Making it Work
Posted by mrsmelva on 12/09/2009
We have had two weeks of school and I am learning and making the small room work. The rest of the tables have not arrived, so most of the chairs are in storage! That gives us floor space to work on. I did keep the two tables that have arrived, one rectangular and one semi circular. We move the rectangular one out of the way when we need the floor space. So far a lot of our activities are teacher directed, and either whole or half group. I am working on teaching the children procedures and basic work skills through these activities. I have also done some presentations of works and the children have had some opportunities to choose work that interests them. The two groups are quite different. In the mornings most of the students want to work at the block or LEGO areas or do puzzles, in the afternoon most of them are choosing from the practical life shelves. The tonging and spooning are very popular. I found that as I was “doing the calendar” it was not well placed on the bulletin board, so I moved it. I expect that over the course of the year I will be moving a lot of things as I find the best ways to utilize the space. I have plans to move things in my desk area, but I have been battling a virus and have been too tired to do extra work. I also need to have the janitors move the screen for the projector, but I am not certain where I want it yet, so I will figure that out before I ask them to do it, don’t want to push my luck by asking them to do it twice! They very kindly set up my towel and soap dispenser and replaced the toilet tissue dispenser that had a habit of flopping open on one’s knees while seated! Pretty scary for small kids!
This activity is quite popular. This girl does it every chance that she can. Several others are also drawn to it. Another popular activity is colour sorting hair elastics onto wooden cylinders. I didn’t have any dowels so I just “borrowed” some cylinder blocks from the block area.
As you can see by the tower below, we still ave plenty of cylinders in the block area!
I rotated the picture in iphoto, but it unrotated when I uploaded it, sorry, I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. The tower is as tall as the builder. The next picture shows tonging and a small puzzle being used at the rug.
The photo puzzles are animals on wood, in a 5×7 frame, although they are only a few pieces they are quite challenging and the children have responded well to them for the past ten years in my class – they stand up well too. I purchased them from Lakeshore. The next photo shows a girl carefully lifting her pouring work (coloured rice) to take it back to the shelf.
I split the class to do some TLClessons.com directed cutting and gluing lessons. I had half the class at the rug working with cube-a-links (or pattern blocks or geo boards on different days). They were mainly exploring the material, but also learning to keep their work on their trays, take turns and get materials in an orderly manner.
The first cutting and gluing lesson was turning squares into circles by snipping off the corners. We made orange circles on a pink background to be used as bulletin board borders, mimicing the borders in the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. The book has cut paper illustrations by Lois Ehlert so I thought this was a good way to make some connections and teach some basic skills. After we had done it as a lesson, I offered it at work time (I needed more borders!) and it was very popular.
As you can see, they made several before the work period ended. To the right are small, three section trays (from frozen dinners) with snipped construction paper sorted by colour. Snipping was another work offered and popular. It is very challenging to offer a variety of works when the group is so large and everyone is new to the class. I am kept very busy watching and making sure that they are using the works correctly and carefully and cleaning up properly, but it is time well spent, so that they can be independent and productive. They have already learned to take turns to get materials like cube-a-links at the rug while I am working with half the class on the floor.
Here’s the afternoon class’ section of the bulletin board, with ducks to connect to the book, Off to School, Baby Duck and sharks to connect to Don’t Eat the Teacher! If you look very closely you can see some of the border in the upper right hand corner. The pictures are made by snipping prepared squares or rectangles and following directions to glue them. They are more a craft than art, but definitely require careful thought and good listening and watching when directions are being given. Next week they will make caterpillars to go with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. That lesson will also include an abab pattern. I will need to set up some simple works that use abab patterns for next week too.
The hometime and boot room procedures in the small space are among the biggest challenges but we are working through them quite well. The homework folders and bags for indoor shoes get set all around the room at home time, although I still set them out in alphabetical (by first name) order so that the children are going to pretty much the same spot each day to get ready for home. The folders snake around the room from the art area, through language and math and on to the rug. I am keeping them well spread out so that during winter there will be room to put on ski pants.
The space is definitely challenging, and I am kept on my toes as I develop routines and procedures and organize the space to optimize learning, but with the students’ help, I will make it work.