Karen Willingham, 3-year-olds teacher at Small World, provided a cooperative learning experience for her children. The young girl in the photo was not the only one at the desk cutting (although we did not capture both in the picture). She was assisting a classmate with her fine motor scissor skills. They worked together, cooperative learning. This is a great example of a way to provide an opportunity for students to develop their fine motor control with scissors while helping each other. The teacher prepared paper with cutting lines and left them in the cutting center for the students to work with during center time. Instruction in how to use the paper and scissors was done prior to this activity, but the students operated without direct teacher assistance. Karen also had an interesting snowman activity on display in her windows. The children decorated their hanging snowmen and added artistic designs with crayon.
Ms. Nikki, 4’s teacher at Children’s Corner, took old DVD cases with plastic covers and inserted white paper inside the plastic part. Using dry-erase markers, children could draw on the plastic cover, made visible by the white paper background, and then they displayed their art by opening and standing the video covers on a shelf.
October Honorable Mentions
Ms. Zula used liquid Tempera to make small (half-dollar sized) dots of paint on a foam plate.She used yellow, orange, brown, green, and blue colors.As each student placed a hand in the paint, she stamped a print on white card stock paper.Then she turned the plate slightly before the next student used the paint plate so that each print would look different.After all the prints were finished and dry, she cut them out in a leaf shape and drew the leaf veins on with a marker.After the leaves were complete, it was easy to make a tree trunk and scarecrow.
If you are looking for an easy mobile idea incorporating natural elements, this is a great choice.It would work for any age child’s room.The pinecones are tied with monofilament line and hung along with a small branch from the ceiling tile.
Ms. Zula used a prop she made from a milk carton to tell the 3-Pigs story. She told the story from memory, not a book, and used the prop to demonstrate the different materials the pigs used to build their houses.A chimney on top of the house demonstrated how the wolf tried to reach the pigs but was tricked when he hit the hot water heating over the fire, he popped back up the chimney and ran away.
A large flannel wall and a variety of flannel cut-out pieces give these two children the license to be creative.Recently, Nikki, after attending a state conference on early childhood education came back with this idea to share.
Little Lambs II The Infant/Toddler class at Little Lambs on Reelfoot Avenue has a plexiglass dividing wall between their rooms. Teachers made good use of the environment by allowing babies to finger paint on both sides of the wall. Other than being a sensory experience, the babies seemed to enjoy the colors smeared across the surface. Notice the teachers were prepared with wet wipes for a quick clean-up of baby hands. A quick clean-up of the wall led to a second activity using the wet plexiglass and silk fall leaves. They sprayed water on the surface and the silk leaves stuck to the surface. The teacher sprinkled silk leaves from above and the babies watched them drift down and picked them up using a pincer grasp (great fine motor activity). Just playing with the leaves was gratifying but sticking them on the wet surface made this activity so much fun. Both activities were well thought out, with pre-planning (the supplies were readily available), however, they also had a spontaneous element. The teachers were able to move from one activity to another with ease as the children lost interest. The emphasis was on the process not the product. The activity also encouraged the teachers to interact with the babies and toddlers using a variety of new words and teachable moments.
September Honorable Mentions
Kare Bear – Ms. Cathy and Ms. Lyn Unit: Ocean, Sand, Sea Animal Sand Castle – 3D Art Project While working on the Ocean, Sand, and Sea Animal Unit, the class read the book It’s Sandcastle Building Day by Shirley Castroe. Children thought it would be cool to build a castle that wouldn’t wash away. Ms. Lyn found a recipe for sand that would harden. After looking at pictures, making castle pictures out of paper, and discussing the designs, they were ready to build. They began with the main structure using cool whip bowls and measuring cups for the molds. Spraying the molds with cooking spray made the removal easier when the mold was dumped out. Children worked as a team to form the walls and towers. They concluded the multi-day project by having a team meeting to name the castle and produce a castle flag. They charted the possible names and accompanying votes. They chose the French name Chateau de Coquille (Shell Castle). Ms. Lyn speaks French and the children liked the way the name sounded exotic.
Sand Recipe: 1 cup sand ½ cup corn starch 1 tsp. alum Water Cook in an electric skillet dedicated to non-edible art projects!
August Honorable Mentions
July Honorable Mentions
Water play is always fun and the perfect sensory activity on a hot summer day.Inside or outside, water play has many advantages for learning.Mr. Malik is using a water table constructed of PVC pipe (very inexpensive) and a plastic storage container.The nice part about this design is that the lid can be placed over the water when water play time is over, and you can lift it out of the holder and dump the water when you have time.This table is sized for a small area allowing only 2 children access at a time, a good number.Adding bubbles to the water brings an additional element to the play and of course adding a water wheel and measuring toys makes for more fun.
Group times with babies and toddlers is challenging at the best of times.Amy makes it look easy.She is using a familiar song and keeping children involved by using laminated pictures of the different animals.She passes the animals out allowing the children to hold them as they sing the song.As each animal is mentioned she points to the picture.This method helped her keep a lively bunch of babies attending to the song.Notice the song goes on even when babies wander away.At this age you cannot force attention, but it can be encouraged by giving children something to hold.One reason this music time worked was the assistant sat on the floor with the group and assisted with the younger babies.Great team work!
Ms. Cathy H. from Kare Bear Repeating a Pattern
Ms. Cathy H., working with 4’s class, works individually with children during center play time to chart their skill level.She is documenting the skills each child needs help with in the coming months.Then she will make lesson plans that target the skills needed.
June Honorable Mentions
Ms. Anna, Educational Assistant from Children's Corner The Tattle Phone
Children in Ms. Anna's class are able to use a "Tattle Phone" to call to tattle on a friend. This activity shows preparedness and pre-planning on the teacher's part. This phone can be used in many ways to encourage purposeful conversations in order to develop vocabulary and language. It is also a great tool for a creative way for behavior management.
Ms. Sherry from Little Lamb's 2 Imagination Block Play
Play time is one of the most important times during the day. Research has shown how valuable child directed play can be. The children in Ms. Sherry's classroom are giving ample time to create, develop and explore during center play. The children in the block center are using good character traits by using manners and making good decisions. This activity is not only fun but it is also using vocabulary, language, and social skills during playtime.
May Honorable Mentions
Ms. Mackenzie from Kare Bear Edible Art
Ms. Mackenzie used rice cereal, water and food coloring to turn art time into yummy time. Mackenzie had one on one time with each child while they designed an edible masterpiece.
April Honorable Mentions
Ms. Morgan from Children's Corner
"How Do You Feel"
Ms. Tammy from Small World "Group Art"
Ms. Catherine from Pumpkin Patch
Ms. Nikki from Children's Corner "Planting Seeds"
March Winner Ms. Mackenzie from Kare Bear Water Play with Babies
March Honorable Mentions
February Winner Ms. Copeland from First Friends Scissor Skills
Kelly Copeland is encouraging children to develop their scissor skills one child at a time. She has scissors and scrap paper available in the art center. Children derive great satisfaction from cutting paper into small pieces. When a child wants to cut paper, a tray is provided to catch the snips of paper. In the video, when the Child finished, he realized his cutting did not make it onto the tray provided, so he proceeded to pick-up each snippet of paper and move it to the tray – another great fine-motor skill.
Feburary Honorable Mentions
January Winner Ms. Heather from Little Lambs 2 Baking Cookies
Ms. Heather’s class not only enjoyed cookies, but they developed an entire lesson around the theme. First, a professional baker visited the class. This was followed by the children helping with the mixing of a batch of cookies. As you can see, they poured, measured, mixed, and gave the cookies to the baker to cook. Then the teacher prepared a sequencing strip to mount on the wall with pictures showing the different steps used in preparing the cookies. Last, but most importantly, it was time to enjoy the fruit of their labor; they ate the cookies.
January Honorable Mentions
Ms. Kim at Children's Corner plans and presents a chapel lesson for the whole center (2-5 year olds) every day. She was well prepared using special voices and acting out parts of the story to help children understand. A memory verse was practiced and at the end, she used questions to check for comprehension and understanding. They finished up the brief lesson by singing a song that related to the message of the story.
One of the most important things we can do as teachers is encourage literacy and reading skills while developing a bond with a child. Ms. Lanzer a substitute teacher at First Friends is taking the time to sit with two children on her lap while they look at a picture book. As the child points to pictures in the book, the teacher is giving the child words for the animals pointed out, helping the children expand their vocabulary.