We have spent the first few weeks of school spending a great deal of time establishing our classroom rules and routines. This is a long process with little children. They thrive when they know just exactly what is expected of them. We began this process by discussing what each and every child’s hopes and dreams are for the school year. Some of the dreams children told me were:
“I want to play a lot”
“I want to make new friends.”
“I want to learn more about the Calendar.”
We talked about everyone’s hopes and dreams and how hard it would be to make sure everyone’s dreams come true without some rules in our classroom. I read the book, “David Goes to School” by David Shannon. It highlights a little boys experiences in school and all of the things we shouldn’t be doing when we go to school. Then the children brainstormed a long list of rules while I wrote them down. They included:
“No throwing our snack plates.”
“No throwing toys.”
“No being mean.”
Most of the rules started with NO, which is usually how children view rules. After a few days I showed the children how to turn the NO rules into positive rules. We settled on three promises at Crozet PlaySchool:
Take care of our classroom.
Be nice to our friends and our teacher.
Listen to our friends and our teacher.
I had the children recite these promises out loud and then they each signed the promises. We will constantly go back to these rules again and again in the upcoming weeks of school. Ask your children if they remember what our promises are to each other? Hopefully they can share with you some of their experiences with this rule/promise making process.
Part of establishing our rules is establishing the routines of the classroom. This includes; cleaning up, where things belong, how to wash hands, use the potty and all of the other pieces of the classroom that allows things to run smoothly. Both groups have truly enjoyed the dish washing routine every day. We eat our snack on glass plates, along with drinking from fun colored espresso cups. The children help me pour their water each day, and as the year progresses I am going to allow them to do it without my help.
After snack I set up a dish washing station. They each come over with their dishes and scrub them in the tub. Then they dry them off and place them in the pile to be used the next day.
L and D are working together to finish up their dishes.
In my last blog post I talked about setting up Invitations to Play around the room. Some of the invitations to play this week included a new play dough theme and watercolors. Both were equally popular! I also took some time to switch out the sensory bins to more a fall theme for the children.
An Invitation to Paint with Watercolors: large watercolor paper, water cups, fresh picked flowers from Ellie for inspiration.
M and D exploring the watercolors. They spent a great deal of time on their artwork.
Invitation to Play: Apple Cinnamon Play Dough
I made a fresh batch of home made play dough for both groups. It is my favorite play dough recipe, super soft and easy for little hands to squish and form into shapes! I dyed the play dough red and added cinnamon extract. It is quite a sensory experience, both groups really enjoyed it! I also had a large pie dish to inspire some apple pie making, along with laying out apple tree play dough mats for the kids to explore. They rolled the play dough into little balls to make apples for the apple trees.
Later in the week I added some gem leaves and green gems to the play dough tray. The children loved using the gems in the play dough.
Our new “Woodland Forest” themed tub was introduced this week. I included birdseed, wooden tree blocks, tubes, moss pieces, and then some wonderful Safari Ltd. animals. There is a fox, two deer, two owls, a chipmunk, and a raccoon.
The second sensory tub that I have set up right now is an apple collecting tub. There are split peas, red pom poms, buckets, scoops, and pine cones.
I have slowly started to do more and more painting with the groups. After some trial and error I found that painting with one or two children at a time is best at this point in the year. The kids got to create some stained glass artwork with wax paper and paint. First they dotted big spots onto the wax paper. Then they took a bottle cap and smashed the paint to spread it out on the paper. The effect was quite lovely!
We also started talking about fall right around the corner! To kick of this unit of study I made some fall guessing bags. The children got blindfolded and had to reach into a paper bag filled with a fall item. They had to use their sense of touch to guess what was in the bag. They were all stumped by an apple, a pine cone, leaves, and mittens. Ask your children what happens during the fall season? Will it get warmer or colder? What types of foods and plants are harvested in the fall? We also discussed the life cycle of an apple tree and completed an apple tree life cycle with cards. On Thursday and Friday the children got to do apple stamping by dipping cut up apples in green, yellow and red paint.
Mr. Chris also finished our wonderful new chalkboard wall! Here is D giving it a try on Tuesday:
We also enjoyed a lot of time outside this week. I introduced many of the garage toys to both groups this week. We talked about safety in the alley and what the expectations are when we are playing beyond the fence. Everyone understood and listened well! We had a great time throwing balls, stomping on the stomp rockets, and pushing cars around in the driveways!
I have to end with some pictures of the children playing in the dress up bin. It is by far the most popular activity in the classroom right now with my older group. They really come up with some complex story lines to perform. I am proud of their creativity and love for imaginative play.
It was another wonderful week with kids! I am looking forward to this upcoming week too! We will be making our own mini apple pies, yummy!