Thursday, November 17, 2016

Learning Centers Blog Hop Series: Playground & Recess

Hooray for "playground & recess!" Welcome back to the final part of the Pre-K Partner's Learning Centers Blog Hop Series So far we have taken a look at the math, writing, art, blocks, science centers, dramatic play, and tech centers. This week we will take a look at what learning looks like during recess! 

I have taught at a few different churches, learning centers, and public schools over the years and each has been different. Some had gravel, mulch, or rubber flooring. Some had huge areas some were small. But basically, most all of the buildings had a play yard with a jungle gym, slides, and climbing areas. At the school I last taught at we were fortunate enough to have a new building with a (size appropriate) jungle gym specifically made for younger children. 

We also had gardening areas, a dinosaur dig, outdoor easel painting, music area, outdoor block building, tricycles, scooters, soccer, sidewalk chalk drawing, AND sand tables! 

The garden area...

I once taught at a school that had an indoor koi pond/indoor was an amazing learning opportunity for the students!

Upkeeping a school garden does take a lot of work. If you don't have the means to create a raised garden, I encourage you to keep a couple of potted plants outside. It's always fun for students to observe a little while at recess! 

Students headed out to the recess play yard and were so excited when they found something new growing in the garden!

The dino dig area... So many social skills, friendships, and relationships were built here! Plans, creativity, and conversations were being constructed almost constantly. 

The music area...

Recess & playground time encourage: 

- gross/locomotor skills
- hand/eye coordination
- balance/coordination/stability
- spatial awareness
- friendships and relationships
- social skills

I believe the most important environment/materials to have for a playground are:

- an appropriately sized jungle gym
- something for children to climb on
- large play space for running/playing games

Extra materials might include:

- kick balls, soccer balls, soccer goals
- wiffle ball sets for throwing and catching
- tricycles or scooters
- hula hoops

Some areas you might consider adding: 

- flower, vegetable, or herb gardens
- outdoor painting easels
- outdoor block building area
- sand/water tables
- dinosaur or sand digging area
- balance beams
- running track 
- playhouse 

Also, it would be helpful to have a gross motor room or extra area. We used our gross motor room daily as an additional recess time and on rainy days when we couldn't go outside! 

Materials for suggested for this room would be: 

- wiffle ball sets
- bean bag toss games
- hopscotch rugs
- hula hoops 
- floor scooters
- jump ropes
- basketballs and hoops
- parachute

The teachers role during playground/recess time is to:

- monitor safety and behavior
- model games, activities, and equipment
- observe student to student interactions and learning
- interact with students through conversations and play
- encourage play, creativity, and movement

Hop on over to Fun in ECSE to see more about the playground/recess areas!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Learning Centers Blog Hop Series: The Technology Center

We are continuing this week with the Pre-K Partner's Learning Centers Blog Hop Series! So far we have taken a look at the math, writing, art, blocks, science centers, and dramatic play centers. This week we will learn a little about how to integrate technology into the classroom!

In my previous classrooms I never really had a specified "computer/tech center."  We had a Smartboard area and two ipads. If I found a Smartboard game or activity that had to do with our topic of study, I would open up the Smartboard for students to rotate through and use during center time. We also used the Smartboard for our daily morning calendar, to listen/watch songs and dances, and in conjunction with math/literacy lessons. 

Sometimes the ipads would be placed at an empty table during center time and students could rotate through a specific game. We've used the ipads to take photos on nature or number hunts and to make our own videos. Ipads were also incorporated into the library center!

Students could scan laminated QR codes with the ipad. Then, the ipad would pop up a familiar story and would read it out loud. For more information on how to create/set up QR codes visit Heidi Songs! 

Click on the image below to download QR codes for your listening center by Teaching is a Royal Adventure. My students loved hearing the familiar stories read aloud and watching the pictures! 

By creating a computer/ipad center or incorporating technology, students are learning: 

- how to type and use a mouse
- about the alphabet/numbers through learning activities
- how to navigate through educational games
- how to problem solve and make decisions
- how to share and take turns

Technology also prepares students for the real world and helps them to be more "tech savvy." 

Smartboards, Smartboard tables, Promethean boards, digital cameras, computers, and ipads can be used to encourage tech engagement in the classroom. 

I have had a Promethean board in one of my classrooms and a Smartboard in another room. I prefer the seems easier to use and there are a lot more teacher-created Smartboard activities to download. I've downloaded activities from Teachers Pay Teachers and also SMART Exchange. The SMART Exchange is nice because everything is free and you can search by subject!

I've also had a Smartboard activity table. It is a touch screen with games/activities. Although it is useful as a center activity, it was hard for my students to use by themselves. I also found it to take up a lot of space in the classroom. 

You can create your own games in Microsoft Power Point or on the Smartboard program. I've found many fun and interactive Power Point games from Pink Cat Studio on TPT. She makes such fun activities that my students loved playing! 

With the Smartboard markers I can create a quick chart or graph. Students can practice writing, drawing shapes, circling items. It's amazing how fast they can pick up how to use the digital markers and eraser. 

We've also used the Smartboard to go on "cultural discovery trips" around the world and to research animals or new places! 

The teachers role is to...

- guide and moniter students with how to use/navigate the technology. Teachers can instruct, model, and practice with students how to use the computer, Smartboard, digital tools, etc. 

- incorporate technology into the classroom to reach a variety of learning styles and to prepare students for the real world. 

- to protect students (with online games, anything connecting to the internet) by taking proper security measures like using passcodes/parental controls. 

- to limit the use of technology in the classroom! Many children these days have access to ipads, cell phone, and computers at home. It's important to make sure classroom screen time is monitored and that you are still providing many hands on real experiences. 

Thanks for stopping by and next time we will discuss the playground and outdoor activities! 

Hop on over to Fun in ECSE to learn more ideas for your tech center!