What do your walls say?

What Do Your Walls Say to

Your Students and Families?

  • What values do they speak?
  • Do the items posted on the walls continue to enhance the children’s learning or have they simply become visual noise?

You decorated your room at the beginning of the year but…

  • How do you make on-going decisions of what to put on your walls?
  • How do you decide the image you want to continue to portray through your room environment?
  • How are you demonstrating your values for how students learn through the displays on your walls?
  • What image of the child are you projecting through your environment and the items that you make an intentional choice to hang and leave hanging on the walls?

As discussed in the last blog post regarding intentionally designed environments, it is critical that we examine the environment as a place for students and it should be a reflection of them.

Patricia Tarr in the article, Consider the Walls,  talks about how commercially made posters, etc. that we hang for educational purposes may actually be limiting children’s sense of who they truly are and true capabilities and stifles their imagination and creativity. She states,

“So too does the mass of commercial stereotyped images silence the actual lived experiences of those individuals  learning together. An overload of commercial materials leaves little room  for work created by the children—another kind of silencing.”  The challenge for early childhood educators is to think beyond decorating to consider how walls can be used effectively as part of an educational environment. In Reggio Emilia the walls display documentation panels of projects that children are engaged in. These become the basis of ongoing research and dialogue between the children, teachers, and families. Panels of photos, artifacts, and text make “learning visible” to participants and to outsiders (Rinaldi 2001).”

Think carefully about what pictures, children’s work, or photos you place on the walls. Students absorb a lot from their environment; so, we want to use the space for demonstrating both the learning and the process toward the learning. When determining what you are going to place on the walls, ponder

  • is the item is important to your current educational goals and objectives  (is it an old objective and now can be removed from the walls? can a picture be taken of an old anchor chart and placed in 8×10 binder for reference as needed? can anchor charts be hung on pants hangers and hung in a corner of the room for reference as needed?)
  • how can the items be created by the students instead of commercially or by the teacher (co-creating items helps students to have ownership and therefore, they are more likely to look at and use the resource often)
  • does it demonstrate beauty and is it aesthetically pleasing (note: it does not have to be “pinterest” worthy perfect- if it is created or co-created by the students and meets their needs as a resource for a learning objective- then it is beautiful to them)

Greetings Every Day in the Classroom- No Touch Ideas

Back in February of 2019, we talked about the importance of daily greetings…

TOP 10 Reasons Why to Greet Students at the Door  Each and Every Morning

Greetings journeyintoearlychildhood.com FREE
• Provides a smile and a reassurance that the teacher is glad the student came to school today, which sets the tone for a positive day
• Promotes a strong relationship between the teacher and student
Enhances a positive classroom climate
• Provides a moment of connection when you greet them by name- young children love to hear their name – let’s use them in positive statements
• Assists children with letting go of issues that may have occurred on the bus or at home- they are being welcomed to a new start to the day
• Promotes a sense of belonging and trust that the classroom is a safe place
• Provides social and emotional support
• Demonstrates and models of how to greet others, how to use kind words, and how to be respectful
• Provides a proactive, preventive technique to reduce challenging behaviors
• Starts the day for the teacher with LOTS of smiles and positive interactions!

Tips for using greetings are listed in the post, Greeting Students Each and Every Day.

Greeting our students is more important than ever. Students need to feel wanted and welcomed into the classroom. However, for now, we need to modify our greetings to include no touching options- including even no bumping of hips or elbows. ESPECIALLY elbows since we ask students to cough into their elbows!!

No Touch Classroom Greetings 20 Greeting Choices on CirclesFREE DOWNLOAD of 20 ideas for no-touch greeting options…

No Touch Classroom Greetings 20 Greeting Choices on CirclesGreeting Ideas with No Touching journeyintoearlychildhood

 

For more ideas that include greeting each other by saying “hello” in different languages,Greetings No Touch and Different Languages journeyintoearlychildhood visit… Daily Greetings 20 No Touch Options PLUS 16 Options for Saying Hello in Different Languages

 

 

 

Beautiful Art Centers to Encourage Creativity

A beautifully designed art space encourages creativity and     inventiveness in thinking.

 

  • Children draw, paint, design, build and sculpt using their creativity.

  • art center
    Beautifully designed art center to encourage creativity journeyintoearlychildhood.com

    They use thinking skills to plan, organize, make decisions, and represent their ideas as they express their ideas through a variety of media.

  • Children grow cognitive, problem-solving, and decision-making skills while experimenting with color, line, shape, size, proportions, and dimensions. 

 

Vocabulary during Block Play

Expanding Children’s Vocabulary

during Block/Construction Play:

vocab in blocks featured imageState standards require children to explain, describe, define, ask, compare and contrast, respond, and so on.

To accomplish these skills, children need an expanded expressive vocabulary to both describe and tell the use of many familiar objects and to incorporate new, less familiar or technical words in everyday conversations.

Block/Construction Building, Designing and Play offers excellent opportunities for introducing, reinforcing and expanding upon vocabulary while children are engaged in fun, hands-on experiences. While the teacher is interacting with the students during block play expanded vocabulary can be introduced and reinforced through questioning, scaffolding, and “I wonder” or “I notice” statements.

Examples of Vocabulary to Introduce/Reinforce during Block Play:

Tension           Stable                      Wobble                      Solid               Stability

Hard                 Smooth                    Heavy                         Firm                Incremental

Massive           Equal                       Steady                        Fasten            Negotiate

Measure          Several                    Less                            Level              Cooperate

More                 Area                         Length                       Numerous

Taller                Wider                       Three-dimensionalblocks for vocab

Horizontal        Diagonal                 Symmetry                 

Edge                 Connect                  Balance

Structure          Disassemble           Gravity

Vertical             Architecture             Surface

Tremble            Asymmetrical          Perpendicular

Parallel            Attributes                 Construction

 

 

Provocation in Block Play: SHIPS

Provocations are materials or the way we present materials to create a context where the child can explore. They are an extension or a challenge to our children’s current thinking and theories.

This past year we have been exploring different ways to add provocations within the construction center.

20180913_091728We began by observing and noticed that the students were consistently building ships. We started talking about the different types of ships and added pictures of different ships and started reading books during interactive read aloud time about ships.

SHARING: SHIP and BOAT PROVOCATIONS                             In this document, you will find pictures of different types of ships and boats, open-ended questions to pose and higher-level vocabulary to incorporate while engaging with students, and challenge cards to provoke students thinking.

 

20180822_083707Materials were added as students began to increase their thoughtfulness regarding ship building. For example, we included Duplo Blocks when the students drew their plans to build cargo or freight ships (note: students always made a sketch first of what they were going to build first to add in thoughtful planning. Many times when the students would add details to the construction part, they would return to their drawings to include those same details.)

and we added dowel rods, white paper and fabric, and tape when they stated they wanted to build sailboats and/or pirate ships. The problem solving that occurred to 20180822_090352figure out how to attach the sails was amazing to observe but eventually the students figured it out. Reminder: don’t be too quick to jump in to offer assistance, let the students figure it out for themselves.

Math objectives added included size proportions with the size of different ships. The students decided that they did not have enough blocks to build many of the ships to the correct size but that they could build a rowboat.

Social Studies objectives added included where ships and boats sail- the bodies of water. We discussed which ships would sail where, what would they carry, why some people have to travel by boat or ferry, etc.

Since the students continued to be interested in ships, we turned their interest into a unit long STEAM investigation in which the students first became material engineers to determine what materials were best for shipbuilding (what materials would float).

We next read the book, Circus Ship by Chris VanDusen, stopping after the ship hits a rock and starts to sink. We challenged the students to build a ship that would float and hold the 15 circus animals. The students worked on their ships each day for a week- some continuing to add to their original ship and some starting a new one. We tested the ships and the students added 15 animals. Note: We provided more than 15 animals so that the students were required to count them as they tested each of their ships.

The students continued to explore with ships throughout the year. During an investigation of Farm to Table, the students started making ships and when we inquired as to how the ships relate to the farm, they shared that sometimes food is transported on ships! So to move our food from the farm to the factory to the grocery store, the students built and then play acted with both trucks and ships!

For additional sets of provocations including pictures, challenges, material ideas, open-ended questions and vocabulary, visit https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Journey-Into-Early-Childhood

and/or sign up to receive my weekly blog through your email- more provocations will be shared on through this website.

 

Intentionally Designed Environments: Pictures of Classrooms

journeyintoearlychildhood.com Intentionally Designed EnvironmentsWOW! Teachers in the Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK are incredible. I recently had the opportunity to visit some of their classrooms. They so graciously allowed me to take pictures to share with you the intentionality of their classroom design.

The environment in which children spend their day at school needs to support developmentally appropriate practices that allow children to freely move, to explore with hands-on opportunities, to engage in dramatic play experiences, to build social/emotional skills, and to develop their symbolic thinking and cognitive flexibility among others.

Learning theories from constructivism to social learningintentional design of environments journeyintoearlychildhood.com
to experiential learning underscore the importance of
active and inquiry-based learning, knowledge construction
through interaction with the environment, social contexts
and meaningful experiences.

-“Most Influential Theories of Learning,” Unesco Education

 

Intentional Design for hands-on exploration while encouraging symbolic thinking, problem solving, and cognitive flexibility.

 

Intentionally Designed Art Centers that encourage the process of art instead of the product,  and free exploration of creative ideas instead of template art.

 

Intentional Design of the Classroom Aesthetics so that the students can live and breathe in a beautiful space. Use of natural colors as we use in our homes for a calming effect.

Intentional Design of Student Contributions, the classroom belongs to the students. It should be a reflection of the students instead of the teachers passions or “cutesy/pinteresty” type themes.

Intentional Design to Include Dramatic Play. Students require dramatic play experiences to build executive functioning skills.

Cozy Corner/ Safe Spot Strategies

Designing a Cozy Corner (or Safe Spot):

A cozy corner or safe spot is a place in the classroom in which students can relax, calm their minds and bodies, and gather themselves back together to be ready to learn. It is a place in the classroom that is calming and that has a low sensory load. The use of the cozy corner must be taught at times when students are in zone of being ready to learn. We cannot teach students during times of dysregulated behaviors. Therefore, practice when to use the safe spot and what to do there before emotional dysregulation occurs.  For specific ideas of teaching the use of a cozy corner/safe spot, see Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies.Journey into Early Childhood Cozy Corner Strategies and How to Set Up the Corner Effectively

Key Considerations:

1. Choose an area of the classroom that is out of the mainstream of traffic but that is also visible by the teacher at all times

2. Choose an area that feels cozy (some children like a tighter feel in order to calm down) but also make sure that the area has more than one exit (children who have experienced trauma will not be able to calm down in an area in which they feel trapped)

3. Soft furniture- add some softness to the area even if it is just a couple of pillows.

4. Be mindful of the colors that you use (this is true for the entire classroom as well.) Natural colors led to a sense of calm. Remove the bright primary colors- use them only to help a learning concept pop out.Deep Breath Free Download journeyintoearlychildhood.com

5. Items to add: sensory bottles (see journeyintoearlychildhood.com for directions), fidget toys and a couple of books on emotions or friendship, a Take Deep Breaths Board (free download), Teaching Deep Breathing to Calm the Mind and Body, and the Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies).

6. Be mindful of aromas as they are often triggers for children who have experienced trauma, but you can try a sachet with lavender since it is calming scent.

Variety of Ways to Teach Deep Breathing journeyintoearlychildhood.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The Cozy Corner or Safe Spot needs to feel safe! It is not a time-out or removal from classroom activities. It is a spot to de-stress and work on getting the mind and body calm and happy or at least, content.

7. Ask the student if they would like to take a break in the cozy corner or safe spot. Do not leave them there alone- make sure to go to them to follow-up and teach (not tell) the needed social skill or strategy.

8. Gift the student with your calm. Do not show anger, frustration, or crankiness. Model slow, easy breathing and calm, even voice.

9. Ask first before you touch a student.

10. Follow up with role-playing, modeling and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of guided practice of appropriate social skills.

11. Teach deep breathing with cue cards (flower/candle, owl, bunny, bear, etc. as listed in the document or STAR breathing from Conscious Discipline).   Be mindful of colors (natural is best)- remove bright primary colors.

12. Again- this is a spot to feel safe- not to be reprimanded or punished. It is a place to talk through behaviors and learn/practice skills and strategies needed. Think connection- not correction. Think – “How can I teach the skill needed?”

 

Greeting Students Each and Every Day

TOP 10 Reasons Why to Greet Students at the Door  Each and Every Morning

Daily Greetings- The Importance of Greeting Your Students Each Day journeyintoearlychildhood.com
• Provides a smile and a reassurance that the teacher is glad the student came to school today, which sets the tone for a positive day
• Promotes a strong relationship between the teacher and student
Enhances a positive classroom climate
• Provides a moment of connection when you greet them by name- young children love to hear their name – let’s use them in positive statements
• Assists children with letting go of issues that may have occurred on the bus or at home- they are being welcomed to a new start to the day
• Promotes a sense of belonging and trust that school is a safe place
• Provides social and emotional support
• Demonstrates and models of how to greet others, how to use kind words, and how to be respectful
• Provides a proactive, preventive technique to reduce challenging behaviors
• Starts the day for the teacher with LOTS of smiles and positive interactions!

Tips:

  • Greetings must be delivered with sincerity and genuine care for the students. If you rush through greetings, the students will not feel valued or respected which may lead to challenging behavior.
  • Use the student’s names
  • Provide options that include touching as well as include no touching to meet the needs of all students
  • Use eye contact

FREE DOWNLOAD journeyintoearlychildhood.com

Click here for two versions of greetings

Click here for additional versions of greetings

 

(note: If you send me an email stating that you have signed up to receive my blog each week, I will send you the seven different versions for free.)

Honoring Children through Display of Their Work

Continuing with our discussion of intentionally designed environments, today we are going to ponder how we honor students and develop a sense of belonging by our thoughtful display of their work.

Look around your environment and ponder how you can give greater importance and honor to children’s work  by placing it in a frame or on a shelf- in a place of honor. This communicates to the child that what they have created is important, has meaning and is worthy of being looked at by others.

Frames are expensive but I’ve even seen the lids to shoe  boxes covered to “frame” student’s work or poster board cut into shape of frame  and they both were beautiful displays of children’s work. I have also found some very inexpensive frames this summer at garage sales, flea markets and Goodwill stores.