Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's a Watercolor kind of day......

We're busy painting with our homemade "smelly" water colors! (you can find our original post about them here: http://www.childcentralstation.com/2010/06/im-not-sure-that-i-will-ever-buy.html

We use these paints all the time.... It's hard to believe that it has been about 2 years since I made the first batch!!!! (AND we still have some of the original ones- and they work fabulous! That's what happens when you make monster batches of paint!!!!!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Random Learning Fun!

I've been swamped, and we have been enjoying all of the craziness that life brings! So, the blog has been neglected. Life is still quite busy, but here are a few random moments captured with photos of some of our learning fun!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Child lead program. What does that mean?

Through the course of my education and Northern Michigan University, I was placed for field experiece in several different daycares or schools around Marquette county. Never once was I in one that was "child directed." That was until I began at Child Central Station. I met for an "interview" with Ms. Amy a few weeks before my summer internship was due to start. And she explained how her daycare was run. The things that she told me, the beliefs she had, and the way she said things were run, were exactly how I felt I could see my own daycare being run some day. So I knew right away this was where I wanted my internship to be.
Starting at this daycare was  a new experience for me. But I never knew how different it would be from what I was used to. I was “warned” by Ms. Amy before I started, that the center is so child directed/lead. However, until I was actually in the setting and involved did I begin noticing the differences and seeing what she really meant.
The days were not pre planned out for what the children were going to have to do, nor were they forced to learn specific things. The daycare was set up for a questioning and answer seeking environment. There were all sorts of books, games, puzzles, or toys that the children could choose from at any time. There were resources upon resources available for them to use. The children decided what they wanted to do and learn about. Things within the daycare were structured, and the enviorment was stagged to help their learning. But things were never forced on the children. This was a big deal to me. I was so used to having everything set up ahead of times, and days planned out of exactly what was going to happen. It was nice to be able to go with the flow and follow wherever the children lead.
Doing my specific learning plan was probablly the most challenging part of my internship. In any other setting it would have been a breeze. However, having the children completely used to "running the show" made it hard for me to direct activities. This was such a good learning oppurtunity for me though. I was forced to find a balance on when to go with the flow, and when to be very direct. I also learned how important setting the stage was, and learning to make conections in whichever way the children went.  
 During my time here at Child Central Station, I learned so many different things. However, being able to experience this completely new type of teaching was so beneficial. The children were so well behaved and I attribute that to the way the program is run. The children are not forced to do what they don't want to. They have freedom to do as they please. Which makes them much more interested in what they are doing, and pushed their learning to the limits because they actually care about whatever it is they are choosing to do. I also noticed the attitudes of the children was so much happier. There were less arguments and fights. The whole time I spent there this summer, I think I only had a handful of arguments or mishaps to deal with. That was amazing to me. Because in my previous experiences, way more of my time was spent dealing with arguments and bad behaviors than needed to be.
 I really enjoyed this new type of teaching. It taught me a lot and really helped me to learn new things and techniques that will help to guide me in my future as an early childhood educator. It's true, its a lot of work and a lot of on your feet types of experiences, but the benifits that I was able to witness were incredible.

Hey! I'm Ms. Elissa. I'm a student intern at Child Central Station. I've been working under Ms. Amy and Mr. Allan all summer. I am working on getting my degree in early childhood education, and although it's been a long process, the end is near. I will be graduating in May, when I hope to joining the Americorps and move somewhere that I'm more needed. I loved doing my internship this summer and spending so much time with the kids. It was nice to finally be able to put all of the stuff I have been learning to use.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Karl came for a visit!

Hey! I'm Ms. Elissa. I'm a student intern at Child central station. I've been working under Ms. Amy and Mr. Allan all summer. I am working on getting my degree in early childhood education, and although it's been a long process, the end is near. I will be graduating in May, when I hope to joing the Americorps and move somewhere that I'm more needed. I loved doing my internship this summer and spending so much time with the kids. It was nice to finally be able to put all of the stuff I have been learing to use.

For the course of my internship,  I had to create and perform 2 learning plans with the children. For my second learning plan, I did a week long lesson on teaching the children about pets. I started the week talking to the children about what kinds of animals can be pets, and what kinds of pets they have. The children and I  made lists of all the pets they could think of, and than we made charts showing their favorite pet. After talking with the children about pets, I decided that I would bring in my kitten Karl for the children to play with. They were able to pet and hold him, watch how he acts, and things he does. He even came outside and played with us.

After the introduction to the topic on day one, our week continued on Wednesday with a trip to the pet store. The children were able to see all of the various pets they had to offer. There were puppies, kittens, birds and fish. However, the children seemed to be the most interested in the mice. Eww. But we learned about them and they were able to see some of the similarities and differences in mice and rats. They seemed to really enjoy that. They also loved looking at the fish in the fish room. They made connections with the clown fish being “Nemo" from finding Nemo. This experience was great for the kids because they were able to all learn in their own ways about various animals/pets. And they were also able to get different sensory experiences while we were there helping them to learn and make connections.  
For the rest of the week, the children’s favorite two activities seemed to fall into the dramatic play section. They enjoyed playing veterinarian and pretending to be sick or hurt pets. They also used the play time to be the vet taking care of them. These dramatic play activies really helped the children learn about pets, and how they need to be taken care of.  The children also enjoyed spending their time playing pretend pets.  They acted out various scenarios that they had witessed or made up involving pets. Some of the scenarios involved feeding time, play time, giving baths, or going to the vets.
Throughout the week the children loved sharing stories about their own pets and experiences they’ve had with other pets. They seemed to really enjoy Karl when he came in. They liked petting and playing with him, and continue everyday to ask about him. During the week I taught the children several fun facts about  pets. Some of the things they learned, that hopefully children shared with their parents, but if not I’ll share again, are
·         Cats can jump as high as 5x the length of their tail.
·         Cats use their whiskers to help them feel their way around. The length of their whiskers is the length of their bodies. There are lots of nerve endings in the tips of the whiskers that allow the cats to know what areas they can or cannot fit through.
·         The reason that cats bring home dead animals and leave them on your doorsteps or porches is because they love you and are “giving you a gift.” Several of the children were very eager to tell their parents this one.    

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Boom! Water Table Projectiles!!!!!

This morning at the water table started out like many others. With the heat and humidity, I thought that I would fill the table with some cool water, a few turkey basters, a couple of cylinders for scooping and pouring. I also ran across the stack of plastic shot glasses that I bought at the dollar store to use for stacking on our light table.  I thought they might make an excellent addition this morning.

 Like most teachers, I was staging the environment for play, but at the same time I had ulterior motives. A few of the children really need more experiences working on their fine motor skills, and I thought that stacking the small cups and having the opportunity to fill the cups with the basters would be great learning fun. However.... Most of you who work with children on a regular basis know, you can have the best plans and environmental staging BUT really, you just never know what great explorations and learning will happen when you allow children the freedom to investigate and adequate time to explore!

Take today for example... I think the children filled maybe 3 of the glasses with water by using the basters.... Then, something magical happened.... One of the basters "broke" after one of the children pulled the bulb off.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts by the child to put it back together, he gave up on the baster and put one of the shot glasses on the end of the bulb... He pushed it down hard, then he squeezed..... And BOOM! It sounded like a balloon popping! All of the other children came running...

"What was that?"

 "A water exploder"

"How do you do that?"

Instantaneous cooperative learning. Each child scaffolding for the next, sharing their own experiences and trying new out new options.  I overheard a lot of questions, a lot of what ifs... and even some clear scientific explanations of why it worked the way it did...

"You know, it is the air inside that makes it work. If you push down hard enough, then you push the air and it makes it go POP!"

Hours later.... Still exploring, how far can we make it shoot? What happens if you put all of the cups on one bulb? What If there is a crack in the cup? Does it go farther with or without water? How can we get it to make the biggest splash? How can we make a bigger noise? I wonder what happens if.....

And to think, we spent our whole morning JUST playing! 

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...