Sunday, November 2, 2008

Guided Play- research based

For a grad school assignment I had to review an article on a subject of my choice.
I reviewed:

Guralnick, M. J., Connor, R. T., Neville, B., & Hammond, M. A., (2006). Promoting the peer-related social development of young children with mild developmental delays: Effectiveness of a comprehensive intervention. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 336-356

Which was a 2 year longitudinal study examining the effects of intense, individualized social skills interventions on children with mild developmental delays. The 90 participants in the study all had a full scale IQ on the Wechsler of between 50 and 90. They were all between 48 and 78 months of age, all had a current IEP, their primary caretaker was a female, and they were all experiencing difficulties in peer-related social competence.

The study was based off of previous research which found that children with mild developmental delays:

•have difficulty with peer social interactions
• engage in more solitary play
•Do not exhibit developmentally appropriate problem-solving patterns
•More difficulty forming in-depth peer relationships
•Less accepted by peers
•More likely to have social isolation later in life

A possible cause of this is that children with mild developmental delays show difficulty with information-processing and working memory, which gives them difficulty tracking complex and rapidly changing social stimuli.

The study gave each participant a pretest. Based on the results of the pretest the study formed a team of the primary caretaker, the teacher, and a consultant to create clearly stated goals and objectives to meet each students' needs. The consultants then gave the caregivers highly structured scripts individualized to the child. These scripts used across social settings in three different social tasks. The scripts prompted caretakers to assist the child with organizing the salient events in each task.

The strategies the caretakers and the teachers used were:
•Pair students with compatible peers
•Select toys and activities of high interest
•Create circumstances to minimize conflicts
•Provide needed support and guidance from teachers and mothers

The study found that:
•Students with an IQ below 70 benefited the most from intervention plans
•Negative interactions with peers did not increase as compared to the control group
•Parallel-dramatic play remained stable, while it increased in the control group.
•Interventions prevented declines in social development

The implication to my research study, I believe, is that it is possible to use free choice time in kindergarten and preschool classrooms to guide play in order to promote social goals. By using the strategies sited by the article it is possible to positively impact a child's development of social skills. During a free choice time the child is selecting an activity for himself, which is already an activity of high interest. If the teacher can consider the children at the activity with the child, and alter the circumstances to minimize conflict, the teacher should be able to provide support and guidance for the student that will help him respond to the changing stimuli in a social situation by helping him organize the salient events of a social task.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Great ideas from TR today

Record students' use of literacy, language, communication skills in a checklist.
Check literacy objectives to get information for the checklists.
Fabulous guidance couselor said she'd seen kiddos make a recipe book at another school and said she'd bring it in for me to see.
Very excited!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

name practice

the same day as the fire incident i was picking up scraps of paper in the house keeping center and i noticed that most of them had the same set of letters scribbled on them. adnerb. brenda. this little one came in unable to write her name, unable to identify any numbers in her name, or recognize her name. she was spending her house keeping center play time practicing writing her name, over and over again. i'm not sure if it was a part of play and she was "signing" her recipes for the cash register, or if she just suddenly decided to practice. (or if she wanted to write and those were the only letters she knew).
whatever it was, i'm glad she had paper and pencil available to her.

acting and writing

one one of the last days of school before break (when the last thing i possibly wanted to do was play house with loud kindergarten kiddos) i walked by house keeping center and one friend excitedly asked me to participate.
"Help! There's a fire! Come put it out fire-fighter lipstick!"

how could i refuse?

immediately after we had acted out putting out the fire and rebuilding the restaurant i suggested to my imaginative friend that we write a book about it. he was surprisingly excited and we sat down to re-create the story. he did the pictures and i did the writing and then he put the pages in order so they made sense. it was a brilliant story with dialogue and as soon as i get a picture of it i'll put it up.

hooray for writing about imaginary play!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

dog food

clearly we need a dog food sign, otherwise how would we know what is play dog food and what is play people food?
we had to make 2 signs because one little girl who mainly speaks spanish took our first sign and put it in her book bag and refused to give it back. picking my battles (i mean, it is a sign in english she can read, and anyway, making a new sign just repeats the learning activity) we happily made a new sign. notice the pink to match the pink puppy.
one little one because so excited about doing interactive writing with me that she began using the abc chart to practice her letters- right there in the middle of free choice. "hows that?" she'd ask, after writing a p. "that one was hard"
she certainly seemed motivated in house keeping to write.
later we became drs and the children wrote out "prescription" notes for the teddy bear baby they adopted. it was endearing to watch them take turns feeding the bear the medicine, burping him (including the boy in the group) and then "re-reading" the fake drs note (a series of numbers- they wrote that one without me).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

more references

Notes from Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work by Debbie Diller

Stenhouse Publishers, 2003

Page 123, How to Add Literacy to Traditional Kindergarten Centers

-simple recipes

-children's cookbooks

-a telephone book (homemade with each page featuring one child's name, a photo of the child, and the child's phone number)

-Order pads

-Message pads

-List paper for grocery lists

-toy catalogues




-play money

-play telephone

-message board

Recommendations: Add these gradually, sit down and show kids how to use these items.

Literacy Development milestones: research

Child development milestones:
Early Writing-
36-48 months:
Children use scribbles and unconventional shapes to convey messages.
Children represent ideas and stories through pictures, dictation, and play
Children experiment with a growing variety of writing tools and materials, such as pencils, crayons, and computers.

48 months:
Children are using letter-like shapes, symbols, and letters to convey meaning.
Understand purposes for writing.
Begin to use familiar words in writing and drawing.

Print Awareness and Concepts:
36-48 months:
Children are showing a growing awarness of hte different functions of forms of print such as signs, letters, newspapers, lists, messages, and menus
Children are showing a growing interest in reading-related activities
48 months:
Children are showing an increased awareness of print concepts
Children recognize a word as a unit of print that is formed by individual letters.
Children are reading environmental print

Phonological Awareness and Alphabetic Knowledge
36-48 months:
Being to identify words that rhyme.
Show growing ability to discriminate and identify sounds.
48 months:
Identify matching sounds and produce original rhymes.
Show growing ability to hear and discriminate separate syllables in words
Show growing awareness of beginning and ending sounds of words.
Develop beginning awareness of alphabet letters.
REcognize that sounds are associated with letters of the alphabet and that they form words.
Understand that letters of the alphabet are a special category of visual graphics that can e individually named.
Laugh at and create willy words while exploring phonology.

From Milestones of Child Development, Virginia's Early Childhood Development Alignment Project

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

notes from today

we have a little one who from day 1 has written her name backwards. every time. it's actually kind of impressive. many of our kiddos do not write their names at all, and with everything else going on in the classroom it has been hard to address the issue with her. she is also very head-strong and does not take correction lightly.
today in house-keeping i was able to do a fast mini-lesson on which way our letters go for the first time all year. it happened so naturally as she was writing her own "closed" sign (yes, we can't seem to get off of the open/closed signs). "opps! let's look at the C here on this chart. do you see which way it's going? can we make your C match this one? now, the 'l' goes here, on this side of the C. our letters always go this way." and we were back to playing.

the clipboard with blank paper has become incredible popular.

i need to get a baby doll to add to house keeping. research i did awhile ago on attachment disorders reflects that discussing how to treat a baby is a good way to discuss attachments/relationships with parents. i need to follow up on this in house keeping.

one of the little ones on my case load is using full sentences quite well in house keeping, although she is not doing it so much the rest of the day. however, another little boy on my case load continues not to use full sentences in house keeping, keeping his communication to gestures and mono-syllabic sounds to communicate. how can i encourage full sentences in house keeping?


the beginnings of our interactive writing menu

mmmm.... don't you want to eat that soup?

our refrigerator and mirror... notes everywhere! (notice ABC chart magnetically on air-conditioning unit for easy access)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


with thoughts from Already Ready i suggested to one of my kiddos today that we write down his recipe for soup. (mmmmm... tomato, strawberry and hot dog soup. the best). with him it was really more shared writing where i wrote down what he told me and i prompted him with his language. he actually did a great job using words like 'first, next, then, and last', which was awesome since these are words i feel like we struggle with in first grade. i wonder if we flush out these vocabulary words more during play if they will carry over to academics?

one little girl overheard and said, "awww... i wanted to do that". well, hey, why not?
so she and i worked on a menu for the cafe that was much more interactive writing. she loved it and she really engaged another friend in the group to work on the letters as well. they were having a great time taking turns listening to the sounds and writing the letters. one of the girls is on my case load and i was shocked by how verbal she was being. she was identifying the letters with children's names. (using full sentences to do this too!)

our menu is awesome... picture coming.

of the 4 friends in house keeping today two are on my caseload. while i did not work with one on any literacy activities i was able to prompt him with social skills throughout the entire play time. it was great to watch him practice those skills in a non-threatening environment. even without prompting i overheard him apologizing or using words to express his feelings.

i also noticed that the children are re-reading the signs when they first come to house keeping. they read what other children have written, check all the signs to see if they say open or closed, and make sure the signs reflect what they want to play at that moment.


today the first thing the house keeping participants said when they arrived at the center was "where's something we can write on?"


Saturday, August 23, 2008

how do i...?

on page 55 of Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray & Matt Glover they write about Regan who is lead into writing a story about her dramatic play experience of going on a picnic. how do I create play experiences we can later write about? currently we are "playing" the same thing over and over again (and I don't really want us to write about the kids acting out bribing the cops). do i just need to wait for a natural opportunity and be ready to jump on it the next day, or do i prompt their play to reflect a more natural story?

making signs

on friday at the end of a very long week i jumped into a house-keeping game that was already in full swing. the refrigerator was already plastered with new sticky notes with "print-like" symbols~ messages to one another that held lots of meaning but no one else will be able to read.

one boy came to me and explained that they had created a little nook to be either the 'house or school' and another to be the restaurant. i, ever being the sly teacher, exclaimed, "so cool! why don't we make a sign?!"

YEAH! the boys cheered and we quickly on the ground with the ABC chart, markers and index cards. I'm quickly learning that to engage the kiddos in interactive writing during their free play it requires a bit of being quick and messy. there's no time for wondering what to do next, or having a child quietly sit and wait for you. it's play time and so everything has to sound like the most exciting thing in the world, and has to be fast. when it is up to their 5 year old pace they are hanging on every word and excitedly helping say words slowly so we can hear the beginning sounds. (where we are right now~ just beginning sounds). the ABC chart has proven to be very helpful because many of them look at me and say, "i don't know how to make that!" i need to remember to put cover-up tape in the area (or bring it with me so they don't use it themselves) to correct our attempts at letters. we tried to make s's yesterday and it was a struggle. still, we did it and made a 2 sided stand that can be turned to show the boys are at school or are sleeping at night. they seem to get a kick out of turning the sign during their play, which is great because they have to pay attention to which side says what (does it have a c or an o? don't forget to check the first letter!). right now we have 3 of the 2 sided signs. two open/closed signs and one school/night signs. they crack me up as they turn between the two and try to decide what each one says.

(sometimes i think sucker!! you chose to play in housekeeping and didn't know you'd have to read! hahaha")

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

notes, 8/20/08

today i tried to have a different focus for each of the 4 children at the center. for one my focus was just using language since she just came to us and speaks no english. another was social skills, other was beginning sounds in interactive writing opportunities, and, well, i guess i never came up with one for child #4. oops.

the children became ridiculously engaged in the literacy activities today. i ended up grabbing a clip board for one little girl because she was so enthralled in creating a menu. they set up a store and continued to change the 'open', 'closed' sign during their play. they "wrote" receipts and gave me bills telling me how much to pay. one boy sat down with the phone book and leafed through it, clearly coping an adult's behavior. "look at me!" he giggled "i'm reading this big book!"

i love having the basket of markers, post-it notes, and index cards. the children are immediately drawn to using literacy in their play. before i'd gotten a chance to get over there one girl had already taken a message for me on the phone. she handed me the sticky note with one word "skop". "your mom called." she told me. "she said you have to go to a meeting at school."

one girl wanted to know how to write numbers. after she attempted a 2 and i realized she really couldn't do it i showed her where in our classroom she could see numbers.

*Next time: have a small number line over by the cash register for easy access. Also, bring cover-up tape for interactive writing mistakes. and scotch tape so we can make our signs stand up.

dramatic play

i'm pretty sure the children in house keeping today acted out bribing the cops for food.
one said, "we're out of food! oh no! we'd better call the police!" so he did. on hanging up he said, "oh no! the police said we had to give them all our money or we go to jail."
the child then proceeded to stuff a bag full of play money and drop it off on the other side of the room where no one would see it. when he got back he said, "phew, no jail for us"

i suspect the by leading the charge is a legal citizen but his family is not. is he witnessing bribery by the police or is he only acting out something he say on tv?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

checking expectations

admittedly today i was exhausted by the time free choice rolled around. i wasn't a very energetic and exciting house-mate and i didn't sell the idea of writing enough at all.
however, yesterday i had stuck a basket of index cards and markers in the housekeeping center so they'd be at our finger tips. by the time i got to house keeping the kids already had them out and were using them to write "notes" to each other, grocery lists, etc. of course their play version of writing was print-like symbols. i tried to pull them into more conventional use of letters and words with interactive writing but to no avail. the few kiddos i was working with looked at me like i was crazy when i said, ok, what makes /p/? ok... so, for some kids interactive writing isn't going to happen (yet). i need to step back and be happy that they are using 'print' in a way that shows they understand the importance of during their play. i also have to be ok with shared writing. if i write the signs they are asking for it is ok. they can then read what i've written and use them even if they are not reading them themselves.
stepping back.
i will say that when it's time to get them to clean up saying, "wait the phone's ringing! oh my, it's your dad, he says it's time to clean up!" works really, really well. hehe.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the housekeeping project

i decided that i don't want to put all my thoughts about my housekeeping project in my other blog, so instead i'll use this space to reflect on my readings about guided play, my observations and interactions in the classroom on my teacher research project. it will be a place where i can make lists, ask questions, and just reflect.
we'll see how it goes...

day 2- introducing interactive writing

today i scrambled to get my writing paper and markers ready for the 4 children in the housekeeping center. i had no idea what would happen when i suggested, "wow, is this a restaurant, we need a sign!" frankly i expected them to ignore me. "yeah!" one girl said. "we'll call it the 'grown-ups only cafe'"
and so we did.
so we got the markers and paper and i introduced the small group to interactive writing as we made our sign. then it was back to playing restaurant, until one little boy announced, "now we're closed!!"
"really?" i asked. "maybe we need another sign..." (would they fall for it again?)
"yeah!" the boy exclaimed. "i need paper, scissors, and a string please". we got supplies we could find, and problem solved around the ones we couldn't. we completed a fast interactive writing sign (open on one side, closed on the other) and the kids proudly taped it up.
one little girl was interested in the paper but really wasn't ready for letters and signs. she made her own with print-like symbols and proudly taped it up as well. since it is play i went ahead and let her.
right as the bell to end free-choice rang i had one little girl started on making her own menu. we'll see if we can continue the excitement later.
lessons from today: tomorrow i need to bring the alphabet chart to help them remember what certain letters look like!