In FDK we are encouraged to steer away from teacher-selected "themes", and to favour the inquiries and interests of the children. But when December arrives, it is hard to resist the attraction of Christmas! We are busily preparing for our Christmas Open House, and while all centres are open, we have added a bit of sparkle here and some glitter there.
We plan our week(s) using a template that includes all the various centres in the classroom, and link our ideas back to the children's interests and questions, any inquiry that has arisen through play, and the many expectations laid out in the Ontario FDK Document. As with so much of what we do, there are many layers of learning happening while the children explore and play with new materials.
Some of the week's Christmas centres include:
MATH EXPLORATION: rolling a number cube and placing the corresponding number of sparkly pompoms on a five- or ten-frame. We sit nearby and ask questions such as, how many more do you need to fill your ten-frame? Who has more? Can you fit six more on there? We make observations about the child's ability to recognize dot patterns on a number cube, count with one-to-one correspondence, represent numbers in various ways, compare quantities, and explore simple addition. If the children choose to play in pairs, we also observe their play and social skills. Can the child take turns? Do they use questions and statements effectively? How do they solve problems that arise?
SENSORY EXPLORATION: I brought in some whole spices, as well as some ground spices. The children have been invited to "sniff-and-match" the whole spice with its ground counterpart. The children come to me full of excitement..."I matched these ones!"
WRITING: We co-created a cloze-passage letter to Santa, focusing on sight words we've touched on this year. The Year Two group was then invited to write their own letter to Santa. I always photo-copy these to send home to parents, as some children can be hush-hush about their Christmas wishes! I have a modified version ready to write with the Year One students, and next week we'll walk to the post office to send them all to the North Pole!
SENSORY TABLE: I created a Golden Cinnamon Sensory experience for the children. A big bag of rice, cinnamon, glitter, and lots of golden trinkets from Dollarama were the raw materials. The children have loved exploring these items, using them to make "cakes", picking through to find the treasures, sorting them, and so on. It is very calming to let rice trickle down between your fingers!
SAND TABLE: As we move through Advent with a focus on the Nativity Story, we are adding items to the room to encourage the children to draw on their previous knowledge and to retell the Christmas story. We have durable Nativity figures in our sand table and it's been wonderful to see the children sharing this timeless story with one another time after time.
Please check in next week for some Nativity Art!