Water play is great for my very wild Porcupine class. But we can’t afford the water toys that all the slick magazines advertise. There is no way we could get a fancy draining water table either. But we are the preschool that can, and nothing stops the porcupines! We solved the issue fast.
First, we went to McDonald and asked them for some trays that they were getting rid of. Then we went to the Dollar tree and stocked up on plastic animals, plastic beads, marbles and such.We also bought four large basins, about the size that fits in the sink. Then we went through the collection of old toys, measuring cups of different sizes, water bottles and like objects. The bead necklaces were cut, so they were all different lengths,varying from 3 beads to half of the necklace. (maybe 15-20 beads).
Then the fun begins. We set up four places at the table, each with a tray, a towel and a basin of warm water with that days items in it. The items can be everything from a water bottle, a cup, a handful of glass rocks, shells, pony and troll dolls, the beads,sponges and plastic animals. Sometimes we add extra treats to the water. We may add soap, that they won’t notice till it starts bubbling as they play. Or it may have tinting from dye, either blue, purple, of pink. We don’t use yellow, because it triggers one of the kids with autism, and green stains too much.
Today was yucky day. And that’s actually a good thing. Today we experimented with different kinds of sensory experiences. Things like “What’s in this bag”, Gak, Clean Mud, Sand and water tables, shaving cream and food coloring and some games like a balancing contest, snakes and snake charmers, Turtle and Rabbits, cross the room like a ________,and the ever popular “Seals on the bus”. (Wheels on the Bus goes on a field trip and accidentally pick up some seals) This activity also includes some of the animal poses, as the seals first leave the zoo and go to a farm.
Obviously we did different activities with the cruisers, but it was along the same lines. And yes, we took our guarders into consideration. For every messy activity, there was a non-messy alternative. But one thing I noticed is that some of the guarderes, when they realised they would be given a choice,were at least willing to attempt some of the “neater” messy activities. Like when they learned “clean mud” is soap. Some didn’t have a problem with soap, and got more into this activity than they have gotten into others. And as long as the teacher paid attention, and let them quit when they had enough there were few upset children.
I will post some pictures when I have sorted them. I have to make sure none have children in them that the parent doesn’t want.
I know that there will be endless debate about technology in preschool. And I have to say that I am very against the “Plop the kids in front of a screen” method. This has very little benefit (in my opinion).
However I found a very good use for Technology in preschools. It may even save a culture. But I have to start at the beginning for that to make sense. I am Native American. I go back to my reservation every summer for two weeks. I have noticed that our language and stories and many of our ways of life have all but disappeared.
One of our “Grandmothers agreed to be part of a project that uses technology to preserve culture. She told all our old stories to the children at “circle times” and had them recorded. She also spoke of the history she remembered, and the things she used to do, and the foods that were eaten, and the old ways of life.
It was a huge hit! The children loved having someone talk to them, and play music and dance with them, and teach them things. It was fun to have an honorary gramma for two weeks! And Gramma loved being with the children and continuing the old way. In the end we had over 200 videos, photos and voice recordings filled with an almost lost culture. We are now trying to come up with even more ways of using them, maybe having my brother (who designs apps and games) come up with preschool appropriate apps.
What makes this even more important, is that shortly after I left, the honorary Gramma we had died. But she left us the gift of language,culture and a community that very often gets lost in the shuffle.
But there is another benefit of this technology. I can take it back to San Francisco. I can use it to teach my homeless city children about a whole different way of life. I can teach other children the importance of culture. Theirs as well as mine. They can learn about children they have never met. It can show them how to preserve their cultures.
Yesterday was our first ever graduation! It was wonderful. And definitely an emotional day.
It was held in our class, since the class is in a multipurpose gym. But it was decorated way differently than usual. We went all out for those four children. Caps, gowns, certificates, The whole nine yards. We even got them “kinder-packs”. (more on those later.)
The “ceremony” itself was brief. all the pre-k kids sang the Winnie the Pooh song for the parents, the four graduates were brought to the back of the room and sort of bounced up to the front in a clump.Since they’re 5, lines don’t quite happen yet. =) . Each child took their certificate, and joined the parents. a total of 15 minutes, I believe.
But it’s still one of those moments that you remember for being special. I will probably remember the smiles , the looks of pride that they had done something. (although they may not be clear on exactly what yet.) One child had their cap on sideways. One girl tripped on her gown. One skipped down the aisle singing I’m graduating, graduating, graduating. And knowing these particular kids makes it all the more meaningful. I just hope that some day, they will be doing the exact same thing for high school. Or maybe even college.
Now back to the kinder-packs. Each child got a backpack with the uniform for the school they will be going to, a uniform (all slightly large, since the kids will likely grow in two months),some books, two pairs of shoes, jackets, crayons, paper, and whatever was on that school’s kinder list. Also there were some toys. Also there was a card for each, saying how great it was having them in my class, and when they go to kinder, they can still come to my room for after school.