Saturday, June 23, 2012

Playing on the Water

I know, I know, I didn't post any connections of play to standards in the last two days.  That's because I was PLAYING!  You heard me, taking the first few days of summer vacation with my boys and PLAYING.  Call it research for today's post.  

On the first day the boys and I hosted a pool party at my folks' pool.  How could you POSSIBLY have learned ANYTHING you ask?  Just wait for it my friend..... In preparation for this party we prepared food, and lots of it.  We cut up watermelon, kohlrabi, celery, and carrots.  We made chocolate covered strawberries and Nutella cookies (a deadly recipe).  We prepared lemon water and lemonade.  Quick quiz here kiddies, how many standards did I just cover?  Let me plot out what I came up with:
Follow words from left to right, top to bottom (reading the recipe)

Understand that words are separated by print (reading the recipe) 

Plan and carry out investigations to test the idea that warming some materials causes them to change from solid to liquid and cooling causes them to change from liquid to solid. (chocolate covered strawberries.

Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category (putting the vegetables on the platter)

Compare and share observations of solids and liquids at room temperature (talking about all the refreshments we set out)

And that was just the getting ready part.  Then came the pool party. This is where we go more to Maine's guiding principles.  To me, the Guiding Principles are really why I show up to teach each day.  I loved watching the eight little yahoos scrambling around in the pool:
 playing Marco Polo and jumping into the water at the count of three: collaborative worker

figuring out that the pool noodle turns into a faucet if you hook it onto the pump thing in the water: creative and pratical problem solver

 and taking care of the kid with the bloody nose: responsible and involved citizen

Oh golly, what a fun day we had.  Then we went for a boat ride on the Damariscotta River yesterday,  We saw baby oysters on the dock, a bunch of seagulls (or should I call it a flock?), four seals, big fish chasing little fish, ospreys nesting on big buoys and five peacocks on the way home.  Yes, peacocks, I was just as surprised as you. We read the names of all the boats we saw in the river.  We went to Lobsterman's Wharf for lunch, then took a little swim in the river before heading back.  Does this qualify for a day of learning?  You bet your bippy it does!  Let's review:

Big fish chasing little fish:  Use observations and information to identify how animals get their food

Ospreys on buoys:  Use observations to describe how plants and animals depend on the air, land and water where they live to meet their needs

Lobsterman's Wharf for lunch and reading boat names:  Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, understand that words are spearated by spaces in print,

Talking about the peacocks to EVERYONE we saw: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations

Regaling others with tales of the great fish chase:  Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action

I could add more, but it's time for the Pirate Fest.  I can't wait to see what kinds of standards I'll gather there!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In Defense of PLAY

The day I often thought might never arrive has come.  My students have departed.  My classroom is empty, save for a box of garbage bags.  One of my fourth grade kiddos just popped over for a visit and I sent him off with the chore of putting my worms in the car. Now it's time to make the jump back to kindergarten.  

One of the kindergarten teachers just passed me her sacred file of articles defending play  for children.  She knew I would give it a place of honor in my desk, keeping it near for when childhood needs to be rescued from the constantly increasing demands of test preparation and increased standards.  The truth is, I consider play to be preparation for tests, reading, math, writing, and navigating tricky social waters.
After my post about homework I felt as though I needed to follow up a bit.  Though I don't like dictating what children should do when they are home, I want to recognize all the learning that takes place in the joyful act of play.  I wanted to wait until I had time to really dive into this and the time has come. 

In the next few blogs I will be looking at the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Math as well as the NEXT GEN Standards for Math and connecting common play activities to the standards.  Let me just start with a quickie.

From the Common Core Reading Standards for Literature Key Ideas and Details K-5:
Kindergartners will:  
Ask and answer questions about key details in the text.
Kind of a no-brainer here, my kids ask me questions about EVERYTHING we read. Nothing is taken for granted. Now as a teacher I can encourage folks ask and answer questions about the books they read with their kids. I won't ask them to document the questions and answers.
Retell familiar stories.
Sounds like car ride conversation to me.
Identify characters, settings, and major events in a story. 
This sounds like the dramatic play area, puppets tell of Hansel and Gretel's adventures, colorful drawings can detail settings.

Learning doesn't have to be "work."  It doesn't have to take place on a "worksheet," though I am chastened to remember that some kids actually do well with the support of a worksheet and therefore swallow the bitter pill of handing them out occasionally.

Enough for today, time to "play" in the garden....