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Building Buildings

  • 21 November 2015

Since September many of the children in this year's Crown Preschool 3/4s class have shown a fascination with building things. The blocks, magnets, and lego bricks have been their toys of choice and every day finds them on the carpet and at tables, constructing and imagining. As time has gone on their strong interest has drawn the other children in as well until it became obvious that we needed to explore this area in more depth!

Our aim was to extend the children's explorations beyond what they were already doing, giving them the opportunity to create new understanding. To do this we began introducing different resources, offering new experiences, planning adult-led activities and observing and documenting the children's play, supporting their co-creation of knowledge through their play. We have begun to sit for a morning circle time together since the children are fresher and can focus more easily on guided activities at this time of day. We have talked, collaborated and discovered together, documenting what the children already know about buildings, experimenting with our large cardboard blocks to learn about stability, looking at some famous buildings from around the world, and voting on what type of building we would choose to build ourselves! The winner was a garage, followed closely by a treehouse. We have looked at real blueprints and drawn garages together, and the children have coped well with their beloved magna-tiles disappearing from the class for a while in favour of some new, open-ended wooden building toys! Several times we have walked up to the huge construction site on Dunbar to watch the progress there. The enormous cranes and concrete-pouring vehicles have been of particular interest. The children also enjoyed spotting various shapes around the site and seeing as the foundations are built and construction begins to move upwards.

It has been fascinating to watch as all the new information and experiences are incorporated into the children's play. The wonderful thing about this topic is that it encourages so much collaborative play. The resources must be shared to allow everyone to join in and the projects themselves can accomodate many children's ideas as they change and grow. Imagination is central to this type of play, especially since a focus of the children's interest seems to be the purpose of their structures: what is each building, room and structure for? Is it a house? A swimming pool? A zoo? Where is that road going to lead and who lives in this jungle hut? It has been a perfect way for the younger children to begin moving towards more cooperative play, beginning by watching the older ones and copying what they do. Throughout it all we have talked about shapes and numbers, learned new words and discovered more about the world around us. This has been, and continues to be, an intriguing topic for our class. Alongside our seasonal activities we will keep exploring building and buildings as we lead up to the Christmas break. Stay tuned for more fun activities as well as a visit by a UBC Professor of Architecture!

 

Buildings evolve along with the story

 

 

 

​Thinking about structure and stability

 

    

 

​Bringing experiences back into the classroom - concrete pouring at the construction site and in the sand table

  

 

Collaboration and creativity

 

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October Roundup

  • 21 November 2015

What a busy month we had in October. As well as the many sights, sounds and smells of autumn we had two exciting celebrations which gave us plenty of material for exploration and play! Here is a little look at what we got up to:

The month began with lots of outdoor play, looking at the beautiful colours, playing in the falling leaves and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. As Thanksgiving came closer we made cranberry sauce with Miss Barb and then enjoyed a long weekend with family and friends.

As soon as we returned from the holiday we headed out to the beautiful UBC Botanical Gardens for our first field trip! We met at the gardens with parents, grandparents and nannies joining us for the fun. Unfortunately our friend Sam the Squirrel didn't turn up as he'd promised so we set off into the gardens to try and find some of his favourite things, hoping he may be hiding there.

    

    

We never did find Sam but in our search we saw many beautiful and interesting trees and plants, long and echoey tunnels, quite a few bird nesting boxes, and some tracks in the ground which we thought might be a squirrel road! We had a fantastic run around in the sunshine followed by a little yoga and story time. It was an excellent morning.

 

More excitement was still to come, however! Next on the agenda: Halloween. Pumpkins, bats, haunted houses and ghosts inspired us for the rest of the month. Highlights included pumpkin carving with dads and spending a morning as "pumpkinologists", learning as much as possible about pumpkins by weighing, measuring, cutting open and counting seeds, and finding out if pumpkins sink or float. Topping it all off was our Halloween party. The children came dressed in costume and put on a Halloween parade for parents and carers. We then had a wonderful morning making potions, trying out all kinds of sensory play, decorating our haunted house and eating Halloween-themed snacks.

     

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As the month came to a close we started experiencing some bad weather days, so instead of heading outdoors we used the gym for our gross motor time. The children enjoyed riding the many trikes and vehicles available and found inventive ways to use hula hoops! Indoors or out our Crown preschool children love being active and imaginative.

 

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How does play-based learning happen?

  • 22 October 2015

In today's blog post, an eloquent and useful description of how play-based learning happens. It is natural to wonder, and sometimes worry, about how our children will reach those significant milestones of reading and using numbers. This blog post by the incredibly inspiring Teacher Tom from Seattle goes a long way to explaning how those processes are viewed through a play-based lens. Enjoy!

http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.ca/2015/08/i-just-need-to-play-with-them.html

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Fall explorations and an emerging interest

  • 12 October 2015

October seems to have brought a sudden change with fall apparently arriving overnight, or is it just us who feel like summer was only yesterday!? This is of course a wonderful time of year to get outside and observe nature, and our Crown preschool explorers have been enthusiastic about venturing out every day to see what is happening in our world. Trips to the park and the playground at ICS, which is bordered by big, beautiful maple trees, have given plenty of opportunities for stomping in the leaves, finding interesting ones to bring back to preschool, holding smooth, solid chestnuts and being inspired by all the colours of fall.

Of course this time of year also brings Thanksgiving and in the classroom children made cranberry sauce to enjoy at home with their holiday meals. They measured, poured, and stirred and learned that Miss Barb's secret ingredient was orange zest! Careful grating yielded a beautifully-scented plateful of zest which went into the pot. The children were proud to be given the opportunity to use all of this proper kitchen equipment, and were interested in the smells, the look and the feel of all the different ingredients. Once it was ready each child got to take home a jar of the sauce to share with their families.

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As well as being busy with these seasonal activities the children's play has been revealing a strong interest: construction. Since the start of the year the open-ended construction resources have been extremely popular, and the explorations are becoming more focused on buildings that have specific purposes. The talk as they are built and re-built is about what they are for: houses with patios and garages, zoo buildings for housing animals and zoo vehicles, tracks elevated in the sky and, recently, whole towns. The theme has extended beyond the blocks and lego as well with drawings of tall condos and conversations about underground parking lots! We will be supporting this interest more fully in the coming weeks with different resources and activities, but we began with a walk up to the huge construction site on Dunbar. We observed how deep the excavation is and wondered why the crane has a criss-cross pattern. We spotted all the shapes we could see and watched concrete being poured out of the huge pump. As well as the purpose of various buildings there seems to be fascination with their actual structure, wondering about how to make buildings stable and the steps involved as they go up.

          

This is such a rich area for exploration and we are excited to see which elements capture the children's imaginations, as we reflect on how to support and extend their thinking.

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