In Part 2, I detailed our annual Art Show over the years, with stories of children and major works of art. I also described how music played a major role in helping children feel inspired to create masterpieces. The magnitude of the Art Show was crucial, and suddenly it was gone.
When school shut down I knew I had to do something. Right away. Keeping a connection with children was the most important thing. And, what was it that children loved, their favorite part of the day? Reading stories and chapter reading. I knew if I could still read to children, that would be important.
The first thing I did was to set up a YouTube channel. I read a picture book every day. I also picked up where we left off in chapter reading on page 53 of Little House in the Big Woods. That has been a constant, every day. I started with books the children like. The shock of the first few weeks demanded good books, favorite books. I was nurturing their soul. Continuing with chapter reading was doing the same thing.
Then, my team and I wanted to move forward and bring in teaching. How could we continue with art and the Art Show? I read aloud The Noisy Paint Box, by Barb Rosenstock, the story of Kandinsky.
More than that, I opened the video with stories of Eric Carle and his art (the children love Eric Carle), and how Kandinsky influenced him to become the painter he is today. After the story, I showed them in the video other styles of art that we had started to learn, and I challenged them to create their own masterpieces. It is a wonderful video!
We began to post other videos on YouTube- music, yoga, mindfulness, math activities, rhyming, and science. Every day became a theme for learning. Gloria began to make visits. When my co-teacher hosted a scavenger hunt, Gloria wanted to participate, too.
We emailed families and encouraged children to tell us what they were doing at home. Families sent photos, and we wrote to the children. There’s nothing better for a child than a note from the teacher. We were flooded with photos and opportunities to email and connect with children.
When the writing began, we recommended that children keep a journal of their time at home. They could draw pictures and have their parents write the words. Better yet, they could try to write some of their own words. Parents were thrilled, and so were children.
Can you see how the teaching has developed, and learning is taking shape?
We now do Zoom every Friday. It is fun, and children can see their friends. We sing and talk, and that is important. Social skills are a must for preschoolers. Zoom keeps that essential piece going.
I have to share with you my fun video. The backstory is that every day, right before chapter reading, I recite the classic children’s book, Goodnight Moon. Sometimes I change it up and interject children’s names, such as “and a picture of Jimmy jumping over the moon.” Sometimes I put the story to a beat. The children love that. So, I did a Goodnight Moon rap for the children.
We are learning. We are having fun. We are all in this together. Being there for children is #1. The teaching and learning begin to flow once we are connected. Thank goodness for our Aqua Room YouTube channel. Thank goodness for emailing and photos. Thank goodness for Zoom. We keep adding and doing what is important, even a simple card in the mail.
Stay well and stay safe, and stay tuned for Part 4, a highlight on chapter reading.