The learning theme of February is taking higher responsibilities of ourselves and the physical environment around us, which is reflected in the Learning Outcome 2. As children get increasingly independent, they are encouraged to share the responsibility.
A list of classroom “jobs” has been created and introduced to the room, along with a positive behavior recording and rewarding blackboard. Basically, the concept is to reward children with a star for any desirable and positive behaviors they show! The top six wanted behaviors are: respecting both the teachers' and other children's feeling by listening through the day, respecting the food provided during meal time and cooking time, looking after the resources and equipment in the room by finishing the job you choose to do, participating in all group times to learn, respecting the environment by helping clean up both indoor and outdoor play space twice a day, and sharing Camelot's resources and toys with all other children.
The priority for now is to cultivate respectful behaviors among children as respect is the foundation of all other favorable behaviors. Respect is a big concept for children to grasp, but it simply means thinking and acting in a way that shows others you care about their feelings and well-being. If they understand the word "respect", they can understand boundaries and therefore develop self-regulation. There are many specific ways to show your respect, which has been listed and categorized into those six behaviors. For instance, if a child knows to respect, he/she would not break the toys or make a mess deliberately. We choose to use the word "respect" constantly in conversation with children every day, showing them examples of respect in different areas. With positive reinforcement (getting a star on the behavior management board), we hope they will learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect. Plus, the board is a great learning tool because children are asked to find their name and put it on by themselves.
The classroom supermarket is complimentary to the positive behavior board, which is made of five boxes containing small gifts including balloons, finger puppets, hand-made candles, star crayons, and wooden letter pieces. The supermarket opens once a week for children to pick a treat! The children then trade in their hard-earned stars for a special item. We have observed that children regulate themselves and even monitor each other’s behavior by referring to the behavior management board.
An exciting change in our 2020 Kinder Program is that there is a fortnightly cooking class initiated by our cook, Elena, which began at the end of January! With a collection of fresh vegetables, we made vegetable soup for lunch. Children were using their senses including vision, smell, taste and touch to explore different flavors and textures of vegetables. They learnt what can be eaten raw and what has to be cooked before eating. The Kinder children had a piece of raw carrot and celery and we discussed what "crunchy" means and feels like. When the veggies were cut in half, they had a close look of the inner structure and pattern. After everything was put into the pan, Elena explained what the cooking process would be like. Yummy yummy, we love what we made!
The second cooking class occurred on the 14th of February, which wasValentine's Day. Guess what we made? Yes! Chocolate cake for afternoon tea, which is a typical and traditional dessert for Valentine's Day in western culture! The cake-making process is different to the process of making soup, and we learned how to use the food-processer. The main skill children grasped from this cooking experience is mixing all the ingredients up. They also had a chance to see the difference of the liquid state and the solid state of the cake mixture. We work closely with Elena to diversify the cooking experience for children and instill a wholesome eating habit and concept at the same time.
Another highlight for our literacy program is that we began to introduce the “word family” to enrich children’s vocabulary for everyday conversation and for reading. The first family we met is the "at" family. All the words that live in this family finish with “at”. Simply by changing the first letter, we have come up with many words that are frequently seen in everyday life and in the books. We also learned how to sound the words with the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkUunCjP3Hs
Words are the essential elements of sentences and paragraphs. Based on the previous phonic learning experience, the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words that are just made of three letters is going to be the next step on children's literacy development. Two learning activities were provided for different groups of children according to their current ability. For instance, a word puzzle is intentionally designed for the lower age group as it only requires children to do matching to finish the task. Meanwhile, the more advanced worksheet is shared with children who are capable of reading and writing these letters. The purpose of using different learning resources is to meet the varying learning needs in a mixed age group.