Play Based Learning

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Cars and Blocks! 🙂  A three year old child decided that cars and blocks go nicely together and so began construction of a large one story building and some nice parking spots for cars.  And some cars park upside down. 

2008-01-01 12.34.42  I absolutely love how this child decided the parking spots should be on tall polls!  What do you think, is this the future of parking?  Maybe when cars fly like on the “Jetsons”? 🙂  Again mathematics and yes, physics are happening here.  This child put those cars on the pulls many times because gravity and balance claimed them.  Finally with much persistence they stayed put.  

2008-01-08 12.32.22 Moving along from cars and blocks, we find that using scissors to cut play dough is a great way to practice proper form and to strengthen our fine motor skills. This child follows a normal developmental pattern of going back and forth between using two hands to open and close the scissors and using one hand to cut and one to hold the object needing cutting.  As a mentor and guide in this situation, I modeled it once and let her try.  I encouraged her to keep trying when she felt it was too hard.  And she did wonderfully on her own! 🙂  The next time we used scissors for paper and for play dough she allowed me to model it once and she tried it until she felt satisfied.  

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Heidi Scott, BA & MIT  The Marigold School of Early Learning 🙂 

 

Come join us at The Marigold School of Early Learning!  We would love to play with new friends and together plan many exciting and new projects!

Join Me on Saturday, May 30th, 2015 for a Tour!

Dear Families of preschool aged children,

Please pencil me in for this Saturday, May 30th, 2015!  The Marigold School of Early Learning will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for a tour!

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If there is a better time for you to stop buy please check out my Contact page and send me an email or give me a call!  I will be happy to schedule a tour that works for you! 🙂

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Autumn will be on us quicker than a blink so scope out your local preschools and find an Early Learning environment that will fill the needs of your young three, four of five year old child!

Play-based learning gives your child a strong foundation for the long school career ahead of each girl and boy, so jump on board and be an advocate for Early Learning! 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning!

Continued Small Space Interest Areas

I have a few other interest areas that I utilize in my small preschool. 🙂

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On this side of the shelf is standing space for wooden dolls and paper clips!  Two children can engage in this standing space and still have elbow room.  If your preschool space is small too, then you know what it is like arranging things so you can get the most out of your space.

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I’ve seen this done and I’ve done variations of this type of provocation.  Set up whatever mathematical picture you want.  Above I made a circle shape, pattern and an arrow for direction.  Take a picture and set up the real materials along with some pictures for the children to have some ideas to go off of.  Then you can step back and see what patterns, shapes or pictures the children create using everyday office supplies.  

With loose parts and found items being very popular now days, it would be great to also use materials the children have collected for your picture provocations.  That way the children will have one more way in which to use their loose parts and found items. 🙂

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If you find the standing interest areas are getting too crowded because they are popular with your students, you can always create another rug space on the floor if you have the room.  I have an area where the coat racks are that I could put another cushy rug in case more children at a time find the provocations to be a “must do” on their list of accomplishments for the morning. 🙂

Please share some of your provocations!  What worked for your small spaces and what did not? 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

 

Standing Interest Areas

Standing interest areas for small spaces is great for young and energetic people! 🙂

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I created a butterfly easel which has space for two small children to paint together or one alone. On the shelf there is space for one person to color. Many of my students have been “movers”, so standing and creating is something young people do naturally.  Sitting is not always the preferred position when children are in the midst of creating.  

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The branches are from a rhododendron that has seen better days.  I liked the fact that the branches have so many different twists, turns and textures so I added it as an inspiration for a drawing.  

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In these pictures I did not open the paint because I prefer to do that when I actually have little people using the materials.  I just wanted to set up these provocations so I could show how I use them in small spaces and how they can be aesthetically pleasing. I’ve discussed being messy before, but that is very true with paint! 🙂  So I like to make sure I’ve gone over the clean up routine with the children prior to engaging in a messy lesson.  Once children know what to do they quickly adapt.  Again, patience is really important because getting messy is part of the process and the process is far more important than the final product.  

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Part of the Reggio Inspired approach I use is to document what the children are doing with each provocation.  I like to take pictures and notes so I can understand what each child is thinking of and draw out more information from them during a meeting.  I also like to document the play patterns, interests individuals and the group seem to be displaying through the choices being made.  One thing to remember is that a “Play” based learning environment does not mean a free for all.  All of the interest areas in the classroom are designed for multiple layers of content areas such as, math, science and literacy (drawing, writing and reading).  With a class of children aged three to five their are many levels of learning happening at once and each area needs to draw out the skills that are appropriate for not only the ages of the children but the developmental levels of each.  

Social/ Emotional development is the primary focus of young children and is a life skill that young children will continue to develop into adulthood, yet the basics are really heavily dealt with in preschool. The goal in mind is to help children naturally develop the ability to speak for themselves, have opinions, learn how to understand their peers, gain empathy and be able to work in cooperative groups or individually in a productive way.   I have been fortunate enough through the years to see that young children often times are more experienced and successful with cooperative group projects than older school aged children who are not given a choice and simply placed in groups to work “cooperatively”.  At least in my experience preschool children have naturally formed those groups and have been successful.  I believe one key aspect to their success has been an internal interest and shared goal.  Without a shared goal and the willingness to work together those cooperative and productive groups would have had vastly different outcomes.  

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There are more skills and rules to learn when children are older and the goals and interests are often not theirs, which is true in life.  However, I wish children all through their school career had a bit more autonomy when it comes to cooperative project work.  I believe they loose that internal joy that is present when young as they grow older and choices are taken away from them and imposed by adults that have the attitude “I know better.”  Of course this in not always the case and their are many more reasons and  theories followed in schools as children grow older.

Small spaces can be used to the maximum benefit with the needs of the children always kept at the forefront of our minds as Teachers, Parents and Educators. 🙂

Heidi, Th Marigold School of Early Learning

Reggio Inspired Provocations with Flowers

As a Teacher I know there are countless ways in which to implement lessons, set up provocations, encourage interests for young children, so I thought I would show some ways in which I like to set up a simple provocation. Initial set up is aesthetically pleasing to me, the adult, but I never know for sure if a provocation will be a success unless I see young people not just look at it, but actually engage.

What you see below is a clean, neat simple display for a provocation.  However, when young children’s interests are peaked and curiosity is too great, then we end up with the process, which is messy, fun, and full of insight into how a young mind acquires knowledge through environmental engagement.

If you’ve set up similar or even vastly different, yet simple provocations please share your wonderful ideas and outcomes!  I would love to read about your teaching experiences using inspiration from the Reggio Emilia Approach.

Heidi's School Pics 032  For this example of a provocation I used oil pastels and pencils for tools.

Heidi's School Pics 027  For the second example of a provocation I set out crayons and pencils.

A third idea I had is to use the mini art easels I see in the craft stores and set up a picture on each side.  Pictures area great provocations as well.

Be ready to stand in as a scribe and write word for word what your young students or children dictate to you.  A child’s own words can be a catalyst for continued  and internal interest to learn how to write and read.  Early Literacy has many layers to the strong foundation, so let’s take advantage when we can to keep building onto each layer.

Heidi's School Pics 014  You may not be able to see, but I managed to capture one or two bees on my flowers!  This would work for a provocation not simply because of the flowers, but because of the bees.  So many exciting inspirational ideas, stories and massively creative artwork can come from a simple picture! 🙂

I find that so many ideas for lessons, provocations, projects and collaborations come from watching, listening and engaging in meaningful conversation with young children.  Do you find that to be the case as well?  Please post your comments and let me know. 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning