Storywalk®

Have you heard of Storywalk®?  This is an opportunity for children and adults to read a story together entering an imaginary world while walking along a pathway or trail.  The pages of the picture book are made into laminated signs that are hung in trees or attached to signposts.  In our town, on Vancouver Island, B.C. we can borrow these from the public library but it would also be possible to make your own.  The cost of colour photocopying and laminating all those pages gets expensive so borrowing them is much more do-able plus there are copyright issues.  The other alternative would be to buy two books and take them apart to make the posters.

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Velcro and grommets provide two options for posting.

I was so excited to borrow my first Storywalk® last week!  I got the story Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers which is such a cute story and perfect as it is about a journey. There were 31 signs to hang up for our walk.  So many signs that I couldn’t fit them all on our preschool property so I had them going down the street for about half a block and then on the property of our local library.

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We took our preschool class in small groups to really enjoy the walk.  I thought about 3-4 children was ideal for a group size.

And, as expected, it was a wonderful experience.  We journeyed with penguin and the boy as we read each page of the book.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction because at the end of the morning when I went to collect the signs, there were 7 missing!  Now I had tied them securely in place and it was not a windy day so although I’m not certain, someone seemed to have taken them away as they were nowhere to be found!  Have you caught the irony yet?  The story “Lost and Found” is now lost.  Will it be found?  I do not know yet.  Each sign has a label on the back of the library it came from so perhaps if it is someone kind who removed/found the signs, they that person will return them.

As I drove to the library to return the Storywalk®, I wasn’t sure what the response would be.  I was pretty sure I would be charged for the missing pages but in another odd turn of events, the library had no record of me ever checking out the story in the first place. The Storywalk® Lost and Found was labelled as “missing”.  I found this very odd as I was even given a printout with the return date.  So it seems perhaps I won’t be charged?

I thought the library would never let me have another one but I did have another on hold and they agreed to let me take it.  Here it is!Unknown-1

I guess this time I better hold on to my teddy bear; and all other teddy bears in the vicinity!  Believe me, I will be keeping a close eye on those signs this time!

“You have to get lost before you can be found.” -Jeff Rasley

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The Person You Want to Be

I truly believe that every day is a new opportunity to be the person you want to be.  Whatever you did yesterday doesn’t matter.  What you do in this moment…that’s what really counts.

The daily prompt, radiate reminds me of this song by Shawn Mullins called Shimmer.  Have you heard it?  Here’s a short excerpt from the song.

Cause I
Want to shimmer
I want to shine
I want to radiate
I want to live
I want to love
I want to try and learn how not to hate
Try not to hate

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Children have a way of helping you be the best you can be.  They are such great imitators and there are times when you do things you aren’t proud of and they copy. These are the times that remind you to be better.  This is why we all need a child in our lives... to remind us to shimmer. Every day.

 

 

 

Exploring the Laws of Motion

Here’s another stellar example that makes the case for learning through play and the value of making available loose parts children can use and manipulate in ways of their own choosing!
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This child, age 5, is testing out gravity and Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion.  She is learning about simple machines like the lever and the inclined plane.  She may not be able to tell you about them but she is experiencing them here firsthand.  Ducksters is a website that explains science in simple terms for kids.

Our preschoolers have used the boards to make their own seesaws which is super fun but they have also discovered how to make a catapult and I will admit, I do like to be nearby to help guide which type of items are sent flying.  The inclined plane has helped them move some pretty heavy objects on their own with great feelings of satisfaction! You can read about the inclined plane solution here: That Time When a Little Frustration Was a Good Thing.

These boards are made of cedar and are normally used for decking. I had them cut into lengths of about 2-3 ft which seems about right for our purposes. They stand up very well in all kinds of weather but we do bring them indoors each day in the hopes of making them last as long as we possibly can.

If you do not have any boards for children to use in your outdoor play area, I highly recommend you go out and get some… they have provided so many excellent learning opportunities!

“Any fool can know.  The point is to understand.”  -Albert Einstein

All of my blog posts are written during my free time.  If you appreciate what you’re reading here, please like my Facebook page.  Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!

When the Ocean Becomes the Teacher

Here’s a fascinating learning story from a recent trip to the beach with our smaller outdoor program group.  We often say that the environment is the third teacher.  This story is a great example of how that can work.

D thought it would be fun to “launch” a small driftwood log out into the ocean. Then he and J would wait patiently for the waves to bring the log back to the point where they could actually reach out and get the log. They did this over and over many times.  In fact I marvelled at how long they spent with the task considering the fact that there was a lot of watching and waiting involved.

They both had to use some self-regulation to keep from wading right into the water and huge amounts of patience as the waves were barely a ripple and each time it took several minutes for the log to finally come within reach.

Can you think of a more fun way to learn patience?  I cannot!  If we told the children “today we are going to practice patience,” it would probably be met with a huge groan or protest.  And yet this was a pastime that seemed like it might continue all morning!

Then I asked about what might help get the log back faster.  (I couldn’t let the ocean be the only teacher that day.) D had two ideas:

He explained we either needed a wave maker to create bigger waves or something long to help reach the log from a further distance.

Problem-solving at its best!

Reflecting on these ordinary moments shows me what a great teacher the ocean can be and why the outdoor classroom is so valuable.

The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.   -Margaret McMillan

Swings and Sharing

We are very fortunate to have three swings in our preschool’s outdoor play area.  Swings take up a lot of space so it can be difficult to fit them in and yet, they provide so much enjoyment.  The challenge with swings is sharing.

Often, once a child is on the swing that child does not want to stop.  It is way too much fun. And there lies the problem.  We have 15 children and 3 swings.  And we have several avid swingers in the group. We can set a timer but then the adults are helping and the goal is self–regulation so how do we get there?

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Here’s an excellent example.  Today was a gray windy day and when A decided to get off the swing I commented, “Thank you for sharing the swing with your friend, he looks really happy to get a turn; I am so proud of you.”  Then I gave her a hug.

Child’s response: ” That’s because I’m a nice girl.  I share sometimes.  I share on windy days.”

Notice I didn’t say “Good job!” or “Well done!” or give any praise.  I just thanked her, hugged her and told her I was proud.  Then she happily came to her own conclusion.

Will she share the swing next time?  I guess we have to wait for a windy day 😉

“Trust yourself.  You know more than you think you do.” -Benjamin Spock

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