Maybe a Witch Did It!

witch2Midway through our play time, I realized we still had our old playdough out. We have parents volunteer to bring in fresh playdough every 2 weeks, and we had a fresh batch ready to go on the table. I threw the green playdough we had away, and put the purple on the table. Suddenly, several children came over to the playdough table to check it out.

The following conversation happened between a curious boy and a charismatic girl in our 4-5 year old class (the girl saw me change the playdough, the boy did not):

Boy: “How did this playdough get purple?”
Girl: “I don’t know… how do you think?”
Boy: “Maybe a witch turned it purple…”
Girl: “Maaaybeeeee….”

I laughed so hard, because she sounded just like the teachers, trying to prompt a child to make a prediction. Her inflection on the “maybe” was even just like ours! Proof, they are paying attention to more than just our words…

By the way, she never did tell him that I had just changed it. She just let him think that a witch might have changed the color of our playdough!😀

Unexpected Stories from the Last Couple Weeks

Recently, I was assessing our preschoolers. I asked one of our 4 year old boys who is on the Autism Spectrum to count as high as he could. He was kind of crouching with his feet on his chair. As he counted, he stood up a little more with each number. By the time he got to 7, he was standing all the way up. In all my years, I had never seen a child do that. He was literally counting “as high as he could.” I tried a different way. I asked him to sit back down, then start at 1, and keep going. He did the same thing… I thought about going back into the classroom to ask the Special Ed teacher for some tips… I asked him to stand on the floor, start at 1, then keep counting until he didn’t know any more numbers. Again, he crouched down, then counted to 7, standing up a little more with each number. He proudly said, “I’m as high as I can go!”

Another 4 year old girl, when asked to count as high as she could, said 1, and looked up to the ceiling… These two examples were great reminders to me that some people take what we say quite literally. I guess I need to work on finding better wording to get what I’m looking for out of these kiddos!

I assessed the 3 year olds in the classroom. I was so exhausted by the end of the day…. I was asking one little girl to identify some letters. When I pointed to the Ii, I think she actually said, “Oh, that’s a letter Ii.” What I heard, was “Oh, that’s a glass of wine!” I wondered what she actually said, so I asked her again, and she said something else completely… I guess I’ll never know if she actually identified the letter Ii, or if she really thought it looked like a glass of wine. In my defense, she did say the letter Ll was a sock, so anything is possible. haha

My co-teacher and I were doing Parent-Teacher conferences last week. One set of parents was sitting across from us, telling us about how their son has 2 (or was it 3?) sisters, and another one will be coming next month. We both said, “Wow.” He continued on to say that they had to keep having children, because “What if 3 of them are bad? We need to have at least a couple more to up the chance of having at least 2 good ones.” We weren’t really sure if he was serious, or kidding, but we both were laughing pretty hard. He also was talking about how kids these days put their parents in nursing homes, so they want to make sure there will be at least one that will take care of them when they are old [totally makes sense]. He pointed to his wife, and said “She carries you in her belly for 9 months, and you want to put her in a nursing home?” Gotta admit… he has a point.

My final story, that amused me in the past couple weeks, was when we had the balance beam in our classroom. It’s only about 6″ off the ground, but it’s just high enough to be scary for kids who haven’t had experience with something like that. One 3 year old girl was walking along it with one foot on the beam, one foot on the ground. After doing that a couple times, I asked her to just try it with two feet on the beam. She was scared. When she got about halfway across, I told her I would hold her hand. Holding my hand (barely), she successfully maneuvered the beam with two feet. The next several times she tried it on her own, she did the first half with one foot on, and one foot off, but got to the halfway point, and walked the second half with two feet on the beam. She was so proud of herself! I am hoping that this week, she will try the whole thing with both feet. It’s so fun to watch their confidence grow with practice!!

 

These are just a few of the stories from the past couple of weeks. I will try to be better at writing them all down for your entertainment, as well as mine! I just LOVE preschoolers!!🙂

Spring 2016 Classroom Quotes

I started this post last spring, and didn’t realize I never published it! Here are some cute things we heard in our preschool class last spring:

One 5 year old girl said to me one day as we were playing in the sensory table: “Um, Miss Sarah, I hate to tell you this, but I think your hair dye is running out.” (As if I didn’t know my roots were showing.)

A 3 year old girl said to me one day: “You better cut your nails, they’re getting kinda long.” Who knew preschoolers were the hygiene police?!?

We were playing a game with dice. Each time a 5 year old boy would roll, he would blow on his dice. I asked him why he does that. He answered, “I don’t know, ’cause some of my family dos that.”

We were watching a video about the letter Xx. Then we were asking the children if they remember any of the words from the video. One of the boys said, “mixa”… it took us a minute to realize, that he heard “mixer” with an accent, so that’s how he said it. haha

Kids are good at reminding us we need to be specific. We were drawing in journals about signs of spring. One child started drawing a stop sign, another started drawing other yard signs…

Heard in the Classroom – 2015-16 ed.

One of our three year old girls was told by our assistant teacher, “My ears hurt, your voice is too loud.” The little girl said to her, “Well, put your fingers in your ears then.”

One of our 4 year old girls called Miss GayLynn (the assistant) over the to reading corner. She told her to read to herself, and to look at the back, because that’s the end.

I wrote a 5 year old boy’s name. He said it wasn’t his name. I didn’t use the D’Nealian ‘k’. He asked why I used the wrong one. I said I guess I made a mistake. He responded with, “You need to focus your attention!” (This is wording from the Second Step Curriculum we use)

One of our 5 year old girls said “What if Asians were real?” We were a bit confused… we asked her, “Do you mean aliens?” She looked at us in disbelief, “No, aliens are real, I mean Asians!”

When a teacher asked one of our 4 year old boys, “How did you sort that?” He said, “Really fast!”

I asked a 5 year old girl if she knew where her dad grew up. She looked at me as if that was a ridiculous question, and said, “With my uncle.”

One of the random things heard in our classroom: “that is not a weapon, it’s a hot dog.”

One of our 5 year old girls told me one time: “My great aunt Barb is in the hospital. They buried her once. Now they’re trying to dig her up.” I asked why. She said she didn’t know why they buried her in the hospital. I asked if she died, she said no, she was just in the hospital.

We really never know what we are going to hear in the classroom! Sometimes we wonder where kids come up with their stories. Sometimes, they are just plain funny! I’ll post more as the year wraps up (if I remember).  ;-)

A Conversation with a Three Year Old

This was an actual conversation that happened at preschool yesterday with a three year old boy. We were standing in the bathroom in our classroom, he had a little BM in his pull-up. I was helping him get cleaned up. I’ll call him S (for Student)…

S: “Don’t get in my butt cheeks.”

Me: “Well, I have to get it all… when you have to poop, you can just tell the teacher and go to the bathroom…”

S: “No, it’s too hard.”

Me: “Well, maybe you need to drink more water.”

S (after looking at me like I was nuts): “Water makes you pee.”

Me: “But sometimes, if it’s hard to poop, you can drink more water, and it might help soften your poop up so it doesn’t hurt.”

S: “Blasted goldfish make me poop. I don’t like them, ’cause I don’t like to.”

Me: “I don’t like flavor blasted goldfish either.”

S: “You should try the regular ones, they’re really good!”

 

Yes, this conversation is pretty much word for word how it happened. I just have to laugh at the seriousness of this preschooler was in his statements. What also cracked me up, was the complete randomness of the direction of the conversation. I hope it gave you the same chuckle it gave me!

A Fitting Start to the New School Year

Every year, we have our annual “back to school” staff meeting about a week or two before our preschoolers come back. This year, our meeting was at Lord of Life, the church where my career in Early Childhood Education began. It seemed a bit appropriate that the year I have a whole new team, our meeting was at the place where it really all started for me!

My career in Early Childhood Education officially started in 1998. OK, it really probably started when I was 10, and my neighbor and I would tag-team babysit for several families. At age 11 or 12, I was co-nannying with her over the summer for a family that had 3 boys. I babysat until I had a “real job” at McDonald’s when I was 15. No job was quite as satisfying as working with young children (though, admittedly, working as a shift manager at Pizza Hut had some similarities).

In 1998, I was attending Bethel College, now Bethel University, for Early Childhood and Family Education. I had started attending Lord of Life as a church member, and saw they had a job opening for a part time position running the nursery. I was hired as the Associate Director of Nursery Services. My primary job responsibilities were to coordinate nursery volunteers, manage the on-call child care program our church had for parents attending small groups or other events at the church, and writing articles for the church newsletter. Later, I started up the 2 year old Sunday School program. It was a fun job that incorporated all the things I loved – working with children, volunteers (and volunteering), and writing. Even when I left the official position, I continued to volunteer in the nursery.

Since that time, the church has started up its own preschool (which started when I was still working the Nursery Services position, though I was not part of that). It also has allowed the Anoka-Hennepin District to house one of our Kindergarten Readiness classes there.

Today, we had a great class on the importance of music and movement with young children. Did you know that being able to follow simple rhythmic patterns at an early age can predict how well a child will be able to read later on? That was one of many things we learned or were reminded of today. After the class, we had our meeting which mostly consisted of meeting new staff, and being reminded of all the services we have available to us and to the families we serve. The entire day was a great reminder of just why I love working for the school district!!

We have been diligently working over the past couple of weeks to prepare for the children who will be walking through our doors next week. I have met the new Assistant Teacher and Special Education Teacher who I will be working with. We have talked about where we want to start the year, and know things will evolve as our team becomes more cohesive. I am excited about the new school year with a new Team, and new students (though, many are returning, or families we have previously had)…  it just seemed fitting that it officially started where my whole career started!🙂

 

Side note: I ran into two different women I recognized, who were working at the church today. Even though I haven’t even attended the church in over 9 years, they both remembered me. I recognized both of them, but could only recall the name of one. :-( Though it was strange that they both remembered me, it’s nice to be remembered!🙂

Playground Tricks

For the first time, I am co-teaching summer school. I am working with preschoolers in a classroom held in an elementary school. The children ride the bus to school, eat breakfast there, and ride the bus home at the end of our morning. They attend school 4 days a week.

A huge benefit to teaching in a school? We have a playground! We have been able to go outside all but two of the days. This has a noticeable impact on everyone’s moods and energy levels, including the teachers’.

Today, a 5 year old girl was hanging on the bars. She was able to get her feet up on the bar, and hang upside down. Most of the other children who were trying, were not able to hang in this same way. I asked her if she knew how to do pull her legs through and do a flip. She did not say anything (she tends to be very quiet most of the time). I told her I would show her how, and she nodded. I climbed to the higher bar (at my chest level), hung upside down by my knees, flipped my hands around, and pulled my legs through. She thought this was pretty cool, and proceeded to successfully try it. The look on her face was priceless! She got a huge smile, and continued to do it over and over. Each time, she gained more confidence, and soon was even able to pull her legs back through the other way (a trick I tried, but no longer have the core strength to do).

Soon, other children were trying the flip. One boy couldn’t get his legs up over the bar, but he was able to pull up so the bar was at his waist. I could see him trying to figure out how he could do a flip. I again took to the “high bar.” I pulled myself up so the bar was at my waist, and showed him how to lean forward, kick his feet, and flip over. He cautiously tried to flip over the bar, needing a little help. Other children lined up to try to0. Each of the 5 or 6 children needed to be spotted the first time or two, then were able to do it on their own! With each success, their smiles got bigger, their steps more sure…

Without a playground, and a gorgeous morning that had us decide to stay outside longer than usual, these children might not have learned a new way to move their bodies, or developed that little bit of extra confidence today.