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!