A Month in Moments - June '19 Edition

Knife skills with toddlers? Fractions with dough? Rice all over the kitchen? Dinner cooked by kiddos? A homemade mini-zoo? Hunting for animals around the house? Pretending to scoop animal poop? If any of these sound challenging, intriguing, ridiculous, or exciting to you or your kiddos, take a look at this month's Month in Moments calendar! Inspired by my training with Tinkergarten and our exploration of project play AND feedback from families in my Watch Wonder Bloom Facebook Group, I chose two themes to explore for two full weeks a piece this month. We'll be playing In the Kitchen and At the Zoo this month! Expect lots of water play in July as temperatures heat up more. Want to suggest a topic? Join the Facebook group, add a comment, or email me! Have a play project you think your kiddo would love and don't know where to start? Check out the last blog post for a guide on project play, copy and fill out the document here, or email me :). I cannot wait to see how you and your learners play and learn all summer long! Please share what you do using #watchwonderbloom! Now, a bit on what to expect this month:

  • In the Kitchen: We'll start the month with some sensory-rich play. Set out some different herbs, utensils, and cooked and dry ingredients. Consider laying a towel under the containers or doing this outside if mess is crazy-making for you. A GREAT book to start off the month would be Because of Thursday by Patricia Polacco in which a cat helps make some very interesting pasta salad. Talk about what combinations of spices might go well or might taste funky as you get comfy in the kitchen. Then, jump into playing with practice and real dough, a pretend knife, and spreaders. End the two weeks by transforming your home into a restaurant for the night! Along the way, there will be ideas for incorporating math and a bit of science into your play. Kiddos will also sort needs and wants, take grocery orders, and maybe make menus - boosting their identities as writers.

  • At the Zoo: Woooowhooo! Animal play! Start off this part of the month with Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell or another favorite zoo book. Then, create your own zoo animals using art supply scraps or paper and cardboard. Learn about what animals need to thrive (food, shelter, enrichment, etc) as you play like zookeepers and inventors. Make your own model zoo using an old box and art materials. Then, join me for a Facebook Live reading of the beautifully illustrated, The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na which can then inspire you to add on to the animals you've created and sort them in different ways building science skills of observation and classification. Hunt for animals around your house to learn about camouflage. Meet new animal friends by going to the zoo or another place with animals. If that doesn't work out, dig deeper into small world play by showing small toy people around the zoo. Print out a template to create a pamphlet you can create with your kiddos about the zoo you've created. Take pictures of this, mail copies to relatives, and more to boost literacy and science skills! Remember, scribble writing and doodles are WONDERFUL! And, asking a kiddo what their writing says or drawing shows and adding a label allows them a chance to build vocabulary, express themselves, and look back at their work in new ways later.

Consider taking pictures, printing them, and putting them in a notebook. On slow days, look at the pictures and add captions with your learners' comments. When we revisit experiences, we strengthen the related neural connections and make lasting, meaningful memories! This is why early learning centers take pictures to show learning and why older students take notes to study from. This practice used to feel weird to me as I tried to avoid screen time with my kiddo and try (and fail) to limit my own time behind a screen when I'm playing (I guess this is one reason that a phone/camera combo isn't always the best - but it is SO convenient!). As I dug into research on a project approach to play, I saw more and more information about photo documentation as a way to both provide evidence of learning (which as my kiddo's mom isn't my top priority - I see her learning every day) AND to deepen learning. We've finally been really trying this for a week, and it's so cool! I printed a few pictures of us at play earlier in the week and we've talked about the pictures a couple times. Each time my 23mo has some new words to share to describe the picture. She's practicing expressive language and seeing that her stories matter when I write down what she says. Try this out and let me know how it feels for your family!!! Especially for families with older kiddos, I'm sure you'll get some amazingly interesting tales!

Find a Google Docs copy of the calendar here or a pdf here!

Share your kitchen creations and cardboard zoos! Post a picture of a kitchen tour or zoo adventure. Tag @watchwonderbloom or use #watchwonderbloom to share your learning and play with other learners, families, and teachers!

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