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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Activities for Preschoolers

In addition to our Turkey Paperbag Handprint Sitting  or Puppets craft and our Turkey Handprint Poem craft, we did a lot of other things during our Thanksgiving unit.

The main learning goals were to know something about:
  • Pilgrims
  • Mayflower
  • Plymouth
  • Native Americans importance to survival
  • Squanto and his history
  • 3 sisters planting
  • Reasons for feast
But we also just want to have fun!


We have played our Thanksgiving Feast BINGO game.

We played Where's The Turkey Hiding?

"Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey 
where are you hiding?
Come out, come out
to be dinner for Thanksgiving!"

I hid the turkey, they looked for the turkey. When they couldn't find him, which I tried to ensure, I gave them clues...
  • KITCHEN - Turkey was hungry so he went for a snack...
  • BEDDING - Turkey was cold and needing something to keep him warm...
  • WRITING - Turkey wanted to write a letter to tell everyone not to eat turkey on Thanksgiving...
  • BLOCKS - Turkey wanted to build a hideout...
  • PILLOWS - Turkey wanted a soft place to rest...
  • DRESS UP - Turkey is looking for a disguise...
  • STUFFIES - Turkey is trying to blend into the crowd...
  • LIBRARY - Turkey is reading up on the best hiding spots...

We read many Thanksgiving stories.

We watched some good Thanksgiving Videos. Unfortunately, the best ones on Squanto and the Pilgrims were on Scholastic, and they just shut it down with password protection...

One went with the story of the Pilgrim's voyage that I got from Kidssoup a few years ago.

The other I found through Youtube from Shelby Barone.

Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey, what do you see?
I see a [black] feather behind me!
[Black] feather, [black] feather, what do you see?
I see an [orange] feather sitting beside me.
[Orange] feather, [orange] feather what do you see?...
...[White] feather, [white] feather what do you see?
I see a colorful turkey all around me.

I did it first, then gave the feathers to the children to put up as the color was said, mixing it up from the prior round. Then we reviewed the colors with the toddlers and then again in Spanish with the preschoolers. I'm making color word labels. We had some, but I have no idea which curriculum unit they are buried in and filed. I also need to find gray felt for the last color needed. Didn't have any.


I came across this blank [most of them are not!] turkey printable for FREE on TPT that I LOVE. I put in some of our kindergarten level sightwords and made a find and color page for the preschoolers. You could also do colors, numbers, letters, addition facts, etc. or make a dice roll game where the children color in the number of circles they roll [which it was intended for]. Very versatile.

I would say the word and see who could find it, then sound out the word, then show the word card as necessary.

This classic poem is available from DLTK and makes a great finger play, gross motor play, or flannel board.

This minibook from DLTK is one we usually make. It is an excellent preschool-level reader. The words are simple: I like corn. I like pie...With large, easily colored graphics if you print the black and white version.

printable children's book

Thanksgiving is always a fun unit and there are so many excellent resources and crafts out there. For more ideas, you may want to check out my Thanksgiving Pinterest board.

Tags: Thanksgiving, holiday, preschool, kindergarten, childcare, child, care, daycare, theme, unit, holiday, craft, activity, activities, learning, educational, math, 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Turkey Handprint Cards with free poetry printable


The 1/4 page poem is available for FREE at my TPT store.

My son made this one below in kindergarten years ago. As you can see, his turkey didn't fit well upon the card. The teacher used it as a cut and paste opportunity as well.

For my preschoolers, I really wanted just the handprint for posterity's sake. So that's how we do it.


If I have school-age children here during the holiday, with hands larger than a 1/4 sheet of construction paper, then we do it as a collage rather than a card.


1 sheet construction paper, choice of color
1/4 sheet of white construction paper 
1/4 sheet poem

  • Determine if the child's hand will fit upon the 1/4 sheet of white construction paper, if not, use a whole sheet and cut to size after the turkey is finished.
  • Paint the child's hand, or have them paint it if old enough. Brown on the palm and thumb, child's choice of 4 colors on the fingers, they choose which finger gets which color.
  • Place child's hand carefully on the white paper so the paints do not smear.
  • Press down firmly.
  • Fill in as necessary with paint on any patchy/missed spots, maintaining the handprint lines.
  • Let dry.
  • Have child add orange beak and feet, black eye and red wattle with crayon or marker
  • If necessary, cut to size.
  • Have child add glue or glue stick to perimeter on back of handprint and poem.
  • Help child to position them centered on the colored paper or card. 
  • Add name and year to back.
  • Optional - embellish with Thanksgiving Day stickers, not over the white paper elements
  • For the card, if it is to a particular parent, grandparent, etc., help the child to write it on the front.

Tags: grandparent, parent, family, Thanksgiving, Day, card, craft, art, handprint, poem, poetry, preschool, children, child's, kid's, turkey, paint, printable, free, freebie,  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thanksgiving Paper Bag Puppet or Sitting Turkey

Surprisingly, I didn't have anything like this on my Thanksgiving Pinterest board! [I do now!] So, I just Googled "paper bag turkey puppet" to get an idea of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to offer them a choice of puppet or sitting turkey, and ended up using the same craft for both, which I didn't intend. 

Since there were so many ideas, I really can't say that any particular one is what we followed, probably this one from Ramblings of a Crazy Woman is the closest. 

I provided a triangle template for the preschoolers to trace and cut out the beak first. Then I provided two different sized lids for them to do the white and black for the eyes. 

They traced their hands, and I cut them out through the five sheets of construction paper for the tail feathers, and again for the feet. Probably a 5-6 year old could do that themself, but these preschoolers are just now working circles and not able to do the intricate cuts necessary for the hands. 

They chose whether they wanted a puppet or a sitting turkey. The little ones just did the puppet, because I knew they were going to tear them up pretty quickly anyway. 

For the sitting ones, I folded up the bottom of the sack to create a fold line and made a box at the bottom. The children wadded up two sheets of newspaper and stuffed their turkeys, then I stapled the sides for stability and taped the seam. 

At the end, the preschoolers used the scraps from the red to free form their wattles. 

When doing the black on the eyes, I told them that they could place them center, left, right, up or down, but they had to do both eyes the same. I didn't want to make this TOO much a product versus process piece, so I didn't instruct them further than that on placements.

I found it interesting that the toddlers were more concerned with symmetry and placement than the preschoolers.

It's a good opportunity to practice skip counting by 5's, which we will be doing. Crafting with toddlers in the mix doesn't lend itself well to extended teaching in the moment.
Tags: handprint, craft, preschool, pre-k, turkey, Thanksgiving, activity, art, hand, print, shapes, shape, paper, bag, brown, cutting, scissors, tracing, math, skip counting, counting by 5's, 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Babysitting vs. Teaching - How to Get Parents to Understand

One of the big hurdles for home child care providers, and even centers, is getting parents to understand the value of the service. 

Babysitters come to your home, eat your food, watch your TV, make sure the children are fed, changed, possibly bathed and put to bed. They are usually young, inexperienced, untrained, relatively reliable [you hope], and often let the children play while they are on their phones. A good one will engage with the children for at least a short period of time. Basically, they are a presence to ensure the safety of the child. Their average pay is over $10 per hour for one child nation wide. 
[Great infographic at link.]

Is your tech-savvy babysitter a danger to your child? - She Knows Parenting

Preschool teachers, who have up to 20 children in a class, get paid an average of $20,000, which averages out to gross earnings of $.50 per child per hour. Child care workers get slightly less than that, making an average of $19,300. [Assuming a 40 hour work week, many get paid less and are hired as less than full-time.]
[20,000 dollars /20 children / 2000 hour year = .50] 

Children are at a place of business where they use THEIR resources, color on their walls, wipe snot on their furniture, eat NUTRITIOUS food they provide, and are in a safe & sanitary environment created through effort and money. 

Teachers engage throughout the day with the children, handle their emotional meltdowns, teach them manners and socialization, educate them on activities and the use of materials. They are educated/trained in child development, safe sleep practices, CPR, first aid, and curriculum, or should be, at minimum. 

They are, or SHOULD BE, professionals who can handle themselves and a group of children with a far greater level of patience and understanding than the average person. 

So the question is:

"How does a provider or center distinguish that they are TEACHERS versus babysitters?" 

I believe a professional attitude and environment goes a long way to encourage the distinction. Beyond that, here are my best suggestions, I would love to hear what others would add. 

- Have set curriculum with assessments, observations, outcome goals, etc. Curriculum doesn't have to be set in stone or academically challenging. Even through free play, directed play, or teacher-engaged play, there are SO MANY skills that grow and mature and scaffold to a higher level or other skill set. Creating the environment in which that growth is encouraged and allowed to occur, is the realm of a teacher.

- Identify by program - Reggio, Montessori, Creative Curriculum, Waldorf, etc. Know your facility, its philosophy and where that philosophy originates.

- Identify staff teachers, lead teachers, etc., even if you are in a home or group home environment.

- Have professional policies and practices that are good, solid and clear for payments, parental expectations, procedures and human resources.

- Educate the staff. Pay for teachers to exceed continuing education requirements, promote your educated staff in advertisements and parent correspondence.

- Name the facility to reflect your direction. Have it be a learning center, academy, preschool, etc. rather than a daycare, childcare or center. While the curriculum and teachers may be highly professional, it is unfortunate that daycare, childcare and center all are VIEWED as less than professional and academic.  

- Start as you intend to continue. When first interviewing with parents, stress that education and learning, in a developmentally appropriate way, is the goal of the entire facility, no matter what age is represented. Every staff member should be able to adequately relay that philosophy and the methods used.

- Don't have curriculum just for show. I've observed in some high-end centers that I never saw staff look at or conduct any of the promoted curriculum, or even follow the posted schedule. Often the activities they DID engage in were NOT developmentally appropriate.

- Post curriculum. Even if your curriculum is dynamic, child-initiated, etc. you can post a white board and write down activities throughout the day with learning skills noted, or provide a daily or weekly email with highlights.

- Document learning experiences through video and pictures with the skills represented highlighted for the parents. Even if it is just random play, you can find logic/reasoning, social, language, etc. skills in use and development.

- Know the children, discuss with the parents their strengths and weaknesses and the direction you see them going and why. 

- Allow parents to see the environment. Label centers and activities with the skills they reinforce. 

- Communicate with parents! Have a newsletter, website, blog or FB page where parents can see learning in action across the facility, by teachers, administrators and children. If concerned about privacy and confidentiality, webpages can usually be password protected and FB groups can be closed to only those you allow.

- Encourage parental involvement. Working on colors, numbers, letter of the month/week, etc.? Give parents a take-home sheet listing fun activities for reinforcement at home and in the environment. It gives the children an opportunity to show growth. 

If you want to be viewed as teachers and not babysitters, then it truly begins with believing the difference YOURSELF and living up to that expectation.

We teach others how to treat us.
Respect is earned.
Tags: babysitting, versus, teacher, teachers, child, care, daycare, childcare, center, professional, professionalism, toddler, infant, preschool, parent, parents, pre-k, parenting, quality, 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Addition Doubles 0-5 Finger Chant

We have been working on addition and subtraction for a long time now, but these are the first FACTS that we've attempted to begin memorization.

The children helped me come up with this little finger play chant for our 0-5 addition doubles. After just a couple of days they had them down.

Zero plus zero equals zero I know.
One plus one equals two it's true!
Two plus two equals four no more.
Three plus three equals six such tricks!
Four plus four equals eight that's GREAT!
Five plus five equals ten let's do it again...

We hold up the number on each hand then bring them together for the equation and then we have a movement that goes with the last part.

...I know. - point to head's true! - say it convincingly and nod your head more. - wave hands across one another in front of you
...such tricks! - spiral motion with first fingers going up and out
...that's GREAT! - say it loud and raise arms into air it again... - make a rolling motion with hands

We are also working on negation, a number minus itself equals zero. They got that concept down very quick.
tags: math, maths, mathematics, numbers, counting, addition, facts, memorization, doubles, finger, finger play, fingerplay, chant, kindergarten, preschool, fun, education, teaching, homeschooling

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Foiling Toddler Bin Dumping

While this is a place of PLAY, with few rules and where the children are encouraged to experiment and be inventive, when that curiosity leads to toys a foot deep and necessary items being damaged, then it needs to be controlled.

Once the children reach the preschool stage, then these measures are not necessary. 

Toddlers though...[sigh!]

Our toy bins are most often used as:

trains, planes and automobiles...


or jumping and climbing platforms.
Which unfortunately ruins them...

While these are all worthy activities, there are items SPECIFICALLY in our environment to facilitate these, and we have loose parts play all over outside. SO...

since we can't just put everything out of reach...


Initially I tried screwing the bins into the wooden dowels, but the dowels split, and the screws popped through if pulled upon with enough force. 

SO...plan B, which seems to be working wonderfully.

I marked the bins of our main unit  in the middle,
about a 1/2 inch higher and lower than the bar they rest upon,

drilled holes with my largest drill bit

And threaded zip ties through them, attaching at the bottom and cutting off with my wire nippers.


For the shelving bins, I found these plastic baskets at the dollar store, thinking that the children wouldn't be able to stand on them, so they would hold up better. They do. However, this does not keep them from bin dumping them and using them as hats. 

So I again used zip ties, through a screwed in eyelet. The children can easily swing the baskets out to get to their toys, but they can't take off with them. 

They still get the toys all out, but now they have to do it one item at a time, not just up-ending it all at once. Additionally, since they can't take off with them, there is little incentive to remove all the toys unless they are actually PLAYING with them.

I left these ties long so that I can adjust them or remove the bins if needed, without wasting zip ties.

For the large dress up bin, 

I did screw it in, using good sized washers and wood screws to ensure that the plastic wouldn't rip out.

The children still climb in there, but it's a tight fit with the shelf above and they don't do it very often.


I have also found that I have to screw in shelves, because they will clear the shelves [dumping] to remove them from off the brackets to be used as bridges and the shelving unit used as a play house. The peg brackets, unfortunately, are also choking hazards, so it's important that the children can't get to them and remove them. 

I find it easiest to place the shelf in and mark the top and bottom, remove the shelf and pre-drill through the middle of the lines,

then screw in from the outside. This ensures that you hit the middle of the shelf and won't have screw ends poking out or possibly splitting the board.

While it would be idyllic if children would simply play with their toys, I like that my students are smart and inquisitive enough that I need to batten everything down or they WILL deconstruct and invent with anything and everything possible. 

It makes them much more interesting to teach.
Tags: toddler, bins, toys, play room, play, playroom, shelving, storage, daycare, child, care, childcare, preschool, homeschooling, parenting, bedroom,