Building schema in the early childhood classroom allows children to make connections between isolated concepts. A few days ago I wrote a blog post about the importance of "fluff with stuff". In that post I wanted to share how using highly engaging activities, sometimes called cute, can actually create an environment where children grow dendrites thus becoming smarter kids! You can read that post here.
Here's a little story: My very first year of teaching I had a little girl named Janet. I recently ran into Janet at the local Walmart. After her sharing that she had graduated from GA Tech with a degree in Chemical Engineering, we started talking about her kindergarten memories. She didn't tell me she remembered to read, or that she even learned the alphabet. Here's what she said, "I remember you laying us down on long white paper. You traced around our bodies. We went outside and collect various colors, sizes, and shapes of leaves. We collected nuts, sweet gum balls, twigs, and other treasures. We brought them inside and we sorted them into bins. We counted. We graphed. Then, we picked our favorite treasures to creat clothing, faces, and other features for our traced bodies."
For many, the untrained observer, this would be a "cute" activity full of fluff. But WE know better! Just look at all of the standards that she remembered. We are in the business of creating schema--Ideas, concepts, and thoughts that can later be used as children become life long learners.
Here are a few fun,schema building activities around our jolly ol' friend, Santa!
At our small group or as a center, the children can use the cookie clip art to solve the story problem. In the empty boxes, invite the children to write in names. For extra fun, add photographs of the children's faces.
This is the second post in a series of 3 posts to look at the value of highly engaging, standard rich activities that are often disguised in "cute" clothing.
Key points I remember:
1. Keep the standard front and center. Never lose focus on the desired outcome.
2. "Cute" is another word for novelty. Novel items create interest within the brain that results in the production of dendrites.
3. Childhood should be fun. Children learn through play.
4. If it's boring to you.....it's even more boring to them.