Wednesday, September 2, 2015

We Can't Wait...

...for our first day of kindergarten! We've been busy setting up our learning environment and are so excited to meet our new students and welcome back our returning SKs!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Dreaming Classroom

It's been almost two weeks since school ended. I hope you are all enjoying some rest and relaxation! Summer is such a wonderful time to recharge, renew, and pursue other interests. I have been spending my time reading, writing and running, three of my favourite things to do during my time off!

When Miss J and I left school on Friday we had significantly cleaned and emptied our learning space in preparation for the summer clean up and late August set up that will be done before the children come back in September.  It was strange to see our beautiful, lively room so empty and quiet! 

Each September our room is a blank canvas, waiting for the children's ideas and creations to help co-construct the space. We believe in the Reggio Emilia philosophy that the classroom exists as the 'third teacher' and one that helps children learn and grow as they revisit and reflect upon ideas and artifacts of learning that tell the story of our time together. We want each child to see himself or herself reflected in our environment. We want children to know that their ideas and contributions are important and valued as essential to our collective existence and understanding.


What then do you think the classroom does in the summer? Do you believe that it continues to exist as an organic, living space, dreaming of when the children return in the fall? Is it sleeping, energizing itself for when those creative little beings return to school fresh from their summer holiday and ready to explore all the world has to offer?

Although Miss J and I were sad to see so many of the displays we created with the children disassembled, we also spent much of our time on Friday dreaming for September. We made a few minor changes to the layout of the classroom that we think will benefit the children and encourage more interaction and even deeper inquiry. We spent the day brainstorming the new and exciting materials we will have ready for those first few weeks of school and are so eager to see what paths of learning the children take. And although we are enjoying our summer with our friends and family, we are continuing to plan for what new adventures we will have in September!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Our School!

In celebration of the upcoming school year here is a flashback post to when the children explored our school. If you and your child will be joining us in September please peruse these photos so you can discuss the school and get to know it virtually in preparation for the new school year!

...the living wall outside of our classroom.

...the beautiful hallway. 

...our library. 

...the office. 

...the atrium. 

...the washroom near the gym. 

...the gym. 

...the mechanical room. (Our school has windows so the children can see how our school is maintained.)

...the rooftop garden. 

Why don't you ask your child what his/her favourite place in the school is?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why Use Twitter in the Classroom?

As a teacher I've used a classroom blog to communicate the learning happening in my classroom to families and the community. I've followed other educators' blogs to get inspiration for my own practice and learn about new and exciting activities happening in the greater kindergarten world. Blogging has helped me feel connected to a greater cause in early years education.

This year I became active on Twitter - I'm now obsessed! The rich learning, networking, and sharing possibilities make this social media in my opinion essential for today's classroom. Here are the top ten reasons educators need to become active on Twitter:

1. Twitter is an effective communication tool for use with a large audience. With Twitter you can quickly share in 140 characters or less the amazing activities happening in your classroom.

2.  Twitter encourages communication between home and school as parent-followers can favourite tweets, reply to tweets, and retweet information for others. 

2. Educators can link classroom activities to other media including photos, videos, websites, other tweets, etc. in order to present a complex, multifaceted story of what's happening in your practice and embed much technology into practice.

3. Twitter creates a narrative of what has happened in your classroom. When we tell stories through various documentation we honour children's voices and record their lives in the classroom.  Going back through the Twitter feed recreates the story of our time together.

4. Twitter helps like-minded individuals connect in an easy to use format. Networking with other educators helps one feel as part of a community as ideas are shared and supported in a virtual space.

5. Twitter provides a platform where educators can contact and communicate with leaders in the educational world, creating a link between pedagogy and practice. I've been able to engage in conversations with some of the leaders in my field, inspiring me to go deeper with ideas and reach further!

6.  Twitter embeds technology into classroom practice as children co-create tweets together with an educator in a shared writing activity. Learners are empowered as they describe their activities with others and choose other media (photos, videos) to compliment their messages.

7. Twitter inspires me to do the best job I can as an educator because what I am sharing reflects upon my practice and beliefs as an educator. I will be judged by what I tweet. Tweeting gives me an empowered voice to share my experiences, knowledge, and informed opinions with others.

8. Twitter also inspires children to engage fully in the classroom as they want their explorations and accomplishments to be highlighted on the Twitter feed and recognized by others. Tweeting is published work.

9. Tweeting helps me to be a reflective educator as I review the stories behind what I have tweeted, read other perspectives on my work, and think about how what we've done can drive our classroom practice further.

10.  Tweets market educators and help advertise to potential administrators when looking for new opportunities (e.g., new school, assignments, leadership opportunities). Tweeting gives educators an online presence and helps define what our educational 'brand' is.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nurturing a Growing Reader

We spent the first Monday of our summer vacation heading to the library. Quinn was so excited to finally get his own library bag and check out his own books! Visiting the library helps expose your child to many different kinds of printed materials. Many libraries have drop in programs and other summer camps. The earlier you read with your child, the better for ensuring a life long love of reading!

Reading doesn't just happen. It is a skill that must be nurtured from a child's earliest years. Once children know how to read, they still need gentle coaxing and support to fulfill their potential as readers.

Here are a dozen tips for nurturing your growing reader:

1.  Read with your children at least once every day.

2.  Make sure they have plenty to read. Take them to the library regularly, and keep books and other reading materials in their reach.  Many books are available for free reading through online websites or the local library.

3.  Notice what interests your child, and help find books about those things.

4.  Respect your child's choices. There's nothing wrong with reading the same type of book over and over if it's what keeps a young reader turning the pages.

5.  Praise your children's efforts and newly acquired skills.

6.  Help your child build a personal library. Children's books, new or used, make great gifts.  Designate a bookcase, shelf or box where your children can keep their books.

7.  Check up on your children's progress. Listen to them as they explore the pictures and text in a book. Listen to them read aloud, read what they write, and don't hesitate to inquire about their progress in our classroom.

8.  Go places and do things with your children to build their background knowledge and vocabulary, and to give them a basis for understanding what they read.

9.  Tell stories. It's a fun way to teach values, pass on family history and build your children's listening and thinking skills.

10.  Be a reading role model. Let your children see you read, and share some interesting things with them that you have read about in books, newspapers, or magazines.

11.  Continue reading aloud to older children even after they have learned to read by themselves.

12.  Encourage writing along with reading. Ask children to sign their artwork, add words to your shopping list, take messages, and make their own books and cards as gifts.

Happy International Mud Day!

Messy sensory experiences are so much fun for children! As they mash and mix concoctions they measure, experiment, create, and problem solve. To celebrate mud day here is a collage of some messy hands! Click on the messy recipes tag to see more of what we've done!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Top Ten Activities to Encourage Subitizing

Subitizing is the ability to recognize a quantity without counting (e.g., recognizing the faces of a die, the number of dots on a domino) and helps children establish a solid number sense which will help them with subsequent math activities like adding and subtracting. Here are our top ten subitizing activities from the year in the event you'd like to play some of these games at home with your child this summer to strengthen their math abilities.

1.  Creating equations with dice

2.  Math Subitizing Easel

3.  Pete's Buttons

4.  Ten Frame Names

 5.  In and Out

6.  How Many Presents?

7.  Race to 100

8.  Magic Ten

9.  Rolling and Recording Numbers

10.  Domino Parking Lot

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spinner Painting

We combined art and science today when we explored how we could use a machine like a salad spinner to create interesting works of art!
The children squirted various colours of acrylic paint onto paper plates...


...put the paper plate into the spinner...

...and used their muscles to crank the art.

We called this 'spectator art' because so many children wanted to watch as each piece was created. You could hear the 'ooohs' and 'ahhhs' across the room!

The look on each child's face as the spinner's lid was lifted and the art was revealed was priceless!

The plates turned out lovely! It was interesting to discuss with the children how the force of the spinning made the paint move. We compared amounts of paint, types of paint, and colours to mix in order to vary the results.

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