September 3

The Importance of Blocks

I am resharing this post about block play (from several years ago) with a few updates:

My undergraduate degree is in early childhood education (birth through seven years old) and I taught kindergarten for twelve years and second grade for eight. I experienced firsthand the value and benefits of block play. Blocks provide an opportunity to explore math concepts including shapes, measurement, mass, symmetry, patterns, and fractions! Eye hand coordination and small muscle movements are refined. Children develop awareness of space, balance, and cause and effect. As children plan and make representations of their ideas, creativity and problem solving skills blossom. They intuitively apply the Engineer Design Process. Children also learn to effectively communicate their ideas and to work collaboratively with their peers.

As you look at the pictures of the block structures below, look for examples of balance, patterns, and symmetry. Block building is considered a STEAM activity and schools with Makerspaces and STEM labs always include various types of blocks. You are never too old to build with blocks! My second grade classes always found blocks a favorite activity. For more fun, add plastic animals, cars, and people, as well as natural objects.

Click here to read an article about block play from NAEYC. Block play is important work!

The developmental stages of block building:

 




Unit blocks are divided into fractional parts.

This preschool had a “Block Party”. It would be a fun birthday theme too!

August 27

Another Parenting Tip-Inquiry Based Learning

Why are there two rainbows? Why is one lighter than the other? How far apart are they?
Why is it darker above the rainbow? Why does red and yellow seem wider than the other colors in the spectrum?

My brother recently traveled to the South Pacific and captured this photo. I know that asking meaningful questions leads to learning, so my goal is to stop and ponder at natural phenomena because I desire to be a lifelong learner. Questions breed more questions which drives thinking.

When your child asks a question, he/she is taking an active role in his/her own education and developing critical thinking and communication skills. As they seek and process information, new schema are formed which are frameworks or concepts that help us to organize and interpret information. Inquiry-based learning is compelling and empowers the learner!

Sadly, research shows that children ask less questions as they grow older. Albert Einstein believed that asking thoughtful questions was critical to learning. “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Never lose a holy curiosity.” Both the Engineer Design Process and the Scientific Method begin with, Make an Observation/Ask a Question.

So when your child comes home from school, ask him/her what questions they asked in school today and what they are still wondering. Model asking questions as you take a walk together. Encourage family members to write their questions on Post-it notes and then place them on the back of a door to create a “wonder wall”.

Asking questions as you read is also a powerful comprehension strategy because the reader actively engages with the text. What was the character’s motivation? Would you have responded in the same way? How would changing the setting (where and when a story occurs) impact the story? Would you have ended the story in the same manner? Which character would you want as a friend? Why? You can ask your child these questions even if you haven’t read the book yourself.

Click here to read Reading Recovery’s blog post about asking questions to increase comprehension.

Genius is seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no-one else has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgy

August 25

Do You Value Process Over Product?

Click here to watch this first.

Have you heard a teacher say that the process is more important than the product? Let’s allow children to develop their creativity and imagination! Art should be open-ended with self-expression as the goal. When children copy an adult’s model and all their products are similar, then product is being valued over process.

August 4

Tinkergarten

I observed a Tinkergarten class this summer in Newtown Park. Tinkergarten is a play-based outdoor science program for young children and their families. I was very impressed with the quality of the program.

Click here to learn more or to look for a class near you.

October 17

Did You Know?

My husband and I went to Harvest on the Hooch today. The event was a fundraiser for the Unity Garden at Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell. Volunteers work this garden and provide 8000 pounds of organically grown produce to North Fulton Charities each year. It would be a great place to visit with your family and there are lots of other things to see at the nature center too!


Saw these fun guys at the center.


March 22

A Second Grader’s Brain

Thought this was interesting:

Inside the second grader’s brain

By Hank Pellissier

The second grader’s brain

“What happens if we’re late, Daddy? Will something bad happen? I don’t wanna’ be late!”

Second-graders have a propensity to worry. They can fret about nightmares, the dark, their clothes, their homework, or their stomach aches that might — in their agitated minds — be a lethal disease. They hate making mistakes, not finishing tasks, and especially losing. They have to be first, correct, punctual, best, and perfect. What’s wrong with these little nut-cases? Are they blooming neurotics? Hypochondriac loons?

No, they’re not. Morose sensitivity in this age group is actually proof that their brain is developing properly. Seven-year-olds can finally grasp concepts like space, direction, distance, and time. They now understand that the clock is ticking forward. Suddenly, schedules, routines, calendars, plans, predictability, rules, justice, and assignments become excruciatingly serious causes for concern.

Neurologically, what’s buzzing and building inside the second-grade brain? Jane Healy, author of Your Child’s Growing Mind, has defined them as “avid learning machines.” Marguerite Kelly, Washington Post family columnist, labeled second grade as “the age of reason” touched with a “patina of sadness.”

April 12

Letting Go

I enjoy blog hopping. Found this blog by Shawn Ledington Fink that had a post to which I could certainly relate.

A field guide to living an intentional, creative and fun life — with children.

Letting Go

Despite the fact that being a Type A personality is perhaps my worst and, possibly best, trait, I do believe that it’s best to power down the control button at various points each day.

Baby steps, people. We spend every waking minute making sure the kids are OK, that the house is OK, that the job is OK that we live on autopilot with our feet pressed to the pedals.

Here’s some baby steps to letting go:

LET THEM DO IT:  The milk WILL spill. The toothpaste lid will get lost. The bed will still be messy after it’s made. The outfits will NOT be perfect. The cheese will miss the pizza dough. The mail may fly down the street and you have to chase after it. But let them do it anyway. Again and again. Release your control on how things get done and just honor the fact that they WANT to help and do their part.

LOWER EXPECTATIONS: Sure you will get it right the first time. Your way is the best way. You like things the way you like them. But others can do it, too. And they should. They’ll never do it like you but as long as you relish that someone else is taking care of it and being responsible, you can sit back and relax. Eventually, you may even delegate it the first time.

BITE YOUR TONGUE: I have a way with letting people know if they mess up. I never mean things as harshly as they come out of my mouth. I’ve learned, though, that if you are willing to let someone else make breakfast, dinner or drive the car then you MUST be willing to let them do it their way. And their way will be OK.

OPT OUT: There will be things you will not get to do. Places you will not go. People you will not see. Projects that will not get done {not right now anyway}. All because you decided to let go, to opt out, to let your spouse handle it. There will be more adventures to do some day. There will be other fundraisers and school events. There will be other big causes to get behind. If you need to stay home and lay in bed all day and watch movies or read magazines, that’s what you need to do. If you must, recreate the missed experience another day.

BANISH GUILT: Seriously, release those obligations and demands that you place so heavily on your own shoulders. No one has put them there but you. And, if someone has put them there, take charge of your life and assess the things that matter most today. Send this post to them. What’s more important? Time with the kids or time spent folding piles and piles of perfectly folded laundry? Extra time at the office or getting home to see the kiddo play soccer?

ACCEPT FAILURES: If you let go and things fall out of place, it’s OK. If you let go and things don’t turn out the way you wanted them to, it’s OK. If you let go and life twists and turns in other directions, it’s OK. Be at peace with whatever comes because whatever it is is your life, it’s your story and it will be beautiful no matter what happens.