This week's story was Mushroom In The Rain. Much like The Mitten by Jan Brett, the animals grow in size as they escape the weather. The new home grows as each larger animal is added. I had to be inventive as I did not have an expanding mushroom (who does???) but loved the creative use of our tunnels from the block centre.

I have been using this green bath mat as my storytelling mat which has worked wonderfully.

Later we retold the story using a blanket and the children took turns hiding under the mushroom!! These beautiful felt animals were made by Char Waters, a parent at our school. If you don't have felt animals you could use your rubber animals, pictures and of course substitute different animals such as an owl, deer or squirrel to mirror your local forest or seashore.

This morning we did something wonderful, we invited The Departure Bay Eco Preschool to join us for story time and play. It was tremendous much fun to watch the younger children play with the Kinders. This was one of those days that I really wanted to post photos of the children!!!

We taught them our new game of Cat and Mouse and the Kinders chased the little "mice" in and out of the circle and gently pawed their backs to catch them. One very tiny girl was laughing so hard as she ran that she did not realize that she had been tagged.  She kept running and the Kinder kept chasing. It was wonderful!! I was very impressed with how gentle the older students were and how they slowed their bodies down during the chase as they got close to their "mouse". This morning was another wonderful example of how much their physical self regulation has grown this year. 

Later in the forest the children played alongside each other. We discovered a bird's nest built inside a tree, two baby slugs, some fungus and a snail. Mrs. deGroot our teacher guest commented on how impressed she was with the gentleness that the children treated the mini creatures in the forest.l 

A final highlight was when Evan began to entertain us with his drumming a favourite tune using two sticks and a circle of rocks. 

I read recently that teaching five year olds is like keeping crickets in a basket. When you open the lid to add a few more crickets, the others jump out. It seems apparent then that all adults who spend time with young children play an important role in helping children develop those important skills to self monitor and control their emotional and cognitive behaviour. It is during the early years when children make tremendous leaps in cognitive and emotional self regulation. In Preschool and Kindergarten children learn to share resources, wait their turn, clean up when asked or listen actively. 

Of course there will be spontaneous growth in both cognitive and social emotional SR for all children, but I think that, especially for our vulnerable students, we must intentionally teach, support and scaffold children's growth in this important area. For example, when planning the flow of a Kindergarten day you can choose specific strategies such as quiet/busy blocks, predictable timetables, simple rules, active learning (play based with a emphasis on process learning) and intentionally build independence using the guided release model. 

I think that one of the primary reasons that our BC curriculum prioritizes play as the largest block of a Kindergarten child's day reflects the need for children to learn SR through playful learning i.e.: making a plan, compromising, reflecting, persisting and taking risks. As an outdoor educator I see every day that children benefit from their self directed nature learning and that SR is one of the largest growth areas for my students.

These are a few strategies that most kindergarten teachers use to build SR in their students and are recommended by Ida Rose Florez in her article Building Young Children's Self Regulation Through Everyday Experiences which I work hard to include in my kindergarten program:
  • model behavior and language
  • scaffold to help bridge the gap between where the child is and what needs to be learned next 
  • hints and cues-simple directions, gestures and touch
  • gradual release model -slowly removing support as the child's skills increases

The butterfly provocation at the nature table was such a huge success that I decided to create a second butterfly provocation at the playdoh centre.

At this centre I included small sticks, coloured stones, two tubes of butterflies, sticks, flowers and some hexagon glass tiles. The children noticed that there was no glitter in the playdoh so that was added during play.

Although the two butterflies centres were across the room from each other the children travelled back and forth to trade materials. Eventually the playdoh group moved their centre to the nature table so that they could all play together.
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