Block/Construction Center: What Are Children Learning

 

Building and Designing with Blocks what we are Learning

(document of the above pictures)

 

 

Executive Functioning Linked to Dramatic Play

I recently had the privilege of working with some amazing teachers at Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK. We discussed the benefits of dramatic play for children and the critical role of children developing complex play within dramatic play experiences for the development of their executive functioning capabilities.EF

PreK and K teachers are first and foremost teachers of social and emotional skills, self-regulation, attention, engagement, persistence, thinking symbolically, and cognitive flexibility. If students do not first learn these skills, then the academics and life with always be a struggle.

Research links dramatic play activities with the support of the teacher to  move students to more complex play as one of the best strategies for developing social/emotional and executive functioning skills.

The teachers developed visual analogies to help us always remember the link. Here are pictures of their insightful analogies. Thanks, Union Teachers!

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American Symbols

As President’s Day draws near, we expose young children to the role of the president as well as two of our most honored presidents, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. At this time of the year, we also think about exposing our children to the American Symbols. Our youngest learners are introduced to many universal symbols such as a STOP sign, logos for gender on bathroom doors, a handicap parking only sign, etc. that are required for good citizenship. Some symbols children learn through daily routines and experiences and some require more time along with intentional planning on the part of the teacher, such as the American symbols.

American Symbols Provocations and Challenges journeyintoearlychildhood.comIt is important for young children to begin to explore the American symbols to build patriotism and pride in their country, to provide a sense of belonging to a bigger place, and to communicate the ideals of the United States.

The American Symbols document provides pictures of the American symbols, USA flag, liberty bell, the statue of liberty, and bald eagle as well as other famous USA governmental buildings and memorials to be posted in the block/construction center and/or the art/creation center to encourage children to recreate them. Ideas of materials to include in the construction center, as well as extensions for literacy including two poems and math,  are included.

 

note: Send an email to journeyintoearlychildhood.com letting me know that you have signed up to receive my bi-weekly to weekly blog post and I will send you the American Symbols document for free.

Student Jobs to Assist with Clean Up After Free Choice Play Centers

  • Let the students take control over clean up…Jobs for Clean Up Time journeyintoearlychildhood.com
    • “Shift Manager” This student provides a 5, 3 and 1-minute warning prior to clean up.      (can also signal other transitions throughout the day)
      • Following the 5-minute warning, students are not allowed to retrieve any new items or move centers. They need to remain in the center in which they are currently for the last 5 minutes of play.
    • “Quality Control Inspector” This student inspects all areas and cleans up any remaining items.
    • “Floor Sanitation Monitor” This student picks up scraps from the floor and/or reminds students to throw away their scraps throughout the day, especially after play centers.
    • “Celebration Coach” This student provides an award to another student (a gold slip, a high five, a fist bump) for being the most efficient, yet respectful, during clean up. (respectful clean up = cleaning up quickly while still treating materials and friends with respect, using gentle hands and kind words) This student can also be responsible for finding and celebrating respectful behavior throughout the day.

CLICK HERE: Classroom Jobs that Support Free Choice Play Center Clean Up

  • clean up job cards journeyintoearlychildhood.com
  • Do you have one or two students that clean up time is overstimulating?
    • Allow the student to be a “Clean Up Supervisor.” As soon as he/she cleans up 5-10 items (depending on student’s needs) in the center in which he/she was playing, they get a clipboard with all the students’ names and travels from center to center to find 5 children who are experts at cleaning up for the day. The “Supervisor” can reward those five with a High Five or Fist Bump at the end of clean up time or announce the names for the whole class to give a silent cheer.
    • Allow the student to complete another job that consists of heavy pressure or heavy lifting such as taking a stack of books to a neighbor teacher or wiping all tables with a spray bottle of water and a rag (or just a wet rag).

Clean Up Time after Play Centers

Is clean up time after play centers becoming one of your greatest frustrations throughout the day?

TIPS and TRICKS to keep your blood pressure low during clean up:

·         Time clean up each day and allow the students to predict how long it will take the next day. Graph the results and set challenges.

·         Allow students to take pictures of items and place the picture on the shelf or bin where it belongs. By allowing the students the opportunity to label each of the bins, it provides them with more ownership and develops a sense of care and respect for the materials.

·         Teach clean up rules and procedures during a small group time. Yes, you lose academic instruction during one small group time, but you gain LOTS of time with an entire year of quick clean up times. Plus, of course, you gain fewer frustrations and headaches!

·         Have students take pictures of what the center looks like completely clean, neat and tidy and post those in the center or on the center bin.

·         Have the students help write a book about what they do during play centers including how to clean up. Take pictures of the students to place in the book. Make sure to take pictures of the students who struggle the most with cleaning up during clean up time being amazing cleaners to place in the book. When you read the book over and over, you can point that they everyone cleans up quickly, treating the materials gently and safely just like _______.

What tips and tricks do you use for clean up time? Please share…

clean up featured image

 

Loose Parts

UPDATED POST- includes a link to a letter to send home to families requesting loose parts

Loose ends engage children in thinking critically, creatively and holistically. They encourage students to make connections and their learning is strengthened through the hands-on exploration.
Students count, observe, predict, test ideas, draw conclusions, examine patterns, shapes, and sizes, compare and contrast, ask questions, summarize, and represent findings while playing with loose parts.
Loose parts play taps into students natural curiosity. It also provides a strong foundation for the thinking skills required for strong STEM learning.
Below is a letter that can be revised to meet your needs to send to parents requesting a variety of loose parts. What loose parts would you add to the list?

 

Letter to parents requesting loose parts for play

loose part letter