Monday, July 25, 2011

Smash! Mash! Crash! There Goes the Trash

Maybe I'll start by sharing a tidbit of a conversation I had with my husband last week.  I only feel comfortable in sharing this because I really don't think he meant it in the way it sounded.  :-)  I had one day before we left for camping and had a full load on that day.  I hadn't been sleeping well and I was far from finished getting ready to leave and so I jokingly said, "I think you should stay home and I'll go to work for you today."  Yes, we have mornings that start out that way...doesn't mean we don't love our job or our children...but sometimes you wonder how it's going to go when you know you aren't starting on the "right foot" to begin with because of minimal sleep and so on.  He said, "Okay, I'll stay home and have two days off."  Um.  Hmmm.  :-P  Like I said, I don't think he really meant it that way.  Side note:  the day went just fine.  However, it does come to mind today.  There are many who are very unaware of what we do.  Like I mentioned before, to some I'm considered a babysitter.  To others I fall in the category of a stay at home mom.  In reality...I'm neither.  I do not have the freedom of a stay at home mom.  And for those that think I'm a babysitter...they just need to come walk in my shoes for a week.   Even my husband, who lives here, does not truly understand what my job all entails.  You don't, unless you've done it.  The planning, the prep, the making sure your house is acceptably "clean" all the time, being sure that not only I but the family members are following licensing regulations, the billing, the budgeting, menu planning, keeping up with assessments, and so much more...even before (and after) the children arrive.  There is very little time for myself.  I'll share my rate with you.  I make 2.75/hr-per child and that's only when there are children present.  Though this fall I will be going back to preschool hours being a set fee and "I'm sorry if you have decided your child is too tired to come today.  I've already purchased materials and did a lot for planning."  (Yes, I've had the excuse...but I won't go into how much I disagree with that.)  But presently, they pay for the hours they are in attendance. This does not include any of the extra time that is involved. So, in essence, I make very little after we subtract groceries, bills, art supplies, toy replacement, activity materials, etc.  I don't do this for the money...nobody in this field does. We do it because we love the children and know the importance of a positive early childhood.  So that being said, anyone that considers being home with 6 kids a "day off" has never been in my shoes.  To really understand they must do the lesson planning, the scheduling, the billing-including DHS, activity preparation, photo organization, meal prep and clean up all along with trying to keep the house clean and the family's needs met (and trying to get ready to leave on vacation also).  Easier said then done.  :-)  And I'm not complaining...I just felt the need to "vent" today and help others have a better understanding of what we preschool teachers do.

So, today.  I wouldn't say it was the "best day ever".  Nor would I say it was the worst day I've ever had in this field.  No matter how long we are in the field, we have off days...either because of personal reasons and we are having a rough day or the many factors in the children's lives are playing into the rough day.  Which is probably what was happening today.  To say it nicely..."the children's listening ears were not on today."  So, needless to say I revamped what we did.  I could tell I was becoming frustrated in how everything was going, not smoothly at all, and how I had to repeat repeat repeat.  Why am I saying this?  I want you all to know that we all have days that aren't so smooth.  When we share activities about our day...well, all seems just fine...everything went so smoothly and in doesn't always go that smoothly.  Doesn't mean it wasn't a profitable day...just not what we expected or wanted.  So it is okay to revamp or even set activities aside for another day.  One of the things I did today was stop an activity and have a little conversation about listening and another about emotions.  The best way to teach about that is in the course of the day ... not necessarily it's only lesson. I do feel I need to say that if you are constantly "setting activities aside" then you need to take a look at what you are doing.  What the cause?  Perhaps the child is not ready for the activities you are wanting them to do.  Maybe your expectations are too high/unrealistic or too low and they aren't challenged.  Maybe there isn't enough open-endedness in the activities.  Maybe there is too many "sitting down" activities.  Maybe you need more of a hands-on approach.  Take an honest look at yourself and your child and go from there.  Children don't often "misbehave" for no reason at all.  There is usually something that is triggering it.  I know that today's behaviors probably stemmed from the weekend.
We love this book.  Lots of rhyming also a great way to review/introduce blends,
if your child is at that stage.  Let's see, you can't see the author very easily on this book.  Barbara Odanaka

A lot of giggles came out of our gross motor activity today. 
First I provided 5 pieces of newspaper to each child to create "trash".  We slipped in a little skip counting by 5s also.  Nice to give them a visual of how it works vs. just memorizing 5, 10, 15.  So all together we had 25 newspaper balls.  Yes, I could have done this myself but scrunching newspaper is a very good fine motor activity.  Even better when you encourage them to do it one hand with their nondominant hand. 
I had a masking tape road and A. had created us paper plate steering wheels.  So we drove our "garbage trucks" down the road using the heel-toe method on the line.  "Walking the line" is very beneficial for preschoolers.  Consider doing this also when you are learning or reviewing a letter or number.  It was harder then they thought it was going to be!  At the end of the line there was a trash can.  The children had put their trash around the can after crumbling the newspaper up.
Then they counted the newspaper balls, out loud, from 1-25.  I had the older ones go first so that the younger ones could hear.  Both of the younger ones difficulty remembering what comes next when they hit around 16 and one of them tends to hurry his way through it so he doesn't always do the 1:1 like he should.  Counting isn't his favorite thing to do.  So this was a lovely activity to reinforce both the counting sets and oral counting.
Then they made all sorts of racket as their garbage truck picked up the trash can and dumped it (over their head for the next child).  I will definitely do something like this again.  It was a hit!
Numeral Formation
Kind of hard to see in the picture but each child had a formatted page with two columns and gas pumps.  One gas pump said odd and the other said even.  The children wrote the numerals 1-10 on the garbage trucks.  Then they were cut out and they decided if that garbage truck would go under the odd column or the even column.
Here is the work of one child.  She chose a garbage truck.  Stated the number (6).  Then she put six manipulatives in a line and then buddied them up.  Then glued the garbage truck onto the correct column.  Here's the little poem we used today.
Odd and Even
If you are an even number
You always have a pair
So if you look around
Your buddy will always be there.
If you are an odd  number
There's always a lonley one.
He looks around to find his buddy
But he's the only one.
---Marg Wadsworth

Letter Formation
This activity went well.  We missed a couple of days and so we were behind in our letter formation activities.  So decided that U and V would go well together because most of my preschool students will make a U and then make a V a U also.  :-)  They have a difficult time with stopping at the point and going back up.  So this was perfect.  I was on limited time as we were leaving for vacation last week so chose just a plain semi instead of searching for a garbage truck pattern.  :-)  Children wrote a U in one truck and a V the other.  Then they wrote u or v on the picture strips.  Cut out and glued onto the correct truck.
I was sure to include both short and long sounds for the vowel u.  You may wish to consider clapping out each of the words and talking about word chunks.  Since my kiddos are interested in spelling I have introduced the concept that every word chunk has a vowel, this summer.  You my wish to also. 

Phonological Awareness
 Well, this activity had a lot of potential.  However, since it was a listening activity and our listening ears were not working well this flopped.  I will do it with them though on another day but wanted to share it with you as you may wish to do it with your children.  I really do not have enough "trucks" for each child to have three so we did any vehicle.  They set them in a row and we reviewed beginning, middle, and end.  Then they were given a sound to listen for.  Always start with a very easy to hear consonant...something you can emphasize like /s/.  And I stated a word that had it in the beginning, middle, or end and they pushed that car toward me.  If you have young preschoolers you may wish to do only two cars, beginning and ending sound.  Or another variation would be to put a letter sticker on the top of two vehicles.  State words that start with that sound.  Have them push the vehicle forward with the matching letter.

I probably should stop with these activities. Time flew by!  Have a great week.

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