Thursday, December 18, 2014

Traditions...and Ideas for New Ones

It's Christmastime. We've been doing some of our favorite Christmas activities.

We decorated our tree. Paper strips, staplers, and sparkly chenille stems.

Here are some links for our past tree experiences--
If you are looking for some other easy ornaments for kids to make, check out Easy Snowflake Christmas Ornaments (No Time for Flash Cards)

We made Christmas cards. Stamps, stamp pads, markers, paper. We had all the markers out, but the kids decided to put the red ones on the tray so they could find them easier.

I really like this Christmas Card Making Station (Childhood 101). I think we'll incorporate that next year in our Christmas traditions.

We usually play instruments during Christmas; we've even drawn how instruments sound. I'm in the adult handbell choir at my church; after we played bells in worship service, a kindergartner wanted to play bells, too. We borrowed these bells and had a great time doing it.

Here's a game using jingle bells (Fun a Day). I think we may need to do this soon, too.

This week we will make our craft stick frames using a glue gun, a "dangerous" tradition we do every December. I cannot wait to see how the kids this year will do it. This is our standard gift that kids make to give to parents or others.

I also like this fingerprint frame (Fun-a-Day). If we ever decide to change, I would do this.
(The same idea is used for fingerprint cards at Crafty Morning.)

This week we will also decorate cookies, a fun and messy tradition in our class. Kids can eat them (later at home) or give them to a friend (probably not).

Instead of decorating cookies, we could use gingerbread play dough (Teach Preschool). I think this would be a great tradition to add to our classroom.

We will give gifts to our kids - just fun trinkets like slinkys or yo-yos and stickers. Fun stuff that show our care for them. One year I made a discovery bottle to include; those may be ornaments this year.

I wondered why we do so many of the same things each year. Then I realized - those are our Christmas traditions that we pass along to "our kids." It really seems like Christmas because we are gluing wonky frames or spreading miles of green icing on a paper plate.

Traditions matter. (Check this post about traditions from Not Just Cute.) Not just traditions in your family. But in your classroom community, too.

What traditions do you have in your classroom? What new ones do you want to start?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"What Do We Do Here?"

A question I've been hearing a lot in my church kindergarten class - "What do we do here?"

A child will walk up to a table or to an area on the floor with materials and ask that question.

Tray of yellow paper (Brick by Brick)
My thinking: make a "nighttime" picture

My past answer: "When I put these things out, I thought you might _____, but you may want to do something else."

My new answer: "Look at the materials. What do you think you might do with these?"

Drawing before cutting (Brick by Brick)
Drawing before cutting

I've written before about my agenda vs the kids' agenda or encouraging kids to use their own ideas.

My church kindergarten classroom is a pretty open-ended place. You can choose to use the materials in just about any way you choose - within safety limits and "infringement" limits (not disturbing someone else's work).

Using the pen (Brick by Brick)
The pen (for writing names) becomes part of the experience.

So why do I get this question so often? I think it's an expectation from their school classroom.

Teachers put out materials and tell kids how to use them. (This is just my logical conclusion from my experiences with these kids--and those from past years.)

cutting and gluing (Brick by Brick)
Cutting, gluing, then a plan emerges

I hear a lot about critical thinking and creativity. It seems I need to encourage [some] kids to exercise that creativity or practice thinking about how to use materials.

I'm always amazed at the ideas that kids have. And the way they express their thinking. And the different ways they can use a group of simple materials.

Stop! There's a Shark! (Brick by Brick)
"They put a stop sign because there's a shark."

I'll keep putting out a variety of stuff. And hoping they will show me new ways to use it.