Saturday, 20 December 2014

Toddlers in Motion.

Here are a few highlights from our busy week in the toddler room.

We have set up a sensory room in our bathroom!  I know that sounds funny but our bathroom is actually quite roomy and we needed a space to divide off a small group if needed. We even had a half gate installed. I wondered if the sink and toilets would be a distraction but that has not been the case at this point.  We dim the main lights and the room is lit by the soft glow of a string of Christmas lights.  I almost always play a classical music CD as the children are working.

I was inspired by THIS BLOG POST and decided to bring out our Overhead Projector too!  I gave them the felt pieces of Brown Bear, Brown Bear to use if they wanted.  They have loved this story all fall and it was fun to continue their learning in  a new way.

So excited to find the projected image!

We played a lot of hockey!  It has been a great positive physical outlet.  Many children join in the fun.  Some are happy to be fans, and some are learning to participate in a game which is new to them.

In one corner of our room we have a window that we placed sticky laminating film onto.  The children have punched shapes to stick on.  This is an activity that has been out for a long time.  I saw the children using it this week.

Trains and cars continue to be a huge interest in our room.  One morning I had three little boys using the same space at the same time.  They all wanted some trains and tracks and had to work very hard to co-operate.  




Working mutually in close proximity can be a challenge for toddlers who are egocentric and still learning their words.  As a staff we are finding Magda Gerber's method of Sportscasting very effective.

These pictures describe just some of our play this week. 

We also:

*Read many stories
*Played on the climber
*Made soup in the play kitchen
*Played with dolls
*Built towers and roads with the wooden blocks
*Played with play-do
*Played outside a minimum of 2 hours each day
*Sang songs
*Listen to music and danced with ribbons
*Put together puzzles
*Played with the farm animals and the barn
*Enjoyed exploring the new snowflake shapes on the light table with magnifying glasses and colored paddles
 *Watched some highschool girls play basketball
*Ate delicious made from scratch food by our wonderful, creative cook!
*Slept well at nap time!

I am so grateful for our staff team and their dedication to being the most effective, professional and amazing  caregivers they can be. I wish each one a restful, well deserved holiday break.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Compassion and Empathy in Toddlers - Gems to be Found

The toddlers in our daycare room are each special and unique. However, they are typical in the sense that they are in an egocentric stage of development, viewing the world from their own perspective.  They are learning to regulate and control their emotions and big feelings.  While it is very common for them to grab a toy from another child they are also beginning to show concern for others.

Is it possible for them to show empathy and compassion at this age?

The other day I set up a sensory bin of cloud dough.  Silky smooth and scented with lavender, it was inviting for the toddlers to sink their hands into.  Just below the surface of the cloud dough shiny gems lay hidden for them to discover.  As they moved their hands gathering clumps of dough they occasionally found some of the gems.  They had to look carefully.  A challenge, for them, that was rewarding.

 In the same way, I realize, finding compassion and empathy in a group of toddlers is like looking for gems in a bin of cloud dough.  You have to search carefully but they can be found.  

One time little H noticed his friend crying and offered his special blanket, his most precious possession, as comfort.  Or, when G found the same blanket lying on the floor and kindly took it over to H, knowing it was his and that it was very important to him.  One day, outside, a little girl was balancing on a wooden ramp and then fell, biting her tongue.  She was crying and I came along side to comfort her and so did a little friend who gently patted her arm and chanted, “you’re okay, you’re okay”.

These are small gestures, but gems that have been found.  Empathy and compassion are emerging in these very young children.

Another day I witnessed this interaction between two little girls.

S came to me with her arms loaded full with four dolls.  F was right behind her.  F was looking at me and indicated by pointing to the doll with yellow hair that she would like to have it.  Her language is still developing and so I facilitated their interaction by Sportscasting.  I kept my tone neutral and verbalized what I saw.

"F, I can see that you would like the doll with the yellow hair.  S has all the dolls in her arms.

F, you are pointing to the doll with the yellow hair because you want a turn.

S is saying no.”

F looks disappointed.  I say to her, acknowledging her feelings, "You still want the doll with the yellow hair. "

She points to the doll again and nods yes.  “You want the doll.  You are telling S you want the doll.”

S moves away, ignoring her friend’s request. 

Soon however, she returns, and hands me a doll, and then passes a doll to an educator seated near us and as well passes a doll to F.  

S smiles.  I say to her, "You gave us each a doll.”  F smiles too.  

A treasure found, a seed of compassion ready for growth.

Sportscasting is a technique that I am learning to use with our toddlers after reading Janet Lansbury's blog, Elevating Childcare.  This method is based on the teaching and philosophy of Magda Gerber, called RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers. At the heart, this philosophy promotes respect for the child.   I like to use Sportscasting, as it supports both children; the child who is more dominant and potentially aggressive and the more passive child.  It gives both of them trust that they will be kept safe and confidence that they will be given the freedom, time, and support to express their feelings and thoughts.

In the scenerio I described, S was not "forced" to share and F had the opportunity to ask for what she wanted.  Her feelings were also acknowledged.  Both girls were treated fairly and respectfully.  I think because S was not being forced, she was able to show compassion to her friend and share the doll on her own.  I wonder if I had resorted to my own adult sense of justice and made her give up a doll before she was ready, if we would have seen the same calm and generous result.

Yes, we have busy, chaotic moments in our day with twelve toddlers, but as I observe and wait I see that everyday the toddlers mature, everyday their socialization becomes more competent.  

Everyday, in our class we find gems of compassion and empathy that makes each day so worthwhile. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Loving hands.

I came into work the other day and one of our littles was having trouble transitioning to outside play.  It had to do with clothing which is a very real problem for toddlers sometimes.  We finally got ourselves outside and three out of four of the littles were okay. One little still needed a bit more time to adjust. Three out of four of the littles discovered that the wind had recently blown a lot of leaves onto our patio and what fun it was to throw them up in the air.  All of a sudden the fourth little stopped crying and started laughing!  Yeah!  
We moved from the patio into the yard space, which until recently was covered in snow.  But warm temperatures and warm winds melted it all.  So our yard was interesting to investigate.  

We climbed up our steep bank. 

 All of a sudden a new game started with one little holding out her hand to another.  She helped a friend and then that friend helped someone else.  It was amazing for me to watch.

Lending a helping hand.

They all participated in the helping game.

Learning about friendship.

Learning about co-operation.

Still emotionally and socially immature and egocentric these toddlers are tentatively reaching out to each other with generosity.

This was a great part of the morning.

Often unable to share, sometimes screaming, usually egocentric, always unique, mostly loving and fun.  

Welcome to Toddlerville.  

Monday, 8 December 2014

Toddler Hockey.

I read an article recently about boys.  Boys in daycare.  Boys in daycare being cared for by women (usually).  I found it very enlightening because of what's going on in our toddler room this winter.  It just so happens that in January we will have 10 boys and 3 girls in our room.  There is undeniable energy that can't be ignored these days.  And so what to do?  I decided I need to think more like a boy.  You know the old adage....if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I have a little guy in our room who is very into hockey.  He knows all about hockey.  Hockey sticks, hockey net, hockey puck, hockey arena, fans.  So I decided to follow his lead and interest and create some hockey in our room. 

Just to be clear girls can play hockey!!!!! I watched the amazing Canadian girls vs US gold medal (Four Nations Cup) game recently.  Wow!  Fast, incredible athletes all!!
This wasn't by any means only for the boys but rather a positive way to channel energy.

 Someone donated the little net, which I am embarrassed to say is upside down in all of these pictures.  None of the littles minded.

A Dad fabricated the cool helmets with $ store materials.  Thank-you!

I fabricated the sticks out of cardboard tubes we had on hand. They won't last long but they are serving the purpose.  We used balls, an orange pom pom and and plastic puck I found.

She was a little uncertain with the fast pace but she gave it a try!

Other children played hockey as well but it was a little challenging getting action shots!

The other day we had to stay inside all day because of the freezing temperatures.  I quickly put together four little cardboard box cars.  He is driving to the hockey arena with his helmet and stick.

It is my goal to create spaces in our room where I can say YES to the children.  Do you need to kick?  Here is a ball you can kick.  Do you need to jump?  You can jump on these cushions.  Do you need to climb?  You can climb here.  

Having all the energy and dynamics in our room will be challenging but will push us as educators to be creative and to work as a team.