by Chalimar Ríos
Twelve years ago, when I was still studying in college to graduate as a teacher and educator, we were asked to create a teaching material that would stand out in some way or that would involve a different way of teaching. With a thousand ideas in mind, I went to a department store and bought different colors of felt, Velcro, hot glue, and fiberfill. I came up with the great idea to create a “concept cube.” I imagined it as a tool that I could use easily by changing the pictures often to work on multiple skills with the children and teach new concepts. The day came, I presented my idea, and it was a success. I saved that concept cube as one of my best teaching tools and used it for years in my classroom.
Years later, I find myself working for FunShine Express, where I have the great opportunity to see and be a part of creating good, quality educational materials to help teachers and caregivers make the teaching process easier and more effective. And guess what? They have a Concept Cube! The idea I had more than 10 years ago was already being implemented by FunShine Express as part of the materials sent in their monthly kits. Teachers receive Concept Cube Cards, a mix of drawings and real pictures, to place in the Concept Cube to play games with children, making learning fun and interactive and helping children make connections between learning and the real world. Join me in discovering how to use one of my all-time favorite learning tools by reviewing our February Concept Cube components.
As I enter my third year as curriculum manager for FunShine Express, I can safely say that reviewing books for our curriculum is my favorite part of the job. Each fall, I work with our writers to finalize themes for the next year. Once those are in place, I can begin working with vendors and publishers to secure samples of books that explore the subject matter and concepts conveyed in each theme. My background is in writing for children and early childhood education, so I feel especially compelled to find books that are both imaginative and educational. Our offerings over the past few years have covered everything from concept and nonfiction books to retellings of nursery rhymes and books in song. We offered our first bilingual book in the September/October 2020 Buttercups Kit and strive to offer more in the future. This is just one highlight of many.
Documentation is a powerful tool in the early childhood classroom. Put simply, documentation is any evidence collected over a period of time that describes, narrates, or demonstrates a child’s experience. Documentation can involve teacher and parent notes, a child’s drawings and dictations, and recordings/photos of an event or interaction. Such evidence allows for parents, teachers, children, and other stakeholders to engage in meaningful discussions about children’s learning and growing.
A typical morning in child care might involve greeting children with hugs, high fives, and snuggles for those who are still waking up or having a hard time saying goodbye to loved ones for the day. However, some children (and adults!) are slow to warm in the morning, preferring quiet, space, and independent activities. In general, morning greetings may have changed in your setting this fall, as you work to implement safety procedures for COVID-19. Regardless of how children are entering your setting, it’s important to make space and time to acknowledge each other. Below are 15 creative greetings to support you in promoting safety, personal space, and rapport in your setting: