January 31, 2016

Work Hard. . .Play Harder

This has been a transformational year in my teaching career. Besides starting a Forest Kindergarten program (and absolutely loving every minute of it, see Tales From the Trails ), my teaching style, beliefs, and implementation have all evolved to include something many consider taboo: play. 

Walk past my classroom at any point of the day and you have a high chance of seeing children at play. While the increased rigor of required curriculum and the ever-increasing expectations put on children at an earlier and earlier age, one might think I am wasting my time and putting my students at a disadvantage.

I couldn't disagree more.

In our classroom, we work hard and play harder. In fact, for chidren, play is work. Play is not something too avoid or push aside, It is to be embraced, implicitly practiced, observed, and practiced again and again and again. I am not just an observer. I am a participator. I am a player too.

Play allows for creativity, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. These concepts are at the core of the buzz words 21st Century Skills. Its not rocket science though. Children can reach these goals when they are allowed to be children.

I could present research-based articles and insight from professionals in the field until the cows come home (where'd they go anyways?) but instead, I invite you to come to my indoor or outdoor classroom and play. You might just learn something. My kids certainly are!

January 2, 2016

Magnetic Memories

Analyzing one's refrigerator magnet collection can certainly tell you a good deal about a person. Their current life status. Their interests. Possible insights about their financial capabilities. I can't help myself but enjoy checking out the magnets of people I visit but at the same time, I wonder what the collection on my fridge tells them about me.

If I were to guess, I'd say that it tell them alot. And not just because my fridge is essentially hidden behind a sea of magnets.

For one,  I have a hard time getting rid of my childhood. I have somewhat old and withered magnets of my childhood sports heroes.

Secondly, I must like zoos and animals as there are over a dozen form various zoos and aquariums from all over the country.

Thirdly, I am a sports fan. A smorgasbord of current and past team schedules are patchworked all over the place.

Lastly, a true analysis must be done as part of a longitudinal study because while some aspects have stayed constant, the magnets are consistently evolving.

From childhood creations to magnet memories from tourist traps.

From wedding save the dates to birth announcements.

From second birth announcements to full blown family photos.

I find magnetic collections unusually fascinating. It has been fun seeing my own collection evolve from being a child to having my own. I can only imagine how it will evolve in the future. 

Either way, I am looking forward to it.

January 1, 2016

A New Start. .Yada Yada . .Blah Blah

Every new year brings new resolutions that tend to be forgotten about before January even ends. While I am very guilty of failing to live up to my goals with each passing year, I usually end up having fun in the attempt.

2015 was pretty awesome for me, but that doesn't mean I don't have high hopes for 2016. Besides being a better father and husband and taking care of myself, there are some other not so traditional goals I have in mind. In no particular order, I hope to accomplish these things in 2016;

  • Turn my kindergarten classroom into a miniature nature center
  • Revise some of my picture book manuscripts and maybe start submitting them a bit more regularly. You can;t get published if you don't try.
  • Less pizza and more push ups!
  • Learn how to type
  • Restore a prairie (bit by bit)
  • Expand the forest kindergarten program I am blessed to lead
  • Less soda and more sit ups!
  • Tweet better  (@TykeHiker)
  • Wake up earlier so I can better reach everything mentioned above :)

Wish me luck!