55 hours and counting

Every Family Childcare Provider will tell you we are not in this business to make money. Chances are money is the afterthought of the business. For most FCC providers, the idea is to do what we love, take care of our families, and then make money to support our families. This belief structure works well, because to make a profit beyond our salaries we would have to charge our enrolled families an outrageously high rate. We all get that…I get it, and I don’t mind.

Yet…it is a delicate balance based on being fully enrolled, reducing expenses, etc. Any slight change can hugely impact the businesses profit, and thusly your income. Though this has never happened to me before, I had a family unable to return for second semester. (She is a part-time professor who has a reduction in classes she is teaching.) Ergo this year is the first year I feel like I might need to take a second job, or find another source of income. Part of me wants to express a frustration for the realities of FCC. I am working an ungodly amount of hours, and still can’t meet my families needs! We did increase our family size with the birth of our son in 2011, so I imagine that is impactful as well…

Without further ado, here are my “second income” ideas:

  1. Take a part time job
  2. start an etsy shop
  3. donate plasma
  4. promote my amateur photography business

Lets explore these ideas in greater detail…..

#1: The part time job:

Though I am a strong candidate for this opportunity (I have an awesome resume); I do not want to take even more time away from my family. In addition…I am already working 55-60 hours a week. Do I really want to work 70?!

#2: Start an etsy shop:

Though I am a good artist, and creative…I do not have a “craft” to sell…could I find one? Absolutely. Do I want to??? what about the net profit? Is the time & expenses going to outweigh the efforts?? not so sure.

#3: Donate Plasma:

Honestly for my situation, this seems the easiest solution. What I go in….read a book or whatever and pump my arm for an hour 2x a week? make 200 a month?? this idea is not sounding so bad; what mom couldn’t use an hour to themselves to catch up on reading?

#4: promote my amateur photography business:

This would be my ideal choice: to have a photography business operate parallel to my daycare. Afterall this idea is my long term professional goal. Even though this is my goal, I am merely  happy exploring photography for personal growth right now. I do not feel as though I have a handle on my skills and cameras abilities well enough to charge someone an hourly rate for my work. I guess you could say the business is still in the infancy stage.

So why isn’t my first option to expand my daycare by enrolling another family??? I would love to…but my only available opening is for 1 day a week…who can do that? I did however post the opening just in case…

after reviewing my options: I am deciding to donate blood, and research an etsy shop. Who knows maybe I’ll find something I know I can do well to market.

I’ll keep you updated. Which brings me to my question..how many FCCP do you know who take on second sources of income?? Is this a common practice in the field?……

Advertisements

To sleep or not to sleep…. Would you break the law if a parent asked you to?

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Every blogger has a “vision” for the blog they create. I can tell you that this post you are about to read does not align with my vision. What this post does, is provide a real experience for family child care providers to relate to. It will show an insight into my center, my current issues. Unlike most other posts, this one will not have a “solution” to my problem…because at this point, I do not know what the answer is…Maybe you will!

I have five families enrolled this year, and as we know there is bound to be a “bad apple”. I know every provider has those families, and I am sure your experiences could “trump” mine…. Yet, one of the things that gives me the biggest headaches about my job (aside from the amazingly long hours 55+) is parents…and their obnoxious requests…and inability to meet you in the middle.

So here is my current parent scenario:….The Sleep Nazi’s

Family “Sleep Nazis” came in last week to drop off their 3yr old boy & infant. As mom is putting their coats away, diapers, etc. she says to me “Oh and by the way can you not give my 3yr old a nap anymore? I mean, I know you have that “rule” and everything but he just can’t take naps anymore.”

……….uh…..seriously lady?! That “rule” isn’t a rule, it’s a law. ALL licensed providers (group, family & otherwise) in my state are required to offer a 1/2 hour rest period for children under 5. If they fall asleep we are required to allow them to sleep…which is her problem because he falls asleep within the first 10  minutes of resting consistently every day.

So I say “I am not sure if there is any flexibility in that law (Am I the only one thinking that statement just sounds ridiculous?!)….let me check with the licensor and get back to you”. and she says “Well I can provide a Dr’s note excusing him from naps., it’s just that if he does nap here he wont fall asleep until 9 or 10 and sometimes he is awake longer than us. We can’t get him to sleep at night and then he is tired during the day and naps here. I’ll call my Dr. today and have it to you this evening.”

So….the real problem is: You can’t figure out how to get your kid to sleep and night, and now I, dutiful caregiver need to bend the LAW so you don’t have to deal with your kid in the evenings….And your pulling a dr into this??!! What off-their-rocker doctor is going to write a note saying “Sleep is detrimental to this 3 yrd old child, please excuse him from sleeping”.

Look, I get that some parents feel their child does not need as much sleep. I understand that kids can be extremely challenging in the evenings, and some kids don’t need as much sleep as others. But daycare mom did you ever think that it is not say…his “naps at daycare” that are the problem?? Maybe it is oh I don’t know: 1. that you just moved to a new city & home 2. that you have an infant taking your attention away from him 3. that school just started a month ago and he is missing you in the evenings 4. that his evening routines need to be adjusted???? Is he getting his bath, snack, books, cuddle bed?

I honestly can’t stand how often parents want daycare providers to do things, that they are not willing to explore at home. (Toilet training anyone?!?) I am not opposed to working on assisting with issues (we’ve already began “waking” this child up after an hour of sleeping at the beginning of September)….but I am opposed to I don’t know BREAKING THE LAW….for the sake of your sanity.

[FYI I spoke to my licensor and there is absolutely no exemptions from the 1/2 hour rest, including the usage of a Dr’s note]. If I break the law, what does that say about  me as a provider??? That I am “willing to be flexible”? NO! it says that I am willing to be negligent. And part of what drew this family to hire me in the first place is my level of professionalism. How can I call myself a professional in one breath, and go along with this mess in another??? I can’t.

Even if this child’s body truly only needs say 10 hours of sleep…..Which is what they are implying…and could very well be the case….I am still obligated by the law to uphold a 1/2 hour rest. Can I let him get up if still is awake?? absolutely that is what I do already (that is also the law in my state). However, as I stated before he falls asleep immediately.

So now..I have to look like an awful provider who is uncompromising on the issue. Yes I can blame the “state” and the “law” and explain that every licensed childcare provider has to follow these rules….but you and I both know that response will not satisfy them. They will still view me as being to blame.

Is it worth it?? Upholding the rule vs. honoring their request??? I know that some providers would just honor the request and take the risk of getting caught. To me, your reputation in this business is all you have…maybe this family would say to others “we love our provider she is so flexible, we were having issues with our kid sleeping and she didn’t force him to rest at nap blah blah blah”….but then another parent who understands the rules will ask themselves “why did this provider break the law for that family? what kind of provider would do that”

You tell me what the better option is….I’ve chosen to be licensed for many reasons, and will honor my obligations as a regulated provider…for better or worse.

Can you incorporate Workboxes in daycare? I say yes!

Tags

, , , ,

When it comes to operating my daycare, I spend a lot of time postulating on existing issues. I try to look at the issue and observe it from all angles. That is what I’ve been doing in the past 24 hrs since yesterday’s post. [issues supporting babies needs while developing a preschool curriculum.]  I want to give the babies all the attention they deserve, but I do not want to comprimise on the preschool curriculum. I found an idea on Pinterest, and I think I am going to run with it. A trend right now in Homeschooling environments is to incorporate a “work box” curriculum (Designed by Sue Patrick.)

Although a Licensed Family Daycare is not a “homeschool”, in many aspects both programs face the same issues, namely: How to mee the educational needs of varied age children. Since I am not comfortable with pushing the curriculum to the wayside as I gain the babies confidence in the first few weeks, I am going to incorporate a daycare “friendly” version of the workbox system.

Isn’t this just so pretty in all it’s potential??

I am going to utilize the workboxes during times of the day that are normally scheduled “teaching times” for the preschoolers. I will use them when I am detained with the little babies. (you know..feeding, changing, loving, etc) I feel like the independent nature of the workbox will provide strucutred learning during my regularily scheduled “teaching times”, and still allow me to have control over the activity (by preparing what goes into each box, and observing the children’s progress).

I feel that if my daycare kiddos are allowed too long of duration in their free play; without some form of guidance from me, the play has a tendency to become “destructive” in nature. (the kids can’t find direction so they make poorer choices, conflicts occur more frequently with friends, “run” around alot, etc.). I view Work boxes as becoming a viable answer. I can intercept & even avoid the destructive tendancy of elongated free play by offering workboxes after a duration of time.

The best part about it for me, is I do not have to have it scheduled, when an issue arises that will take my attention away from the group for a time…I can direct the children to work on their workboxes! (Even if I only need them to be busy for 5-10 minutes!) So, essentially, this is not the traditional operation of the program…but modified for our family daycare specific needs. (Which, is obviously the appeal to the whole thing).

Family Providers out there starting to see the appeal??? So what to put in them???

I am going to try to cover all the basic “topics” I would cover in my lesson plan: Science, Math, Art, Language, Fine Motor, Sensory, Music, Spanish. Again, with the intent being to supplement my curriculum: I will designate a box to each subject, and change the contents as needed. (In traditional workboxes they are changed each day).

I am not going to change them daily because I do not forsee myself ulitilizing them every day, and each child will not get to all the contents in one day. I am only going to have one system, and all the children will take turns with the boxes, rather than having a box system for every individual child.  To keep track of each individual child’s progress, I will give them a  name card, with the numbers on them.

Sort of like this one:)

Instead of placing number circles on the line when completed, which is the traditional format, I am creating an option that I believe will be more pre-school friendly. (They will place an “All Done” circle over the number they completed, leaving only the numbers of workboxes left visable to them. )

Sounds like fun?? Ready, set “work box!”

I would love to hear your thoughts on how to implement this in a classroom setting, and/or suggestions for my little group!

First day & sheer chaos….Why do I do this again?

So My school year does not officially start until next week. However this year I enrolled a professor’s family, and they are due in session this week. Therefore, the prof family started today. Let me just say….It is an eye opener for all the things I need to “prepare” for before school begins. You know..I talk a big game, and say things like “behavior plans” and “job charts” and “classroom arrangement” etc. But when it comes down to it…all those things do not mean anything if you have a child who is having problems adjusting. I forget how hard the first few days are on babies. I don’t know if it is just me, or if every family chilcare provider has issues with babies in the beginning. It is almost like I try to work their needs around the preschoolers. Well…Duh there are 6 preschoolers to the 1 baby. But…it is unfair to think in those terms. Preschoolers are adaptable. They will survive for a week or 2 with very little curriculum implemented. (It will drive me crazy yes, but they will still be happy and get an education) Babies will not flourish in a school if they do not feel like their needs are met when they have them…The problem is how the heck do I do it?!?! How do I support not one but 2 babies (my own & the prof’s baby)….and meet the needs of 4 preschoolers….I am at a loss. I tell myself every year this is the last year I enroll babies. Not because I don’t love them, or do not provide good care to them..but because legistically, I can never quite figure out a good routine…you know..one that works for everyone…Here is what happened today: and yes, this is the very first day…

  1. Preschool Free Choice, (7:30-8:00)
  2. 8:15 Baby Arrives
  3. 8:30 Preschool Breakfast, Baby breakfast (wasn’t quite sure of me yet)
  4. 8:45 Baby is tired, change diaper, move to nap
  5. 9:00 baby is supposed to be sleeping, but unsure of self so is upset
  6. Kids finish break, move into free play
  7. 9:15-9:45 baby sleeps (At home sleeps 9-11!!!) I am cleaning breakfast
  8. 9:30 Group Activity (painting)
  9. 10:00 outside time for preschoolers & awake babies
  10. 10:40 come inside
  11. 10:45 get baby bottle and OMG I forgot to turn on the warmer baby is NOT happy to wait (Preschoolers play some more)
  12. 11:00 Try to feed TWO BABIES at the same time…what a mess…lots of crying.
  13. 11:20 move group up to make lunch (preschoolers play small motor, babies…Play on floor)
  14. 11:25 babies cry out of hunger
  15. 11:30 Get all kiddos to table, feed babies (At least this part went well!!!!!)
  16. 11:45 Start Cleaning, babies play New baby begins to show signs of being tired.
  17. 11:45-12:15…kids play??? (This time is super hard for me..the preschoolers need structure but I have to pick up the lunch…they end up playing inappropriately with the toys…not sure what to do)
  18. 12:15 Babies are both tired, everyone needs diaper changes, everyone is crying. (Me too..jk. almost though!!!)
  19. 12:30 new baby cant stay awake any longer, put down for nap, then other baby
  20. 12:45 Story time!!! ALMOST THERE!!!!!
  21. 1:00, try to get new older brother to nap…he is not having any of it.
  22. 1:30 New baby wakes up…COME ON!!! you can’t tell me a baby who normally sleeps from 9-11, and then 1-3 is not tired?!?! he gets 4 hrs a day, and now has only had 1.5 hours??? the poor little kid!!! He is definately having a hard time adjusting…

So now..what do I do??? Try to stick with his schedule via mom…or change it up because he is telling me he needs somehting different??? (I will obviously do what he needs at this point…which is REASSURANCE). I am hopefully that things will fall into place…but I tell you….The beginning of the year in family child care is horrendeous. anyone else have a better schedule/routine??? ideas??? Could use them!!!

A follow up will come soon

 

 

classroom managment tools

Tags

, , ,

Classroom management to me, is a biological organism: it is always evolving, and certainly never stagnant. I am relatively new to the field, and my first experiences in teaching was in a group daycare center. The center I worked in required all classroom’s 3yrs and older to implement the “stoplight” system….familiar with it? I think we all are!

Although there are a definite amount of positives to this system :providing visual cues to children that are easy to comprehend, daily reminders to families, student initiated plan; There additionally seems to be many failures. In reality I think for many teachers this system just doesn’t cut it. I am in that category: I’ve tried it…had some success stories (especially with 3yr olds), but mostly failures with it. I think part of the problem is I don’t truly believe in it. And after all, if I don’t believe in a management system how will a child?

My “beef” with the stoplight, is its lack of flexibility. Certainly you can implement your own take on the system (when I had it, children were given 2 warnings before moving to a different color, unless the behavior was unsafe), but I still feel lack it lacks something: RECOGNIZING POSITIVE BEHAVIORS. I mean just look at the thing?? One color for “good/green” choices, but tw o colors for “red/undesirable?” It is understood that if you want to change behaviors you provide focus & attention to the positive, desired behavior. How does this system do that?? It really doesn’t. Sure, children need visual cues and reminders when they are making undesirable choices…but they should also be recognized for the positive efforts they make with visual cues as well.

The Turtles Class Goal System

Many teachers implement a classroom reward system that honors positive choices and mine is no different. Last year I provided a “Character Counts” incentive program to my students. For every positive character action they did that I witnessed, they received a color-coded link, with their name and action written on the link, and each color representing one our Five pillars of character:

  1. Leadership
  2.  Manners
  3. Classroom Pride
  4.  Kindness
  5. Listening Skills

Our pillars of character were chosen for a mixed age group, based on how attainable they could be for everyone. (You could easily modify these for qualities you want to focus on in your own classroom)When our “character chain” was a certain length, the class got a reward. (parties mostly), and the child’s links went home with a certificate. [Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of this system in action. What I can say for the system…is that it worked out excellently! It definitely created a strong “teamwork” philosophy, and many children were excited to be “caught” in action.

This system, though rewarding group efforts still does not exactly teach individual children how to manage themselves positively. So I am in search of something between the two….

Individual student Effort Recognition

Here is a fantastic system from The Inspired Apple that I am leaning towards implementing somehow, if not replicating exactly:

I love the idea that this system is visual still, yet allows children to have 4 positive behavior recognition steps, and 3 negative. Children still start the day on “green”, but what a neat way to demonstrate visually how children’s days can vary: some days they can be “ROCK STARS!”, and yet if they don’t achieve the top-level, there are still 2 other levels of good behavior recognition. Additionally the negative behaviors can be Levelled, you can giving warnings, (“singing the blues”),  address the behavior verbally (“speaking with management (teacher)”), to taking action “tour dates cancelled (Taking breaks, talking to parents etc).” And did anyone notice that the “ROCKSTAR” stats is…..RED?!?! OH the twist of fates…Throw the stoplight out the window, cause this guitar ROCKS!

I think that allowing this type of flexibility in recognition of behaviors also takes the pressure off of children to perform on “green”. In my experiences I found, that many of my daycare families become OBSESSED with whether or not their child had a “green” day. I dread telling the parents if the child went to yellow or red for minor issues. (If it is a serious scenario I don’t bat an eye when discussing the behavior.) It’s with the mild cases that the stoplight system bothers me….Somedays I feel like in reality it is not the parents business to know if the child moved down the stoplight. Afterall, it is a classroom management system, intended to help teach children appropriate classroom behaviors during school hours, and is not necessarily practical beyond school hours. A child can have a fantastic day, go to red for a behavior, and that is all the parent will hear.

I am uncertain if I will utilize the same colors…maybe I might try to incorporate the pillars of character colors as well. I may also try to match my color system to that of the school district I am in. (The 4k & 5k in my area uses purple as their “excellent behavior” color). But what a neat twist on an old idea.

What types of class management tools are you using this year???

Streamlining brain chaos

Tags

, ,

My focus today is on mental organization. I needed a break from all the physical “school prep” I’ve been doing this summer & mental organization seems like an appropriate side track, as my brain well…to make a mess short: gets side tracked & deviates all the time.  One common distraction for my brain is the internet. Unfortunately what happens to me when I use the internet can only be compared to a brain aneurism; my side track & deviation tendencies take over & my brain works directly through my fingertips. I may start out wanting to research “classroom management”, but instead walk away from the computer with “Blueberry scone recipes” printed (YUM!!!)…..

Like any modern-day citizen, the internet is a necessary evil. However, perhaps unlike most, I fondly refer to the internet as my “colleague”. (you know..cause FCCP don’t have collegues…haha.) The internet becomes my colleague in a sense as it is my main source of connecting to the ECE field, teaching blogs, resource websites, associations, etc. So how do I stop myself from “chatting” too much with my colleague & avoid the oh so many multi-tasking gone wrong internet scenarios??

 Here is one way: Today I stumbled across this fantastic concept Pinterest, a website created just like it sounds; to virtually “pin” all of your ideas to one location. AMAZING! its like…an easier version of OneNote.  Check out what I started so far, for some classroom inspiration:

http://pinterest.com/porpheria/classroom-design/

I am hoping that utilizing pinterest will help me to streamline my internet searches, my thoughts, and have practical uses: classroom planning..and maybe a little home decor too! And maybe just maybe, I will walk away from an internet search with “classroom management” tips, instead of blueberry scones!

Doesn’t that look delicious?!

Since organization seems to be my theme of the day I will follow the tangent: and discuss a new list format. I’ve always relied on notebooks as my “to do” list..I like them because, well it is easy to find a notebook lying around…and I can keep my list for long periods of time. However I run into a few problems with this format:

  • The list is ongoing, and not a “day by day” format. (For me this means I don’t hold myself accountable as much)
  • I have many “to do’s” (home, daycare, self, kids), and so I misplace each “to do” list.
  • I end up making more than one of the same to dos.

  but I think I am going to give a new one a shot..it is a list template that will keep all my “to dos” (family, work, personal life) in one…I designed a template for family child care providers in mind…here it is in PDF form

Daily Agenda

Feel free to try it out. I just started utilizing the new template and so far so good. I am keeping the old daily agendas to refer back to. (uncompleted tasks, notes, etc.)I don’t know why, but I have a really hard time throwing out to-do lists…. I think I need to see the check marks of success to feel accomplished. We will see if it stands up to the chaos of my brain. Here is an old one from this week in all it’s glory:

I like the sectioned concept…allowing for a variety of “to dos” to be seen all at once. Okay enough mental, and back to the physical to do list for next school year..

Like the Beatles once said; “[its a] Long and winding road”

This year marks my 3rd year as a Licensed Family Childcare Provider, and my 4th year teaching in Early Childhood. My path into the field of ECE was not so straight forward. I did not “know” that I wanted to work with kids…I did not “know” that I wanted to be a teacher. Many teachers in the ECE field know from the onset, and therefore take a direct path: volunteer, perhaps work in ECE, go to school & get degrees, then find a community of ECE professionals & a center they enjoy.

Because I didn’t know what I wanted as a career, mine was the “road less traveled.” I understood one thing only: I wanted to help people. So armed with this knowledge my path took me into college for bachelors of psychology (human development) & art. With degree in hand you can follow my twisty hike thru, art therapy, supporting children & adult individuals with disabilities, & gerontology research. Yes, I jumped around a lot…not from job to job so to speak, as my shortest term of employment was 3 years. But from focus to focus…why??? I think because I hadn’t found my “niche” in life yet. In my case, my “niche” found me: in the form of a 9lb, (yes 9lbs) bald as a cue ball, baby girl.

From the moment my daughter was born my life changed. I know every mom says and believes those words, and for every women who spoke them, its true. But my daughter’s birth did not only change me from “Woman” to “Mother”; her birth guided me from “helping others” to “teaching others”. As I watched my daughter grow I became enamoured by every stage of her development. I simply could not read enough books on infant & toddler growth. I anxiously awaited every new stage armed with all sorts of fun activities to try…Before long I found myself engrossed in early childhood development: absorbing like a sponge, and loving every moment.

What was I to do with this new-found passion? Try a different career path: ECE. Thus birthed my first year teaching: as a lead teacher in a 3 yr old preschool classroom. I can only imagine what my boss who hired me was thinking:…..I had absolutely no experience at all, no formal education other than the basic course requirement done as a self-study. Truly, what a great risk she took in believing in me. And yet, I am so thankful she did.

Today, 4 years later, I still feel like a “newbie”. I think a part of me always will. If I were to pinpoint why I feel like a newbie, I would say it is because I did not have a formal education in the ECE field, so I am constantly trying to provide myself one. I “educate” myself through new formal publications, support groups, ECE affiliations, books, blogs, colleagues. I am always excited when I learn something new like the “project approach” or the first time I read about Reggio Emilia, or when I read my first design book and was envisioning the perfect preschool environment layout. Anything new that I can incorporate in my classroom I try with a passion reminiscent of a childs’ first experience with a new task.

Reminiscent of my winding, twisting career road, my “education” in ECE continues. I will continue to have my exciting “firsts” moments, and try [and sometimes fail] at new approaches. I will keep moving forward, and backwards, and on one tangent, then another. This is how I experience my life. This is how I learn. It’s how I love, and live. And hopefully, I will grow from “newbie” to a “master” of the ECE field… but not to “masterful”, as I don’t ever want to give up the honeymoon phase of developing as a professional.  

The purpose of this back story post is sort of like a “disclaimer”…for some of you, the resources I offer may be old hat. For others, this may be your first time experience the information and ideas. Ultimately, it never hurts to use a fresh pair of eyes in your teaching approach. I try to do that on a regular basis in my room, and so it will naturally be reflected in my blogging style. Perhaps I am naive in thinking that a lack of formal education changes the way a teacher approaches their chosen profession, but in my gut I do believe this: it can create a more explorative trial & error technique. So who knows…you may come across some “road less traveled” ideas to take home with you. After all, we ECE professionals love those “make & takes!”

Making a mess before vacation

 I packed up my kiddos and away we went for a long needed vacation. Ten days of fishing, swimming, boating, campfires, cards and reading was AMAZING. I knew my kids were enjoy every moment when my daughter woke up about 4 days into our stay and stated, “Mommy are we STILL at the cottage? I love it here!”. Sometimes living simply comes so easy, like on a holiday. Most of the time, however, it takes work.

Just before my family went on vacation, I worked at a personal goal: how to create an entire day of simple living practices in the daycare setting.  This seems easy enough, given that majority of teacher’s practice simple living techniques in the classroom on a regular basis. (re-using materials, found objects, recycling projects, child centered approaches) However  my goal was to create a non-themed experience; or better said; to use ideas the kids can bring home & replicate with their families. What I came up with was fondly referred to by the turtles as “messy day”.

Daycare Tip #1: In lieu of the days events to come, I forwarned the families enrolled about “messy day”. I did this not only to ensure they send extra clothing, but so they could also discuss the events with their kiddos. Sometimes kids can be hesitant about becoming involved in a messy activity. If a parent has a positive conversation about it, this can encourage the child to be more exploratory.

First activity of “messy day”: Pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes are not messy in and of themselves, but add toddlers & preschoolers to the “mix” [pun intended] and it becomes a big old fun mess.

 

Second activity of “messy day”: Water Play. What better way to “clean” off pancake batter & sticky hands then a big tub of warm soapy water, towels, and kitchen utensils. [FYI…water play for me is one of my number one re-direct activities…if I am having a rough day with my daycare kiddos (or my own children) I break out the water and go to town..it seems to create an instant calm focus for kids, and expels some of the more intense energy].

Third activity of “messy day”: Body Painting. I really wanted the kids to get fully into the painting process, and experience the paint with their entire bodies focusing on texture of the paint and the movements that they can create. So naturally, this was an outdoor activity. We used larger paper (Originally I intended to use butcher paper, but ran out), and placed it on our driveway. Each child was given their own plate of paint to work with two color palate, and plenty of room! At first I intended for the experience to be a clothes-on scenario. But I soon realized this inhibited some of the more tactile sensitive kids, so we switched it to a “swimsuit” activity. (all except my daughter who’s suit was packed for vacation) Once the switch occurred, well…a picture is a thousand words.

Fourth activity of “messy day”: Swimming Obviously not a messy activity, but after all the mornings messes, it was a nice shift into cleanliness, and really fun! It also calmed the kiddos and happened right before lunch & nap time, ergo a great transition activity…who knew?

Mother lets daughter cut own hair?! Oh NO SHE DIDNT!! …actually yes I did….

So I wanted to make this post as a simple activity for preschoolers. My daughter had her first hair-cut a few months ago. (I know she is 4, but she was bald until    1 1/2 what was I to do?!)

Because she recently got her first haircut, she is very interested in hair-cutting. In fact she even attempted to “cut” her own hair, with her art scissors. [luckily for me, she only cut a tiny piece that blends in with the rest of her hair]. This prompted me to realize she is very interested in this process.

Just last week I cut my husband’s hair & my daughter’s bangs. My little bumblebee was so excited she could hardly contain herself as she watched my husband get his hair cut. She had her broom out and was sweeping any tiny piece that fell to the ground. She was jumping & giggling the entire time. I could see she was itching to do some cutting herself (She grabbed her scissors a couple of times). Instead of ignoring her urges, and allowing a hair cut debacle to occur again, I decided to nurture her desires.

To begin I created “hair” out of paper, by providing length and bangs (at her request). Then I taped it to a chair so it would be at a good height for her to work with.

She then set to work, cutting and styling paper hair. When one style was finished, I gave her an additional “head of hair” to try again. Soon she was requesting “curly hair” and “long hair” and “daddy’s hair”, etc. The Bumble-bee hair salon was open for business and booked solid!

I think this is a great fine motor activity for little ones, and a fantastic way to re-direct those hair cutting urges! My daughter was very focused, and creative with her “style” approaches. This would be a fantastic skill-building activity for 2-yr olds & up, especially if your classroom has a “Hair salon” in the dramatic play area!

Now all I need to do is create a supply of paper hair for when I am not present to save her locks!

Book organization

I think for teachers summer can be synonymous with “organization”. Summer epitomizes the time to re-evaluate your teaching approach, your classroom, and your organization techniques. I have a long “to-do” list going [which I will share at a later date]. The current task I am tackling is my book organization.

Being a family childcare provider, my library collection is VAST. I am not providing books to just one age group, I have a mixed age group: Babies to kindergarten. So I have board books, leveled readers, paper back books, hardcover books. In addition, I have resource books for parents, teaching resources, thematic unit books, and my family’s personal books that get thrown in the mix. (Oh, and in case I forget to mention this…I am a HARDCORE book lover…It is a passion. I love the way the pages crinkle, the noise they make. I love when you open a new book and it’s spine cracks. I am even obsessed with the way books smell. I can not get enough of their smell!!!!…(don’t ask I think I am a bit orally fixated yet) Anyways, and it goes without saying I will never get a Kindle because they don’t smell!.

 Needless to say, my home is over taken by books. SOOO time to organize. Here is how I am developing my system, and for all you FCCPs, or families with varying ages, I hope you can benefit from this as well.

  1. Sort your books into categories. I know that seems to be an obvious one, but as a FCCP my books have a tendency to get “mixed” between home & school, and even mixed between my kid’s bedrooms. (my daughter is notorious for taking school books into her room!). Therefore I’ve categorized my school books (you can read about that in #4), and my family’s books. My family’s books are separated & labeled by kids bedrooms. In each bedroom the books are grouped on the shelves by subject matter, and the shelves are labelled. A bit excessive, but necessary in a house over-run by book collections!
  2. Give each book category a home. If your students understand that books labeled “preschool” belong in the book corner, or books labeled “infants” go in the baby area, then soon you will find that books make their way back to where they came from after travelling with your little readers.
  3. Separate books you own from books you borrow. Especially when you teach little ones who may not know where the book comes from, books can get misplaced easily! If you have a specific “Library book” station in your school & home, this alleviates some of the many fines that can incur.
  4. Label your books!!! Book labelling allows you to be in control of your collection. If a book becomes “lost” you can refer to the label to find its home. For books that children use, a picture label can help them to be a part of the process.

All the books I have are being divided and labeled, by the following categories.

  • Infant & Toddler Library [Primarily board books and other applicable books that are kept in the baby & toddler area],
  • Preschool Library [These are the books that live in the “library corner” of the preschool area],
  • Resource Library [books on parenting, children, green living, etc for parents to borrow & read],
  • Classroom Library[this category encompasses any books I as a teacher use in my classroom, i.e. strategy books, classroom management, curriculum resource books, etc.].
  • Thematic Unit Library [This library houses all the books I use for my yearly themes.] A great labelling system I found for thematic books can be downloaded from Ms. Meacham’s blog: Classroom Snapshots.
  • Lending Library The lending library has an entirely separate system for organization. I utilize this as a part of our class reading program. Therefore each book has a lending library label, as well as a book card to keep track of when it leaves the school to go home with a student. The lending library is located near the entrance of the school convenient for family’s to browse during drop-off & pick-ups.
  • Family Library as is the nature of FCC, “family owned” books do get mixed with “school books.” The description of this system is in #1.

 

To date, this is my system. It works well for me, and the daycare kiddos. I’ve thought of creating a database to keep track of all the books I own, like on Library Thing, but this will have to wait until I have more free time!!! I hope you are inspired to tackle your own collections, and I would love to hear more about your own organization tactics.