Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WINTER SENSORY BINS

This is the second year I include seasons-themed sensory bins in my lessons, and I’m really happy about the way they work in the classroom. My kids have fun playing with them while developing their language and fine motor skills. Also, I´ve been reading about the importance of providing kids with sensory stimuli, so I plan a sensory play lesson for every season (autumn, winter, spring and summer) with my 3-year-olds.

This time I prepared two winter-themed bins. The first one was filled with cotton balls, cotton filling, different-sized porexpan balls, some white stones and a few animal figurines (penguins, polar bears and seals). I also put some clothespins in there in case they wanted to use them for moving the cotton balls around.

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The second bin was filled with Epsom salt. You can see animals and some glittery strips in the picture here, but I took them out later as they were a bit of a distraction from the sensory experience I wanted it to be. Kids just loooved burying their hands in the “snow” and making “snow castles”. Epsom salt is a great material for this as it has a very pleasant touch and the colour is just like real snow. You can store it and use it again later, as long as you put several net pouches (the ones used for small gifts) with rice in it to absorb the humidity.

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We have 25 kids in each class so you have to plan and organize this kind of activities really well. My kids played in each bin in groups of five for about 10 minutes. While 2 groups were playing, the rest were doing something else with another teacher.

To learn about the importance of sensory play you can read THIS. You can also read about my AUTUMN and SPRING sensory bins.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How young children learn English

Here’s an article by Opal Dunn, educational consultant and author, that I find very interesting.

Introduction

Young children are natural language acquirers; they are self-motivated to pick up language without conscious learning, unlike adolescents and adults. They have the ability to imitate pronunciation and work out the rules for themselves. Any idea that learning to talk in English is difficult does not occur to them unless it’s suggested by adults, who themselves probably learned English academically at a later age through grammar-based text books.

Read the notes below about young children learning English as another language. You can also download these notes as a booklet. Right-click on the link below to download the booklet to your computer. You may print this booklet.

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The advantages of beginning early

  • Young children are still using their individual, innate language-learning strategies to acquire their home language and soon find they can also use these strategies to pick up English.
  • Young children have time to learn through play-like activities. They pick up language by taking part in an activity shared with an adult. They firstly make sense of the activity and then get meaning from the adult’s shared language.
  • Young children have more time to fit English into the daily programme. School programmes tend to be informal and children’s minds are not yet cluttered with facts to be stored and tested. They may have little or no homework and are less stressed by having to achieve set standards.
  • Children who have the opportunity to pick up a second language while they are still young appear to use the same innate language-learning strategies throughout life when learning other languages. Picking up third, fourth, or even more languages is easier than picking up a second.
  • Young children who acquire language rather than consciously learn it, as older children and adults have to, are more likely to have better pronunciation and feel for the language and culture. When monolingual children reach puberty and become more self-conscious, their ability to pick up language diminishes and they feel they have to consciously study English through grammar-based programmes. The age at which this change occurs depends greatly on the individual child’s developmental levels as well as the expectations of their society.

Stages in picking up English

Spoken language comes naturally before reading and writing.

Silent period
When babies learn their home language, there is a ‘silent period’, when they look and listen and communicate through facial expression or gestures before they begin to speak. When young children learn English, there may be a similar ‘silent period’ when communication and understanding may take place before they actually speak any English words.

During this time parents should not force children to take part in spoken dialogue by making them repeat words. Spoken dialogues should be one-sided, the adult’s talk providing useful opportunities for the child to pick up language. Where the adult uses parentese (an adjusted form of speech) to facilitate learning, the child may use many of the same strategies they used in learning their home language.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE

Saturday, April 23, 2016

AUTUMN SENSORY BINS

Last year I tried sensory play in my English class and it was a great success. You can read about it HERE. Also, since then I´ve been reading a lot about the importance of providing kids with sensory stimuli, so this year I planned a sensory play lesson for every season (autumn, winter, spring and summer) with my 3-year-olds.

I prepared two autumn-themed sensory bins. The first one was filled with corn and pasta as a base, and enriched with leaves, conkers, chestnuts, walnuts, acorns, pinecones and forest animals’ figurines. I also provided several containers so that the kids could fill them up and empty them as they liked.

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The other bin required more preparation time. It was basically stawberry, lemon, orange and coke jelly I prepared at home the previous day. I used these flavours for their autumn colours, obviously.  I made two different-coloured layers in each container which aloud me to insert tiny objects between them and make it even more exciting for the kids to dig their hands in as they would find these little “treasures” (mostly buttons and pointy balls) inside.

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imageWe have 25 kids in each class so you have to plan and organize this kind of activities really well. My kids played in each bin in groups of five for about 10 minutes. While 2 groups were playing, the rest were doing something else with another teacher.

To learn about the importance of sensory play you can read THIS.

Friday, October 30, 2015

EASY WITCH HANDPRINT CRAFT

Last week I made this witch craft with my 5-year-olds. Easy and fun!

#Halloween #Craft ♥ Handprint Witch Craft #Halloween craft for kids to make! | CraftyMorning.com:

HALLOWEEN COLOURING PAGES

Here are some Halloween colouring pages I like and use in my classroom:

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halloween coloring

 

 

Also, there are some fun coloring sheets on THIS PAGE. This one is my favourite:

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

SENSORY PLAY: IS IT REALLY NECESSARY?

Several months ago I posted THIS ENTRY about two sensory activities I carried out in the classroom with my 3-year-olds. Now I found this article that sums up nicely the importance that sensory play has for today’s kids.

“If you frequent kids activity blogs, you know that “sensory play” has been a hot topic for quite awhile now.  There are even entire websites devoted to sensory play for your tots, and while they are super fun to read and full of creative (and sometimes elaborate) ideas, you may find yourself asking, “Is all this REALLY necessary for my child’s development?”

To answer this question, let’s first look at what we know about sensory play.

 

What is sensory play?

Sensory play is simply play that encourages children to use one or more of the senses.  Often called “messy play,” sensory play experiences focus on stimulating children’s senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, and movement.

Research tells us…
  • Young children rely on sensory input to learn about their environment.
  • Sensory play helps build neural connections that support thought, learning, and creativity.
  • Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine/gross motor skills, problem solving/reasoning, and social interaction.
  • Children’s exposure to sensory play opportunities is declining.
What does this mean to us?

The first three points on the list above are pretty self-explanatory. In a nutshell, sensory experiences are like food for the brain…they provide valuable input that allows the brain to build new pathways that in turn support growth in crucial areas of development.

The fourth point, however, is what sheds some light on the answer to our original question, “Is all this REALLY necessary?”  You may be thinking, “My parents didn’t do sensory play with me, and I turned out ok!”  The fact is, our little ones spend much less time outdoors than their parents and certainly grandparents did as children.  Since the outdoors is naturally full of sensory play opportunities, this has definitely had a part in the decline of sensory play.  Secondly, although children can definitely fulfill their need for sensory play indoors when given periods of unstructured playtime with stimulating materials, the truth is that indoor time is often monopolized by television, battery operated toys, or toddler/preschool programs that focus on drilling academics rather than fostering important play skills.  This has resulted in a generation of children who may not even know how to play when given the opportunity…how sad is that?

So in short, the answer to your question is yes, sensory play is crucial for your child’s development. And since children today are no longer given ample opportunities for naturally occurring sensory play, it is up to us as parents to be sure their needs are met.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE