Open House Family Night!

Last week was so hectic! Thursday was our open house night for the 4 year old classes and I was busy finishing projects with the kids and working on gathering everything we needed for the night. The kids were also busy cleaning up the classroom. I gave each of them a wipe and let them go all around the classroom and clean! They LOVED it. They cleaned Meatball’s (our hamster) cage, the chalkboard, the doors, door handles, walls, tables, chair, shelves, the stage, EVERYTHING!

Open house was from 6:00-7:30. We started at 6 in the classrooms where families could look at the documentation posted around the room and in the hallway. The kids showed their parents around the room and explained how we did calendar, how centers worked, and enjoyed refreshments. Siblings came as well and loved exploring a brand new classroom. I made sure to have updated documentation posted around the room and in the hallways. I also updated everyone’s portfolio.

At 6:30 everyone went to the Fellowship hall (kind of like a cafeteria) I has a projector showing videos we had taken earlier in the year of various project and moments in the classroom. The kids and parents loved it. After we gathered everyone to the tables I introduced Mrs. Mary and she shared a story with everyone to introduce the project they were about to do! The story was Not A Box by Antoinette Portis, which is about a bunny  who has a box but it’s “NOT A BOX” it’s other things like a burning building or a rocket.

I wish we had an ELMO or some way to make the pages bigger so everyone could see the book better. But, everyone pretty much got the point. Then, I explianed what was going to happen next. They could work with either jus their family or as a table with more than one family. I had glue, brads, markers, crayons, tape, scissors, and paper at each table and the boxes, lids, yarn, pipe cleaners and staplers at the front of the room. Also, hot glue guns set up on a table for ONLY ADULTS to use.

They we stepped back and observed everything that happened (and took pictures, of course). It was just amazing. So many parents let their child take the lead by deciding what they were going to make, choosing the materials to use, cutting things out, etc. They made rockets, houses, cars, bird houses, a refrigerator, a table with food on it, a robot costume, dinosaurs and so much more!

 

I had a handout for the parents to take with them when they left and if they didn’t I just put a copy in thier cubby for the next day. Here is what it looked like.

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A couple days later I also sent home a survey for parents who came to fill out about how to improve.

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And that was about it! It was sucha great time and everyone enjoyed it! We had nothing but positive commments! 🙂 If you’d like to know anything else about it please don’t hesitate to send me a message or comment! Thanks and enjoy!

❤ Ali

 

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Through the Eyes of a Child

So, I tried something a little different with my kids today. I created a new classroom job-the photographer! They have always been interested in taking pictures and of course they all generally come out blurry and either REALLY close up or REALLY far away!

So, I give the photographer for the week a short lesson on the camera; the parts of the camera, how to turn it on, how to take a picture and keeping the camera still so the picture is clear. We talked about not leaving it on ALL DAY and keeping the camera safe so it doesn’t  break. P, the photographer for today, took her job very seriously. I’m pretty sure we got footage of her every move this morning. 🙂

I just went through the pictures she took and it’s just amazing. The things she thought were important enough to take pictures of, the things she noticed in the classroom and outside were amazing. If she didn’t get a good shot she would try again and she experimented with how a picture would look if she did a certain movement or held the camera a certain way.

 

Here are some of her photographs. . .:D

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Making number books
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Working together to organize the blocks shelf

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Snack!
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All organized!!
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Puzzle time

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We found a caterpillar!
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Planting Seeds
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She tried about 7 times before she could get a good picture of the lettuce seeds!
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Covering up the seeds!
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Watering them now 🙂
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Other classes seeds are starting to grow!

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These are daffodils the kids planted a couple weeks ago. Two of them finally bloomed today!!
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On the way to the playground!
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In line to go inside!

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The Golden Leaf!!
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Waffle Blocks!!

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Looking at the buds on the plant by the door.

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NOW–what to do with the pictures she took. . .

I brainstormed with one of my supervisors and she came up with having a display for the “Photographer of the Week”. At the end of the week she could pick 4 color photos and 5 black and white photos that she wanted to display and they would go on the board for everyone to see. And at the end of the next week when the new photographers pictures go up, hers would come down and be put in a photo album to look at later. So, now I am in the process of making the POTW board and figuring out how to organize all of the photos.

I also have a digital photo frame at home that I never use so I was thinking I could put a card in it of all the photos they have taken and hang that above the board.

I can’t wait to see how it all works out!! 😀

 

❤ Ali

I’m such a bad blogger

I feel like I have been neglecting my blog! (not that people read it) I really am doing a lot with my kids and it’s just hard to find time to sit and write about everything. I find myself posting things to my Instagram more than I am blogging. So, follow me on Instagram @peaceloveandteaching for up to date posts and I’ll continue to blog when I have the time.

Beautiful Stuff Project

At the beginning of the year we began our beautiful stuff project. The first thing I did was ask the children what they thought beautiful means. Those answers are on the left; the ones on the right are things they thought were beautiful. I particularly like that they think onions and teachers and both beautiful!

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I found some items around the room and outside that I thought were beautiful (ribbon, bead, shiny paper, a leaf, a stick, etc.). I put them in a brown paper bag and took each one out and showed it to the class. Most of the class agreed with me that most of my items were beautiful, but then I brought out the stick. . .

”A stick?”

“That’s not beautiful!”

“*laughter*”

Then came the meaningful conversation about how everyone can find different things beautiful, not everyone finds the same things beautiful and that’s ok.

Then, I gave them a job. They each got their own brown paper bag and were told to take it home and find SMALL things they think are beautiful and fill up the bag. They were all so excited to take their bag home.

They took it home over the weekend and on Monday they each took a turn pouring out their bag on a tray and showing their beautiful finds to the class.

After they all shared, we poured out all the items they brought and sorted them into three groups: art, home, and nature. I split the class into two groups and gave each group half of the items they brought in. They worked together to decided what box them item would go in.

We used the items to make the letters of the alphabet for our wall. Each child got to choose 2 letters to make. I cut black poster board into 6 sections and wrote the letter on it using white crayon. Some things had to be hot glued on because they weren’t staying on with regular glue. Surprisingly the shells and most of the rocks stayed on without any hot glue! They have been up going on 5 months and (KNOCK WOOD!!) nothing has fallen off any of them. OH! Also, I used command Velcro strips to attach the letters to the wall! Taping things to the wall in my classroom and in the hallway almost never works. All our humidity, even in the winter, makes sure of that.

Well, that’s about it. I LOVED this project! We regularly receive compliments about it and the kids love referring to it when they are writing.

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Documentation board for the entire project

We’re learning the letters in sign language too and so each week when we learn a new letter I take a picture of one of my kids making that letter then I print it in black and white and post it above that letter on the wall.

Enjoy!

❤ Ali

Follow Me!!

I’ve started to pin my ideas to my Pinterest board as well! So click HERE to be taken to my Pinterest page. I have tons of Reggio boards! Or you can go to the ABOUT section on here and see the link to it!

Also, I was talking to my best friend about how this blog and pinterest and all and she suggested I start an Instagram page as well! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?!?! I’ll be able to share more photos, videos and ideas of what I do in my classroom! So this morning I started it up and already have 2 posts! If you’re interested please follow me @PeaceLoveAndTeaching

THANK YOU!!!

❤ Ali

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DOCUMENTATION!!!! (*sing song voice*)

Alrighty! Here comes one of my favorite things to talk about!!!

DOCUMENTATION!!!!

I started documenting with the understanding that I’m not taking pretty pictures of my kids hold up their artwork or standing next to something they built.I want REAL pictures of them in action, exploring things, making discoveries, trying things out. I want to document the process of their thinking. Most of the time I have to be sneaky with my picture taking because once the kids see the camera they either want to pose or go into hiding. Again I got a lot of help from looking on pinterest boards and at other teacher’s blogs. Plus, in the beginning I ran all my documentation by my director and Mrs. Mary (my work best friend) before I posted it.

Documentation is not just pictures of the kids engaged in learning. It’s also writing down the what they are saying. This can be tricky some of the time because you are so in the moment that you forget your camera, you don’t write down what they say and then you forget later (happens to me all the time!). I don’t want to write down what they MEANT to say either. I want their real, authentic words. I have gotten permission from my director to record what the kids are saying so I can go back to it later and make sure I document it correctly.  Here are a few examples of some of my documentation.

This is from our Beautiful Stuff Project at the beginning of the year.The picture below is on a bulletin board and is a documentation panel.

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The next set of documentation is individual documentation. Our letter for this past week was the letter R so we made Rectangle Robots. After each child made their robot I asked them to tell me about their robot. Some of them went right off telling me their name, special powers, what they like to do, etc. Others needed a little more prodding with questions as you can see below. We have a very spacious wall above our cubbies outside so we put some of our documentation in the hallway to entice the parents. 🙂

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In my next post I’ll show you how I include my documentation in the kid’s portfolios and in our class history portfolio!

Transitioning!

I know I am all over the place with my posts, but this is just the way my brain is working at the moment. In my first post, I mentioned my new director and I honestly can’t say enough good things about her! When we found out who she was and that her background was in Reggio, my work best friend and I immediately started researching Reggio Emilia. We loved what we found about the classroom being the third teacher, how inviting and natural the environments were and how parents are really involved with their child’s learning. That’s one thing I really wanted was for the parents of my kids to take the time to stop, explore our classroom, see what the children are learning, how they are learning and that we are NOT a…dare I say the D word…DAYCARE.

We met with our director and she was so excited that we were interested in Reggio and so gung ho about adopting it into our classrooms. She shared books and ideas with us and really got us started on our transition into Reggio inspired classrooms.

Now, the question was, where do we start? . . .

 

Great question.

 

We began with the containers that the children’s supplies, materials and toys were in. Instead of the cute Target containers with hearts or the primary colored buckets we inherited from teachers past, we switched to wooden/wicker baskets. Well, we only had so many baskets available in the school so we decided to have a basket drive for the whole school. Where parents and teachers could bring in baskets they didn’t want any more. We got a few donations in but still hit the thrift stores a couple times a week for some good deals.

Side note-I am now addicted to thrift stores. I mean, it’s absolutely crazy how excited I get about finding a South Carolina shaped basket for 99 cents. It’s the little things in life I guess.

Anyways, after we purged our plastic containers and replaced them with the baskets (Believe me this was not a one week ordeal, it was an lengthy process. You don’t realize just how many containers you actually use in your classroom until you decide to replace them all!) we looked at our set up and presentation of our centers. I wanted to revamp my art center SO BAD! To Pinterest I went! I decided to organize my drawing mediums by color and use clear cups to display the markers, crayons and colored pencils so the kids could see the colors through the cups. It took me TWO MONTHS to find the right cups. Finally, I found heavy, PLASTIC, clear cups that were the perfect size. A giant bag of about 20 of them for $2.99. I have since used some of the cups for displaying materials for art projects and for holding water for when we water color. I made labels for everything that went on the shelves so the kids would know where everything belonged.

I also found a post about using baby food jars to store paint for the kids to use and mix to make their own colors. I did this but I also realized how perfect they are for putting glue in and just having the kids use q-tips to apply the glue to their projects. It cut down on the amount of glue sticks I throw away (now it’s ZERO) and I don’t have to continuously unclog glue bottles. (SCORE!) They are also almost impossible for the kids to break if they drop them!

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I also decided to use the wall space above my art center to display student artwork. I found a great pin about using picture frames to display artwork and I must say this is my favorite part of my room!

Next, I went through all my materials, toys, and manipulatives. I wanted my things to have a more natural feel to them so that the kids would be the ones creating what they want instead of “playing within the lines” of what they were provided. Of course, I kept all our blocks, housekeeping toys, counting bears, unifix cubes and things like that. I went to the Dollar tree to see what kinds of materials I could find. I found colored stones on the craft isle that are used in fish bowls or flower vases. I use these as math manipulatives, to make patterns, for weighing, making numbers and letters and SO MUCH MORE! I also got a few mirrors for the kids to explore and work on. I go in the dollar store every now and then and find little odds and ends that I think of uses for.

We also chose to change our curtains! Instead of regular cloth we decided to go with. . . wait for it. . .BURLAP! I was a little skeptical at first but once they were all up, they really brought the room together!

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This is my reading corner. It looks a little different now (I rearrange A LOT), but you get the feel for how the burlap curtains change the atmosphere of the room.

With our extra burlap, we decided to use it for our bulletin boards. SPEAKING of bulletin boards. . . I wanted to make my calendar more meaningful to my students. I found a chalkboard banner at target for $1 that I use to display the month and I used twine and index cards for the dates. This is what it looks like:

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Every day the calendar helper writes the number on the front of the card and then picks a student’s name out of our Popsicle stick cup to draw a picture on the inside of something they did that day. They draw the picture and I write a sentence about what they drew. As the month goes on it becomes and history of the classroom. The kids can look back and see what they have done all month long. At the end of the month I switch out the cards with blank ones. The cards I took off I place in the student’s portfolios.

Well, that’s enough for now. Soon I’ll post about the kid’s portfolios and how I do my documentation!