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Infant CLASS

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Keeping Young Learners Engaged

保育園で遊ぶ子供たちと保育士

Natalie Grebe

Its 9:00am in a preschool classroom. Two teachers have successfully orchestrated their class of 17 children to clean up their morning centers. One of the teachers calls out 9 names and asks those children to join her on the reading rug. The other teacher tells the remaining eight children to sit at their table seats for an activity. As the children get into their appropriate groups, they clumsily sit down, chatting and laughing, some poking their friends, others complaining they wanted to play longer. The teacher on the reading rug holds up a silver bell and rings it a few times. Almost immediately, many of the children quiet down and settle into their chairs or their space on the rug. A few continue to talk, but a gentle hand on their shoulder and one last ring of the bell tells them it is time to listen. For a moment, it is quiet and each teacher can use a soft voice to briefly tell their group what task they will be doing for the next few minutes.

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Providing Nature and Science Experiments for Young Children

Play with slime

By: Lisa Mulliken  

 

Think about yourself as a child. Most likely, much of your time was spent exploring natural materials in your environment: digging for worms, lifting rocks in the creek to find salamanders, climbing trees, playing with your dog, building a snow fort in the backyard. These experiences engaged our senses, helped us construct knowledge about our environment and taught us to love and respect the world we live in.  

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Feeling All the Feelings

Sadness

Amy Hoffman

A few weeks ago, a friend commented that her 5-year-old had been “feeling all the feelings” earlier in the day. He was reacting to those feelings by crying when she left his sight, yelling at his younger sister, and refusing to follow directions. And how did my friend react to this? She set aside her agenda and devoted time to him. She cuddled with him and gave him her undivided attention until he chose to leave her lap and resume his day. And guess what? He was able to cope with his feelings in a positive manner for the rest of the day.

Feelings can be huge and can be difficult to deal with – and not just the feelings that we consider to be “negative.” Young children often don’t have the vocabulary to talk about how they’re feeling, so they express those feelings in other ways. A huge part of an early childhood educator’s job is to show children how to manage their feelings in constructive ways. This can lead to positive experiences later in life including a strong sense of self, resiliency, and good relationships.

So, what can you do? How do you teach feelings? Here are a few ideas (and see the links below for more!):

  • Use words to name the feeling before, during, and after the child is experiencing it. This helps to develop an emotional vocabulary so children can talk about feelings. It also lets them know that it is okay to feel those emotions.
  • Identify feelings in others. Using books or pictures to guide children to discuss emotions will help them to learn empathy and to learn the names for feelings (see above).
  • Be a role model. Children learn a lot by how they see you responding when you’re dealing with strong emotions.
  • Acknowledge the legitimacy of children’s feelings instead of dismissing them or trying to make huge feelings go away. Encourage them to express how they’re feeling.

Here are some other strategies to use in your classroom to help children to release their emotions in positive ways:

  • Teach them to take deep breaths. This video from Mindful Schools includes a deep breathing practice (especially from 1:30 on).
  • Coach them to use the actual words for how they are feeling.
  • Provide a space for privacy so children can have a quiet place to calm down and escape the stress of the situation or the classroom. Encourage them to use it.
  • Encourage them to hug a teacher or to self-hug. Check out this video from Sesame Street about self-hugs.

What are some ways that you help children who are feeling all the feelings? Leave a note in the comment box.

And check out these links for more information:

CSEFEL Website (many great resources from the Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning)

Helping Kids Identify and Express Feelings (an article for parents that is relevant for teachers)

Lessons from Inside Out (for adults and older children about Pixar’s “Inside Out”)

NAEYC Resources

 

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Ask More Open-Ended Questions!

Five Ws and one H

Erin DelRegno

As teachers, you won’t learn anything about the children in your classroom or about their developmental needs if you are going to do all the talking. You are there to guide children’s learning, not to give them all the answers, or ask them questions that they already know the answer to. As assessors, we hear teachers ask more close-ended questions to children when we are observing in classrooms. There are times when the children have been asked what color or shape something was so many times in a 3-hour period, but nothing else was ever asked to them. Children are learning so much more than just these simple concepts.

So, what is the difference between close-ended and open-ended questions and how can you practice and expand how you talk to children on a regular basis?

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Gratitude for Kids

Gratitude Attitude Website Campaign Banner –  Male hands  cradling female cupped hands on a wide warm dark multicolored background with a GRATITUDE word cloud

Leah Zabari

Cold weather creeps up, leaves begin to change, and pumpkin everything enters the stores. This is my favorite time of year when I get to decorate with pumpkins, cornstalks, and hay bales and when holidays like Sukkot and Thanksgiving leave my heart full of gratitude for friends and family. The Fall season always reminds me that all too often during the year I forget to stop, take a breath, and give thanks. As a parent and teacher, it’s my goal to model gratefulness in my daily life and teach my children how to express their gratitude throughout the year- not just remembering to do so around the holidays. Here are some ways I incorporated thankful spirits and grateful hearts in my classroom (and in my home):

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Birdwatching with Children

house finch m mine

By Angel Avery-Wright

One of my closest friends bought me a bird feeder for Christmas. I thought she was crazy. I do not watch birds, let alone feed them. It took me years to finally put it up. Something amazing happened. I discovered I have over 20 species of birds living in my neighborhood. I had no idea.

I now have 9 feeders between my porch and my back yard. I have three different species of woodpeckers visiting my feeders. I see cardinals and blue jays (easy to spot) but also grey catbirds, grosbeaks, chickadees, titmice and so many others. Some birds I see every day. Some I only see once a season. I had a hummingbird last year but only my husband got to see it.

I have seen baby woodpeckers being fed by their mother at my feeder. I have heard baby starlings yelling at their mom for more food. Nuthatches are the only bird that hang upside down when they eat. They are fascinating to watch.

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Language Interactions with Infants

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Lisa Mulliken

Infants are born ready to communicate. Young infants cry to express their needs and, as they grow and develop, older infants use sounds, facial expressions and gestures to get their message across. Even very young infants engage in back and forth language exchanges with the adults who care for them. As these communication attempts can be easy to miss, it is up to teachers to be aware of and respond to these early conversations as they interact with the children in their care throughout routines and play.

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Happy Birthday Mr. Rogers!

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Stefanie Camoni 

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!” I’m sure most of you sing a little when hearing that phrase. On March 20th, we remember Mr. Rogers as he would have been celebrating his 92nd birthday. This extraordinary man was a pioneer in the field of early childhood and continues to be even after his passing, as his legacy continues. As a child, I remember watching Mr. Rogers put on his cardigan and sneakers and take me to the Land of Make Believe. The lessons learned at the time seemed so small, but I now realize he was focused on the bigger picture. As an adult, I still watch clips and attempt to embrace his words and apply them to my current situations.  

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