Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teacher Tip: Avoiding Holiday Burnout in the Classroom - Less is More

Holiday time can be overstimulating even for those of us who have had years of experience navigating the hustle and bustle that comes in December. But imagine you are just 2 years old. Your quiet predicable world is snatched out from under you only to be replaced with loud music, twinkling lights, bright colors, crinkling of paper, giant snowmen on every lawn, lighted reindeer everywhere you look, longer days at day care (while parents work, shop, or both), regular teachers and caregivers are on vacation...it's massive sensory overload at home AND at school. It's often too much for preschoolers. So, sometimes, less is more!

Here are a few tips for helping your little ones survive the holidays:
  1. Keep classroom routines the same.
  2. Avoid spending the entire month focusing on celebrations and holidays. Limit your holiday-themed activities to the 3-5 days before the holiday.
  3. Limit holiday decor in the classroom. The younger the child, the fewer decorations you need. Infants, toddlers, and twos have a limited or no concept of holidays. Preschoolers certainly have a better understanding of holidays but they too can become overwhelmed.
  4. Incorporate more calming activities like Yoga Kids: For Ages 3-6 because children may need more relaxation.
What are your tips for maintaining sanity during in your preschool classroom?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teacher Tip: Turkey Apples for Thanksgiving

I can't take credit for this wonderful little art project, but it was just too cute not to share! A Spanish Teacher who comes to our child care center each week made these awesome little turkeys with the children last week. She also taught them to say turkey in Spanish: el Pavo!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey Time!

It seems like just last week we were lounging by the pool and slathering on sunscreen...and now it's time for Thanksgiving! Here are some favorite Thanksgiving books that your preschool and kindergartners might enjoy. Special thanks to all of my Tweeps for sending in their favorites!

Pumpkin SoupTwas The Night Before Thanksgiving (Bookshelf)Thanksgiving in the Barn

A Turkey for ThanksgivingThank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved ThanksgivingThanks for Thanksgiving

Friday, November 19, 2010

BOOK OF THE DAY: Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell

Feast for 10 (Read Along Book & CD)

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this seems like a great book to share with your little ones! During this time of the year, you have to be sensitive to various cultural practices and family beliefs. This is also the time of year when it's easy to fall into the "Pilgrim and Indian" trap. Some of us get caught up stereotyping these groups by making cute little Pilgrim hats and
"Inidan" (i.e. Native American) headbands. Some of us forget that for some people, the history of the first Thanksgiving is not a happy and celebratory time. So, instead, it's a good time of year to focus instead on the things that most of us have in common: family, sharing, family celebrations, family feasts, and things for which we are thankful.

Related Activities:
  • Have a feast in your classroom. Invite parents and family members to join.
  • Here is a GREAT 25 page activity guide/lesson plan for this story.
  • Here is another activity guide that includes a fact page, parent page and recipe cards.
  • Here are activity cards that include recipes, a rhyming activity, and other experiences.
  • If your school is close to a grocery store, arrange a field trip to the store to purchase items for your feast or for a recipe.
  • Collect pictures of foods for children to cut (the coupon section of the newspaper and food magazines are great sources). Give each child a paper plate and allow them to make a collage of their own feast.
  • Go online and print pictures of families having feasts; share these photos with the children and let them share their own experiences with the class.
  • Encourage children to create a "feast" in the housekeeping or dramatic play areas. Provide table cloths, centerpieces, and all of the other necessary trimmings for a feast!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Girls Booked on Beauty Shops

Children who gain achievement in reading and language skills are more likely to be successful in all other subject areas. Reading is a key that unlocks a magical door filled with potential. Unfortunately, research shows that many minority children are not read to as much as their White counterparts. Research also shows that too often, by fourth grade African American students still have not mastered the skills necessary to become successful readers. Two community based programs aimed at increasing literary interest are Boys Booked on Barbershops and Girls Booked on Beauty Shops. These programs aim to provide children (from ages 1-18) opportunities to read in barbershops and beauty shops.

One Maryland group is bringing Girls Booked on Beautyshops to the area this weekend. The Harford County chapter of Mocha Moms is hosting Girls Booked on Beautyshops Saturday, November 20 from 11 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Imaginations Salon and Spa. Mocha Moms is a support group for mothers of color who have chosen not to work full-time outside of the home in order to devote more time to their families and communities. This event is supported, in part, by Scholastic and the National Institute for Literacy. For more information, email harfordmochamoms@gmail.com.

BOOK OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

"There's a good smell of soup, and at night, with luck, you might see a bagpiping Cat in the window, and a Squirrel with a banjo, and a small singing Duck. Everyone has their own jobs to do. Everyone is happy... or so it seems.... until one day Duck, the littlest one, decides it's his turn to stir the soup..." ~Product Description from WormWorks.Com

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, pumpkin pie might be on everyone's mind....but what about Pumpkin Soup? This is a funny and beautifully illustrated book to share with your preschool/kindergartners.

Related Activities:
  • Make pumpkin soup. There are tons of recipes online. This one from Suite 101 seems fairly simple to do with children. Whenever I cook with children, I always make either a large recipe chart or individual recipe cards so that children can follow along. Having a written recipe helps children to understand the concepts such as of following directions, ordinal numbers, sight words, and measurements. Individual recipe cards can be given to children to take home and share with their families.
  • If you make pumpkin soup, talk about what each child's role was in making the soup. Talk about what would happen if everyone wanted to add the pumpkin but no one wanted to stir - or if everyone wanted to stir and no one wanted to add the milk. Emphasise the importance of teamwork!
  • Cut out a large pumpkin and make a list of all the things we can do with a pumpkin: make soup, roast the seeds, make pie, make a jack o'lantern, etc.
  • Plant a few pumpkin seeds.
  • Roast the remaining pumpkin seeds.
  • Talk about the behavior of the animal friends in the book: What happens when everyone does their job? What happens when people don't do their jobs? Why is teamwork important?
  • Plan a classroom activity that requires teamwork like making a classroom mural.
  • Learn the TeamWork Song from SongsForTeaching.Com.

Other Books by Helen Cooper:
The Boy Who Wouldn't Go to Bed (Picture Puffins)Delicious!A Pipkin of Pepper

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I've been out of the blogging loop for two whole weeks! Do you want to know what I've been up to? Here are my top 3 reasons excuses for not blogging:
1. I've been sick. Bronchitis made me feel like I was run over by a truck! Two visits to the doctor, two prescriptions, and two weeks later, I'm finally feeling better!

2. I planned a super cool baby shower for my favorite sister-in-law. She's the best so I wanted her shower to be awesome! The guest book was a copy of Goodnight Moon where guest wrote messages to mom and baby! Here are a few snapshots:

3. After a visit to a hand surgeon for pain in my hands and arms, I've been wearing a very fashionable (not really) arm brace that makes typing a bit challenging.

And now...I'm back. Bronchitis is gone, baby shower is over, and the arm brace...well, now I only have to wear it at night. So I have a lot of blogging to do in the next few weeks -  I'm finishing up the "boys and books" series with two more articles later this week. I have some giveaways to post and new books to review. I'm glad to be back in the blogging world!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teacher Tip: Keep the Germs Away...when you can

I still have two more posts to write in my "Boys and Books" series but I've been a bit under the weather. It's that time of year when cold and flu germs are just waiting to tackle innocent bystanders. They are lurking on door knobs, key pads, telephones, pencils, computer key boards, urghh...just everywhere.

So this week, I turn to YOU for teacher tips! How do you reduce the spread of cold and flu germs in your child care center/school/classroom?

There is no fool-proof answer, but here are some of the things I've seen:
  • Bleach water solution, when MADE and USED properly, can be sprayed on eating areas, toys, door knobs, etc.
  • In infant programs, have a laundry basket placed out of reach of the children. As children put things in their mouths, as soon as they are done, put them in the basket to be sanitized before another baby picks it up.
  • Have a mid-day sanitation schedule. Rather than waiting until the end of the day, assign someone to clean and sanitize toilet seats, toilet handles, door knobs, telephone receivers, and other areas.
  • Refer to, post, and follow NAEYC's cleaning and sanitation frequency chart.
  • Do you serve food family style? Make sure that there is a teacher supervising until children learn not to dip their own spoon into the community bowls! I used to purchase serving utensils that were glaringly different (ex: red, or some other bright color) than the typical utensils to help children remember.
  • Teach children (and some adults) to sneeze and cough into their elbows, not their hands!
  • Of course, teach proper hand-washing procedures to children and adults.
So, what are your tips for reducing germs in the child care / early childhood environment?

Other Posts:
Germs Make Me...and You...Sick
Should Child Care Employees Be Required to Get the Flu Shot?

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