Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Learning Letters

On Monday the children are always excited to see Bobble, our classroom "pet". He's a rabbit in a hat, and although he doesn't speak, he always has lots to share by whispering in my ear. He also has a letter in his paws each week to add to the bank of letters the children have learned so far!

Once we've used our "magic pencils" (our fingers) to draw the letter in the air, we watch two videos on YouTube that feature the letter and its sound: the first by ABC Mouse, and the second by Bounce Patrol. 

We work together to co-create a list of words that begin with the letter of the week, and the children like to challenge my drawing skills!

The classroom ECE (Early Childhood Educator) sets up a centre where the children can join her to create letter sound charts. The children search through old books to find pictures of things that start with the letter sound. These are then displayed for easy reference, and are used at the play dough centre where the children can create the letters with play dough "snakes"!

In addition to learning the look and sound of the new letter, I spend time with the children modelling and practising how the letter is formed. For our younger students, this might be their first time printing the letter. For the older students, this extends into "slow as a snail" printing, where I give them a word that features the sound, and they do their best to represent each individual sound (phoneme) with a letter or a combination of letters! The children are very proud to show off their wonderful printing skills and we often see the letter popping up here and their in their play and work.

We reinforce the letter learning throughout the week. The children love to go on "letter hunts" by taking a walk through the school and finding the letter of the week in environmental print (on posters, signs, etc.). They also enjoy finding the letter in texts in the classroom. 

It is amazing how quickly the children learn and retain these individual sounds, and before we know it, they are combining the sounds to print and read simple words!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Art Matters: Exploring Art in Three Dimensions

Art projects in our classroom are always offered as a voluntary choice among our centres. Some children come to explore every single offering, while others need encouragement to try new techniques and projects. I rarely offer a sample of a "finished product" to encourage an open-minded approach to art, and an understanding that there is no "right way" to create. 

I invited the children to explore 3D art in our Creative Centre by providing the children with lots of pieces of cardboard cut in different shapes, bits of cardboard tubes, and larger pieces to act as backdrops. Using wood-glue (because it has a stronger hold than white glue), the children got busy creating 3D art. 

With no example provided of a final product, the focus was on the process of artistic creation. Some of the children chose not to use any circular shapes, and others followed my example (because I always sit and create alongside them) of gluing some pieces vertically. The children's conversations revolved around what their artwork "looked like": "This is a fence", "This is a mountain", "This is the dish for the cat".  We also chatted about how 2D art is different from 3D creations.

Creating art for art's sake is not a new concept for children, but as they get older they become more focused on creating art that looks like something. It was freeing for them to just glue pieces on wherever they wanted without any pressure to have their art represent a concrete scene or image.

When the glue was dry, the children were invited to add colour using craft paint. Once again, the focus was on the children's choices
whether or not to add colour, and what colours to add.

Some of the children have asked to go back and add more details to their work in the form of textures and patterns painted on top of the original colours. We'll get to that this week!