We have begun our unit on Community Helpers! I have been looking forward to this unit since I saw the new curriculum layout for this year! This week we have learned about bus drivers, shop keepers, and mail carriers. We had a shuttle bus driver/supervisor, and a shopkeeper/motel manager come to speak to our class, show them pictures, give them postcards and help them understand how their careers help benefit our community. The kids even received a hotel registration card and a logo pen as a dramatic play prop! Every day items that we take for granted as adults can become one of the greatest dramatic play props for our imaginative children! They can take an item and have an hour of fun creating their own adult world.
Today we learned about mail carriers! Brenda, my sister and teaching assistant, has always wanted to be a mail carrier :) And we saw that same joy spark in the eyes of our students as they became mail carriers themselves!
They had to, of course, sew their own mail messenger bags before they could deliver mail! Each activity during the day focused on developing fine motor skills. Sewing with yarn, or threading, can be quite a difficult task for a preschooler who is still developing those small motor skills. It can also be very frustrating and make them want to give up when when they can't quite get it. "We can do hard things" is one of our motto's here. Instead of saying, "I can't do it, it's too hard", we say "I can do hard things." After trying first, they can ask their neighbors or us for help. We focus on saying "I need help", instead of getting too upset to continue. (This can be a VERY hard thing to do and we make sure to praise those who are trying to keep their cool and work through those big emotions.) There also comes a point when a child is just done and you certainly can't push them past that point. You have to really feel it out for each student and know their triggers and also what helps them to feel empowered, confident, and capable. Developing motor skills is important, but more important is developing emotional control and maturity.
Here they are practicing threading their bags together.
Look at those amazing skills! This is a little seamstress in the making!
During our "Make & Play" art projects, I demonstrate how to do the craft before we hand out the materials. They are not required to do it as I demonstrated, but are able to problem solve their own way to do it, if they please. You can see that is exactly the path some of them took during this project by looking at their threading pattern!
Next, we learned how mail is sorted at post offices before the mail carriers ever handle the mail. After sorting the postcards from Mother Goose Time, they stuffed their bags and headed out to see where to deliver each postcard.
We discussed how a mail carrier needs to be familiar with the area they are delivering to, so we took a minute to orient them to the new buildings we set up around the room; the hospital, the fire station, a cafe, and a school.
Separating the sides of their mail bags and pulling out each small postcard also proved to be a challenge for some, and it helped all of them continue to strengthen those fine motor skills. The best part was that to them, it seems like play, when in reality, they are doing SO much more: increasing fine motor skills, enjoying turn taking, strengthening cognitive processes, taking on roles, and building practical life skills just to mention a few!
Cognitively, they worked hard to identify clues from each building to know which pictures on their postcards corresponded to that location.
To end our day, the students dictated to me what they wanted to tell our mail carrier, and we wrote a letter and left it at the mail box. We even learned what that little red flag is for. We hope it will be well received, especially with the heartfelt words of our preschoolers!
"Dear Mail Carrier,
Thank you for delivering our mail and for being careful with it! Thanks for sweet mail! Please be careful with our packages.I want Santa to bring me a bike......." and the cuteness goes on...
To learn more about Mother Goose Time and how their creative and interactive curriculum helps students develop 32 skills, visit www.mothergoosetime.com.