Following an interest of a group – making wind visible

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Its interesting to watch the reactions of children when the wind blows or the rain is falling in bucket loads.  It’s winter and we dont fear experiencing the elements and infact a large number of children at my centre have a curiosity focused on the wind.  Master L and J bring out ribbons to watch them move in the blowing wind.  While master J and J. J choose to experiment with the paper darts they had constructed with a teacher earlier in the day.  Master O, S and miss O, A and Ar where talking about how the leaves and the rain is blowing.  They play a game by taking turns to run out from the shelter of the deck and into the wind and rain.

 

They were having such a blast that I felt terrible thinking about the possibility of having to bring everyone inside  because the rain was starting to really come down.

I looked around inside and notice the art table needed to be reset.  It was deserted so I decided to create an invitation for this group of children in mind.  I knew that this invitation had to have a focus that included the a wind element.

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Paper, an assortment of poster paint provided on a painting tray,  spoons and straws.

The table become a buzz of interest from curious minds hungry to create explore and experiment.

By this time I went and invited the children inside out of the cold weather to create our own wind.   Some came along and others choose to stay on the deck with another teacher following leaves that were being blown around on the deck.

Back at the table children had already started exploring and manipulating the assortment of resourses available.   The straws were the main focus.  Children knew how to use them by demonstrating sucking and blowing skills.

I processed by expaining, role modeling and suggesting what we could do with the straws and the paint to create our own wind.

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First we spooned some different coloured paint on the paper.  Once the group of children had grasp the concept, they enjoyed the fasinating movement that there blowing attempt could do to the paint on the paper.

We discussed the colours and miss O made a comment about,

Look at my blue and pink im moving them and they are crashing…can I use my finger. – miss A

 

Mine is moving -master O

 

I made pink – miss O

 

The colours started to mix and some childrrn were having more success than others with their blowing.  I suggested to take big lung fills of air then blow, this helped with big blows the paint moved further over the page.   One thing was for sure.  We had discovered we could make our own wind and the effect was moving and mixing the colours; resulting in creating different colours, shapes and patterns.

It wasn’t long and children started mixing the paint with their fingers, hands, the straws, blowing through the straws and one child went and fetched a long handled brush.

The experience started out with the idea to explore and experiment with wind, which was fasinating and amazing to discover as our own bodies were able to create enough wind to move the paint across the paper to make our colourful artwork.

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We discovered so much more including mixing colours and evaluating the result, finding patterns in the shapes thst we were creating, how each of us could make our own experience individual by sharing different and open ways to be creative.  By the end of the experience we were using big flowing arms and hand motions to move the paint over the paper and across the larger table space and at the end we created shapes when we removed the paper from the table.  This was a surprising twist to our hour of discovery and spark discussion about shapes especially the difference between a square and a rectangle.

Children that have the opportunity to explore open experinces in an environment that is easily accessable discover their own abilities to be creative knowing their ideas and contributions matter and are valued.

 

 

 

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Looking over the fence – following the interest of a group of children

Zombies, facepaint, pretend play and chase catch play is big with the children I work with and it seems we are moaning painted heros and villians with great imaginations these days.
Today I was blown away with the level of realism with the face painting one of the teachers had engaged in with and alongside the children, really bringing their imaginations alive.

The first child I saw with their face paint made me think

Oh my god theres been an accident in the centre, why have I not been notified.

I only reacted like this because of my new role as a manager of the centre and the manager is to be informed, a long with the rest of the teaching team of any accidents and incidents in the centre on the day.  I was also shocked on first sight because the paint looked so real.  My second thought was does this child need comfort and attention,  I quickly evaluated that this was not so because they were in role playing at a zombie doggie part in their imaginary play, together with others spread out around the centre.  My third thought disappeared just as quickly, which was contacting the parents after investigating the scene with the team.

Oh the relief

MY REACTION
This reaction led me to reflect on my thinking and why I reacted liked this.

I had so many questions

How would a parent react when they first see their child and would they value and appropriate the actions of the teachers who were following the interest of their child/ren?

As a teacher professinally I see the value in the building of relationships, responding to childrens interest, valuing the child’s voice through extending and encouraging this play, and viewing spontaneous play as a meaningful way of learning.  But, as a parent of two child I started thinking about how shocking and frightening it could appear if you didnt know the content of the day.

And I was right on the money with this innate response to nurture, because one parent gasped and went into a protective mode when they first saw their child – luckly it was my sister in law and she laughed at herself then congratulated the person responsible.

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Reflect even deeper

This reaction of a parent made my think.

HOW DOES THIS RELISTIC IMAGINATIVE PLAY LOOK LIKE FROM THOSES LOOKING OVER THE FENCE AND HOW DOES IT LINK TO OUR CURRICULUM TE WHARIKI.

We are seen to be providing a safe and secure environment for the tamariki in our community.   Looking in and seeing children playing with bloody scrapped marks on their faces doesnt reflect this image.

IS THIS APPROPRIATE IN AN EARLY LEARNING CENTRE

Now dont get me wrong, I was the driving force this time last year reseaching and supporting the interest of weapon play in our centre.  Moving away from a

no

environment to a safe

yes we can do that

environment – with expectations that were shared, reviewed and evaluated along with the child their families and teachers

We have got to remember as teachers that we are here to extend, encourage and support the childrens evolving strengths and interest.  This face painting was harmless and created a buzz.  A sense of fun and delight for the children and teachers involved.  They are exposed to these themes at home through multi media, older siblings and from the influences of their friends.

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The children are sharing common interests, exchanging ideas and views, expressing themselves, evaluating their play, appreciating different point of views when they listen to others, play different roles, displaying leadership roles and taking care to not harm themselves and others.  And I could name much more of the valued learning that this experience provided for the group of children.  I even observed children taking risk in these roles that they wouldnt have with out their armour (the face paint).  New children to the centre were entering play and initiating play as well for the first time.

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I

believe by inspiring children to be who ever they chose to be today day empowered individuals to display confidence in themselves and supported their thinking about themselves and their own self image – there were no victims displayed here just some very creative and inspiring heros (and their artistry to show case)

This play and valuable learning opportunity could have easily been lost if I didn’t first stop, looked and listened

Im going to share my thinking with the teaching team to gain different perspectives and there thinking.  Along with poses a few questions to our whanau about how they feel and view this play.

I think in the future we could document this play on the spot.  Communicate our wow moments of the day through our reflective communication practises for our parents.  And, continue  to ensure research is done to ensure we are all, as a team fully informed when making choices to extend learning in different directions.

Im hoping those looking in from over the fence evaluate our learning environment through the indications of observing – happy children, happy teachers and smiling faces who are involved and engaged.

I BELIEVE OUR ENVIRONMENT TO BE SAFE AND SECURE BECAUSE WE HAVE ALL THE RIGHT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES.  ALONG WITH TEACHERS THAT GENUINLY LOVE AND CARE FOR THE CHILDREN WE HAVE THE HONOUR TO NURTURE AND GROW EVERYDAY TOGETHER WITH THEIR BEAUTIFUL WHANAU.

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Parents and tea…

Parents and teacher have been seeing a positive change for children transitioning to school and value the curriculum, support, guidance and learning opportunities that are being offered and delivered at the centre.
The principle stated that our centre has supported an increase in their participation with parents opting to have their children all going to the same learning community.

Today a parent came up to me and shared some positive feedback that she has been receiving from parents and teachers from the neighbouring school.

I have also been getting similar comments and really value any kind of feedback we can receive.  I believe that formative feedback helps us to make  informed decisions and I welcome all comments, ideas and suggestions. 

Whanau Contribution/Relationships and fostering a sense of belonging with the dads at our centre

If I am walking with two other people, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.

(Confucius)

So Okay I’m on the path to post some of my teaching practice reflections and thought I would start with this one.  I was reading through this reflection and was thinking about how we are fostering a sense of belonging for our boys and their male role-models in their lives.  How do we make them feel welcome and encourage participation and support their views and values about child rearing.

Well first let me explain a great example of fostering a sense of belong in our community, high-lighting and celebrating all the dads, step-dads,grandad, papas grandfathers and Tepuna Tina, uncles and cousins.

We were planning a day of celebration on the 30th August 2013

As a group of teachers building relationships with the families at our new centre we knew that Father’s Day was fast approaching and we wanted to celebrate the positive male role-models in our community.  We wanted to do something that our fathers especially would participate in and we knew a cuppa and scone day wouldn’t cut it – that was more for our mums.

You see men love communicating when they are doing something, sharing a common interest and when you throw in a little bit of competition- then its all on like Dockey Kong

So, we decided to plan a Fathers Day Afternoon Tea Relay Event (which we are hoping become a annual event on our calendar).

Knowing siblings were also at the neighbouring school.  I sent out invitations to the two classes that we had been developing relationships with  over the past year through our Transition to School Programme, rooms 17 & 18.

I was aiming to bring our learning community together through a fun experience and provide an opportunity for communication and shared interest.

Men love sport, children enjoy and gain valuable understanding from observing them taking an interest in their lives away from home.  Parents also have the opportunity to make connections with others through a non threatening way.

The day was planned, each teacher had their tasks and roles to carryout before the day.  Invitations and notices were created and sent out to families through parent pockets, email, newsletters.  The centre was a buzz with chatter and talk of competition which was breathing a different kind of life into the centre, it was so encouraging I couldn’t help but get excited along with them.  Some families started sharing some of the their weekend sport experiences and these were the families that usually kept to themselves and contributed little to the events in the centre.

The day finally arrived and I wanted to empower our male teachers in the centre to run the event.  I understand that when it comes to communicating with fathers it helps to have male teachers to convey the messages in just the right way to gain a positive out come – sometimes in our field of teaching men can find us female teachers some what over bearing, and a little intimidating.  So to have two talented male teachers to run the show I knew we were all in for a great day.

First the event was explained to ensure everyone had the same understanding of the aim for the day.  Then we were taken through the rules.  Rules in competition are very important as I was told along with concerquenses if there is any cheating or bad sportsmanship observed.  Referees were appointed- who were the mums, and other female role-models along with teachers from the school.  It was all in good fun and humour.

So…….LET THE GAMES BEGIN

And boy did they.  The day was a success.  This was indicated through the feedback we got from the children and their parents, the teachers together with the smiles, laughs and champion hoot and woops from everyone during the competition.  Everyone was displaying great sportsmanship with the odd tricky dad trying to push the boat out and get their kids over the lines first, all good healthy fun.

The men in our children’s lives are very important and their contributions to the learning and development of their children should always be highlighted, respected and celebrated.  It’s important for children to see their fathers and other male role-models getting involved building relationships and socialising in positive ways, especially for the boys because then they go away and put their experiences and the actions that they see into their play and imitated or play out what they see and hear in their world.

After the event and with months to come I noticed an increase in the number of fathers, grandfathers and uncles who were volunteering to take part in jobs or other responsibilities around the centre.  They appeared to relax and stay awhile to engage with their children at the centre and demonstrated curiosity in their children’s learning at the centre when they asked questions, and viewed portfolios or listened to their children as they explained an amazing piece of art work they had done that day.

I think the one thing we do need to do better is enquire about the skills, career, hobbies and interests that all our parents can share with us.  It would be valuable to gain understanding about what our families are enjoying and engaging in at home together and find ways to link them into our curriculum where appropriate.

We could invite parents to take part in the decision making process when planning events and experiences for the children. This way we are valuing the child’s voice (through their interests that are observed at home and at the centre), parents are empowered to share ideas, values and aspirations for their children’s learning, and their would be opportunity to foster partnerships with our parents, whanau and greater community.

Evaluation: Since writing this reflection in my reflective journal we have had a number of events and along with the teachers; parents are given jobs and responsibilities when it comes to deciding, planning, and following through with events (Swimming Programme Term 1 2014).  I believe we are well and truly finding our own sense of belonging and developing an understanding that we have a place in our community as a learning environment for the youngest citizens.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Its amazing you learn something new everyday – how do I interact with a tool of this nature – what environment would it be found – a court room maybe just a guess
who can tell me

stenoodie

Instead of showing you a picture of letters, whether of how the alphabet can be rendered in different shapes, fonts, or sizes, or of physical letters that you send through snail mail, let me show you how I “type” out letters on an everyday basis:  I use my stenograph!

my steno machine that I use to type with : )

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YMCA Children’s Conference 2014

Sharing our visions and views with our wider community this display was designed with much aroha in my heart

This display of my centre was accompanied by others from our sister centres in Auckland and YMCA OSCAR providers through out New Zealand.
YMCA had a Children’s Conference on the 27th-28th March 2014, where we had the opportunity to share, learn and see things differently. We had the opportunity to hear from some great inspirational speakers focused on child development, environmental development, teaching practice, leadership and marketing – which was a new thing to think about. Marketing a hat I wasnt expecting to wear but look forward to the challenge.