As schools closed due to the widespread of the corona virus, we were faced with a question: how will learning continue while students are stuck indoors for weeks? We quickly adapted our instruction as we transitioned to distance learning and found tools/ resources for this new setting.
Morning Meeting is an important component of the day. Each morning, I will post a video on FlipGrid going over the calendar, daily schedule and the question of the day. Students can watch and follow along whatever time is convenient for their families as the videos are recorded. Morning Meeting is also a great time for visual demonstrations. Since we have been learning about plants, students are planting their own lima beans at home and recording their observations. We also went over how seeds absorb water using materials that can be found at home such as water, paper towels and sponges. Lastly, we went over the parts of a flower with a tulip. The best part about using flip grid is being able to see the student's response videos and the experiments they have been doing at home.
Students also engage in the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness curriculum which provides students with consistent and repeated instruction to develop decoding and encoding skills. These activities teach early literacy skills such as rhyming, onset fluency (beginning sounds), basic skills of blending and segmenting sounds. Students use hand motion directions and oral repetition as they follow along to the video. We end the session by reviewing a letter, learning its sound and writing it. Students go on a treasure hunt in their homes to find things that start with the letter of the day and practice writing at home.
Closing Meeting- We end each day with a closing meeting as we do in the classroom. This is a relaxing time for students as they unwind from the daily activities. I post a video on flip grid with a read aloud or sing along. The question of the day is posted for the next day and students respond with flip grid videos.
Meaningful connections and social interactions are particularly important for preschoolers. I dearly miss my students and the face to face conversations. I am excited to say that we will be adding zoom live meetings starting next week. This way, students can see each other virtually and interact. We may also continue show-and-tell via zoom!
These few weeks have been quite challenging but I feel blessed to be a part of PNA's supportive community of teachers and parents!
Children use their senses to explore and understand the world around them. One of the most popular centers in our Early Kindergarten classroom is the Sensory Center. This center is designed to stimulate a child's senses: sight, smell, touch, movement, balance, and hearing. Sensory Play is crucial to a child's brain development and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross/ fine motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.
This week, we have been learning about dinosaurs. This unit of study offers several sensory experiences for children. The students combined all purpose flour, coffee grinds, salt and water to create salt dough fossils. As they squished and kneaded the dough, they exercised the small muscles in their fingers. The same muscles that are used to write, color, cut and paint. The children enjoyed the smell of coffee as they sniffed the dough.
This sensory activity also taught literacy, math, science and social skills. During the activity, I heard children note changes in shape and size by saying “My fossil is round” or “My fossil is small and yours is bigger”. They used several measuring tools and counted ingredients to make the dough. The students practiced literacy and language skills as they invented stories about their fossils. Lastly, they strengthened social skills by sharing, taking turns, and communicating with each other.
Our sensory bin consisted of dinosaurs, plastic eggs and kinetic sand. The students were encouraged to use their creativity and fine motor muscles to squeeze, roll and flatten the sand. They packed the sand into plastic eggs and imagined that the dinosaur eggs were hatching.
In our Early Kindergarten class, we greet each other with a warm welcome each morning. Greeting students at the door sets a positive tone for the day and gives students a sense of belonging. According to a study from the Journal of Positive Behavior, positive greetings at the door increased students' academic engagement by 20% and decreased disruptive classroom behavior by 9%.
After students have settled into the classroom, we begin Morning Meeting. During this time, students and teachers gather around in a circle to greet each other, share stories, and engage in an activity together. There are four components to Morning Meeting.
Greeting: Children greet each other by name. This helps create an atmosphere of trust and establishes a friendly tone for the day.
Sharing: In around the circle sharing, every student has the opportunity to share ideas, tell stories and discuss the study topic while the rest of the students listen and respond with questions/comments. In EK, we practice showing respect and take turns speaking.
Group Activity: After sharing, students participate in a lively whole group activity. This might include singing, chanting, or playing a game.
Morning Message: Students read and interact with a short message written by their teacher. The morning message is designed to serve as a transition to the rest of the school day.
During morning meeting, we also discuss the date and weather. Calendar time introduces the concept of time to young children. It also teaches numeracy, vocabulary (month, year, week), sequencing (yesterday, today, tomorrow), and patterning (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). We sing songs like “Days of the Week” and “Months of the Year” to reinforce these concepts. Morning Meeting is also a time to go over the daily schedule and weekly classroom jobs. We end our meeting by answering the Question of the Day that is written on the board. The question is typically related to our unit of study and is designed to make circle time engaging and educational at the same time.
There are many benefits to morning meeting. It builds a sense of community in the classroom, sets a positive tone for the day, merges academic and social learning and gives students a sense of belonging.
“Play Is The Work of the Child”
I am a Early Kindergarten teacher at Pacific Northern Academy. I graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. I specialize in Early Childhood Education, ESL and Special Education. My hobbies include traveling, reading and painting!