Monday, October 6, 2008

The Three Billy Goats and the Science Fair

Students are busily working on Science Fair projects and the Billy Goats are no exception. They have been building bridges with toothpicks to see which designs hold up in an earthquake. Which geometric shapes make the sturdiest structures and what kind of construction design is needed to build the longest span.

I wonder which one will have the comfiest home for the Troll?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ride the Bus

I love to think up ideas for teaching young children. While I was playing with my four year old nephew it occurred to me that the Fisher Price Little People cars and buses could help teach a valuable lesson in why we need to take the bus instead of individual cars.

First we parked five cars in front of five houses and had a person get in each one and drive on the road. That was a lot of cars on the road.

Then we pretended that it was the next day and had the bus stop for each of these people. They could all ride together, using only one vehicle.

Buses can transport more people at a time than cars.

We also talked about the number of people getting on and off, using addition and subtraction in a very concrete way. His older cousin, 6 years old, loved being the Supervisor who got to keep a record of the people getting on and off. She wrote the number sentences 1+1=2. 2-1=3 etc.

Playtime is a great time for teaching.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hands-on Learning

There are so many things for a young child to learn in school. Children come with eager faces all ready to learn how to read, count and discover the world. Those activities don't have to be separated into separate subjects. In fact when we embark on a new unit of study I like to brainstorm all the things we know about a subject, gather materials, games and activities, write down ideas and ask for suggestions from children, parents and librarians. By bringing the community together everyone is involved in the learning process. I try utilize activities that address all the Multiple Intelligences.

When I began my research for my
Frog Unit Study, the children asked to have a frog in the classroom. Someone had an aquarium. Johnny's uncle had raised frogs from eggs and might be willing to come in and talk with the class about the experience. The librarian knew of lots of beginning readers both fiction like Frog and Toad but also non-fiction like Gail Gibbon's Frog Book.

Over the years I gathered games from yard sales, thrift stores and donations. I have been lucky to have some dedicated parents and grandparents come in to help make, workjobs, charts and class books.

The children I have taught as well as their parents have loved this way of learning and I hope that more teachers will find ways to make their classroom come alive with games, pets, plants, sensory tables and cuddly reading nooks.

Recently I discovered wordwalls as a way to help children write and learn to spell more independently. I combine such new methods with old fun ones like writing spelling words in salt trays or with paint brushes and water.