Thursday, September 06, 2012

PeeWees: Not a Box (week 1)

Poppy is two this year.  Which means PeeWees is back.  It's a small cooperative toddler "school" I did with some other moms when Ginger was two.  And we're doing it again with our next set of munchkins.

There are four kids in our group.  We meet once a week for a 2-hour drop-off block.  Each mom takes a turn hosting/teaching the group for two consecutive weeks, then she has six weeks off.  We each follow the same basic schedule: arrival/free play, welcome/circle, snack, art, activity, circle/goodbye.  We share and pass around a bin of supplies: paints, markers, smocks, alphabet chart, parachute, CD, rug squares. Our teacher pool consists of an art historian, an avid athlete and outdoorswoman, a speech-language pathologist, and an early childhood music teacher.  Not bad, eh?

But here's what I'm really excited about.  This year we are using an approach called The Storybook Journey.  I first experienced it when I was doing my graduate practicum hours in  the Child Learning Center at the University of Colorado.  It's a literature-based approach to every aspect of curriculum: "The environment, materials, and experiences are intentionally designed to immerse the children in a playful exploration of the story's rich literacy potential, concepts, vocabulary, sequence, and plot, as well as the sheer delight of exploring a story through their play." (The Storybook Journey: Pathways to Learning through Story and Play by Sue McCord.)

We are obviously more low-key than a full-blown preschool program, but here's how we will do it.  Each teacher will choose a book she wants to use for each 2-week block.  She plans by brainstorming every single concept she can eek from it, from colors and art, to concrete objects, to life lessons and emotional or literary concepts, etc.  Then she chooses how she can apply any or all of those ideas into the daily schedule.  We'll always introduce and read the book during welcome/circle time, and again at closing circle time.  And in between, well, that's the journey!

I went first this year.  Here's what we did.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Concepts: bunnies, cardboard, black & white, black/white & red, pretending a thing is something different, boxes, squares/rectangles, firemen, mountains/mountain climbing, robots, cars, thinking, asking and answering questions, "NOT", pirates, boats/ships, elephants, hot air balloons, rocket ships, wh-questions, things that rhyme with "box"

Related/support books: Too Princessy by Jean Reidy, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

Week 1
Arrival -  Big and little empty boxes to play with
Snack - Boxes of goldfish and boxes of juice; loose discussion about what else comes in boxes

Art - Paint your own "Not a Box" page (with glittery red paint!)

My sample

Artists at work

Finished prducts
 Activity - Building with blocks

They all worked together to build "a city"
In closing - Everyone got a bunny (or two or three) and sat in a box while we re-read the book for the third or fourth time.

Then after the goodbye song, we turned on music and hopped around the house like bunnies until the moms came. 

Poppy's conclusion of the day: "I like my school.  They are all boys.  But it is good."  When I asked her what was her favorite part, and named a few of her choices, she replied, "I like all of those.  They are all my favorite."


tona said...

As for which part of your post I like best, they are all my favorite. But especially that shot of everyone climbing into boxes with their bunnies. I'm dying it's so adorable. You are a genius.

Marie W said...

I want to enroll all of my children in your preschool!

Greg and Michelle said...

What fun! I love what Poppy said - "everything is my favorite" - hurray for your creative and resourceful mothering!

Shaunel said...

How awesome is this? So well documented. Thanks for the peak inside!

Maren said...

Genius. Genius! Yes. Love it.

Canon Ink said...

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