Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Insecting It Out!

I am so loving being back in the classroom! It's been way too long to do what I love.

This week my class and I are studing all about insects and boy have we been buzzing around for the past two days. We have collected and inspected and our room has turned into some great exploration stations! Below are some great ideas to do with your little bits. Of course, we are using caution with the real ladybugs, caterpillars and ants!
Ladybug Exploration Station

Spider Exploration Station

Honey Bee Exploration Station

Insect Sensory Bin

Itsy Bitsy Spider Sequencing Tray

Children use tongs to seperate the eggs (beans) from the honey (rice) for fine motor development. This tray (chip and dip)  came from the Dollar Tree for a buck!

Exploring for insects!

The weather here in Florida has been just right for bug catching, so today we caught three ladybugs, one caterpillar and put them into our bug containers. Just a reminder, no bugs were harmed during this process! What a way to start off SPRING!

Until next time...go teach the children!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My New Preschool Classroom

I have almost completed my new classroom. It's small, cozy and so cute. Wanted to share with you all.

The classroom is still a work in progress, but we've come a long way in two days! It was basically bare when I moved in, so a lot of work has went in to what we have at this point. I still need to add a little rug to the homeliving area and a little window treatment among some other final touches, but I am glad to have gotten this far.

Your preschool classroom can be all you want it to be! It can be a place of great learning for early childhood children, so make it fit them. If something needs to be changed once they play in the space, then that can be done so easily. Always prepare your room with them in mind.

I love this room so far because it's so cozy, inviting and warm. Like many of the cooks on the cooking shows say that they wish you have smellivision, I wish you had warm and fuzzy bloggerism!

Until next time, go teach the children!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Falling into Sensory Play

I love this time of the year here in Florida. We have the best of both worlds; cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon. I know it's confusing for fashion, but for a girl that does not like cold weather, it's my cake and pie, too!

It also causes a creative fever for teachers and so today my Taylor and I put on our sweaters and went exploring on our property for all things turning fall for a sensory box to add to my classroom. You can go cheap with these things and they keep kids exploring and engaged!

We started with a  cardboard box that held drinks and added rocks to the box.

Then we began to explore the back field where we began to find some things fallish. It's hard here at this time of the year, but we found what we needed.

It doesn't take long before our box is full and I have to stop myself from adding any more. If you are able to take your children on a nature walk to find all things fall, this is a great hands-on activity that teaches exploration, scientific thinking, classification and much more.

All in all my new sensory bin for the week didn't cost me a thing except a beautiful walk in the yard with my daughter, which I'm willing to pay.

Keep in mind that sensory play is one of the most extraordinary tools you can use in an early childhood classroom. It is calming, focus-effective and introduces or enhances spatial awareness for children.

The end result is beautiful and I can't wait to take it and share it with my little kiddos!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Moving in the Write Direction

A while back I had written about writing programs in the preschool classroom with the intention of following up and blogging just a bit more on the subject. After my trip to Tampa and presenting at One Goal Summer Conference, I am geared up and ready to write!

As we are quickly approaching the new school year (crazy, I know), as early childhood teachers we want to begin thinking on how we can build on what we have already done, make it better and engage the children with much more anticipation for learning. The key is your passion as a teacher and the difference you make is up to you. You have the power to change what is going on across your state, in your classroom and in the minds of your children and families that you serve.

The key to a successful writing-rich class is inspirational materials! What better way to motivate children to write than to inspire them.

I want you to understand that if you engulf them with print, access to materials and different mediums and the time to initiate, engage and complete, they will be great writers.

Writing is a process and if you want them to be able to write you must start with the scribble! Scribbling is the first attempt of object to symbol relationship. They may see a cat in their little mind and then write the word cat in a scribble. As they are thinking it, they will write it. They may even draw the cat (which you may not be able to see it) and then write it (again, you may not see it).

As they begin to go through the different writing stages, you will begin to see symbols forming into actual letters. You will be able to begin decoding their writing.

I lke to st bi alk
(I like to sit by Alec.)

Don't take their scribbles for granted! This is the beginning of a beautiful writing experience.
Below are some pictures of activities that children can experience. Think above and beyond the paper and pencil when it comes to materials and think multiple mediums (rice, flour, beans, sand, etc.) and unexpected tools such as some of the ones you will see below.

cookie sheet micro scaffold for one child

Above in the pictures I have taken the blue rice medium, paired it with magnetic alphabet pieces, word family cards that they can use to spell out words and then write them down on their notebook.

 Here I have again scaffold the tray for one child: purple sand, red alphabet pasta, a notepad, tongs, tools, and a sifter for easy clean up. Here the children could use the cards to find words or just pick out letters.

I also want to share with you a secret! Anything can become a writing center and it can be anywhere in the room. Other than you standard, stationary writing center have mobile writing centers that can go anywhere in the room and even outside. This encourages more writing and more creativity from the children. Below I have taken a box from a computer keyboard that is very sturdy and made it into a mobile writing center.

I love the magnetic drawing boards. These are so inexpensive and you can get them just about anywhere. I like to pair them with other materials. Below I have paired them with cards and trays. This activity is scaffold for two children with two of each materials.

Another way to encourage children to write is to write letters to each other, family members, etc. We all know they like to write letters! So come up with creative ways to implement letter writing. Here I have used a Purex All In One detergent box stuffed with envelopes and used as a mobile mail box around the room. There are so many things that you could do with this in your classroom. Get really creative with getting the children excited about send some mail!

There so much more to say about writing, so I will leave you with these thoughts. Surround your preschoolers with materials in their classroom that they can't resist. Be creative and have a well-balanced method of open-ended and teacher directed writing. Please don't ever make children sit for long periods of time and be forced to write. You want them to come back day after day with a motivation and persistence to write. Go non-traditional, think outside the box and give them the support that they need to become successful writers.

Until next time, go teach the children.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tiny Tips for Little Bits

Last month I facilitated a professional development training that took me out of my comfort zone! Now, don't get me wrong, I love being in an infant room and I could stay in there all the day long, but to train others about infants was totally new to me. My thought was that all you do is play with them and nurture them and give them what they need throughout the day to be happy babies. From there, Tiny Tips for Little Bits was born!

Hey I can train on how to love them, feed them, read to them and all that good stuff. And so I did. Infant rooms are the heart and soul of an early childhood facility. This is where it all begins; where needs should be meet, where social stimulation should grow and where brains should have the fuel to take flight and soar.

An infant brain IS like a sponge, but it doesn't always absorb everything. It can also miss out on many developmental learning opportunities if not feed the right stimulation. Did you know that if an infant has poor stimulation to an event, that it's brain may not choose to experience that stimulation again? Say for instance, if a baby is not properly nurtured during a feeding time-is mistreated or abandoned during this time-the infant could eventually not show a positive reaction to feeding time. What if that infant is never loved and cuddled with? Is there a possibility that infant will not choose to be affectionate? The brain is a mystery at times, but the one thing we do know is that if you have negative experiences, it's most likely you will react negatively to those same experiences in the future; infant, child, or adult.

That's why as teachers, caregivers and parents we understand the importance of infant development and choose to give those babies experiences that nurture them and allow them to progress physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.

I had the most fun during the workshop and it was an on-the-floor workshop! Where else would you train infant teachers? I think my theme for the night was how to entertain and teach infants with a bag. Teachers were amazed at the difference a bag made when it came to story time and what fun homemade finger paint can be.

I demonstrated a story time with the teachers showing them how to peek an infant/toddler's curiosity with a story in a bag. By putting the objects into a bag along with the book, it supports the curiosity of the infant/toddler. If you have crawling babies, this works wonders!

Always use the same bag for each experience (i.e. story time, play time, etc)so that they become conditioned to know what is about to happen. Have enough objects (puppets, babies, stuffed animals, rattles, etc.) to hand to each infant. You want them to know that as you read, they will get to hold something. This give them the ability to be involved in the story, not just getting read to.

Have a song that you sing to gather them to the quilt (I think you should always have a quilt or something for them to gather on, otherwise it's wide-open space). The quilt provides spatial awareness. Then as they begin to gather, ask about what is in your bag and then begin the story telling process.

You want to first peek with curiosity by changing your voice and asking, "Ohhh what's in my bag today?" Gestures and voice tone go a long way to get the attention of children.

The importance of having an object for each child is to introduce and nurture the concept of self regulation. Children who know that they will get a turn will self regulate until their need is meet. By beginning at the infant stage with self regulation, you are preparing them for developmental milestones that they will encounter over the next few years. Social abilities thrive on self regulation and when a child can self regulate they can have many more successful learning experiences.

Every step from an infant room to a prekindergarten classroom is vital to the success of a child. It's very important for teachers to see and understand that experiences should begin in the infant room and those experiences should be a continuum for years to come.

You will make many impacts as an early childhood teacher, don't you want those impacts to bring a smile to the face of a child...

Until next time, go teach the children!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Coming In July, Early Childhood Consulting for North and Central Florida

Starting in July of 2011, PB&J Preschool Consulting Services will be up and running and ready to serve the early childhood community of North and Central Florida.

PB&J will specialize in helping early childhood centers reach their full potential for quality care. Services include, but are not limited to: learning environments, room arrangements, child assessments, playground assessments and implementation, in-service professional development training, assistance with QRS, portfolio development, and much more.

Visit the "consulting services" tab for more information. Feel free to email me with any questions that you might have regarding what I can offer to you. Consultations can be personalized for your specific needs.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Under Construction

Something exciting is coming to PB&J Preschool, so please pardon my dust as I work on my site. Thank you.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nature's Gift To Early Childhood

It's Saturday morning, my eyes are searching over the grassy, green field that sweeps our back field. I am thrown back by the beauty of nature and all that it has to offer. As we are deep into spring and headed for the dog days of summer, what are you doing in your classroom to promote such beauty and grace?

The early childhood classroom is much like the grassy field that envelops my eyes this morning. Or at least it should be. It should be open for possibilities, free to express sound, room for seeds to be sown and learning to be draped over each and every child just as the Laurel Oaks are canopied with new life.

Early childhood is the start of something beautiful. It's fresh and new, it's pliable, it's moldable, it's the chance to shape a world. However, in most cases it is not any of these things.

Take for instance, the habit of television in an early childhood classroom, the strict schedule of routines that really aren't child-initiated, but more teacher-directed for their purpose, the closed opportunities such as color this pre-drawn tree green because all trees are green, or the one-child-at-a-time table session. Oh this one is my favorite. You know, the one where each child has a tree ditto in front of them and they are told to not touch it, do not touch the paint, do not touch anything while the teacher holds the paint brush for each of them and paints inside the lines of the tree. After a long while, she proceeds to the next child and so on. Oh my goodness, I know I would have been the child to get up running from the classroom as soon as the door opened yelling, "Save me before my adult life is crushed by the closed opportunities that wait before me!".

Why is it that we can't get passed the controlled nature of teaching? Why is it that teachers can't let-it-go? Why are they so stuffy?

Many times it is out of shear laziness. Now I am being honest, it's my down-fall most days. I can't help with that problem, but sometimes it is out of a lack of knowledge. Many teachers in the early childhood field are given a quick set of trainings required by their state then thrown overboard into the classroom without a life preserver. Man overboard! That I can help with.

I want you to imagine a world with no limits, no boundaries, no one telling us NO. The joy of living each and everyday open to possibilities, the feeling of I'm safe, the urgency of learning, the excitement of a story. This should be your early childhood classroom. Each day a child should know that they will walk through your door and learn something new, feel safe and comforted, have anticipation to hear the story you're going to read, and know that if they are told "no" it's because of their safety and not because they can't paint today.

As the winds blows through the field and the sun peaks through with a new day, allow yourself to blow with the flow and take a peak at the something new a child will learn from you each and everyday. It's easy, so go ahead and release!

Until next time...go teach the children!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My 8 Bare Feet: You Can Now Subscribe By Email

My 8 Bare Feet: You Can Now Subscribe By Email: "You can now subscribe by email to get the latest news, updates, and specials for My 8 Barefeet Barefoot Books business. At times I will of..."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Snoring Is Boring Unless You're My Friend Bear

Recently, I was asked to be a featured blogger for ABC and 123 A Learning Cooperative and I have to say that I was flattered. Now, for those of you that do this all the time, it's probably not that big of a deal to you, but for me...I was super excited! I was asked to share about reading, which is right up my path of teaching.

I love working with books in a preschool classroom. When I was an actual teacher in a preschool classroom, I used a book-of-the-month method and it just worked beautifully. My children learned all about the books I featured, the attributes of the books (front, back, title, author, illustrator, etc), and I want to believe they learned to have a love of books through this process.

One fall, I decided to do our book of the month featuring Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. This is one of my favorite books of all time to read preschool children. There are so many learning opportunities in the book and as the series grew, so did my ideas.

First the book is a rhyming book and we know that phonological awareness and onset and rime is vital to the success of a child reading. If they can begin to put the symbols together to form words, decode and then change the rime to make more words, they will read.

"In a cave in the woods,
in his deep, dark lair,
through the long, cold winter,
sleeps a great brown bear."

I have always thought that I have a knack for making something out of nothing or something small. I challenge you to think about this paragraph and how it can be expanded into greater literacy knowledge.

  • first thing we notice is that it rhymes: demonstrates beginning phonological awareness
  • the lair isn't just a lair, it's a deep, dark lair: uses descriptive words
  • the use of a synonym: cave is the same as lair
These are just a few of the literacy skills that can be implemented by using the book. As an early childhood teacher (any teacher for that matter) you should never just look at book and read it page by page without really picking the words of the page apart. You should always be thinking, "How can I use the words and pictures on this page to extend the learning potential?".

Page after page the repetitive nature of the book suggests that the bear snores on...this use enables the children to predict text and begin to coral read as a group. Pretty soon they can read the book in its entirety. The key is repetition. And the key to great repetition is creativity. So on to the fun stuff we go.

As I read this book time and time again in my class of three-year-olds, we started exploring the different elements happening. We figured out by the pages in the book that it was winter time. And from there it became a question of what type of animals sleep (hibernate) in the winter? How long do they hibernate? What are all of his friends doing up partying? Why is the rabbit called a hare?

These are inquisitive questions that little minds need to know. So you teach them and you explore with them and you ask their thoughts and opinions.

We worked hard through the week painting our cave or lair (a very expensive box) and we prepared for our bears to enter their deep sleep (I rhymed!).

As the week came to an end we had to put our bears asleep for the winter. Each of the children brought in a bear from home, we labeled them with their names (because all bears have names), we snapped a photo of a moment in time and we carefully put them down to sleep.

Three months later (no kidding), the bears came out of hibernation in the middle of night and they made a mess in our classroom (I can't believe that I didn't capture this moment with film, but I didn't!) with paint, play dough, blocks, there was even one sitting in the rocking chair doing circle time! The oohs and awes on their faces were too much to BEAR.

When you think about reading a book, don't just read the page, read the story that the page tells. Go beyond the words and bring the story to life as we did. Children learn by doing; their learning is three-dimensional. Don't bore them with flat words, flat pictures, and flat tone. Deep, dark lair should be DEEP, DARK LAIR. "Mouse squeaks, "Too damp, too dank, too dark."", should be "too damp, too dank, too dark" (itty, bitty voice).

Overall the book shares about friendship, consideration, and problem-solving. Bear goes from mad to sad to happy. Emotions are a big part of early childhood, use this to talk about feelings and how we can deal with those feelings even at a young age.

In the end, bear is awake and as spring roles around Bear Wants More. So off I go to plan another Bear adventure...

Below is a unit that I created when I facilitated a workshop about lesson planning. I used Bear Snores On as a part of the unit and inspiration for activities.

I hope that you enjoy reading about my Bear adventure. Although Bear Snores On is not part of my Barefoot Books, I hope that you will add it to your collection. There is a series of Bear books, so happy reading my friends.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Preschool Library Barefoot Additions

Looking to spruce up or add to your preschool library? What better way to do it, than to join my Barefoot Books team as an Ambassador.

When your preschool or school joins Barefoot Books, you can begin adding a beautiful collection of books to your library at a fraction of the cost.  Here are a few perks to going Barefoot!
  • earn 20-40% commission on qualifying sales (personal orders and orders placed my customers whom you refer to Barefoot Books)
  • build your team and earn 2-8% of the qualifying sales volume of team members, three tiers down.
  • place a stock order and receive free shipping and 50% discount on orders of $500 or more
  • gain loyalty points which can be used as payment on future purchases of Barefoot Books products
  • receive free access to your own website marketplace, online marketing tools, Ambassador-only forums, training resources and more
There is no better time to join Barefoot Books. As a preschool or school, you can stock up with stock orders and pay only $250 for $500 in retail value and get free shipping. Plus, you can promote fundraisers for your school getting parents/grandparents to shop your marketplace. You earn commission and points! Take a stock order and display it for an in-house store for parents to browse and purchase.

Join my team and start your own successful opportunity of giving children a love of reading.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's Almost Time to Go Barefoot!

As you probably have already discovered, I have went Barefoot! With summer coming around the corner, why not?

In the world of blogging, you never know when you are going to come across something that really peaks your curosity and I did so a few weeks ago. As I was scrolling through, reading about, and checking out other preschool blogs, I came across a button that looked sort of familiar, but I wasn't quite sure. So, of course I clicked on it!

Well, as I read along about the company, I was like "Hey, this is what I am looking for. Something to bring in some extra cash and I love children's books, why not?". I researched it a little more and over the Valentine moment of love, I signed up to become an Ambassador for Barefoot.

I just feel in love with the books. I couldn't help myself.

As an early childhood educator, you have to love children's books. And they can't be just any ole' book. They have to mean something, catch the visual eye, and frankly you should be able to compose a unit/lesson plan from one!

If you are an early childhood educator and are looking to add beautiful, meaningful books to your library, you are in the right place. You can join me in trying to promote literacy in early childhood classrooms and give each and every child a love of reading.

If you are interested in becoming an Ambassador or fundraising opportunities, contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions you have. If I don't have the exact answer, I have great team leadership that would love to get those questions answered as well. That's the great thing about this company, quality support and a team of great story tellers.

Now go read to your children and if no one is looking...do it in your bare feet...