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Routines and The Learning Process

Every month Mother Goose Time gives the Blog Ambassadors a Focus Topic.  This month (well January, I am a day or two late) the focus was on routines.

First I will give a super quick overview of our ideal day of using Mother Goose Time.  This doesn't always happen, but this is our time table on days that everything is running smoothly and we don't have errands to run.

9:00: Circle Time - Circle Time Song, Days of the Week Song, calendar, weather, concept review, the days activity and the new song.
9:30: First Activity - I don't always go in order.  I save the art project for last usually, and try to get the things that are most challenging done first.
10:00: Second Activity and the I Can Read book.  This is not scheduled everyday, but I like to do it.
10:30: Bitty Baby needs a bottle at this point, so we read the day's book, plus whatever other books we have read during this theme
11:00: Third Activity
11:30: Last Activity - usually the art project so he can take as long as he wants.

We don't do breaks.  Little Guy might appreciate some breaks, but I am not good at taking them.  Once I take a break from something I very rarely get back to it.  Snacks are also only for special occasions (birthdays, vacations, or a super fun MGT recipe) or if a meal will be late at our house, so we don't have a snack time.

Mother Goose Time believes that learning is a process of inquiry and investigation.

Today while we were doing Safari Movements I took notes on our conversations and activities that occurred.  This did not go as well as planned, because Bitty Baby chose this time (admittedly the completely wrong time for school, 7:30 at night) to exercise her lungs despite being fed, clean diapered, and held.  
Each preschool activity starts with a "Discuss" section.  Little Guy doesn't do that great most of the time, but this time the question was pretty easy, and I kept pressing for more thorough answers.  This is our conversation:

Me: If you could be a safari animal, which would you want to be?
LG: Elephant.
Me: Why would you want to be an elephant?
LG: Because I want to be a boy elephant.
Me: Why would it be fun to be an elephant?
LG: Because its fun.
Me: Why is it fun?
LG: Elephants can spray me.
Me: It would be fun to spray people?  
LG: With my nose.  No, with my trunk, not my nose.
Me: Would anything else be fun about being an elephant?
LG: My feet.
Me: What about your feet?
LG: Walking to the watering hole.  To play.

Although it took a little while to get good answers out of him, in this conversation you could see quite a few things that he had learned this month: 1) Elephants can spray 2) Elephants have trunks, not noses and 3) Elephants go to watering holes.

The next section is always explore.  This step gets skipped quite a bit in our house.  I know it is a great way for the kids to learn on their own and experiment with things, but we often have a time crunch.  As it is, my house doesn't look like its been cleaned in months (it has) so sometimes saving time so I can run laundry and do dishes is necessary.

Dancing like an elephant
The Explore section today was to pretend to be a safari animal and dance.  I put in the Safari Songs CD.  I asked him which song he wanted and he picked Little Zebra.  At first he didn't want to dance, but he got really into it and was jumping and running around like a maniac by the next song (he chose Baboon).  At the end of Baboon the song says to sit down.  He was paying enough attention to the song to sit down at the end when it said, which really surprised me.  Since he was jumping like crazy I picked Jumping Dance.  Then, since he had wanted to be an elephant, I put on Elephant Stomp.  Without any prompting, he got down on all fours, crawled around and made elephant noises when it started!  After that he wanted the giraffe song (My Giraffe) and remembered that the song talked about the giraffe having a long neck, which was pretty good since we only listened to the last few songs on the disc a few times.  Partway through the song he apparently got tired, because he sat down peacefully.  Since he was no longer wanting to dance, and he had participated really well, I decided we were done with Exploring.

The main part of the activity (at least in our house) is Play.  This is where there is more of a structured activity instead of free play.  This is where the baby really got loud, so I didn't get as much done.  The game was to spin the Wild Animal Spinner, then roll the Movement Cube.  After you had an animal and a movement, you moved like the animal to where the cube told you to go (stomp to something yellow, jump 9 times, etc.)

Spinning the Wild Animal Spinner
First he spun a lion.  I asked him if the lion was a daddy lion or a mommy lion.  He knew it was a daddy.  I asked why and he said "Because it has a mane."  He was able to name all the animals on the spinner.  The movement cube told him to find a "10".  He growled like a lion while he looked for it, but needed a lot of direction on where it was.  This was a recurring theme.  He kept looking at me like I was crazy because I would say "find the "e"" and he would point at it on the Movement Cube and say he found it.
Rolling the Movement Cube
Each part of the learning process serves a purpose, both for the child and the teacher.  The Discuss portion helps a child think more deeply about things, and gives the teacher a chance to know what the child knows and impart knowledge.  Explore gives the child a chance to be comfortable with what they are going to be doing, as well as gain independence and problem solving skills.  The teacher is able to observe what the child is capable of and find out what they enjoy doing to better be able to teach the child.  Play is important for the child because it gives them the opportunity to learn skills and follow directions.  The teacher is better able to observe and assess abilities during the structured activities.
Jumping 9 times like a gazelle


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