While working with Kindergarten children, I noticed that they crash and bump into one another often. I would see them running at full speed, intent on their goal and not paying attention to the friends around them. Heads bang and, after a few seconds of stunned silence, the cries begin. Bumps require a trip to the office for the small baggie filled with ice. Soothing words and the comfort of ice pressed against the bump are enough to stop the sobs. Five minutes later the injured parties are up and running again. And still not paying attention to their surroundings.
One of the expectations of the course that I followed was to create a unit for the class I am currently teaching. I decided to do an inquiry on structures and, in order to understand how structures are formed, the children needed to understand that structures are created using shapes. The best way for them to learn the range of shapes that exist is for them to play games and do activities.
At centres, the children did the following:
Bingo: I asked them repeat the name of the shape after I had called it out (they were learning the French vocabulary at the same time as learning the name of the shape).
Tangrams: Using the cards in front of them, they created designs using shapes.
Matching: The children matched colours with shapes.
Lacing: In order to improve fine-motor skills, the children laced a range of two -dimensional shapes.
Memory game: I asked the children to call out the name of the shape on the cards they turned over. In this way they practiced saying the name of the shape in French.
Creating booklets: Children created their own shape booklet using pictures they had cut out from magazines. The pictures they chose represented the shape they were showing on the page of their book.
The children enjoyed the activities at the various centers – and they enjoyed playing the games for a few weeks. They learned the shape vocabulary quickly and were easily able to move onto the next step of the inquiry.
What does one do when it is too cold to take the children out but the snow beckons? Bring the snow into the classroom!
The water table in our classroom has looked a little different for the last couple of weeks. Children have been molding and constructing with the snow we have brought in once the morning routine has been completed. Creativity has abounded with the cold, white medium.
Some children have experimented with colours and splashed them on the pristine snow to make the water table look even more different.
What would you do if you had the opportunity to play at the snow table?
When Fall begins in Toronto, the pumpkins begin to show. I like the look of the small decorative pumpkins and I knew my students would as well. I bought a few at the grocery store with the intention of doing some sort of activity with them.
I decided to introduce them to the concept of Still Life. I showed them some of the paintings created by the Masters, and some that had been created by modern artists. I then asked them to create their own Still Life of the pumpkins using the medium of coloured pencils.
After this exercise, I helped the children to create the Success Criteria for the next part of the activity. These are the criteria that they came up with after looking at the gallery of drawings:
I colour in between the lines.
I use sharpened pencils.
I am satisfied with my drawing.
I take my time.
I do not scribble.
I use different colours.
The next step in the Still Life activity was for the children to re-create their own Still Life using the medium of oil pastels. An improvement was seen in the drawings as the children focused on the criteria that would make their work successful.
Once their work was done, I had an one-on-one consultation with each child to discuss their success with the task. The children took note of two of the things they done successfully – and one thing they could do to improve the product of their work. I scribed for them and pasted the result of our discussion at the back of their work for their parents to read.
Then the real fun began: the painting of their Still Life.
The result is an array of beautiful, well thought out paintings that the children are proud of.
The bulletin board outside my classroom now shows the children’s progress through the Still Life activity. Some examples of student’s work is displayed for the parents to look at.
The completed works of art will be placed in each child’s portfolio which will be sent home at the end of the year for both the children and parents to admire for many years.
Last week my class finished their project (the post on the activities can be found here). The creative artwork was set up on the room door and on the bulletin board outside of the room. We have managed to create a festive scene in the hallway – a scene that all the members of the class are proud of.
I love the tree made up of all the students’ hand prints. Some children created tree decorations while others drew some presents to put underneath the tree.
The chimney stands tall, waiting for Santa to come by. Stockings, presents and Christmas decorations bring added cheer to the mantelpiece.
The artwork is not perfect: fabric is not cut perfectly straight, lines are not drawn exactly as is seen in reality, colouring does not fill in all the white spaces. And yet all the small imperfections are barely noticed when one admires the creativity of 5 year olds.
Do you enjoy looking at the imperfect art of children?
Something is afoot in room 7. Fabric strips are out, craft glue is readily available, and crayons litter the tables. Small hands are eagerly colouring Christmas balls, cutting strips of fabric and painting hands.
Teachers are busy too: gluing, cutting and organising.
The students are working hard on their secret project. Once the work has been completed and has been displayed, I will show you the result of all the current activity.
My class is currently exploring the body: what can it do, what does it look like inside and out, the five senses. At the moment the science table has some bones on it to look at, a skeleton to examine, and a few books on the skeleton and body to read. As part of the exploration, the students did their own portraits of a skeleton using cotton buds and some glue.
I always enjoy looking at the interpretations created by the students. Some can be quite creative.
In my classroom, we have set up a Science center where we leave magnifying glasses, objects for the children to look at, and a few books for them to read. Clipboards and writing utensils are left at the table as well so that observations can be drawn and recorded.
Once the children have completed their observations, I speak with them and ask them what they have recorded. I write down what they say as they are explaining their thoughts to me. The sheet of paper is then placed in their portfolio to be referred to when I write their report card – and also for the parents to see that they are learning and exploring in their kindergarten class.
I have a student ECE working with me in my room at the moment doing her practice. A couple of days ago she planned an activity to do with the interested children in the class: she wished to create a panel depicting a forest of trees. She laid out a large strip of paper in the corridor and invited those who were interested to come and create. They were to use markers to draw the trees – and anything else that came to their mind. Craft glue was provided so that they could glue onto the trees the leaves that had been gathered outside.
The children got to work creating their forest. Imaginations soared as flowers and birds were represented among the Fall trees. As usual, chatter occurred while the student ECE encouraged them in their endeavors. The resulting trees were reminiscent of those that are currently outside, brilliant in colour and variety. The panels are now posted in the corridors outside of the classroom for children to admire as they walk past. These panels will be a reminder to the class that the season we are currently experiencing is Autumn, and that one of the signs of the season is the changing colours of the leaves.
Children enjoy creating and many in my class enjoyed the experience of using dried leaves as one of the available materials.
Each year in my classes, we create our self portraits. I try to find different ways to present them and to make it interesting for the children to do. I create one of myself as an example for my students to see. In doing the example, I also see whether the idea would work.
This year I cut the boxes from the IKEA furniture into rectangles. I asked the children to paint their rectangle using tempura paint. The rectangles then became the background for their portrait. Choosing their favourite colour, they drew themselves on a piece of white paper which I then glued onto the piece of cardboard they had painted. Once I had glued on the photo I had taken and printed of them, I asked them to write their name on the final product in black marker.
These portraits are currently hanging on the wall outside of the classroom. When I take them down, they will be glued onto the binder containing their portfolio. These portraits are a representation of how the children are drawing and writing at the beginning of senior kindergarten year – and hopefully they will become a childhood memento.