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Slice of Life with Little Ones

On teaching the Ducklings & Chickadees 2016-17
--Samantha Gesualdi, (aka Miss G.) and Jill Bearce--

MARCH 2017

Some Thoughts on
How Ducklings and Chickadees "do" School.

~~ Samantha Gesualdi ~~
One of the more rewarding aspects of
teaching multi age groups,

specifically two and three year olds, is experiencing how differently they  "do" school. 
It can be easily assumed that the abilities, wants, and needs of these children
in a school setting are generally the same. 
However, leading both classes has taught me the opposite. 
In essence, adapting my curriculum and mindset to suit each class
forces me to constantly assess the differences in children
who are all but one year apart in age. 

Witnessing and realizing these variations
in the moment is fascinating. 
      Some notable differences between the two age groups are
language and communication skills,
independent skills,
and gross motor skills (walking, running, jumping). 

Of course, the older children are more adept at these things. 
However, I find the subtle adaptations in the way the two classes
play or experience something new
is what is the most intriguing. 
For instance, I recently set out some Legos
in hopes of sorting them by color.  

The idea was to pick through the bin of blocks and then group them
according to color around the carpet.  
I thought it would be an engaging activity--
something different than how we usually play with blocks. 

The Chickadees were
quite excited to take on
the challenge.
They were successful
in completing the task
in my opinion,
enjoyed working together
to organize the blocks. 

The Ducklings,
were more interested
in taking all of the
Legos out of the bin at once, holding/hoarding them,
and building with them
right away. 

They built castles
and train stations!
I was certainly impressed. 
Both cases were satisfying
and fun for the
little ones.
I noticed a similar outcome when playing with a giant box on the playground. 
The teachers thought the box could enhance our imaginative play outside. 
The older children immediately labeled it a "house" and
began pretending to be different members of a family. 
Ms. Gladney even cut windows and a door in it!
They were so careful to "ring the doorbell" and sweep the mulch
off the floor of their new box-house. 

The Ducklings, however,
had a more intense reaction to the playground's newest addition. 
They couldn't help but to run inside and around the box
shrieking with excitement. 
Mostly, they prioritized opening/shutting the doors
and jumping/falling around inside it. 
Some of them were even trying to lift it up. 

Who knew there could be so many ways to experience a simple box!
These small examples remind me
that children are constantly growing. 
Reflecting on these moments enhances my time with all my students
by keeping me on my toes. 
In fact, I embrace the different ways my students react
to similar learning situations. 
It has taught me to be flexible, prioritize what is important
to my students now, envision their endeavors in the future,
and to value every child's successes,
big or small.

Chickadees Investigate a Mystery

~~ Jill Bearce~~
“What’s in the mystery box today?”
This has been a very popular question lately in the Chickadees classroom!
We recently introduced a simple, plain box to circle time.
Nothing special about the outside of the box,
but what was inside was a different story.
We all sit down quietly while the box is placed in the middle of the circle.
“What’s that?” many of them ask.

Ms. G explains that something is inside the box but we can’t look at it with our eyes.

We can shake it,
smell it,
and listen to the sound
it makes,

but it needs to
stay closed.

This causes much excitement!!
To start, Ms. G gives a clue.
“Inside the box today is something we use every day in our classroom.”
We all take a moment to think about what it could be.
Some look around the room to get ideas.
Their guesses are so carefully thought out as they tilt the box back and forth.
“Is it a crayon?” some guess.
Maybe a marker? A train? A book?

After everyone has their turn,
the box is returned to Ms. G.
We are so silent with anticipation.
Ms. G peeks in the box.
She smiles and closes it again.
“What IS it?” they all want to know.
“You really want to know what it is?” she asks them.
“Yes!!” they all say.

“Maybe I’ll wait until after snack to tell you,” she jokes.
 “No!” they all laugh as she finally makes the big reveal.


 The children all laughed and talked about how they were fooled!
What a great addition to circle time!

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