Monday, May 30, 2011

Wild Backyard Zoo Animals


I’m often asked this question, what part of your backyard is designated for  play and learning areas at school? My answer has always been my entire backyard. It is the role of the teacher to think ahead and to prepare the areas and special spaces for children to play and learn. At the same time, we should also leave areas where the children themselves can explore and create their own imaginative play and be allowed to experiment, explore and learn. We should provide them with choices aside from basic anchored play equipment. Giving the children diverse choices helps them learn problem solving skills. Examples of outdoor play areas might include a nook for reading, sand and water tables, a mud pit, an art area, a vegetable and fruit garden, a stage for singing and dancing, a science area, a quiet nook for relaxing, loose parts and a variety of materials for fort building or just building structures …the possibilities are endless!

I found this gorgeous mural and used it as a back drop, with a blanket and some other materials; we set up a play area outdoors. It didn’t take much time, and the children enjoyed playing with the animals and branches.

“Watch out Miss Maria, we have Wild Zoo Animals at the backyard. They might decide to swing and slide much later.”

And they did!



Unstructured Play


























DSCN8616 (2)










Friday, May 27, 2011

Golden Trophies for the Finest and Smartest Child

I was having dinner at a restaurant a few weeks ago and sat behind a group of women who were having a serious conversation on “what their preschool children should know”. One mother was bragging that her three year old son could “write his first and last name, count to 60, and knew all his planets”. Another lady replied; that her daughter, who just turned four, “could count to 100, write her phone number, and without difficulty recite her whole alphabet”. The third mother said: “her son knew his alphabet, could count to 50, and most importantly, can pinpoint where 20 states are on the map”.

I sat patiently waiting for my food and honestly tried not to focus on their conversation but it bothered me greatly that these mothers were being so competitive. I was waiting for trophies to fall from nowhere and award these mothers who claim to have the “FINEST and SMARTEST child”. I had given up on these four women, when finally one of the mothers said: “childhood should not be a race; I believe that my child will develop and learn at her own pace”. She continued to say: “I am astonished how she can drink from a regular cup, put on her velcro running shoes, and sometimes pack her special stuff for a sleep over at her grandma’s house”. Believe me, it took every fiber in my body not to turn around and give her a high five. There is a lot more to learn than letters and numbers. It is important to give a child the skills to be successful in everyday life. 














I wish I could have told those mothers that children should know;

That the world is MAGICAL and that she/he is wonderful, special, unique and brilliant.They should know that we will facilitate his/her interests and encourage them to follow them. They should know that using their imagination and creative thoughts are marvelous and acceptable. They should know how to make mud pies, grassy soup, and pine needle spaghetti, build stick houses for bugs and simply enjoy nature as a way to learn and understand about the world around them. Our children need to know that they are loved unconditionally and that we as parents will stand by them no matter what undesirable things they do.

 Our children need to know that they are loved, and that they come first before anything else in this world.






The best gifts we can give our children are an uncompetitive and cheerful childhood.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Little Boy by Helen Buckley


Once a little boy went to school.
He was quite a little boy
And it was quite a big school.
But when the little boy
Found that he could go to his room
By walking right in from the door outside
He was happy;
And the school did not seem
Quite so big anymore.

One morning
When the little boy had been in school awhile,
The teacher said:"Today we are going to make a picture."
"Good!" thought the little boy.
He liked to make all kinds;
Lions and tigers,
Chickens and cows,
Trains and boats;
And he took out his box of crayons
And began to draw.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"It is not time to begin!"
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
"Now," said the teacher,
"We are going to make flowers."
"Good!" thought the little boy,
He liked to make beautiful ones
With his pink and orange and blue crayons.
But the teacher said "Wait!"
"And I will show you how."
And it was red, with a green stem.
"There," said the teacher,
"Now you may begin.

"The little boy looked at his teacher's flower
Then he looked at his own flower.
He liked his flower better than the teacher's
But he did not say this.
He just turned his paper over,
And made a flower like the teacher's.
It was red, with a green stem.

On another day
When the little boy had opened
The door from the outside all by himself,
The teacher said:"Today we are going to make something with clay."
"Good!" thought the little boy;
He liked clay.
He could make all kinds of things with clay:
Snakes and snowmen,
Elephants and mice,
Cars and trucks
And he began to pull and pinch
His ball of clay.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"It is not time to begin!"
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
"Now," said the teacher,
"We are going to make a dish."
"Good!" thought the little boy,
He liked to make dishes.
And he began to make some
That were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said "Wait!"
"And I will show you how."
And she showed everyone how to make
One deep dish.
"There," said the teacher,
"Now you may begin."

The little boy looked at the teacher's dish;
Then he looked at his own.
He liked his better than the teacher's
But he did not say this.
He just rolled his clay into a big ball again
And made a dish like the teacher's.
It was a deep dish.

And pretty soon
The little boy learned to wait,
And to watch
And to make things just like the teacher.
And pretty soon
He didn't make things of his own anymore.

Then it happened
That the little boy and his family
Moved to another house,
In another city,
And the little boy
Had to go to another school.
This school was even bigger
Than the other one.
And there was no door from the outside
Into his room.
He had to go up some big steps
And walk down a long hall
To get to his room.
And the very first day
He was there,
The teacher said:
"Today we are going to make a picture."
"Good!" thought the little boy.
And he waited for the teacher
To tell what to do.
But the teacher didn't say anything.
She just walked around the room.

When she came to the little boy
She asked, "Don't you want to make a picture?"
"Yes," said the little boy.
"What are we going to make?"
"I don't know until you make it,"
said the teacher.
"How shall I make it?" asked the little boy.
"Why, anyway you like," said the teacher.
"And any color?" asked the little boy.
"Any color," said the teacher.
"If everyone made the same picture,
And used the same colors,
How would I know who made what,
And which was which?"
"I don't know," said the little boy.
And he began to make pink and orange and blue flowers.

He liked his new school,
Even if it didn't have a door
Right in from the outside.



Body Tracing













Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Origami Box Collage


Origami- ori meaning "folding” and kami meaning "paper.





It has since then evolved into a modern art form. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of material into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami.

The ancient art of paper folding originated in china and by the sixth century, it had made it to Japan. At first, only the wealthy  were able to practice the art of paper folding, since most of the people couldn’t afford to purchase paper. By the 1300’s paper became was abundant and was available to everyone, this is when more and more people begun making origami.

This isn’t original at all; I learned how to make this origami box from a dear friend, named Ginger. I use them continually in my classroom, especially as individual containers for art or mini trash boxes.

What do you do with all those beautiful glossy magazines that you purchased over time? Repurpose them and turn the pages into a box collage.


Box Collage



Beautiful origami boxes








Open up boxes.








We used a recycled Styrofoam sheet for backing.




Lightly spread glue.




Arrange and glue on boxes.




Flatten good.
































Leave out to dry.




Display for everyone to admire.