This morning, a group of students spent a large chunk of their morning play time designing and implementing a classroom pet store. The students worked diligently to draw various pets that could be sold and decided together how much each pet should cost. It wasn’t long before they pulled out the cash register and started making money and credit cards that people could use to purchase the animals. The name of the pet store is still up for debate but lots of ideas were tossed around. The look of excitement was clearly present on each of their faces and we are anxious to see how this pet store will grow and prosper within the classroom.
Between the ages of 3-6, children spend large amounts of time honing their fine motor skills. As adults, we take controlling the tiny ballet of movement within our hands and wrists for granted. Children, developing from the trunk outward, have a much better grasp of motions involving their entire arm. This is why many young creators use both a fist grip and large sweeping motions either from their elbow or shoulder. Practice controlling these muscles is the only way provide growth. The funny thing is that children are built to learn this skill. They naturally seek out activities that hone their use of all the fine motor muscles. Below are some of the ways children choose to practice in our class.
Manipulating small toys.
The most recognizable one: choosing to color or draw as a fun past-time.
All of these activities are self chosen. Of course we incorporate many other opportunities for fine motor use throughout the day, but I find the ones they choose most interesting.
This morning’s weather proved to be little finicky as it rained on and off for over an hour but that didn’t deter our youngest explorers. We prepared ourselves with boots and raincoats and then embarked on the great outdoors to enjoy the unseasonably warm day. It wasn’t long before a student noticed a small worm making his way up the side of boulder. We theorized about how he was able to hang on to the rock without any arms or legs. We studied how his body would shrink and then stretch as he so effortlessly moved across the rock once he reached the top. Then, before we knew it, there were two worms crawling across the rock. One student proclaimed that there were so many worms out because it was raining and worms love water. The students took turns gently touching the worm and then squealing with joy. It always amazes me what wonderment can be found on what might seem like a dreary day.
Today in Art class, the students learned about the artist Michelangelo and his work. They read a story about his life and how he sculpted a number of very famous pieces that people travel all around the world to see. They also learned about when he painted the Sistine Chapel and how he had to paint laying down on scaffolding as he covered the entire ceiling with beautiful scenes from the heavens. It was great deal of hard work but the result was a masterpiece.
The pre-k got a chance to create some of their own masterpieces just like Michelangelo did so many years ago.
This week we carried our practice subitizing small sets a bit further. Given a set of four rocks, one child acted as the “teacher” and covered any number of rocks with their hand. The second child, “student”, then deduced how many were hidden. They used their knowledge of “four” and the visual clues showing how many were still uncovered. Subitizing and working memory united to build on the children’s growing understanding of sets.
Conflicts often arise when children play together. Each is a teachable moment. Although we could easily solve the issue for the children, we prefer to teach them how to find solutions on their own. Responsive Classroom, used here, is one of many programs that model conflict resolution in which the students are actively involved in the process.
Recently, playing “family” has been extremely popular with many of our students. The roles the children take vary from day-to-day and minute to minute. Conflict arises when two people either want to play the same part or one person wishes to control the entire story.
In the conversation below, two children were unhappy because they both wanted to play the same character role. Mrs. Forst invited them to talk . Before Mrs. Forst could begin working with our well-practiced conflict resolution strategy, a third child offered to help them on her own.
Susie: “I want to be the mom, but Henrietta says I can’t.”
Henrietta: “I want to be the mom.”
Georgette: “I know what they could do. Henrietta could be the mom first and then Susie can be the mom.”
Mrs. Forst: “Do you agree Susie?”
Georgette: “I know, they can both be the moms. There can be two moms.”
Mrs. Forst: “Do you both agree?”
Henrietta and Susie: “Yes!”
Mrs. Forst: “You solved your problem!”
Yesterday, we took a trip inside our blood to learn about it’s composition. We put our items in the middle of our circle and explained that each of these items represent something that lives in our blood. We started with the large container of yellow water, which we were pretending was our plasma. We explained that plasma is a watery like substance that makes up large portion of our blood. At first, some students were not sure how it could be in our blood because it was not red, which lead us to our second ingredient: red blood cells!
We then added our red blood cells (red water beads) to our blood mixture. The students noticed that the more we added the red blood cells, the more the mixture appeared to be red than yellow. Because of this observation, they concluded that our blood looks red because of red blood cells.
Next on the list were the white blood cells (white beads). We then discussed how our white blood cells are the “soldiers” of our bodies that are always working to keep us from getting sick and help your body get better when you do have a cold or the flu.
Lastly, we discussed how our blood needs platelets (blue pom-poms) because they help our bodies create new skin or scabs when your skin is cut. Each child scoured their bodies for an old boo boo that they could share with the class and naturally they all had an elaborate story to go along with them.
Now that our students have spent some time learning about the composition of our blood, it’s time to learn about how the blood moves throughout our bodies. Bring on the giant, tape, floor heart! Hint: here’s what it looked like last year!