Thursday, 5 January 2017

Magical Winter Forest

During a class meeting, we had a vote about what we should change the drama centre into. The winner was 'magical winter forest'. 

The students brainstormed a list of all the things they wanted to include in the drama centre. As an educator team, we discussed the various ways we could integrate language (writing, reading and oral) into their play. Once you start talking it is amazing all the ways you can extend their play!

Our artists got to work on the backgrounds and decorations for the centre. They wanted lots of snow flakes, snowmen and lots of trees.




Creating backgrounds to go on the windows.





Painting crowns to wear as they take on different roles while playing.



The students named the snowman 'Frosty'


Here is a look at the final product.



We added a story template and a snow globe writing template

We even took the winter forest fun outside.


We began learning about various forest animals and will continue to do so moving into the new year.


We begun with bears. We were surprised at all the great knowledge our learners had about brown bears. We learned lots more based on wonders they shared with us. We were amazed to learn brown bears don't have to be brown! They can be black or mixed colours.

Writing done by L.R.
We then began learning about foxes. Our learners were fascinated with them!




We added animal costumes to the centre so our learners could integrate their new learning into their play.



We are excited for our learning about various forest animals to continue when we start back in January!


Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Zones of Regulation In Room 122


We have been using the 'Zones of Regulation' as a way to support our students with their self-regulation. We hope to give our learners a good start on their journey to self-regulation. Ontario Kindergarten curriculum has now created 'Self-regulation and Well-being' as one of the main 4 focuses of the program. 


The curriculum document tells us, "Dr. Stuart Shanker (2013b, p. xiii) identifies the following as six critical elements required for “optimal self-regulation”:
  • when one is feeling calmly focused and alert, the ability to know that one is calm and alert
  • when one is stressed, the ability to recognize what is causing that stress the ability to recognize stressors both within and outside the classroom the desire to deal with those stressors
  • the ability to develop strategies for dealing with those stressors
  • the ability to recover efficiently and effectively from dealing with those stressors"
We began our learning by investigating feelings and emotions. We did many activities and spent a couple weeks exploring and learning.


We began to slowly introduce the Zones of Regulation to our learners. You can get a copy of the book here. [We did not follow the exact program of the book, but rather used it as inspiration for our own version]. We connected our learning about feelings to the colours of the Zones of Regulation.


We then explored each zone in more detail. We used the framework 'looks like, sounds like, feels like" to help our learners use their own experience and to get a full understanding of each zone.








We added this work to the wall in our 'Self-Regulation centre' in our classroom.


We added photos of our learners demonstrating some of the behaviours and facial expressions you might see for each zone and added those to our wall.  

Recognizing what Zone they are in and others are in takes some learning. We have been reading a variety of books and discussing what zone we think the characters are in and why. Some of the books we've read are:


Since the 'Green Zone' is the zone where we are optimally regulated, we want to support our learners in working to get themselves back to the green zone, should they find themselves in another zone. As a group, they came up with the following list:



We have been doing a lot of "noticing and naming" the emotions our learners show throughout the day and then naming the zone they are in. For example, "I see your fists are clenched and you're frowning. I see you're angry and in the Red Zone." We are beginning to work on implementing strategies for our learners to down-regulate (from the Yellow or Red Zone) or up-regulate (from the Blue Zone). 

Our 'Zones Check-In'. This allows learners to take ownership and to
visually see whether they need to up or down regulate.
                                              
Right now, we give them a strategy we feel will work best (unless they tell us what they need) and are working towards our learners doing this independently. 

Some strategies we're using:
  • Self-Regulation Centre- we have placed fidget toys and books here for learners to help down-regulate.
  • Yoga- both individually and whole group.
Our Yoga centre in the classroom
Cosmic Kids Yoga (click for link)
  • Take 5 Breathing- independently or collectively.


We (educators and students) are continuing on our learning journey about the Zones of Regulation and ways we can ensure we're regulated (Green Zone) throughout the day. We will continue building independence when up- and down-regulating.

We hope you will continue to support the Zones of Regulation at home. If you have any questions, please let us know.


Friday, 4 November 2016

Embracing Fall: Leaves, the Farm & Soup!

We have loved the fall weather! We have had many opportunities to explore various fall activities. Our learners love finding leaves outside and noticing the changes. We read the book 'Leaf Man' and set up a provocation for our artists to use loose parts to create their own leaf men.




H.L. used his leaf man to demonstrate different emotions. Can you guess which is which?






Using the book as inspiration
A couple students used their leaf men to tell their own story. We have been learning a lot about emotions and feelings. Their learning came through in these books:
By: J.B.
By: El.B.
We had the opportunity to take a trip to the farm. Our learners enjoyed the fresh (and cold!) air and exploring the farm. We went on a tractor ride, hay bail maze, visited animals and went into the garden. The garden was amazing. Our learners got to go into the garden and pick a variety of vegetables. (We have been learning about 'everyday foods' so this was a lovely add on!). We asked them what they wanted to do with all the vegetables, we had 6 bags! Someone suggested soup!




Some of the veggies the kids picked.

Our chefs did a fabulous job cutting and snipping the various vegetables to add into the soup.




Yum!


We used a graph to gather information about our soup. We learned more people liked the soup!

Some learners decided to do a procedural writing about how to make soup.





We also did a taste test of various vegetables we picked. Look at all those describing words our learners used!

We were so impressed with each of our learners for trying the soup and vegetables. It was so powerful for them two experience farm to table and to have a part in that. Involve your children in the process of getting food, prepping food, cooking food and eating food (especially those picky eaters) as it helps engage them in the whole eating experience.