When the winter months start to roll around, there are often days at a time when the students are stuck inside due to the extremely cold temperatures. Wiggly bodies and pent up energy can be difficult to manage in our small classroom, but luckily we have a trick up our sleeves and it goes by the name of GoNoodle.com. Go Noodle is a website that provides hundreds of videos that gets kids exercising, practicing brain building activities, and even has a mindfulness section that helps bring students back to a calm, controlled state of being.
When signing up for our account, the class was assigned a little creature (named McPufferson) who grows and get stronger the more we complete the videos. The students relish in seeing “our guy” gain points and level up to become bigger and stronger with each video. In just a few weeks, our students have already memorized several of the silly songs, motions, and breathing exercises and often talk about them throughout the day.
The website has been a great resource for us to help fight off cabin fever and get our bodies moving. Anecdotally, I also have to admit that it has been a great way to get my heart pumping on those drab, wintery days. If you are interested in signing up at home, the sight is completely free and there is an option to sign up as a parent rather than a whole class. We highly recommend it!
With each new year, and new group of students, I’m always so fascinated to see what types of games the students create with one another. Sometimes it’s a classic game of tag or “cops and robbers” but more often it’s a game that they created from their own imaginations. This year, many of the students were interested in collecting seeds from around the nature playground. When asked why they were collecting the seeds, they responded that they were for the animals to eat at the animal restaurant.
Since that day, the children have been working diligently to create different confections for the animals to eat. Some children helped by gathering a variety of natural materials for the kitchen such as rain water, grass, sand from smashed rocks, wood chips, acorns, pine needles, dirt, rocks, and what they had decided are lemons (but are actually walnuts). Once the materials were gathered, they students took turns adding them to the concoction they were working on at the moment. Some days it has been a cake, other days it has been a stew or a salad.
As other children have been inspired to join in the fun, new animal kitchens have popped up around the nature playground as well. A new animal restaurant was created yesterday in what we refer to as the”mud kitchen”, except that this restaurant has a twist. The animals that eat the food from the mud kitchen gain special powers like rainbow powers and storm cloud powers. Animals that wish to dine in this restaurant can use their special power to ward off bad guys that they may encounter in the woods.
We are very excited to see where this game will take us in the following days or even weeks. Tomorrow we will be working on making signs for the restaurants. We will continue to observe the children working in their animal restaurants and hopefully we can find a way to turn this wonderfully imaginative play into a full-blown unit of study. We will keep you posted as the play progresses!
This week, our class started learning how to play a new game called Fish Stix. In the game, each player is given 3 sticks, each displays four pictures of various colored fish. The players must take turns matching fish by color and direction. When the child is able to make a match, a player counts the number of matching fish, and then moves their fish token that number of spaces on their scoreboard. The first person that gets all their fish to 10 wins!
This game is good for many age groups. Young students can play by the basic rules while older children can strategize about which move would make the most sense based on their scorecard or which moves will result in more than one match.
Looking for something to do indoors with your Pre-K darling? How about an old fashioned game of Go Fish. We’ve been playing this game a lot lately. Practice some laughs, sportsmanship, number recognition, self-regulation, logical thinking and quality time all in one swoop!
The newest game to hit the floor requires two children to use a bit of planning and grey matter. It is called Quattro and resembles the familiar game of Connect Four. The difference is that the pieces resemble sections of bamboo rather than checkers.
At least once per week we introduce a new Peaceable Kingdom game. These are cooperative games designed so the entire crowd wins together (or doesn’t.) These games encourage teamwork, sportsmanship, patience and strategizing. Last week we added Buzz! to our game room. It is more visually complicated than Hoot Owl Hoot in that there are many paths to follow. Each child has his or her own goals, but frequently help each other determine a quick path to their destination. The first group of students who played the game quickly caught on and wanted to teach others how to play.
This game was created without grown-up input. When they began inventing, each child had his or own game in mind. Soon, they realized that the resources were limited and four different games simply wouldn’t fit in the space. Discussions regarding rights to materials, who’s ball would roll first, the purpose of the props, and how to build the ramps flowed seamlessly between four engaged minds. A single game slowly began to emerge. The “aliens” (the hapless people standing in the middle of the blocks) were targets for balls rolling from three different vantage points. Each dropped in turn. The aliens had no hope of survival.
In Pre-K, we practice math skills on a daily basis. This could include anything from building with blocks, sorting buttons or sea shells, or playing strategy games such as checkers. Last week, we spent some time working on one to one correspondence or the ability to match one number to one item.
The students were given a game board with a picture of one astronaut in each square. They then were asked to roll a die and count the number of dots that appeared on the top. Using that number, the students placed a bingo dot on the correct number of astronauts while remembering that each astronaut can only have one dot. On their next turn, the students moved down a row and completed the same task. Once each row on their board was used, the students were asked which row had the most/least amount of dots.
Practicing one to one correspondence helps children solidify their ability to count a group of items. Each object must be matched with just one number. It is important that the student takes their time while touching/counting each object or they may end up with the incorrect number. This skill takes time and practice, but once it is mastered, the child can move on to more difficult math skills.
In our classroom, and in everyday life, math is all around us. Many people equate math with counting, numbers, and equations and although this is accurate information it can be expanded to include a variety of other activities as well. In the Pre-K room, we teach math most often through play. This includes anything from building with blocks, making patterns with beads, or playing in a simple game of checkers.
Checkers is a wonderful game that awakens a students ability to think critically, logically, and strategically. At first, the student needs a chance to play the basics of the game. This means only moving forward to a square that your piece is touching, what it means to “jump” someone, and how to become “Kinged”. After these basics are understood, the child begins to figure out how to position their pieces to be near their opponent’s, while also not setting up their own pieces for attack. Before you know it, the four year old is beating you 10-8 and the best response you can manage is to simply run away from their ambush.
Games like these give students the opportunity to use critical thinking and problem solving skills in real world instances. The more the child plays, the more their confidence grows. The best part is they end up having so much fun, they often don’t even realize they are learning!