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Spotlight on Writing

 Greetings and thank you for checking out our KIDSPACE blog! We really feel that this blog grants us a unique opportunity to share with you the abundant and joyful learning that is going on each day in the Robins’ class. 

 

How Do Young Children Learn To Write?

 

Like most of a young child’s development, learning to write happens in stages. As children begin to explore writing, they are demonstrating a desire to communicate and an awareness that written words convey meaning. The image below illustrates how young children’s writing evolves over time. Writing begins as scribbles before letter like shapes can be recognized. Eventually, children include more and more letters of the alphabet and as they start to make connections between letters and sounds they begin to invent their own spelling. 
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(http://img.docstoccdn.com/thumb/orig/115635687.png)

 

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

 

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There’s a lot of “bucket filling” in the Robins class at KIDSPACE Child Enrichment Center.  What is “bucket filling” you ask?  Bucket filling runs on the pretense that everyone has an invisible bucket.  We feel good when our bucket is full and not so good when our bucket is empty. There have been a number of books written on this topic for adults and children. Our favorites at KIDSPACE  for the preschool crowd are:
 
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We fill other people’s buckets by using kind, considerate words and doing acts of kindness. However, the children are also realizing that when they fill other’s buckets it also fills their own buckets.  They are understanding what it feels like to have a full bucket and what it feels like to have an empty bucket.  Even as adults, we sometimes don’t understand why we feel the way that we do.  The “bucket filling” concept makes sense at any age.  We all need to pause and take a look at our buckets when we’re feeling down.  If our bucket is on the empty side we need to find a way to fill it back up.  We can fill our own buckets by filling other’s buckets or we can ask others to help us fill up our buckets.
 
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The students write notes and draw pictures for their classmates as a way to fill buckets.
 
Sometimes a bucket can be emptied quickly by “bucket dippers.”   “Bucket dipping” is the act of emptying buckets. We can dip into our own bucket by being unkind with others or someone else can dip from our buckets with thoughtless and/or unkind actions toward us.
 
When children can label their actions toward others as “bucket filling” or “bucket dipping” it helps them to see more clearly how their actions directly affect others and themselves.
 
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As parents and educators it is our responsibility to fill and continue to fill our children’s buckets to the brim.  When children have full buckets they manage themselves far better than those children who operate with buckets that are on the empty side.  Full buckets also give children a strong desire to learn, confidence to make good decisions, be thoughtful friends and enjoy community with others. 
 
Bucket filling is NOT empty praise.  Bucket filling is sincere, honest and addresses the actions and character of the child (or adult).  
 
Bucket Filling:  “You spent a lot of time cleaning your room today.  You showed me you are a hard worker and you like your Legos organized.  What part of your room will you work on next?”
 
Empty Praise: “You are such a good boy/girl.”
 
Bucket Dipping:  “You worked all this time in your room and all you did was clean up your legos?”
 
Bucket filling is a simple concept, yet it makes big, positive differences in the lives of those we touch and those we love.  
 
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Children’s Art = Process

Well over thirty years ago when I was in college taking my teacher ed art classes the “new” mantra was “it’s the PROCESS not the PRODUCT.” It was a big deal then and thankfully, it still is today. What does it mean to children?  When we, as early childhood professionals, live by the rule that “the doing” is more important than “the done” it conveys to our young students that we believe they’re capable of creating their own art. True creative art experiences for children allows them to experiment, create and build. They are encouraged to think, make their own decisions and express themselves through a creative outlet.

 
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BLUEBIRDS – Welcome to School

 The Bluebirds have had their first full week of preschool. They made a fantastic transition into their new learning environment here at Kidspace.  We have been learning about and practicing listening skills.  We use our ears to listen, our eyes to look at the person talking, our legs are criss-crossed applesauce, our hands are in our lap and our mouths are quiet. We also worked on using good manners at the table and with our peers and teachers.  We have memorized a couple of new poems and we’re making many new friends.

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What is a Rigorous Preschool Curriculum?

At Kidspace Child Enrichment Center, we believe that children are strong, capable, and active learners by nature. Our purpose is to provide a  “rigorous preschool” curriculum, a playful environment that encourages focused and engaged learning.

Rigorous learning = active play

“If you walk into a high-quality early education classroom, what you see is children playing,” states Amy  O’ Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign at Strategies for Children. “What you may not realize is that each station in the room, whether the block area or the dramatic play space or the book corner, has been carefully set up to foster children’s learning and healthy development.”

Rigorous guidelines vary slightly depending on the setting’s particular focus. At our center, learning is not compartmentalized. Rather, play transforms into teachable moments. With education embedded in exploration, kids naturally acquire new skills by pursuing what comes easily: fun.

Our center

Here at Kidspace Child Enrichment Center, our instructors follow practices and use techniques that engage your child’s natural curiosity and teach life skills such as counting, organization, physical coordination, and language development. These include:

  • Asking children a question at the beginning of the day, such as “Are you wearing any red or green today?” and graphing the group’s answers at circle time.
  • Sitting on the floor with children and actively using contextual vocabulary words in conversation to engage with play items, such as “barn,” “hay bales,” and “tractor” when handling farm animal toys.
  • Including counting in everyday activities. Early educators may ask children to add up how many carrot sticks they have in their hands at snack time or how many clouds they see in the sky while at the playground.
  • Encouraging children to visit different activity stations around the center, including a block area, dramatic play area, and reading corner, each of which engage them in focused play. Activities may include counting the number of blocks stacked until a tower falls down, or using the dramatic play area as a grocery store where they can shop for ingredients to make a recipe.
  • Early educators may sit with children and teach them to cut paper with scissors or place objects in water to see which sink and which float.

In each center and every activity, learning is an essential part of your child’s experience.

The Magic of Gardening with Children

 Gardening with children is pure magic.

In the eyes of a child a garden and its bounty is magic.  As adults, we are still amazed at what can be grown from a teeny tiny seed, but the real the magic for us is the observation of the children as they plant, explore, observe, learn about, care for,  wonder at, delight in and harvest the bounty of the garden.

altOur gardening experience at Kidspace began with a few simple questions.  Can we make a seed sprout and what is a sprout?  Out came the baggies, bean seeds and damp paper towels.  The children soon observed the sprout, but what are the tiny little sprouts? Roots!  What are roots for?  And so the lesson went.  But, where do you plant seeds when you have no garden? The answer is simple… In whatever you can find.  For us, we were fortunate to find some large boxes. We placed them on our school patio and the children filled them with soil.  
 

In the garden boxes the students from every class planted a variety of seeds.  They planted cherry tomatoes, a couple crops of lettuce, peas, beans, multiple varieties of flowers, carrots and pumpkins.   The harvest has been bountiful.

 
The pumpkins though are creating the most excitement.  We have watched them turn from flowers to green pumpkins.  They’ve grown and now they’re turning orange.  The children continue to squeal with delight every time they pass by the pumpkins on their way to the playground.  Actually, even the adults pause to enjoy the pumpkins.
 
Before we know it we’ll be harvesting the pumpkins, the frosts will come, and our beautiful garden will die.  That of course, will not go unnoticed.  There is learning in death too, for it too has its place in the cycle of life.  
 
One thing’s for sure, we’ll be saving a couple of the seeds…. because it all began with a question about a sprout.  Come next spring, the life cycle and the learning cycle will begin again . . . and so will the magic!
 
 
 
 

 

 

MANTA RAYS – Scales and Crowns

 This has been a truly amazing summer and it is so hard to believe that the first day of school is just around the corner. The Manta Rays finished their summer with dragons, royalty, castles, and fairies. Take a look!

 
Dragons!
 
Pete the Dragon was a hit! He made the Manta Rays laugh at circle time and inspired them to make some dragon puppets of their own.
 
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Real Responsibilities for Children

No matter our age, we all desire to be needed and valued.  The more each of us sees our worth as an integral part of the community or family, the more connected we are to that family, school or community unit.

By giving children, even preschoolers, valued jobs, it helps them understand the importance of stepping up to the plate for the good of others and it instills true self-worth.

Sorting socks, taking out the trash and setting the table are chores that need to be done.  All of us have to do mundane tasks and children should not be immune from them either.  However, in addition to the daily tasks children should be given chores which carry true responsibility.  Giving a young preschooler the responsibility of carrying the keys to the car and unlocking the door may seem like a risky proposition to you, but to them it speaks volumes about how much you trust them.  Children know the importance of keys and when adults hand over their keys – that’s a big deal!

When children see the important adults in their lives trust them to do valued jobs, work with real tools, or be responsible for precious items, people or animals they begin to be responsible in other areas of their lives as well.   A child who is responsible, not just for the watering of the plants, but also fertilizing them (with supervision) will grow up with a respect and understanding about poisons.  They learn that while fertilizers may be good for plants, they can make humans and animals very, very sick.  They also learn the importance of following directions because too much fertilizer can kill a plant and not enough fertilizer won’t help it grow.

A student who has the responsibility of leading his lined-up classmates to another location in the school quickly learns that an unruly line is far harder to lead than an attentive line.  A wise teacher will give the line leader the responsibility of the line – not just the task of following behind her.   It’s amazing how quickly children learn the merits of walking quietly in line when they are responsible for the line.

 

Children who are taught how to use a real knife and then given the responsibility of using it to cut up fruits and veggies grow up having a respect for sharp utensils and tools.   A child who is given the opportunities to use a real knife (under supervision) is less likely to play with a found knife (or other sharp tools) because they have a true understanding of the dangers of knives.

Serving others, not just at home, but in the community gives children the opportunity to understand the value of working together for the good of all and the responsibility we all have in taking care of each other.  Taking the trash cans to the curb for an elderly neighbor, doing a park clean-up or donating to a toy drive are all ways children can participate and feel the joy of helping others.

Giving children jobs with real responsibility not only teaches them vital life skills , but even more importantly each child sees themselves as having true worth as a valued member of their family, class, and community.