As the interest in keys has begun to wane, we felt that it was time to dive into a new subject. Marie and I spent several days observing the students’ play but were unable to come up with any major themes that we could use for a study. So, we decided to just ask them, “What do you want to learn about next?”. Each child came up with an idea for our morning message and then we took a vote. Then we took the subjects with the most tallies and voted again. This gives students a chance to narrow down their choices and focus on a smaller number of subjects. There were so many great ideas it was hard to choose just one!
Although it was a close vote, we have chosen jewelry and glass as our next topic! So far, the children have decided that all jewelry is made from glass and that you have to be careful with it because if it falls off a cliff it will break. We are excited to see where this topic will take us!
Our students came up with many name suggestions for our new friend and then voted on them during morning meeting. The name “Lucy” received the most votes and our friend was welcomed into our classroom. The students have taken to showing her around the classroom, making her snacks (pretend of course), and asking if she could join them in Library class. We are excited to see what other kind of adventures Lucy will go on next!
Our play officially has a name! After some brainstorming, and careful consideration, the students unanimously voted for…”What do toys do at night?”. Now that we have settled on a name, it’s time to get working on our costumes and set. The fun is just beginning!
Although our Halloween inspired classroom store has been open for over a week, it only just occurred to our students that the venue really should have a name. Following Pre-K tradition, an assortment of name ideas were collected on Monday’s Morning Message.
Voting for favorites in Pre-K can be kind of tricky. Often, they’ll vote multiple times and not necessarily for their own favorites. Naturally, this activity lends itself to modeling and practicing. We suggest that the children sit quietly for a moment as they listen to the list of choices. We offer, “Tell yourself in your mind, like talking inside your head, which store name you like the most. Keep it there in your brain so you will be ready to vote for your favorite.”
(One of our goals here is to explicitly model and practice consciously using an inner voice to process a decision. This is not something four and five-year-olds regularly do.)
Next, we give each child one small stone. This stone represents their vote. Since each child has only one, the system helps the children visualize and physically practice the one-to-one correspondence inherent in voting. The list of options is read aloud one last time and each child turns in their rock to cast their preference. The students count each option’s results as they are collected. We also model and provide guided practice with the one-to-one correspondence involved in counting the votes. Sometimes, we purposefully slow down or pause counting to model what happens when we don’t assign one number to every object. At first, children typically keep reciting the counting numbers regardless of the number of objects present. After much practice, though, they are keen to our trickery and pause their counting right along with us.
Tallies are used on the original list. We choose to use traditional, basic tallies without the cross-over at five. This early in the year, we’d rather they noticed that each line represents one object instead of puzzling over why one line is crooked.
When all votes are collected an tallied, we have a final vote between the top two contenders.
As you can see, The Haunted Halloween Store held and obvious victory. Now, on to re-stocking the shelves!
A new skill that we have recently introduced is poll-taking. Technically, we have been using polls since the beginning of the year on our morning message. However, this time, the students were in-charge of reading the question and collecting the data! We discussed why we use polls, how to mark each vote, and how to read the results.
First, we used polls that were already designed with a question and a space to record answers. The children chose which question they wanted to ask, and then walked around the room polling each member of our class. After everyone was finished, we discussed which category had the most, least, and middle amount of votes.
Once they understood the main components of a poll, we were able to move on to creating a poll from scratch. Would they want their poll to be a “yes or no” or multiple choice question? Would they use tally marks or color in the square for each vote? Each child was given a blank grid and instructed to write down all the components of their question. When their poll was finally completed, it was time to vote! In the poll below, this child asked her classmates if they liked milk, juice, or chocolate milk the best.
This activity helps students practice their math skills including graphing, data collection, and reading the results of a graph. The students also practiced sounding out words, using their “kid writing”, and using perspective taking. During this age, children can have difficulty understanding that other people may feel differently than they do. The child taking the poll might really like juice the best, and may be surprised when more people vote for milk. Taking polls can show children that it is okay for people to feel differently about various topics.