Sunday, April 25, 2010

Modeling Behavior with Puppets

Here is another technique I've been using to model appropriate behavior for the children... Puppets! Kids love puppets! You would be surprized at how even the most figity child will stand at attention when you pull out a puppet. I have a bunch of puppets, but the two I've been using the most are Princess Penelope and Prince Peter (I just made those names up - nifty huh?). I use these puppets to model scenarios, and ask the children what they should do. Here are a couple little shorts I did with the children:

Scenario 1 - Penelope tells the class that she wants to play with Peter's toy. She asks the children what she should do? Should she take the toy, or ask to play with it? The children say that she should ask. When she asks to play with the toy, Peter says that he wants to keep playing, but she can have a turn in 2 minutes.

Scenario 2 - Peter wants Penelope to play with him so he goes and pulls the ribbon on her hat. Penelope gets upset and hits Peter. I ask the children how they could have done this differently? We decide that peter could have asked Penelope to play, and Penelope should have told Peter not to pull on her hat because she didn't like it.


One thing I've noticed through all of my reading is that there is very little out there on classroom management for preschool teachers. So I thought I would post on here some of the interesting things I've used to help the children learn to get along with each other and function in a classroom setting. One of the most important and trying issues a preschool teacher must deal with is hitting. Though it is upsetting for us, as adults, to see our children hit or get hit, it is really normal for this age group. Young children just don't know how to express themselves verbally and hitting, pushing, and yelling at one another is often a result of this. It is our job as teachers and parents to help them learn alternatives to these behaviors. Am I an expert at this? Absolutely not, but I am learning. Here is one activity I've done with the children that I thought was really great:

We began by reading the book "Hands Are Not for Hitting" by Martine Agassi. In this book, the author describes what hands are for like painting, playing, sharing, caring, hugging etc. After we read the book, we threw out some ideas of what hands are for, then the children moved onto centers. As they worked, I pulled them out one by one to make hand prints on pieces of construction paper. The following class, I asked them to tell me what hands are for, and wrote their responses beneath their hand prints. Then I hung them in the room. Now when a child hits I will often say to the whole class.. "Hands are not for..?" and they will say "Hitting!". The I will say, "What are hands for?" and they will respond with things like playing or painting. Here is what the project looked like when finished.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nature Art

This is a super simple, but fun project, that works really well with a mixed age group like mine. It's simple enough for even toddlers to do, but creating the collage is is an enjoyable challenge for even the oldest preschoolers.

I did this project as part of a study of nature for Earth Day. I gave each child a basket, and asked them to collect natural items found outdoors (i.e. leaves, flowers, pine needles, etc.). I hung contact paper* on the easels outside, and invited the children to stick the items they collected to the paper any way they wanted. The results were beautiful!

*Contact paper is a paper used normally to line the inside of cabinets. It has a printed side and a sticky side. This can be an especially useful material when attempting to do collages with very young children. You can find it in any home improvement store.