Thursday, December 12, 2013

Expanding Sequencing

I love sequencing activities.

They work on:
  • Logic/reasoning
  • Visual observation
  • Time concepts
  • Ordinal count
  • Prediction

I got this sequencing activity from KidsSoup a few years ago that we have been using. The first time we use a sequencing activity, we do it as a group, and I let them work it out between them, listening as they debate the proper order. It is always fascinating to hear their minds work. I only step in if their reasoning is totally off base or they all agree they are through and it's wrong.

After that initial group time, usually these activities are left as a free choice activity for the flannel board.

Many sequencing activities are only a set of four. These preschoolers can run through a Building a Snowman sequence in about 2 seconds. The things I love about this one, is that not only is it more visually complicated than most and has 6 cards, it also leaves GAPS. 

WOO HOO! Why am I excited? This truly steps up the logic/reasoning component we can integrate. 

We have been doing front-end and back-end pattern extensions, so the concept is familiar to them. 

For this one, I first asked, "So what happened BEFORE this?" 

Miss H immediately piped up, "He had to FIND that BOX!"

Inner me and outter me let out a little cheer and smiled. Miss H got a high-5.

I seperated the middle cards and pointed between them. "What did the boy do HERE?" 
They looked and looked and thought and thought. "What is in THIS picture, that ISN'T in this picture?" 
"THE GREEN CARD!" yelled Mr. G. "He had to go find the green paper!" 
"Exactly. He had the pen or pencil, HERE, but there was NO GREEN PAPER. He had to go get it. NOW, what is GONE in this picture that ISN'T in this picture?"
"Yep, he put away his stuff between this card and this next card as well."
"What do you think happened AFTER his momma put on her shawl?"
No ideas. "What do you do after someone gives you a present? What do you say?"
"Tell them THANK YOU!"
"Yep, and what happens to all the wrapping stuff?"
"We put it in the trash!" 
"Yep. Or bring it all here for the art room supplies."
That was one session. The next we discussed why his shirt is a different color and what could have happened to cause that.

  1. Another day, so he slept, etc.
  2. He just changed it
  3. Maybe his mother's favorite color is red, so he wanted to wear that one for her
  4. He cut, glued, dropped food, etc. on his shirt and HAD to change it
  • If it's a different day, then he had to hide the present from his momma. Where might he have hidden it?
  • If he got his shirt messed up, then what do you think he did about that?
  • Where do you think that box came from?
  • How did he get the shawl?
  • Why did he give it to his momma?
It really got them thinking, and I heard them discussing it while they played. It's always nice when I know the learning continues on after our activity.
Tags: logic, reasoning, preschool, sequencing, patterning, ordinal, count, flannel board, math

Affirmation From a 2-Year-Old

These children amaze me daily. Nothing is better, as a teacher, than it to be affirmed that I am doing it right in most ways, that I am having a positive impact upon them. 

Often, it comes years later as they do well in school and show a commendable level of character. Or, from tidbits clients relay about compliments their child[ren] receive on their behavior or abilities.

Here at school, affirmation usually comes in the most unexpected situations and forms.

Shadows. She doesn't have a black eye.
But this pic so captures her solemn moments, 

when usually she's a laughing comedian.
Little Miss H, 25 months, suddenly burst around the corner of the island from the block area, full of drama...wailing, crying, tears rolling, holding her hand to her head.
"I hurrrrrt myyysellllllf!" 
"Hmmmm....should you be more careful?" I ask, kneeling down as she runs into my arms.
"Let's see," I say, pulling her hand down. I see nothing. No blood, no bump, no redness.
"Shhhh..." I wait for her to comply, getting her act together. When she looks me in the eye, tears controlled and calm, I say, "There's no blood. I know it hurts, but you'll be fine." She looks at me as if she doesn't trust what I'm saying. "Would it help if I kissed it?"
She thinks on it. Quietly, "Yes."
I give a quick peck to her forehead, let go and stand up.
A look of total indignation moves as if in slow motion onto her face, her little body gathers itself up tight.
"NOT THEEEERRRRE...," she says loudly, leaning forward slightly and jabbing herself in the head, "HERE!!!!"
I am so trying not to burst out laughing. She looks soooo MAD that I didn't hit the proper location.
"I am SO sorry. Would you like me to try again?" I say solemnly. Again, she looks as if she doesn't trust me to do it right. She just looks me in the eye, assessing. I can see the little wheels in her mind turning over the situation. I simply wait.
"Yes." She even gives a little nod almost to herself when she says it, as if she's convinced of her decision.
I kneel down and gather her up again, ask her to show me EXACTLY where her boo boo is, and give it a big ole long smacking kiss. I sit back on my heels with her still in my arms and wait a few seconds. "Now, does it feel any better?"
She looks down, brow furrowed, the wheels once again turning, assessing. Eventually she looks up at me, seeming a little surprised. "Yes."
I let her go, waiting for her, this time, to make the decision that our interlude is concluded. As she takes a step, heading away from me back to her play, very quietly I hear, "Thank you." 

Why I consider this exchange with a child who just recently turned 2 SO important:

  • She immediately took responsibility for her situation, it wasn't the fault of some inanimate object causing her to get hurt, this centers her sense of power/control
  • She immediately SOUGHT OUT my comfort and assistance, took control, rather than simply going dramatic and waiting for me to arrive, or calling out to me to come to her, acting the victim
  • She knew she had a voice, she was able to clearly communicate her situation, wants and needs
  • She was able to get her emotions under control VERY quickly
  • When she didn't get her needs met to her satisfaction, she let it be known
  • She deliberated before making her decisions, even in an emotional situation
  • When she made a decision, she stuck with it
  • She used proper pronouns and grammar, which for 2, that's pretty remarkable
  • She volunteered a "thank you" at the end

These types of exchanges occur all the time, but this one struck me as simply covering all the bases, because as their teacher I work so hard from the moment they enter my domain to:

  • Let them own their responsibility, power and control
  • Allow them to assess situations, and source needed resources
  • Let them own their voice
  • Guide and promote their ability to self-regulate
  • Stand up for their needs and be clear on their wants
  • Think critically, analyze, be decisive and hold them to their decisions, not allow them to be wishy-washy with snap decisions they come to regret and try to change
  • Use language as a tool to be heard and get results
  • Be polite and considerate of others, no matter what the situation

It's simply the way the environment is composed, our philosophy of being, passed around and melded into our lives here. Personality plays such a huge role, along with their home environment, but they are here 40-50 hours per week, so the school's influence on these children is significant. 

As she walked away, I gave a big sigh, and thought, "There goes one of my successes, and she's only just begun." 
Tags: child, care, daycare, development, toddler, toddlers, behavior, discipline, language, learning, communication, parenting, 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Toddler & Preschooler Responsibility

"Someone is slacking!
Who's responsibility is this?" 

Yes, I'm talking to 2-4 year olds. And YES, someone will step up and take responsibility and take care of the issue. They will live up to the expectation.

I was talking with two other childcare providers over Thanksgiving and they were both complaining about the children in their care never picking up and making horrible messes. 

They didn't like hearing that I don't really have an issue with that.

  • Everyone is expected to pick up after themselves as soon as they are able to stand up, it is taught from the moment they can SIT up
  • Everything has a place, but that "place" is fairly large/general so close counts
  • For items that cross activity areas such as stuffies & figures, there are homes in each area 
  • We pick up throughout the day, before any major activity transition, so it seldom gets overwhelming
  • Certain areas, such as blocks, are allowed to remain intact no matter how messy if the child[ren] will be continuing/expanding play
  • If you don't know, ask. If you need help, ask. Otherwise, 


  • Slackers will lose privilege and have to sit out the next activity, after all, if you are too tired to pick up, then you are also too tired to do an activity
  • Super workers get acknowledged and rewarded
  • Doing someone else's job, upon my request, gets super rewarded and mentioned to your parents
  • Effort is always more important than results
  • If I have to pick up anything that is not MY mess, then it will go into the basement until I feel like going down and getting it...someday
When we DO make horrible messes, which we do regularly:
  • We work in teams
  • We work in zones
  • When one zone is completed, that team goes to the next one to help out
  • Big kids LEAD little kids, but don't do the work for them
  • We sing, race, or do it as a game
While I'm not a huge Barney fan, we do use this song, only we say "Pick Up" rather than clean up.

Responsibility begins to be demanded by children around the age of two, "ME DO IT!!"

However, parents and care givers often give in to these demands with a sigh and eye roll, assist to the point of taking over, or simply negate the request due to time demands or the child's lack of ability. Message: 

"You are incompetent and not worth my time to teach."

Often parents "assist" a child far beyond the time when they gain competency. Again, various reasons from not wanting them to grow up, time constraints, the child's competency, a lack of patience with their efforts, or a need for the child to be compliant with parental requests, interfere with their child's independence. 

I can't begin to count the number of times I've heard a child WHINE to their parent, "Mommy PLEEEEASE put my shoes on. I can't do it."

That's when I sigh and do an eye roll. The same child has put their socks and shoes on multiple times throughout the day.

If they take any item of clothing off here over the age of 2, then they better be able to put it on, or it is staying off until it becomes NECESSARY for it to go back on. Otherwise, it becomes a game that I am not interested in playing. 

That's not to say that we don't work learning how to take our clothes on and off, just at appropriate times.

"I can't do it!"

"It's okay if you can't do it, but it's not okay to not TRY.
TRY and then if you really can't, I'll help you out.
Besides, I need to see what you are doing wrong
before I can teach you how to do it right."

 Parents are often NOT good about promoting responsibility throughout childhood.

"Miss Connie, do I need to wait for my friends to get here before folding towels?"
"Nope. Go for it, buddy."

  "[Miss N] is helping me! She's handing me the towels so I can fold them."
Here, the children help me fold towels, put away groceries, clean and do a variety of tasks, get out and put away their own bedding & cots, dress themselves, put their dirty dishes on the counter next to the sink, put their items away appropriately, push their sleeves up and get in line to wash their hands; all without any coercion, threats or yelling, simply through routine and expectation and the occasional clapping sequence to let them know that we are entering or in a transition and they need to perform accordingly.

Miss H 2 years
We have a jobs chart that gets rotated every Monday for the children age 3 and up. Since this is a home child care, we usually have 3-5 preschoolers at any given time.
  • Kitchen Helper: sets the tables, passes out drinks and plates
  • Teacher's Helper: fetches, grabs, holds, and does special projects
  • Cleaning Helper: dusts, vacuums, wipes down, supervises pick up times, assigns pick up tasks/teams/zones, and holds last responsibility for having everything put away
Mr. G 3 years
This is a Eureka lightweight upright.
1/2 the weight of the average vac.
In the fully down position, the telescoping handle
is perfect for the littles.
  • Outside Helper: Helping keep the outside areas picked up, playing games with the little ones

Printable for pencil glyph is available for FREE at my TPT store. It also makes cute task cards or word wall. They are sized to fit next to 8 1/2 inch name cards in a 14 1/2 inch wide pocket chart, available currently 12/2013 at Dollar Tree and Target for $1.
Pencil Glyph, Helper Cards

Each preschooler also has a toddler Biddy Buddy that they assist as needed. The little ones know that their preschooler is there to help them, but only if they ask and only so far. 

This all promotes:
  • Responsibility for self and others
  • Leadership & mentorship
  • Sense of pride/accomplishment/self-worth
  • Life skills
  • Independence
  • Self-reliance
  • Community
  • Ability to source & request assistance
No CRYING over spilled milk
but a lot of learning...
"I spilled my milk."
"So what do you need to do?"
"Clean it up."
"[Miss N] took the cap off her sippy and spilled it all over!!"
"Then the Kitchen Helper and/or her Buddy need to show her how to clean it up."
"YOU'RE kitchen helper [pointing to child] and I'm her buddy [pointing to self.]  I'll get TWO towels and we'll show her how."
Notice that I purposefully didn't mention names, assign tasks, give instructions, etc. I simply stated the responsibility. The goal of responsibility is for them to figure it out themselves who is responsible, what their job entails and to determine and source the needed resources.

If they don't do the job completely, then it's my responsibility to step in and TEACH them how to do the job correctly. But usually, if needed, the other children will help to ensure that all the steps are followed and the job is done well.

I make enough of my OWN messes I have to deal with.
FFGs, busy bags, snowball sight words, curriculum, books to sort, etc...
"When I'm all done I have to pick up every piece of the train set since I put it all the way in the kitchen and you don't like us to have toys in the kitchen. You might trip and get hurt," Mr. G came and informed me most solemnly today after constructing for awhile during nap time. 
Guess he wanted me to know he was on top of it.

If there is a basket full of clean towels sitting around when they arrive, they simply start folding when they feel like it. I don't have to say anything. All of them will eventually get folded and put away during the day. 

If I have cleaned toys and they are sitting around in a bin, again, they will eventually be put away where they belong without me having to say a word. 

The expectation exists, and children will live up to your reasonable expectations.
Tags: parenting, parents, toddlers, children, kids, responsibilities, chores, expectations, abilities, preschooler, preschoolers, childcare, child, care, daycare, age, stage, development