Contrary to what would be assumed, given that I am a teacher who teaches preschoolers after all, learning to read did not come easy for me. For those who have been reading my blog for quite some time now, you probably are familiar with the fact that I was diagnosed with a mild form of dyslexia as a child. Yes, early on, I couldn’t read. Lucky for me, I had a teacher who noticed the red flags very, very early on and thus I was able to receive interventions very early on.
Back then, I couldn’t learn my letters very well, much less put them together to form words. As I understand (this is based on stories told to me by my mom and people around me, because I don’t really remember first hand anymore what it was like in the beginning), I would write my letters in mirror image and I couldn’t identify them properly. As I grew up, I loved reading but in hindsight, I realize I never was really good at it. I tended to skip words and make them up as I’d go along. It helped, however, that I had a good grasp of the English language and I enjoyed playing word games that allowed me to make up the right words as I went along.
Speaking of word games, this was really how I learned to read. In many ways, I would have to say I was really lucky that my mom is not a very traditional mom, so she really went out of her way to find ways to make learning more interesting and fun for someone like me. One way she taught me the alphabet was through the use of shells and corals in the beaches we often would frequent when I was a child. It helped a lot, I would like to say, because looking for these letters allowed me to work on my perceptual reasoning skills and helped me be able to see how letters really look like. To this day, whenever I am in a beach, I go and collect these shells to spell out stuff, just like these:
So today, I was inspired to start a new project. I want to take my alphabet project outside of just the beach and be able to find letters all around me and take photos of them. Here are a few examples:
Let’s see what I can find! Do feel free to take photos and send them to me via my Facebook Page so I can add them up
To keep tabs on the project, please check out my Alphabet Project Flickr SetRead More
One of the storybooks I like reading to my undergraduate students is the Scholastic Book The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. I often use this when discussing the topic cultural sensitivity in my Personal Effectiveness classes. The students love the fact that I read them a kids book in class (although I’d like to think this is an older kids’ type of book ) and I love how the story reminds them to look at the bigger picture when coming up with decisions or making assessments.
I end the discussion by telling them that we are often guided by “traditional fairy tales” we’ve heard in the past, thus we do things mindlessly and draw conclusions that may not be valid or apt for a given situation. Also, I remind them that one reason we always feel so inadequate in our social environments is because of the fact that we allow these stereotypes and assumptions dictate who we are and how we should behave in our world. As such, we fail to see the bigger picture. Perhaps this is why even adolescents now go get plastic surgery and take all sorts of diet supplements and even inject themselves or take pills that have human growth hormones just so they become thinner, taller, whiter, and so on and so forth.What matters most at the end of the day, I like to tell them, is that we like who we are on the insideRead More
For our Family Day Celebration in Playschool this year, we decided to have a little recycling competition. We asked each family to make a hat out of any recycled material and it was so much fun to see how creative our parents could get. Here were some of the finalists:
The top prize went to the 2nd hat on the top row, which was made from an old ice cream container and straws CUTIE!!!Read More
Okay, brace yourself for some strange thoughts from Teacher Ria…hehe.
Since I’ve become a preschool teacher, I have discovered so many office supplies and equipment (whether they are really designed for this or not!!!) that I have fallen in love with. If I had an unlimited supply of money, I would definitely get them for myself, but since I don’t, I try to get the school head to buy them instead haha.
So, what are these supplies I love? Well, here are a few:
- Packaging tape
- Bristol Board
- Letter Shaped Punchers (as well as other craft shapes!)
- Craft scissors
- Glue sticks!!!
- Ring binders (we only have a small one, but I’d love to have one of those heavy duty VeloBind machines that can handle large volumes of paper, as well as paper with larger dimensions!)
- and best of all….laminating machines (we only have a small one that can fit regular sized papers, but I would love to one day have a big one that can laminate posters!!!)
See….weird random thoughts at midnight tonight. Haha.Read More
Lately my kids have discovered beads. We’ve had wooden beads as one of the manipulative materials in the math area ever since the start of the school year, but for the most part, they have ignored it. One day, however, I brought out a set of barrel beads, the kind you get in those wholesale jewelry, trinket or accessory store and they discovered a liking for stringing beads. I love how it spontaneously has evolved into a learning experience, because even though I did not purposely use these materials to spark an interest in understanding patterns, that’s what it did! Now when they string their beads, they discuss and compare the patterns they make out of it. I swear, it’s the cutest thing!Read More
Yesterday a friend and I were talking about new advancements in technology that can be used in the classroom. She told me about this new touchscreen lcd monitor that can be used in class, instead of the typical projector that simply reflects the content of your powerpoint on the screen, and I got to thinking how much more interactive classes would be should we get those in our classrooms. Wouldn’t it be so amazingly fun to have that?!? Whether for my preschoolers or for my college kids, I’m sure that would take teaching to a whole new level!Read More
One of the topics I don’t really enjoy discussing much in my preschool classes is about family. It’s not that I don’t see the value of family but I feel that at times, I am limited by “traditional” definitions of the family, which is something I don’t feel comfortable with. I remember that as a child (and in the earlier days of studying about the general concept of the family) it would always have the stereotyped description of a family being “Daddy, Mommy, Brother, Sister and Baby”.
Given the changing dynamic of the family structure (and perhaps since I have a non-traditional family myself) I try to be more open about discussing the topic and several kids’ books that have helped my in my discussions are as follows:
- Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
- Amor (Or The Bat Who Thought She Was an Owl) by Mary Ann M. Tobias
- My Working Mom
- What Mommies Do Best (back to back with What Daddies Do Best)
Others that I haven’t really read or used myself but are also said to be quite helpful are:
- Daddy, Papa, and Me (with accompanying Mommy, Mama, and Me) by Leslea Newman
- William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
I am lucky that I get to do a lot of my online work in my own computer and that no one else uses it besides me. It’s not that I don’t like to share, but I guess there are some drawbacks to using public portals. For example, when I get too lazy to bring my lappy to school, I end up using the PC in the library and when I type in certain things in the browser bar of Firefox (or Chrome for that matter!), previously visited sites are listed below. Because I’m not used to clearing the recent search history and cache before I disconnect, I guess I leave a bit of my self on those computers, right? At least now I remember to log out of my accounts hehe.
Seriously, though, there are times when this behavior can either be dangerous or embarrassing, especially when you are browsing things that you shouldn’t be browsing. I remember once, in an internet cafe nearby, there was this young kid (she must have been about 8 or 9) who accidentally ended up in an adult site because of the previous user. Of course the mother was livid! But after looking at the history (which actually included sites like www.testosteroneboosters.org, fora on reproductive dysfunctions and reproductive health as well as family planning) and explaining that it was an accident, the mother calmed down. From then on, I always made sure to clear whatever history there would be after I use a computer.
To be fair, I don’t think anyone would ever get into trouble if they accidentally browse my browsing history hehe!Read More
Yet another one of my favorite preschool stories is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin, Jr and illustrated by one of my all-time favorites, Eric Carle. I have done a lot of fun activities with this, including asking my kids to make their own version of the book after we read it. When I have the chance to, I will scan some of the samples they have done. I love how they can go from real animals to imagined ones and really be able to illustrate this fully.
In the meantime, here’s another video that can surely add to a teachers resources:
A few months ago, I wrote an article about keeping kids safe online. Entitled “A Keystroke Away from Danger“, the article talked about the many, many dangers lurking online, especially for children. From cyberbullying to falling prey to sexual offenders, children and adolescents, and even some adults, may find themselves in the throes of danger if they are not careful. This is why, as a teacher, I make sure to highlight the importance of being vigilant and aware about the potential risks and dangers modern technology post. For example, when I talk to my little preschoolers (yes, they do know how to use the internet! and believe it or not, some of them even have their own Facebook pages), I tell them to stay only on the sites that their parents allow them to be on and to not just simply follow those pop-up ads or links that say “click here“.
I think the most important part of internet safety is being educated about it. In this day and age, there’s really no going around the fact that modern technology and the World Wide Web. It will and always be an integral part of our lives so all we can do is arm ourselves with the know-how to navigate safely in this world.Read More
One of my favorite stories for class is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As I shared in a past post, I once was lucky enough to come across a real caterpillar about the same time we were discussing the story, thus we were able to use it as one great story stretcher. I also was able to use the story as an inspiration for my classroom decoration.
One other story stretcher that you can add to your collection is a video such as this:
For sure, the kids will love this!Read More
Often times in a preschool teachers life she will find that no matter how well in advance she has planned her lessons, things happen that change the course of this discussion. In my personal experience, this has happened countless times, both for the good and the bad. Sometimes these changes are due to faulty equipment or at times due to a more pressing interest in another topic or stimuli, whatever it is, the teachers job is to adjust to these changes and not get caught up with the “plan”.
When I was starting out, I occasionally struggled with that. It took some time for me to really embrace the idea that no matter what I do or say, if the children are intent on something else, I better just go with it. And what I realized from this is by going with the children’s flow, I would find they learned better and they remembered these lessons even years later.
One example of these sudden changes was when I ran into Mother Nature as I taught my kids about animals and bugs. As part of our Math lesson, I had them go through an investigative bug hunt. The task was for them to look for the plastic bugs and pictures of animals I had hidden around the playground and to count the number of legs these bugs had, then we were to chart this and compare which had more or less . Armed with a magnifying glass and a record sheet, we set out in search for these little critters.Read More
I was able to dig up one of my old teacher made materials just in time for our class discussion on clothing. I made this probably five or six years ago and I was amazed that it still existed!
When I first made this, what I had in mind was integrating academic concepts to a “fun” game. As such, I created a paper doll, a farmer to be exact. The goal was to dress up the farmer with articles of clothing that matched based on the letter seen on his hat. I guess you can see what I mean in the photo
Cute, don’t you think? hmmm….maybe I should patent this right about now hahaha!Read More
For our discussion on clothing (as part of how we take care of our body) and colors, I decided to let the kids experiment on tie dying this week I started out the week with a discussion on primary and secondary colors, particularly how primary colors can mix together to make a new color. Since then my kids have been calling red, blue and yellow “magic colors” because they can become something else when mixed.
We also discussed the different types of clothing we wear and for what purpose (i.e. raincoats, aprons, gloves, socks, costumes and so on and so forth )
For a culminating activity, we made rainbow shirts!
The kids had a blast! So did teacher I was a bit worried at first about how this would have turned out, mainly because my past experiences with these activities were not very good. Luckily, my partner, Teacher Joy, had experience in this and did great in mixing the dye. I usually put too much water and I used to use vinegar instead of salt in the mixture. Plus I used to “cook” the shirts. Apparently, that was wrong! Haha!
This time, what we did was to prepare the different colors of dye then tie up the shirt and dye it section by section. Plus I squeezed out the excess dye before moving to the next color. Success! For the shirts that kinda had extra white spaces on it, we decided to use the stampers to add some flair
Again, the kids exclaimed “this was the bestest day ever, Teacher!”
We did the shirts yesterday and today, before heading home, we tried it on!Read More
It’s been over a month since classes started and I realized I still have not posted what my classroom concept wall looks like. With no further ado, here it is!
The caterpillar is actually a recycled one from my Toddlers days but I love it so much I decided to keep it, even if my students don’t really need it. For the calendar, I decided to up the ante by having the kids master the concepts of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
My favorite feature, however, is the reading train. My co-teacher painted that over the summer There are a series of pockets which currently hold our various word lists. An alternative I was thinking of is tracking titles of books we read throughout the month. Fun idea, huh?
Join in and jump aboard the reading train!Read More
Cooking and food-related activities are sure hits when teaching kids. It can be a little tiring for teacher though, especially since you have to keep in mind the kids safety, as well as the fact that some kids have food allergies.
One activity I enjoy doing is a food sorting game. This can tackle a wide range of topics, depending on the level of difficulty. For example, the food sorting game can focus on shapes by having kids check out what’s in their lunch boxes and grouping them together like this:
For older kids, you can have them classify it by taste (i.e. sweet, salty, bitter, sour), type (go, grow, and glow) but the most fun I have experienced was when I asked them to identify where food comes from.
What I did was had the kids bring in some of their favorite food (some brought in the real thing, while others brought photos only). On my table, I put a plastic pig, cow, chicken, and plant/tree. We then had a taste test-slash-learning activity. After sampling some of the food, we placed them in the appropriate column. The simple ones were the obvious ones: fried chicken, eggs, milk. Fruits and vegetables were easily associated with plants as well. Burgers, hotdogs, and barbeque was a little more difficult for them, but they were able to understand it quickly. What they had a hard time grasping was that rice, bread, nuts and even chocolate came from plants. I showed them pictures of wheat fields and explained that when the plant grew, it was harvested and milled so rice could be produced. I also showed them pictures of trees like the cashew tree and other flowering plants where nuts and cacao seeds would come from.
cashew tree in Coron, Palawan
cacao tree in Bali (Photo: “cacao fruits” by Dennis Tang, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved). Cacao trees grow in different parts of the world, the largest of which is in northwestern South America. Africa and South East Asia, including the Philippines, also produce a large number of cacao plants. The irvingia gabonesis, an African tree, is an example of where chocolates come from.
The activity was not just an eye-opener for the kids, but it was also a laugh fest for us all. Some of my favorite comments during the activity:
Teacher: Where do hotdogs come from? Kids: Doggies teacher!
Teacher: Where does bacon come from? Kids: The freezer!
My all time favorite:
Teacher: Where does a burger come from? Kids: (in unison) Jollibee!!!!