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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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Conversation is a Two-way Street

arrow on road

Michelle Long

Living with a teenager I sometimes forgot what a real conversation was like. I would ask, “How was your day?” I got, “Good.” I asked, “What are your plans?” I got, “I dunno.” I asked, “Will you help me with…?” I got, “Whatever.” All of my years of training and experience had taught me to ask the who, what, when, where, how, and why questions to get longer more complex answers. I used to have wonderful, in-depth, creative, imaginative conversations; however, I was not prepared for the hiatus that would occur during the teenage years. It takes two people to have a conversation. Although two people may be present and talking, a conversation does not occur unless there is a back and forth exchange in which information and ideas are shared.

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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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Why Hugs Are Important

Happy mother playing, having fun, hugging with her daughter at home

Angel Avery-Wright

Hugs help you feel connected to the people you care about but can also bring a host of health benefits to your mind and body.

Some experts attribute the stress reducing, health related benefits to the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the bonding hormone, love hormone, or cuddle hormone. Oxytocin is released into the blood stream but some stays in the brain influencing mood, behavior, and physiology. Oxytocin is believed to decrease stress the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine and known to increase the feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.

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Teaching Young Children Fire Prevention and Safety

Fire Prevention Trailer Wilson

Natalie Grebe

Now that classrooms are settling into a new school year, many teachers will be planning Fall activities and themes. In Pennsylvania, October not only means chillier days on the playground and colored leaves in the Science Center, but also Fire Prevention Week. Many local fire departments host community events at their station and chances are your school has a day in October when the local fire company visits. Perhaps firefighters talk with the children as a class, show them some of their equipment and even allow them to sit in a firetruck. Of course, this is a great opportunity for the children. Seeing firefighters up close, in uniform, and learning from the experts about how to deal with fire is a valuable experience. However, even if these firefighters do an amazing presentation, there are multiple ways to extend the learning beyond that one visit.

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