The Infant’s Room
Here are my observations during a visit to an infant’s room at a daycare center. My impression of this room is very positive. The decorating theme is caterpillars and butterflies, which is symbolic of the lives of these infants who are also going through stages of transformation, growth and development. The room is very colorful and has a warm ambience. Lots of eye catching decorative butterflies dangle from the ceiling. The walls are light green with hand painted art of large, happy, smiling caterpillars and butterflies. There is a mirror on the wall positioned low enough so the infants can see themselves. There are four windows that fill the room with natural light. The room has five cribs, four baby swings, four infant playground seats and an infant jumping chair. The floor playing area has a thick, cushy padded mat, soft blankets, pillows and infant mobile toys. There is a full size refrigerator to store the babies mild and formula. There is a sink, a diaper changing table and a hanging basket stocked with diapers. Disposable latex gloves, baby powder and baby skin cream. There is also an emergency exit door and a fire extinguisher. It seems very safe and pleasant. (I was very impressed with the environment because it contained stimulating and nurturing elements that newborns thrive on and need for optimal development. The mirror can help infants create new schemes and become cognitively aware that he/she is a separate individual person in the world.)
Gubys, the caregiver, had just finished bottle feeding one of the babies as I came in, so I’ll focus my observation on another baby who she is currently interacting with. She says his name is Cadin and he is five and a half months old. He has big blue eyes, not much hair, just some very fine blond fuzz. Gubys took Cadin out of the infant swing, snuggled him in her arms, then sat in a rocking chair and is bottle feeding him. She gently rocks back and forth as she feeds him. Cadin’s expression looks very calm and content. He stops sucking the bottle. Gubys continues to hold him as she rocks in the chair. (I thought Cadin was very fortunate to have a sensitive caregiver who spends extra time to attend to both his physical and emotional needs. This special one-on-one time contributes to how Cadin is forming his initial view of the world—such as, is the world a safe place that he can grow into, or a dangerous place that he learns to fear? Gubys is providing a soft, comfortable and stable environment for Cadin.)
Now Gubys is taking Cadin to the diaper changing table to change his diaper. She laid him down on the table on his back, facing up. He is looking at the dangling butterflies hanging from the ceiling. He is gazing at the butterflies and is making cute sounds at them. Gubys responds to Cadin’s sounds by talking to him in a high-pitched voice saying, “Yes, you like looking at the butterflies.” “You’re such a smart boy, you can see everything in the room, can’t you?” Gubys talks to him a lot. (Gubys was supporting Cadin’s language development when she talked with Cadin about the butterflies he was looking at. This encourages him to further experiment with sounds. She is also providing Cadin with social interaction and emotional security which will help him develop basic trust during his first year of life. According to Erik Erikson’s Theory of the Eight Stages of Man, this is a crucial time period for infants because they will either achieve balance in the first stage of trust, which will endow him with the necessary foundation for proceeding to the next stage, or else he will become emotionally stunted with negative feelings of mistrust, which hinders his ability to complete the other stages of psychological development.) As I continue to watch, I notice Gubys hygienic procedure of changing Cadin’s diaper. This is what she did. She wore a pair of latex disposable gloves while changing him, wiped him clean, applied cream to his tushy and put a new diaper on. She throws away the gloves, washed her hands with soap and water, then washed Cadin’s hands. She placed Cadin on the floor mat play area for a moment as she cleaned and sterilized the diaper changing table with a spray solution and paper towels. (Gubys practices excellent hygiene. She controls the spread of germs and fecal matter during the diaper changing by wearing gloves, washing her hands and the infants’ hands, and sterilizing the table after each child. By keeping the infant room clean, Gubys is preventing the spread of e-coli, hepatitis and intestinal parasites, as well as the common cold and flu.) During these few moments apart, Cadin is crying on the floor. (His crying seems to be a sign that he has developed a bond with Gubys and is demonstrating separation anxiety. Because Cadin’s parents have placed him in a full time day care facility, he actually spends more hours of the day interacting with Gubys than with his own parents, so it would be natural for him to feel an attachment with Gubys.) It seems he is desperate for Gubys complete attention. Gubys responds to Cadin’s cries by telling him several times, “I’ll be right there, Cadin, let me finish cleaning the table.” Then she went to him, picked him up an he immediately stopped crying. Then Gubys put him in the infant chair swing, he cried and got very fussy. I think he wants to be held. Gubys sat down on the floor beside him and is talking to him softly, she is trying to calm him down. Cadin grabber her thumb and squeezed it tightly, then he sucked on it. Gubys is very patient with him. Gubys said to me, “I’ll be stuck down here for awhile, he’s got my thumb.” (It is very common for infants to squeeze an adult’s fingers. This firm grasp is called the Palmar Grasp, which will prepare infants for voluntary grasping.)
Now she is turning on the automatic swing in hopes that it will entertain Cadin so she can get up. The swing chair has flashing lights, Cadin’s eyes are fixed on the lights, like he is in a hypnotic trance. He has stopped crying. But now he abruptly broke out into another crying episode. (It is possible that the stimuli became too much for him to tolerate, and he cried because he wanted to break away from it.) The flashing lights only helped for a few minutes. Gubys says to me that maybe he will calm down if she moves him to a crib. She said that she usually has to move from place to place in the room until she finds a spot that he likes. Gubys places Cadin on his stomach in a crib but he keeps crying. Gubys is not sure what she should do, because she needs to see about the other infants.
The director, Robin, came in to see if she could help comfort Cadin. She told me last week when Cadin kept crying the only thing that would cheer him up was listening to music. Robin pulled Cadin’s crib (it has rollers on the legs) close to the radio CD player and turned up the volume to the song “My Fair Lady.” Cadin immediately responded. He turned his head towards the radio and babbled at it. It is very interesting to witness the positive effect music has on infants. Cadin is now noticing the colorful plastic chain links that are strung across the crib. He reaches at it. He grabs hold of one of the chains. He is holding it firmly, he is not letting go. (He is reaching with an Ulnar Grasp. He is also developing visual perception to judge how far away the object of desire is to touch it.) The director, Robin, leaves the infant room now that Cadin has stopped crying. Gubys is attending to the other babies. There are five babies, but Gubys seems to be able to handle them alright. Robin helps Gubys when help is needed. Cadin is still in the crib, listening to music, touching the chains. He is stretching his leg out then bends them back inwards. He is kicking his legs, flaring out his toes and fingers. (He is using Gross Motor Skills.) Gubys walks by his crib and tickled his belly, he smiled big, he seems happy. Cadin moves his head from side to side, the radio is to his right, I’m to his left. He looks at me, then looks away. Gubys is interacting with the others, she is very gentle, she kisses them, talks to them and makes her rounds from baby to baby and sees what they need. She talks to them a lot in both a normal talking tone and baby talk tone. None of the infants have interacted with each other yet.
Gubys comes back to Cadin’s crib and turns on the rotating moving mobile above him. He presses his feet on the white metal bars o the crib and reaches for the mobile. It’s low enough for him to touch with the tips of his fingers. He touches it over and over. Gubys says he tries to grab and pull on the chain links in order to pull himself up. I reached in his crib and shook a toy that makes a rattling sound. Cadin grabs the chains with his right hand, now with both hands and puts it in his mouth. (He reached with his right hand. This could mean that he is most likely going to be a right-handed person.) He looks all around with his big blue eyes. Gubys said she needs to feed him again soon because he only drank 2 oz. when she fed him before. She says he was supposed to drink 8 oz. She tells me that his mom stopped breast feeding him last month and he is a finicky eater now. He drinks formula and doesn’t like it as well. Gubys also told me that all the babies who drink formula are constipated and have dry hard stools when she changes their diapers. The ones that drink pumped breast milk are less fussy and drink enough and have normal stools. (I thought this was an interesting observation that she has made.)
Gubys takes Cadin out of the crib. She puts him on the floor mat in front of the mirror, he sees himself and smiles. Gubys brings over an infant girl to sit with Cadin, on the mat. Cadin and the girl see each other but do not interact. Cadin is looking at a mobile toy on the floor beside him. Gubys turns it on, it spins in a circle with funny circus music. Gubys props him up in a sitting position placed inside the hole of two donut pillows, he smiles, bobs his head up and down. He curls his toes and clutches his fingers on the donut pillows. He turns to look at me. I make funny faces at him, then he turns to book at Gubys. Cadin has his fingers in his mouth. Gubys tells me Cadin is teething and chews his fingers, the plastic chains and other toys. Cadin is still in the donut. He is playing with his foot. He grabs his toes with his fingers, flexes his feet, grabs hold of his toes then lets go, over and over. He is watching his feet.
Gubys picks him up to change his diaper again. He grabs her hair and won’t let go. His grip is tight. She has to wait until he lets go before she sets him down on the table. He finally lets go of her hair. She’s changing his diapers, he make funny sounds like he is trying to say something. He waves his arms and legs up and down on the table. Cadin is the biggest baby in the room, his head is huge. (Large heads are a physical characteristic of infants due to patterns of two types of growth. Cephalocaudal Trend, which proceeds growth from head to tail, and the growth that develops the center of the body first and then the limbs, is called the Proximodistal Trend. Later in the child’s development, the legs, arms and trunk will lengthen dramatically.) She’s done with his diaper and puts him back in the donut. He cries when she walks away. Gubys says he gets jealous when he sees her holding the other babies. He stops crying and watches the toy mobile in front of him. He is drooling on his pajamas. He wipes his mouth. He is chewing on his fingers. He starts to cry again. Gubys puts him in the standing bounce chair. He is very energetic. He jumps and bounces up and down. (He likes this bouncing chair.) His feet touch the floor and he bends his knees and hops, stands on his tip-toes, grabs the circular part with his hands. He is going fast, he intermitently stops then starts bouncing again. His stomach is making rumbling noises. It sounds like he might be hungry again. He starts to cry. Gubys picks him up, he stops crying. He’s happy when he’s being held. She carries him around the room in her arms, he is quiet and content. She sits down to feed him. He sits in her lap as she rocks in the rocking chair. At first, he sucks on her chin. She shows him the bottle and holds it for him. He tries to hold the bottle, too. The teacher asked me to watch his perception. She held the bottle out in front of him, he grabs it and pulls it to his mouth but he misses, it hits his cheek, he tries again, he hits his chin, tries again. It goes into his mouth. He sucks the bottle as he looks in Gubys eyes and looks around the room. Gubys told me he discovered his thumbs last week and has been enjoying sucking on them ever since. Now he is sucking on his index and middle fingers.
And The Dinosaurs Ate
By Kimberly Constant
Mr. and Mrs. T-Rex got all dressed and ready
And headed Downtown to Sal’s All You Can Eat spaghetti.
They hopped in their car and drove rather fast;
They were very hungry and didn’t want to be last.
Upon arriving at Sal’s, the valet took their keys,
and both entered the restaurant with poise, grace and ease.
The Maitre D, Sal himself, took one look at the two and said with a gasp, “Now what are we going to do?”
For T-Rexes are known for their enormous appetites, and with two eating spaghetti, this was going to be quite a night!
As they walked to their table, seated near to the others,
customers looked on in awe, and children clung to their mothers.
The T-Rexes sat down rather gently and in sync, then the waiter came by and poured water to drink.
Next came two large platters filled with spaghetti and some bread. Sal thought “there will be nothing left” as he rubbed his poor head.
But the dinosaurs ate with a certain style; they ate rather nicely, and everyone smiled.
They ate only one plate at Sal’s all you can eat, then asked for their check and got up from their seats.
A generous tip was left they went to pay the tab; they said only thank you to Sal; not ones to stop and gab.
They got their car and tipped the valet generously, as well,
They were so very polite, you never can tell.
And as the T-Rexes drove away, they looked at one another; the evening was beautiful to have spent with each other.
So before you judge anyone by how they may look, remember Mr. and Mrs. T-Rex and the moral of this book.
Because even though appearances may lead you to believe plenty, everyone was fooled at Sal’s all you can eat spaghetti.
Copyright © 2004, Kimberly Constant
A Piece of the Rainbow
By Roger Carr
The tiny hand rubbed and rubbed in a small circle that grew slowly on the glass, wearing away the thick and clinging steam from the stew pot on the stove behind. A second tiny hand joined the first, rubbing at the steam until the glass was almost clear.
Then the hand went away, and a small, chubby nose pressed against the glass, and two small eyes peered out, the nose going white at the tip where it pressed so firmly, the eyes sparkling suddenly in delight.
“A rainbow! A rainbow!” Catherine cried. “We can go out!”
Nicholas dropped his book onto the table, and jumped up. “Come on then!” he shouted.
The door of the little cottage burst open, and Nick and Cathy ran out; coats wrapped tightly; rubber boots squelching in the rain-soaked earth.
“Grandpa says it has never rained this long ever before!” Nick shouted, running ahead of his sister.
“Wait for me! Wait for me!” she called after him.
“I want to see how wide the stream is now!” Nick called back.
“So do I! So do I!” Cathy cried. “Wait for me!”
Nick did not wait, and did not stop until he stood on the bank of the swiftly flowing stream. But he had run too fast to see what Cathy had seen. She had stopped by a puddle, and bent down to gaze in surprise and wonder.
Nick looked back. “Come on!” he called. “Let’s go up to the willows and watch the water there!”
He began to run again; but Cathy did not move. She was crouched down, now, sitting on the heels of her boots, and gazing with wonder into the deep puddle.
“Cathy!” Nick shouted. But she did not even hear him.
“Cathy!” he called again, stopping and turning back to see where she was. “Come on!” He waited a moment. “What are you looking at?”
She did not answer, so he went back. He was about to speak again when he saw it, too, and his eyes opened in surprise and wonder.
“It’s beautiful,” he whispered, crouching down beside the puddle to gaze.
It was a glowing, golden red, and it moved slowly around in the crystal-clear water, its eyes looking upwards.
“It’s a piece of the rainbow,” Cathy whispered. “I want to keep it forever!”
Nick nodded. He did, too.
Cathy looked up into the sky. The rainbow was partly hidden by clouds. “Look,” she said. “You can see the hole in the rainbow where it has fallen from.”
Nick looked. There did seem to be a hole in the rainbow, but…
“I think it’s really a fish,” he said, looking back into the puddle.
“Then it must have been washed from the rainbow by the rain,” Cathy said. “The rain has been so heavy…”
They both looked down again at the glowing red and golden carp, its eyes still looking upwards; then back to the rainbow.
“It must have,” Nick whispered. “How else would it get here? But this puddle will dry out; then what will it do? It cannot swim back to the rainbow. It will just shrivel and die when the puddle dries.”
Cathy jumped to her feet. “We must get Grandpa,” she said. “He will know how to save it.”
They ran together for the cottage, calling for their grandfather as they went.
He met them at the door…
“Grandpa! Grandpa!” Cathy cried, “a piece of the rainbow has fallen out of the sky! We have to save it!”
“We must,” Nick repeated. “It is just so beautiful!”
Grandpa looked into the sky.
“Quickly!” Cathy cried, catching hold of his hand and pulling him away.
He went with them, back to the puddle, and stooped to look.
“It must have been washed from the rainbow,” Cathy said.
“How can we keep it, Grandpa?” Nick asked.
“I do not think you can keep a piece of fallen rainbow,” Grandpa said.
“But we can’t leave it here,” Cathy said. “The puddle will dry up, and it will die.”
“We could take it home and keep it in a tub of water,” Nick said. “We can feed it and look at it every day.”
“Yes,” Grandpa agreed. “But how would it ever get back to the rainbow from a tub of water?”
“Do you think it wants to go back?” Cathy asked.
Grandpa looked down at the golden fish; then up into the clouds. Just a tinge of colour showed where the rainbow had been. “Yes,” he said at last. “If it came from the rainbow, I think it would want to go back.”
“But how could it?” Nick asked. “We could never throw it so high.”
“No,” Grandpa agreed. “Even from a mountain we could never throw it back. But perhaps it did not fall at all. It is not hurt.”
“Then how could it have got here into this puddle?” Cathy asked.
“Perhaps,” Grandpa said. “Perhaps it slid down the rainbow when the rainbow touched the stream? Rainbows do touch the earth at their ends.”
“It’s not in the stream,” Nick said. “Do you think the rainbow may have touched this puddle?”
“No,” Grandpa said. “I think, with all that rain, the stream flowed over its banks, and this fish swam out into this puddle and could not swim back when the stream became narrow again.”
Cathy was sad. “Then it did not come from the rainbow at all,” she said.
Grandpa rested a hand gently on her shoulder, and spoke softly. “I did not say that.”
“Then what will we do with it?” Nick asked. ‘We cannot leave it here to die.”
“I think we should carry it back to the stream,” Grandpa said.
“Will it be happy there?” Cathy asked.
“Perhaps,” Grandpa said. “But if it is not, then it can wait until one day the rainbow touches the waters of the stream─”
“Then it can swim back up!” Cathy and Nick cried together. “Yes!”
Grandpa bent and lifted the golden fish in his two strong hands. The fish did not struggle as it was carried across to the edge of the stream. It did not struggle as Grandpa lowered it into the water, and for a moment did not move at all.
“Wish it well,” Grandpa said softly.
“Goodbye! Goodbye!” Cathy and Nick said softly.
A moment longer the fish lay still; then with a sudden flash that left a rainbow trail in the eyes of the three watchers on the bank, it was gone…
Forever after, when rains had swept by, Grandpa, Cathy and Nick ─ wherever they were ─ would stop to watch for rainbows. Whenever they saw one, they would watch for a sign that the rainbow carp from the puddle was swimming back up from the stream, to take the place from which they were sure it had fallen.
© Roger Carr, 2005
Seven Dragons Mountains
By Russell Young
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a group of very tall mountains in the southeast corner of China known as Chilungshan. These mountains were quite famous because the Chinese believed that seven mighty dragons lived in them.
The dragons protected the villages below. Also, the mountains were so high that enemies had difficulty attacking.
Six of the seven dragons were quite content to live in the mountains. They were respected and honored. However, after centuries of living in Chilungshan, one dragon became quite restless and wanted to see the rest of the world.
“I want to leave,” said the dragon, “I’m tired of staying here all the time.”
“Why leave?” asked the others, “the Chinese love you and respect you. Chilungshan is the best place in the world to live.”
“How do you know it’s the best place in the world to live?” asked the dragon. “You’ve never been anywhere else.”
“We just know it’s the best place to live,” they replied.
The dragon heard this everyday but still wanted to leave.
The dragon finally got his wish. One day a great earthquake rocked all of southeast China. For a few seconds, the great Chilungshan opened up. The dragon saw sunlight for the first time. He saw it as his chance to see the world. So he quickly flew out and up toward the clouds.
The dragon flew for days. He marveled at all the incredible sights. Finally, after several days of flying, the dragon grew tired. He stopped in Wales. There he flew down to the mountains so that he could talk to the dragons that lived there.
The dragons of Wales greeted him. They were surprised to meet a dragon from so far away.”What is is like living in Wales?” asked the dragons from Chilungshan.
“It’s terrible, simply terrible,” they all replied.
The Chinese dragon was surprised.
“Why?” he asked.
“It’s because Welsh people are afraid of dragons,” said the Welsh dragons. “They all believe we breathe fire and kill people. What’s worse, the Welsh are always mining for coal in the mountains. The noise always disturbs us. What is it like in China to be a dragon?”
The dragon from Chilungshan told them how nice it was to live in China. All the Chinese honored and respected dragons in China. The Welsh dragons heard this and many wanted to go with him.
“Come with me back to China,” said the dragon.
The next day they flew away. The dragons flew and flew until they landed on a volcano in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian dragons greeted them. The Hawaiian dragons were surprised to see so many dragons visit them.
“What is it like to live in Hawaii?” asked the dragon from Chilunghsan.
“It’s terrible, very awful,” they all replied.
“Why?” asked a Welsh dragon.
“Because the mountains here in Hawaii are all volcanoes,” they replied, “it’s very hot here all the time. What is it like to live in China?”
The dragon from Chilungshan told them that living in China was wonderful and that dragons were honored and respected. Many of the Hawaiian dragons wanted to leave.
“Come back with me to China,” said the Chinese dragon.
The dragons went all over the world. They found that nowhere in the world were dragons so well loved as they are in China. Many dragons left their homes and followed the dragon from Chilungshan. The dragon from China led them all back to Chilungshan. However, there was not enough room for all the dragons. So the dragon led them to a part of China where there were no mountains.
There the dragons built mountains to live in. They all loved it in China because they were always honored and respected. There were so many dragons living in those mountains that they became the tallest mountains in the world. Those mountains are known today as the Himalayas.
When the Chinese dragon saw that all of his friends were settled down, he returned to live in Chilungshan. The other six dragons welcomed him back. The dragon remains in Chilungshan until this very day, never wanting to leave its tranquility or the people that love him so.
The Cat Burglar
By Kate Appleyard
On a dark, dark night when all good children were tucked up in bed, noises came from the garden. Nobody heard it, not even Thelmo the dog. He lay on his blanket, dreaming of juicy bones and strings of sausages.
Someone was awake, but who?
It was cat who strolled on soft, silent paws along the garden path. Every now and then she pushed a few pebbles, which kept cluttering around. Holding up her head, she sniffed the night air. Under a hedge, Mole who was looking for nice, fat slugs hurriedly slipped into his hole. Cat did not even see him; she was looking for adventure.
Policeman Plod, who was also awake, did never see cat. He was walking down the road, checking that everything was alright. All the people were sleeping, and bright stars shone on a quiet world. It was by the old bakery he saw hedgehog who was crying his eyes out.
“ Now, now what’s going on here? Who’s making so much noise ?”
“ Someone has stolen my fruit. They even took some of my crickets,” hedgehog cried.”
“ Well, well, we better investigate,” the policeman said.
He could see a some dry fruit on the ground; there were even some flies and other bugs. When they followed the trail, it took them right to cat’s house. Now that was very peculiar indeed.
He decided to knock on the door, but nobody opened.
They could hear some very unhappy noises coming from the house, but what was wrong?
Yes, it was definitely cat who was crying. “ M-miaow, M-miaow. Someone help me. “
“ Come on then, open the door and we see what we can do,” the policeman shouted.
Cat looked out of the window and decided to do as told. She was feeling very guilty and never even looked at the policeman. He soon found out what was going on.
“ You silly cat. You have eaten hedgehogs dinner and now you got a bad stomach. Fruit and bugs are for hedgehogs, not for cats. You do not steal from others. That’s very bad.”
He turned to hedgehog.
“ I think you better look for something else to eat, but this cat will never take your food again. She has learned her lesson. “
The sun came up from behind the clouds and the birds began to sing.
“ I’m ready to go to bed now, “ policeman Plod yawned . “ All I want is a nice cup of tea, a boiled egg and toast and that will give me some lovely dreams. Sweet dreams to you too hedgehog.
Two-Year Old Room
At 8:00 A.M., I joined this classroom. The teacher, “Pat,” gathered all the boys and girls into the bathroom that has 2 toilets and is attached to the classroom. The bathroom doors, like most of the doors here at the Discover Playhouse Center, are half doors in height (door goes up to adult waist height), so adults can monitor the restroom. They are all in the bathroom now, so I’ll describe the room. The room is arranged with open shelves and cubicles on the side of one wall. There are 4 centers: a kitchen center with stove, oven refrigerator, table, microwave, plastic fruit and vegetables, cups, plats, bowls, utensils, bottles of milk; a block center with train set, legos, blocks, cars, community vehicles, planes; a reading center with big picture books, small miniature books, a soft, cushy floor mat and stuffed animals; and an art center with 3 tables and chairs for each child. (The room is supplied with many opportunities for the children to engage in make believe play. The centers help develop their cognitive and social skills.)
There are two sinks, one adult size and the other is child size. There are 3 windows that let in lots of lights, and an emergency exit door. There is a wall of tote trays with the name of each child. The other walls are filled with the children’s art work. After the potty break, all the kids came running out of the restroom and found toys they liked, the brought them over to show me. They immediately surrounded me, because I’m someone new. They are very outgoing!
I will focus on a 2 ½ year old girl named Posh. Posh came over to me with a rag doll and sat in my lap. She is talking, but her words are a little difficult to understand. But she knows how to tell the teacher, Pat, “No!” (Posh is demonstrating her independence and self-awareness. She realizes that she is a separate and unique person in the world. Saying “No” is a classic sign of this awareness.) Another girl wanted Posh’s doll. The teacher told Posh to share; Posh said “No!” So the other girl walked away and found another doll (she didn’t cry). Posh got down from my lap and went to the kitchen center and brought back a plate and put it in front of me, then brought me a cup and plastic food, and some for her. She wanted me to pretend I was eating the play food and drinking from the cup. So we had a little tea party. Pash was very generous and kept adding more food and drinks to the table. I would pretend to take a bite of the broccoli and say how yummy it is, the I would drink from the cup and say, “Oh, this is so good!” Posh smiled, laughed and watched me closely as I ate and drank. Posh and I had fun. Other kids came over the show me what they were playing with, but Posh demanded my attention. Pat called the kids over to the art table. She asked everyone to put away the toys there were playing with in their proper places. I helped Posh put the dishes, cups and food away; she proudly showed me where everything went. (I think it is important to teach children developmentally appropriate responsibilities, such as cleaning up after themselves. Pat is doing a great service by encouraging them to learn how to be responsible for themselves.)
All the kids sat down at the art tables. Pat passed out paper plates for each child, then squirted black paint onto each plate. Posh just looked at the plate, afraid to touch it with her hands. Pat encouraged Posh to smear her hands and finders into the black paint to create Halloween bats. Pat said, “Don’t be afraid, Posh; slide your fingers and hand all over the plate.” Posh began to paint and seemed to like it now that she got started. Posh kept looking at her black hands and showing me how messy they were. I told Posh it’s okay to be messy right now, because she is making a great bat. Posh got really into the project and used her fingers to get the paint over to the edges of the plate; it was solid black. Pat praised Posh’s work. (Finger painting helps refine children’s fine motor skills.)
But now, Posh is getting upset. Posh is finished with the bat painting and wants to get up from her seat. She also wants to wash her hands. Posh is very upset that her hands are so dirty. Pat is lining up the kids one table at a time. Posh’s table is last, and Posh is getting very impatient and starts to cry. (Posh is still learning how to control her emotional impulses.) Sara, Pat’s assistant helper, tries to keep Posh in her seat. Finally, Pat calls Posh’s table to wash their hands. Posh runs over to the sink and looks relieved. Now, Pat lets the kids play at centers as he hangs up the bat painting on a cloth line string that runs across the room diagonally, secured with clips. Sara helps Pat clean off the tables.
Posh goes to the book center and picks up a miniature book and walks around with it. Posh is walking around the room with the book. She is not really interested in the other kids right now. She brings me the book; I put her in my lap and read her the book. Several other kids see this and bring me books that they wanted me to read to them. So one at a time< I read each story, but Posh remains in my lap as I read the other books. (All of these children love to have someone read to them.)
Pat calls for clean-up time; the kids and I put all the toys and books away. Pat then calls for the kids to line up at the door for recess outside. Posh still has the miniature book in her hand and wants to take it outside. Pat tells Posh to put the book down before they can go outside. Posh puts the book down on the shelf and gets back in line.
Pat opens the door; the children walk in a single file line to the play area. Pat tells them to sit/wait on the concrete sidewalk until the other class of children leave the playground. Posh sits down next to me and shows me her velcro shoes and how they work. Pat lets them go on the playground. Pat has bubbles stick, the huge bubble kind; makes big bubbles. Posh takes my hand and leads me to Pat’s bubble show. Posh laughs and smiles; looks up at me. She likes the big bubbles. She loses interest fast and takes me back to the edge of the fence. She tries to look through it. Loses interest. Posh climbs the jungle gym. She sits with the others, then walks away. She is playing by herself, now; she puts mulch in the bucket then dumps it out on the ground. Posh sits on the edge of the squared-in play area next to two other girls. Posh grabs handfuls of mulch and puts it on her own lap then brushed it away, over and over. Now, Posh grabs handfuls of mulch and puts it on the girl next to her, then brushes it off of her. The girl looks confused about why Posh is putting mulch on her, but lets Posh continue putting dirt on her anyway. (I think Posh was testing the girl’s limits by seeing what she could get away with.) Posh gets up. Posh wants to leave the squared-in area, but Pat tells her she has to stay in the area. Posh hesitates, then runs back to the jungle gym. She plays alone, walking through the jungle gym. The jungle gym is a big wooden platform with 2 slides, 3 bridges, a sliding pole and tunnels. Posh leaves the jungle gym, walks to the edge of the squared-in area, sits on the wooden plank alone. Another girl sits down next to Posh. The girl plays with Posh’s hair, gathers her hair from behind; Posh turns around, gives the girl an unfriendly look and moves away from the girl. Pat calls for the class to line up next to the building; time to go back inside.
Pat has to brush off the kids’ shoes before going back inside (to keep the carpet in the school clean). There is only one shoe brush, so the process of getting all the children’s shoes clean is very slow. The director, Robin, calls on Pat’s walky-talky, tells Pat to get the kids inside; Pat’s assistant, Sara, responds back in the walky-talky that Pat is brushing their shoes off. Robin says hurry up; it’s time for the next class of kids to come outside to play. (This facility runs a tight ship. The director, Robin Eyring, is completely involved in the planning of activities and the daily schedules. I believe this is why the quality of care is so high here. The children are never left to sit in front of a TV. They provide activities that promote healthy minds and bodies.) Pat instructs the kids to stand up and stomp their feet to knock off the dirt. Sara and I demonstrated jumping up and down so the kids would copy us. Posh and the other kids jumped. Posh jumped with great enthusiasm, very energetic. We all walk in a single file line back to the classroom. A girl in line pushes Posh; Posh looks scared and walks farther away from her in line. Posh did not confront or push the girl back; Posh just walked away. Pat did not see this; nothing was done. Back in classroom, Pat takes the whole class into the bathroom. I watch from the other side of the waist-high door. All the children sit on the bathroom floor and wait their turn to potty. Pat is assisting each of them one at a time. Sara and I sing “itty-bitty spider” for the children as they wait. This helped keep the kids entertained while they were waiting. Posh’s turn to use the potty; she already knows how to handle herself; she does not need much help from Pat. But Posh does need Pat to button her pants; becomes impatient for Pat to help her and cries. Pat is helping another kid. Past says to Posh, “I’ll be right with you, Posh. Hold on one minute, honey.” Posh stops crying after Pat attends to her. All the kids have to stay inside the bathroom until everyone is through; takes a long time.
An office personnel lady brings in a new little boy with his mom and dad. Pat is still in the bathroom with the kids. Sara takes the new boy’s hand; his parents walk out; the boy cries. He is still crying. Potty time is over; kids come out and find a center; Pat tries to console the new boy; he is still crying. None of the kids welcome him. The kids look over at him occasionally when he is extra loud. Post gets several books and brings them to me. I read to her again. Posh ignores the crying boy. Posh sat in my lap and listened contentedly as I read to her. Posh helped turning the pages of the books. Two other kids sit down close to me and Posh to listen to the stories. Posh did not like them to get too close and tried to shoo them away with her foot. Then Posh wanted to sit in the chair at the table that a boy was sitting in; she stood next to him and cried. He ignored her. She grabbed his hair and pulled his head down. She held him in this position for about a minute, when Pat saw. Pat said, “Posh, don’t pull his hair.” She let go. Pat put her in another chair.
The new child is still upset. (This boy has a very strong case of separation anxiety, and he did not respond to the teachers. He was in a strange place with strange people and was not adjusting well. He might be classified as a difficult child if his behavior persists for a long time.) The director, Robin, comes into the classroom to cheer him up. Robin gathers all the kids to sit down in a circle on the floor. Robin has the new kid in her lap. Robin leads a singing series, and we all sing with her. Posh is participating in the songs, too. We sing songs until lunch time. The new boy falls asleep in Robin’s lap. I guess the singing soothed his nerves. Pat calls for everyone to line up for lunch. Posh took my hand; I stood in line with her; Pat leads the line; Sara supervises the back of the line. Posh and I walked hand in hand to the lunch room. Posh sat down, and I waved goodbye.
Early Childhood Classroom Observation
Recently, I observed a preschool classroom for three hours at a Learning Center, located in Tomball, Texas. The teacher’s name was Ms. Taylor, and she was an excellent teacher to observe and learn from.
At 8:00 a.m., Ms. Taylor began her class activity with a sing-along song on a compact disc, accompanied by a corresponding picture book with written lyrics in large type for the children to follow the words with their eyes as they sang. All the children participated in the song and seemed to enjoy this activity very much.
The letter of the week was “I,” and the teacher had lessons all week that contained words that began with the letter “I,” including “igloo” and “ice cream.” She called on each child individually to come forward and whisper an “I” word in her ear. Ms. Taylor explained to me that she had the children whisper their words so she could better assess their knowledge. If she had asked them to say the word out loud, they all would have said the same “I” word, and she would not know who really knew the word. She recorded their answers, and gave them a star sticker if their answer was correct. Then she told them to choose center to “play” in.
There are seven centers: blocks, drama, doll house, arts and crafts, math, science and reading. I started at the block center where three children were working together building Lego structures. They laughed, talked and grabbed objects from each other’s hands, but they continued building harmoniously. I sat down next to them, and one girl at the table told me casually that her mom and dad fought a lot, so she and her mother had moved out of their house and into an apartment away from her father. She described this sad situation very matter-of- factly, while working with the Legos. This made me realize that children come to school thinking about their family problems and need to talk about them.
Next, at the drama center, two girls and one boy dressed up in sequined gowns and hats. This center was equipped with costumes, props, a mirror, and a table with two chairs. The children were playing closely together, but not with each other. Mildren Parten classified this stage of play as “parallel play,” where children play in the same area and with the same materials, but without interacting.
At the doll house center, one girl and one boy played together rearranging the doll house’s furniture. The boy spontaneously kicked down a room arrangement the girl had just made. I thought this would make the girl cry, but instead, she looked at me and said with a smile, “I will create a new room.” She seemed very mature.
Then, I visited the math station, which had an abacus, peg, counting numbered blocks, geometric shapes, string beads, weights and a scale. A girl was working alone at the table, putting together an owl puzzle. She completed the owl puzzle and named all the numbers used in the puzzle. She asked me to tell her more about owls. I told her that owls are birds that mostly sleep during the day and come out at night. Owls sit on a branch high in a tree and make “whoo, whoo” sounds. The girl told me that she had heard that sound before, and now she would know it was an owl the next time she heard it.
Next, I made my way over to the science center. It was quite impressive. Hanging over the table was a mobile of our entire solar system. There also was an insect collection on the cabinet top, along with magnifying glasses, pictures of the internal human body, a globe, maps of all the continents, and a plastic light-up board of the solar system. Two girls and one boy were playing in this center. They asked me to name for them all the planets on the light-up solar system board. They were very fascinated with the planets on the board, and then we compared it with the solar system poster on the wall. The children pulled everything off the science shelves one by one and asked me to explain each item to them. So I sat down at the table and talked about each item they handed me. They were extremely eager to learn and listened intently. Our textbook describes children at this age as being enthusiastic learners, like sponges, and I found this description to be very accurate.
Then, I observed the children at the art center. They were painting black bats on white paper plates for Halloween. I noticed the way they held the paint brushes. One boy was holding a brush in his fist, like a knife, while the three girls were holding their brushes like a pencil. I found this interesting, because our textbook also states that girls generally develop fine motor skills before boys.
Ms. Taylor announced that is was time to clean up the centers, which is a chore that the children are responsible for. When everything was put away, it was time for recess. I thought Ms. Taylor was very cunning to give the children perhaps the most effective form of motivation by mentioning recess. The children put everything away in its proper place and lined up at the door. They asked me if I was going outside with them, because they wanted to chase me. How could I resist?
The playground was equipped with a huge wooden jungle gym, a sand box, a playhouse, slides and see-saws. The children chased me, and I chased them. Then, I sat down to watch how they played. I observed incidences of cooperative play when several of the girls and boys formed a human train as they wend down the slide together. A few children engaged in solitary play, but most of the children exhibited associative play, where they would play together for a while, then quickly move to play with someone else.
After recess, we returned to Ms. Taylor’s classroom. I sat with the children at circle time and sang their favorite songs with them. Ms. Taylor asked me if I would read to the children so she could finish decorating the walls with their Halloween art projects and other Halloween decorations. I was delighted to do so and read the books that the children picked out. I thoroughly enjoyed reading to the children, and I followed the animated reading styled the you have demonstrated for us in class when you read your favorite picture books. Watching you read picture books was extremely helpful in this situation, as it gave me a good example of how I am supposed to read books to children.
It was now approaching 11:00 a.m., and Ms. Taylor was finished with the Halloween decorations. She announced that it was almost time for lunch, so the children lined up to wash their hands. I was impressed to see that Ms. Taylor stresses good hygiene practices for the children. They lined up at the door in an orderly fashion to walk to the lunch room.
I told the class how much I had enjoyed spending the morning with them and that I would like to visit them again. I also thanked Ms. Taylor for letting me observe. Looking back, there were no major discipline problems that Ms. Taylor had to address. The children seemed to know the daily routine and enjoyed being in Ms. Taylor’s class. In my opinion, the Discovery Playhouse Learning Center is a high-quality facility that provides an excellent setting for children to learn new skills and develop socially.
My Kindergarten Philosophy
By Anne Eaves
I designed a kindergarten classroom in an effort to provide children a fun and comfortable place to explore their natural curiosities and promote self discovery, and to meet the needs of a diverse group of young learners. Kindergarten is a transition time period for children to gain new skills and build confidence needed to enter the first grade. I believe the best way to meet these needs is to create a classroom environment with developmentally appropriate activities and opportunities for meaningful experiences, combined with a well-balanced curriculum that reflects the genuine interests of the students.
The arrangement of the furniture and learning materials was created to provide easy accessibility for the children, as well as providing maximum visibility for the teacher to supervise. My teaching philosophy emphasizes the love of books and reading. The Reading Center is positioned in the heart of the classroom to supply the foundations of fun reading experiences. My Reading Center is filled with a conglomerate of literary materials and cozy seating, including two couches, two bookshelves and a rug. The book collection includes old favorites from the Dr. Seuss library, cassette books and quality literature of classic tales and nursery rhymes. The three specific learning objectives that I would post in the classroom for the year are (1) how to take proper care of books, (2) the concept of print with the understanding that words are read top to bottom and left to right, and (3) story telling by actively participating in shared reading activities, retelling stories, making predictions about the stories’ events and personalizing the meaning from the text.
The Art Center is located in the far right corner of the room, next to cabinets that are handy places to store all art supplies, including paints, brushes, glue, scissors, crayons, play dough and a kit of art projects. This is where the students will create wonderful works of art. Three learning objectives I will post for the Art Center are (1) demonstrating pride in art accomplishments by hanging self-expressive projects on the wall for everyone to admire, (2) developing fine motor skills by learning how to hold and manipulate paint brushes and other art tools, and (3) practicing the creation of art elements such as lines, colors, space and composition.
The Block Center is positioned in the far left hand corner. This area is a building and construction zone for young architects. I have also included hardwood play vehicles and a 3’ x 6’ Amigos Rug with English and Spanish words for ESL children. Three valuable learning objectives I plan to post this year are (1) collaborating with others to build configurations, (2) broaden math skill concepts, including balance, height, length and proportion of objects, and (3) learning problem solving skills.
The Math Center has diagonally positioned shelves to separate it from the Block Center. The Math Center is equipped with a computer station, math games, activity cubes, an abacus, pegs, play money, and a table with three chairs. Three objectives I would like to post are (1) counting objects, adding and subtracting, (2) patterning shapes, and (3) developing problem solving skills.
The Science Center is located in the middle of the left wall. This center has an insect collection, magnifying glasses, an animal puzzle set, a magnet kit, a table with three chairs, and a computer to further explore specific areas of science. Several objectives I can post are (1) observation techniques using a magnifying glass, (2) studying magnetic forces, and (3) recognizing diverse animal species.
The Language Arts Center is located in the front left corner of the room. This center is furnished with a chalk board, overhead projector, a sentence-building overhead kit, alphabet posters, a Spanish to English picture dictionary, shelves, a rug for a floor seating area, and tables and chairs that were provided by the school. This is where the children will practice posted objectives, including (1) writing skills with pencil and paper to refine fine motor skills, (2) ability to write his or her own name, and (3) expanding vocabulary.
The teacher’s desk is positioned in the front of the classroom by the door. I have an electrical outlet for the third computer on the right side of my desk. The second wall outlet is located on the wall of the Science Center. I have a power strip to plug in the overhead projector in the Language Arts Center and an extension cord running along the baseboard to reach the computer in the Math Center. I also have purchased three adjustable computer stations, upon which the three computers provided by the school will be placed.
This is my dream kindergarten classroom. I have designed and furnished the classroom with an array of materials in hopes of capturing the students’ imagination and stimulating their young, budding minds.
Cooperative learning develops self-esteem and responsibility. Children acquire a sense of pride and self-confidence when they contribute to project with their peers. Children also learn more about themselves as they interact and exchange feedback. This helps children grow emotionally and feel important. Group work encourages each child to take more initiative because they have a vested interest in completing what they are responsible for. They don’t want to let down the group. This sort of “peer pressure” is beneficial because it helps the children to realize their potential.
There are, of course, a few pitfalls that I need to mention, as well. Some children might enter a group learning assignment without the essential socials skills needed to make co-learning successful. This may be due to their family’s culture or lifestyle habits or multiple intelligence strength. According to Dr. Gardner, there are at least eight intelligences. Children who have a high level of intrapersonal intelligence prefer to work alone and may become frustrated during group work and not learn as well as they could if they worked alone. Grades can be another problem. If one student does most of the work, he may feel resentment toward his group, and the slackers in the group get a grade they didn’t earn. There are also students who are shy or afraid of looking dumb in front of their peers and will mask their fear by not participating. Another problem that could occur is getting off track. One student may mention some juicy gossip, and then the work group becomes a gossip chatting group. Furthermore, students who work too often in groups can become dependent on others and less able to solve problems independently. Fortunately, all of these obstacles can be dealt with, and adjustments can be made to meet everybody’s needs.
THE UNDER-BED NIGHT-NOISE
Roger Vaughan Carr
The noise woke Aldo up. But this time he did not call out. He just lay very still and listened.
The same noise had woken him last night. And the night before. It had given him a fright, and he had called for his father.
Each time Dad had come quickly. But each time the noise had stopped before he got there. It had stopped as soon as Aldo called out.
Dad had stayed with him, listening. But the noise had not come again until the next night.
‘What kind of a noise was it?’ his father had asked.
Aldo could not remember. ‘It just woke me up, so I called, and it stopped,’ he said.
‘If it happens again,’ Dad said, ‘listen to it before you call me. The sound of your call must frighten it away.’
‘Frighten what away?’ Aldo asked. But his father did not know.
Now the noise was here again; so Aldo just kept very still and listened. He was a little bit afraid. But not too much. The lights from the Coke sign on the other side of the street came through the curtain; just as they did every night.
The sound of trains going in and out of the subway came faintly through the night; just as they always did.
He could hear cars on the street; just as he always could.
The only different sound was the noise. Aldo listened very carefully. He wanted to be able to tell his father exactly what kind of a noise it was. It was like a noise from a cartoon. It was like the sound that came when someone used a saw. But it was very soft. And very slow. And it came from under his bed.
‘Help!’ Aldo wanted to shout. ‘The noise is under my bed!’ He opened his mouth. He nearly shouted the words.Then he thought: If I do shout for dad, the noise will stop. It might not come again. I might never know what it is.
Very quietly he rolled over onto his front. He pushed his head over the side of the bed and looked under. It was black and dark under his bed. But he could hear the noise very clearly, now.
It went: sh-sh, sh-sh, sh-sh. It was the kind of noise his mother made when she was putting the new baby to sleep.
Sh-sh, sh-sh, sh-sh.
It was like that. And like the sound of a saw in a cartoon. It was like them both. Aldo wished he had left the curtain back so the Coke light could shine right in. He stared into the blackness under his bed. The noise kept making baby-go-to-sleep and cartoon-saw sounds.
Aldo stared harder into the blackness. He thought he could see a thin line of light. It was at the bottom of the wall. The line of light came up from the floor on one side. Then it began to curve at the top. Like an arch.
Aldo leaned further down. He was so interested in watching that he forgot to be afraid. He was so interested in watching, he forgot to hold on.
He was on the floor!
The line of light stopped moving. Aldo stopped breathing. He held his breath for as long as he could. He did not want the line of light to stop moving.
Sh-sh, sh-sh, sh-sh…
The line began to move again. Aldo began to breathe again. He watched as the line finished the arch and went down to the floor. It was like the outline of a tiny door in the wall.
He tried to remember what was on the other side of the wall. It was a big building he lived it. It was made up of apartments; but Aldo did not really know who lived in the one on that side.
The noise had stopped now the line of light had reached the floor again. Then a bit of the wall fell out. It was the shape of a door with an arch on top. The hole it left was about the size of his open hand.
Aldo tried to look into the arch of light, but he was too far away to see through. He did not want to move, because he thought that might make everything stop.
Then another noise came. It was a scrape-scrape-scrape kind of sound. Something was pushing through the door, but Aldo could not see what. Something was moving across the floor under his bed. Then that stopped, too, and Aldo held his breath again.
Had something seen him? Was the little arched door suddenly going to be closed up again? No! Something else was happening. There was a tiny light coming through the arch. There was a little buzzing noise…
There was a long: tooo-oooo-oooo… sound!
Clang! Clang! Clang! went a very small bell.
The buzzing noise stopped. There was the sound of scrabbling. It was like mice running round.
Then tiny blue lights switched on. Now Aldo could see exactly what was happening. Train tracks had been pushed across the floor, and a train had come out. The train was made up of flat-cars. And each flat-car was loaded with stuff for building.
Little robot people were running around, unloading the flat-cars.
Then they built a rail siding and put down more track.
They built a whole railway town under Aldo’s bed.
Then another train came through. This train pulled carriages and freight-cars and cattle trucks.
Little robot people got out. They got animals from the cattle trucks. They got all kinds of stuff from the freight-cars.
They built a small town. They built small farms.
Trains came in and out of the archway
Aldo just lay there, staring and staring…
Aldo’s father came in on the way to bed. He found Aldo asleep on the floor. He smiled and picked Aldo up and tucked him back into his bed. Then Aldo’s mother came in.
‘Did he hear that noise again, tonight?’ she asked.
‘I don’t know,’ Aldo’s father said. ‘I found him asleep on the floor.’
‘Well it could not have given him a fright then,’ she said. ‘He did not call out.’ She leaned over and kissed Aldo goodnight.
Aldo’s father kissed him goodnight, too. “He looks tired,’ he said. ‘Let’s hope the baby does not wake him up tonight with her crying.’
They crept quietly out and closed the door. Aldo did not wake up until the morning traffic started. He rolled onto his back. He watched the flashes of sunlight the car windows always reflected onto his walls in the morning.
I’m glad that noise did not wake me up again last night, he thought.
And then he remembered, and rolled out of bed with a thump and looked
There was nothing there.
‘Oh…no!’ he cried. ‘It was just a stupid dream!’
He was so angry he slid right under the bed and kicked the wall in temper.
He kicked it right where he had dreamed the little arched doorway had been.
And the little arched doorway fell out.
‘Help!’ Aldo cried in surprise.
Then he picked up the little doorway. It had glue around it. But the glue was still wet.
Aldo slid round until he could look into the arched doorway.
An eye and part of a face looked back.
‘Yeeks…!’ Aldo cried.
‘Excuse me,’ a voice said. ‘I hope you don’t mind me using your floor for my train set at night.’
‘Huh?’ Aldo said.
‘There is not a lot of spare room in my apartment,’ the voice said. ‘I had to cut a tunnel through the wall to build my farm town.’
‘I..I…I like you using my floor,’ Aldo said.
‘Oh, good!’ the voice said happily. ‘Can I use it again tonight?’
‘You can use it every night,’ Aldo said. ‘Can I play, too?’
‘Certainly,’ the voice said. ‘I will send a control to you on the first train tonight.’
‘Wow! Thanks!’ Aldo cried.
He put the piece of wall back in place and got dressed.
‘Did you hear that noise again last night?’ his father asked when he sat down for breakfast.
‘Yes,’ Aldo said. ‘It was just someone building a tunnel.’
Aldo’s father looked out the window. ‘They’re always building something,’ he said. ‘Next thing you know they’ll be building a railway right through the middle of the apartments.’
Aldo just smiled and ate his breakfast.
And wished it was night again.
© Roger Vaughan Carr, 2006