It’s hard enough for adults to adjust to the “new normal” of life in the time of COVID-19. But it’s even harder for little ones to navigate these unprecedented times. (Are you tired of the phrase “unprecedented times”? Me too!)_
I found some books that can help you teach health and safety concepts to preschoolers during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Germs vs. Soap
This funny book shows the secret world of germs and how much theyabsolutely, positively do NOT like soap. Children need to learn proper handwashing skills in order to help prevent the spread of viruses, and a quirky book like Germs vs. Soap makes handwashing fun!
Kids love technology, don’t they? And while I believe our focus as early childhood educators should mostly be on hands-on learning, sometimes a great YouTube video is exactly what you need to help you teach a certain concept or give your preschoolers a little “brain break.”
It can be hard to know where to begin with so many videos out there. I’ve also learned the hard way that you can’t count on everything that looks appropriate and educational to actually be suitable for preschoolers. That’s why I’ve made a list of eight of my favorite YouTube channels for preschoolers to make it a little easier for you to find that perfect video.
1. Bounce Patrol
Bounce Patrol is a group of entertainers from Australia who make fun and silly songs for preschoolers! My preschoolers really love their Halloween songs–we played them over and over last October! I like them because their alphabet songs are so catchy, and the videos are visually stimulating. (For example, check out The Letter B Song.) I believe these videos really helped my preschoolers learn letter sounds.
What on earth does “social distancing” look like in the preschool classroom, and how is that even possible? How do you get your classroom ready for something like that?
That’s what I’ve been asking myself since March. I’m no longer teaching in the classroom, so I can’t even imagine what the struggle must be like for early childhood educators right now. I’ve seen the panicked, desperate questions in the many preschool groups I participate in on FB; many teachers and childcare workers have worked in centers that never once shut down for COVID-19. They had to make accommodations fast when there was limited information to go on, often with no pay raise and very little recognition for their efforts.
And they are all superheroes.
I wanted to find out more about the kinds of adjustments and policy changes educators and caregivers are having to implement due to COVID-19, so I reached out to Stacy Harmon from Preschool Plans.
Stacy teaches at a private play-based preschool in the San Francisco Bay area, and she was kind enough to share all kinds of advice for ECE teachers who are heading back to the classroom in the next few weeks. I’ll hand the post over to her now, because she explained everything so well.
2020 has brought many challenges and changes to our world. COVID-19 has caused many of us in the education sector to make many crucial decisions concerning the health and safety of our students, their families, and staff. As my school began to reimagine the classroom we consulted the CDC, county health department, and CA Child Care Licensing guidelines. Many of these programs contradicted each other so we chose to follow the strictest of guidelines to ensure the health and safety of anyone who entered our campus.
My preschoolers don’t do crafts. You know those cutesy little crafts you see on Pinterest with the popsicle sticks and the googly eyes where everyone’s art is just perfect and looks exactly the same? The ones where the parents are just delighted at how “adorable” it is? Yeah, we don’t do those.
Instead, when you look around my classroom, you’ll find meaningful process art activities in which the children were given the freedom to make decisions about their own artwork. Process art is any kind of art activity in which the focus is on what the child learns during the art experience, rather than the end product. It’s all about the exploration of the tools and materials used to create. There’s no “I CAN’T!” or “HELP ME!” Instead, I see kids smiling and laughing and saying, “Can I make another one?”
Rather than following a sample and creating something just like their friend’s art beside them, they are given open-ended art activities where there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The end results are not all the same.
So, when you’re planning your activities for the week, how do you determine if an art activity you found on Pinterest is a craft or process art? Check out the list below!
CHARACTERISTICS OF PROCESS ART:
Process art is child-led.
There’s no sample to follow.
There are no complicated, step-by-step instructions.
There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to create!
The activity is open-ended. (They’re done when they decide they’re done; not when the steps are finished.)
The focus is on the learning process and the exploration of the tools used to create.
Everyone’s art isn’t the same.
The teacher is not very involved.
Process art doesn’t take much prep work
The child can say “I made this by myself”
Children aren’t rushed to complete their art.
Teachers don’t fix “mistakes” or make suggestions.
They might work on a new skill in the process! (e.g. painting with a cotton ball on a clothespin enhances fine motor skills)
HOW TO FIND PROCESS ART ACTIVITIES
First of all, let it go. Accept that sometimes process art isn’t pretty, and that the parents might not understand it (at first.) This mentality will open you up to a new world of possibilities. Seriously–enjoy it, and your students will too!
Change the way you search. Type “preschool process art” instead of “preschool crafts.”
Use what you have! Find tools and supplies in your classroom and ask yourself, “Hmm, could we dip that in paint?” The answer is yes. Yes you can.
Let them choose! Set out different materials and let them show you what they can do with them.
Use items from nature like pinecones, sticks, leaves, grass, etc.
CAN THERE BE EXCEPTIONS?
Of course! If you think my preschoolers don’t make cutesy crafts a couple times a year for Mother’s Day and Christmas, you’re wrong! Yes, I break my own rules sometimes. But when 98% of the work my students do in the art center is process art, I feel confident that they’re truly learning something and exploring their creativity without too much interference from me.
HOW DO I LET PARENTS & OTHER TEACHERS KNOW ABOUT PROCESS ART?
First and foremost, make sure it’s in your preschool parent handbook.
Talk to parents about process art during your meet-the-teacher night or open house events.
Take pictures of the activity and hang them out in the hallway next to the artwork. Let the parents (and staff) see what the creation process was like.
Download these posters & printables about process art and hang them in the classroom, especially where children’s artwork is displayed. If you are a director or lead teacher, some of these pages are really helpful in staff training!
Good luck with all of your process art endeavors! Like I said above, enjoy it! It’s so fun to create with materials you never would have associated with art, like potato mashers or bubble wrap. I love to sit in the art center and create some crazy abstract art right alongside my students. :)