Monday, April 22, 2013

Child-led Learning, Our Snapshot

When I say that I have an intensive preschool program, people may think that we spend all day in a classroom type environment. However, that simply isn't so. Most of our learning is interjected throughout the day, and we only sit down for story time, and that's not every time, since we do movement activities for most stories. I say my program is play/movement based, child-led, and teacher facilitated. What does that look like, truly? Here's a snapshot of five of our week's learning activity.

#1 This is pretty much verbatim between me and Miss A during a group activity.

To the group: "What do you want to do...sight words, counter activities, dancing, craft, play...?" [I do this throught the day, letting them choose the next activity]

"Sight words!!!" [unanimously]
"Sure! Why don't you each go pick out your two favorite words and I'll make sentences out of them?"
"Yay!" [they turn and head to the word wall]
"Hey, does anyone remember what you chose for the word of the week?" [turn to me]
"THREE!" [in unison]
"Good job! High fives."
"But can anyone SPELL it?"
"T-H-R-E-E!" [all, jumbled voices]
"Awesome! More high fives."
"Say the word you choose, please."
"I want PLAY, I like PLAY. There it is, above HAS." [she also chose SOME]
"Okay, let's read your sentences."
"I need a name of something that plays, sweetheart."
"Good choice. Here, where there isn't a word, say GIRAFFES." [new having a blank in the middle of the sentence, now we do this on the white board and write the word in or use Rebus cards]
[Miss A pointing to each word] "! Yay!"
"Good job!"
Each child goes through their sentence then we go through them all together.
"Wonderful. Do you want me to put your sentences out in the front area so you can read them to your parents when they get here?"
"Does this look like a good spot or do you want them there, or there."
"Why don't we read them one more time to make sure that I put them up correctly?"
"Okay." Read in unison again.
"What do you want to do next?"
"More school!" said Miss A.
Total instruction time: 10 minutes. No loss of attention.

#2  The human mind loves the number 3, so whenever possible, I teach in units of 3. So for beginning Spanish counting, I randomly sang, "Uno, dos, tres. Uno dos tres. Spanish 123 IS uno dos tres." The children would pick it up and also randomly sing it throughout the day. 

No direct instruction.

I will also bomb instruction during their play, randomly throwing out something new/different or 1-2 questions related to something we are learning. The mind also loves rhyming, so  I try to make the most of that affinity. 

#3 "Hey, does anyone want to learn some body part names in Spanish?"

"YES!" [only takes one, the others will hear and learn, too]
"Okay, hold out an arm like this."
"BRAZO" [hold out arm]
[bring my hand up] "MANO"
[wiggle my fingers] "DADOS!"
[smooth movements] "Arm, hand, fingers."
[again] "Brazo...mano...DADOS!"
Instruction time: 1-2 minutes.

#4  "Hey, does anybody have a cylinder?"

[scurrying about to find one]
"I do!" [toilet paper tube from the sensory bin]
"I do!" [plastic can from the play kitchen]
"I do!" [sippy cup]
"Cool." [I go back to reading to the little ones]
Instruction time: 30 seconds

#5  "Miss Connie, I want to paint!"

"Sure. Anyone else want to paint?"
"ME!" [head into the art room]
"Do you want big paper or little paper?"
"Me, too!"
"How big? Tell me where to cut it." [points to a spot on the big roll]
"I want this end of the table today."
"What color paint do you want?...Where do you want it?"
"Here and here and here. I want purple, too. Over there. I just want to finger paint today."
"I don't want to finger paint, can I use the car?"
"You can use anything you want out of the bin. Just remember to put what you use on the tray after you are finished with it to keep paint off the table."
Instruction time: None. No instruction, just a reminder of the procedures. 
Time: However long it takes to create a masterpiece
Tags: stealth, learning, teaching, preschool, child, care, daycare, pre-k, curriculum,

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