OAD Interests and Projects
Literacy and writing
You’ll never find a flashcard in the OAD classroom, and do you know why? There are so many other meaningful learning opportunities in our child’s everyday environment. What we know from research is that children learn letters and writing when it is meaningful to them- like the letters in their names! In our classroom that’s exactly what we start with! We encourage independence in writing and identifying their names through daily activities, but most often we don’t have to encourage it at all. (I would highly recommend No More Teaching a Letter a Week and Emergent Writing by the NAEYC).
Taking care of our animal friends
The “Small World” area of our classroom is an Older All Day favorite (and it’s my personal favorite, too). For the past few weeks, the OAD’s have been exploring animal habitats and animal play in this center. It’s impressive how much play can be done in a small area with only plain wooden materials and some animal figurines- but it’s not all that surprising! An annual scientific toy study found that animal figurines (like most open-ended materials) ranked as one of the most verbally and socially engaging toys, as well as one that sparked the most creativity. This has certainly been reflected in the classroom. The OAD’s have loved learning about and creating new habitats for the animals, solving social problems through pretend play, and acting out silly scenarios.
Math throughout routines
Counting, comparing, measuring, ordering, subitizing, and adding are all skills that can easily be incorporated into daily routines, play, and activities. Mealtime is a great time for our OAD’s to compare quantities. Daily rituals such as entering and leaving the room are great opportunities for counting. Games like “Hippity Hoppity How Many” during transitions to and from activities teach skills such as subitizing. Fingerplays and songs are also an OAD favorite for introducing concepts such as backwards counting!
Recyclables and 3-D art
The best part about 3-D art in the classroom has been the problem solving piece of it all. Our art recycling bin started after we enjoyed a cutting activity at the table this Spring. After using all of the paper in our Maker-Space shelves, some of the OAD’s realized that they could keep using scraps. Children found early on that many of the other daily materials we were using and throwing away could be repurposed in their creations. Now, we are finding creative ways to incorporate these items into our play! It’s incredible what children are capable of when we don’t provide them with every tool, toy, or material.
Building and Engineering projects
In the OAD classroom, you can never go wrong with a simple set of wooden blocks. Possibilities are endless! Most recently, our Older All Days have been interested in creating bridges and roads (after reading a book about different bridge structures), and building other simple machines like catapults and ramps for marbles and cars. Through these activities, we learn to plan, work collaboratively, solve problems, explore materials, infer, and experiment.
Science & Discovery
We just discussed the word “curiosity” in class after reading it in a book. It’s a concept that the OAD’s are familiar with. Most of our projects start with the questions “why?” and “what?”. Why is there white goo seeping out of our tree? What happens when I mix two different colors of paint together? What does a giraffe sound like? Together, we’ve been exploring methods to find out the answers to these questions. We’ve discussed how books, informational videos, articles, magazines, professionals, and experiments can help us learn about the world around us.
“I can solve problems with other children”
Our philosophy of learning at The Children’s School is that children learn and develop through interactions with the world around them. At this age, peers are beginning to play a bigger role in these interactions. In the Older All Days classroom, a major focus of ours is supporting children in independently navigating peer relationships and conflicts. While much of this support occurs through learning opportunities embedded throughout daily routines and activities, we know that it’s important to equip children with the skills that they need before conflicts arise. Through role play with our celebrity guest puppets Sparkles and Jackson, books, and visuals, the OAD’s have found solutions to social problem scenarios and built upon language that can be used during real conflicts.
“I can use friendly language to say what I need, feel, and think”
Watching the Older All Days’ language develop is truly fascinating. They are learning that, not only do the words that we say have meaning, how we say them has meaning, too. Using thumbs-up/thumbs-down games, and role playing games, we’ve discussed how saying the same thing in different ways can make us feel different emotions. One of our classroom rules is that we take care of people. Using “friendly” language is just part of how we do this.