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Pre preschool writing, it can be a fun game!

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How children really like to learn.

It came to my attention the other day, when my boys( I can have as many as 14 boys and only 3 girls in my classroom at the same time) or all boys(ouch), that when they are engaged (actively learning) they drive or motivate their own questions, ideas, and learning. When I put out something so exciting and new, they are so busy, happy and often ask HOW MUCH MORE TIME DO WE HAVE TO PLAY?One  seasoned teacher told me if the children asked, “Is this right? is this what you want , am I done yet? that isn’t engaged learning.  If I have to ask the child to come over, sit still,  listen, pay attention, and so on, they aren’t learning!  I often reflect on this ideas when the boys are unfocused or wild. How has my classroom management of learning been that day?  It is difficult to really understand HOW to teach children without  xerox sheets, letter tracing, coloring, notebooks, rote memory tasks, but believe me once you understand, the classroom is filled with excitement, happiness, energy and fun for the teacher.

I have so many boys this year, I thought it would be so hard- instead I have taught engineering and math concepts of weight , structure, balance and volume. We have planted a garden, tasted, smelled and pressed everything from mint to lavender. We happily paint everything including rocks, wood and aluminum foil.  We built structures that are as tall as the TEACHER and zoom cars through WRAPPING PAPER  tubes. My classroom is always a mess! It is always loud.  It is always filled with happy children!

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Look what happens with a tub of water, various items that sink or float, tongs and a net. The children asked for  more tubs. I added a touch of food coloring for each tub to be different colors and different sized items in each tub. I used a 2 minute or 3 minute timer, which one child controlled.  One tub had colored styrafoam balls,stones, jewels and rocks. One tub had animals and heavy alligators, the tub you see in the photos had  ping pong balls that float and  fish that sank. Sorting and scooping  lasted most of the morning. Then they drew what they got out of the  colored tubs.  It is a portfolio sheet under SCIENCE discovery.

A few years ago I studied the results of children who learned in a happy active learning environment. As a whole the results showed the  child’s learning is stronger and they tend to remember more if it is learned in  a pleasant environment, they tend to forget the information that was forced or taught in a negative way, often blocking out all of the information. The memory imprint is stronger and retained at a high level when the child is relaxed and having fun.  Indirect  learning then becomes even more relative to a preschool teacher with her students- make it meaningful and they will learn.  We, as teachers and parents,  are all so worried about our competitive world (meaning kindergarten) that we over do the child’s initial phase of learning.  We forget that building  a strong initial foundation comes  from SELF MOTIVATION and SELF DIRECTED learning.  This doesn’t mean each day is not planned, in fact you need to understand the needs of your classroom even more. You need to build the early educational  foundation within the interests of your children and diversity.  Understanding your state  STANDARDS, driving motivation, building trust and  recognizing strengths and weaknesses in your class will help you build interesting lesson plans.

On Monday go into your class with a happy perspective and enlighten your children- SHOW THEM SOMETHING INTERESTING and see what happens. What questions do they ask, do they ask for additional supplies or materials, do they invent other activities to go with what you brought?  Look at life from the child’s viewpoint.  You will be more relaxed  and enjoy the children more.


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Art, art, art

Learning to draw people

Learning to draw people

What about Renee Magritte? Children can understand the facial structure even at 3 years old.

What about Renee Magritte? Children can understand the facial structure even at 3 years old.

Our ART show - our favorite artists- Monet, Rothko, Renee Magritte and Picasso.

Our ART show – our favorite artists- Monet, Rothko, Renee Magritte and Picasso.


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Teaching young artists- Art week in my class

Mondays is a hard day, the children and I  are tired and  we have work to do! This week is our ALL SCHOOL ART SHOW, and I love art and feel children need to value art so….. Today, I read and talked about, Rene Magritte, a surrealist. I told the children about how he often painted  silly mixed up things , dreamlike  pictures, that had meaning to him. We  talked about one of his pictures in particular, “Son of Man”.  We  talked about being tired on Mondays, sleep, dreams and mysterious ideas. The children paid attention looking at the book and immediately interpreted so many peculiar parts of the paintings. I thought it was interesting that they saw silliness in the paintings I didn’t have to say anything. They loved the LARGE birdcage with an egg in it they asked “How big would the bird be Ms Robin”, they loved the fireplace with the train, “Look the smoke goes up the chimney”. I though about how easy that had been for them to see all the ideas without me saying a word.  I could see they thought about the paintings too. Next was the art project, well see for yourself. IMG_2852 IMG_2853 IMG_2854 These children are mostly four years old, they are learning about faces, form and how to connect shapes into people. They can put ideas together, they can draw without my help. I simply plant the seed and they build ideas. Who knew the painting  “Son of Man”  could help get a teacher through a sleepy Monday with 14 children! First they drew people from shapes they knew, what people looked like. Then they connected the idea from Magritte to have a face with the apple- suddenly all children wanted to do the same project. Some faces were blue, some had features, some more definition, but all had a black hat, apple, and face like shape.

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New teacher Tools – Portfolio and Brain Train tool box

IMG_2797 IMG_2800 IMG_2798 IMG_2796 IMG_2793I made a tool boxes and portfolio packets to help new Preschool teachers in my community, it comes with a BRAIN TRAIN booklet full of cheap and simple ideas. It all seems so easy to me , but these teachers use it as it relates to their teaching ideas, it is like being in a teacher support group.  The PORTFOLIO is full of teaching lesson plan ideas that relate to early learning standards in Arizona and NAEYC. The Brain Train booklet is a booklet of fun ideas for parties and holidays.  All are supplemental pieces for your classroom. With the certification of Early Childhood teachers   state standardization, teaching preschool  has become more developmentally appropriate and difficult. Between assessments, academics, developmental ISSUES, the preschool teacher is often overwhelmed.  We need tools that help us focus on teaching the young child NOT mastering paperwork.  Teaching the young child, if done correctly becomes a satisfying achievement.  I put a couple of example pages, the children can see the pictures and understand the task. They think they are reading, and they are- from pictures. I put fill water bottles with colored water and let the children make their own imagination bottle- pipe cleaners, beads, glitter, sequins, and so on- then the children color copy it into the portfolio.  It is an easy science experiment- the children often pour colors together to make  new colors with funnels. It can be extended for several developmentally tasks and learning concepts.  The portfolio is a progressive sampling of the child’s work throughout the year.

Best book to read to understand child development, milestones and  early childhood education:

“DEVELOPMENTMENTALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICE”, in Early Childhood Programs serving children birth through age 8

third edition, by Carol Copple and Sue Bredekamp

Every preschool teacher should use this book and understand the developmentally milestones.

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Mentoring other preschool teachers

DSC00409I want to help other teachers understand the importance of teaching young children. Most people just think it is baby sitting, but teaching little children is so important because it is building a better world- if children learn early to be kind, understand their emotions and  recognize others have feelings too, without discrimination, from an  untarnished perspective. Perspective taking from the child’s point of view is an interesting way to teach and understand children. Valentines day is coming and most children just KNOW its about CANDY- I love that simple thinking. Let children view the world from their own perspective then understand and teach.

These two pictures were done by a 5 year old and a 3.5 year old- they tore the tissue paper, glue the paper and came up with their own concepts. I just gave them the art supplies and said make a colorful painting. These are really nice process ART pieces.  I supply the art bags to different New Preschool Teachers , who need help getting started . I give them an information art booklet,  How to help the child think creatively, how to LET the child work through the process- this allows them to THINK independently. Teaching like this lets the child SEE what he/she wants to make-their own perspective. Let go and get the best results, you can follow NAEYC, Eccers or whatever your school program uses for accreditation as a high quality school.


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STEM who knows what that is?

STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Get ready because this type of thinking is coming to preschool. Is it developmentally appropriate to teach a child to think in  mathematical terms?  Yes,  understanding and questioning is , in fact, the way children actually already learn. We as teachers/ parents need to reinforce their interests in building  magnet towers, pouring  into  containers, creating out of recycled materials and answering many,  many questions, about HOW things work.  Teaching creatively is building knowledge, it is discovering, analyzing, and observing.  How and why does a snowman melt? Why is a snow white when it floats down to the ground?  How DO snowflakes form? What is liquid , what is solid? Is a snowflake liquid or solid?

All these questions can be asked and  answers can be given.  The real foundation to know, is How do children build knowledge in these scientific and mathematical terms.

Science can be taught through curiosity and discovery. Problem solving  observing outcomes and making predictions. Easy, think planting seeds- watering, over watering, sun too much sun, too little sun-germination, plant growth, eating the products. Cooking with out outcome from the seed.   Mathematics can be taught from many simple processes of sorting, collecting, comparisons, quantity and cardiality. How much and how many, all children can tell you they want MORE candy than 1 piece. Do you want more? YES if you hold up 3 they will certainly understand the concept of more. Math can be built into everyday language.

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Engineering,  children can and do build upward and outward with balance- they understand these concepts very early. Spacial relationships, force, weight and balance, how about learning to ride a bike- you go fast enough, you stay upright. Gravity could be a hard lesson when you fall off the bike to the ground.

Technology my least favorite for the young child,- unfortunately this is our world. I don’t want creative thinking, problem solving and analyzing to be replaced by the processing of a machine.  There is a time and place for the child to build knowledge on the computer- but NOT until age 8. The creative brain is developing at a fast speed the first 5 years- then other types of reasoning begin to develop after that. I like to think the child’s own brain will learn to solve problems first.

Can we as teachers instigate the process for the child to think this way- developing number connections with quantities and visualizing of space?  What about reinforcing area , climbing  perimeters, force, range and speed?  Children do this everyday on a jungle gym or swing. Can we discuss with them, can we educate the process? The child’s learning extension is everyday living, we can enrich their learning in simple ways.  Be aware of mathematical enrichment.



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Big Language, BIG thoughts!

Children that use big  descriptive language in daily routines expand their ability to express thoughts , increase vocabulary,and increase creativity.  They describe the world around them in new ways, understanding words have meanings. Use descriptive words  to explain instructions, use the words repeated in daily routines and activities.  Using fanciful language increases the child’s quest  to  use creative descriptions.  All areas of the classroom or home can be filled with interesting language- cooking- measurements, range, quarter, liquid. Construction- symmetrical, structure, dimension, foundation.  Art or music- hue, palette, technique, adhesive,detail, secondary, primary, melody, chord, harp, violin, and so on.  Use descriptive language with adjectives- exquisite, illuminating, gigantic, expansive, critical. ” It is an extremely critical situation!  The airplane was a gigantic jet with  huge  engines. Draw three curvy lines and two zigzag forms.” Expanding the child’s language is easy if you use bigger words and complete pros.

Create an atmosphere in which the child hears and uses a lot of interesting words.  pictures 014Expose children to a variety of new rich words that reinforce the BIG idea. Use investigative themes to introduce  scientific or mathematical language. Use a variety of words for common objects, connect language to thinking and solving problems. Relate language and words to new meanings.

Talk to the child, they understand more than you can imagine. How would you describe this piece of art? I am sure the child had big ideas. Looks like a few levels of drawing and writing here. It is always a great idea to ask the child, “What did you draw?”  let them answer. Don’t tell them, ask them, a great conversation could begin.

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Children learn best by doing-

Any time you can tie an activity into a learning experience the young learner will remember more information. The brain absorbs and retains more information from the brain connections of activity and thought. Tie one more exciting activity into the action and, viola! the child will remember even more! For instance writing letters on the table using shaving cream. Hunting for the letters in their name outside, hidden in the garden.
Mixing colors, pouring, using basters, or scoopers to mix secondary colors- green, orange, purple. Activities that excite the syntaxes in the brain- they light up, wiggle and extend, gaining more information- build knowledge. This IS so exciting YOU can make your child smart- Provide stimulating information, connect ideas , let them DO the task, reinforce positive thought process. EASY learning!!! Can your child improve his grasp in a fun way? Building hand strength, while writing?art 075

Can they discover how to make sticky paste? using flour and water?art 119

It is all a balancing act the child needs to think for themselves!art 063

What would you like for lunch today? Should we make a salad? art 030

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Art Angel, art bags for happiness!

Help me out- I have started a charity “Raising Stars” to help educate young children in various domains though fun educational methods. I have been trying to connect with people in the community, schools, churches and Tucson ministries to distribute my bags. Next up for distribution ART ANGELs( young learner (4-7 yr olds). Check it out!IMG_2192



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