Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Being with children

When you spend time with children, really listening to them and interacting with them, you learn new things about them every day.  Of course you hear about what their favorite colors are, what they want to eat, and which superheroes they want to be like.  What I'm thinking about right now is the deeper, more important stuff, like how they think, what motivates them, and what they really care about.  

If you have children of your own, you know what I'm talking about.  It's knowing a child as a person, in the way that your know your own family.  It's a learning journey, sometimes fun, sometimes difficult, but never, ever dull.  It is one of the privileges of teaching young children; to be involved in the processes that shape who they are and who they will come to be.

These insights come at unexpected moments.  Long ago, when he was not yet three years old, I was walking with one of my children.  He was looking at the sky as we walked, and finally asked, "Mommy, is the sky blue all over the world?"  I was stunned.  "What do you think?" I asked.  He thought a little more, and answered, "Well, it's blue at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and that's far away, so I think it is blue all over."  Wow!  He's a deep thinker.

Right now I have two 4 year old girls who spend almost every moment outside looking for roly pollies.  They know a lot about them, through daily observation.  They know where to look (moist places, like under fallen leaves and around the base of plants), and they've noticed there is another critter that looks like a roly poly, but moves much faster and has a flatter body.  You can learn more about different kinds of isopods here and here.

Did you know female isopods (roly pollies) have brood pouches to carry their eggs and embryos?  I didn't - until the children discovered a mommy pillbug with her babies! 

The mommy of one of my students calls me "The Toddler Whisperer," because the kiddos listen to me.  I have a secret I'll share with you.  I think it's because I'm interested in the things the children care about, and love to look carefully and deeply at our world, just as they do.  (These photos were all taken in our backyard as the children and I closely observed the animals we share our play space with.)

One more thing.  It's also because I listen to the children, and respect their ideas and thoughts that they want to listen to mine.

From the mouths of babes...

On the way to a field trip, B.M. and E.F. had a long theological discussion that began with seeing a Halloween decoration stored on top of a haunted house in Fort Worth.   
B.M. said, “God knows there’s nothing to be afraid of.”  
E.F. thought for a moment, and replied, “But Scooby-Doo is afraid!”   
A little later she announced, “I don’t like church.  I just have to color and never get to eat.  Only one time they gave me cheese and a cracker.”  
 She thought some more, and finished with, “God only has water, and then someone turned it into juice.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From the mouths of babes...

One of the kiddos had built a really cool block creation, and J.P. was so impressed he proclaimed, “Hold my cow!”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From the mouths of babes...

This was the conversation as we left the museum one day:

J.P: I don’t think Dad wants to give me a minivan for my first car.
Paula: What kind of car do you think you dad will get you?
J.P: I don’t know. 
Paula: What would you like?
J.P, after a pause to think: I don’t think a Mustang because I think I’ll want to be too crazy.
Paula: Do you know someone who has a Mustang?
J.P: No
C.B: I do.  My Daddy has a Mustang!
Paula: Oh, Daddy has a Mustang?
C.B: No.  It's a mustache.

Monday, July 28, 2014

From the mouths of babes...

Over lunch B.M. asked me, “Ms. Paula, have you ever been to jail?”.  “No!” I replied.  E.F. looked despondent.  “Me neither,” she said.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

We're melting (colorful ice)!

With temperatures hitting 100* this week, we need to find ways to stay cool while we play outside.  I've seen some fantastic ideas on Pinterest, including Ice Play Ideas from kids weekly co-op , watercolor ice art from Learn Play Imagine , and More fun with colored ice from Time For Play.

I'm also very interested in reusing and recyling as much as possible, and have been saving dried markers for a while, in order to make my own watercolor paints - an idea I found on Finding My Marbles.

This week I put all those ideas together, and came up with this invitation to play.
 To get the beautiful colors, I soaked similar colored old markers in a little water for a couple of days.  Don't you love the intensity of the pink?  Once I had the colors, I watered them down enough to fill a variety of reused containers, and froze them.

I anticipated some fun color mixing as the ice melted, and we did see some of that - unfortunately I offered too many colors, and the resulting mix eventually resulted in a yukky grey-brown.  The kids didn't seem to mind, because, as always, it's the process they are interested in, much more than the result. 

They were fascinated by the colors and shapes, and crowded around the water table to get in on the action!
At first they were most fascinated by the colors and the mixing, not to mention the sheer fun of playing with ice and icy water on a hot day.
 Pretty quickly though, their main focus shifted from the melting colors, to another element I had put in the water table - a large block of ice with plastic ocean animals frozen throughout it.
 I made the block of ice by freezing a couple of inches of water at a time, with a few plastic critters added in each time.  The kiddos wanted to get those critters out!
 It was interesting to watch, and to listen to the children as they worked.  They started by wondering how to melt the ice to free the creatures: water, or other ice cubes.  I asked what melts things, and they were quite sure it was heat.  I asked which was warmer, the water, or the ice cubes - and they had it.  Water could melt the ice!  They poured, and poured and poured water onto the block.
 A critter was sticking out!  Excitement!  Pour more water, quick!

 They wrestled with the plastic animals, and I was really impressed with how well they took turns, and how they cooperated to free the animals from the ice.  With only one large block of ice (plus lots of smaller ones), we could easily have had a problem, but I didn't hear anyone fuss or complain, they simply got to work - together.
 When an older sibling came to pick up one of the kiddos, he joined on in too - this was an irrisistable challenge for the children!
 Slowly, the animals were freed from the ice.  Then another interesting thing happened: some children continued to pour water and free animals, and others began making "soup" with the ones that were already out.  (Anyone for whale, dolphin, crab soup?)

 It took 75 minutes for the block of ice to be completely melted, and all the toys released.  While they played, one of the girls told me, "You should make a fairy princess ice cube next."  She's right, and I'm already thinking of all the fun things to add... sparkles... jewels...pink or purple water...
Guess what I have planned for next Friday?  Oh yes, pink fairy princess ice cubes, here we come!

From of the mouths of babes...

N.P. had a potty accident, and filled his shoes with pee.  As I changed him, I told him we’d have to get different shoes, because someone had peed in his.  “Who peed in your shoes?” I asked him. His answer?   “….um…. God.”   My son overheard our conversation, and later told me, “Mom, God works in mysterious ways.”