How to Turn a Pile of Leftovers Into a GREAT Preschool Lesson
Aug 12, 2008 Lesson Planning 3955 Views
How often have you, a preschool (or home/family day care) teacher, been in this situation? Your preschoolers have gone for the day; the collages they made today are on display; and you're ready to leave. You're a great preschool teacher - tomorrow's lesson plan is done. You've got a great preschool game and activity for your circle time.
One more look around before you go out the door. Oh no...
Look: There's a pile of jumbled-up leftover collage pieces left out on a tray on the counter.
What would YOU do with them? Shove them into a drawer and figure it out tomorrow? Take them home and hope you can sort them out with your kids' help after they're done with their homework and in bed?
This preschool teacher smiles, shuts the door and has a great time with the family!
Lazy? Careless? Not this preschool teacher! And not you, either. It's part of tomorrow's lesson plan. Change your thinking and these leftovers turn into a circle time transition activity that fits right into your curriculum goals.
At tomorrow's circle time, put a snazzy piece of fabric over that tray of collage pieces and carry the tray and 4 zip-top plastic bags to your circle area. Keep it out of sight until you are ready to transition them to their next activity. And - Get ready to put on a show! 1. "Hook" your preschoolers' attention with some mystery! "What do you think is hiding under this cloth?" Let them press their hands on top of the cloth and make some guesses.
2. Explain that these collage pieces are for something different today. Show that you've put a different collage piece into each zip-top bag -- a piece of cloth into the "cloth" zip bag; a piece of wallpaper into a "wallpaper piece" bag, etc.
3. Tell them you're going to add some more pieces into these bags - but tell them they need to watch v-e-r-y carefully because you might put the wrong piece into one of the bags! Of course, when they notice your deliberate mistake, you'll laugh happily and tell them what smart eyes they have!
4. Then have each child take a turn being "teacher" while the others watch v-e-r-y carefully. Praise the "teacher" and the other children for having such smart eyes. Make sure that the other children cheer and clap for each child as she sorts. This is a show, after all.
5. As each child finishes, when he tells you his next activity, ask him to wiggle like a piece of yarn as he walks to that area.
6. When only 2 children are left in the group, tell them you are so glad that THEY'RE there, because you know they are really great special helpers. After both children finish playing the sorting game, have each one carry two of the zip-top bags to your collage activity bin. Give them a thank you hug and have them wiggle away.
Is the pile all sorted out? Of course not - but you've re-awakened the children's interest in these collage pieces!
So... put that tray of collage pieces on the art table, and point to yesterday's collages. "Jerome, look what you did in yesterday's collage - I notice you put a yellow yarn here, a blue stripe wallpaper there, and a flowered square here! I wonder where you'll put some new pieces on a different collage today - can you show me?"
Now they look at their projects with new eyes. Children are experimenters, and they need -and enjoy having - more than one chance to experiment with any art materials.
Let's review. What happened?
FUN! LEARNING! MORE TIME FOR YOU! -- The children had fun practicing sorting and classifying different textured objects - a developmentally appropriate preschool cognitive lesson.
-- The preschoolers had fun learning to take turns - an important social-emotional lesson for preschoolers.
-- The children got another chance to experiment creatively with the same materials but from a different, more experienced perspective - and enjoy a whole new preschool creative art project.
-- The preschoolers' transition from group time to independent activity was seamless - and fun!
-- The preschool teacher also had a lot of fun, gained professional satisfaction, and had time for a full, even fantastic, life at home, too! (Don't underestimate the value of time to live your own life after work!!!)
Buy books of preschool themes and lesson plans? Sure! There are excellent books about developmentally appropriate preschool learning - lesson plans, songs, art activities. But look around your preschool or home day care classroom first! The best preschool activity or game could very well be right where you least expect it -maybe in a pile on your classroom counter!