This week I (Katie) am responsible for the theme and blog and it has been my favorite topic this school year! The theme has been managing emotions and being a good friend, which seem to go hand and hand, especially during toddler development. Little nuggets this age have very big feelings and often don’t have the tools to manage them. It takes a lot of modeling, repetition and praise to build these skills, luckily we have gotten a crash course this week. As a class they have been very receptive and attentive to talking about feelings. Their faces become so earnest while they process the idea that they might feel sad and mad at the same time…and it’s ok to cry…and there are things they can do to feel better and move on. It’s actually heartwarming to watch. We had a great training session as a staff before school started this year about just loving kids through their tough times. They aren’t misbehaving, they are just figuring things out the best they can with where they are at in any given moment. Perhaps they are hungry or sad or tired or overwhelmed or don’t understand the expectations. They need compassion and direct teaching of skills to work through these times. As toddler teachers this is our job – to love your kids through their tricky times. And we do.
This week we welcomed Luna and Kellan to the toddler room!!!
Luna is new to the school experience and is rocking it! She is a sweet girl and the kids already know her name and like to bring her toys and check in with her.
Kellan has been at Bet Shalom Yeladim in our infant room and his big sister Collete is in the preschool room. He is a sweet loving guy and we couldn’t be happier to have him in our class. He seems like he’s been part of our class for a long time.
Here are some highlights from our week:
Monday we painted monkey faces based on the book, Little Monkey Calms Down. As always the children love to dig in and get messy. The paint ended up on tables, hands, faces, chairs, sleeves and even on the monkeys! They paintings were used on our new Little Monkey Calms Down House. It’s a space to sit if a child wants a little distance from the other children to read a book or take a few deep breaths. The kids like finding their monkey painting displayed on the house. Some of the toddlers helped wash the tables after our project was finished. They always love to be helpful.
We read the book, Little Monkey Calms Down (which was recommended by Finley’s mom, Alex and Gus’s mom, Stephanie) many, many times this week. The kids practiced making the faces to match the monkey’s feelings, hugging a stuffed animal, singing a quiet song, taking deep breaths, and being still and relaxing. In the end of the book monkey feels better and can happily go on with his day.
We told a pro-social story and acted out being a gentle friend using stuffed animals and also how being a friend who pushes and bites feels to the friend. Again the toddlers had such serious faces while listening to our story. Their wheels were turning.
We got out our plastic frogs and pipe cleaner flowers to practice some fine motor skills. The kids all played in different ways with the materials. Some were able to thread the flower pieces onto pipe cleaner stems, others made the frogs jump across the table or put the frogs into cups.
In the Big Room we put tape squares on the wall and practiced throwing balls into the squares. The kids LOVED it! They gathered all the balls in the room and we cheered whenever someone threw a ball and it hit the square. We lifted some kids up to give them a good chance of success. It was a really fun experience.
We read Yoga Bug and practiced the basic yoga positions. We have a die with six yoga poses on it which we use to choose a pose to practice. The kids were great at trying out different movements. Of course rolling the die was fun too!
We got to play with playdough this week too! The kids used yogurt caps and mini straws to practice fine motor development. They inserted the straws into the opening in the yogurt caps. We saw a lot of persistence and focus. Leora even yelled, “Ta-da!” when she was finished.
Throughout the week we sang, If You’re Happy and You Know It but changed the words to reflect different emotions – happy, sad, angry, tired, scared, calm.
We had new recycled paper in the sensory table along with tubes and scoopers. It was SO messy but SO fun!!! The kids played really well in close proximity to each other and enjoyed being able to dig and scoop.
We offered the option of using individual zen gardens instead of the big sensory table for kids who wanted a quieter experience. They could dig in the sand or even it out or arrange the smooth rocks. It’s good for children to start to learn when they need a little space to regroup.
Some children made calm down bottles on Thursday while others again played in the sensory table. They added small objects, sequins and glitter into the bottles and the teachers added the liquid to finish them. We will keep them in the calm down house as a tool to help the kids relax.
We Read Breathe Like a Bear (and Little Monkey Calms Down) and practiced taking deep breaths. We also added relaxing our muscles when we breathed out. The more we practiced the more the kids seem to be really getting the concept. The teachers ALWAYS feel better after deep breaths too. I’m sure the parents would like it as well. 🙂
We took an indoor walk in the stroller and hung out in the front entry of the synagogue by the couches and fireplace. We relaxed and read, Little Dinos Don’t Bite. It was great to get a change of scenery and learn a little bit about not biting the wrong things. 🙂
We pulled out peg boards to use at the end of the day on Thursday and they were a smash hit! The entire class worked for a long time fitting the pegs into the foam boards and making stacks with them. Another day we will start working on color sorting but this was just an exploration time and they loved it!
On Friday we will read the book, Making Friends by Mr. Rogers and continue practicing all the skills we learned this week. Easton will be our Shabbat helper for the first time ever.
Next week Aly with the help of Benny will continue working with the kids on managing emotions and being a good friend, they will also introduce the colors yellow and orange!
Thank you for sharing your amazing children with us. We love our time with them.
See you at conferences soon!
Ms. Katie, Ms, Aly & Mr. Benny