tire-even if it was just by the toe.

Math, music, gross motor and negotiation all wrapped up in one quick playground game of musical tires.  This could be done with mats or towels as well if you do not have tires available.  Give it a try!

Handprint Partner Art

I have several students this year who enjoy working side by side at the easel. We added this partner activity to capitalize on this interest.

The children each wrote their names on the paper. Then one person painted the hand or hands of her partner.
The child with the painted hands printed on the paper.

Then she washed her hands and came back to start another paper with the other child making the prints.

It was interesting to see how the children chose to paint each other.  Some used many colors, other one color.

  The giggles and smiles that could be seen during the activity were proof that it was a success!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spinning Art; A Spool, A Susan and Cooperation

My guest blogger for this post is Clara Cohen who teaches the Threes class at our school.  

This is one of those wonderful projects that takes more than one artist.  I put out the large spool and lazy susan with paper taped to each. 

 We started with markers and then decided to see how paint and paint brushes would work. 

 I showed the children how they needed someone to spin while they drew on the paper.  They had to negotiate and cooperate.  They took turns spinning and drawing without any adult intervention. This large rolling tube is just part of our school and I'm not sure where it came from.  It is a PVC tube with a dowel and wood on the ends for easy spinning. The lazy susan was a wedding present but I think this is a much better use for it.  

I must admit, in this photo I was spinning for him as I was fascinated by the  innovative way he connected the markers together to make one long marker.

 The end result was collaborative as well.    What an accomplishment!