Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Visionary schools

Henry Ford stated, ”My idea was then and still is that if a man did his work well, the price he would get for that work would be enough for him to care for himself, and that a business ought to start small and build itself up out of its earnings.” Edited excerpt from Henry Ford: My Life and Work; originally published in 1922 as found in The intelligent Optimist, March/April 2013 Vol. 11 issue 2. (Pg 76-77)

            I whole-heartedly agree!! In fact I have a vision of a private preschool that is made affordable to all because the overhead cost of running the preschool is divided among the students. I envision fair pay for each teacher and low student to teacher ratios; I envision good benefits and the highest quality of learning.

            I believe this is possible and one day I will be a part of creating one. It would work like this: Lets just say for mathematical economics that the overhead is $42,000 per month and we can have up to 70 students. That would be $600 per month at full capacity. Lets say we were just beginning and only had 30 students signed up, that would be $1400 per month per student. We could do fund raising too, but if we just stop looking at turning a profit we might actually get to have an excellent quality school and fair pay for our teachers who would want to stay and could afford to stay.

My only concern is having that many children in one care center. However that is based on 24 per classroom with 3 teachers each; that is one adult per eight children.

Cost is figured by estimating costs of 3 lead teachers @ $4000 per month ($12,000), 6 teacher assistants @ $2500 per month (15000), supplies, other costs, and employee costs $15,000 per month.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Math Stories

In my classroom, everywhere I have taught, we always have a time where we are waiting. Waiting to use the sink to wash hands, waiting for everyone to line up to go here or there, waiting to be called to an activity, waiting, waiting, and more waiting. It is all part of group learning, it is part of life. I decided I wanted to make waiting a little more fun so I started excusing children from one activity to the next by telling a math story with a math computation in it.
I was working with 4 and 5 year olds at the time that I created my math stories so I always used numbers under 5 and usually the numbers 1, 2 and 3. By the age of 4 most humans can count up to 5 so this is a good way to build confidence. I would pick the child in the front of the line and make an addition story. For example:
“Once upon a time Sally wanted to go and drive a fast racecar, so she invited Michael and Samantha to be fast racecar drivers with her. How many children were racing their cars?”
I would also use my fingers or have the children named stand to the side, and give time for the children to call out the answers. They usually called out very fast. Children love to have stories with themselves as the main characters so I would have their attention, their excitement, and because I used stories that they were interested in, It was a lot of fun.
            I highly suggest using Math Stories once in a while or all the time. It’s on the spot learning and the children really love it. They learn so much. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Restaurant play

Sometimes when I am doing something a brilliant idea comes to me about what to do in my classroom. Today I was substituting in middle school, sitting there supporting a student in math, when this idea of having a restaurant for dramatic play came to mind. I also thought of all the things children could potentially learn too.

This is how I create restaurant play in my classroom:
I would begin by setting up a restaurant area next to or near the dramatic house area. I usually try to set it up with the children, and the children add to it throughout. I allow free play in the restaurant for at least one day, observing what the children do and how much they know about restaurants.

I begin bringing the restaurant theme back to the children at circle time. I make a graph of who had gone to some local restaurants. I ask what they noticed about going, attempting at this point to talk about the menu and who worked there. Together we make a simple restaurant menu on a dry erase board with prices, usually 1 to 3 dollars so they can practice adding to 5.
When it is free play time I role model how to order, how to take an order, and how to pay, we always have play money that I have laminated.

Throughout the week we have daily questions about restaurants. Questions like: What’s you favorite restaurant? What do you like to order for breakfast (lunch; dinner)? I have columns of local familiar restaurants using their actual signage, simple 2 to 3 choices, up to 4 depending on age and development and I try to have pictures or I draw pictures so every child can participate at independently at their own level.

Vocabulary words we get to know and use are: Restaurant, menu, prices, dollars, “Order Here”, “Pick Up”, wait staff, bus person, cook, customer.
Skills children will work on are: pre-reading and actual reading, pre-math and actual math (specifically adding to 5 or identifying numbers to 5), writing, language skills, turn taking, sequencing, and cooperation.

Extension ideas for Restaurant play: Make it Chinese, Mexican or Pizza restaurant, make it a coffee shop or café. Add local take out menus, invite a chef or wait staff to visit and talk about what they do and how they use reading, writing and math skills in their job. Make lunch time a restaurant, invite other classes for a lemonade stand, or snack restaurant. Really the sky’s the limit and the children will come up with many of their own ideas.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Negative numbers in preschool

Negative numbers are very confusing to a lot of people. I hear a lot of teachers saying, “you can’t do that,” if a student writes 5-7 (instead of the actual question of 7-5). What I would like to hear is something like “Right now we are only subtracting the smaller number from the larger number.” I say this because it’s my pet peeve about math and when we get into negative numbers we can do that. I used to do it regularly with my bank account when I was a starving student. Why set a child’s mind up for future confusion.
            I also think that the idea of negative numbers should be introduced in preschool. Especially if you live in a climate where it does get below 0. That would be a perfect real life example to bring to the children. As for me I live in a very temperate climate so I just put up a number line that goes from the floor to the ceiling that includes negative numbers. I also talk about if you borrowed apples from a friend and negative numbers are as if you owed someone apples back.
            Just introducing the idea that there are such things as negative numbers is helpful. It is like having a preview of what is coming.