What does community building in a preschool classroom setting look like? For us, it’s building each other up, creating a sense of belonging and fostering connection within our room. Filling buckets, doing kind things for one another even when we think no one is watching, having photos and artwork on display in the room, participating in group projects, having children’s portfolios where they are easily accessible, and creating a sense of responsibility by giving each child a job to do for the day are all ways that we foster a positive community.
Have you filled a bucket today? Very simply, filling a bucket means showing kindness in some way to another person. This could be a kind word, offering a helping hand, sharing, including someone, making a card for someone else, etc.
At the beginning of September, the Owls were given a task. Each one of us, including the educators, filled an ornament up with items that were special to us. After each one was filled, we strung them up in our library area.
The hanging piece represents each one of us and the differences we have. It symbolizes how each one of us is unique, however, come together beautifully. This was a great community building activity as each of the Owls were curious about what the other's put in their ornament.
The community around us includes helpers, or people who do jobs which allow it to function smoothly. The same goes for in the Owl room. We have created job tags which the children are given at the start of each day and they include recycler, snack cart helper, table cleaner, sweeper, etc. The children are eager to receive their job for the day and frequently remind us about their jobs! They have thought of new jobs to add as well. Having these jobs gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility to ensure the job is done. It also has given them a voice to encourage their peers to help to keep areas tidy when no one is using them.
Building community is very important to us. It makes everyone feel like they belong and are a part of something special. We love seeing the smiles on everyone’s face when they see that their picture is a part of many on the wall or in our photo album. We ensure our classroom and everything in it is accessible to everyone. We are so proud of the community we have built together. Each member of our community is highly valued and their ideas are as equally important as everyone else’s.
Some children started by taking all of the tiles and trying to cover as much of the light as they could. Other children created houses, pizza and buildings. After creating, they would put their creations on the projector to see what would happen.
One of the children arranged the triangular tiles into a circular shape and exclaimed “I am making a pizza!” As he looked back and fourth between the wall where his pizza was being projected and the projector he said “What am I going to use for the cheese?’ I took some scrap paper and started cutting it up to look like cheese. I asked “would this work for cheese?” With a big smile on his face, he said “Yes!” and started placing the paper exactly where he wanted it.
Written by: Andrew
Escaping reality is something we all love to do. Movies, TV, or books are ways we do this but to children it’s more commonly seen in their dramatic play. We’ve all seen the usual playing house or taking the role of community characters such as construction crews or firefighters but what about taking this play to a whole new level. Fantasy genre is one such area that often gets overlooked bringing with it an endless supply of ideas to bring to life.
Our Eagle room as an example, started with a topic of space. Normally some dress up clothes or a few items around the room act as props for the desired play. Then again why not add lights, cardboard, paint and tin foil and suddenly our kitchen area transforms into a fully operational space centre. Now with a greater visual concept, the children can then continue to add to their fresh new environment while expanding their imaginative play. This idea also expanded play to a centre wide gym experience where each room was able to enjoy a space themed set up hosted by the Eagles team.
During December, the children had their new plan all ready to go. It’s one thing to be able to pretend to visit the North Pole, but it’s another to build a workshop and walk through its front door. By providing this extra element of their play, it takes them out of the day to day environment of the room and transports them to a place of fully realized learning and exploration.
To have a great idea is amazing but to see that idea brought to life with a dash of fantasy in the mix can be out of this world.
The result was a bowl full of perfectly mixed and homemade mud; the consistency of “muffin batter.”
A muffin tin was found and set beside the bowl full of yummy goodness. The mud-batter was scooped into the moulds of the muffin tin.
“We need a touch of something!” Then voila! The perfect addition to the most perfect mud muffins. “A touch of yellow!” Tiny yellow (what I think were buttercup flowers) were added very carefully to the tops of the muffins.
Blog by: Melanie and Holly
Eco Kids is a child-led club the Falcons created to take a deeper look into our consumption and ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle. The club members share their environmental and sustainability goals, complete quarterly yard cleanups, and create several projects.
One of the goals of the Eco Kids is to cut back on paper waste. They created signs to remind the Falcons to use both sides of their paper. Another idea was to write their names on their papers so that they can take them home instead of the recycling bin.
Because the Falcons wanted to cut down on waste, they wanted to make their own paper. Then they had the idea to put seeds in the paper so that the paper can go straight into people’s gardens.
See how our project unfolded:
The Falcons enjoyed delivering the seed paper to people in their community and wondered how the seeds would grow. The response to our environmental gifts were astonishing. The school principal received several phone calls from community members thanking us for the seed paper. We can't wait to see what the Eco Kids come up with next to create positive environmental changes for the Falcons and beyond their program.
Blog Written By: Irina and Helena
For our Hummingbirds, we value spending time outdoors and the developmental benefits outdoor play brings. Here are some valuable environmental opportunities the Hummingbirds gained from their time outdoors.
The children have been finding plenty of opportunities to discover and learn about the world around them by using all of their senses. The wide variety of natural loose parts such as sand, water, soil, wood, and rocks offer them rich sensory exploration.
The Hummingbirds love crawling, digging, carrying, jumping, and most of all, climbing. Climbing has become a favourite outdoor and indoor activity. We support them by providing safety and encouragement as they master their climbing skills.
By climbing tall structures, pallets, tree stumps, and more, the children practice their problem-solving skills, enhance their gross-motor skills, develop perception of the world around them, improve their balance, and master risk-taking skills.
The children love to swing in the hammock. The back and forth motions while enveloped inside help them to relax and enjoy the world around them, whether it is the sky over their heads, or the birds chirping from the trees. It is a very peaceful and relaxing experience.
Beside the treehouse is another relaxing spot we created. We hung wicker balls, beads, and ribbons from a tree and placed a soft mat underneath. This is our youngest Hummingbird's favourite spot. He would sit and watch the fluid movements of the ribbons, He would practice standing up and try to grab or push the ornaments.
By playing side by side, the Hummingbirds learn valuable social skills such as empathy, friendship, kindness, and respect with each other and the nature around them. We’ve been observing the older Hummingbirds helping the younger Hummingbirds with various tasks. We have also been observing that the younger children are following their lead in risky play such as climbing and other outdoor activities.
Connecting with Nature
The children have been so fortunate to observe one particular goose that comes close to our windows every day to drink water from the drainage hole. The children are always excited to watch the goose come down the stairs. The other day, the children noticed that two geese were sitting on the hospital’s roof. Immediately the children came closer to observe the birds. It was fun watching those geese walk, fly, and “talk”.
Recently the children observed a family of rabbits with four little bunnies. The Hummingbirds showed great interest and respect to the animals by keeping their distance and using soft voices. "Look, bunnies," said Q to J, as they watched the rabbits across the fence. It is great to see how our children connect to nature in such gentle and respectful ways.
One afternoon, we read Peter H. Reynolds' book, "Sky Color," to the Robins. It is about a little girl that looks for the perfect colours to paint the sky for a school mural project. The Robins really enjoyed the story. We talked about all of the colours that were used and mixed together to make the sky. Some of the children even compared it to the colour mixing experiment that we did a few days earlier.
We took this as another opportunity for the Robins to practice their colour mixing skills! We printed up different images of colourful sunsets, just like the examples in the book. The Robins chose which sky they wanted to try and recreate. The results are amazing!
The paintings and the sunset images were displayed on our documentation board. We also placed the children's pictures in a separate binder on top of the lockers so the Robins and their families can compare the children's paintings to the picture of the sky they chose!
Our next step is to take this project outside! We are curious to see what kind of natural materials the children will use to create their next art piece. Maybe even add some mud into the mix!
Blog Written By: Noelle
During our uninterrupted time outdoors, our focus was connecting the Budgies to nature. Here are some of the ways we observed the beautiful learning opportunities the children and Mother Nature had.
Blog written by: Jennifer
Having every person represented in all aspects of their classroom is important to the Chickadees. They want children to feel they are in a safe space, their voices matter, and take pride in their culture and individuality. It's not just a classroom, it's like their second home as they spend the majority of their day at the centre.
Inside their classroom are the Chickadees’ own personal cubbies, each labeled with their names and photos. They take their own clothes if they need to be changed or put away their nap toys themselves. By the door is a step stool the children use to reach the baskets above their lockers. They have an art gallery celebrating their birthdays, featuring a collection of collaborative paintings. They even record their height by a wall so they can see how much they grew over a period of time.
Above their table where the Chickadees eat together is a chandelier composed of the children’s and staffs’ family pictures. By their classroom door is a shelf with each child’s portfolios, a binder of memories with photos, artwork, and learning stories from their time as a Chickadee. The Chickadees can easily get their portfolios and spend time reading them with their families before going home.
Advocating for environmental sustainability is something the Chickadee room strongly values. Their actions have created an impact even outside of their room by asking families to bring in items for recycling like applesauce pouches, pens, markers, batteries, and more. They also collaborated with one of our families to introduce vermicomposting to the centre.
The Chickadees are always made part of any room enhancements and documentation, providing them the opportunity to have their voices be heard and respected. They take frequent trips to the laundry room to pick out new toys and loose parts, as well as putting away materials they are done using so other groups can use them. Their projects are displayed all around the room, placing importance to their work and creating a sense of pride. You will see their drawings hanging from the windows, art installations suspended from the ceiling and hanging mobiles made up of their photos during play.
To promote language and literacy into their classroom, the Chickadees created their own alphabet boards by gluing small materials on top of the letter outline. The letters are permanently displayed in their room. Multiple languages are celebrated in the Chickadee room as well. One Chickadee teaches others how to say words in Spanish as well as the proper pronunciation, from colours to simple phrases. To expand this teachable moment, her family filled out a list of objects found in the classroom in Spanish. During lunch time, Devinder also teaches the Chickadees how to say phrases in Punjabi.
The Chickadees love to listen to music so Heather asked all families for a list of songs the Chickadees like to listen to at home. Afterwards, a playlist was created on Spotify using those songs. Their current favourite is a Spanish song called “Veo Veo.” You can catch the Chickadees singing along to parts of the chorus every time it plays.
The Chickadees' next plan is to decorate a pillar outside of their classroom with photos embracing their culture and individuality. This way, they can share their social identity with the rest of the centre.
Through various forms of representation, the Chickadees promote diversity, positive self-identity, creativity, independence, empathy, and a strong community. This is what makes representation one of the main blocks in building a strong foundation for the Chickadee community.
Blog by: Heather & Rosel