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!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Can You Name This Children's Book (#3)

This is one of my absolute favorite Halloween stories!  I memorized this book by listening to the book on cassette tape (that gives you a clue to how old the book is!), and it has always been a huge hit with my first graders, then my own children, preschoolers and kindergarteners.  Do you know what it is?  Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman!  To see if you can name more children's books from clues like this one, click here! To hear Big Pumpkin on YouTube, click here.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 23, 2017

More easy steps for amazing STEAM learning

Recently I began a blog post series about STEAM learning (STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) by looking at some ways to practice observing and recording data - 2 of the most basic science skills.  Today I want to continue with sorting, classifying, and labeling.
More easy steps for amazing STEAM learning, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

My students have always loved sorting / classifying.  Whether it's sorting building blocks by color, finding all the big buttons in my button box, or separating the mini erasers by shape, sorting seems to be a basic part of coming to understand their world.  Why not encourage it with fun materials, and add labels to those categories?!




It's easy to take sorting a step further with Venn Diagrams - which make us consider more than one sort-able attribute at a time. Do you see the red t-rex in this picture?  It isn't green, and doesn't walk on 4 legs, so the child asked me where it should go.  I helped him think it through - can it go in the green circle?  No.  Can it go in the 4 legs circle?  No. Is there a place on your sorting mat that isn't for green and isn't for 4 legs?  Children can do some amazing thinking!

Once children have begun categorizing things - not just sorting them, but also identifying how they've sorted them, it's a natural progression to count those things, and to compare what has more or less.  Graphs make it easy to compare several categories. (More on graphs next time!)


Children can also begin to label things they observe, from a single word for each item...
... to details as they develop vocabulary.

Don't you love teaching STEAM skills?!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Can You Name This Children's Book? (episode 2)

Can You Name This Children's Book?  from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

If this image immediately makes you think of a particular fall children's book - join the club!  It's one of my go-to books each year.  Need another clue?

"But if you want to visit my tree, come in the fall.  That's my favorite time.  Can you guess why?"

It's Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, by Lois Ehlert.  I love it - do you?

Can You Name This Children's Book?  from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Can You Name This Children's Book?

Do you ever see something, and immediately connect it to a children's book, or perhaps a song?  It happens to me all the time!  Last week I saw this:
Can you name this children's book?  From Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

...and into my head popped, "One day, one day, the sun rose blood red in the sky..."

Can you name the children's book the line is from?  Scroll down for the answer!

Can you name this children's book?  From Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
If you'd like to see the Reading Rainbow version of the book, click here!  The version I had on cassette tape (in the olden days, obviously!) was read by James Earl Jones.  I've looked for it, but can't find a link to that version - if anyone has it, please let me know in the comments!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Surprisingly easy ways to teach STEAM skills in early childhood (STEAM learning, post #1)

I think I've always taught STEAM learning, although we certainly didn't call it that back in the early 90's when I started teaching.  Back then it was thematic teaching - building our teaching and learning activities around a topic, and incorporating reading, writing, math, science and social studies skills within that topic.  Learning about apples in the fall?  We'd read about them, write innovations on favorite apple stories, use them in math centers, observe them, cut them up to cook applesauce, and make graphs about which kinds we liked best.  We painted with apples, practiced our scissor skills as we made apple crafts - you know the one, the mostly eaten apple with a core and seeds visible, as well as a stem and skin at the top and bottom.  We displayed them on the wall, or hung them above the children's desks.  Everything was as hands on as possible, and thankfully we didn't have to present any of it in the same format as "the test."  If you're smiling and nodding right now, you've probably been teaching a long time!

One of the hot teaching buzz words now is STEAM learning: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, and incorporating skills for them throughout our curriculum.   Are they important?  Yes!  Can you do it without thinking about it?  Probably not.  Is it going to be hard to include them?  NO!

In this blog series, I want to take a look at some STEAM skills, and show you some of the ways I like to incorporate them.  I hope you find a few new ideas!  Today I want to write about two of the very first, most basic skills:
 Observing and Recording
If you've ever spent time around a child, you know children need to observe and explore everything.  They want to dig in the dirt, find small critters, see what is inside a tomato, feel how bumpy a pumpkin is, taste the honeysuckle, and roll themselves down a hill.  This is science - exploring, investigating and observing everything. 
Developing skills for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art & math) - post 1 of 5

 Recording data can be challenging with young children, especially in preschool, before they learn to write.  Photographs are one of my favorite ways to record young children's learning!  Every one of the photos in the collage above went into my students' school photo albums - and provided opportunities to revisit and discuss the hands on experiences we enjoyed.

As children develop their fine motor skills, and begin to write and draw, more options for recording data become available.  They can draw...
They can color in spaces to create graphs...
 They can choose a favorite and color a picture to match...
They can imagine, create, and write about what they see.

Chances are good that you are already doing many of these things in your classroom!  What are your class' favorite activities for observing and recording data?  I'm always looking for new ideas, so please share your tips in the comments!  Finally, please stop back again next week, when I'll write about the skills of sorting, classifying and comparing!

Friday, October 6, 2017

What Will You Do If YOU Win?

True confession time - there are 89 items on my TeachersPayTeachers wish list!  How about you? What's at the top of your list?  What could you do with a $75 TpT gift card?  Here's your chance to find out, simply enter below - someone has to win, it might as well be YOU!

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
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