I’m sitting for circle time, it’s going well. We’re doing our bell ringing and our greeting. We sing some songs and read a book. And then the children let me know they are ready to do something else. Before I can tell them what I had brought for them, they requested to use the playdough and asked for the little animals we’ve been using.
So we got out the playdough and had a fabulous time sitting together and building houses. Foreman cut pretend pizza pieces and offered them to all of his friends. Many stories were told and myriad conflicts navigated. Was this what I thought we’d do today? Nope. Was it valuable and full of great learning? Yep.
Even our toddler sibling friend was into it: he smashed dough and copied what the older children were doing. He spent longer at this activity than any of our other friends, in fact!
I also had provided a big canvas board for us to paint on together, which is something we’ve been practicing for a few weeks. I thought this would last a short time and that then we’d move on to something else. Instead, what happened was that Georgia and Dr. Kitty decided to do their own paintings on separate paper after they worked on the collaborative piece. They explored the new watercolor pans that I brought and did some problem solving about how to fit both papers at the same table.
What I thought we would be doing today didn’t really happen. And what did happen was beautiful and full of wonderful wonderings, excellent fine motor control development, and great peer-to-peer conversations. This is something I’ve been toying with the last few months, and I am still finding my way to how best to follow some semblance of a plan and also go with the flow and provide materials that are engaging for the children. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.
We’ve been making paintings together at circle time as a way to practice collaborating, get some color identification work in and build strong muscles in our hands. As we do this work together each week, we develop familiarity with the tempera cakes and how to use them and we build social and vocabulary skills.
The magnet tiles continue to prove interesting. Today Rocket says as he arrives, “wow, there are so many interesting things to do today!” Later, he begins the painting below as a way to explore the construction we built together and then he notices that he can take a turn on the trampoline and hurries off. I am tempted to draw him back in and then I decide that today is probably one of the last days it will be warm enough to spend a long time outside together so I decide we’ll try again next week.
As a teacher, I say it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of the moment and forget to notice the accomplishments and sweet snippets of our days together. I got lucky this afternoon and got to watch this monkey swing like a pro across these bars and I couldn’t resist sharing his joy with you.
When we work together with our peers to make something happen as part of a dramatic play game (Anna and Elsa visit Rapunzel in her tower), we develop problem solving skills, practice engaging our friends in imaginary games, and work on peer communication skills.
Today was full of excellent learning, funny dancing, hula hoop chasing and skill building. These are just a few examples of what we’ve been up to and in observing this group today, I am reminded to not take myself so seriously, to take some deep breaths when I feel slighted by someone, to sit and eat with people that I love and that sometimes (usually?) it’s best to go with the flow instead of resisting what is happening.
This afternoon’s threat of rain sent us to the basement to do some light play and exploring with the Picasso Tiles on the overhead projector. We’ve been playing this game about taking a vacation inside a snake (a crawling tube toy) for the last few weeks together and so a string of bone-like beads was added to our choices of what to put on the projector.
The ever-compelling circus rings were still hooked up in front of the wall that the light shines on so a circus show was going on while we took turns telling stories about the snake.
When we tell stories together, we practice showing what we know about the world, work on memory and recall skills, and build vocabulary. When our friends perform during our stories, they work on listening skills, practice taking turns, and build their gross motor skills.
In our Tuesday class, we have some friends that are seriously focused on construction and cars right now. So after a few weeks of chaos and struggling to provide activities that would hold their interest, we switched and started a transportation and construction topic. This mixed aged group of two to five-year-olds is now happily immersed in teaching their teacher about what each of the machines will do and fully engaged in exploring ways to show what they know about construction sites.
As we played today, we worked on fine motor development as we held paint brushes, pinched play dough and used toy backhoes to scoop and pour sand. We practiced peer-to-peer and adult/child communication skills when we described our map paintings and directed our friends in our exploration of the sensory table.
At the sensory table full of sand and new construction toys, we had many chances to develop our negotiation skills as we navigated who would get which truck and to practice how to be kind to our friends while also expressing what we wanted.
We even did some work with one-to-one correspondence as we lined up the trucks and counted each of them.
It was a peaceful and fun day of construction play!