Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

This year I have been really focusing on process instead of product with my Kindergarten children. I have noticed that there is a lot more conversation about their learning, risk taking and the learning curve seems to be speeded up.  This week we have been continuing with a big idea in Math that numbers and objects can repeat themselves. To inspire the children, I set up a math table with a basket of loose parts and two empty picture frames. In one frame I built a complex pattern and in the second I did an insect. The centre was available during both exploration time (morning) and quiet play (afternoon). During small group I worked with the younger students to guide them making simple or complex patterns. During the math play children were taking the iPad and using the photo app in SeeSaw to upload the photo into their electronic portfolios. Some were video recoding a peer who read their pattern out loud three different ways. Of course the video wasn't perfect but ...
One of the frameworks that I use in Kindergarten is counting  jars. Some key elements of this framework is that it provides a process for children to build relationships, have choice, naturally encourages reflection and is playful. Once weekly the children spend part of an afternoon choosing a few jars and counting the objects. One interesting note is that after the first couple of afternoons the children began to estimate jars which they thought would have numbers that they could manage. Some of the children on Friday were estimating how many objects were in the line before they counted.  I introduced the routine in September and randomly assigned children as partners. Then beginning in October they were assigned a math partner for the year and rotate being A or B each month.  Partner A chooses 2 or 3 jars while Partner B chooses a quiet place in the room. Together they can either work side by side or cooperatively to count the number of objects in each ...
The children have been enjoying this month's pumpkin play dough. I added some pumpkin spices to the recipe this month and every time they take it out it smells wonderful. I added some coloured sticks, oversize blue marbles and some small coloured toothpicks.  I change the loose parts about every two weeks and always make a double batch of play dough. ...
Inspired by my new book for Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers, Outside My Window , I have set three goals this year for our learning environment; reduce the amount of plastic, pare down resources, use nature's loose parts for indoor/outdoor learning and select learning centres which encourage open-ended social learning experiences. A surprise for me was how much space has been created in our room. I have less storage needs which has translated into more floor space for building and working. Here are a few ideas that have been very successful this term as I make my shift to natural resources: Use nature's loose parts for science investigations  Our first inquiry this year is about Woodstream Park, the forest across the street from our school. To help the children learn the name of the trees and plants we played a memory game in small groups. First we named the nature objects then covered it with a clothe and them hid one object. The children took turns naming the ...
I have been reading about flexible thinking and shifting mindsets. While I was reading I came across this wonderful quote from Project Zero The culture of the classroom teaches. It not only sets a tone for learning, but also determines what gets learned. The messages sent through the culture of the classroom communicates to students what it means to think and learn well. These messages are a curriculum in themselves, teaching students how to learn and ways of thinking. Here is a peak into  our classroom. This wall is where we have our Gallery. Children select their best piece of work and display it on this wall. This year I asked families to make a name tag so that the children can see at a glance where their work is displayed.  This is our organizing wall and some of the play resources. We use this wall to display our thinking and learning. Right now I am using it to organize our learning i.e.: abc chart, student names ready for "I Wonder" thinking. ...
This is a month of transitions and new beginnings for many of my students. Much of our work this  month has been settling in and learning how to work together. We began our outdoor mornings mid month and enjoyed our circle conversations, story and exploration on the school fields.  Finally on Wednesday we had the perfect morning. We did attendance and check-in outdoors followed by our walk and talk to Wood Stream Park. We stopped just outside of the park and did our morning conversation circle, songs and stories. Mrs. Logan, our aboriginal education assistant, told the story of the Mouse and the Fir Cone. Afterwards she passed around fir cones and we were amazed to see the little mouse tails peaking out. We ended with a wide area game called 4 corners. Then we went into the forest and I explained the five forest rules which I keep very simple: Rules don't go out of the area without an adult keep out of the slope and swamp walk with a stick pointed ...
No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. — Aesop When colleagues ask me what is most important ingredient for learning I answer  "Kindness Patience and Time". I want to say something more profound but that really that is what I ask myself at the end of each day along with How did it go, what needs tweaking, what worked and so what's next? The more I reflect on my practice I realize that children need me to treat them with kindness, I need to find patience to listen, step aside and observe, that time is a critical element in allowing them to learn and grow, especially in a play based program.  This past year my professional learning action project was to better understand about the growing anxiety in young children. Naturally, play continues to be a large piece of children's childhood including play in preschool and primary classrooms and so I read countless journal posts on the topic. While I was reading about playful learning this ...
This year I have been reading a minimum of five books a day to my Kindergarten students as well as songs, finger plays and chants but if I were to track the number it would probably be closer to ten books. I regularly included re-reading favourite books and actually began every circle time with a familiar song book like Over In the Meadow or Down By the Station. We loved our book times and I was amazed at how easily books grew to become cherished parts of our day.   My love of books has always been a big part of me and yes I really believed when I was around five that the mobile library, which parked in front of our house each week, was there for my personal reading pleasure. The librarian was kind and passionate about connecting books with children. She always had one or two special books tucked away just for me.  I would carry my big collection up to my bedroom and sort them into the order that I wanted to read. The collection always included my favourite re-reads,...
Choosing the just right read aloud In Kindergarten I am always looking for books to engage children in our read aloud sessions. these books always have district features like repeating phrases, rhyme or silly moments.  When I find the just right book, I begin with a Read Aloud. Then if I receive the expected response I read it again at the next transition in the day and pause at predictable parts to encourage the students to join in for shared reading. We continue to re-read the book a couple of times each day and every time more students join in until they are reading it without me. After this it goes on our bookshelf where we keep all of our very most favourite read alouds. The students always pick these books for family read aloud as they love to impress their parents/grandparents or guest with their independent reading. It is such a delight to listen to a small group chant through one of their favourite books to a surprised adult.   ...
Making Up Stories In Kindergarten What happens when you put together a basket of small puppets, trees, fabric and tree blocks and sit it on a play stand?  Well in Kindergarten voila! you have a storytelling learning centre. The children make up a story and then practice. When ready, they collect peers from around the room to watch their show. In the afternoon when it is quiet play the two students perform for each other. PS: It helps when you do lots of modelling and the kids have become very comfortable with story telling. ...