Friday, November 18, 2016

November 21, 2016

Nothing comes easy when you are teaching or raising a child.  There are struggles in every step of the process…from fine motor control, to behavior management.   My parents would always say “raising and teaching children is an art form.”  There are so many ways to teach a child any one skill.  Many times, you must try several different approaches to help a child learn. Today I have for you some must know tips for every classroom or home that is helping a little person learn.  Perhaps you have seen some of these ideas – these are the most popular things people searched for.  I hope they help you help the little people in your life.

Need help teaching a child to hold a scissors, try our friendly shark trick!

As a teacher, I have helped a lot of children learn how to hold a scissors correctly. It can be difficult to teach a child how to hold scissors correctly but I found a fun and easy method that children love.   It is important to teach correct use of scissors because you want the child to feel comfortable while cutting and secondly, if the child holds the scissors correctly it makes using the scissors and cutting well so much easier!

To teach the correct way to hold a scissors, you can have the child pretend his/her dominant (writing/cutting) hand is a shark.  Show the child how the dorsal fin of the shark (your thumb) is pointed upward and swimming around…  Fins up and swimming!  Now that the fins are up/the thumb is pointing upward, you are ready for the friendly shark!

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016

3 Important Skills Needed for Reading
1- rhyming words
2- syllables
3- phonemes

Now, what exactly do we want kids to do with rhyming words, syllables and phonemes. What are phonemes, anyway?

 Rhyming Words
Rhyming words are words like rat and cat or even head and red. Rhyming words are words that have ending sounds that are similar. While there is such a thing as imperfect rhymes {words like home and bone, found in the song, “This Old Man”}, I like to focus more on the rhymes that end the same, like house/mouse or dog/frog. Rhyming words are not always spelled the same; they just need to sound the same. Here are some things we want kids to be able to do with rhyming words:

Recognize when words rhyme and when they don’t
Produce rhyming words: You ask: “What rhymes with cat?” and they answer, “Rat.”
Playing with rhyming words, especially for young children, can be as simple as integrating easy songs into your routine. We’ll explore more ideas!

Syllables are the “big parts” in words. For example, words like cat or fish only have one syllable. Words like happy and table have two syllables. For those who find it tricky to hear syllables, I tell people to put their hand under their chin and count the times they “drop” their child when they say a word. Generally, this is the number of syllables the word has. Here are some things we want kids to be able to do with syllables:

This is where I usually lose people. Phonemes. It sounds so teacher-y, doesn’t it? So, what exactly are phonemes? Phonemes are the individual sounds in words. For example, the simple word cat has three phonemes {or individual sounds} /k/ – /a/ – /t/.
What makes this one a little tricky, especially for adults trying to teach phonemes, is that some words have more letters than phonemes. Take the word light, for example. While it has 5 letters, it only has three phonemes {or individual sounds}: /l/ – /i/ – /t/. We will explore more about phonemes on days 4-6 of this series. But for now, let’s see what we want kids to be able to do with phonemes:

Isolate phonemes, such as “What’s the first sound you hear in the word bear?”
Blend phonemes. For example, “I’m going to say the sounds in a word very slowly. See if you can listen to what I say and tell me what word it is: /m/-/ee/.” {me}
Separate phonemes. For example, “How many little sounds do you hear in the word bug?” {3}
Counting phonemes is a more advanced skill that typically comes AFTER kids have mastered rhyming and syllables. Many children will also be reading easy texts, like those found in Reading the Alphabet, before they have mastered counting and manipulating phonemes.

Phonological Awareness
Phonological Awareness is a broad term. It refers to the awareness of sounds in a word. A child with phonological awareness can identify and create rhyming words, count syllables in a word, or (on the smallest level) identify and manipulate individual sounds in a word.

Phonemic Awareness fits under the umbrella of phonological awareness. It is an awareness of the smallest units of sound (or phonemes) in a word. For example, a child with phonemic awareness could hear that the word bat has the sounds:  /b/  /a/  /t/. A child with keen phonemic awareness could change /h/ at the beginning of hat to /c/ and know that now, it’s the word cat.

Phonological and phonemic awareness activities are things your child can do with their eyes shut.  They only need their ear as they identify and manipulate sounds within words. The visual letters are not needed. {By the way, when you add letters to the mix, it’s now called “phonics”.}

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 7, 2016

Science in Early Childhood Classrooms

The need to focus on science in the early childhood classroom is based on several factors currently affecting the early childhood community. First and foremost is the growing understanding and recognition of the power of children’s early thinking and learning. Research and practice suggest that children have a much greater potential to learn than previously thought, and therefore early childhood settings should provide richer and more challenging environments for learning. In these environments, guided by skillful teachers, children’s experiences in the early years can have significant impact on their later learning. In addition, science may be a particularly important domain in early childhood, serving not only to build a basis for future scientific understanding but also to build important skills and attitudes for learning.

What Is Science?

Science is both a body of knowledge that represents current understanding of natural systems and the process whereby that body of knowledge has been established and is continually extended, refined, and revised. Both elements are essential: one cannot make progress in science without an understanding of both. Likewise, in learning science one must come to understand both the body of knowledge and the process by which this knowledge is established, extended, refined, and revised.

Before turning to a deeper discussion of science for the very young, it is helpful to describe the view of science. The goal of science is to understand the natural world through a process known as scientific inquiry. Scientific knowledge helps us explain the world around us, such as why water evaporates and plants grow locations, what causes disease, and how electricity works. Scientific knowledge can help us predict what might happen: a hurricane may hit the coast; the flu will be severe this winter. Scientific knowledge can also help solve problems such as unclean water or the spread of diseases. Science can guide technological development to serve our needs and interests, such as high-speed travel and talking on the telephone.

The Content of Science for Young Children

Children entering school already have substantial knowledge of the natural world, much of which is implicit…. Contrary to older views, young children are not concrete and simplistic thinkers…. Research shows that children’s thinking is surprisingly sophisticated…. Children can use a wide range of reasoning processes that form the underpinnings of scientific thinking, even though their experience is variable and they have much more to learn.

The content of science for young children is a sophisticated interplay among concepts, scientific reasoning, the nature of science, and doing science. It is not primarily a science of information. While facts are important, children need to begin to build an understanding of basic concepts and how they connect and apply to the world in which they live. And the thinking processes and skills of science are also important. Teachers when working with developing curriculum, have focused equally on science inquiry and the nature of science, and content—basic concepts and the topics through which they are explored. In the process of teaching and learning, these are inseparable.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...