Tuesday, July 28, 2015

When Play is Work and Work is Play

I am a big daydreamer and one of my most prevalent daydreams has been having my own school. For all kinds of kids, but especially for my gramerlings.
I mean seriously, look at that face.  How could I ever want to teach anyone more than him?
That picture was taken ten years ago today when my first grandchild turned one.  I really had no idea how big that grandchild love could be.

Though a lot has changed in these ten years the love and the daydream remain the same.

Now, don't you know that I think I have all the answers to the appropriate way to educate young children and my school would be awesome. Such is the way of daydreams.
Alas, I can never quite come up with a way to keep the lights on in said school, so back to my regular teaching job I go. How blessed I am to know that while there won't be any gramerlings, there will be a lot of sweet, bright students.

Playdate has provided lots of opportunities for teaching my way and this summer I went a step further.  Rae-rae wants to do some Pre-K work at home with Giddy-Up this fall and just wanted some ideas about methods of teaching.  So, for these precious few weeks, maybe five, I was able to do Pre-K with my sweet boy and a side ( Mr. Smiley), just one day a week.

Sometimes the reality of a job makes it drop a notch or two, or perhaps completely, from the daydream agenda.  Hmm, well, not so much in this situation.  I would love to keep teaching him. I loved it. He loved it.  That lack of paycheck however is a force to be reckoned with isn't it?
I don't have many pictures as I was teaching.
Mr. Smiley developed quite a relationship with the Raggedy's whilst I was teaching.

We did a lot of what you might expect. While I truly don't much adhere to formal education before seven if there is an involved and interested adult around to lead exploration and discovery down appropriate paths and make connections that allow learning to just happen. He certainly has that in many adults in his life, especially his parents.  I realize that isn't how our culture works, so I did want him to know how school works.  So I did some learning, like an opening prayer and pledge and doing a lot of work with the calendar on days of the week, months of the year, weather and seasons.  Often he stood throughout instruction. That is never a problem for me at home or in the classroom.
This boy has an affinity for numbers, but has been a bit gun shy with letters.  This is very frequently the case with busy boys.  About the time he turned four in the spring, he began to turn the corner and enjoy writing, coloring and would tolerate his Mama dwelling a bit on how letters work.  
Anything to encourage that writing, mostly for building strength and stamina is a good idea. I thought he might enjoy that old Spirograph activity and he did.  I did too.

We worked each time with Cuisenaire rods. If you aren't familiar, small centimeter cubes are white, two cubes together are red, and so on to ten.  We would put together ten or twenty white cubes, then see if we could make the same size stick of another color (number group).  He would do this for a long time and figured out lots of things about numbers all on his own, as I somewhat guided this play.

I have quite a few very simple books that can easily be remembered from the pictures, so each week he would pick a new book to read.  Before we finished he was already reading his little book stack to his brother.
 Weekly,  we would practice making letters and numbers. It was really surprising to me how far along he came in just a few short weeks.
I would send home a little sheet of our activities, and each time he practiced one at home he received a sticker.
I also did other things, like cook with him and talk about measuring, etc.  This picture was taken after we put the chocolate cake in the oven.  We wrote a little book about the experience to add to his "I Can Read" collection.

One week Pappy was home with us and Mr. Smiley loved having him all to his self.  Pap got more loves and smooches. It was just the sweetest thing.
One week we broke out the apple peeler, corer, slicer to make pie.  Often Mr. Smiley joined us for parts of the lessons. Can you imagine my joy at how clever this little one is.  He had such a hard time at birth, I was worried it would make other things hard.   He not only wanted his turn at cranking, he wanted to put his apple on himself and understood just how it worked. This boy misses nothing.
In the school of my dreams, classes would have mixed ages. Even expectant Mama's could come.  Mr. Smiley is learning right along with his buddy.
I love the look on Giddy-Up's face here. Apples that are a bit squishy don't work to well on this apparatus.

I let my apt student cut little shapes in the dough

He then wanted to put the cut outs back on the blank spots.  Since Pappy loves apple pie, as does Giddy-Up's Papa, I said we would make two, so he could take one home.  He said, "Oh, but I want to eat some here."
I told him we would eat some after lunch and then he could take the other one home. While he picked the smaller pie as his own, that's the one he wanted us to eat, so the big one went home.  Bright as a button this one.
Next he ordered another cake, but since the last one was a rectangle, he wanted this one to be round.
I found some dye that is natural, as he has a bad reaction to Red Dye #40.  He loves to have colored food, so we made a rainbow cake.  

He said this was a King's cake and enjoyed creating it as much as eating it.

On our last day, he found a feather and asked for ink so he could write. We had many such impromptu activities. I had no agenda in mind, just to let him explore an idea.

One day I gave him this same tray with a dot of water color paste in each well, an eye dropper, paper, water  and a paint brush.  He mixed colors for the very longest time.  I had no expectation of an end product. The process was sufficient.  Our little morning school time would eventually melt into summer play.  Last Thursday, the creek was still amazing, so we spent a couple of hours of more discovery as he constructed his own lake to the side, while again, Mr. Smiley played right along in a puddle he made  him.

Along with Playdate, these days were absolutely the very best of my summer.  I will miss them so.

1 comment:

  1. I love your daydream of having your own school but since that couldn't happen I'm glad you got to teach pre-school this summer!