Tag Archives: class discussions

christmas

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I work at a christian school – so during the holidays I get the honor of teaching our youngsters about the true meaning of Christmas.  I was surprised that not one child in my class could tell me why we celebrate Christmas.  It was surprising because most of the children in my class learned it last year – or so I thought.  I mean, I just assumed the teacher in the 3’s class had gone over this – I guess she hadn’t or they just plain forgot.  I suppose I’ll never know.

Here’s how our conversation went:

Me:  “Can anyone tell me what holiday is coming up?”

Various Children (yelling):  “Christmas!”

Me:  “That’s right!  Now, can anyone tell me why we celebrate Christmas?”

Various Children (yelling out random answers all at once):  “Snow!” “Presents!” “Santa!” “Candy!”  You get the idea.

Me:  “Okay, one at a time!  Let me give you a hint:  It’s someone’s birthday.  Raise a quiet hand if you think you know the answer.”

Girl A (raises her hand, I call on her):  You know Ms. Eliot, after Christmas it’s my baby sisters birthday and we get to have a party and she is gonna get presents and we can eat cake and we can play games and my cousins will come and my aunties…”

Me (politely interrupting):  “That sounds really fun, but her birthday is after Christmas.  Does anyone know whose birthday is on Christmas?”

Boy A:  “My moms?  I think she has a birthday!”

Me:  “Everyone has a birthday, but no, it’s not your moms.  It’s Jesus’ birthday!”

After this announcement they got excited and a little chaos ensued – but it’s all good.  I went on to read a book about the first Christmas which we discussed afterward (and have read similar books everyday since).  Working with young children always give a fresh excitement to this time of year – gotta love it!  🙂

fairies?

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This mornings bible lesson was about angles.  We learned how angels protect us and they are messengers from God.  We talked about how in the Bible God would use angles to tell people special messages – like when God wanted to tell Mary about baby Jesus coming.  We talked about this for awhile – the children asking questions and us answering.  Then, as a review, Ms. Bennet asked the class:  “What do angels do?”  Most of the children shouted “Protect us!” – which of course was correct.  No one remembered the other answer that could have been given so Ms. Bennet asked:  “Who delivers messages from God?”  No one said anything immediately, and then one little girl yelled, “Fairies!”

I’ll admit it – I lost it here.  I just started laughing out loud – couldn’t control myself.  It had been a rough morning and this was the comic relief I guess I needed!  But I broke my No-Laughing-At-Kids-Answers Rule. I like to respect their answers even if they don’t make sense – but it just came out!  I stopped as soon as I realized everyone in the room was staring at me – but I could tell Ms. Bennet was trying to hide the fact that she wanted to laugh to!  I love that they can give the most random, cute answers!  Just another moment in the life of a preschool teacher!  🙂

we are special

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For the month of September I’ve decided to do an All About Me/5 Senses theme.  So far, so good.  We’ve been having fun finger painting, using shaving cream, listening to the sounds in and around our school, making height charts, graphing our eye colors, and more!

We had a class discussion about how everyone is special in their own way.  We went around and everyone told the class why they think they’re special.  I recorded their answer on a piece of poster board and taped it to our classroom door for everyone to read!  The kids really get a kick out of telling the people who came into our class to read their answer!

September also ushered in or first family project of the year!  I sent home a large house shape with each child (cut out of a file folder to make it less flimsy) with a note attached explaining that the family was to decorate the house shape together to create an All About Me collage .  The houses were due Friday (sadly not everyone returned theirs) and I can definitely see each child’s personality in their house!  Everyone had a chance to present their house to the class and on Monday I’m going to hang them on the wall so they will be the first thing one sees walking through the door!  We’re hoping the children who didn’t bring theirs in will return them sometime next week (fingers crossed).  🙂

tasting the ocean

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On Friday we taught the children that the water in the ocean is different from the water we drink (or the water in lakes and rivers).  I told the children that the ocean was made up of salt water.  Then I made some salt water and together we looked at it, smelled it, and then tasted it!  Each child got a small cup with about a tablespoon of saltwater (I only gave them this much because I accidentally made it REALLY salty!).  After I gave them their cup I asked them to smell the saltwater and tell me what they thought.  Some thought it smelled “dirty” others said they “just smelled the cup”, and others said it smelled “like salt”.  Then I asked them if it looked different from the water we get from the drinking fountain – and we decided it didn’t.  Then I let them drink their water – and it was about a 50-50 split on who liked the saltwater and who didn’t!

I then gave them a small cup with freshwater in it and we repeated the same process.  When I asked the children what they fresh water smelled like some said “clean” while others said “nothing”.  We agreed it looked like saltwater and most of us said it tasted better then the saltwater!  It was a good discussion and I’m glad we got the opportunity to talk about how the animals in the ocean have to live in a special kind of water.

glitter sand!

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I like to start the school year off by doing an ocean theme.  I mean, we start so early that it’s still summer – and what better time to go to the ocean than during the summer?  Not to mention that the children always love doing this theme!  On Monday we had a class discussion about what we know about the ocean.  We talked about what we saw when we went to the beach and what animals we knew lived in the ocean.  They gave me some good answers – everything from seaweed and waves to fish and people – I was proud!  I told them if any of them had ever been to the beach they could bring in pictures of themselves at the ocean and even shells and rocks they might have collected.  So today one of my children did just this – and everyone was very excited!

Today and tomorrow we are learning about starfish.  We are also making them.  I cut out a starfish shape for each child.  Then I mixed plain sand with various colors of glitter – I found a muffin tin works well to keep the colors separated.  I like to keep one  muffin tin space open to put the glitter sand (I like that term!) with all the colors that get shaken off with each starfish.  Next, each child got to put glue on their starfish and sprinkle on the color(s) of glitter sand they want!  They loved this project and the starfish turned out great!  We also hung our jellyfish from the ceiling so our room is looking more and more like an ocean each day!  The children were awestruck when they walked in to discover them hanging!

So far, it’s been a good start to the week.  Tomorrow we finish up our starfish.  I will also be getting a water table together complete with blue water, ocean animals, and seashells!  I know the children will absolutely love this!  And it will be a good sensory activity for them – a first time for some!  I look forward to seeing all their reactions to the things we have planned!  🙂

happy birthday america!

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All last week we talked about why the 4th of July was special and what it means to us.  By Thursday (our last day together before the holiday) most of the children seemed to understand why we celebrate the 4th.  Here is one of the first conversations we had about this important holiday:

Ms. Elliot:  Do any of you know what Saturday is?

Children:  (silent)

Ms. Elliot:  It’s a special holiday….

Children:  (yelling) Christmas!

Ms. Elliot:  (smiling)  No – not Christmas, it’s the 4th of July.  Does anyone know why we celebrate the 4th of July?

Children:  (silent; blank stares)

Ms. Elliot:  The 4th of July is America’s birthday!

Sweetie:  Who’s America?  Is it a boy or a girl?

Ms. Elliot: (smiling in amusement)  America is not a person – it’s a place!  Does anyone know where America is or why it’s special to us?

Sweetie:  (bouncing excitedly) In my garage!

Ms. Elliot:  (trying not to laugh hysterically at her random answer)  No Sweetie – not quite!  Okay guys, I’ll give you a hint: it’s also called The United States of America.  Anyone know what that is?

BoyA:  (very quiet, very shy – I can barely hear him) It’s where we live?

Ms. Elliot:  Good job!  That’s exactly right!  America is the country where we live!  And Saturday is America’s birthday!

Kitten:  (obviously confused expression)  No, we live in Midland. (a fictional name for our town)

Ms. Elliot:  Yes, and Midland is in the United States of America!

Kitten:  (still looks confused and slightly annoyed) Midland is in Colorado.  (not our real state)

Ms. Elliot:  Yes Kitten.  We live in Midland, Midland is in Colorado, and Colorado is in the United States of America!  And July 4th is America’s birthday!

BoyB:  (very excited expression)  Are we gonna have birthday cake?!

Ms. Elliot:  That’s is something you’re gonna have to ask your mom and dad.  But some of you might – and others won’t.  The 4th of July is when we have fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday!

BoyB:  (still excited – almost yelling)  I saw those before!  Those are neat!   Can I have fireworks for my birthday too?!

Ms. Elliot:  (trying not to laugh)  You could ask your mom and dad – but they’re very expensive – they cost a lot of money – so I doubt they will say yes. (BoyB looks very disappointed)

BoyA:  (in his still quiet voice)  How old is America?

Ms. Elliot:  (glad that she happened to look this up online the day before) America is 233 years old on Saturday!

Children:  (various comments I heard)  Wow!  That’s old!  That’s like dinosaurs!  That’s like my mom!  That’s older the me!  I’m 4 – that’s bigger!  I’m gonna get big like that someday!  Wow – that’s cool!

Ms. Elliot:  (after the children calmed down)  So, the country where we live, America, is turning 233 years old on Saturday and to celebrate we have fireworks and picnics and fun with our family!  On Monday I look forward to hearing what each of you did!

Class discussions are always interesting – and always enjoyable.

I hope everyone out there in Blogland has a great 4th of July!  Stay happy, healthy, and safe!

listening to books

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I worked in another classroom this afternoon and when we came in from playing outside the children were strongly requesting that their teacher read some stories to them.  I thought to myself, “I’m glad to see that they are so excited about books!”  She told them to sit quietly while she got a few books to read.  The next thing I knew she was putting a CD in the CD player!.  It was a book on CD.  In fact, all three books she “read” were all on CD!  When she put the books away, I noticed almost all of their books are on CD!  I remember thinking, “How sad!”

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against having audio books in the classroom.  They’re great for a listening center (which none of the classes where I work have).  But, as I listened to the books, I realized how many opportunities were missed to actually discuss the books or what was happening in them!  This is such a passive form of “reading” a book – the lazy way out!  And by the multitude of these kinds of books – I realized that these children probably rarely hear an adult actually read to them!

I don’t mind audio books as an occasional treat or in a listening center – after the book had already been read aloud by the teacher and discussed.  But to be the main form of “reading”?!  I don’t like this very much.  It doesn’t encourage the child’s involvement or any critical thinking.  I dunno, maybe it’s just me.  I love to read aloud to my class!  I love to model how excited I get about reading and I like to see how their expressions change as I change my voice and do hand motions!  And I like hearing about why they think events happen or why a character feels a certain way!  I feel that these children are missing out on the best part of the reading experience when all they do is sit back and passively listen to a story!  Oh well, not much I can do – if I get any of them next year – they’ll be able to see how a real story is told!  🙂