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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Learning Centers Blog Hop Series: ART

Hello there!

Welcome to the continuation of the Learning Centers Blog Hop Series. 
This time we bring to you the Art Center.

 The art center in my classroom looks like a war zone a magical place where creativity and imagination meet! The art center is where my students feel free to create, experiment with lectures, colors, unconventional materials, recyclables, and many other available materials.
My favorite part of this learning center is the art wall. I purchased several picture frames at the local thrift store, sprayed paint them, screw them onto the wall and done! Each week we highlight different art work on our picture frames. This provoke children to be creative and have their work displayed on the wall!



Young children feel a sense accomplishment and satisfaction when they are involved in making art, whether they are modeling with play dough   drawing with crayons, pointing  or making a collage from recyclable materials. This feeling of satisfaction comes from the ability to make independent choices over the materials they use and the decisions they make in regards of what the child is creating. Through art, children develop a sense of self, they learn to identify themselves and what the look like. Children learn to appreciate others as well as identify physical similarities and differences among peers.

This is a great learning center to develop a sense of cause and effect. What would happen if I mix blue and yellow? What could happen if I place these craft sticks on top of the play dough?  Children take risks and explore the large range of possibilities available for them.

 The materials available in the art center have no limit. In m classroom I incorporate seasonal materials in the art center such as pinecones and leaves during the fall; plastic eggs and grass during spring; plastic ornaments, Christmas decorations and scented dough during winter.

Materials that we keep year long are: variety of markers, crayons, colored pencils, pastels, chalk and other writing tools, scissors, glue, a variety of tapes, papers whole punchers, water colors, paint, tempera and finger paint, recyclable items such as bottle caps, wine corks, small empty boxes (soap size), paper towel rolls, and tissue papers among other recyclables.


My role in this learning center is to provide my students with materials and create opportunities. The teacher must ask the correct questions to promote engagement and imagination. Questions like: Can you tell me about your work? How did you feel when you created this?  - can start a meaningful conversation, boost the child's self-esteem, and motivate to be creative. By providing traditional and unconventional materials that spark their imagination, and providing an inviting environment - children naturally will gravitate towards this leaning center and will explore at their own pace on their own terms.


Hop onto the next Art Center blog!




Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tips for Parent Involvement in Early Childhood & GIVEAWAY!!!

Hello there!

How many of you remember having your mom helping out at the school's bake sale? or being a chaperone at field trips? These memories were definitely unforgettable. Having parents involved at school is a wonderful feeling for children. It gives children a sense of security and its a self-confidence booster.
Researchers at the University of Oxford found that children whose parents participated in the Peers Early Education Partnership (a program geared towards supporting families of children ages 0-5) "made significantly greater progress in their learning than children whose parents did not participate." These strides where found in children ages 3-5, and included progress in vocabulary, language comprehension, understanding of books and print and number concepts. In addition, these children also exhibited higher self-esteem in comparison to children of non-participating parents (Evangelou & Sylva, 2003).
In early childhood, parent involvement is critical! 
In my classroom parent 
involvement looks like this:

special guest reader
reading to a small group of ELL students
share a special talent/expertise (like origami or painting)
work with a small group of students in a specific activity (letter and number identification)
name writing practice
playing simple games
organize social events
clerical duties: filing, copies, organize library books, assisting with computers
setting up centers
interactive notebooks set up
work on students portfolios
sharpen pencils and colored pencils
art projects
cleaning toys and materials

Have a plan! Have parent volunteers go to the classroom with a purpose. Have a specific task for them to do and a specific time frame. For example: cutting some laminating game pieces and file them in the games bin = 1.5 hours from 9:00-10:30 am.
Be organized! If your plan for today's volunteer is to work on your interactive notebooks, have everything organized for him/her including the tools needed for the job. This will maximize the volunteer's time while minimizing students' distractions when you'd look in all the drawers looking for the good adult-sized scissors.
Involve working parents with easy tasks for them to do at home. Working parents love to be involved as much as possible, but unfortunately the schedule doesn't allow much room. Offer tasks such as cutting, stapling, putting together foldables, etc.
Be grateful! Parents are the fuel that keeps everything running smoothly. Make them feel appreciate and make them feel that they belong! Just imagine your life without them :l


QR codes are a huge hit in my classroom. Once we read a story, do an activity, or introduce a specific skill - I create a QR code and display it on a bulletin board to engage parents in our learning process.
Parent involvement looks like a modern version of a bed-time story when parent and child cuddle up in bed with an iPad and continue enjoying an engaging learning activity.

Our PreK curriculum include many social stories of Clifford the Big Red Dog. My class have adopted them and they take them on wonderful adventures. The photo above is when I took Clifford on a beach adventure with my family. We had tons of fun that day.
Clifford and his friends will be going on many adventures this year.
Parent involvement looks like a family affair when connecting classroom learning with traditional family outings. It brings the family together and put into practice the social skills we are learning at school.

Parent involvement is key in education, especially in early childhood. Young learners will develop a deeper love for school and learning, as well lifelong habits for continued education. It also gives parents transparency in your classroom practices and enhances meaningful communication!


Enter the GIVEAWAY for the opportunity to win a $75 worth in Teaching Goodies- including Starbucks, a panda, and some Learning Genie swag!
Winner will be announced on Saturday!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Learning Centers Blog Hop Series

Hello there!

I am soon excited to bring to you this wonderful Learning Centers Blog Hop.

Every two weeks we'll be highlighting a preschool learning center and showing you real classrooms, real photos, and real learning centers from several preschool bloggers where hundreds of preschoolers have played, developed skills, and learn at.


We'll start with the most popular learning center in my classroom: the Blocks Center!





This is how the Blocks Learning Center looks like in my classroom. It is located in our circle time area. When we are not in circle time, they use the space to play with the blocks and let their imaginations fly.




The blocks area has a very significant importance in early childhood. This is where the children use their critical thinking to build and make predictions. What would happen if I place this blocks over here? What happens if I put the heavy blocks on top of my tower?


In this learning center, children also learn and practice what we teach in class about the classroom expectations. They learn how to be safe with blocks, friendly, and respectful towards others construction projects.









In this center we have three different types of blocks: wooden, foam, and window blocks. We also provide a variety of accessories to promote imagination and provide meaningful play. Animals, people, traffic signs, books, and transportation vehicles are available in the blocks center.


After all the imaginative and pretend play that happens here we must clean up. This shape-matching system was created to facilitate finding the correct place for the blocks. The children match the shapes and know that each block has its home.





My role in this center is to provide the materials they needed, as well unconventional materials to promote imagination. I encourage cooperatively play, problem solving in difficult situations, turn taking opportunities, and rich vocabulary development through the meaningful pretend play conversations that happen daily.









Tuesday, July 26, 2016

10 Differences Between Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten

I am extremely excited to bring you today Virginia "Ginger" Hartnett as my blog's guest writer. She has decades of early childhood experience as program director and coordinator. She is also an engaging professional development presenter and a fighter for the early educators' rights. She is currently the Early Education Program Specialist of the San Diego County Office of Education.

She shares her expertise in regards of Preschool and Transitional Kinder and what's the difference.

How do you explain “school readiness” to a parent? The uniqueness of each child is considered very little by the education system, which focuses on birthdays as a readiness indicator. When the teacher is confused by TK legislation, imagine how hard this is on the parents of the Class of 2030. Most parents don’t get a choice about which program their school district will place their child in, but at least we can help them know the differences between PreK and TK.


Age: turning 5 between September 1st and December 2nd are Transitional Kinder students. Preschool age students are turning 5 after December 2nd.

    Transitional Kinder is the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience. It is not “being held back”.

    The teacher in a TK classroom has a multiple subjects teaching credential, and any units of early childhood education are helpful but not mandated until August, 2020. The preschool teacher has anywhere from 12 units of ECE to a Master’s Degree in Child Development, depending on the preschool’s funding source.


     Both programs are meant to rely on the California Preschool Foundations and Curriculum Frameworks for planning developmentally appropriate instruction, TK will also use Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

    Preschools usually have a lower child to teacher ratio, which is determined by a licensing agency that monitors health and safety.

    Expectations for behavior: because TK students are a little older, they are expected to have a longer attention span, be able to regulate their emotional state, and be more independent.
   
     Language: all children are language learners at this age, still working on pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Preschools usually have a less academic approach, putting more emphasis on auditory, sensory, and visual cues. TKs usually have a more academic approach, focusing on language development through group literacy activities.
   
     Location: TK classrooms are located on elementary school campuses, typically near the Kindergarten. Preschools can be anywhere, depending on funding, but most publicly-funded programs are linked to school districts. Many preschools are faith-based and offered at religious facilities.

    Schedule: Both TK and PreK can be full- or half-day, it depends on the enrollment and funding. It is more likely though, that TK is about 6 hours and Prek is half-day or 3.5 hours. Both programs may have before- and after-school options.

     Professional development: both PreK and TK teachers have a 21 hour per year requirement to renew their CA credential/ permit. The TK teacher is usually included with the other elementary school staff during prep days, the PreK teacher usually has conference and workshop options targeting education for 3 to 5 year-olds.

After all of this information, I think you'd be ready to explain school readiness to a parent!

You may contact Virginia Hartnett if you have any early childhood questions.

Keep learning!