While I understand that some of you may not KNOW (AND this may come to a surprise for some), I have a true "Bah humbug" kind of personality when it comes to all this merry cheer and all the jolly Holly! So try to picture my facial expression when back in mid-November my little superstars wanted to explore the man in red, the man who somehow travels the world in 24hrs, the man who eats million of cookies and drinks gallons of milk.... Yes... SANTA CLAUSE! My jaw dropped and I couldn't believe that I had to explore him over and over again but this time at such an early stage. Trying to convince myself, I thought "OK, this might get out of the way before December begins"... But BOY was I so wrong!!!!! (HELPPPPP).....
In all fairness I do understand why they love such a charming character who seems all nice and dandy, especially if you are a 4 year old but me as an educator (and as a mother, wife, daughter... Frankly as a human being), had way more than just enough of the same old ways. Thinking to myself whether to either dwell on my misery or jump along this Santa's sleigh, I decided to approach this not so newly adventure with a stubborn yet reluctant theme. I had no way out of convincing my dears to change such intense feelings about this bearded fella so sigh, I went with the flow. Plunging my bottom down on a cushioned tyre, I lounged back around my students to check out why such interest approached at the early stage of mid-November.
Brainstorming made this little effort of mine become intriguing. The sheer amount of knowledge was the most I ever got out of any student. The selectively muted child, suddenly became hard to keep up with, as stories, ideas and make believe flourished beyond my expectations. "OK... You can do this"...I tried to convince my own self....and yes I did!
Feeling accomplished now that it is all over I still have to admit that I like very little of the whole season especially when December kicks in full gear. During mid-November the topic was well on the way of making me believe in the Christmas magic again but once December came knocking so did the endless days of chaotic moments. Every educator can relate to the never ending rehearsals, the very merry Christmas messy bakes, the Holly jolly Christmas songs and above all those days were you just want to get it over and done with! It is not all that bad indeed, however as I said exploring our theme in the season when it was least expected was way more enjoyable than when it actually came along. True you have more sources to relate with in December but there are way more distractions along the way! Outings, fundraisings, concerts, parties, gift preparations.... the list goes on and on and on.
We had such a blast preparing for this topic in mid-November that ending it was simply a huge HALLELUJAH after the hectic December period. Luckily the flexibility of such a curriculum allows me as an educator to manoeuvre around anything that comes what may but above all it gives me sanity that I am being understood. Not all was bad, hectic and stressful I promise and we have a few of our favourite days I swear, but our most memorable ones have been implemented through November ironically more so than in December. Reason to why? My conclusion is due to the topic not being straight up in anyone's face or agenda.... Back in mid-November the theme of "Father Christmas" was just the right amount of enthusiasm from the students to keep them curious, guessing and above all ready to investigate beyond what their eyes could see. It was the time when there was more than one straight forward answer and it was the time when students had a way more vivid imagination.
There was less glitz and glam around the city, and there was less stimulation around anywhere they go. There was just enough to ignite an interest for further investigations and there was enough fire to keep them engaged with ease. There were not enough shops accumulating red santa hats, so students could create blue, green, pink ones instead. There were not enough references to snow and to what cold actually felt like, so there was room for experiments and predictions.
Why this post you may ask? It is not to rant, brag or something like that but it is actually an eye opener to myself to be invested in more subjects that may look out of the norm and my own comfort. There are no rules on how and when learning progresses, and there surly is no way of stopping curiosity just because "it's how it should be". After all this long episode, my students taught me to reach out more and understand further that imagination has no boundaries. If Santa Clause is what they wish to explore in mid-May, March, July or October, I have learnt to say "so be it", because now I know that it is THEN when curiosity channels into intensive and progressive learning.
A Xmas display made by all kindergarten students of our school at Ħamrun S.S to add a more conjoined collaboration between students alike.
Picture this, first week of a brand new scholastic year and immediately the word "spiders" is overheard like a gazillion times. Imagine whatever and wherever we are/do, spiders is again the main focus of their attention. How did it all started? With a simple bathroom break! A visible spider was lurking in the shadows of our school bathrooms when it caught the eyes of 2 girls. Screaming? Nope! There were giggles and talks which kept other students intrigued and curious, hence why soon the whole class took a look at the spot the spider once peacefully at rest. From there on the interest grew bigger and bigger, meaning we had to dig deeper into a topic which many may find ugh or aħħ but in our case it was more like an ohh!
Abundance Web works varied from the initial Web discussions leading towards other ones more physical, daring and innovative. The beauty of taking apart a topic and use specific ideas to enhance growth is beyond me. Webbing gave us room to grow in
. Pre-writing skills while making Webs with chalk, water colour paint, markers, paint, glitters etc.
. Gross and Fine motor skills developed through movement, creativity, outdoor play, digital literacy and more.
. Letters and Numeracy through games such as treasure hunts, crafts and sensory play.
The list is endless to mention however the adventures were beyond any of us. After exploring spider Webs, fascinating facts about spider food lead us to Code Week in which we unleashed Minibeasts and gained knowledge through unplugged coding games. The food chain was intended to get weirder by the minute but quickly it reverted back to "anything is possible" thanks to the National Geographic Documentary found on YouTube. Even I had a bit of a fair share at gaining knowledge on things I never knew about spiders.
Gobsmacked at all these interesting facts, we moved on to one of the students favourite life cycles of all....the spiders life cycle! Through orbees/waterbeads, cotton wool and imagination, this scientific fact was so intriguing that we decided to make a "take home activity" for students to do during Mid term holidays and surprisingly they all still mention this up till this day.
Of course no one will ever forget our endless Incy Wincy Spider singalongs. Varied in ways such as through messy games, outdoor fun, dress ups, storytelling and our very own favourite Stop Motion Video. This song was on replay everyday (help!).
My personal favourite part of any activities we do is of course our creative spaces which are built with the students and for the students. First time using 2 areas in my small classroom but eventually it worked out well since the 2 spaces catered for similar but yet very different opportunities. One area was aimed for more gross movement, enveloping schemas and above all a spookish look while the other area focused more on S. T. E. A. M education opportunities and the softer ambiance of an Incy Wincy. Both areas were used consistently and students abided by the necessary rules. Some may think that once students are let free they will automatically mess everything up and make all that once was pretty look very gnarly. In reality when you set rules all you have to do is just trust their good intentions and all will follow through eventually.
At the end of it all we concluded that spiders are just like us.... Small and Underestimated
Click the link below to gives you a clearer picture of it all.https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2691198557610186&id=1011067762289949
Having students from different year groups can be a pain and when you have no class support makes it ten times harder to see the bright side at things. You feel that extra pressure was bestowed upon you and that your day has failed before it even begun. You start putting up toys, closing off areas and switch off your good vibes without giving them a chance to even try your methods and abide the new ways.
So back to yesterday, yes it was one of those days just different because I was accompanied with the extra class supporter (Ms. Amanda Chappell you are God sent) and a handful of students from 2 (not 1) absent educator. Still I got a mixture of wild emotions of fear, anger, anxiety, panic, empathy, thoughtfulness, care, love and that of being supportive and helpful too. Having a semi planned day for a Friday was ideal but things happen and we adjusted sort of quickly.
So what happened that made me blog about it all? Don't we all get through the day when you are added up with more students than those of your "own"? Nothing new right?..... Correct however yesterday's incident learning took a toll on me and made me look of this very common scenario differently. Scrapping all my plans and going with the flow made me love the "extra" students as my very "own" quicker than I expected. Starting the day was not easy but it ended up very rewarding. I went back to the roots to why such things happen in my life and I love learning something new everyday. From cries, tears and uncertainty, I managed to make these "extra" students of mine feel loved, secure and cared for. I listened and followed their ways. I mentored and walked through with them.
Integration was celebrated through diversity of ages, mastery skills and above all through smiles and joy. Democratic participation was flawless and active learning was still on point. Adjusting my day was beneficial for all stakeholders including me in the whole thing! Yes tears were shed and tantrums were obvious but understanding it all was enough to settle down along the way.
Let us not fear the "extra" students and celebrate them more as "ours" once they are in our care. Give them tools that make their days brighter because unknowingly their day started off harder than ours. Smile, play, adjust and include them in everything you do. Appreciate the fact that they have been blessed in your care for a reason.... to make you feel proud of what you do through their thank yous, their actions, words and above all giggles and perseverance. YES it is a true bummer that you have to go through it (some more than others) but..... how would you feel if in your absence "your" students would be treated differently than others, felt unwanted, stressed and without the same support you provide them with?
NO my LIFE IN KINDY is not always roses and butterflies. I get days when I am a mess and I get days that end up with me feeling lost. I get the odd pees, poops, tantrums, arguments, fights and odd looking stares. I get those days when one or more student is so off that ends up disrupting our whole day. I get moments when rolling eyes, pouty faces and snarling looks occur. I get days when I hold my pee so long that it hurts my bladder and I definitely get those days when I feel so helplessly ill. I have moments when I literally forget to eat and drink or simply find it a waste of time! I do get days when my activities are not executed as I hoped for and I do get my days when I simply stare in awe of it all.
I laugh about it after it all ends, I reflect and look back on what I could have done better over and over again (most of the time I reflect on my way home in the car, while waiting for my son at one of his extra curricular activities and surprisingly enough also on the loo or while taking a bath.....literally when I am not surrounded by anyone haha).
Why am I posting this in the beginning of a new scholastic year? Because I have been asked numerous times how I end up with PERFECT scenarios and students year after year. Laughing such statements off with a cheeky smile I always reply that hell NO it's not always what it seems. Putting it out there for everyone to see, I too get my share days of stress, panic and tension. The last two years alone I had a particular term/months in which I felt total burnout. I had situations which were out of my control and I had million of reasons to cry and weep. Instead of battling all this alone I sought for HELP. I researched about different methods on how to keep myself sane and adequate enough to wake up in the morning with a smile on my face. My reason about not posting about my negatives so often is because I am a strong believer of positive attributes. Keeping my emotions versatile is another way on how I cope with my rough days. I go through so many emotions in one day (sometimes even in 1 hour), that channeling back to my inner happiness has become easier by time because I worked on myself throughout the years.
Therefore once again let me say it loud and proud....YES I have plenty of "BAD" days and I am OK with it. Of course children are going to pee, poop, vomit, fight, argue, conflict, have tantrums, scream, run around, get bored, challenge you, answer back, get out of their spots, lack attention and drive you up the walls at times, but remember that that is what ALL children go through. There is no such thing as "THE PERFECT CHILD MOLD" because every child has his/her own best and not so great qualities. Take a moment and reflect... Right now....Just think of a flaw ALL of your students have, now wait......think of three strengths that ALL your students have! Everyone is PERFECT in their own special way. Just like adults, children have emotions, thoughts and expressions but unlike adults they are in your care to help them transition all these into words, attitudes, actions, behavior through TIME.
How do I do it? What works for me is not necessarily what may work for you and YOU shouldn't feel any pressure of doing what anyone else does, as long as you are doing it in the right mind for the best of your students.
On the other hand my favorite strategy of it all is "Less is More". Let me get this straight YES I have days when my voice is raised higher than the norm because everyone has a breaking point! At the end however when that happens it is usually done intrinsically due to my own panic of either seeing a child hurting own-self or others. My temper is easily controlled and I don't get off at the lightest things in life. Instead I just WAIT. Everyone hates waiting so I make do with WAIT. For example: If we are walking in a line and this line becomes uncontrollably aggravating, I stop and WAIT! Telling my students in a calmly matter that unless we walk properly I am not moving. No matter how late I am for dismissal, activity, outings..... I stay put and WAIT. If the classroom is becoming to rowdy, uncontrollable and way out of hand, we calm down by WAITING. I won't start an activity unless there is calmness in the room and if it takes my students a timer to calm down so be it. We sit in front of the timer and channel calmness before moving on to another activity. I don't care about timing and whether I would conclude the activity in the way I planned it out, but calming my students before starting one is key. So again we WAIT! I stick to my word and most importantly stay committed to what I do and say.
It has become a pattern of patience, tolerance and above all tough love however it is done purely with LOVE and good intentions. No one is alone and in a classroom full of little ones remember to always stay positive! We are there to nurture their joys, laughter and happiness! If we keep dwelling on the odd days of stress we would never get to the point of that sigh of relief.
Tantrums occur in my classroom too! Some are violent and need more attention. Just breathe, relax and comfort both child and yourself. Seek help and remember you are never alone!
While I'm trying my best to keep positive, the strain is real! I am a picky one.. I know. Easily unsatisfied with all that is already up, I moved the furniture like 5 times already. This must go there... After a day or two I change it up again. AGGHH... Annoying myself is becoming a constant pain but I know it would all settle in once all papers are sorted, furniture is set, rubbish is done and all toys are in place.
One thing I am proud of is that I'm keeping true to my commitments and I removed my desk along with those annoying corners which I never found a good use for. About my teaching desk.... Well it is technically still there however now it is hosting the computing section. Yes students will be sitting/standing where once was my desk but now that I have no use for it, it has become a great space to use I.T gadgets on. Easy at their disposal and efficient to use and store.
My favourite new space is the CREATORS area. A place with soooo many different types of writing materials varying from fabrics, coloured paper, construction papers, charts, tracing papers, textured papers, whiteboards, easles, chalkboards, diaries, calanders... You name it it's there. This is the place were paint meets brushes from all corners of the ironmongery store and where glitter is sprinkled like never before. Glues, markers, crayons, scissors, bits and bobs... The place were you can create anything you dream of and everything your fingers explore. I know... Very inconventional but soooo worth the mess of it all!
The role play area is still looking a dump because as of yet I haven't found anything I am happy with. I'm settling in for a type of ice-cream shed just to have enough materials to observe students on what they pick up on. Costumes, props, fake foodies and ample space to engage. This is one of those spaces that is still raw in that mixed up head of mine but it is eventually going to end up superb once blends in together perfectly. For now I must do with what I must do! Keeping it bare... (ugh.. Pain)... But I think it's for the best.. Maybe.. I dunno... Aaahhh!!! YES convinced... It is only for NOW and it is inviting enough for play.
Another new space is the Engineering section. Again no structure, no rules, no boundaries. Keeping this one neat and tidy until it gets mushed up and running perfectly. What's in it? Pipes, connectors, bottle caps, marbles, loose wood, rocks, buttons, flat markers, more wood, screws, bolts, fabric pieces... Can't remember what else but yeah, those nonesense rubbish is now sorted and ready for play.
I know you might be asking about my toys, my books, my circle time, my math, my literature.... Let's say it is there but it is no longer MINE. There is enough maths going on in the provided spaces, enough literacy and language development through each area. There is enough room to communicate and express feelings, enough room for discussions and talks.
I may be finding it harder than I anticipated because I am putting my effort in making it seem selflessly. My energy is exhausted by the thought of making it pleasing enough for my little ones. It is causing me unnecessary confusion and doubt. I feel ready physically but emotionally I know my classroom is lacking from a touch of this and that. But then I sit back and reflect why I'm setting up.... For whom it is for & for what it is to be used! I don't need to feel guilty for not having a Pinterest look class or the latest furniture. I don't need to feel gloom for not having the latest and most flashy new things. I reflect and think some more..... after all the years of stressing myself about where to put this this and that, now I am FREE to set up how I feel like. I am free to set up how is NECESSARY and most of all according to my Own CIRCUMSTANCES.
We all go through these stages of confusing, dissatisfaction, gloom, unhappiness, doubts and stress..... But as you can see we also go through the joys of feeling freedom, having a voice, be ready for exploration, test ourselves and most importantly question our purpose. My days are not different than yours. And it is in no way picture perfect but like any other days I think positively and make it happen.
Yes I am now happy.... yes I am now pleased. YES I will stop stressing and YES THIS YEAR is going to be as special and as unique. Cheers to change, where last year's better is now a BEST and where last year's doubt is NOW REASSURING. We can do this bigger, better and beyond anyone's expectations!
Setting up my classroom for the scholastic year 2019 /2020
Constant arguments with some educators to why I keep defending this curriculum and not agreeing to stick with the previous one, has emerged ever since the said curriculum was introduced in our local education system. I for example was skeptic of the change too, but little did I know that what I was already doing in class was somewhat the same approach but even better. No!!!!! I do not defend it because it's what I was already doing previously, however I defend this curriculum because it is the RIGHT change to move forward in education. I have nothing to lose by defending this curriculum, however I may have a wider chance to gain more wonderful experiences from it all. Anyone new to the emergent curriculum is rightly so scared, opposing, fearful and maybe a bit judgmental on the whole concept of it all, but who wouldn't be when such a big change is occurring imminently.
Back to why I am front line in defending this curriculum.... How can you not defend this approach when it gives both educators and students alike to roam in a world of laughter, joy and endless play? Ever since I started using the emergent curriculum properly, I have noticed that I am happier, more creative and most of all FLEXIBLE in anything related to my work. As an educator I can now progress my students imaginations, wishes and interests. I can move boundaries and break stereotypes with powerful reflective conclusions. Shamelessly I admit I found the transition from one curriculum to another easier because I have a positive attitude to what I do. YES I am very vocal and not afraid to withstand with what I say and do, but rightly so I do it in the best interests of my students. That is why I challenge anyone who question to why this curriculum is so important in the early years.
Some my argue it is more stressful because you need to plan more activities, keep resources updated, expect the unexpected....but in reality if any educator reflects on their yearly dos and donts, you would be surprised to how less of work it actually entails. Lets try it out together! Write a column, title one section with Pros and another one with Cons. If you truly are ready for change you would realize that realistically there are more Pros than Cons. Why? Because we all think ahead to bring out the best in our students but we needed a real wake up call to help us realize that stepping back is eventually the best way to bring out what is truly best in them.
Plan less and be present more, isn't that why we wanted to teach in the first place? We didn't sign up to pile ourselves with paperwork and we certainly didn't go in this venture to moan and grumble. We entered this profession to make a difference and unless we as educators step back and listen to our students, we will not be able to make any change at all. YES I am with you, we may be a minority and sometimes not taken seriously when we speak up about the necessary needs we actually require when handling tender ages, but what is the use of crying & complains unless everyone is ready to change. Maybe I myself have a strong willed persona however like many I would argue, fight and defend in what I believe is right. The emergent curriculum is currently my hot topic in any argument that arises and believe me I have several people asking me why I do speak up about it so openly.
Unlike what some may think, NO I do not do it to make others look bad or simply as we say in Maltese "ghax inhobb nidher!" I have been criticized, verbally abused and as of course trolled over the internet on several occasions just because I stand my ground and sustain my beliefs in how important this change in curriculum is. I know not everyone might like this post but yet again it may be an eye opener to some too. After all it is perfectly fine to agree about the fact that we disagree! Let's look at the bright side and remember why we enjoy doing what we do. The emergent curriculum gives us room to explore beyond the obvious....isn't that another beautiful day to wake up too everyday?
Classroom struggles I have many and what is your struggle may not necessary be mine indeed, yet again my struggles are only understood by myself and no one elses.....and so is yours. Now imagine this! You have a curriculum in which for once, it gives you room to build up those struggles or work around them. Mostly it is a route to improve goals throughout the year in the best possible. Threats we have many and every school differs, but with the emergent curriculum we can all eventually make them look flawless. It is a curriculum that allows us educators to listen more to the cry of children who are born curious learners but somehow may have been diverted in exploring their limits. A curriculum which helps me expand my own knowledge and provide me with wisdom along the way. Forgetting about those fancy elaborated activities and making simple tasks on the spot are by far the most rewarding of all. Isn't that a good enough explanation to why I keep defending this curriculum to withstand and progress? Sleepless nights I still get many but now they are related to excitement more than stress. Who cares if I didn't conclude task a,b,c,d,e...... who cares if I didn't reach my target by the end of the day! The most important thing is that with this curriculum I am now more present and therefore I am prepared to think on the spot, provide as needed and most importantly move forward from the known to the unknown.
Good Luck everyone for a bright new scholastic year which is approaching fast now. Remember that with all the change that is happening in the system, by far you are making the biggest change of all in the lives of your new students!
Unlike last year, this year I feel more prepared and more confident about what I have beforehand. I may still not know exactly my place, my grade and my definite school but this won't really change how I feel about the upcoming scholastic year ahead. Soon we would be recieving that most awaited email of whether you stay in your current school or if you have been deployed to a new one. Daunting and frustrating to pass such torture year after year but rewarding at the end when you finally feel at peace with your own career, position and a new year ahead.
With a new head of school and a possible shuffle, I am even more determined to make my next chapter as great as my previous ones. I have always been myself and allowed myself to listen, discuss and grow. Having nothing planned ahead makes my head lighter and my mind more at ease. I am well prepared for anything come what may, and I feel secure enough with what I do thanks to positive thoughts.
Throughout my summer I have come across so many inspirational people who taught me what life is really about in the eyes of a kindergartener. It is a mixture of my students happiness with that of my very own. I am happy and ready to face any changes, I have enough grit and fiest in me to keep me fighting for what I truly believe in, be that here, there or anywhere else. I am ready to set back in a classroom full of its own challenging beauties. Sure in kindergarten anything is possible but in its own true sense... ANYTHING is possible so why plan ahead for something that I may be not producing well enough in the eyes of the true stakeholders?
My class is not just about me... It is about them too. Did I plan activities for the first week? Kind of a yes and a no.... I want to build my classroom with my students. I want them to have a say in where their books will be, in the placements of their belongings, in their seating areas, in whether we should use this or that.... Then I sit back, think, reflect and ask myself, "Is it worth doing all of this in the first week, month, term? Is it worth having a class with bare walls, bare tables, spaces and corners?". It all sounds pretty perfect and what is ideal in my head however unless I know where I stand, where I am and what I need to do next, this is what I will be relying on.... Them!
I will be changing up some of my usual "dos" and I'm not afraid to say that I would be still keeping some of my favourite "DOS" too. Every class is different, every year is diverse, every student is unique! While I can't help myself with having a bare classroom to welcome my little new ones, I will keep it minimal as much as possible..... Yes I know it would be hard, tempting and I may have a tingling feeling in my ten tiny fingers but I am determined to stay back as much as I possibly can. (oh this is going to be fun to see me fail or conquer haha).
Off with the nonsense charts... gone, gone, gone....No more stand alone maths corner... finished, poof bye.... No more freestanding literacy area... Asta la vista, cheerios, so long.... Circle time area? No thanks.... Nature table? Longggg gone!!!! Instead of filling my classroom with corners that are picture perfect and dust collectors, I am ready to fill my classroom with whatever my students want to learn about. Sure enough you all know me by now and know that although these corners, sections and tables will be long gone, they would still be part of our classroom FUN. It doesn't need a table, area or corner for my students to appreciate nature, express their feelings, learn numbers and practice their alphabet. It takes motivation, inquisition, curiosity and confidence. It takes pride, a driven mindset and a whole lot of a sense of belonging.
That is why this year I am stepping back from my fancy dancy corners, pretty decor and all that adults think would work for kiddos. Instead I will be focusing more on space to play around with. More areas to move, climb, show and inspect. Enough corners to inspire and be inspired. So if you are trying to imagine how I would be setting up my classroom soon... picture this.... It would be having enough furniture to host learning opportunities, enough tables to use however we please, enough space to showcase our ideas and most of all a classroom full of opportunities more so then clutter, clutter and clutter.
Before Summer ends there is only one thing educators strive for in achieving before the start of yet another prospective scholastic year..... relaxation... right? Actually this might be most of the worlds' perspective, however in reality before school starts there is a huge "TO DO" list which doesn't cover any curriculum but it has equal importance.
Here is how I break down my PRE-SCHOOL before I head back in a new scholastic year:
P- Preparation: From those file organizers, to those toy cleansing routines, there is never enough time to prepare you for what your next scholastic year will behold, however getting yourself ready for flexibility is key in the educational field.
R- Resources: Always on the lookout! Either spending money at charity shops or surfing the net for the latest bargains, there is never enough excuses to look around for resources. YES there is no such thing as ENOUGH in my vocabulary when it comes for this sort!
E- Energy: Soaking up some sunshine might not be the case of laziness... on the contrary it is a necessity. Loading on Vitamin D while I can and I'm not ashamed about it. Hibernation season starts in September for anyone in the educational industry so reviving your mind ,body and soul is key before school starts.
S- Search: On going changes keep you on the lookout for any latest news. Blogs, posts, emails, updates, news.... I hawk the web on a daily basis in search of new ideas, new standards, new announcements and most of all new experiences which may benefit or hinder my new year ahead.
C- Closure: An educator hardly forgets any of his/her ex-students yet alone the ones that you have just spent your last year with. Before a new year starts and meeting my new bunch, I find closure in what happened throughout my latest experience. I reflect, move forward and close a chapter in order to re-write a new one. Hard, difficult but it is mostly rewarding.
H- Help: There is never enough HELP going around. From handymen, cleaners, parents, mums, dads, in-laws, husbands, wives, siblings, friends.... Getting ready for a new year brings with it new ideas therefore the more working hands on deck the better outcome for your dreams to come tangible goals.
O- Objectives: Revising my own objectives as an educator is essential. Why do I do this work? What are my goals for the year ahead? How will I grow as an individual? Where is this year going to take me?..... Setting personal targets as an individual is never wrong, especially since throughout the year we tend to focus alot more on what is best for our students and in the long run we sometimes forget about our own self.
O- Ownership: It is not wrong for us to have ownership of all the things we did, do and about to still do in our career. It is OK to say "I" did that.... "I" do that... "I" will do that. Preparing myself for such ownership is essential in order not to be taken for granted, whilst still continue to share my own practice, ideas and thoughts. Collaboration starts with me too, so it's OK for me to have my OWN flaws and perks and own up to any of them.
L- Learn: Everyone tells me ,"it seems easy for you" but only a few know how much learning it takes for one to make it seem so. I learn from my mistakes and improve upon them. I have no shame in naming a few. I too have my moments especially when a year is coming to a certain stressful peak. So before my next adventure I learn how to control my emotions, my temper, my attitude and my behavior. I learn from my mistakes and move on instead of dwelling on the past and sticking with negativity. It's a learning process and every year is different.
YES my PRE-SCHOOL principles are different from those of my students, however I strongly believe that they are as important as any 3 year olds.
As soon as I stop doing what I do, I feel lost and unhappy. I get stuck in my own thoughts and in my own little world with no where else to explore. I become gloom and dull. I start moaning and groaning which then understandably leads to family arguments. YES I do get those days that I just want to lay in my bed and practically not move at all.... You know that type that I just reach for my pillow and snore until the next day, however I can't see myself doing it for more than just a day!
That is why I keep myself occupied and unless there is paint, colours or mischief involved, I won't be relaxed! How I keep myself occupied when my work is OUT for summer? Simple... I find WORK in summer too. Whilst some may like cocktails by the beaches, I enjoy paint brushes and glitters. Do I mind it all? Not really because I still get wet....soaking wet and doing what I love doing most keeps me happily occupied. This also keeps me going and process my thoughts into actions rather than dwelling on any negative thoughts.
My ideas are shared with others and my little world blossoms further. Being around people secures my sanity and flourish it with creativity. Stressful at times but that's me! I share my summer days with beautiful souls who just like me enjoy what we do. My million thoughts are shared amongst others and my thousand ideas process through my little fingertips. I may not get a suntan but I really don't want it! In my summer I get the opportunity to fool around and be ME! I see students of all ages being non other than kids. I test my limits and highlights with children from ages two up till eleven. I get pampered with endless love from staff members, guardians and FOOD! I get a sense of belonging in an environment that allows me to attribute my skills in varies ways. I may not have a class to look after for yet another summer, but I sure keep myself busy in and out of the "office". My favorite time of summer is when I'm at work and I can't see myself doing anything better. I get the chance to grow further and observe what others do.
Bring on the chaotic heatwaves as we are prepared to shower them with a whole lot of splish and a million more splash! May your Summer be what you WANT it to be because it will be over before you know it!
Here is a glimpse of what my Summer looked like and can't wait to share with you what else we are about to achieve this time! Click the link to take you an a little tour /gallery/summer-school-2018/
Number 10: Cancer Awareness "BEAT IT"
A simple yet effective activity to participate during "Breast Cancer Awareness" month. Putting on those boxing gloves and painting our walls pink was a way not only to learn all about the colour PINK but to also show our loved ones to get themselves screened. Young ones were still capable of understanding the struggles of such an illness especially since they found it hard to beat up a strong wall. It was one of those activities that had an abstract message but lucky me, my students were able to understand what it was all about.
No 9: Role Play in the Witch's House
Why was this role play area a memorable one? Because it was our first one and this is where my students learnt about our classroom boundaries, classroom rules and started building relationships. Here they had their first conversations, their first disappointments and their first responsibilities. This role-play area set the ground straight when it comes to fair play, sharing concepts and most of all respect towards each other. YES it got closed off within the first few days of use however it was the starting point of having a responsible class. Discipline and consistency helped in framing my class and it was the starting point of a happy year. Halloween is always a hit in my class but providing such ample play opportunities in one corner was a step forward to more explorations which I lacked in such an interesting topic prior to this year.
No 8: Christmas Sensory Walk
How do you explain the feeling of Christmas? Well this was a sensory walk which allowed students to actually FEEL various emotions and textures on what one can find during the Christmas season. Stepping on soft bubble wrappers, crunchy recycling bags, prickly tinsils, slippery water beads, shiny glitters, rugged carpets, ticklish hamper paper and smooth brown papers made us feel various emotions that allowed us to put our feelings into perspectives a bit easier. This would be a repeat in my books should the occasion arise again.
I read several benefits of how YOGA can be a calming activity for a child body, mind and soul so this year I had to try it out. Luckily my class was not apprehensive and they were capable of having such mindful sessions which allowed them to focus well in tasks or even calm down during harder situations. Easy posing and a little stretching was just the right recipe for making these short sessions effective. Bottoms up, chin down, breathing exercises.... if you are like me and never done YOGA in your life, I suggest to look through You TUBE and there are several of helpful tips which you can follow through with your class and in any setting you prefer.
No 6: Baby's First Haircut
I do give my students several opportunities to enhance their scissoring skills but this was one of our favorite because apart form just cutting away the hair, students had to use other tools to be creative. Hair pins, rubber bands, hair dryers ... you name it and it was definitely there. Free play such as this one has been sought for in numerous play opportunities and this one marks my 6th favorite due to how much time students spent snipping and creating with passion and ease.
No 5: Unplugged Coding: Superhero Play
Capes on and we were OFF to SAVE the WORLD through PLAY! Our Open day theme was all about that! Playing and saving the world! This was possible with unplugged coding games such as moving from one end to another, jumping on one pictures to another, crawling, spinning etc etc. It was a physical and mental game in which students from all over school enjoyed playing and not just us in kinder.
No 4: Outdoor Play through E-twinning
Everyone knows I am no stranger to the E-Twinning platform but this particular E-twinning collaboration was new to me. I partnered up with a local educator who was slightly new to E-Twinning and together we grew experiences from our classrooms and met also outdoors. Usually through E-twinning I have only managed to send mail by post, communicate via Live Video calls etc however never did i have the opportunity to have a project in which two classes could actually MEET UP! After months of communicating and collaborating together online, we managed to meet up and this is exactly why such activity was a memorable one. It was new for me and new for them but having spent so much time together online, it was a smooth transition and a smooth activity.
NO 3: Baby Bumps
Spontaneous Mathematics lesson through the eyes and observations of little wanderers. Early January was indeed a whirl winding moment because of the baby boom we had going on in our little class. From early pregnancies up till full blown ones, I had guardians boosting new life from every corner and of course this was noticed by my little observers. Hence why students dressed up as pregnant ladies and started comparing their baby bumps. It was in that heat of the moment when I just dropped down everything and allowed more room for predicting through estimations.
No 2: Walking on furniture.
I have always had a thing for flexible learning, Why sitting down should be enforced from such a tender age when we are actually supposed to be enforcing movement and physical growth? Isn't movement the best way to learn about boundaries, risk taking and above all keeping active citizens in balance with a healthy life? While I understand that such activities are not for the faint of heart I still believe that it is always FUN to endure physical play in various methods.
No 1: Messy Day
Let me remind everyone how AWESOME his day was! After consulting with our guardians students came to school in clothes of which they could get extra MESSY in! Then behold the masterpieces! Student were given loads of cardboard papers to paint in BLUE! How were they about to do all this? It was up to them because all we provided them with was paint, tools and cardboard. This has to be my top number 1 because not only was it memorable for them but it was also memorable for us educators and parents too.
I know there were so many more new ones but narrowing down to my top 10 I can conclude that this past scholastic year was indeed full of new opportunities for both my students and my own! YES there were wayyyyy LOADS more never done before activities but these last 10 show a variety of way on how learning is done in my little class of fun!
To check out more fun ideas do not forget to click on the gallery and check out some of the many adventures we endured so far!
Or click the link below to take you directly
End of term 2... WOW can't believe its already here! One more term to go and surly the next one would be the shortest and the most difficult one of all. I have moments in my career where I want to give up,just walk out and never return, but I promise you this is just a minor percentage of it all. Most of my time as an educator is a positive one, but the greatest satisfactions is when students start showing fruitful moments that you never thought of seeing back in October.
I couldn't hold back the excitement I had for my little ones back in our Open Day. Kinder 1's usually sob religiously according to onlookers, but little do they know that these little ones have been prepped up for such a big event that it may still be overwhelming for some. Surprisingly they didn't cry but instead they were ready to conquer the world through play and that was satisfactory to me! Watching them beam out of the door, one by one for their intro was heartwarming. Their smiles, fire in their eyes and enriched innocence gave me pride to just watch how far they have grown.
I can't strain enough how much I believe in showcasing the students strengths and work in everything that you do. This was visible during our hands on and physical activity were the students themselves guided their respective grown ups on what to do, how to do it and what is next in line. Giving them a sense of leadership and being in charge of the day is exactly the type of attention they required to make this day a fun one. Their giggles were the best showcased piece of work. No other drawings, collages and colorings could ever beat the way they moved flowingly on that day. It was their day and they co-ordinated it. They owned every little detail, from their D.I.Y costumes, to their big abstract World puzzle.
What did we educators do then? Well we filtered their thoughts prior to the event and made them somewhat cohesive to what they were looking for. Other than that one could actually see that there was a sense of ownership in everything present on the day.
"My puzzle, my story, my costume, my super power.... We did it,... our hands, our paint, our games, our dance...."
Seeing them proud of their own accomplishments is the best gift anyone could ever give me and hearing their guardians loud and proud announcing to their children "WELL DONE I am PROUD of YOU" is by far the cherry on top of the cake on such an eventful day.
Now it's long gone, dusted, over and done with! A sigh of relief and an actual Hallelujah to some. In my case it is just another stepping stone for yet another prospective big thing. I enjoy being challenged but this particular one had a bitter sweet ending for me and whilst I can't reveal anything for now I can only say that next year would be different in every sense of way.
In the end I am still proud of US all!
Yes I have goals and targets to reach, but nothing can be compared to having a classroom full of bright little curios stars. I may have made a bold move when I ditched my research prior to any activity, however the risk was WELL made. New little stars popped in February, shaking up the classroom dynamics! All my plans were thrown out of the window quicker than the storm that hit last weekend. Was I worried & scared? In the beginning YES ( I ain't going to lie), but allowing myself to step away from all the commotion in my head and leaning more towards heartfelt decisions made our journey to the "STARS" an even brighter one.
N10: Bottle Up!
If you own a household or you are somehow in the "adult" phase, you know how much laundry you accumulate throughout the week. While we might find laundry day miserable and time consuming, kindergartners find it fun and amusing. New born babies, toddlers and kids in general consume a whole other level of laundry but this did not stop my little mamas and papas from being dis-hearted. While enhancing their fine pincer grasps, hand/eye co-ordination skills and spatial awareness they were having fun whilst growing through play.
N6: First Hair Cut
Scissoring activities can sometimes be repetitive especially if they are always used to cut papers, magazines and newspapers. I always like to push my 3 year olds a little bit more and see how far they can actually go before making my own assumptions. Planning this activity was a blast in itself but seeing them actually cutting and styling the hair dos was a whole other level. Let's just say if I ever wish to go short, I know exactly which hairdressers are great for the job.
N5: Bubble Bath
N4: Happy Birthday
N3: Pregnant Belly
N2: Messy Bibs
Milk, diapers, clothes, weaning, bedtime, bathing.... you name it, we explored it and most of it was possible because of our Nursery. The Nursery was created to enhance freeplay together with dramatic play opportunities often leading to improving life learning skills and also social and emotional skills. The students took on board the roles of mamas and papas very seriously and their babies were looked after so well. Enriching creative play spaces such as the latter, do not only provide room for holistic growth but it is a place where students feel free to explore areas other than what is provided by an adult. It was beautiful to see them think outside the box and nurture their dolls as if they were real living babies.See them preparing milk bottles, hear them sing sweet lullaby and watch them portray their own parents as they play. This was by far the MOST favorite out of all!
The list goes on and on and on, but it would take me more than forever to list down all the things that commence in our little classroom of fun. Having them being themselves and simply full of humor and mega power to learn with ease, helped me process this theme better as an individual. I was able to process some personal thoughts about this particular theme. It is easier said than done but somehow I do feel blessed with what I already have in my life. Who knows what the future may hold but on thing is for certain, that thanks to these babies a new theme has emerged and we can't wait to reach for the stars!
We kicked off by making some fun life-size Grinch murals so we could always have a reference to the theme we were on! Big, very hairy and ugly looking, Mr.Grinch was somehow colourful and full of Christmas fun. Unlike to what the Grinch might say, we realized that deep down in his tiny hairy chest, was a heart beating with love and affection. We showed Mr.Grinch that love could be found anywhere especially in family and friends. That is why we joined forces with our other Kinder 1 neighbors to make this Christmas magical like no other. Preparing for the Christmas concert may be daunting, stressful and at sometimes it may also come to a breaking point. Time management is key in my books, and instead of stressing about it the last couple of weeks, we rehearsed daily from the first week of November. Some may say that it was too early but I know that working with such a delicate age, one can never be EARLY enough!
So we got the mural ready, we got the dance in sync but it was time to enjoy the Christmas spirit and show the Grinch how meaningful it could be. To understand better what Christmas could feel like I prepared a fun game related to items we find around during this time of the year. Bubble wraps, tinsil, glitter, and much much more! After we collected all the items we engaged in a fun sensory walk. Students were able to feel the bouncy bubble wrappers which they would soon find in their gifts, walk on itchy hamper paper that will make all the floor messy for adults to clean. They walked on a soft rug to give them a feeling of cosines just like when they will open presents on Christmas morning. We walked on tinsel that was both crunch and soft, followed by garbage bags to remind us to be responsible when throwing away packaging from gifts. The trickiest of all was stepping on the cold, wet and glittery water-beads however it was well worth it as students were able to feel the cold and shimmer just how Christmas days feel. Oh the fun we had was sensational and by far one of the highlights of this topic.
After Mr.Grinch broke some of our toys, my little elves worked very hard in repairing them and getting everything ready before Christmas eve, so Santa Clause could stop in every house to please all the kids around the world. Walking in our corridor and looking at the messy footprints, my students were stunned and yet puzzled. They questioned to whom this mess may belong too. Before they could conclude any of their statements they heard a bell.... and another... and another ring. All classroom doors were closed.... Who could it be? Was it possible that the Grinch made such a mess?... With another bell chime the students started to lean forward to other possibilities and upon opening the classroom door, they were greeted with the biggest HO HO HO and the sweet sound of bells. "SANTA", screaming from the top of their lungs! Rushing in yet all waiting eagerly to meet and greet the man of the month. Not only was Santa pleased with the team work these little elves were capable of doing but he made an extra special STOP to our little school and this was the cherry on top of it all. They were all on the NICE list and they pleaded Santa to leave a gift for Mr.Grinch too, even though he might seem naughty.
It is always amusing when as an educator you think to yourself that there could be nothing better than innovation. This theme was not short of creativity, mess and most of all holistically enhancing for both the old and young. While others may think that this theme may taught us little, remember that the Grinch too said that Christmas comes without ribbons nor tags, and it came without packages, boxes nor bags. So on such an eve just as today I wish you all a very Merry Festive Way!
P.S Thank you dear big baby brother for being our SANTA, year after year)
From the moment the little ones started exploring and discussing everything they know about the Postman till the last day of the subject, everything we encountered was FUN and educational at the same time. I am blessed to have a wonderful class which is full of light, sparkle and plenty of curiosity! I never explored this theme in depth and lucky me I am learning with my little ones as I go!
By far the most rewarding moment of this whole experience was, when my students made connections to the letters we have been receiving lately from our E-Twinning friends, however it was even more satisfactory when they were able to link their work with the real world! During a Live-Call session with our Croatian friends (THANK YOU VESNA CAR), my students made connections with whom they were communicating with through Twinspace (a safe platform for students and educators to share projects) and how our postal worker was travelling the world to make our little island heard of!
We were not short of activities but some highlights of this fascinating activity include:
- Creating a mail carrier uniform (hat and bag)
- Role Play: Shopping for stamps while learning about the colour brown
- Free play in the Postal Office (Role play corner)
- Wrapping a Parcel (Sensory play, team work, Capacity, independence skills, creativity, pe-writing etc)
- Problem solving while loading parcels on a trolley
- Travelling the world on a make belief plane to post all necessary parcels.
- Writing letters and postcards
- Sorting skills
- Physical play while travelling from one address to another
and much much more!
We explored both local, courier and air mail.... but the most fascinated thing about this whole activity was how the students reasoned and used their thoughts to enhance problem solving situations. Not only during one activity but in MOST of them. I am a strong believer of enhancing learning through play and the pride I get from watching and observing my students grow while they play, is of course indescribable.
Watch them talk, watch them share, watch them speak, watch them play, watch them interact, watch them giggle, watch them smile, watch them try and most of all watch them PERSEVERE! I have already seen so much growth in this little group and I am a proud educator of amazing 3 year olds. I am fond of these little ones not only for being unique individuals but for bringing alot more than what the eye meets.
In the meantime here is what our friends from E-Twinning have sent us as part of our inspiration for such a brilliant theme!
Earlier in the scholastic year, my students showed a particular interest in one of our many stories. It was a story about 5 little ghosts who were always up to mischief but what got my little ones intrigued may be surprising. One might think that the ghosts themselves were the talk of the class, however it was a shy black cat who appeared in every picture of the book that caught my students attention. A small, tiny, minuscules detail that even I had to investigate and look into what was ever so intriguing about such an animal.
While I have taught and learnt about animals in previous years, I never explored in depth on such an animal. We did a little bit of brainstorming and it was already showing us waves of fun moments ahead. I thought to myself that since this animal is projecting such interest, it is only just and worth looking into.
Beyond the innocence and cuteness of these feline creatures, we came across other learning incidences that will forever make us thankful for such a theme. We explored the hygiene thanks to the kitty litter and sorted out pompoms which looked like poop! Gross and fine motor skills were challenged during messy classroom activities where we had to pick up all the cats toys which were not cleaned up by the cats. We created our very own black cat costumes for trick or treat and we made individual spooky cat owners who were just the right size for us to paint! We went fishing and caught some fish for our kittens which later ended up in bones because they were very tasty.
We learnt that cats loved drinking milk and therefore a colorful milk experiment was just what we needed. We got creative and used sensory art to make our kitten prints. As for movement, I tried for the first time ever doing YOGA with my little ones and the cat poses were absolutely cute, adorable and most of all a fresh new must do in class. Since cats like to scratch we tried to collage back together the pieces of our black sofa but of course the aesthetic is no longer the same! Oh and if you are wondering... YES we also were able to explore the colour PINK thanks to Hello Kitty which was one of the students interest during the discussion of our new web!
Ohh the list of fun days can actually go on and on and on and on, however my little kittens have now moved on and they are all growing up into the most beautiful cats ever. Just like cats, through this theme, my little kittens have shown determination, outstanding skills, love for each other, playful days, stubborn moments but most of all they have learnt how to be even more independent than ever before!
I am finally getting used to these little new pumpkins of mine. They are witty, sweet, lovable but most of all they all have a fantastic sense of humor! My ideal class is the one that knows how to laugh about anything and everything and here I am.... BLESSED for another consecutive year.
After the first week of settling in, we discussed together about the possible topics my little ones wish to explore. Just as I suspected, it was difficult for them to express the latter due to it being so complex and abstract, so instead I tried out a Halloween inspired Learning Invitation. Beyond and behold the pumpkin was by far the most evident favorite item in the tuff tray. And this is how we started our pumpkin adventure.
Like any other year, I made sue that concrete materiel were present at all time. This I believe will make the learning process more meaningful and more relevant to our growth. The questions I collected through play were enough to base 2 weeks of fun, educational and hands on learning. Within this little classroom of mine, I could already notice that their sparks are fresh, bright and powerful.
We cooked, we played, we got messy but most of all we got so engaged! Those messy hands made learning more hands on and working with such a small group has several pros indeed. I was able to cater for each individual on the spot and I was able to observe and jot down notes on each individual as they play. Our activities varied on a daily basis but seeing them all growing up from the first few weeks, gives me all the hope and motivation that I need. I am positive this attitude will last me throughout this new scholastic year because they are so ready to learn!
We predicted it's width, we investigated it's inside, we painted them pink, we made them sad,funny and gloom.... all this and many other things have been done to our pumpkins by my little pumpkins. Colour games, mystery hunts, curious games, brain buster magics and much much more! There was no better way than starting the year!
Although it is yet early to tell how far these little ones will go, I am positive that with their attitude and wonderful work ethic from such a tender age, they would reach high and become anything their little hearts desire! Keep it up my little pumpkins.... I am already so proud of you all!!!
After meeting my new class members I am ready to immerse more in what is necessary and that is of QUALITY TIME! Some might not like it but frankly that is how I and my students make memories. I intend to work along with them on a more personal level, be flexible and most importantly be PRESENT in the moment! I will be there when they cry, when they laugh and when they need me. They help me grow as a person more than I could ever help them. They keep me positive when the storm brews hurricanes. They make my days brighter whenever something goes unplanned. Without me and them there would not be a class full of smiles and giggles. There would not be messy hands, hair and faces! I would not look at kindergarten the same unless I spend time with the ones who make me cry tears of pride. It would not be meaningful unless I get glitter in my hair and paint on my shoes. That is how I am looking past all of the stress and focus better on what gives me a relief.
So here is to a year with me moaning about that ridiculous amount of paperwork but even better, to a year that will be filled with more sugar and spice and all the other little things that make everything every so nice!
The sweet and unwanted CHAOS of the all jolly HoHoHo!
24 Dec, 2019
The 8 Legged Adventures
23 Nov, 2019
Embracing the Absences
9 Nov, 2019
Not everyday may be the BEST day... but it is always a GOOD day!
12 Oct, 2019
Setting it up... Again.. And again... And again...
20 Sep, 2019
Defending the Emergent Curriculum.....my way!
3 Sep, 2019
The Classroom Decor crunch time.... My possibly "new" approach!
15 Aug, 2019