One morning last week my children were slow to come and so at 8:30 I only had 6 kids! So I got blocks and cars out on the carpet for them to play with while we waited for our friends to show up. They were playing in groups of 2’s and 3’s – making ramps, buildings, and roads for the cars. After about 10 or 15 minutes of play one of my brightest announced: “There are no tractors allowed in here!” as she pointed to a block “castle” she had made.
Some of the boys didn’t believe her and attempted to drive their tractors into her structure. She once again made her announcement and moved their tractors out. Then one boy put his back in and in frustration she shouted, “I said NO TRACTORS! I guess I’m gonna have to make a sign so you guys know!”
She asked me for paper and a pencil, which I happily supplied. Then she asked me how to write, “No tractors allowed.” I told her to sound out the words and write the sounds she heard. I knew she was more then capable of doing this – she knows all of her letters and letter sounds and is already beginning to read. So, after a few minutes of work she brought me her sign. I read it, “No traktrs ulwd.”
I smiled. “Beautiful.” I said. She asked for some tape so she could put up her sign. After it was up, she brought everyone over to read it to them. After that, no one tried to put a tractor in her castle, the sign was up and now it was an official rule.
It was a lovely moment.
I recently received the following question from a reader and since I didn’t have an immediate answer (or the time to go looking) I decided to post it to everyone. I figured that some of you out there might have the answer and at the same time others might be helped out by what everyone has to say on the subject. Here is the question:
“I am looking for little rhymes or sayings to help children to print the letters of the alphabet. I can’t remember any, but have seen them on sites. Do you know what i am talking about and do you know where i can find them?”
I personally don’t use rhymes or sayings to help my children write their letters. I simply walk them through the steps. For example if I were to walk a child through writing an uppercase F, I might say: “Make a straight line down, then go to the top and make a straight line across so that it makes a corner, and then go to the middle and make another straight line across.” While explaining I model what to do so the child has a visual to follow. This has always worked very well for me. I try to break each letter down and walk the children through the process to make it as simple as possible.
I would like to hear how some of you show your children how to write their letters! Also, if any of you could help my reader that would be great! I love hearing all your ideas! 🙂
I was thinking this weekend that some of my faithful followers (thank you!) out there might be wanting an update on the dilemma I am having surrounding the dreaded worksheet. This is a topic I have vented/complained/bitched (sorry for the vulgarity) about before and it is something I am being forced to do in my classroom this year.
Here’s how it works out for me:
One worksheet I send home each week pertains to the Letter of the Week (something I also hate doing because it never seems to really teach the kids the letters – in my experience). Since I simply refuse to do any tracing in my class I had to go another route. I found this paper to go with every letter of the alphabet. I modify it by using white out on the bottom to get rid of the boxes and just leave a line. There is no way my 3/4 year olds can write small enough to fit in those little boxes – and I wouldn’t expect them to! Sometimes I type new directions to say something like put a square around the letter or highlight it a certain color. I try to switch it up – keep it interesting.
The second page I send home each week is a blank piece of paper that I put 4 black lines on. I made the lines with my word processing program so I know they are straight. On the first line I write the child’s name in red sharpie and on the lines below I have each child try to write their name (they basically try to copy what I wrote for them at the top). I make sure to leave a nice wide space between each line so the children who write big have plenty of room. The lines are basically there so the children don’t write random letters all over the page or write their name vertically. It seems to be working so far. Right now we are only working on our first names – when I see a child has mastered their first name, we will move on to their last name.
The last page is usually some sort of science or math paper. This last week it was recording the length of ocean animals. Next week I think maybe a sink/float recording sheet. At other times it might be sorting or counting or something like that – whatever I manage to find free online (usually through teacher websites) that fit our theme or look appropriate for a preschool aged child.
At parents night I told my parents to only expect 2 – maybe 3 – papers a week. That’s all we feel are necessary as we don’t want to overload the child with paperwork. Also we want all the part time children to complete one paper so we can all move on to the next together. I wanted to tell them I was being forced to do worksheets and that I was sorry for offering materials to their children that were not developmentally appropriate – but I felt that would be out of line.
I do feel guilty though – and I just can’t seem to get over it. Everytime I sit a child down to do a worksheet with them I think, “They could be doing something way more productive right now!” But, we do what we must. If anyone has any good resources for paperwork (free) post a link on a comment – I’ll be glad to give it a look!
Hopefully my parents are happy this year and don’t complain a lot like my parents last year. I’ll keep you posted if any worksheet drama pops up in the future! 🙂
I don’t allow my children to bring toys to school. They are, however, allowed to bring books. So, everyday I have at least 4 books to read that the children have brought in…but I don’t mind. Usually they bring books they’ve gotten from our Scholastic book orders. Today was different. Today a child brought a book in for me to read that she made! Her dad wrote down the words and she drew all the pictures! It was too cute! All the children loved the idea!
Since it was right before lunch, I told them that tomorrow I would staple together some small books and they could ask us to help them write the words while they drew the pictures. I told them I would even read them to the class when they were done. This got them really excited! I hope they’re still this excited tomorrow when I remind them of the activity! I would love for my class have the confidence to see themselves as authors! That would be great! So, we’ll see how it goes tomorrow – I’m excited!
I think after all the hard work we’ve done with the children, some are starting to look at themselves as writers! I think. I’m pretty sure. They’ve always enjoyed coloring and any art project we’ve done – they’ve seen themselves as artists for awhile. For the past month or so, I’ve noticed that they’ve been “writing” on their projects. Maybe it’s just strings of letters, but they know what it says. They have been making signs lately for their projects and labeling drawings on their own. None of the “words” make any sense to me but when I ask them to read it to me – they do. Some ask how to spell words and then sound them out with me as they write. This is progress – this makes me happy! This is what makes me love teaching – seeing moments like this – seeing their growth – their joy – even their hurt – and trying to get them through and make them see just how special they are – even when I find it hard to see sometimes.
(This picture was found through google images – but it illustrates perfectly what some of my children are starting to do.)
So this is my first year having my students do journals. I’ve heard of it but have never actually seen it done in a preschool class. I knew right away that these journals weren’t the typical “have the child write about something and draw a quick picture.” I wanted to try it. I made my journals from plain white copy paper – they color with crayons, and write in pen or pencil. What we started doing at the beginning of the year was have them draw a picture – anything they wanted – and then they would tell one of us what it was and we would write it down for them. We also had them write their name – or at least try to write their name – everyday in their journal. This went well.
After a couple months of this routine, we started to sound out the words as we wrote what they had written. We would say the letter we were writing and the sound it made. We did this until Christmas break. In January, we had them take the pen from us and we walked them through sounding out and writing the words for themselves. It’s been going well since then. I would love to see them do this for themselves (at least the ones who I think are ready) but they just don’t feel confident doing that without one of us sitting right there with them. But it would be nice to see them try to write words on their own – hopefully they will soon.
Anyway, I got to wondering how many other preschool teachers journal in their classroom? What does it entail? What’s the process? I’d like to hear what other teachers do and what has (or has not) worked in your class…feel free to leave comments because I am very interested! 🙂 I’m always open to learning new ideas!