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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The three R's? Recycle, Renew, Reuse

In these hard economic times most people are busy budgeting and cutting back. There's more talk of recycling and reusing what you already have. For most teachers this is not a new concept. It is a must. Here are some of the ways I recently use and reuse items in my classroom.

Trees aren't just for Christmas anymore. This year my class had such a fun time putting up our Christmas tree I pulled it out and we decorated it for Valentines.

Our tree was intended to have hearts with the names of all the people we love on them. Unfortunately, we never go around to it. It's hard to see in the picture but the kids and I stuck glittery hearts on the ends of the branches. Then they took a red streamer and wrapped it around the tree. Later, we added red tinsel that was for Valentines decoration and these Christmas bulbs I just happened to have from a Wal-Mart clearance shelf. I updated these by adding a red sticker to each bulb.

After our Valentines theme and Celebration was over I took our streamers down and we used them for dancing then later to fly as kites since it was windy outside.

So what neat ideas have you come up lately to use the three R's? Challenge yourself this month to update and reuse items from a previous lesson.

Keeping Straight

Since our Center is new, most of my kids are new as well. Not just new to the facility but new to being in a preschool. This can make it challenging to learn some of the basic skills more experienced pre-schoolers already know, such as standing in a line (while keeping your hands to yourself). Here’s a neat trick I learned in school to help keep it straight. First, I cut out a shape usually related to our theme. This month I chose cars since we were working on transportation. Then, I used the colors and numbers I wanted to focus on. Next, I printed a number on each car and used clear contact paper to stick them in a line on the floor in front of the sink. While I’m monitoring their hand washing, I ask what color car they’re standing on. I ask what number they’re standing on and so on. They’re so excited to be on a number or change numbers they forget to touch each other. I constantly praise them on a beautiful line and in no time we can stand in line without the help of our aids. Although, I’ll still use them to teach other concepts.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ready, Set, Swing

A few weeks ago I was overjoyed when one of my students began to swing on his own. Honestly, I’m not the “pushing” teacher. I’d much rather play tag than to stand behind a swing and push for an hour. I’m also convinced they’ll never want to learn if I’m there pushing anyway. That goes for bike riding as well (but that’s for another post on another day).

While swinging along side my star pupil I was reminded of how his determination for swinging began. For the next few weeks I noticed a distinct pattern in which children go from tummy swinging to full on pumping on their own. Here are my fabulous finds. See if you’ve noticed this similar pattern.

Step 1: First, the child will attempt to sit in the swing. If they can sit in the swing they
quickly notice there is not motion besides sitting and either leaves or moves to
step 2.

Step 2: The child lies their tummy on the swing and attempts to swing back and forth.

Step 3: After there is little motion with tummy swinging; the child learn to run just enough
cause a constant motion and with legs bent upward will have an enjoyable
swinging experience for some time.

Step 4: Once the child has mastered tummy swinging or their legs are too long to
accommodate tummy swinging the child will move on to again getting into the
swing. They will again look for someone to push for them.

Step 5: The child in step 5 understands there is a concept to swinging and will wildly
swing his/her legs back and forward realizing this does create some kind of
motion, but still barely moving enough to be satisfied.

Step 6: This step usually takes some prompting from an adult. I usually say the words,
“legs forward”, and “back”. “Go forward” Now “go back”. This is quite funny since
they tend to get confused as to when the legs should be going forward and

Step 7: This child understands their own body movement is creating the swinging
motion. He/She has the mechanics down and is moving in a constant motion.

Step 8: The Professional Swinging Student has mastered all the above steps and is now
legs forward leaning back, and legs bent with his/her back arch to make the
swing go higher.

Note: This is not the rule for smaller preschoolers. I will bend my non-pushing rule for toddlers but by
four I only give small pushes for those attempting to swing on their own. And in
this case I’m constantly repeating...”forward and back” with lots of cheers and

Now go out and swing today!