Something to wRite about…
It's a long one.... however, it's a good one, and an essential one as we come to the end of year when I hear and see people asking not only me, on social media etc, how are you getting my child ready for school, what are the children learning, how are you teaching them. You can read the answers to those questions below:
Yes, yes, yes, we play all day, yes we get dirty, messy, wet, sandy, sappy, grassy… and the list goes on.. yes, we can have an outside day, yes! we say yes to everything ~ almost everything, some things I can’t specifically do and we have to plan for another day.
No, I do not tell them what to do, no I definitely do not interrupt them for my adult agenda, no I do not stop outdoor play after a specific amount of time to go inside and do circle time or think that inside is where the most important teaching lessons come from , no I do not interrupt their play to “teach” them or think or feel I have to or feel the pressure from their adults to do so.
I watch them, observe them, listen to them, facilitate them, hold them, console them and just BE there for them when they need me or invite me.
We meet outside everyday, regardless of the weather. We play outside for as a long as the children want to play outside and then when they decide, we work together as a group to decide how much much longer to play outside for, it could be 1/2 hour of all day. When a child approaches me and asks to go inside, I check in with each of the children and ask them how much longer they want to play outside for. If the consensus is we stay out all day, we discuss it and come to an agreement. If they say they want to go inside, this year it seems as though they want 10 more minutes then go in, which turns into 20 and then some days they will say, let’s just have an outside day, and if we go in, we go in, if not, we stay out. I am prepared always for outside days and the same for inside. I am always ready either way.
When the kiddos arrive a few will pair off and go play, most of the time you will see that the group is separated, some wandering around wondering or planning what to do, one will follow me around as I watch and gather information about the child item and I set out items accordingly, 1/4 of them will go eat (yes 5 minutes in some are already hungry 😂), I have an open snack/lunch. They are welcome to eat when their body says it’s hungry, and guess what….. they are allowed to eat whatever they want in their lunchboxes FIRST! If they want to eat their sandwich first, they can!! They all come with a well balanced healthy lunch for it really doesn’t matter what they eat first so long as they feed their bodies when their bodies need it. Within about 20-30 sometimes 40 minutes the children have found their play partners and have immersed themselves in their play for the day....
By this time I can grab my green lawn chair and take a rest. Usually only for about 2.5 minutes before I need to get up an do something.
My chair moves around the yard with me, or I sit in the wooden chair or drag around a small plastic yellow chair. I can’t get down on the ground like I used to. My knees are old and tired from all my years of playing so I need to take care of them! When I do get down on the ground it takes me a long time to get up, creaking and squeaking 😂 or I sit in sap and have a sappy butt all day long! 😠😆 thank you pine tree for your beautiful shade, overflowing pinecones and strong branch to bear the weight of the children playing on the blue swing, but I don’t like your sap on my butt!
Ok, so we play outside alllllll day long at least 80% of the time. No adult agenda. I set out enough activities/ideas dictated by me and go from there. Things get added, things get changed out, things are taken away (yes we do have expectations and boundaries), some things get negotiated- following the lead of the children. And this is done by staying out of their way, listening, observing, and facilitating.
These stilt things (I can never remember the name) have been a hit for R the last few times he’s come to preschool. He’s really been working hard with his body and mind to navigate their use. He needs to concentrate, focus, be patient, persevere, use eye hand coordination, he needs to navigate his large muscle control in unison with his fine motor control. He said, “Look I can no go onto the cement now!”
On the other side of the yard Z decided he wanted to do elastic painting. “How do you do this?” He asked. I said, “do you remember doing this before?” “Oh yeah” he replied. He needs to focus, use his eye hand coordination skills to manipulate the paint brush to very carefully apply paint to the elastic band, he needs to use his pincer grasp with his small muscles to control his wrist turning to pull the band for it’s amazing paint effect, then he needs to admire his creation and share that admiration with his peer who was painting alongside him whom was concentrating soooooo hard at painting the elastics.
C had decided she wanted to try the spray painting and make rainbow colors. She has to use all her strength to pull the trigger on the spray bottle which can be tricky for small hands and fingers. She needs to use her eye hand coordination, and large muscles extending to her small muscles in her wrists and fingers. Then when she feels she’s done yell at the top of her lungs, “I’m done! I want to do another one!” “Look I made a rainbow one.” And when she’s done her second one, she expresses, “I done now, I did a purple one. I just wanted to do a rainbow one and a purple one.”
It was after four kiddos were painting and expressing they wanted to do more that I said, “I have an idea.” “Oh what’s your idea?” And follow me around to figure out what I’m going to do. Some throwing out some ideas. I put up a white sheet that they could spray paint. Typically this is what I do in the beginning as it focuses more on the process over the product of having the paper product. But this day I wanted to try the paper. And let me tell you, taking it off the easel and walking it to the fence was quite tricky for me! I had to be so careful. Soon three of them were running around the blanket spraying and “hiding” from each other.
One hour and 25 minutes into their play they are all in the sandbox together. There are 7 of them today. They need to cooperate with each other in the limited amount of space they are in. They need to problem solve, negotiate and communicate with each other.
Z then comes to me and says, I need water for the dinosaurs, I quickly grabbed a bowl, gave it to him and got some water. Then I remembered I had some foil roast pans that I dug out of the shed. Next thing Z grabs the tubes and is connecting them together on the grass, the balls come out. They are experimenting and figuring out how to get the balls through the tubes. Then the tubes end up in the sandbox and they are exploring how they work along with the sand.
The spray painting hadn't been used in over an hour so I decided tidy it all up (I left the sheet up), I put out tempera paint sticks. These are so great as they dry fast and you make 1000 pictures and bring them all home the same day!
An hour later I noticed R and Z were throwing balls around the yard and into the trees, throwing toys at the swing as it swung. I quickly went into my home storage area and grabbed a bean bag toss game. R says, “my dad has two of these!” I said, “well I have one because one is broken” “it’s ok, we can just use one!” There was a lot of turn taking, problem solving, negotiation, communicating, yelling, arguing, laughing, connecting.
R decides three hours into his play that he needs to lay in the grass and soak up the sun.
One of the kiddos complained they couldn’t find any cars earlier. I said they were probably buried in the sandbox somewhere. He went on his business. Later on when no one was in the sandbox I took all the toys out and raked it and found oodles of treasures including someone’s socks 😂
Since the sandbox was empty (besides the excavator), they decided it was a good idea to burry their bodies. This is what they looked liked when their adults arrived. I don't gather them and get them all clean and tidy and "presentable" before their adults pick them up.
15 minutes before pick up time I’m tiding up the yard, cars, tubes, balls, dinosaurs, chairs, bean bag toss, painting. Then I’m rolling up 100 creations securing with an elastic band. Some children yelling out, “that’s mine!” “Is that one mine?” "that's my name!" “Is mine dry yet” “I want to bring mine home today”..... then the adults start to arrive. I see hugs, smiles, pouts (I don't want to go home!) and I hear, I don't want to go home, I buried my whole body! I have sand in my boots.... and stories of their day...
One everyone is gone, then I need to clean the yard and close it down for the night ~ until we meet again in the morning ✨
Angela Roy, Early Childhood Educator
My family moved to Lake Country in November 2021. After 9 years of operating my preschool from downtown Kelowna, I opened up my preschool from my home in February 2022.
I will often post on my preschool Facebook page stories about my preschool and things we are doing etc. But then I decided I should utilize my webpage and start writing on here. I am in no means a professional writer, but wanted to give it a shot. There may be grammar and spelling mistakes, and I’m ok with that (please do not shame me for this!)
This is me, in the moment and sharing a part of my life alongside my preschool program. Feel free to comment and share your words with me if you choose. Happy reading ✨