Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spray Bottles

It's summer time, blistering hot in Florida and we are in the second week of summer school with a group of pre-schoolers with special needs.

I love spray bottles! We have had them out on the playground at least 4 out of the 6 days we've been in summer school. But, how are spray bottles educationally relevant and why would I use them in my class?

Using spray bottles addresses the following skills:
  • pre-writing skills (Look at the motions your fingers and hands use for squeezing a spray bottle. Now look at the motions needed for cutting and writing. Playing with spray bottles increases hand ad finger strength that supports writing skills.)
  • peer interaction skills (Our spray bottle rules are: 1) You have to ask the person before you spray them; 2) You have to spray only on their arms, legs or body, not in the face; 3) If the person asks you to stop, you have to stop. They spray bottles and play help and encourage children to initiate play and to respond to the words and actions of their peers.)
  • communication skills (Playing with the spray bottles naturally encourages conversation, especially if there is an adult supporting the play. We have had conversations about body parts, facial expressions, colors changing, opposites...wet/dry, high/low, hot/cold, playground equipment, actions...squeeze, spray, laugh, run, jump, etc. The active play generates many topics of conversation.)
All in all, playing with the spray bottles is just good summer fun! Actually, as I think about that, I'd challenge you to think about other activities that are just good fun! I bet you could find some educational relevance for pre-schoolers for those, too!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another Building Structure

My nephews and niece are in town for the week and have been playing with the building pieces from the last post. They were pretty excited about their creation and wanted it posted on the internet, too. Here's what they created:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorable Moment # 8: Building Structures

Here's one of my recent memorable moments:

During the last week of school, I took a look in my storage room to see what materials we had not used yet this year and came across a bucket of plastic building materials. They have white lines and white curves and colorful couplings to join them together. I got them out and asked one of my assistants if she would support that center during our center time.

She and the kids ran with it! It was so much fun to watch.

For the first 20 minutes or so, they really explored and experimented with how the pieces fit together and what they could do with them. Then they decided to get a little bit more complex and I hear one of the kids say, "Can we have some paper and markers?"

Naturally, any time a child wants to write, I say yes. So they got the markers and paper and brought them over to the area they were playing. My assistant ended up showing them that you can make a plan for building structures. One little boy in particular really understood the relationship between the drawing and the structure. Here's what he came up with:

The first picture is the picture of his plan. The second picture is a picture of what he started building off of his plan.

My personal learning experience from this is a confirmation and gentle reminder to respect and seek the contributions and ideas of the assistants with whom you work. I didn't have a lesson plan for the children to talk about blueprints, architects, and builders. She introduced some really sophisticated vocabulary that they understood through their play and their plans. The lesson plan evolved as she responded to the children and was better for it!

My other take away is an appreciation for the personal interests and aptitudes of young children. While the plan does not look very sophisticated, it was drawn and then implemented by a 4 year old boy.

The level of symbolic representation of a concrete product that isn't even built yet is actually quite sophisticated! I wouldn't have expected this child to be able to do this, but his natural interest, his visual spatial skills and the support of an adult who was engaged with him helped him to reach a level of thinking and problem solving that surprised and delighted us!