Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I am not sure where all the pre-schoolers were this week.
Fortunately, we did have a few guest architects and construction workers who have been helping us build the palace in Shushan.
We have also been visited by a clown, Mordechai, Queen Esther, King Achashverosh, and unfortunately Haman.

As we listen to Morah Tzive tell us the story of brave and kind Queen Esther and Rabbi Mordechai, we are creating our own megillah.

We have had many puppet theatre troupes in class this week, sharing the Purim story and Queen Esther's heroism.

Morah Katie: Tell me what you know about Purim.
Dena: Haman is the bad guy.
Noah: There is a hero.
Morah Katie: Who is the hero?
Tori: Queen Esther!
Morah Katie: Are there any other people in the story?
Levi: King Achashverosh.
Dena: He is a silly king, he doesn't use his mind.

Sand castles were built at play time and who can refuse...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our classroom is one that provides plenty of choices for the children.
At times, those choices can create interesting situations.
We use natural and logical consequences in the classroom.
Natural consequences are simple and can be very effective in the learning process.
If we choose to rock in our chair, to tip it back far as we can go, there is a high likelihood of falling backward. We don't need to describe to the child what happened, they experienced it.
Logical consequences are meant to help children learn for the future, instead of paying for the past.
There is a formula: opportunity=responsibility=consequence
The opportunity may be sitting in the ocean room looking at the new books.
The responsibility is looking at the books gently with calm hands.
The consequence is the freedom to sit and enjoy the books as long as one would like.
Likewise, if the opportunity to look at the books is not met with calm hands, but kicking feet,
the consequence is no longer being able to look at books in the ocean room, instead perhaps looking at one book at a table, or choosing a more active activity.
Logical consequences are learning opportunities. We can ask 'what" and "how" questions to help the child see the consequences of their choice, and what they can do differently next time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our orange mitzvah tree continues to grow with all the sweet kind things we do each day.
We have 50! oranges on it!
We made fresh squeezed orange juice to remind us of the sweetness of oranges and to inspire us to do sweet good deeds.

Sharks are fish! (and they share a sound!)
Morah Katie: Sharks are fish. Tell me something you know about sharks.
Dena: They hunt.
Kian: They have big teeth.
Levi: They eat other fish.
Morah Katie: All living things need oxygen, how do we get our oxygen?
Ben: Breathing.
Morah Katie: How do fish, like sharks, get the oxygen they need to live?
Ben: From the water.
Morah Katie: Sharks, and all fish, need to keep moving, swimming, so water passes through their gills. Can you see the gills on our goldfish?
Dena: They are moving.
Ben: They are like flaps.
Morah Katie: If sharks and fish need to keep swimming to get oxygen, do they sleep?
Levi: No.
Morah Katie: They do not sleep!

Morah Katie: Do sharks have hands?
Levi: No!
Morah Katie: How do they catch their food then?
Noah: They use their teeth!
Morah Katie: How many rows of teeth do we have?
Ben: 1
Morah Katie: Sharks can have between 5-15 rows of teeth. As they lose teeth in the front row, the next row moves forward and takes its place!

We may not want to be real sharks, but it has been fun to pretend to be sharks this week.
The classroom was taken over by sharks hunting for color fish.
And sharks were swimming in the Gan Ocean, searching for food, and never sleeping.

A note on language arts development in our classroom.
Children absorb language. A prepared classroom fuels this absorption.
Vocabulary empowers children.
Naming things in the child's environment allows for active participation.
As teachers, we follow the child's interests, provide the child with vocabulary,and ample time for repetition of the vocabulary and skill development.

Morning meetings provide an opportunity for developing the child's oral language development. It is a conversation about the current day, and current topics and themes. We share what we know and learn new things through discussion and stories.
Morning Messages have been introduced and added to our morning meeting.
The morning message introduces the children to the writing process.
The children see that even though the word may have been said, I may still be writing the letters that create the word on the paper.
We document who the leader of the day is and ask him/her to share something about him/herself.
We write one thing we are learning about.
We search for the mystery letter, and if it is found in the message we circle it. If we do not find the mystery letter in the message we keep our eyes open and see where else in the classroom it may pop up to surprise us.
The morning message helps the children connect oral language and written language.
It demonstrates that even though we learn the letters one (or a few) at a time, they have a purpose.

A child's ability to distinguish the sounds of spoken words leads to success in learning to write and read.
We play with objects. This play provides vocabulary and a cause for conversation.
Rhyming helps isolate the ending sounds of words.
How are these things similar? They have the same ending sound! They rhyme!

Helping the child isolate the different sounds in a word/name will help them as they begin to build words.
Sandpaper letters allow the child to trace the shape of a letter and say it's sound.
Noah is reaching into a bag of objects, and sorting the objects by the beginning sound.
Once the child has a handful of sound/letter associations, we can begin to build simple words.
The movable alphabet allows the child to put the sounds/symbols together to build a word.
Regardless of where a child may be on the scale of mastering using a pencil (not even attempted, trying, quite good), they can identify the sound/symbols and use that skill to build words.
If there is interest and desire, the skill of word building will develop.
We have boxes filled with objects (frog, box, top, mop)
We choose a box and name the objects.
The child says the name of the first object.
The child listens to the first sound, identifies the letter symbol of the sound in their mind,
(do you see the letter in your mind? hold on to it,)
finds the letters in the movable alphabet box, and brings them back to their work area.
They do this for each sound, slowly building the word to be placed by its very real object.
If they choose to, the child can record it on paper.
One further step is to build words without objects or pictures.
As the child builds the word they are also reading. He creates the word, and then reads his creation.
The next step from building words is to read a word card and match it to an object/picture.
When a child builds a word they are encoding information.
Tori is familiar with the sounds she is about to decode.
She looks at each letter, blends the sounds together, reads the word and places the card by the object.
Yet, writing and reading goes beyond the 3 letter phonetic object or picture.
Ultimately we are helping the develop a form of self expression, and the skills for understanding the printed world around them.
Using a rhyming game, we can hear the relation of the words, and create "stories" that are silly and imaginative.

The child dictates the story to us, we write it down - word for word. We re-read the story to the author, pointing out the words "crazy wild letters" who "break the rules or become shy" when they are next to certain letters (aka sight words). We encourage the child not to get discouraged by these silly letter friends, but instead to remember that sometimes when friends get together things can get silly and wild.
As the children become familiar with these "sight words", they are easily recognized and read.

As a child's confidence grows, simple readers are introduced.
First, we look at the pictures and make guesses as to what we think the story will be about.
Then we begin to blend the letters we see in each word.
Soon, we are reading books.