Friday, August 10, 2012

Where Have You Been?

"Where Have You Been?!"

Well, I'm glad you asked! I've been enjoying the summer with my four monkeys! We've gone on two camping vacations and they both were great and we had lots of fun.

This week, I've been teaching art camp at the Peabody Mill Environmental Center in Amherst, NH. I have a great group of 5- and  6-year-olds and I'm loving being around that energy! My art classes usually have me teaching children in grades 2-5, so this has been a treat for me (and I've been able to try some new stuff out).

My students modeling their Painted Turtle Costumes
(And that's my helper, John. Thanks, John!)

The folks at PMEC allowed me to design my own curriculum for the week, so I chose to have a different theme for each day: one day we learned about trees, another day we learned about insects, etc. PMEC is a wonderful place that has ponds, streams, trails and a great indoor space. My room, called the "Mushroom," has an adjoining patio for shaded outdoor play, so it is perfect for this age group.

Daily Schedule

I wanted to be able to get a couple of art projects done with the children each day, but also give them lots of time to explore the grounds, run a bit, and play. So, I decided this would be the perfect time to use Centers with the children. I've been wanting to try centers for a while now, but the way my usual classes are structured, I haven't had the opportunity until now. Here's our daily schedule (this isn't set in stone, I allow for wiggle room, obviously!):

9:00: Children arrive and opening announcements as a group

9:10: Let's get going! We go on a hike that allows us to focus on the day's theme. We do an activity in the field such as looking at a book, observing and collecting specimens, sketching, etc.

9:50ish: Head inside for a potty break and snack, while they are eating I read a book (if I didn't outside), we talk about what we saw and I give them a little instruction

10:20ish: Main Art Project as a group (step-by-step instruction)

10:45ish: Potty break, wash hands

11:00ish: Sit and look at an item related to our theme in an "Up Close" way: looking at a model of a bird, a real bumblebee (not alive) with a magnifying glass, a cross section of a tree. Then explain the centers for the day, break into partners and start Center work. 10-15 minutes per center. Minor art project done during this time.

11:40: Head outside for a snack and play (explore the pond, play a game),

12:00 Be at pick up area for children to be dismissed

12:20 Children gone, head back to room for clean up and prep for next day

12:45ish...WHEW! Job well done!

It's really important to not rush through any part of this process. While I don't want it to be a free-for-all, I want the children to have fun. If they are exploring and it's going well, we keep exploring and I adjust accordingly. If they are antsy and having trouble keeping still, we head outside and play leap frop with the carpet squares as lily pads or a game of duck, duck, goose. It's all good!

This schedule allowed us to get lots of stuff done, but also allowed the children to relax and enjoy everything Peabody Mill Environmental Center has to offer!

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