Category Archives: Partnerships in FDK

Caterpillars to Butterflies to Goodbyes

Goodbye Worms, Hello Caterpillars

Moving into June, we said, “goodbye” to our worms and said, “hello” to our Painted Lady caterpillars! The entire kindergarten division ordered these ahead of time so we knew they were coming. However, since we had studied our worms so closely , had the inquiry steps almost down pat, and were always full of wonders, we were more than ready for our next study. Having caterpillars also inspired us to broaden the scope of our inquiry from one exclusively focused on worms to one that included the entire subject of insects and creepy-crawlies.

When we received our caterpillars, Madison gently placed them into their new temporary home (a laundry hamper with mesh sides). She showed us the mushy food that we needed to put in the hamper so that the caterpillars could get big and strong enough to climb up branches or the sides of the hamper, attach themselves to something, and form chrysalises.

The caterpillars didn’t lend themselves to as much of an interactive study as the worms did since they needed to be left alone inside of their mesh hamper. However, they taught the children the art of careful observation and patience.

We set our new friends up where our worms used to live. This became our little observatory. Every day the children would come in and check to see how the caterpillars were doing and if any of the caterpillars had formed chrysalises. We made a predictions graph to guess when we thought our caterpillars would form chrysalises and later on, we made another graph to show our predictions of when we thought they would emerge as butterflies.

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Partnerships in FDK

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Our class pumpkin with melting wax project – designed by Madison, RECE

Partnerships & Collaboration: Why an ECE in Full-Day Kindergarten? 

This week I wanted to take the chance to introduce you all formally, to the lovely Registered Early Childhood Educator who graces us with her many talents every single day – Madison McPherson. For those who are less familiar with the role of an RECE, I thought it may be helpful for me to outline just how much RECEs – and in particular, Madison – has to offer a Full-Day Kindergarten program.

Like teachers, Ontario RECEs are regulated by an organization that regulates and governs its members in the public interest (The College of Early Childhood Educators). In addition to a college diploma in Early Childhood Education, many RECEs – including Madison – also have university degrees in Child Studies or similar areas. They specialize in assessing children’s developmental needs and stages and designing programs that address children’s identified needs, stages of development and interests. Although teachers also receive formal education in these areas, bachelor degrees in Education cover a broader range of educational and pedagogical topics. For this reason, ECEs truly are the experts in child development and are an asset to a Kindergarten team.

I am lucky enough to have such a talented RECE to work with. I mean that truthfully and with the knowledge that not every partnership is a match made in heaven. Instead, I have been given this amazing person, partner and friend to collaborate with every single day. Having this kind of relationship truly does benefit not just Madison and myself but also – and this is huge – the children and the effectiveness of our program.  I’m a big believer that children can sense and pick up on the general vibes and emotions in a room. They know when adults are unhappy and stressed out or when they are happy and playful. Luckily, I am proud to say that Madison and I – through our strong working relationship – are able to emit a positive energy and model for the children what it looks like to get along and work together.

Madison and I are both two different people with different backgrounds but together we build off of one another’s talents, ideas and experiences with the children to acknowledge and support our students’ unique array of needs, strengths and interests. Having different perspectives and existing as a team but also as separate entities in the classroom allows us to combine our different viewpoints to create a more well-rounded vision for our program. Alone, this would simply not be possible.

Another way that Madison is an essential component to our program relates to the play- and inquiry-based teaching and learning approach that we utilize for the benefit of our students. Madison is not just another set of eyes or hands in the classroom. She interacts with the children in much the same way that I do. While I do more of the formal assessment, she partakes in daily documentation along with me – through observations, anecdotal notes, photographing, video-recording, checklists, etc. It is really difficult to interact with the children in inquiry-provoking ways and simultaneously conduct this kind of documentation without a second person in the room. We take turns playing both roles so that the children experience both of our presences and so that we acquire a balanced outcome from the documentation and observation. We debrief throughout the day and at the end of the day to ensure we are always on the same page and to point out things that perhaps the other did not catch.

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Madison’s dedication to our program is undeniable. She handmade these felt cinnamon buns for our new play coffee shop, Kinderbucks. Amazing!

Madison also plays a key part in the children’s daily instruction. She often sits and leads small-groups in fine-tuning their fine-motor and printing abilities as well as their letter-recognition and letter sounds. While she does this, I am able to work more closely with other students on different areas. Every mid-day, Madison also runs her own carpet time where she teaches a lot of the music and dance components of the curriculum, reads the children books and also does some social and personal lessons. Often, she plans, organizes and sets up new play-based activities or centres for the room or helps children while they work on their Think Books and Math Journals.

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Madison teaches the children songs that capture their attention and spark their imaginations. Here, she makes a connection to our new play coffee shop by demonstrating a song called, The Donut Shop.

Madison is an irreplaceable part of our SK EFI English classroom. I admire her soft and loving yet firm but fair approach with the children. I couldn’t be more proud of how much she has done to make the room, the program and the overall atmosphere an inspiring and motivating place to learn and play – for the students and adults alike!

I hope I’ve been able to capture – even if just a little bit – what an amazing educator she really is.