Cakes and I recently won a competition run by A Little Bird and Freestyle Kids. The prize was a 5kg box of the most fabulous stuff I have ever seen, KINETIC SAND. What is Kinetic sand you ask? It is something that no child or adult can walk past without touching (kind of like Goop or Oobleck for those of you across the ocean, but made of sand). It moves just like goop but without the mess. When you press and push it, the kinetic sand stays together. When you hang it, drip it or squish it, it flows. Cakes and I had fun building sand castles and knocking them down. It was much more fun than ordinary sand as the sand particles moved with a mind of their own. It reminded me of little metal shards being moved around by a magnet. It feels just like wet sand but without the sticky mess. Even though Cakes' favourite place at school is the sandpit she tends to stick to the dry sand. Her sensory aversions tend to keep Cakes on the cleaner side of play. This sand is perfect for her as she gets to experience the tactile play without getting messy. For parents concerned about mess this product is amazing. I am a bit cheap and hate to waste anything and our house is far from clean. So we tend to protect the play resource from the floor rather than the other way around. I was so pleased to find the sand was as easy to pick up as bits of playdough. With the cat walking around I was so worried about getting cat hair in it, but none got in, yay! At school I have carpet on the floor and I was able to salvage every piece of sand dropped, no dust, dirt or carpet was attached to the sand, double yay!The box said that the Kinetic sand never dries out. We decided to test it out (with a very small amount, just in case) and after an entire weekend out, it was just as good as it was when we started. It also says it repels water so when we have a little more time we are going to add a moat to our next castle.
Loving some clean play
This is how Cakes looked at tidy up time.
Cakes was so busy experiencing a medium she usually avoids, she didn't really see how cool this sand really is. The kids at school however thought it was amazing. They couldn't believe how it moved all by itself, how it stuck together and how it separated.
I would recommend Kinetic Sand to all parents, teachers and children. I see specific benefits for students with special needs (with sensory processing disorders, poor small muscle development, etc). This is a product that will be seen in my classroom to cater for students who are tactile and kinesthetic learners. If you are a visual learner you might be interested in the video below, it will have you ohhing and ahhing. You can follow Freestyle Kids on Facebook for updates on the Kinetic Sand (and other products)
Small muscle development
cause and effect
With a little under a week until the Australian Federal election Cakes and I have hit the streets delivering flyers for the Gonski.
Huh? What is a Gonski? you say... Well towards the end of 2011 a man called (someone, I could have looked this up, but thought you should know I know as little as the next guy) Gonski did a huge review of Australian education; public, independent and catholic. He wrote a report called the Gonksi report. The report is so thorough, detailing what each school needs and how much money each one would need to get what they need. Things like more resources, more teachers, training, equipment, etc. One of the two big political parties (the one currently in power) decided to make it policy though asked the state governments to contribute.
It took months for each state to slowly sign up to the agreement. Cakes and I live in Queensland and our state government is the opposition and refused to sign up. Even worse than our state not signing up the opposition was so against it that they initially said they disagreeed with it. They have now backflipped and are offering 1/3 of the money over 4 years, rather than the total amount over 6 years. So if the government changes even the states signed up may lose the funding under their previous agreement.
Having a small person ready to hit school in 2015 and with my new career in schools, I really would like the best education possible for all of Australia's children. We really should have hit the pavement earlier and spread the word while we had the opportunity for the state to sign, but we didn't. So with a few weeks to go until the federal elections and I Give a Gonski posts in my Facebook feed, Cakes noticed this picture.
"I want to do that Mum" says Cakes. The teacher in me said "I really should have done this months ago", the parent in me said "My child deserves a good education" and the amazement for my kid said "Sure lets sign up". So together we completed the form on the 'Do your block' page and got flyers delivered. We ended up with 3 lots as the first lot was not for our electorate, a second correction lot was the corrected lot and a third as Cakes talked her Nanny into to taking her mail box dropping.
So far we drove (in her little Gonski mobile which took forever) along our street doing the flyers, around Nanny's streets and tomorrow near her early education centre (in the other electorate). So this little person will have delivered 300 flyers with very little help from adults. To the few people she saw during her duty she called out "I give a Gonski, my school needs the money". Good to know she has a very basic understanding of what it is all about (about as much as most adults really).
And like no other experience it was a great learning experience. She practised writing her name almost 100 times on the flyers, read out all the numbers on the letter boxes (she still reads in single numbers "1 and 3", allowing the opportunity for me to teach her 'tens' numbers "1 and 3 is 13"), she was learning to do something for someone other than herself, developing fine motor skills folding the flyers, hand eye coordination putting them in the mail boxes through the tiny slots (budding mail lady right her), strengthening her muscles by walking, running and driving and a sense of pride for standing up for what she believes is good.
If you are an Australian voter, please consider giving a Gonski this coming Saturday for all the small people out there. One day they will be our future adults, lets make them smarter than we are!
- writing practise
- number recognition
- understanding volunteering
- fine motor skills
- hand eye coordination
- gross muscle development
- sense of pride
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it is my new classroom, yay!
Today was another exciting day with cranes, trucks and a shiny new building arriving. When I arrived at school early in the morning I was greeted by a really big crane.
The really big crane parked in the building site attracted lots of attention in the morning (mostly from us teachers)
At 9am sharp half a building arrived. We were in class in the furtherest classroom away from the building site so we missed its delivery. Fortunately the second half arrived at the start of lunch. We abandoned our sandwiches, yoghurt and fruit and ran (yes we did) to the site fence and watched the truck, crane and work men do their magic.
This truck was big and the driver reversed with such precison
The students were learning about part, part, whole in maths. They gave me a lesson on part, part, whole with the building as an example. Smart little buttons they are!
The foreman said it should be about 3 weeks. Yay! Building mounts and building took 2 days. I really thought that was the hard bit but the men made it look easy peasy. I am not a builder but it looks like lots of bolts need bolting, electricity, Internet and a bridge all to be connected. I am sure there is much more to it, but all I can think about is moving in. Yay!!!
Yay! Look what came in the mail.
My Reading and writing stickers, and a my stamp!
I've been super excited about my new classroom and students that I have been trying to make resources while I wait for the building to be built. I've been printing, cutting, laminating and cutting again like there is no tomorrow. I'm pretty pleased with all the things I've made so far but these arrived in the mail yesterday and I cannot wait to use them. My very own personalized stickers.
"Mrs Page said I did great writing today",
"Mrs Page said I am a great reader" and "Mrs Page thinks I am a super star".
My plan is to give only one or two stickers each day to the students with the best writing and reading. By the best I mean the student who tried the hardest, had the most creative spelling, sounded out words the loudest, etc. I am hoping the students wear the stickers home with pride so the parents can see what areas their child is working hard at and succeeding in. I plan to get more for other learning areas over time.
Where did I get them you ask?
I have been using them for years. Our wedding invites, Cakes' birthday invites, address labels, name tags, etc. You name it, we've possibly tried it. Check them out, they are inexpensive, have great quality products under promise and over deliver with their delivery times. I ordered a banner for the classroom and more stickers today. I cannot wait, eeek.
It has been a while since I blogged. I've held myself back with finishing uni, starting my first teaching job, Cakes birthday (when I made a short lived come back) and changing to a new school.
We have just finished the 6th week of term 3. Over the past 6 weeks at my new school I have not had a classroom as the school is going to have one built. I have been using my previous experience and training at my first school to do student support and teaching English in the five Prep classes. This has been a great opportunity to observe the five experienced teachers and teacher aides. I've also been able to get to know the 130 students and identify 'special' needs that I can work on during support times (I will share some of the support stategies I have been using a little later).
Okay enough about what has been happening And onto my exciting news.
BUILDERS HAVE STARTED BUILDING!!
The digging it was doing
The holes it dug
I was so excited that I was talking to the builders. They said there will be a building there by Tuesday (wow they work quick). I am guessing it will still be a few weeks before we are in (electricity, paths, furniture, etc may be needed first). Well I better get back to my printing, cutting, laminating and cutting again if I am going to be ready to set up my brand new classroom. Hopefully blog to you soon.
The one aspect of Cakes' Yellow Art Party I came up with on my own (without any input from Cakes, haha) was to paint the white concrete wall in the back yard. When Cakes was very small I painted the wall white, painted a small section with blackboard paint and never really did much with it. I thought about painting a nice mural on it (but who wants to look at a painting their Mum did?), then getting her to paint a block each year as she got older (but what if she ended up with a sibling and we started to run out of blocks?) and that is when it hit me this party was perfect for her to get some art from her friends she could keep forever (or until she wants to repaint the wall).
The first hurdle was how I was going to ensure each child only painted on one block. My first thought was to newspaper it up (but somehow every newspaper I kept, ended up in the bin). I then decided to use a table cloth (one of the plastic ones we use as an art mat occasionally). I had intended to precut this into pieces for an easy stick up on the morning though got caught up with everything else and never got to it. So early on the morning I headed out and stuck it up with what I thought was awesome packing tape (but it wasn't great and fell a little). I cut out the holes of each block with a stanley knife (following the grouty bits) and taped it up with Cakes' painting tape (so now I owe her a new pack).
Cakes had her third birthday party today. Seeing I still haven't blogged about her second birthday I thought I better get a crack on with this one and start straight away (I will catch up, and do her second birthday sometime this year as I know rainbow horsey parties are all the rage, haha). Her party is going to be a series of posts so I can bite off small bits at a time and really show case her hard work in planning and implementation. Yes you read that right this little almost 3 year old planned and implemented most aspects of her party with a little help (when skill and time became a concern). So where better to start than the invitation.
Cakes has been in birthday party preparation mode for a few months now. Late last year she decided she was going to have an art party. With one of her new interests being bead threading, she suggested we do some at her party. With most beads being tiny, threading can be very difficult for young toddlers. With that in mind we decided to use pasta for threading. The best thing about this is it meant we had an extra activity to do in preparation. With yellow being Cakes favourite colour it was inevitable we would do primary colours. We set out following a simple procedure.
I'm sure some of you have seen this picture of Cakes and cringed (I sure did as she tipped the half of bucket all over the floor). This innocent mess turned out to be a wonderful learning experience that we did several days in a row. As Cakes tipped the sand out she looked at me, smiled and asked "Can I play with this?". Well yes, but it might have been preferable if it was contained in one way or another. Seeing it was all over the floor there was no point in trying to contain it. Was there?
Who doesn't love shopping? Well actually I don't and I am sure Cakes isn't too keen either, but if you have ever been to a Reverse Garbage I am sure you could shop until you drop. Cakes and I carefully travel down every aisle to ensure we don't miss anything cool or a bargain. Cakes has two rules to follow when shopping on top of all other outing rules. 1-don't touch anything that can get broken including putting things back nicely, 2 -make sure you have some idea of what you can use your find for before adding it into the basket.