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Oceans Are Humanity's Future

Blog Type:  STEM Preschool
Date Posted:  Tuesday, April 13, 2021

 

This period, the students in PS/MS C and D, along with the students in MS E and F, focused their work on the sea world in order to participate in an International French challenge sponsored by the Maud Fontenoy Foundation, whose slogan is “Oceans Are Humanity’s Future.” 
 


Since 2008, the Maud Fontenoy Foundation, has been involved in preserving our oceans, both in France and internationally. It carries out environmental education actions for the younger generation and the general public with the support of scientific partners and the French Ministry of Education, to which it is tasked with sea education and the relaunch of sea classes. 

The purpose of the challenge is to create a tale about sea creatures. The tale must allow people to discover sea creatures, make them want to protect them, and hopefully stimulate the child’s imagination, dreams and poetry. It should be completed with illustrations allowing the reader to project her/himself into the tale and making people want to like the characters they see.


To prepare for this challenge, students have read stories and tales regarding sea species in French and in English, and have explored topics such as pollution and both the lack of knowledge on this topic and the need to protect the oceans and sea creatures. They have explored their particular role in nature and they have observed their way of life.These fabulous creatures have amazed the students and have inspired them to create these tales with enthusiasm. 


The larger aim of these tales is to encourage the general public to protect sea creatures. Children and teachers were inventive and creative. They have found the best titles and created the most beautiful visuals. They were excited and dynamic and they took the step of being present in the images they created. All this hard work is currently being produced and edited. I can’t wait to see what they’ve created!

STOP! L'ocean n'est pas une poubelle

 

 

Tags:  preschool ocean project maternelle

What are those little boxes in my child’s classroom?

Blog Type:  Lower School
Date Posted:  Thursday, February 18, 2021

 

In each classroom from PS to K, there are boxes set up on some shelves. In some classes, the boxes are small and in some classes they are big. In some classes the boxes are white and in some others they are light green. 

Those boxes go along with the pedagogical programming the teachers have put together for the year and they are in alignment with the French Program and the five learning areas of the French Program. The content is made of material present in almost all classes and teachers change it regularly, either once most of the children have mastered its contents or at least once every six weeks.

The contents of the boxes are different, but they are all inspired by the same concept: to offer autonomous manipulation activities that allow students to develop their skills in a fun and motivating way in all areas. An autonomous activity is an activity that the students will carry out alone, without intervention of an adult.  Autonomy will inform all the stages of the activity: its choice, its installation, the knowledge of the instructions, its realization, its validation (if there is one) and its clean-up.

The activities are organized by grade level from TPS to K, and are progressively based on where a child is developmentally. Some of the activities can be simplified for some children, or made more difficult if needed. They offer great opportunities to differentiate between the children’s growth.
 

 

Benefits of autonomous activities for the children

To have rich, playful and varied equipment:

The material offered to the students is playful, varied and is essentially manipulative material.

To learn to work alone:

To be able to carry out independent activities, students will have to memorize the instructions and understand how to use them and put away the equipment made available to them. Gradually, they will be able to correct their work themselves.

To learn to make a choice:

To work on an individual activity, each student will have to make a choice from the different activities on offer. Initially, the youngest will have difficulty choosing. The teacher will have to train them. Gradually, during the year, they will learn to choose activities on their own.

To organize their work:

For each activity, the students must take out the material, use it wisely then put it away. This requires students to first organize themselves in their workspace and then to work on its realization.

To progress at their own pace:

One of the advantages of an individual activity is to allow the student to advance at his own pace and take the time necessary to complete an activity.

To learn to concentrate:

If well-designed, individual independent activities develop focus as they are generally echoed by the concerns of the students.

To respect rules:

For the moments of autonomy to work, the students will have to respect rules: put away the equipment after use, whisper during the activities, go to the end of the activity.

To not compete with other students:

As each activity is only offered in one copy, this allows students to take their time without looking at whether their classmates have completed the activity.

To improve and be proud of success:

As the access to the activities is free, the students can carry them out as many times as they wish, which allows them to train as much as necessary until they succeed. They will then be proud of what they have accomplished.

To validate their work alone:

The activities are mostly self-correcting, allowing students to see whether or not they have successfully completed the activity.

Not all activities can be done independently. Any activity requiring verbalization also requires the presence of the teacher. To be autonomous, the activity must be offered to students at exactly the right time: it must not be too easy or too difficult. It requires knowing where the students are in their learning and opting for a rigorous progression. 

Those boxes are great instruments used by the teachers when they want to work with smaller groups and need to keep all the students of their classroom engaged.

 

Tags:  boxes preschool

Global approach to critical thinking

Date Posted:  Thursday, February 18, 2021

 

The development of critical thinking is at the center of the mission assigned to the French education system. Present in many teaching programs, the work of training students to decipher reality and to progressively build an enlightened, autonomous, and critical mind is a major ambition of the school.

It is necessary to distinguish the fundamental attitudes which characterize “critical thinking” and the way in which the critical mind is implemented. The link between these two aspects is crucial in education, since it is the practices that nourish attitudes, and therefore those attitudes, when nourished and strengthened, are more easily translated into practice.

Critical thinking is dynamic. It is never a definitive achievement, and it can always happen that we are in lack of it, or that we are carried away by our opinions or by our prejudices. We cannot therefore take advantage purely and simply of critical thinking. We strive to have it and this translates into practice. It is with this incessant effort that the teacher gradually initiates their students.

Awakening curiosity is both essential and very difficult. The habit of seeking information, in the broadest sense of the term, to acquire knowledge, is the first step towards intellectual autonomy. Curiosity induces all other attitudes, because it alone can make people aware of the multiplicity of information (and therefore of the need to sort them) and of the vast fields of knowledge. The awakening of curiosity also refers to the overall relationship between the pupil and the school, a place of transmission and enhancement of knowledge.

 

Tags:  critical thinking curiosity preschool

Halloween & Monsters at the Maternelle

Blog Type:  Preschool
Date Posted:  Tuesday, October 20, 2020

How many parents of Maternelle-aged children live with a monster hiding under their child’s bed, a witch hiding in the closet or a ghost saying “boooo” at the window? All healthy children have fears, as this is part of their normal development.
 
As we all know, young children have vivid imaginations! They only feel safe and secure when their life is rhythmic with rituals and routines. Any changes in those rituals and routines, any unknown sounds or unfamiliar things, such as a flushing toilet or a strange mask can scare a 2, 3 or a 4 year old child. Even though young children are aware of their environment, they are concrete thinkers and therefore they don't yet understand everything that happens around them.
 
As children are growing older, their cognitive development is becoming more complex. Children are able to think about things symbolically and therefore they start to become afraid of things that tend to be more reality-based, such as a storm or a fire. However, they are usually able to adapt more quickly to a new situation and better identify what is really dangerous and what is not.
 
Playing, singing and reading about, imitating, acting out, drawing and painting allow children to identify, name, and clear-up false beliefs. It will also help to desensitize children towards the fearful object or situation.
 
With Halloween being just around the corner, it allows teachers to create projects and activities around Monsters, Witches, Ghosts, Bats, and Spiders, not only to demystify them, but also to work on multiple skills and areas of growth. 
 
What else are children learning through these themes?

  • Children work on oral language and early literacy. While exploring these themes, children are expanding their French and English vocabularies through “reading” stories, learning songs and rhymes, exploring and learning letters and sounds, even scary ones such as “boo” or a sinister laugh.
  • Children work on their senses through activities engaging them to touch, smell and taste things that are different—like slimy pumpkin seeds.
  • Children work on fine motor skills through drawing, cutting, gluing, and even sewing,  as they make their pumpkins, ghosts or monsters.
  • Children work on their gross motor skills while cooking, imitating and acting out or playing games, such as Pumpkin Games in Kindergarten.
  • Children work on foundational math skills such as one-to-one correspondence, matching and sorting shapes and colors, comparing and contrasting using classification, predicting cause and effect through activities and games. 

Traditionally, EB celebrates Halloween with the Kindergarten and Lower school’s parade meeting at the Middle School to watch a show. However, be prepared to not be a part of this year’s celebrations inside the Maternelle classrooms, and note that your children will not be able to witness a live parade. Nonetheless, your children will be able to safely parade, one pod at a time, and watch their friends and older students from the comfort of their classrooms while everything is live-streamed. Parents and children who are doing Home Based Instruction: please stay tuned for more information and join us for this Live Stream Celebration!

Tags:  halloween preschool maternelle
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