Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Christmas Celebration at St. Mary's!

Wednesday's Christmas themed lab was our final lab at St. Mary's. We started off the day by working in the cafeteria with the older students. Me, Miles, Jenna and Matt all split up and worked at different table with different students. Unfortunately, nobody wanted to play Mancala with me this week, oh well. Me and Miles took turns playing a few of the boys in checkers. It was definitely pretty difficult to get them to play by the rules, it seemed like they were just trying to make up rules as they went along to win the game. I guess that's a good thing to see competitiveness and a desire to achieve and be a winner at an early age like that though, as long as they realize that in some situations you can't make up rules as you go.

After we were done in the cafeteria, we went upstairs to the gymnasium to play the Christmas game we selected. Basically, the kids had to grab a scooter, drive the scooter through the course, pick up the hula hoop and jump rope through it a few times, then kick the ball at the targets we had taped to the wall. The student's seemed really enthusiastic about this activity, probably because it really got them moving and had a lot of different types of movements involved. The one thing that I noticed was that the students we're trying to rush through the scooter and hula hoop part so they could just let loose and kick the ball as hard as they could. I tried to encourage them to jump through the hoop at least three times before moving on, but it was difficult to get to all of the students because I was on scooter retrieval duty for much of the activity.

In my next blog I will be reflecting on my experiences at St. Mary's.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Celebration at St. Mary's

This lab was probably the best one so far. We started out by going outside with the Pre-K and playing around on the playground. If there's one thing I've learned about preschoolers it's that they will play tag at any time and for however long you want them to. Me and a few of the boys ran around and took turns being "it." We designated certain spots around the playground to be safe zones, which were good because it gave them (and me sometimes) a chance to catch our breath. Then we even added a "jail" which once tagged you had to go to. These were all their ideas, and it was interesting to me to see them come up with these elements to add to the game.

Next, we went inside and I read to the Pre-K students a Clifford book about Thanksgiving. I noticed that the students were really excited about being read to and even more excited that Clifford was the main character. After the story we moved out into the gym and played the Clifford game. Basically, the students had to hop over poly spots, crawl through a tunnel, and hop from poly spot to poly spot, all which simulated things that Clifford did during the story.

Overall I really enjoyed this lab, especially reading to the kids. It definitely was nice to see them all so interested in the story, always wanting to know what happened next, and they were just as enthusiastic about the game we played afterward.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Circus Fun at St. Mary's

This week at St. Mary's was a lot of fun. We did our circus theme, and we all dressed up a little bit. I wore a clown nose that Jenna was nice enough to let me borrow for the day. Our first activity was WallBall. Basically the kids got into lines and rotated through the lines, with the first person throwing and retrieving a ball against a square target on the wall. We gave the students a choice of what type of ball they wanted to throw, but encouraged them to try different ones. We also let them throw the ball from however far away they wanted. Some students ran pretty much all the way up to the wall, while others threw from all the way back at the line. About halfway through we decided to move the lines back to try and get them to throw from further away.

For the next activity we lined the students up facing their partner, about fifteen feet apart with a small target in between. The goal was to hit the target with an overhand throw, and have the partner retrieve the ball and try and do the same. This activity was my favorite because it made the students really focus on the target, but there was also a fairly low success rate, so I would probably think twice before doing this activity with this age group again. They still seemed to enjoy the game regardless, so that was good.

After that we moved down to the cafeteria where the students had a snack and played some games at the tables. When I went down there I immediately noticed a Moncala board sitting at one of the tables, which was my favorite game when I was about ten years old. A student, Ariana came up and wanted to play. She beat me two games in a row, and it wasn't even close. I guess I've gotten a little rusty in my 13 years away from the game. It was interesting to watch her play though. She wasn't just randomly moving the stones around, she had a gameplan and was tactical in her movements, watching what I did and basing her next move off that. Overall I had a lot of fun at St. Mary's during our Circus day and observed a lot of interesting things.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Pre-K Morning

On Wednesday I got a chance, albeit a short one, to see what a morning in the Pre-K classroom is like. After all, it's been two decades since I've been in a Pre-K class, so I really didn't know what I was going to see. It was interesting to see how the teachers had the kids start off the day, and I was surprised to see the students were so energetic and enthusiastic that early in the morning, but they were. The teachers started out the morning by having the students come up to the desk when they got there and telling her which lunch choice they wanted that day. Then the students sat down at one of the tables and worked on writing their names. I noticed several of the kids didn't want to hold their markers the correct way, even after being told too. Maybe the markers are too thick for them to comfortably hold in the correct way? Just a thought. After they finished writing their names they got to work with me creating a small book. The teachers decided on naming the book "A Pumpkin Story," which was a very fitting name considering the 6 page long booklet was about the growth of a pumpkin all the way from seed to jack-o-lantern. I started by folding and writing the title and student names on the covers, and directing the students to cut out the pages (they came on a single sheet of paper). I was originally unsure of whether or not the students would understand how to cut out the pages (they are only three or four years old after all) so I showed them the page and traced with my finger where they need to cut, but I think I over-explained it and they probably could have gotten it right if I just said "cut out the pages." After my time to be there was up (I actually stayed after several minutes to help a few students finish coloring in their books) I said goodbye to the teachers and students and thanked both teachers for having me in their classroom. It was a very cool experience and I enjoyed working with the teachers and students very much on Wednesday at St. Mary's.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Up, Up, and Away!

Last Wednesday, my group and I did our superhero based activities at St. Marys. When we all walked into the gymnasium the kids all were super excited about our costumes (except the girl who called me a monster). It was great to see all of the kids enthusiastic about being there and you could tell they really wanted to get going with the activities. We started out up in the gymnasium and set up our space game. Basically what the kids had to do was go to the different "planets" when told to do so, and each planet had a different movement they were supposed to do on the way there and back. For instance, they had to gallop to Venus, continue gallopping through the hula hoops and gallop back to Earth. During all of this I noticed the differences between the students. Although most of them were the same age, some were much more advanced in their movements, which is to be expected in any school setting, especially in the elementary setting.

By far the most moving thing that I've seen at St. Mary's so far was a kid named Harold. I saw him sitting alone over at the one table and sat down with him, along with Matt, Jenna and Miles. He seemed like he didn't want to interact with the other students and just seemed like he was feeling down. I asked him what types of sports he likes, because we were on the topic of sports. He said he liked kickball a lot, and football too, but he "sucked" at football, and "couldn't even make a tackle." I told him "That's no way to talk about yourself. Just because you're not as good at something as you think you should be that isn't any reason to get down on yourself about. That just means it's something you should work on, set goals on and work towards them." I think he was just being hard on himself though, because he obviously wasn't an unathletic kid...he was the best kid out there when we played kickball, and I made sure to give him a high five or something every time he came around for a score.

At the end of class Pat led everyone with an animal song that we all walked around the circle and pretended to be whatever animal Pat said. Activities like that are great for the kids because they let them not only move around but act goofy and have some fun with the song too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lab 1 Reflection

On October 7, me and my group "The Leaping Lizzards" (yes, we purposely spelled it incorrectly) went to St. Mary's for our first official lab for PED 201 and boy oh boy was it fun. We started in downstairs in the cafeteria. When we got there the students were just finishing up their snacks, so while they were finishing up Miles, Matt, Jenna and I went into the storage area and pulled out a bunch of games for them to play. They included: legos, carpet checkers, Mr. Potato Head, a big ferris wheel type thing, and many other miscellaneous games. Me and Matt sat down with a group of students at one table as they played with the building block things, legos, and ferris wheel. It was interesting to watch the students as they made many different things out of the materials on the tables, mostly things that I would assume are important to them (ex: one girl made a phone, another girl made a sled, one boy made a car) and they were always trying to one-up each other by making their creation more detailed than the others. I found it very interesting, as well as entertaining. The students didn't hesitate to talk with Matt and I, talking about what they were learning in their subjects, what they liked about each of their classes, etc. And of course I can't forget George. George tried pulling a fast one on Matt and I, telling us he was from Australia, complete with an Aussie accent and everything. Apparently he had been doing this all day, and the girls at the table were laughing at us because we were pretending to believe him. Pretty funny, guess you had to be there though. Oh well.

After a little while our group moved upstairs to the gymnasium, where we played soccer, duck duck goose, and football using without a doubt one of the most ridiculously enormous footballs I have ever seen in my entire life. This football was probably two feet in diameter and four feet long. It was hilarious to play with. We played duck duck goose for the longest, because everyone was having so much fun (I'll admit I was having tons of fun playing it). Now, since I'm a noob when it comes to variations of duck duck goose, I was unaware of "the cookie jar." The cookie jar is in the middle of the circle and you go there if you end up getting tagged by the person you "goosed." So that's another thing I absorbed from lab 1. At the end of our time there Jack treated us to a session of "shake your sillies out." Hilarious and so much fun. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it a lot. I have a lot of fun during my time at St. Mary's on Wednesday and I am really looking forward to going back for lab 2 and introducing the students to the game that my group and I selected, it's going to be a blast.