I’m so glad that I was able to take what I have learned through this course and apply it to a final make that I feel really made an impact. Near the beginning of this semester, we were all asked to come up with inquiry questions that we would think about throughout the semester. I had some questions based on my “wobbling” moments as a teacher. One of my questions was how can I effectively handle the children in the class that act out more while also still making sure the rest of the children are still getting enough attention from me and getting the most out of the day’s lesson? I also had questions about how I could improve keeping the children in my class engaged.
Throughout a lot of reflection during this semester I came to realize that I was expecting too much of my energetic bunch of toddlers (2 & 3-year-old to be exact). I would have children act out during learning activities because they were not engaged. Little learners like my group need to move around a lot and they need to be interested in what they are doing. Therefore, my final make was to have my class make sensory bottles. I chose to do this for a couple of different reasons.
The first reason was because I wanted this project to be something that could come in handy for the future. For example, now when they are feeling ancy during an activity/feel the urge to move a little or need an opportunity to calm themselves down they can use their very own sensory bottle that they created themselves. Another reason I thought this would be a good project was because it incorporated STEM at a very early age. Our sensory bottles were “lava bottles” which taught them about science and how to make/engineer something themselves. I also knew this would be an interest-driven activity. I knew my group would love a learning experience where they could be hands-on & move around. I also made sure they all got to choose their own color that they wanted for their sensory/lava bottle. I invited parents to come be a part of the project as well. We made them near the end of the day during pick up time so that parents could see what their child was making. The children were so proud to show their parents what they made themselves.
I’ve been using the sensory bottles during circle time to keep them engaged. For example, I will often tell them that if we can make it through a story without disruptions or if we can finish reviewing our shapes that they will get to use the sensory bottles at circle time. I feel it has really helped to keep them engaged. It’s also made me realize that I want to incorporate even more stem/sensory learning activities in future lesson plans.
Interest-driven: Children were able to move around freely during the project and were able to choose how they wanted their own sensory bottle to look which encouraged individuality by valuing each of their interests
Production Centered: Children made their sensory bottles on their own which helped them to learn new skills and made for a meaningful learning experience. This also gave them the opportunity to feel happy & proud that they created something independently.
Peer-supported: Children made different comments & observations while watching their friends create their sensory bottles
Shared Purpose: Children worked all together during the project but then were also able to use the sensory bottles they made in group activities.
Academically Orientated: Children were exposed to science & engineering through the creation of their sensory bottles
Openly Networked: Invite extended to parents to connect school & learning. I also hoped it would encourage parents to do a fun stem/sensory activity at home with their child.