My time at the Institute of Child Development has come and gone. I learned a lot and will miss the students, teachers and families so, so much. Since I didn’t have anytime to blog while I was teaching, I’ve decided to point out something really exciting that happened my last week at the ICD.
On Wednesday, the tiniest baby squirrel was found on the playground by a couple of the students. We found out through Wild Care of Oklahoma, the squirrel was probably only 4-5 weeks old. He was very playful and even tried to jump on our shoes! Of course, we were very cautious of the squirrel and asked the students to give him room in case he got scared.
The squirrel provided a unique learning experience for the students. After finding the squirrel, we went inside and created a list of questions the students had including: “Does the squirrel have a mom and dad?” “How big will the squirrel get?” “What does he eat”? The next day I found the answers to their questions and we learned a little bit more about squirrels. (Did you know they have 5 back toes and only 4 front ones?! I didn’t).
I loved this experience for our students, but also for the undergrad education students working at the ICD. In their classes, they are learning about these unique learning opportunities and I was overjoyed they actually got to see one!
I took the baby squirrel home on Wednesday after mom didn’t come back because he seemed very dehydrated. I was hoping I could get him hydrated and let him back out near the school, however that wasn’t the case. I took him Wild Care of Oklahoma, as they take GREAT care of these little critters.
Below are a few pictures I took of the squirrel on our playground, enjoy!
P.S. The squirrel didn’t have any diseases nor was he rabid.
A year or so ago, I made a Prezi about literacy and play in the classroom. I tried with all my might to get the Prezi to embed on my blog, but it was not having it. I pulled out one my favorite part of the Prezi which was 5 integrations into dramatic play that can enhance literacy. If you’d like to see the entire Prezi you can go to: https://prezi.com/0jbujiguhnme/play-and-literacy/.
Using sock puppets in the classroom “provides a meaningful way for students to engage in reading, which ultimately results in increased fluency” (Peck, 2006, p. 793). Additionally having students make the sock puppets before they are placed in dramatic play is great art project that promotes fine motor and creative skills. You’d be amazed with the stories young students will tell with sock puppets on their hands! (Also, there is an app on the iPad called Sock Puppets where students can make their own puppets, create a scenario and voices for them and record their ‘play’ to watch later. Check it out!)
Adding pens and paper into the dramatic play area will encourage children to interact with print uniquely as adults do (Bennett-Armistead, V. 2013). Teachers could even encourage students to use the writing materials to create scrips for their sock puppets, make signs for a performance, write a take out menu, create a grocery list, etc. etc. etc. There is no end to how students can use writing materials in dramatic play.
Dramatic play is an ideal environment for young students to do a lot of problem solving, develop literacy, and practice social skills. Dramatic play encourages students to engage in more complex and higher quality play which will develop their oral language skills by assigning roles, deciding the scenario, discussing the progs, etc. (Copple, 2009, p. 146).
Nursery Rhymes & Riddles
Nursery rhymes and riddles introduce the use of rhyme and rhythm before the concept is explicitly taught. They also help ESL (English as a second language) students learn their new language through rhyming and repetition (Magee, 2012, p. 29).
Encourage students to write notes to one another, parents, siblings, imaginary friends, etc. This exercise is important to the development of spelling, phonological and phonemic awareness (Access Center, 2007). This is also a unique writing experience students can engage in. The more unique writing experiences students have, the more incentive they will have to continue writing. Having different types of writing utensils (such as pencils, pens, markers, crayons, paint, etc.) make writing more fun and enjoyable for students; young students especially should not be limited to just using a pencil when they write.
- Access Center (2007). Literacy-rich environments. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/21825/
- Bennett-Armistead, V. (2013). What is dramatic play and how does it support literacy development in preschool. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-dramatic-play-and-how-does-it-support-literacy-development-preschool
- Copple, C. & Bredekamp S. (Eds.). (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in
early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8 (3rd edition). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
- Mcgee, L. & Richgels, D. (2012). Literacy’s beginnings: Supporting young readers and
writers. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
- Peck, S. & Virkler, A. (2006). Reading in the shadows: Extending literacy skills through
shadow puppet theater. Reading Teacher, V59, p. 786-795. http://ehis.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=5&sid=3fa331bb-47a7-4b8f-a5b9-2dbf9689ec2c%40sessionmgr111&hid=7&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d
Who doesn’t love music? But more importantly have you ever met a preschool kid who didn’t love to ‘get jiggy with it’ (sorry I had to) to a good tune? I haven’t yet. Music education shouldn’t begin and end when students go to their music class, rather music should be all around them in the classroom. I love using music to enhance my lesson plans and use them during transitions, which are typically a little challenging for little ones.
Below I’ve listed some benefits the Center for Children and Families in Norman noted.
1. Improves memory:
“Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development” -Eduardo Maruret, Conductor of Miami Symphony Orchestra
2. Helps develop language and reasoning
Basic knowledge of music and early training help develop the part of the brain associated with language, reasoning, and retention of information.
3. Promotes emotional development and empathy
Music can be an excellent resource for people who may have trouble verbalizing their emotions. This is especially beneficial to younger kinds. Incorporating activities that could help expand their vocab and the understanding of the emotional context of the music would be amazing to their development as young people.
4. Helps with pattern recognition
Student could benefit in almost every academic aspect with the development of pattern recognition.
5. Auditory skills
A well known advantage of training in the musical arts is acute auditory skills. Linguistically, students will develop a sense of tone and “information bearing elements in sounds” which will help with communication as their vocabulary expands.