Category Archives: Routines

Learning to Build, Building to Learn

Building a Classroom Culture of “Process Art”

This week we had Meet the Teacher night and we worked hard to get our self-portraits up on display. Last week the children learned to look closely at themselves in the mirror and to notice all of the things that are special about their faces and identity. We coached the children through the process to teach them the art of concentrating and really seeing. The results were something to be extremely proud of. I truly believe in honouring children’s hard work by displaying them in professional ways that match their strong efforts. Doing so, demonstrates to the children that their teachers value their their work and creativity. Have a look at how beautiful our room and hallway bulletin board looks with the children’s artwork! The title was created by one of our students, M (from class A) who chose “Our Art-ish Portraits” as a shout-out to the book, “Ish” that inspired the art inquiry.

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The results are stunning and have led us to receive many compliments from children, teachers and parents! Madison and I couldn’t be more proud of our little ones.

Also note the documentation board we created on our closet doors that outlines the intentions behind the activity, the process that took place and the reasoning behind any decisions that were made by teachers and students. The process itself, was definitely the main focus of this art activity (and will continue to be in future activities). Communicating this through our actions, sends the message to the children that their teachers see them as capable learners who have faith in what they can do. We will rarely ever expect them to produce cookie-cutter crafts that limit their creativity and demand a specific, “correct” end result. This has been a dilemma in the early learning education field because often parents enjoy receiving crafty pieces of art that their children made at school. “Process art” isn’t always “cute” or “pretty” like crafts can be. The important thing to remember is to spread the word to teachers, parents and the students themselves, that the most beautiful pieces of art are the ones that allowed the children to gain knowledge and confidence by freely exploring, discovering and playing with art materials. I think this exercise did exactly that.

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Routines and New Learning Experiences!

Adjustments

Being that my students have to get used to two classrooms and two sets of teaching teams (English AND French) as well as full-day Kindergarten, the first week of school was all about adjusting to the routines. I really feel for some of these kids who have more difficulty with transitions but my experience reminds me how malleable children are and how quickly they can adapt and learn at this age. I think a lot of adults underestimate these little ones. They assume that they are all going to take a very long time getting used to being at school all day (and are going to require “nap time” because otherwise they just won’t be able to function) and to remembering rules, routines, expectations, etc. when in reality, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are always exceptions and every child is unique coming to us with different needs and backgrounds. However, most children usually adapt quite quickly. All I mean from this is – don’t be surprised that the children are doing better than you thought so early on in the program.

Learning About School

Nevertheless, in the first week the children needed to learn a lot of the basics of being at school. They learned: the expectations of a student, how to treat the room and materials, where to find what they needed in the room, how to transition from one activity to the next, how to eat lunch at school, how to sit and behave at the carpet during class meetings, where to go at dismissal time, how to play during thinking and learning time and how to meet and keep friends as well as how to play with others and share (this being an ongoing learning experience throughout the year). Madison and I spent a lot of time teaching, modeling and reminding students of these things all week and will continue doing so until we feel confident that our students understand. Patience and a soft approach eases students in at the beginning of the year and we try to add in humour as much as we can.

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Above you can see the children (1) learning to play outside in the Kinder yard, (2) finding their indoor shoes to change into after coming in from outside and (3) placing the rock with their name on it in the “Welcome” basket for attendance. In the second row, children are (1) lining up to wash their hands before they eat, (2) sitting quietly and reading books first thing in the morning or after they eat before going outside and (3) listening and participating during my whole-group lesson or class meeting (carpet time). In the final row, children are (1) eating during nutrition break (putting their lunch bags under their chairs and laying out the food they will eat), (2) putting away their backpacks in the cubby room and (3) packing up at the end of the day, being sure to take home their note totes/mailbags even if they’re empty. Madison and I have been very pleased overall with how smoothly the first week went and how quickly the children have been remembering everything.

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