Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Sunflower

We often set out still-life art provocations for students throughout the school year. Through these experiences, we encourage students to look closely, touch, and smell the subject; to form a relationship and transfer their understanding of the subject to paper (The Language of Arts). 

I enjoyed documenting our youngest learners first experience with still-life portraits during the first month of school. The following are some of the panels I put together using the program Pages. I enjoyed watching each child's interpretation of the sunflower, as they worked side-by-side. I was also impressed with the uniqueness of each child's interpretation of the sunflower, which led me to explore the development of children's art.   



There was a special moment during our time with the sunflowers that I look forward to sharing in a later post. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks

I was excited to receive an e-mail from Tegu asking to partner with them this year. This company, who own their manufacturing plant in Honduras, provide not only a high-end specialty toy to customers, but also living-wage jobs to people and nations of the Developing World, plant trees by the dozen, and help at-risk kids get off the streets and into school.

The company was started for social mission reasons; to provide for job creation and holistic employment in Honduras, the third poorest country in the western hemisphere. Starting with 20 employees, Tegu now employs over 300 workers!

In addition to the main reason Tegu was created, I absolutely love how the magnetic wooden building blocks were developed and came to life- in the classroom! They tested ideas, made prototypes, and most importantly, they observed play

Their Education section reminds us of the importance of free playtime and offers connections to support children's development over time in the areas of fine motor, pattern recognition, balance, scale, imaginative play, problem solving, and story telling.  

I cannot wait to introduce this new twist on an old classic to my students in September! The wooden blocks are eco-friendly and the finishes are 100% non-toxic and water based, making it safe for our youngest learners. This highly developmental toy is both educational and imaginative, and I can already see how beneficial it will be to all areas of the classroom. 

If you would like to add a set to your classroom or home, you can use the coupon code Kindie20 when you order online to receive 20% off your entire cart! This offer will expire at the end of the month, so be sure to order in time for back-to-school! 

Don't forget to also check out my YouTube Video, where I have fun reviewing the Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks 14 Piece Set!

"Boundless Play is playing without an agenda and delighting 
in the joy of the moment. It's a race to explore and discover."

Friday, 29 July 2016

Outdoor Learning

I am thrilled that The Kindergarten Program includes a section on Learning In The Outdoors where "learning in the outdoors is included as part of the instructional day, and the educators play an active role, engaging with children in an inquiry stance as they play, explore, and learn together outside the classroom." (The Kindergarten Program, pg. 34, 2016)

This past year, our teaching team made a commitment to include Outdoor Exploration to our instructional day. We dedicated time each week to play and learn outdoors. We took nature walks in the forest behind our school, used Sit Spots to build connections with nature, and created opportunities in our "backyard" to explore and create. You can visit Rose Marcelli of Educate.Invest.Inspire and Lucas Serper of Play.Create.Inquire for more information on our Outdoor Exploration

As part of my commitment to outdoor learning, I created a proposal for adding learning materials to enhance the space we have in our kindergarten pens. I also incorporated ways in which we could use those same materials beyond the fence. The proposal was well received and approved by our supportive Administration and School Council. 

Our outdoor order was placed with Louise Kool & Galt who "are the leading supplier of learning materials, furniture and equipment to the Canadian early childhood and elementary school markets (Louise Kool & Galt, 2016)." Having had the opportunity to visit their showroom last summer and tinker with their products, I knew that they were the right company to trust with our outdoor space. 

Photo Credit: Joanne Babalis

The products from Louise Kool & Galt enhanced the outdoor space that was previously designed with the help of Linda Naccarato of Art With Linda. Linda worked with our students to create a natural environment that included a painted mural, waterfall, stepping stones, and wooden house, as well as a bike path, and tire garden. She provided hands-on activities throughout the entire process, which engaged the students and further connected them to their environment. This included planning the environment using loose parts, painting the mural, planting flowers to attract various insects, exploring ramps and loose parts play, and engaging in dramatic play experiences. 

Photo Credit: Joanne Babalis

I look forward to continue using the outdoor space with our students, as well as taking our new materials beyond the fence, in the upcoming school year! (We will be doing this with the help of our newly purchased Mac Sport Wagons from Costco). I am excited to continue documenting students learning and having it available for them to observe from the outdoors and I am most excited to foster our students curiosity and sense of wonder and contribute to their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being (The Kindergarten Program, 2016). 

The following are three of my favourite children's books and educator resources to inspire learning outside!

The Other Way To Listen by Byrd Baylor

If You Hold A Seed by Elly MacKay

The Listening Walk by Paul Showers

in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard

by The Laboratory School at the 
Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study 

by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter

"It's a good thing to learn about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it's a lot more fun."
Richard Louv

Friday, 22 July 2016

Ontario Focused Intervention Program

"Ontario Funding Intervention Program (OFIP) Tutoring supports school boards in initiating or extending programs that help students in Grades JK to 6 to strengthen their literacy and numeracy skills beyond the regular school day. This includes programs such as before and after-school tutoring, homework clubs and cultural programs that focus on literacy and numeracy skill development. Partnerships with existing community-based programs that provide tutoring for students are encouraged." (Ministry of Education, 2016) 

I came across the YRDSB's posting for OFIP and thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for our youngest learners to strengthen their literacy skills. My teaching partner, Rose Marcelli, and myself created a proposal for the program and had it approved by our Admin and Superintendent. 

After conducting observations and assessments in the area of literacy, students were selected by their educators, and we developed an Early Learning After School Program that aimed to support and strengthen literacy skills based on their individual needs. 

As a team, made up of six educators, we planned and implemented play-based literacy activities that connected to areas of focus in the classroom. We included provocations that targeted sight word recognition and recording, created stories using story props and texts that were familiar to the students, and explored wonders through fictional and non-fictional texts. We also conducted small-group guided reading and writing lessons, as well as whole group oral language opportunities to share our learning.

As an educator team, we used Google Drive to share our weekly plans, anecdotal observations, and next steps for learning. We communicated our students progress with parents and guardians, as well as provided a package to educators with student work samples, anecdotal notes and observations, and assessments, to inform next steps in the classroom. 

I found this program to be extremely beneficial for our youngest learners. In the two months of focused instruction, we were able to see an abundance of growth, not only in their literacy skills, but also in their attitude towards learning. We strived to instil in them a growth mindset, where each student believed that their abilities could be improved over time through hard work. 

Click here to read more about the program from 
Rose Marcelli of Educate.Invest.Inspire.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! We had a fun-filled last few days of school creating Canada flags using red paint, finger paint paper, masking tape, and wooden dowels.  

We also added a touch of Canada to our end-of-year gifts for our students with Canada pencils and white and red ribbon! 

We hope to inspire some wonder writing over the summer with these personalized clipboards, pencils, and a beautiful quote from one of our favourite books, "I Wonder" by Annaka Harris. 

We live with some big mysteries. 
When we come upon one, we're given a little gift.
Every mystery is something for all of us to wonder about together. 

What do you wonder about?

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The ABC's of Kindergarten!


As the school year comes to an end, I love looking back at all the memories that were made. I often scroll through my Instagram account or my stored photos to see how far we have come in such a short time together. 

This year, an idea came to me to create a keepsake for students and their families, so that they too could reflect on the school year. With the help of my teaching partner, Rose Marcelli, and PicCollage, the idea came to flourish and a book was created! Many people have been asking to see the inside of the book after posting a picture of the title, and so I would like to share our Alphabet Book and kindergarten keepsake of the 2015-2016 year with you. (To respect the privacy of our students, some pages have been removed.)  

A picture is worth a thousand words,
but the memories are priceless...