Valentine’s Day Week in Room 209 was eventful in many ways! We took a short break from our Winter and Polar Inquiry to focus on some other learning adventures. We added in some Valentine’s Day-inspired invitations to play, we visited Winterlude as a class, we held a “Colours of Love” Healthy Snack class party and we participated in the school Dance-a-Thon – whew!
Join us in reflecting back on memories of this exciting week!
Valentine’s Day-Inspired Invitations to Play
Although I’m not big on themes, I don’t mind throwing in more “themey” activities every so often so long as they are culturally meaningful to the students, are open-ended in nature and do not flood the entire program or room. The children in our room almost always have options and have many opportunities to practice making choices. Alongside the Valentines Day activities you see in these pictures, were many other activities or invitations to play and learn that coincided with our Winter & Polar Inquiry (those photos will be reserved for the following post!). In my opinion, it really is all about balance when it comes to planning and setting up invitations in your classroom. You want them to reflect the interests, values, realities and abilities of your learners. If you’re going to present something that is not culturally-familiar to the children, you need to introduce it properly and with sensitivity and ensure they understand your reasoning for presenting it to them. In my case, the children in my room all celebrate Valentine’s Day and are quite familiar with it. Moreover, they all expressed significant interest in Valentine’s Day, in preparing for it and in looking forward to it, which is why these activities ‘made sense’ for us. Of course, each classroom is different.
To clarify for those who aren’t familiar, “invitations to play/learn” are simply displays of toys, play materials, sensory tubs/bins/tables, loose parts, art materials, etc. organized in inviting ways that attract children and provoke creativity and open-ended play.
Above, the children are pictured exploring open-ended arts materials to make Valentine’s. If we want to develop children’s creativity, increase their problem-solving skills and boost their confidence, open-ended, child-directed arts activities are what we should be aiming for most of the time. I’m not saying there is never a good time to do a craft – there certainly is (sometimes they ARE fun or are teaching us a certain skill)! However, before we choose a craft, we need to consider what we are trying to achieve through the activity. We need to ask: What skills are we trying to have our learners practice or develop by doing this activity? If the skills are cutting or pasting, is there a better way to accomplish these? What purpose is this activity serving? Is this a time filler or something to simply ‘rush out the door’ so parents or passer-bys in the hall think we are celebrating a holiday ‘properly’ (or at least how they THINK we should be celebrating it)? Who is this pleasing?
Check out the excerpt below from a document by Cathy Abraham from Hatch Early Learning called, “Open-Ended Art Experiences) on teacher-directed art projects versus child-directed art projects. When I first came across this about a year ago, it really spoke to me and really made me think. Finally, the ideas I had always had regarding crafts were put into words that totally reflected how I felt.
To read the full document and to get some excellent ideas for how to harness your child’s or students’ creativity, please visit this PDF!
Our Class Trip to Winterlude
Well, it was a grand success!! A huge thank you goes to the wonderful parent volunteers who helped make this trip possible (and safer!). The children had such a great time going down the ice slides and listening to the music. Photo cred also goes to one of my parents Neale!
Our “Colours of Love” Healthy Snack Class Party
Another huge thank you to our lovely families for providing us with this beautiful spread of healthy snacks in Valentine’s Day “colours of love”! We thought this was appropriate as we sought to honour the love we have for our bodies on this special day by feeding them with fresh vitamins and nourishment. We were unsure at how the children would react to this kind of a party. To our surprise, they quickly adapted to the idea and ended up LOVING it! They all wanted second and third helpings and we had no problem allowing them. Some even tried new fruits or snacks they had never experienced before (e.g., dried cranberries). Almost every bit was eaten and it was a real success!
On the day of our party, children also brought in their home-made Valentine’s Day mailboxes and then passed out their cards. We made the mailboxes family, at-home projects to promote collaboration and to make it more meaningful for the children. They were so excited to show off their mailboxes and everyone enjoyed seeing their friends’ creations. The photos below are just a small ‘snapshot’ of what was presented but I have to admit, I got a little too caught up in the fun of the day to take many pictures!
This was also the week our school held it’s Dance-a-Thon to raise money for a new outdoor classroom and playground. We had tons of fun and it was a great way to finish off the week. Check out these dance moves! …
…What a week!
Stay tuned for my next post for an update on our Winter & Polar Inquiry … coming soon!