Friday, September 23, 2016

Drawing on Mirrors



It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.


We love to draw. We draw on paper and on paper plates. We draw at the easel. We draw with pens and pencils and markers and crayons. We draw with dry erase markers.

We love to use the small dry erase boards to write and draw. But we recently used mirrors as the surface for drawing.

Dry erase markers on mirrors (Brick by Brick)

Small hand mirrors are easily acquired at discount stores or the dollar store. We used our regular dry erase markers and erasers.

Dry erase markers on mirrors (Brick by Brick)

We write and draw just like on the dry erase boards - circles and loops and designs.

Dry erase markers on mirrors (Brick by Brick)

We can also draw "on" our faces (the reflection not the actual faces!).

Dry erase markers on mirrors (Brick by Brick)

The reflection gives a different dimension to what we are drawing or writing. 

Dry erase markers on mirrors (Brick by Brick)

Plus it's just fun to do it!

You can also draw on a large stand-up mirror or a large mirror on the table, floor, or ground outside!


Visit my Dollar Store and Dumpster Pinterest Board and my blog for more repurposing ideas.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Educators and Parents Should Know About Neuroplasticity, Learning and Dance by Judith Hanna, PhD

Happy Fall!

Since this PreK and K Sharing blog began in November 2011,  I have written many posts on the subject of dance and its countless benefits to children.  I came across this article, written in January 2016, that I wanted to pass along to early childhood educators.

I don't usually reprint entire articles for my blog, but this one is easy to read, succinct, and really shines the spotlight on the importance of dance as a vehicle for learning.  Please take a few minutes to read this fascinating article by Judith Lyne Hanna, author, dance educator, and California-certified teacher.


Keep on Dancin',                                    Connie with Dance Students

Connie



MOVING IS LEARNING!














What Educators and Parents Should Know About Neuroplasticity, Learning and Dance



Dance. Is it merely art?  Is it just recreation?  Think again.
Dance is now being studied as a pathway to enhance learning.  And, scientists say, educators and parents should take note of the movement.
Recently at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, more than 6,800 attendees paid rapt attention to renowned choreographer Mark Morris as he answered questions about the relationship between creativity and dance.
Scientists are turning to dance because it is a multifaceted activity that can help them—and ultimately educators and even parents– demystify how the brain coordinates the body to perform complex, precise movements that express emotion and convey meaning. Dancers possess an extraordinary skill set—coordination of limbs, posture, balance, gesture, facial expression, perception, and action in sequences that create meaning in time and space. Dancers deal with the relationship between experience and observation.
The brain hides from our sight the wondrously complex operations that underlie this feat. Although there are many secrets to unravel about the power of the brain and dance, advances in technology– such as brain scanning techniques and the experiments of dancers, dance makers, and dance viewers– reveal to us the unexpected.  Research shows that dance activity registers in regions of the brain responsible for cognition.
More than 400 studies related to interdisciplinary neuroscience reveal the hidden value of dance.  For instance, we acquire knowledge and develop cognitively because dance bulks up the brain. Consequently, the brain that “dances” is changed by it. As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio points out, “Learning and creating memory are simply the process of chiseling, modeling, shaping, doing, and redoing our individual brain wiring diagrams.”
Dance is a language of physical exercise that sparks new brain cells (neurogenesis) and their connections. These connections are responsible for acquiring knowledge and thinking. Dancing stimulates the release of the brain-derived protein neurotropic factor that promotes the growth, maintenance, and plasticity of neurons necessary for learning and memory. Plus, dancing makes some neurons nimble so that they readily wire into the neural network. Neural plasticity is the brain’s remarkable abil­ity to change through­out life. (As a septuagenarian, I’m dancingflamenco, belly dance, jazz, and salsa!)    As a method of conveying ideas and emotions with or without recourse to sound, the language of dance draws upon similar places and thought processes in the brain as verbal language. Dance feeds the brain in various kinds of communication.
Through dance, students can learn about academics—and themselves–including sexual, gender, ethnic, regional, national, and career identities. Moreover, dance is a means to help us improve mood and cope with stress that can motivate or interfere with concentration and learning. Influenced by body senses, environment, and culture, the brain “choreographs” dance and more.

Fodder for the Brain

The brain is comprised of about 100 billion electrically active neurons (cells), each connected to tens of thousands of its neighbors at perhaps 100 trillion synapses (the spaces between neurons where information transfers can occur). These atoms of thought relay information through voltage spikes that convert into chemical signals to bridge the gap to other neurons.
All thought, movement, and sensation emanate from electrical impulses coursing through the brain’s interconnected neurons. When they fire together they connect and reconnect, and the connections between them grow stronger in impacting our perception, our comprehension, and different kinds of memory.
If a pattern is repeated, the associ­ated group of neurons fire together resulting in a new memory, its consolidation, and ease of retrieving it. Neurons can improve intellect, memory, and certain kinds of learning if they join the existing neural networks instead of rattling aimlessly around in the brain for a while before dying.
Brain research has given us many insights for dance and other kinds of knowledge. Illustratively, we can apply what psycholinguists have found about learning a second or third verbal language to learning more than one nonverbal language—that is, another dance vocabulary (gesture and locomotion) and grammar (ways movements are put together), and meaning. Children who grow up multilingual have greater brain plasticity, and they multitask more easily. Learning a second or third language uses parts of the brain that knowing only one’s mother tongue doesn’t. Students who learn more than one dance language not only are giving their brains and bodies a workout; they are also increasing their resources for creative dance-making.

Connection for Education

So, what is the relevance of dance for educators and for parents? First, if one of the goals of education is to enhance procedural learning, then dance certainly helps. In traditional (blocked) approaches, the learner is encouraged to focus on mastering a particular dance movement before moving on to new problems. By comparison, varied practice (interleaving) that includes frequent changes of task so that the performer is constantly confronting novel components of the to-be-learned information is more effective.
Second, dance can be offered in multiple venues to promote cognitive growth, including arts magnet schools and academies, regular secondary schools, universities, and community and recreation centers. Venues may have their own dance faculty. Performing arts organizations, nonprofit operations, and dance companies offer dance education, often as partners with academic schools. Illustrative dance programs, some established in the last century but continuing to develop, show how dance education promotes skills for academe, citizenship, and the workplace. Principals can reach out to those offering dance classes and establish invaluable partnerships.
Obviously curricula and assessment vary in school settings. Dance may be a distinct per­forming art discipline with in-depth sequential exploration of a coherent body of knowledge guided by highly qualified dance teachers. Or dance may also be a liberal art, complimentary to or part of another subject. Brief introductions to dance may fill gaps in school curricula. Historical serendipity, leadership, teacher interest, parent involvement, and economic resources affect how youngsters experience dance.
Society privileges mental capacity—mind over matter and emotion. Talking, writing, and numbers are the media of knowledge. However, we now know that dance is a language, brain-driven art, and also, a fuel for learning subjects other than dance. In short, dance is an avenue to thinking, translating, interpreting, communicating, feeling, and creat­ing. As a multimedia communication that generates new brain cells and their connections, dance at any age enriches our cognitive, emotional, and physical development beyond the exercise itself and extends to most facets of life.

Friday, September 16, 2016

September Songs - Keep the HAPPY Going!

Sticking your head to the floor - with bubblegum?
    Happy September to all from Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup!  By now some of the routines of school are humming, others are still being assimilated into the day.  The one thing that shouldn’t get lost in the mix is a commitment to keep the music flowing.  For some students, the little song or chant that you’ve put in their heads is a comfort.  For some it’s a joyful outburst!


Miss Chris is in bubblegum pink on the right!
   I recently saw a post on my FaceBook page from a teacher who’s been using my music for about 15 years.  Miss Chris – I’m talking about you!  Miss Chris’ classroom sings a lot. They move a lot. They’re really good learners!  In this case she posted, Made it through the first week of preschool with our new favorite song, Sticky Bubblegum, Carole Stephens , we sang it today 3-times in a row! Can't wait to hear the next CD!!!

   Why would Miss Chris sing the same song THREE TIMES IN A ROW? I’m guessing:
1. The kids said “Do it again!” when they finished.
2. They heard it the first time to get how it goes. They enjoyed it the second time because they now understood the pattern and words.
3. They did it the third time because they knew what to do and that’s truly when the fun kicks in!

Toe to nose?  Got it!
   


 SO, remember, just because YOU are tired of a song or activity, keep doing it.  Your typical preschooler needs to hear something 4-6 times before it is theirs and they can reproduce it with joy and abandon!  For K’s, that number is 2-5 times.  So even though you are thinking “I can’t do that song again” –

               Oh Yes You Can!




Clapping side to side!


   What’s the “Sticky Bubble Gum” song?  Well, aside from being the title track of my very first recording, “StickyBubble Gum …and Other Tasty Tunes”, it’s one of the all-time most popular songs I sing!  It’s a quick zipper song (same song over and over, just insert a new body part to stick to another body part!)  Learn it, and you can keep the class listening for what to do next.  Here’s my version:

STICKY BUBBLE GUM
Sticky sticky sticky bubble gum
Bubble gum, bubble gum.
Sticky sticky sticky bubble gum
Sticking my hands to my shoes – Un-STICK!
Sticky Bubble Gum lover!

       
                                                                        
    Sing it again (and again and again), changing what body part sticks to what.  I stick elbows to knees, toe to nose, hand to someone else’s hand, back to someone else’s back, and head to the floor.







HELPFUL HINT:
  I always use “Head to the Floor” for my final verse.  The children know that when I do that, it’s the end. Final. Kaput!  Plus, while they are in that position – head stuck to the floor, I give them a direction for what to do when they Un-Stick!  Usually it’s “when you say ‘Un-Stick’, sit down criss-cross applesauce, eyes on me!”  This exit strategy means we’ll be ready to move on to the next activity in an orderly fashion.



sticking hands to shoes!

MOVEMENT:  Clap hands on the beat from one side to the other during this song.  Children whose brains are ready to do cross-lateral movement will, those that aren’t ready will clap directly in front of them.  Model where to stick their hands – to their shoes – and then pull hands off with a gleeful “UN-STICK!”


What’s next?  (That’s what my students usually ask!)  Well, you could do “The Wiggle Song” from last month’s blog.  OR a circle dance like “B-I-N-G-O”, from last month’s blog.  

OR how about a rhythmic chant?  First, ask if anyone has ever been camping?  Did they sleep in a sleeping bag?  Was there a tent?  What sounds did they hear? 
    This is a great time to practice taking turns by raising a hand to signal that a child has an idea.
    Take the first idea (unless it’s totally inappropriate, in which case you can suggest one to get things started.)  Hear the rhythm HERE, and it’s on my H.U.M.: Highly Usable Music cd.

Great howling!
THE SLEEPING BAG CHANT
I was lying in my sleeping bag
I couldn’t get to sleep
When the winds began to howl –
And the bugs began to creep
So I rolled to the left
And I rolled to the right
And I heard every sound that you hear at night!
Owls:  Hoo, Hoo, Hoo!

This is a scaffolding song.  Ask for another sound to add, 
start at the beginning and add the new sound, then do the last one, too!  Like this:

…And I heard every sound that you hear at night!
Bats:  Fl-ap, fl-ap, fl-ap!
Owls:  Hoo, Hoo, Hoo!

Urban students may hear traffic/car horns, people talking, etc.  Rural students may hear cows mooing or coyotes (even if they haven't ever heard a real one, it’s a favorite sound because kids love to howl!)
walking hands on legs

MOVEMENT:  Gently tap alternating hands on legs for the first 4 lines.  Then lean to the left, lean to the right, and go back to tapping for the last line, ending on “night!”

This chant can also be enjoyed with shakers – eggs, maracas, bottle shakers (check out my FB page for a video tutorial of how to make Bottle Shakers.)  But teach the chant several times before adding instruments.

Teachers practicing blowing bubbles!


Have a wonderful September.  I’ll be all over Illinois and Iowa, and in North Carolina, too!  Check my website Events Calendar to see if I’m coming to your state!  If not – why not?  Call me and we can talk about the possibilities for a Professional Development workshop, Family Concert of other event in your area!
   October? California here I come!
   November - Indianapolis!

Yours for a Song!
“Miss Carole” Stephens

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Montessori-Inspired Spider Math Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Many young children are frightened of spiders ... and many young children love spiders. Spider activities can be helpful in either case. Of course, Halloween is another good reason for spider activities. 

So, today, I'm sharing ideas for free spider printables and Montessori-inspired spider math activities. I had a post here in 2013 with Montessori-inspired spider activities using free printables. I couldn't resist adding some more spider activities today except with the focus specifically on spider math activities. And I have a post at Living Montessori Now with free spider printables

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools.  

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  

My Spider Counting Book My Spider Counting Book TrayFree Printable: Spider Counting Book from Fun-a-Day 

My Spider Book (Image from Fun-a-Day)

For this activity, I used a Multicraft tray, washable stamp pad, and Crayola Twistables for drawing the spider legs. Use a stapler or whatever form of binding you like to make a book. 

Younger children could just make one page if they prefer. This printable is simply cute ... and so are the fingerprint spiders. So this is a great activity for young children with a fear of spiders.


Spider Counting and Transferring Activity

  Spider Counting and Transferring TrayFree Printable: Spider Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

For this activity, I used a Multicraft tray, plastic spiders, toast tongs, and Bambu large condiment cup to hold the spiders. There are 72 spiders in the package, so there are plenty for this and the DIY spider cards and counters. 

This activity works well for younger children who are working on counting and transferring skills. Just choose one number and the corresponding number of spiders. 

Counting and Transferring Spiders 

My 2¾-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, loves transferring objects with tools like toast tongs. She thought this was lots of fun. 

For our floor work, we always use a Montessori Services hemmed work rug

DIY Spider Cards and Counters DIY Spider Cards and Counters Free Printable: Spider Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

For this activity, I used a a Multicraft tray, 55 plastic spiders, and a Melissa & Doug wooden box to hold the spiders. 


Spider Cards and Counters Layout 

I like to lay out my numbers and counters in the traditional Montessori way of rows of two counters with a left-over counter centered below the bottom row. This gives a visual impression of odd and even. For more about creating DIY numbers and counters and a link on how to present the lesson, check out my DIY Cards and Counters post.  

Spider Web Lacing 1-25 Spider Web Lacing 1-25Free Printable: Spider Web Lacing 1-25 from Making Learning Fun 

For this activity, I used a bamboo plate holder and black yarn (7" x 25 plus a bit more). One of the plastic spiders could be added to the finished web. 

This is an advanced lacing activity but very cool!  

Spider Skip Counting Puzzles

Spider Skip Counting Puzzles
  
Free Printable: Spider Skip Counting Puzzles by Kim from Life Over C’s at Creative Family Fun 

For this activity, I used a pencil box to hold the puzzle. There are a variety of puzzles in the pack, so pick the level appropriate for your child or students.  

Roll and Draw Spiders Game Roll and Draw Spiders Game Free Printable: Printable Roll and Draw Spiders Game from Childhood 101 

I like that this is a mixture of math, science, and drawing. I think this would make a nice multi-age cooperative game by having one game board where the younger children can count the dots and older children can draw the spiders.  

Spider-Themed Puzzles for 2-Digit Addition Spider-Themed 2-Digit Addition Free Printable: Spider-Themed Puzzles for Double Digit Addition from Life Over C’s 

For this activity, I used a multicraft tray, piece of felt, golden beads from Alison's Montessori (you could use the tens and colored bead bars if you prefer), a Montessori Services basket to hold the tens, and a smaller container I have for the ones.

 Layout for Spider-Themed 2-Digit Addition 

(Note: The layout doesn't show the step of putting the tens and ones together to find the total.) I would have the child complete the puzzle after adding the beads as a control of error (way to check the work).

More Free Spider Printables

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free spider printables from around the blogosphere: Free Spider Printables and Montessori-Inspired Spider Math Activities. And be sure to subscribe to my email list if you'd like to get an exclusive free printable each month (plus two more awesome freebies right away): Free Printables.

Helpful Post with Animal Classification

Montessori Animal Classification

Montessori Animal Classification

Halloween Posts at Living Montessori Now + Halloween Pinterest Board

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBookIf you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12. I'm also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!
Happy fall! :) Deb - Siganture
Deb Chitwood
Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 41 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and toddler granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.
Living Montessori Now Button

Saturday, September 10, 2016

HOW TO ENGAGE A CHILD'S BRAIN and More!

CREATIVE BRAIN DEVELOPMENT OF OUR CHILDREN
Introducing iBG
Intellectual Brainwave Games

Hello again!  I'm so grateful you chose to spend some of your time visiting my blog. Back in 2001, when I founded the F.A.M.E. Foundation, now known as the Global Learning Foundation, one of

the first sets of strategies I created were unique physical brain games that went along with the rhythm of very specific music. As I began to play these games with young children, I noticed they loved the physical activity and teachers noticed they were more focused after playing them. We did some research and we found improved performance in many areas. Enjoy the image below of some brain games and this short video from me to each and every one of you!
A Storytime Session, led by Enrique at Make Way for Books in Tucson, AZ, which quite often begins with iBG, Intellectual Brainwave Games to help everyone enter their optimal zone for learning... and get some exercise!


Here's a quick glimpse of the research we first documented which helped our Foundation create a name for itself. Today we continue to research the impact of these proven brainwave games.






People kept asking me to make videos and I thought, I don't want my face on a video playing these brain games.... and I thought about it for years while I kept creating these brain games.  


That's me! And I stuck to my guns... I am not the face of
these videos...whew!  Just not play-based enough.



Today there are 324 of them!  We've been crossing our mid-line in time with specific classical music with specific frequencies and there has been a lot of learning, laughter and the creating of a natural desire to learn!




Since 2001, over 85,000 children and families have experienced our many strategies, including iBG, but only with the live format.  Together with many of my colleagues and their children we used these brain games to:
  • Create a more alert learner at any age
  • Improve cognition with young children ages 3 - 6
  • Improve patterning skills with young children ages 3 - 12
  • Create short and enjoyable brain breaks for any learner
  • Remind adult learners how to elevate their energy and create new messages for their brain
  • Help all learners of all ages reduce their stress level.

The challenge for many of us who present around the country is there is only one of us, yet I knew these brainwave games needed to be accessed by any family, school or organization.  My 92-year old mentor who just recently passed away, was also insistent with his question "How do we get IT out there?" About a year ago while in a meeting with one of my creative teams, we were creating the first of a new series of children's books titled Sam the Ant



Daughter/Father Co-authors of Sam the Ant Series,
Sam Sierra-Feldman and Enrique Feldman
Illustrator Abe Mendoza and his wife.
I mentioned the brainwave games and an idea for the videos, so simple yet profound, came to me. I said, "Why don't we animate Sam the Ant and have the Ant be the face of these Brain Games. It felt playful, honoring and like the beginning of a new journey. And so we have done exactly that. Here's the first time I have ever shared this image with anyone! 
Sam the Ant comes to life in 3D real time with iBG.  The Sam the Ant team are big fans of perspective building and
as you can see, that grass looks more like a forest of grass!
How do you play these brain games?
Simply open the videos and follow Sam the Ant's lead as you:

  • Cross your midline
  • Do that in time with the classical music
  • Start from easy brain games and move up the challenge levels
  • Change the speed of the video to slow it down or speed it up


Sam the Ant in the middle of a brain game.  Each video is short and designed to help your child get off the technology and use their own body.
Today these games are known as iBG, Intellectual Brainwave Games, and guess what?!   It is an online platform that allows you to access brainwave videos that are designed to take the young learner or old learner OFF the technology.... as a friend of mine said, from Online to Offline.


The Co-Author of the Sam the Ant books, Sam Sierra-Feldman
 back when we started this journey in 1998!
I find some key elements of this journey truly amazing. When my daughter and I began creating the Sam the Ant stories, I didn't realize it would lead to these brainwave games. If we had not followed our curiosity, and if I had not paid attention to my daughter's interest in creating original stories, who knows what might not have happened. 

Sam the Ant demonstrates a simple brain game.
Children mimic a simple brain game, or is it so simple?  It's food for
your brain!


I'm so pleased that children love both the videos and playing the brain games off the video.  The images to the left are a great example of how the movements shown by Sam the Ant, become physicalized by the learner, in this case, young children.  Some of these look simple, but not all are...lol!





Which videos do I use for children and which for adults?


Numbers 1 - 4 are for young children, and number 5 is for adults.  When you experience number 5, you will experience what a young child feels like when they are playing games 1 - 4.

The first 5 games are the original 5 and more will be coming out.  Watch each short video (15 - 20 seconds), ideally with a young child, and copy what the Ant is doing.  As was pointed out earlier,you can even choose your speed.  Soon, there will be brainwave game videos for all ages and you'll be able to create your own iBG playlist.


iBG being used with adult leaners! Creating new messages for our brains wakes us up from our routine adult lives
and creates a different energy that improves how we do whatever it is we do.... such joy!
Today is the first day you can actually purchase these brain games for a school, a center and even for your own use, and it's extremely affordable for individual users. A big thank you to our first school user, Outer Limits Preschool!


"I'm so excited to be the face of iBG!"

But what if you're not a school?  The school license would not be affordable for an individual. For a limited time, we am offering the first set of brain games for $11.99 a year, which comes out to less than a $1 per month. You can begin engaging your young children in your home and begin to build their brain in a very playful and relevant way!
Sam the Ant is all about following your curiosity
and helping others.

With recess being lessened (and it needs to be put back in!), and the general level of attention span diminishing, these videos are based on the live playing of the brain games.  Actually, the point of these brainwave videos is to help you and your child learn how to play them and then play them whenever you want.  We'll keep adding brainwave videos and you can keep expanding the capacity of your child's brain... and your own!

All you have to do is click on our Sam the Ant website and you'll be on your way. Over time you'll continue to receive more brainwave games.




For schools who purchase the school license, my Foundation is offering heavily discounted professional development workshops, and in some cases, waive the cost completely! If you are wanting more information on this, please click on my public speaking website and fill out the contact info and I'll be in touch.

We also want to thank Barnes & Noble and Mildred and Dildred's Toy Store for there support of all things Sam the Ant!  For the many upcoming events, click here!

Thank so much and now it's time to feed your brain!
Enrique C. Feldman
Creator, iBG
Co-Author, Sam the Ant Children's Book Series
Founder, Global Learning Foundation
Performing Artist and Composer
Producer, Kaleidoscope
(Music for Children)


Free Bonus Resources
Sam the Ant videos for improved critical thinking and creative problem solving.  Just click here! There are currently 13 videos and 17 more to come.  Each one is 15 - 20 seconds long and offer you an authentic opportunity to engage young 
learners with great questions.

Illustrator Abe Mendoza creates the images of Sam the Ant for our videos and books!






















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