26 November 2014

Today was windy, really windy which was making it hard to paint outside on our easels that reside on our lawn areas every preschool session. The paper was refusing to sit still enough to paint on so today I invited the children to paint onto the easels instead.


Easel printmaking: taking something ordinary and making it engaging! A simple invitation to paint on an easel and save your work by taking a print.


You could tell the children were excited to be told they could paint directly onto the easel. Their eyes just shone a little brighter at the idea of doing something different, that hadn't been done before and it warmed my heart and happy that I get to do this as my job - that I get to encourage a child to view something from their everyday in a new and interesting way. 

Printmaking is not new to the preschoolers I work with nor are the painting easels that have been available to them every day since the beginning of the year.  Printmaking is one of my favourite art techniques and something we have done similar several times - using tabletops under the verandah or onto large tiles or, only a few weeks ago, using alfoil on the tables as our canvas.


Easel printmaking: taking something ordinary and making it engaging! A simple invitation to paint on an easel and save your work by taking a print.

Easel printmaking: taking something ordinary and making it engaging! A simple invitation to paint on an easel and save your work by taking a print.

I've shown them how to make their own stamps from foam boards before that.


Easel printmaking: taking something ordinary and making it engaging! A simple invitation to paint on an easel and save your work by taking a print.

But the idea of printmaking on the easels was new and exciting and for that reason, oh so engaging.


Easel printmaking: taking something ordinary and making it engaging! A simple invitation to paint on an easel and save your work by taking a print.

I always find it interesting observing the difference in a child's art work depending on where it is created. A couple of years ago I made a version of these cardboard tabletop easels I'd seen on Teach Preschool and it's always intriguing the difference in the work completed at these easels compared to our free standing ones. There's always more detail in a child's work, they paint for longer and are often inspired by the others painting next to them at the same table.

Last summer I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Story in the Picture: Inquiry and Artmaking with Young Children and I am reminded again of this passage from it:



Free painting at an easel is also a solitary activity. While children need free time by themselves, they also need time to share and learn from their peers and teachers.  Learning through art can be a social activity.


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Watching the children paint onto the easels and make prints of their work became a very social activity with them each taking a interest in each other's work, commenting on it, experimenting by mixing colours and helping each other position the paper just so in the wind to capture the part of their painting they wanted to keep as a print.  

It was a great day at work.

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21 November 2014

Last term I was lucky enough to get a contract at a primary school based in the library teaching every grade from Reception (first year at school here in SA) to Year 7.  I also had access to a class-sized pod of iPads.  Imagine my delight too then after working as a travel agent for nearly ten years (in one of my former lives before teaching), I was also asked to teach Geography to some of the older students!

I've already written about Math Apps Your Kids will love, today I thought I'd share some of our favourite Geography and Science apps. These are all apps my own children have used and loved or they're ones I've used in class. 
Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children


Geography

Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

For younger children, the Barefoot World Atlas app is a beautiful introduction to our world. It offers an interactive 3D globe to explore with points of interest scattered around. You can also buy expansion packs to suit. We've added the Great Cities and World Art ones so far. You can zoom in and out and read or listen to information specific to each location. Such a amazing looking app as you would expect from the Barefoot group.


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

For teaching older children about location, I love the National Geographic World Atlas app.  


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

You can look at the planet from a distance or zoom in for a closer look.  Drop a pin and then a sliding tab appears giving you keep information about that location. 


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

As an aside, I've also found their Interactive Map Maker to be a fantastic resource for the Interactive Whiteboard for Geography discussions. You can add different layers like Climate and Rain or Lights at Night.




Mobile Montessori have some fantastic geography apps.  I particularly like their Animals of Africa, Animals of Asia and Animals of North America apps as they are a great resource to have on your iPad for Junior Primary or Elementary students beginning to learn how to research information but you really need to purchase the full app as you only see a handful of animals on the free versions.


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

There's just enough information to be interesting but not too much to confuse young children. Perfect for informative writing pieces.

Earth Science

Crossing over to the science of geography, my three have all enjoyed trying to solve the puzzles in Water Cycles. We live in one of the driest states in one of the driest country's in the world so I feel it is important for my children to know where our water comes from and how valuable a resource clean water is particularly as we are solely reliant on rainwater at our house.


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

To play, you need to move the tiles into the right positions to allow the water to move from the mountains to the towns and cities then treated before heading out to sea.

Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children


Physics

Our most favourite tinkering app would have to be Pettson's Inventions 2. We added this app to our iPad a couple of Christmases ago and it have both children and adults alike trying to 'make' the inventions work. There are 37 different inventions to make. Some require trial and error until you start to see how things fit together.


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

Other great apps exploring for young children exploring early physics principles would have to include Disney's Where's My Water? 2.  It's a fun game that all three of my kids keep returning to.  More recently we added Meet Science: Magnetism and Electricity which seems to be  the perfect blend between game and text book for older children.  It is a large app as it has loads of videos you can watch including some great experiments to try.

The Human Body 

For younger children, Toca Doctor HD is a fun way to begin exploring the human body. Toca Boca make some of the best kid's apps and this one is no exception. We started with the free version but quickly upgraded to the full version. Children can fix a broken leg, clean teeth, fix a stomach ache, 18 different games for pretend.


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

For slightly older children there's TinyBop's The Human Body app. You can layer the different systems and look at each one individually - skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, digestive and muscular systems. They provide a working model of our bodies - how an eye works, what happens for our food, how our skeletons support us. You can also purchase the reproductive system to add to the layers if you wish.


Kid Approved Geography and Science apps for young and older children

I'm still working on my list of useful Literacy apps - as you can imagine, it's going to be a long post. Don't want to miss that one? Well you can receive my posts by subscribing by email or keep in touch via social media.   


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07 November 2014

Working at preschool, I'm always looking for new songs to do at circle or large group time - finger plays, action songs, that get everyone moving all at the same time because movement helps children learn. It also helps get rid of those wriggles that set in when you sit there too long.


A collection of finger plays and action songs perfect for any early childhood classroom.


Some of our favourite finger plays this year include:

Five Cheeky Monkeys - start with five fingers pointing towards the floor, swinging

Five cheeky monkeys swinging in the tree (move your hand)
Teasing Mr Crocodile 'You can't catch me' (put both hands up to the sides of your head and shake)
But along comes the crocodile quiet as can be.... (extend your arms in front of you to make the crocodile)
And SNAP! (close your hands quickly)

Mmm... (rub your tummy) Monkey for tea!
Repeat until all the monkeys are gone or the last one can survive 'You missed me, you missed me!'


One Little Finger - start with just one finger extended

One little finger, one little finger, one little finger, tap tap tap (tap your two fingers together)
Point to the ceiling, point to the floor, point to the window and point to the door.
And put them in your lap. Boing boing boing (alternate bumping your fists together)
Repeat until five fingers are extended then change the last verse to clap instead of tap.

Five Little Ducks - start with five fingers in one hand, mother duck with the other

Five little ducks went out one day (move your hand)
Over the hills and far away (move your hand across your body tracing the shape of the hills)
Mother Duck said 'Quack, quack, quack'
But only four little ducks came back 
Repeat until all the ducks are gone then send Mother Duck after them.

Other classics like Open, Shut Them, Roly Poly, Up Up Up, Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes, 1,2,3,4,5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive and Everybody Do This are still well used. Sometimes we take an older favourite and give it more local meaning like Row, Row, Row Your Boat.  I live on the River Murray in Australia so one version we do goes like this:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the river.
If you see a giant yabbie,
Take him home for dinner.

And we've also introduced some newer songs like:


Five Umbrellas - hold up five fingers to start then put one down as each umbrella is taken. We also substitute children's names for Mum and Dad.

Five umbrellas, not one more
Dad took one then there were four.
Four umbrellas pretty as can be.
Sister took one, now there are three.
Three umbrellas, green, red and blue.
Mum took one, then there were two.
Two umbrellas that's all I see.
Brother took one and left one for me.

Dinosaur, Dinosaur - sung to Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.

Dinosaur, dinosaur turn around.
Dinosaur, dinosaur stomp the ground.
Dinosaur, dinosaur show your claws.
Dinosaur, dinosaur snap your jaws.
Dinosaur, dinosaur turn around.
Dinosaur, dinosaur sit back down.

Sometimes - start seated

Sometimes I am tall (stand up)
Sometimes I am small (semi-crouch)
Sometimes I am very, very tall (stand on your toes)
Sometimes I am very, very small (crouch lower and duck your head)
Sometimes tall (stand up with your arms raised)
Sometimes small (crouch down)
Sometimes neither tall or small (stand normally)

Tiny Turtle - start with one hand sitting on top of the other with both thumbs pointing out like fins

I have this tiny turtle (move your thumbs to make it swim)
His name is Tiny Tim
I put him in the bathtub (dive into the bath then swim some more)
To see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water (pretend to drink some water)
And ate up all the soap. (pretend to eat some soap)
Now he has a bubble in the middle of his throat! (touch your throat)
Bubble, bubble, bubble... POP!

Most of these work as plays or as small world play prompts which allow children opportunity to retell the story with their friends. I have these two Pam Schiller books that have plenty of other finger plays, tongue twisters and songs for children.


A collection of finger plays and action songs perfect for any early childhood classroom.

A collection of finger plays and action songs perfect for any early childhood classroom.


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I've also been on the hunt for some action songs for the students to do during their end of year concert as it's nearly the end of the school year here in Australia. Songs that aren't the Hokey Pokey or Alice the Camel as fun as they are. Here are some of our favourites so far:

Tooty Ta Song - a fun layered song to follow along to.



One Finger, One Thumb - very fast version but The Wiggles pull it off.  Warning though - this song will get stuck in your head.



Wombat Wobble would have to be my favourite (the video's not great quality but at least you can see the movements and how much fun the children are having).



My Name is Joe - another layered song where children have to add a movement each repeat.


Highway Number One - This clip, which must be someone's university class, is hilarious! With preschoolers, we start as a circle, start your car and walk around clockwise or anti-clockwise then stop at each city and complete the action before moving on.



Wash Your Face in Orange Juice - classic silliness from Peter Combe




The Alphabet Song.  Kids love the Storybots!  They also do some fun clips for each letter of the alphabet along with favourite nursery rhymes.  



Days of the Week - maybe it's because I watched the Addams Family as a child but I love this version of how to learn the days of the week.



The Skeleton Dance



Of course you could use these songs any time of the year.  They're the perfect way to ensure that everyone is up and moving!

Other posts you might find useful for creating a successful circle time:


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds Action Songs or 
Creating Circle Time
Tips for Circle Time from Teach Preschool

Pre-K's Circle Time suggestions

What are your favourite rhymes or songs for circle time?


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21 October 2014

You know how every now and then you see an idea that makes you stop and say 'I must do that'.  Well this post is about one of those moments.  My friend Rachel over at Racheous - Lovable Learning had shared a collection of rock provocations including this one from Creative Star Learning.  It was such a simple idea but I saw so many different ways these rocks with their hand drawn lines could be used by young children.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.



As with the original post, these rocks with lines will be perfect for exploring shapes. I've created rocks with straight lines, right angles as well as acute and obtuse angles to allow many different shapes to be made. 

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

To draw the lines I used a Liquid Chalk marker (you can buy a 4 pack of these Liquid Chalk Markers for only slightly more than I paid for one UniBall pen).  Alternatively this MEGA 10Pk of Chalk Markers is great value if you want other colours too.  I'm counting on the rocks being porous and then the lines will remain longer than if used on chalkboards.  If not, I can simply retrace them or use these Giotto Permanent Pens that I used to create our DIY Frozen peg people with.  I bought the rocks from the garden section of our local hardware store.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

I also created a number of rocks with curved lines and some with both curved and straight lines with the intention of using them to explore lines. I'm using them with the preschoolers I work with during our intentional teaching time this week to look at correct letter formation and start introducing the sort of language they will expect to hear next year when they start school.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

The largest school locally uses the WRAP for their school wide approach to literacy. I've completed the first 3 day WRAP training (or in the US it's more commonly referred to the Spalding method I believe) so I use this language when teaching formal handwriting lessons and believe the same language can be used here with pre-writers.  Balls and sticks are out, straight lines along with round and curved lines are used to make tall and short letters, those that sit on the baseline and those that go below.

When introducing them to the children I started with a selection of rocks with both straight lines, curved lines and the combination of curved and straight lines in front of us. What do we notice? 'They're different.' Can we sort them and how shall we sort them? 

A simply drawn venn diagram can help create a suitable framework for sorting the rocks or a pair of hula hoops would work just as well.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

I then gave each child a lower-case letter and we discussed what we could see. Could we see straight lines? Curved lines? Or a little of each?

Can we sort them like we sorted our rocks? Yes, we can.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

I also tried the same exercise at home with my five year old and numbers thinking it can be used to explore number the same way.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.

How else would you use these rocks?

Exploring lines: using hand drawn lines on rocks for play. Challenging pre-writers to distinguish between straight and curved lines to help build their understanding of shape and help establish correct letter and number formation later. Visit http://youclevermonkey.com for more.


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