Monday, April 5, 2010

generous Deborah's amazing ideas

The online community of educators I've found myself in really is a wonderful thing. I find myself constantly inspired, affirmed and energized by all the folks out there passionate enough about the time they spend with young children to write blog posts about them after spending a good chunk of their day with them. My kind of people. In the sidebar are listed a whole bunch more really interesting folks.

If you haven't encountered Deborah Stewart's wonderful blog Excellence in Early Childhood Education, go there now. Deborah's enthusiasm for early learning and warmth pour out of her incredible blog, where she shares her ideas and knowledge gained from over 20 years of experience working with young children. Her blog is like a storehouse of ideas and jumping-off points, and her encouragement and kindheartedness have been a big part of weaving an online community of early childhood educators together.

Researching activities that promote prosocial behaviours (sharing and negotiating) for my final project in my Social Emotional Intelligence course, I turned to Deborah for some ideas. She was generous beyond my wildest dreams, and in FIVE comment posts left me some of her ideas. Absolutely amazing ones, I might add.

I deleted them after copying them to another document, and immediately regretted it - they were such good ideas I wanted more people to get a chance to see them. I wrote her back and asked her if I could re-post them in another post of their own. She said yes, being herself, and so here they are. Enjoy as much as I did! Thanks Deborah.


Hi Noah,
I don't know what age students you are planning for but here are some ideas as requested. These would probable work best for children ages 4 and up. This is a long post because I couldn't find and email address - you can feel free to delete the post once you have save or copied the material somewhere... Deborah:)

Activities that promote the development pro-social sharing and negotiation skills

#1 Sensory Play: Pepperoni Pizzas

Tell the children that you want to make a pizza. Show the children a large pizza pan and a very small ball of play dough or use real pizza dough.
Tell the children that the ball of dough has to cover the bottom of the entire pan and ask them to tell you what they think you will have to do to cover the entire bottom of the pan. As you follow their suggestions, have the children notice how one ball of dough is too small to cover the entire pan.

The goal is to get the children to recognize that in order to cover the entire pan it will take more dough.

Next, divide the children into partners or small groups. Give each child a small white ball of dough. Set a large pizza pan and one rolling pin in the center of the group. Tell the group of children that you want to see how they can work together to make one large pizza crust that covers the whole pan. While the children are working together, walk around and make comments such as, “You all make a great team!” or “Making pizza is so much more fun when you do it with a friend.” Or “I like how you take turns using the rolling pin.”

After the children have covered their pans, give them either real pepperoni or red play dough (and one round cookie cutter) and ask them to work together now to create pepperoni for their pizza. Continue to walk around and encourage them to work together.

Finally, have each group bring the pizza to the large group and show the results of their work together. Use this time to praise them for their ability to work together as a team to create a fabulous pepperoni pizza.

#2 Music and Movement: Circle of Friends

Place a number of large tape circles on the floor. You should have at least one circle per every two to three children.

Tell the children that when you play music, that the children are to walk around the circles and when the music stops, all the children are to find a circle and stand inside of it. Tell the children that they are to make sure no one ends up inside or outside of a circle all alone. Ask the children what they can do to make sure no one is left all alone.

Brainstorm ideas with ways the children can make sure no one is left all alone. What can they say? What can they do? How will they know if someone is all alone? Talk about how the children are actually sharing the space with each other.

After you play the music and stop, wait for the children to work out their situation until everyone is in a circle with their friends. Then talk about the words that you heard that were helpful to each other. Have all the children step outside of the circles and start the game again – tell the children that each time the music stops, they should choose a new circle to stand in.

#3 Creative Arts - Creating a rainbow

Begin by having the children join you and watch you use crayons to make a simple rainbow. Show them how to draw one arc of the rainbow at a time using all the different colors of crayons to make each color of the rainbow.

Tell the children that they are going to make their own rainbows. Set out a piece of paper for each child on the table along with one crayon of each color of the rainbow. Brainstorm with the children what they will need to do to create their rainbow since there is only one of each crayon color on the table.

#4 Setting the Table

Gather some magazines that show beautiful table settings. Show the children the magazine pictures and talk about what makes the tables look nice. Ask the children how they can work together to set a table that looks nice too.

Bring in a set of plates, spoons, forks, napkins, napkin rings, a tablecloth, a flower, a vase, and other items to set a table. Talk about the each of the items with the children so you are certain they know what the items are. Set the items on a tray beside a table and invite a group of children to work together to set a table.

As each group of children work to set their table, take pictures of them working together. Later, print out the photos and create a class magazine of your own titled, “Designer Table Settings.” Read and discuss the pictures in the magazine with the children.

WOW. And all that was just off the top of her head. Ladies and gentlemen, the ever-resourceful, ever-amazing Deborah Stewart!

grateful nerd out!


  1. Noah, we have been visiting Deborah's site for a while now and you're right she is a very inspirational educator. I'm sure if you continue to follow people like Deborah or Teacher Tom and Jenny from "Let the Children Play" you'll no doubt be inspired for a very long time to come!

    We've just discovered you Noah through Matt over at "Look at My Happy Rainbow" and we look forward to being regular visitors.

    Cheers, Donna :) :)

  2. Deborah amazes me too Noah!

    I stole your "nerd out" line a couple days ago, but gave you credit. =)

  3. Noah,
    This is one of the most thoughtful posts!! Thank you for all the kind comments and I LOVE the photos you added to each of the activities. I am excited to participate in anyway I can as you continue to pursue your education.

  4. Noah, you are right~Deborah is all that AND a bag of chips!

    I love your enthusiasm for learning and wanting to be not just a teacher, but a great one! Keep on keeping on! :)

  5. From one nerd to another, WOW!
    I think I'll say it backwards, WOW!
    These are all promoting working together, social skills and problem solving. Tres' people friendly!
    I really like this!

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