Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

As educators how do we nurture kindness in everyday social interactions when we know that a kind word or act will impact others. I believe that this needs to be intentional, mindful, and like many of my friends, a choice. I was browsing the books in my colleague and friend Alex King's room and noticed the book A World of Kindness which had been on my short list for the next VIRL visit. A beautiful and thoughtful book, it shares a strong yet simple message about everyday acts of kindness that we as educators hope to model and nurture in the children.   Noticing how kind my friend Alex is to me and all of the people whose lives touch hers, I decided to reflect upon my own thinking and actions around kindness. As an educator, Kindness, Patience and Time has been a big part of my program. During a recent visit to the Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres in Italy, these values were evident in the kind, respectful and nurturing approach that the Reggio educators used...
Photo from Kindergarten Kindergarten The children have been playing with complex patterns this month as the student teachers practice lessons and provide learning opportunities.  Yesterday we introduced a new game which provided an opportunity for children to read and extend their partners complex pattern. Partner A builds the core and copies it one time, Partner B extends the pattern. Then they switch and begin again. ...
          Yesterday I was chatting with my very capable and enthusiastic student teachers about how powerful writing workshop is and that one of my favourite aspects of this research based open ended framework is that it allows students to work at their personal best. Here is what we are doing right now.... While the children have been practicing the letter names and sounds as well as using that knowledge to create small words I decided that we should add some of those words to a word wall. We are continuing with our writing every day. Most days the children are choosing their own stories but occasionally we create a story connected to Social Studies or Science (i.e.: What animals live in our forest?). I have changed their writing paper to include two writing boxes. I co-created an anchor chart with the children which included our writing criteria and we added about twenty words which are usually in their stories like:  log, sun, tree, bug, ant,....  Then I a...
Some of the important work that the children do in Kindergarten is practice being a good person; showing kindness, being patient and giving yourself and your friends time to learn.   When we talk about classroom rules we always revisit the two top important rules -- being safe and being kind. I think if we honour these two rules then all of the other expectations that we have for ourselves and our children fall into place i.e.: being thoughtful, being respectful, working hard, taking acceptable risks, inclusion....  Yesterday we were puddle jumping in the rain (of course) and I heard one child ask another if she could play with them, the answer "of course we all play together in kindergarten". Naturally I know that we are still working on being kind throughout the day as we learn to work together but it is growing and bubbling in our room and reminds me how lucky I am to be working with children. Last week when I was observing children in Reggio Emilia, I saw...
The children have really enjoyed the "muffin painting" table task this week especially smooshing  the paper on the painted surface. I left the activity out as a centre choice and many children independently returned multiple times. Over time they continued to be focused and the work more developed. As an observer it was fascinating to listen to their comments and notice how the experience shaped their ideas and plans. For example, Finn discovered concentric circles and made many in different colours while Aubrey noticed that blue and yellow paint turned green and Georgia experimented with different colours, combinations and designs. Thanks for stopping by, ...
" Creative Activity can be described as a type of  learning process where teacher and student are  located in the the same individual" Arthur Koestler (from The Artful Parent) Over the past four years I have been slowly expanding the atelier in my Kindergarten classroom. Finally I feel that I have most of the tools on my wish list, and enough money set aside for special art materials like pipettes, charcoal pencils, liquid water colours and chalk markers.  I have also been reading a lot of blogs and building up a small collection of professional books to help with setting up invitations for process art. Here are my top three books which I use regularly for planning activities in the atelier. All three of these books encourage curiosity, creative thinking and playful learning. I have included Amazon links if you are interested in more reviews. 1. Art Workshop For  Children. How to Foster Original Thinkin g By Barbara Rucci This book gets fiv...
We have just completed our first week of school and the children are amazing. They were nervous the first day but the second day they walked into the room and were ready to start the day (all 60 minutes of it). These first days are an important time to introduce and practice frameworks which we will use all year. One of the frameworks is table work. On most mornings the children will transition into the classroom from the forest by doing table work.  This first week I am focusing on the artelier as I know how much the children will love using the materials and tools once they have an understanding of how to care for tools, access materials as well as clean up.  I prepare the room, before school, with an invitation set up in the studio for the children. The first day I set out beads and pipe cleaners. I really encouraged them to explore the materials and did not give them instructions.  Some made crowns, others made bracelets or necklaces. I did not set any rules but just s...
As I begin to think and plan our first weeks of Kindergarten outdoor learning and plan for our first inquiries learning about ourselves, our families and our community I look at my book collection for inspiration and support. I have put together three books to help with planning & organizing an outdoor program, games & activities as well as storytelling throughout the year.  I have added links with the titles if you would like to read more reviews. 1.  Outside Our Window: developing a primary nature program   B y Liz McCaw If the idea of an outdoor program appeals to you or if you would like to expand your program then this is a book you will want to read. This is the first book designed to help teachers plan their outdoor program and helps with scheduling, funding, community partners, safety, kits, curriculum connections and much more. 2.  Play the Forest School Way   By Peter Houghton & Jane Worroll If you have already organized your ou...
The first weeks are when we gather information about our new children and their families, begin to form our relationships and together develop our classroom community.  As the children enter into the classroom or move from one activity to another I like to focus on flow by keeping routines and frameworks simple,  repetitive and build independence with the children. A colleague asked me the other day how do I like to begin my morning and honestly while I have many ideas I know that the children and I will figure that out. Here are some morning transitions which have worked in the past, remembering that we will be outdoors and transitioning into the room mid morning. I like to prepare the room before the children arrive so the provocations or invitations will be set up for the children. I have included a list below of many table task transitions that have been successful in the past. Last spring we did two mornings of story play, a math play and Read Aloud. Earlier in th...
If you are anything like the staff at our school you have already been in the room and started to think about what frameworks would best suit your grade and curriculum goals. As a Reggio Inspired Nature Teacher I select frameworks which lend themselves to those important early learning experiences (relationship, exploration, creativity, play, experimentation and joy). Of course I also spend time designing a learning environment which is beautiful, organized, accessible by all students, filled with light and touches of nature. I consider space and flow so that the children can work in small groups, partners, in whole group or find a quiet space on their own.  Also as a nature teacher I chose flexible learning frameworks which lend themselves to different environments; classroom, forest or seashore as well as nurture a collaborative learning approach. I have included a link to posts about each of the frameworks if you are interested in more information. Counting ...
Learning to listen respectfully and  to share ideas, feelings and worries are all important goals in Kindergarten. To help children build these important skills we begin our mornings together with a circle conversation.  We begin the year by setting expectations or norms for our circle  conversation. We talk about what is important to us using the a Think Pair Share activity . I guide the conversation, invite ideas and record their thinking, wonders and questions in our class journal. As you can imagine in Kindergarten this is a process and takes time but is well worth the investment. Later I write out the children's wonders, questions and suggestions on post it notes for sorting and more discussion. My goal is for the children to collectively agree on the norms.  This is a really important process as we have a Circle Conversation each morning, usually in the outdoor classroom and really learn over time to listen respectfully and share our thinking in a trusted s...
There is no question that read aloud is important and that in early learning classrooms choosing the just right books which can springboard to deeper learning and rich conversations can be exacting. In the fall I begin our year together building community as we learn about ourselves, our families and our place.  During one of our summer wanderings downtown our family discovered Window Seat Books, a new shop with a collection of slightly used books and a few new children's books. I loved the assortment of new and old and purchased one beautiful book and then added a few titles to my VIRL list for September.  I pulled together some really great books for you which may help with choosing the just right books to build classroom community. Here are a few classics as well as a some new stories about friendship that I intend to introduce to my young readers. I have included Amazon links in the title for you however they are all available from the public library. 1. L...
So nice to have friends help with classroom cleaning and set up including testing out the new paint easel!! I had already put some jars of paint in the cart beside the easel but immediately the children had their own ideas about colours, even mixing and creating their own colours. The brushes were sorted into three sizes and the girls chose the brushes for each paint colour. We let them paint for as long as they were interested and each painting was more colourful.  They had paint jars on each side of the easel so they had some colours the same and some different. It was fun to eavesdrop and listen to the conversation as they decided which colours to share and which ones were the same. Near the end one of the girls was running quite low on blue and asked for more but then her sister offered to share and told me they were fine and did not need any help! It was a wonderful pre-school experience to observe the two sisters working in tandem on their paintings. All ...
So what should you start with? I am a fierce advocate for reading aloud and storytelling with young children and when asked, I include it as my top literacy choice as it is right up there with conversation, songs and chants.  During a full day of kindergarten I set a goal to read  at least five stores in addition to songs, storytelling and chants including re-reading class favourites.  As you know books with predictable text and rhyme are easier for children to learn quickly and participate in the literacy experience! The children's success builds confidence making it a very enjoyable interactive read aloud. Which stories to start with will be for you to decide, however it might help to see what other early learning teachers love to use. I polled some friends and here are some of our must haves for those first few days. 1. Who Took The Cookies From The Cookie Jar by Bonnie Laz and Philemon Sturges I love the bright and cheerful artwork in this version. Ch...