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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

infant paper study (part 3)

The littlest learner has been continuing to engage in relationship with paper.  This week he was able to explore the paper from many perspectives.  While he was sleeping I removed all of the bright plastic toys from his floor mat and replaced them with hanging pieces of brown paper and crumpled up bags on the mat.  When he was ready for floor play I placed him on his play area and began to observe him.

He was rather startled at first.  

But he quickly began to stretch, roll, eat, and grab for the paper.

This was an interesting development in the littlest person's relationship with paper.  By weaving the paper amongst his play space he was able to experience its many properties without too much hesitation. The placement of the papers allowed the little person opportunities to stretch his curiosity and physical reach farther than he has yet.

I'm hoping that with the continuation of this growing relationship among infant and paper that the littlest  person will continue to grow his curiosity, joy, physical capabilities, and knowledge of his surrounding world.

Friday, June 17, 2011

homemade books

One of my favorite ways to help little people learn vocabulary and to remember events is to create personalized homemade books.  I used to make these a lot in the classroom whether it was after a field trip, to document a specific play episode, or to showcase children and their families.  These homemade books always became the children's favorite books to read on their own and were often topics of their conversations.

Here is an example of the book I made for the little person I am nannying after we visited the zoo.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

infant paper study (part 2)

After observing the littlest person explore pieces of ripped up magazine last week; watching his delight and amazement at the sounds and textures he was experiencing, I decided to engage us in a paper study. He has become increasingly curious about the world around him and so I decided to introduce him to a  paper bag.  I decided to use a paper bag because of the distinct noise they make when crumpled.  As infants are prone to do, he immediately pulled the bag to his mouth in order to explore it more closely.  Because of they way he is positioned for this investigation (done quite purposely, I plan to lay him on paper balls and rolls of paper later), he discovered that he could flap and wave the bag up and down and side to side making quite a wonderful noise.  He also discovered that when he dropped the bag onto his body his feet were able to explore the textures of the bag.

As I mentioned in the first post on how to initiate an infant study, I am curious to observe how he continues to interact with the new materials.  I believe that with each investigation he will develop a closer relationship with paper and the synapses in his rapidly growing brain will fire away!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

how does a study with infants begin?

How does a study with infants begin?  What is necessary to create a successful investigation with our littlest learners?

Ultimately, the most important thing needed is a large amount of respect for the capabilities of infants on the part of the caretaker.  In order for a study to be facilitated successfully the caretaker must possess the belief that infants are active learners and explorers and are able to take risks and succeed with challenges.

It's also important that the caretaker be an active observer.  Infants communicate their interests through their body movements, their sounds, and their eye gaze.  In order to plan a study that will engage the infants the caretaker must be actively observing what items or phenomenon catch the attention of the little learners.

I think it's also necessary that the caretaker be able to take risks and think outside of the box.  Infants are active learners and are eagerly soaking up information about the world around them.  As such, it's not necessary to engage infants in play with highly commercial items.  Some of the best investigations by infants and their caregivers involve everyday objects found around the home and school.

In order for a study to begin the willingness to continue to observe the infant's interactions with the materials and the ability to scaffold new experiences with the material as the littlest learners become more confident and competent with the material they are investigating is needed.

I can't stress how important I think it is to be an active observer.  It's during those unstructured moments of play that the infant's curiosity is engaged and we are able to catch that curiosity and introduce new experiences.

As an example, here are some photos I took of the very beginning stages of a study of paper the 6 month old infant I care for and I are embarking on.  And what sparked this investigation?  The simple act of my ripping a page out of a magazine and the look of astonishment on his face and the reach of his hands towards the magazine.