Partners In Learning Blog Team

Partners In Learning Blog Team
Blog Team

Monday, September 15, 2014

Circle Time Fun

Starting out our day in the dolphins class is always so much fun. From the moment the children kiss their parents goodbye, learning time is the classroom has begun. 

This morning during our instructional learning time we introduced a new theme "down on the farm" using a felt/flannel board for the lesson.  The felt/flannel board in an awesome tool to use with your children. It gives the child a visual on what you are trying to teach them and allows the child to have extra time to stimulate their own thought processes and interpretations.

Ms. Kelly is teaching positional words for example, above, below, beside, in, and on. This child is actively engaged and having a positive learning experience while making his own interpretations on positional words.

To re enforce the concept of the theme, the children dressed up and became the farmer while singing the song "Old Macdonald."  

This child is learning how to share and recognize the feelings of others and the other child is learning how to respond appropriately.
When our instructional time is complete the children then build on what they have learned through constructive play in our learning centers.

From group time to open center time, children are building their minds while having fun.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bringing Field Trips To Us!

Do you remember going on field trips when you were in school? Well, so do I. They were so much fun. At Partners In Learning our children go on several field trips a year, well, the older children that is. Why is it only the older children you might be thinking. Only children 3 years of age and old are allowed to ride the buses. So, that leaves our very eager to learn 2's and younger with no field trip experiences. Not so fast, our wonderful teachers in the Polor Bears class, Samantha Brown and Sara Helms make sure our 2's and under have that experience of a field trip without leaving the center. Just this week they had members from the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, and the Salisbury Fire Department come to the center. Not only is this fun for the children and teachers, it's a great learnig experience. With everything that children hear and see, some are very afraid of the sheriffs deputies and fire fighters. This is a wonderful time to education our younger children that the sheriffs deputies and fire fighters are there to protect us and help us. Some children are especially afraid of all the gear the firefighters have to wear. But when they can see the firefighter, all of the gear, and watch it being put on, while the firefighter is explaining what is happening, it seems to put the children at ease. There is also another way Sam and Sara have incorporated field trips in to their planned activities. They use the buggies and talk a walk to a construction site!! 

9/11 thirteen years later

As I was driving in to work thinking of all the stuff that we had planned for today, I felt very familiar and uneasy feeling creeping into my mind. Thirteen years ago I had done the same thing...planned for the day with my preschoolers, worried about all the bills that needed to be paid, and thought about all the homework that was due in my college classes except thirteen years ago, my day changed in a matter of seconds and has never been the same since.

If you ask one person where they were on 9/11/01, most of them can tell you right where they were at the very moment that the tragic accidents occurred.  For me, I was meeting with the curriculum coordinator for the center and my class was outside playing on the playground with a floater who was giving me a break. We were discussing the changes and plans that needed to occur for the new four/five year old classroom that just opened when the phone rang.  Now anyone that knows me knows that you don't call me at work unless it's an emergency so when I heard my husband's shaky voice on the other end of the line, I knew something was wrong.  "A plane has hit the twin towers and I'm stuck on 85 with the traffic completely stopped. I'll call you back because I'm calling Clay," he said.  You see my brother-in-law was in the navy and his brotherly love had kicked in.  

With that came a whirl wind of excitement, parents calling to make sure that their children were safe or telling us that they would not be there until late because they could not leave work (many of our parents who worked in Charlotte were not allowed to leave their jobs) or just finding out what staff could work late. With the next phone call, came my husband letting me know that he was headed to the fire department for standby.  We were both volunteer firefighters and never in a million years was I more worried for him then right then because I didn't know who or what could be coming our way. My next thought was what about my aunt and my uncle who were both police officers. Would they be ok? Would we get attacked next? Many of the people that I loved could be in harms way and I felt so helpless and that's hard for someone who would do everything for themselves instead of asking for help.  I learned a lot about my self that day and about what this great nation with its wonderful patriots can endure.  

So fast forward thirteen years, what does any of this have to do with now or the early childhood setting? 
 Many of us saw and heard about the wives and girlfriends of firefighters, police officers, military personal, workers in the Twin Towers or the patriots on the flight that crashed in PA which at the time of the tragic event were excepting a child.  Have you seen those children since that time? Those children will be teenagers this year and facing some hard times in front of them.  Where can they turn? Have we supported them enough? Have we supported their families enough? I know that they have had some great supporters but we need to contunie to support and remember them.

Then I think of my children that were on the playground that first 9/11 and where they are now.  Those children are now in their late teens. One of those young men is a new rookie firefighter in Charlotte. Two others are currently finishing up their basic training in two different branches of the armed forces.  Do they remember that day? Probably not but if they do, I hope they remember how as a teacher I tried my best to explain something that most adults could not comprend while trying to make them feel safe and to know that I always would be there to keep them comfortable and loved while in my care. That maybe why they still text or message me (yes I'm thankful they still care about me) and I will always feel that same way about them.

As parents, we can't shield our children from everything and we should never feel that we have to.  There are going to be moments like 9/11 that we will never have the words or the emotions to explain it to our children but we need to show our children how we are human and that all humans have things that shape their lives in a positive or negative ways. We just have to show them that we can make it through and hold each other's hands as we walk the path together.  

May we never forget and may we always remember those that do so much for our freedoms whether they be in a branch of the service, protecting our boundaries, or serving as a "home town" hero such as our police officers, sheriffs deputies, firefighters, EMS service, and many more.....and always the teachers, whether in the early childhood setting or our children's first teachers, their parents.

For all my personal home town heros....

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stir stir it up....Cooking with kids

So you rush in the house dropping everything in your wake including your kid only to hear those dreaded words, "I'm hunrgy...." said with a whine.  You are trying to hold it together but then you think, hey why not let them cook with me.

Ok so maybe you're not thinking that but you should cook with your kids more often.  Why? You ask.  Children learn many skills and lessons that often can only be expereinced in the kitchen.  Early math skills such as comparing, contrasting, non-standard and standard measurements are lessons that are hard to tell a child but when shown, children can learn these skills on their own while helping in the kitchen. Science vocabuarly such as evaporation, dissolving, hypothesis, and many more can be easily experienced through cooking activities instead of simply memorizing them.  Cooking experiences are a way of social emotional education for children as they learn their family recipes and the stories of how they came to be or where they came from. This builds a child's self esteem in their own culture and hertiage.


In the early childhood settings, these activities can get a little messy but are a true way for children to learn and experience all of these essential educational techniques.  From homemade play dough (pictured above in our Dolphins classroom) to making applesauce (look for next Wednesday's blog), all recipes can be modified to let children do something in the experience.  From stirring the mixture, pouring the ingredients, or just taste testing, children will learn from every opportunity that they are included in.

Allowing your child to spread the frosting, put on the garnish, stir in the water...all of these build not only their fine motor skills but it builds relationships with you or the head chef in charge.  Sometimes the world consumes us and we don't know what to do, but by letting your child be a small part of preparing a meal or setting up for one, our outlooks and perspectives can change. It will not only create memories for them but it can change your state of mind to a more positive out look. Plus it's always fun to throw flour on your face and pretend that you've worked hard in the kitchen.

Children (and adults) of all abilities and skill level can help in some way, so get in the kitchen and do some cooking together.  The next time it gets crazy and the traIl from the door is a mile long just remember....You can never relive the past but you can prepare for the future by living and sharing the present and licking the spoon of happiness together.

Look for more cooking and outdoor learning experiences each Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Can we build it?

I love reading blogs, as a parent, a teacher, as just a human in general, blogs are great resources for information and entertainment. Yesterday I was reading one of my favorite parenting blogs when I came across a post focused on encouraging our young ones to develop engineering skills.  As a mom and a teacher I was instantly drawn to it. Long story short it was a huge advertisement for Legos. Don't get me wrong, I adore Legos, my kiddos are huge fans, however, there are plenty of options to encourage critical thinking, planning, and problem solving skills associated with engineering that are non-Lego related. Here are some great examples....

Household items are great tools to inspire your little builders. Using unconventional materials, like straws, tape, and craft sticks, also give your child the opportunity to be creative and think outside the box.  Try giving these things to your kids and asking them to build a stand for your change, or build a bridge for their toy cars.  You'll be amazed at what they come up with! 

Use what nature provides. Sticks, twigs,  and stumps are all awesome building materials that lend themselves well to open ended building projects. 

Up cycling your old things is another creative way to sharpen engineering skills.  Old pool noodles like these, milk jugs, shoe boxes, Pringles cans, the possiblilities are endless. Up cycling gives your child the ability to recreate,  and imagine things being used in a new way, which leads to more advanced problem solving skills. 

These are just a few things you can do at home to encourage engineering skills in your little ones, there are tons of other great ideas.  What things have you tried at home or in your classrooms that encourages engineering skills? 

Crystal Drye
NC PreK Assistant