As a preschool teacher, I count A LOT. I use counting as my way to get my student’s attention so that we can transition into new activities.
I like to count backwards from 5. When my students hear me counting, I expect them to stop what they are doing, look at me, and listen. They usually do pretty well with this method. I only have 10 students so getting their attention is easy. When I was teaching first grade, and I had 31 kids, I would say, “What are you?” The students would stop what they were doing put their hands on their heads and say, “Terrific Kids!” This is something that I’ve thought about trying with this age group, but I haven’t gotten around to teaching it to them yet because they do really well with me counting back from 5.
Once I have their attention, I quickly explain what to do. Either “Quietly walk to line up” or “Sit on your carpet square” or “Point to your brain and think.” If they are thinking, then I ask a question and introduce a topic.
This week, we learned about growing bigger, stronger, smarter, and braver. When I plan activities, I usually estimate how much time I think the kids and I will spend on an activity to make sure we have enough to do that day. Sometimes the children spend longer on an activity then I had planned and sometimes they are done way quicker then what I thought. It is important to follow the child’s lead during daily activities. They may pick up something a lot quicker than you had anticipated. Or they might be having a lot of fun with an activity and need more time to practice the skill.
One of the “Growing Bigger” activities we did this week from Mother Goose Time was called I Am Big. I traced each student with big butcher paper. I let them decorate their outlines. They added hair, jewelry, pants, shirt, shoes, and a face. Some added ears. It was really fun to see each of their personalities reflected in each of the tracings.
This was going to be a short 15 minute activity. But, they were really into decorating their outlines. So, I let them take their time. They were so cute adding details. I helped them cut out their outlines. We lined them up and talked about who was the tallest. The students lined the outlines up from shortest to tallest. This activity took twice as long as I thought it would, but they were learning to pay close attention to detail and they were learning about comparing sizes.
Another activity we had planned that day was called Wild Animals. This is another activity from Mother Goose Time. We talked about which animals were wild and which animals could be pets. We played a little game. The discussion and game lasted maybe 5 minutes. I had thought this would be a 15 minute activity. It is important to be flexible throughout the day in case students need more or less time with an activity. The students need to be engaged in the learning and if they are done with an activity after 5 minutes, it doesn’t make sense to make them keep doing it. That could lead to behavior problems. It’s all about what they need to learn and which activities are going to help them learn it.
Journals is another activity that I always think will take longer than it does. The students only need a few minutes to practice writing and drawing in their journals. But, I make sure we do a little each day because of the importance of the skill.
One thing I love about the Mother Goose Time curriculum is that they lay out the activities for you each day in the teacher planning guide, but I can decide when and how long I want to do each one based on the routine schedule I already have in place. It’s convenient, time saving, and the activities are always engaging and loved by the kids.
I also love the CDs they send each month. Music plays a huge roll in my cleanup routine. When I turn on the music during playtime, (I have a specific song I like to play), it cues the students that it’s time to clean up. I don’t actually have to say anything. I turn the song on and watch them automatically start putting the toys away. It’s amazing! When parents see this, they are surprised at how well trained they are at cleaning up. It’s all because we have an established routine. They know that when they hear the music, it is time to clean up.
Kids need structure. They need predictability. Having routines and transitions are important in the learning process. They provide that structure and predictability that kids need.
** I receive curriculum from Mother Goose Time for honest and authentic stories resulting from my daily experiences using the curriculum. This is my 2nd year using Mother Goose Time, and I am pleased to promote quality educational learning experiences through play with Mother Goose Time!