Managing and teaching in a shelter child center

Posts tagged ‘Early Childhood’

Ice is nice!

Today we did the ice experiment. It was really fun. and some of the conversations were just funny. But then, with three year old children, it always is.

F0r people who have never done the ice project, its really easy and pretty fun as long as you don’t mind freezing dyed water and/or messes. *giggle* Its really only the following:

  • First prepare tables by putting down four towels and placing  trays on each.
  • Put blocks of ice into basins and put a basin on each tray.
  • Put colored water into jars and put eye droppers (pipettes) and jars next to each basin (on the tray).
  • Get a couple of “tunnels” started in the ice blocks, so there will be a place for the colored water to go . (If the children don’t choose to just squirt the water at each other)
  • Add four children, one for each tray  =)

The main goal (since one always has to be stated) is to observe what happens when colored water is added to ice.

Some of the comments were “does it hurt?” “Looks, It lighted up!” And it did look that way. “It looks like that thing at the bottom of the ocean. (coral reef.)

I have to say, “It lighted up!” was my favorite. When the block of Ice was pressed down against the basin, it did look like it was lighting. I had never seen that effect before. Totally cool!

Water makes it better.

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.

Why Technology can be good in Preschool!

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.

Gradiations! =D

Translation, Graduations!

Yes, 4 of my pre-k students who had the most challenges and would have been the most likely allowed to defer for an extra year have been accepted to kindergarten. For these four children the step into kindergarten is more like a giant leap. Not only are they all homeless, but they all have physical and emotional challenges that they average 5 year old doesn’t have. 3 of the 4 were unable to to do basic personal care when they arrived. And all were unable to socially younger than their ages. But all of them made it!

I’m embarrassed to say we almost missed it. Somewhere along the line we didn’t pay attention to how far they were progressing. It wasn’t until this morning, when I finally sat down and went over every ones progress cards that these 4 children met and even exceeded all the benchmarks to begin K-1. (our district is doing the experimental 2 part kinder)

So now I am about to notify 4 parents that their child will  be entering the “normal” school world, where they will be just like everyone else for a change. =) .It was only two weeks ago that on of the families was expressing their concerns that their child would never make it to non-specialized schools. And yes, I am also sending complete referrals to the schools with the education plans to continue the outstanding progress they are making.

I used to think that those big pre-k and pre-school graduations were silly. But now I am preparing one for my kids.=) I am trying to find four tiny cap and gown sets, and designing little certificates. Because this is what the other pre-k’s in my area are doing. And my pre-k’s are going to be like everyone else. Silly and over done? probably. But for kids who always feel inadequate and are always hearing, “sorry but we can’t afford..” it will mean the world.

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