Saturday, October 10, 2015

Learning through Play - Five for Friday

I have finally come up for a breath as "back to school" has come and gone and we are settling into routines and such! If you are new to my blog, I made the transition from first grade to pre-k this year as well as switching schools and counties.  The first month of school I was in shell shock and wondered daily if I made the right decision. 
Well friends, I am here to tell you that as much as I love the growth in first grade, pre-k is where I belong! It is so refreshing to see children learning through play! Through LOTS of planning and modeling, the students are learning in developmentally appropriate ways.  I have found my passion once again.

I am linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching, here are some snapshots from our week.
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Children love learn to play with a variety of materials.  Some are more popular than others!  It is our job as educators to encourage play by MODELING activities! Foam shapes sat at the math table during centers this week.  I sat down next to a child who just seemed to be sitting there.  We talked about what we could make and started moving the shapes around.  We had a great dialogue including shape names and before long, the table was crowded and everyone wanted to play!
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Puzzles were at one of the rotations during small group activities this week.  It is a "quiet" center,,, My students work on puzzles with up to 10 pieces with individual pieces.  I started to walk over to the child in the bottom pictures because he was "playing" with the puzzle pieces and making plane noises (GASP!) . REALLY?!? This is pre-k!! I quickly caught myself and sat with him for a minute to chat about the space shuttle he was launching! Perhaps he will travel to space someday...
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Games are such a great learning opportunity.  In a time where the only games kids know about are video games, I believe this is the PERFECT activity during small group.  It give students a time to practice skills, learn how to take turns, follow directions and yes,  sometimes there is a winner and a loser.  Lots of life lessons and it is my job to help students with these social skills.  Thanks to my friend Anna for introducing me to the game of CRASH!  I just added the CRASH cards to a set of Lakeshore shapes for instant engagement.  CRASH cards can be added to any cards to add a bit of fun to any skill:).
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The sensory bin is such a great place to combine science, math, fine motor practice, language and free exploration!  We added pine cones, acorns (which not one little friend know what they were prior to this)  and little pumpkins along with pumpkin ice cube trays for counting!  Don't worry about the two little "worms" that crawled out of the acorns... I saved them and relocated them outside!
The block center encourages cooperation, spacial awareness, fine motor, language, naming shapes, and sorting them at clean up!  The conversations students have evolve and the challenge is to add additional materials such as animals, cars and wooden people to foster imaginative play and keep things fresh and inviting.  

As a new program, I am always looking for new ways to expand our program and resources.  I have a Donor's Choose projects you can see more about HERE. If you would like to read more about how Donors Choose works, you can click HERE,

I encourage YOU to COMMENT so we can share ideas about taking the basic centers and changing them up with skills, materials and new vocabulary!  I can't wait to hear what you are doing:)
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  1. I miss Pre-K too! Sensory tables, blocks and puzzles! Love the pic learning trough play!

  2. I love your attitude about learning through play! When I was volunteering in Peru years and year ago an OT told me "play is a child's work," and that's always stuck with me! Thanks for sharing.

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