Two weeks ago we had Friday off from work so that we could attend an Early Childhood conference on Saturday. The conference went the way conferences go, generally speaking. The keynote speakers were great and some of the classes were a little helpful but it's not what I would have chosen to spend my Saturday doing. Th following week we were studying Creepy Crawlies in the classroom. Butterfly nets were provided for catching all sorts of insects as well as frogs, salamanders, chameleons, and spiders galore. Since we didn't have our usual Friday teacher workday my lead teacher and I hurried to get as much done as possible the Thursday before to clean the room and change out the dramatic play area. Needless to say, it could have been a lot better. Other than the nets and the animals to catch there was really nothing for them to do.
The next Friday I was by myself because my lead was off for CNA training. We were told by our supervisor that the dramatic play area needed to be a little more... well, dramatic. I spent about an hour cleaning the classroom then went to town on the dramatic play area. I brought in a fake tree from the hallway then went to grab six feet of greet butcher paper. I covered one of the walls with the paper and cut the top to look like grass then put the tree in the corner. On the wall of grass I put a large ant hill complete with tunnels and the queen in the corner with all her eggs. I also cut out dozens of tissue paper butterflies to be tossed in the air and caught in the nets. I then took a pom-pom and wrapped it in pipe cleaners to look like legs. creating a large black spider. The spider was then suspended from the tree.
We are specifically working on number recognition with the children so I made ten large ladybird beetles and added a certain number of dots on one side with its corresponding number on the other. I then cut the beetles in half different ways so the children could match up the halves. I bought some large coffee filters and brought them in on Monday to make butterflies. We decorated the coffee filters then wrapped up the middle with a pipe cleaner to draw in the middle and puff out the sides to look like wings. I encouraged the children to make ants on the anthill using the eraser of a pencil for the body parts and a marker to draw the legs and antennae. They were given markers and the opportunity to draw whatever creepy crawlie creatures they wanted to on the grass wall.
Wednesday morning my supervisor came in and told me that my lead had been admitted to the ER last night. She is ok, don't worry. She is pregnant and was experiencing severe pain so they went to the hospital but both she and the baby are just fine.The point is I would be the lead teacher for the next couple days. Well the morning class went fairly well except for three little boys who were terrorizing everyone and everything but we managed to make it through to the afternoon. The afternoon class was pretty good as well, same sort of situation though. The next day I decided to try some positive reinforcement a.k.a. bribery. Before class began I pulled aside the three boys and showed them a couple other pom-pom spiders I had made specifically for them. I told them that if they listened well and were good examples for their friends they could take home the spiders at the end of the day. I only had to give one warning to two of the boys and told them it was their only warning. Other than that they were all very well behaved, I couldn't believe they were the same children. At the end of class I thanked each of them as they were leaving and gave them their prizes.
In the afternoon class their is a kid of Tongan decent who is much bigger than all the other children in the class. He also has a very difficult time keeping his hands to himself which apparently is common in the culture. He pushes, hits and wraps his arms around other children's necks. Before class on Thursday I told him if he could keep his hands to himself he would be able to take home the spider that had been hanging from the tree. Amazingly enough he didn't touch a single student the entire day. Bribery works. I'm interested in seeing what happens over the course of the next couple weeks. Hopefully the good behavior continues.