Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's Happening in my Classroom?

Today was the first day of school for some of my students! I have 3 classes--Mon/Wed/Fri in the am and pm (my 3 year olds) and Tues/Thurs am (my 4 year olds). So far, they seem like they'll be a lot of fun! *fingers crossed*

I base my class activities on vocabulary themes because I believe that teaching vocabulary in categories is the best way for children to learn new words. Themes/categories help kiddos put new words they encounter into little "filing cabinets" of similar words to expand their vocab.

What's the current theme? Back to School!
We've got vocab words like school, bus, teacher, book, pencil, crayons, friends, backpack, toys, blocks, etc.

How are we teaching these words?
Well, today, we played a game where students took turns opening the backpack and taking out a vocabulary item. They had to label items and maybe even say a sentence (like "I have a backpack").
We also worked on their listening skills by having them point to items or follow directions (like "point to the book," "point to something we use to cut" or "pick up the apple and put it in the blue backpack"). If they can't do any of these right away, we give them cues, like pointing or modeling for them.

We also did a coloring page (with crayons and a bus) to give them a chance to practice their crayon/pencil grasp--- My trick for getting the correct grasp?--breaking crayons in half! (by the way, this is a coloring, experiential activity, NOT a worksheet activity--blech!)

Finally, we used our Discovery Toys EZ Blocks!
EZ Blocks are great first building blocks because they have a grooved top and bottom to make sure that little ones' hands don't accidentally knock the blocks over. They are also a nice size for the little hands, too. Give your EZ Blocks a little shake--they make noise!! How fun and inviting is that? They are also inviting to the eye because they have some basic colors and shapes.

So, how can you use EZ Blocks in a speech and language development class?
Well, first off, "blocks" is one of our vocabulary words for this theme since blocks and toys are key items in a preschool classroom.
We also worked on requesting-- my kids are taught the phrase "I want ___" It's a pretty powerful phrase, if you think about it! A great way to meet your wants and needs! We only give the students 1 or 2 at a time so they will always have something to ask for. We're sneaky that way!
Some basic concepts were also targeted, like colors and shapes, but also concepts like "tall" and "short" or "loud" and "quiet." Who made the tallest tower?

Some of the phrases and sentences I heard used with my students were "I make a castle," "shake blue," and "it fall down!" When we heard these utterances, we modeled and expanded so the students could hear the correct sentence use ("oh, I am making a castle," "I am shaking the blue block" and "it is falling down!").

There is so much more that can be done with EZ Blocks from Discovery Toys! The kids are learning and having fun, too!! They are available here at my website.
Also, check out the new fall catalog to check out an EZ Blocks addition--
EZ Blocks Wheels & More!
Here's to a great school year with lots of learning and playing!

Happy building!

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