Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lessons from Preschool

I must apologize for the hiatus my blog took as of late. It is the start of the school year! Most of my computer time lately has been spent lesson planning.

I am working with three and four year olds this year, and have my own class for the first time! This has been both exciting and challenging, because I am building my curriculum up as I go, and because I am running a classroom on my own, instead of having a co-teacher. I had a year to learn about teaching preschool while being an aide, and it is exciting to put what I learned into practice as I learn how to teach a class of my own. And of course, the kids teach me more every day.

I have a class of mostly boys this year, which is another big change from last year, and I quickly found that a big key to keeping most of them engaged is to provide lots of hands on activities. Generally boys tend to be more sensory oriented than girls (although this is not always the case, of course), and I have seen them spend twenty to thirty minutes occupied when I provide sensory activities for them. For a three year old boy, this is a really long time! I also have a few girls who are very sensory oriented.

The first activity we did was to make an ocean. I feel like this is a pretty standard preschool sensory activity, but the kids love it. We filled our sensory tub with water and then added blue and green watercolor, talking all the while about what color an ocean is, and what an ocean is made out of. I added shaving cream to make waves, and for added sensory fun. I had them identify which of our plastic animal toys would live in an ocean, and then let them play with these animals in the water. They were occupied for most of our second free time play period!

The second sensory activity I did was having them get their fingers dirty with clay. Someone donated a bag of extra clay that is normally thrown on pottery wheels to our school. I added some water to make it really muddy. Not all of the kids were as engaged with this activity, but the ones who got into it were really, really into it. It made a huge mess all over the floor and wall, but they had so much fun! I think this activity is probably better suited to older classes. Our Pre-K classes had a lot of fun with the clay. If doing it with younger kids again, I would probably do it outside, and I wouldn’t forget aprons for the kids like I did that time. Oops! I keep learning new lessons in preschool, and one is to have the kids wear aprons every time we do a sensory activity!

I am interested in doing more sensory activities with the kids throughout the year as well, especially since it makes such a difference in how the kids act during free time. If the kids are not really engaged in what they are doing, they tend to run in the classroom and get into squabbles with their friends. However, when they are occupied and engaged, which can also happen during craft projects, they are much more successful in the classroom. They are using their minds, and generally get along better with the children around them. There are many lessons to be learned from fights, of course, but the petty fights that stem from being bored are better prevented.

These are some of my musings from the first few weeks of preschool! I am excited to trace my thoughts throughout the school year and see all the new things I learn this year. I can truly say that I learn right alongside my kids, every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment