Sunday, October 28, 2007

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds make a great ingredient for sensory tables. You can get free grounds at many coffee shops, which give it away as compost. We have a Starbucks on the other side of our parking lot and they are very generous. This time we got espresso grounds, which are very fine and make great pretend dirt without having to dig up the school's garden. It often comes in little round disks which are fun to smash and squeeze. Do a quick sift through the grounds just in case someone's thrown a wrapper or two in the bag.

With coarser grounds you can make coffee ground mud. To the grounds add oatmeal or corn meal and some salt. Add some water, and you have mud. If you use the oatmeal the leftovers can be used to give your fellow teachers facials. If you decide to add things to the grounds, consider letting the children do it by providing small containers of the ingredients and letting them dump or scoop and then mix however they like.

If the grounds come wet they'll be quite fragrant, so you might want to let them sit in your table overnight with the table lid off so they dry out a little. This will also cut down on the strength of the smell, which can put some children and adults off.

Allergy Note: If you do decide to add oats and your classroom is gluten free, be sure to buy gluten free oats or oatmeal. While oats themselves do not have gluten they are usually processed in a plant that also processes wheat. Gluten free oats are available, sometimes even in the regular grocery store. It will say on the box.

Lesson Plan for the Week of Oct. 28

Here's what we're doing this week:

Sensory Table: Coffee grounds with artificial flowers, garden tools, and cups to plant in

Gooey: Dough (flour, water, oil) with small cups of flour and spoons for putting more flour on the dough for kneading; several balls of dough on trays so several children can play at once

Easel: Paint in cups with lids with chubby brushes, multicolored paper

Art/Manipulatives: We'll pull a new manipulative from the closet this week

Music: Robin, our music teacher, will be by in addition to the spontaneous stuff we sing

Books: A book at snack, probably chosen by a child with a strong preference, in addition to books we read to various children throughout the morning

Saturday, October 27, 2007

About Our Classroom

As this is my first post, I'll share a little bit about me and my classroom. This is my second year as a preschool teacher in a youth ministry of a Christian church. While we are a ministry, we do not teach any doctrine and welcome those of all backgrounds. Our jobs as teachers are primarily to set up the classroom environment so that kids can explore and learn about our world. Teachers are present to help children with social interactions and to learn about the environment. It's a play-based program. We can talk about curriculum in another post.

I teach with one co-teacher and one parent helper each day. The co-teacher I started the year with has had to move on to a full time position and ours is a half time program. My new co-teacher is new to teaching and relatively new to the program. We are learning about each other and trying to keep things fun while we're doing it.

I teach two mornings a week. We share the room with two other teachers on the alternate days, so we have to work to coordinate with them. While our class has several children that will turn 2 and 3, their class is primarily toddlers who will just be turning 2 this year. So we need to be aware of their needs and the possibility of toys that may not be appropriate for their bunch. They also have food allergies (nuts and shelfish) that our class does not. Last year my entire class was 3 before the end of the year, so we were able to do more things with toys that would be considered choking hazards for my current age group.

I have two children of my own. One is in the pre-K class in my preschool and the other is in Kindergarten. If it weren't for them I would never have figured out what to do with myself when I grew up.

Any questions? What do you want to read about? Lesson plans? How we deal with or prevent conflict? Working with parents? Do tell!