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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Seven on Saturday (Debut)

Happy weekend friends!

I have decided to add a new segment to my blog entitled Seven on Saturday. Every Saturday, I hope to post seven facts, activities or ideas on a wide variety of topics.
For my first, Seven on Saturday I thought it might be nice for you (the readers) to learn some interesting facts about me. So, without further ado here is my debut Seven on Saturday post!

1. I currently work at the same preschool that I attended as a student back in the early 80's.
2. I have my bartending license! Which comes in very handy after a long work week! haha ; )
3. I love kayaking, boating and basically anything on the water but...I get motion sickness every single time regardless of anything I do to try and prevent it. However, I won't let that stop me! haha : )

4. I met my boyfriend and now soon to be husband on World of Warcraft. Yea...that's a video game! Talk about fate! : )

5. I was the queen of extracurricular activities as a student. I was involved in dance (tap, ballet, jazz and lyrical), baton twirling (all events), 4-H, cross country, indoor track, intramural volleyball, peer leaders, stick fighting, orchestra and pep band where I played two instruments (clarinet & bassoon) and anything else I could get involved in!
Seriously, how cute was I as a 4 year old? : )
6. I have traveled out of the US to Canada, Ireland and England and I hope to see many more countries in my lifetime.
7. I am a pretty awesome baker (especially when it comes to cookies) and I swear if I wasn't a teacher I would probably be a pastry chef. 
Thanks so much for reading my first ever Seven on Saturday! There is plenty more where this came from! Next week's SoS will be about my favorite week of the summer...Shark Week! It will host my seven favorite shark activities and lessons for young learners! Thanks for stopping by! : )

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Math Website Reviews

       I'll be honest, I'm not usually a big fan of computers in the early childhood classroom. I think that this is due to the fact that I believe it to take away from the social interactions that children so desperately need at such a young age. However, I understand that we live in a technology driven world and I do want to prepare the children for the future. With that in mind, I have been looking into various websites for children that promote early childhood math skills. Here are 3 websites that I have found to be helpful and how I would use them in my classroom.

The first website which I decided to evaluate was Illuminations. I found this to be a very user friendly website with a wealth of lessons and activities to use in the pre-k to 2nd grade classroom. When you first go to the website you are prompted to choose activities, lessons, standards or web links. I found the best way to use this site was to click on activities and then pre-k to 2. My favorite activity was the patch tool, where you can use virtual tangrams to make a variety of shapes and pictures such as boats or animals. I would use this activity in my classroom after having the students use real tangrams to build with. Once the students become familiar with this idea I would then introduce them to this website. I would first explicitly show them how to use this website in a group setting and then I would have the students work in pairs at the computer to use that particular activity. The goal would be to use this in a geometry lesson to teach about how to put various shapes together to make something new. I think this would then enhance their understanding of these shapes even further by looking at it in a new light using technology. The Mass frameworks which would be covered under this activity from this website would be K.G.2 Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size and K.G.6 Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. I think this website could be a great learning tool to use in conjunction with the hands on learning of the regular classroom routine.

    The next website which I decided to evaluate was reading resource which is mainly a literacy site but has recently added math activities as well. This website was a little hard to navigate at first and can be very overwhelming at a quick glance. Once I found the math page I was able to bookmark it so that I will be able to get back in later. There were lots of fun interactive games that I think the students would enjoy to use as a review. Two of the activities that I really liked was the balloon pop math for counting and for ordering. This activity first has the students pop the balloons in order from 1 to 10 and counts along. The next activity gives the student 3 balloons each time and the student has to pop them in order from the smallest number to the largest. This is certainly something I would use in the pre-k classroom as a review for all students. I would use the first activity in a group setting and then would let the students individually have a turn to complete the second activity and pop the balloons from lowest to highest number. This would link to the Mass frameworks in the domain of counting and cardinality for pre-k. PK.CC.2 Recognize and name written numerals 1-10 and PK.CC.3 Understand the relationships between numerals and quantities up to ten. The only thing that I really do not like about this website is all the adds which take up the entire left side of the screen during the learning activity which I think might be distracting to some of the students. However, I do believe that there is a wealth of valuable content being taught through the activities and games on the website that this should help to keep the student interested and engaged.

    The final website which I decided to evaluate was called fun brain. This website is bright and colorful, very easy to use and extremely child friendly. It is easy to navigate and you are prompted with the age range you would like math games for right away to make searching easier for the teacher or parent. After browsing the website I decided to look at the math games that would relate to my pre-k students. One of the games I liked was the bunny count. For this math game the students are shown a certain amount of bunnies and are given two answers to choose from. I would have the students use this website independently as a fun way to work on matching quantities to the corresponding numeral. This would relate to the Mass frameworks in Counting and Cardinality, PK.CC.3 Understand the relationships between numerals and quantities up to ten.
 (On a side note, I would like to add that I think technology can be a wonderful thing but we have to remember that we do not want it to consume our children's lives. Therefore, all of these websites I would only use sparingly in the classroom as an extension never as the actual learning lesson. In my opinion, nothing can take the place of actual hands on learning in a fun and engaging environment.)

Questions for discussion:
Should we use computers with 4 year olds in the classroom? What math websites do you use with your children or students? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

Click here for an example of one of my favorite hands on math learning games that I use in the classroom.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Introducing young children to coins...
I set up a simple coin sort for the children to become familiar with the different types of American coins.
I added the tags with the corresponding words to bring in some literacy.
The children were first asked to sort the coins. We then discussed the names of all the coins and how much each one is worth.
We then played a game where I would give clues about each coin and the children would have to guess which one it was.
We then did some simple addition with the coins and discussed how many pennies make up a nickel, how many nickels make a dime and so on.

We also completed a money match up that I have added as a freebie! Please print yours out today! : )

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Space Pinball

Homemade Space Pinball!
We made this pinball game from a cardboard box, straws, egg crate tops, popsicle sticks and glitter paints. We then added a marble and let the children try to move it into the yellow popsicle stick goal at the end.
It was the perfect size and style for my Pre-K students. The children had a ball (no pun intended) playing this homemade pinball game.

Why make one??
*It's open ended and they can help make it
*It's great for hand-eye coordination
*It's physically engaging (as the child is holding and manipulating the box)
*It teaches social skills (cheering on friends and taking turns)
*It brings in new vocabulary and positional language
* It's open ended and lots of fun!
Give it a try and please share with us your results! : )

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pirate ships & Mermaids

Yo ho, yo ho...

Each child was encouraged to create their ocean picture at the easel by blending blue, white and green paints. They then were given the option to use a stencil or create their own pirate ship and add details. I love how they all came out so different and creative!

Next, is our egg carton pirate ships complete with sails held up by straws and pipe cleaners.

This year we had individual pirate ships made from laundry baskets and brown fabric in our dramatic play area! We also had pompom cannonballs which we made from thick grey yarn. Our plank was back once again but this time the children had to watch out for the sharks!

Click here to see some of my shark activities.

Paper plate Mermaids!

  First, I had the children color / decorate a paper plate and then cut out a spiral pattern for the tail. Next, they simply attached a stencil of a person which was cut at the waist. Lastly, they were able to embellish the mermaid as desired. I put out markers, sequins, small shells and let the children's creativity run wild.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Model for Conflict Resolution

*Every now and then conflicts arise in the workplace and the early education field is no exception. Here is a model for conflict resolution that I think really covers all the bases of handing any issue that may come up between staff members. I hope you find it as useful as I do. : )

Model for Conflict Resolution
This model for Conflict Resolution was found in:
The Early Childhood Mentoring Curriculum: Handbook for Mentors Bellm, Whitebook & Hnatiuk
1. Acknowledge that the problem or conflict exists.
2. Define the problem. Allow each party to propose a definition, while the other listens without interrupting.
3. Investigate options for solutions.
4. Discuss and examine the pros and cons of each option, either generally or point by point.
5. Prioritize options based on a discussion of agreed upon outcomes.
6. Strive for consensus about a strategy.
7. Select options or strategies to try out.
8. Determine an evaluation period and process for gauging the success of the actions taken.
9. If you are not successful, revisit the options.
10. Select another one and repeat the steps.
11. Try, try again!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Early Childhood Education

The early childhood education field can often be very stressful. We work in a job where we are required to give of ourselves all day year round (no summer off for us), manage our time in a way that we can meet multiple goals at once (which is sometimes next to impossible), remain calm and collected when students are having meltdowns, find time for research and lesson planning on our own (off the clock), help and work with co workers who we do not always see eye to eye with, have to explain to parents and some public school teachers that we are educators too and not babysitters, feel very unappreciated by society when we are doing all we can to make changes to the education system to improve learning conditions, and have to provide our own supplies with the little money we get paid already. On the flip side, our hearts are opened by the generosity and strength that children show us. We can feel a complete sense of pride and accomplishment when we see our students learn and grow. We know we are making a difference and it helps us to move forward everyday and research different methods of helping children succeed giving us a real sense of purpose.

With this in mind, I have decided to add a section of my blog to help with staff morale. It will focus on finding solutions and ways to deal with the stressors of the job and the problems which are bound to come up in the workplace.

Always remember...