Documenting Play Based Learning!

We've had a great week learning about Fire Safety! We got a visit from the firefighters, watched that fire safety video that has  to be as old as I am, and did a bunch of fire safety activities! Alas we did not get to see the fire truck shoot water as a) we are in a drought and b) there are so many pre-k and K friends that logistically it was impossible to take them all outside around the truck safely in the time allotted. We now have 40 pre-k kiddos and almost 60 kinders!

I did get to grab a pic of a firefighter in uniform...and yes, they did send the cute ones! Made my Wednesday morning :P


We only have a 3 day week next week (Monday to Wednesday) and then we have Fall Break! Can you believe it is here already?! On Friday we were doing calendar time and when we got to the "Days in School" part and I realized it was day 40 I looked at my assistant in shock. Time is flying! We are a group of high flying learners though, and luckily I took a ton of pictures this week to document it!

We do at least 90 minutes of free choice centers daily (sometimes more depending on whether we can get out of the cafeteria/bathroom ahead of schedule :P ) During that time my assistant and I are floating between the centers, assisting & extending learning. How do I justify that amount of "play time" in my day? Anecdotal records! I take pictures and make notes as I walk around, this is not the time for me to catch up on emails, filing or record keeping, this is serious learning time! Check it out:

This little guy was in Math Center using our foam shape blocks to build a wall. You can see he sorted them by color first, and then figured out how to stagger them to overlap them. I snapped this pic and then had a quick convo with him about how he sorted the blocks, how many green blocks there were and what shapes he used. Bam! I now have data on his sorting, counting and shape identification abilities!
Next I hit up the Pipe Builders. These things are so popular in my classroom! Usually we try to make a stack that will touch the ceiling, but look what I caught this little guy doing: sorting by color! He was picking out all of the yellow ones and putting them back into the container. We had a quick convo about what he was doing and why ("Because the yellow ones are cool") Then we counted the pipes in his stack and voila! I have data on his sorting and counting skills!

Also in Pipe Builders, was this little guy who created AND NAMED his ABB pattern! How fabulous is that in pre-k?! I also had him count how many pipes he used to make his pattern and got data on his one-to-one correspondence skills!

Over at our Letter Center, this little cutie was playing my Fire Safety beginning sound match-up game. I only put out a handful of letter Fire Stations and sound fire trucks at a time and she was able to successfully match all of them! Bam! Data on which letter sounds she knows!

In Math Center a group of 3 kiddos were playing with my Fire Safety Counting activity by clipping clothespins over the correct number for each set of pictures. One little sweetie is still working on one-to-one correspondence within 10 and the other 2 cuties are working on 10-20 (those dratted 15, 16, and 17 are so hard to get in order!) So now I know who needs to work on rote counting, and who needs more one-to-one correspondence practice!

We first played this Fire Safety Positional Word game as a whole group. Then I put a set out in our Felt Board Center and listened in to the conversation that ensued. Although we're still iffy on identifying the extinguisher and fire hydrant, the two cuties at this center knew "in between", "on top of", "under", "next to" and "in front of"! In case you're wondering, "The big fire truck is in front of the house that's on fire. The firefighter is next to the fire station and he's going to get in the fire truck that is between the two firefighters. Then they're going to get the hose and put out the fire! The other firefighter is going to get hit in the head by that thing on top of her! Then an ambulance will have to come!"

I got these Magic Boards and Printing Practice cards from Lakeshore Learning and my kiddos love them! I control this center by only putting out 6 letters at a time (we have 4 boards). I get to check pencil grip and fine motor skills while they "play" and as we talk about the letters I get to see who can identify which letter and who knows the sounds.

Of course, the learning doesn't stop in the classroom. We get an hour of recess daily - 2 30 minute blocks. (jealous yet?  I love my district!) I think people would be amazed at the amount of learning that takes place on a playground. Not just the social skills aspect, although that certainly applies, but tons of math and science too! Lately we've been seeing some migrating Monarch butterflies, so we've had great conversations about seasons and migration. We found an ant hole the other day and a group of kiddos spent 10 minutes observing the ants, placing leaves and small twigs in their paths to see what they would do. I might have to get an ant farm for our Pet Center!

Our playground is surrounded by pecan trees, so we know all about squirrels and hibernation now. My rule is that we can gather the nuts and play with them as long as we a) don't smash them and b) leave them outside for the squirrels at the end of recess. 

Generally the kids will come with a handful of nuts and want to count them, but the other day they decided to combine all of their nuts and count them altogether. We had about 5 kids running from tree to tree and bringing the nuts back to our bench. It was difficult for them to count the nuts since they kept forgetting which nut they had counted. Then one kiddo noticed that the nuts fit into the pattern on the bench and that if they put them in a row it would be easier to count! By the end of recess we had over 30 nuts and I knew who had one-to-one correspondence and who could (& could not!) rote count correctly above 20.


We're going to continue with our Fire Safety theme this week since we only have 3 days. I have to turn in report cards on Wednesday, but after going through my pictures and notes I have a ton of ideas for writing those pesky notes on the report card, plus I can confidently fill in many of the items! The rest of my assessments will be done on ESGI since I won a free year long subscription on Twitter! You have to check out #teacherfriends on Tuesday nights! Tons of fun and great guest speakers - last week it was Steven Spangler!

For those wondering how little Sullivan is doing, He's already 1 and is almost a walker! He can cruise while holding onto furniture and has hit all of his physical milestones which is fab since he's still only 17lbs due to his allergies. Here's a picture of him getting ready for school in the morning: 
  Look at the wild hair!

Alright, I'm off to do lesson plans for my short week - hope you have a great Columbus Day tomorrow!

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