©2020 by E.R. Smith
Hands on learning means just that. Touching something, exploring it stimulates the senses. Creating a learning tool from scratch leaves an indelible impression on the mind. During the last months of UPK while we were grouping numbers, one friend announced 2+ 2= 4! I agreed, “A group of two and another group of two makes a group of four.” A second friend explained, “My brother has a calculator.” I said, “That’s cool, maybe we can build a calculator and use it to add groups.” Needless to say all were on board. I asked families to send in various cylindrical tubes and ping pong balls. Shiny tape, glue guns, velcro, and laminated numerals added up to a cool wall calculator. Students used it so much we ran out of glue for the glue gun and had to retire it.
We read The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague and were inspired to be characters, shops, and homes. We built a house of straw, bricks, and sticks. We created wolf and pigs masks. The donut, hotdog, and pizza shop are featured in the picture below. Children discussed and retold the story so much as we colored, painted, pasted, gathered sticks, and added confetti “straw”, it seemed they could read the book.
Our class mascot Tushy went home with each student for a sleepover with his blankey and journal. Families sent back our friend after a fun filled evening and logged in his book. This inspired one family to draw his portrait. While another sent him in with new accessories. Students learned they are authors, right now their parents scribe for them; but ideas are theirs.
We sing patterns, dance patterns, clap patterns, AB patterns, ABC patterns then we let students loose into centers. There they show what they make of all this pattern business. Jamirah said, “Look Ms. Elizabeth, I made the biggest pattern ever; it’s like a sword!” I said, “Cool, can I sing your pattern?” Jamirah said, “Me too.” We sang , Yel–low and blue, yel–low and blue, to a jazzy rhythm.
I enjoy these experiences as much as my young friends. It never gets old since each new year brings in a new group with their own ideas.