Magical Moments

Working with young children day in and day out is hard.  There is no way around it! You are dealing with as many as 20 different little personalities and trying to find a way to meet all the needs of these little guys in a positive way.  There are disputes to settle, messes to clean up (often times these deal with some sort of bodily fluid) and "lessons" to plan and execute.  If there is a day when everything goes smoothly and you actually have energy left at the end of the day, be extra careful! This could be an indication that something really big is going to happen!  Just kidding! There are actually days like that and hopefully you have many of those while teaching or raising young children. Even when things are going wrong and it's one of "those" days, weeks, months, or years, for that matter, there are still those "magical moments" that remind you,  "oh, yea, that's why I'm here." It was one of "those" years for me.

Play--What's Hard About That?

I was asked to help teachers in a classroom of three year olds.  It seems that a child was, for lack of a better way to say it, "terrorizing" the classroom.  The child was throwing toys, hitting the other children as well as breaking toys. When I arrived I spoke with the teachers and asked for some more information about the child. The teachers explained that he was new to the classroom, that he had never been in group care before, and at home they thought he played with older brothers who liked to wrestle with each other as their primary source of entertainment.  That information was very helpful and gave me a pretty good idea about what was happening. After observing the classroom and the specific child, it was easy for me to see what was what. He simply did not know how to play. That is to say, he did not know how to play in an acceptable way now that he was out in public and with new people. His "knowledge" of play was very different from what was expected a

Retirement, Simple Living and Me

This retirement thing is working out really well so far.  I have been reading more, walking more, and hanging with my hounds more. I  also spend some time reading blogs.  I read them as a blogger to gain some pointers on writing as well as for enjoyment. One of my favorites is The Frugalwoods.  This chronicles the lives of a young family that has saved half of their income for the last few years and now have bought and settled in on a homestead in Vermont.  Mrs. Frugalwoods writes the majority of blogs telling about their financial habits and offers tips for living frugally.  The family includes a baby Frugalwoods as well as a Frugal Hound. They describe themselves as "hardcore frugal weirdos." As I have mentioned before,  I am all into living simply and have now started reading about and thinking about frugality.  I have to say that while I don't consider myself a "hardcore frugal weirdo," I can certainly understand the reasons behind living a fruga

Edmond the Crayon Eater

When Edmond was one,  he loved crayons.  He loved the bright colors and he loved the way they smelled. But most of all,  Edmond loved the way they tasted! His mother said,  " Oh, Edmond, crayons are for drawing not for eating." But Edmond just nibbled away on a tasty Olive Green. When Edmond was two, he still loved crayons.  He still loved the bright colors and he still loved the way they smelled. Unfortunately,  Edmond still loved the way they tasted. His sister said,  "Edmond,  crayons are for drawing, not for eating, yucky!" Edmond thought about it and then he nibbled away on a lovely Robin's Egg Blue. When Edmond was three,  he still loved crayons.  He still loved all 64 beautiful colors and he still loved the way they smelled.  But now Edmond also liked the way they looked when he made big circles and crosses and zig -zags on the walls. His father said,  "Young man, crayons are for drawing on paper,  not on the walls." His sis

Art Materials: Every Child Needs Them!

In the last post,  I talked about letting children choose art materials and use them in their own way, because the "process" of creating is more meaningful to children than following a teacher made model to achieve a "product". A basic collection of art materials might include the following: Crayons Markers Chalk Various types of paper including, construction paper in a variety of colors, typing paper, newspaper, paper bags, notebooks, sticky notes, and card stock in various colors and cardboard. Different shapes of paper are also fun to use. Paints including tempera, watercolors, and finger paints. Paintbrushes of various sizes. Paint rollers, sponges, combs, and kitchen utensils, such as spatulas and forks. It's always a good idea to have a large sheet of plastic ( a used shower curtain works) to cover the floor and have old T-shirts or men's old short sleeve dress shirts that can be worn backwards to protect clothing. Play dough (homemade or

Process or Product Art ? ---- You Be the Judge

Let's begin with a working definition of "process".   Art materials that are self -selected by a child and used by the child in the way that they deem appropriate and useful is called the "process." The use of a model is not required in order to complete the project. In layman's terms, this is what some teachers and parents of young children call a "big mess". Allowing toddlers and preschoolers free access to crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, and heaven forbid, play dough and paints, is not for the faint of heart. I agree, it can be a scary situation, however, it is extremely important to a child's development.  When working with art materials, children are learning to be creative, to make choices, building self confidence, and learning about their world as they experiment with different materials and tools. In her new book,   The Importance of Being Little, early childhood educator and author,  Erika Christakis devotes a chapter to

Will Your Child Learn to Read?

Back in the day, when I was in a master's program,  the "whole language" movement was a hot topic. In simple terms,  the "whole language" approach is a method of teaching children to read by recognizing words as whole pieces of language.  It is an approach to spelling that encourages a lot of reading aloud to your child (a good thing!) but it also encourages children to read by sight rather than sounding out words.  Phonics proponents argue that in reality there are very few words that don't follow any phonics rules and that must be learned by sight. If you are over the age of 50, you probably learned to read by sight.  Remember when you saw Dick and Jane run, eat, play and engage in any number of other activities?  In many pre-k classrooms that I visited I saw a number of good things including "word walls" consisting of children's names, environmental print, such as McDonald's bags and Wal-Mart logos, along with some "sight" wo