The Little Moments
As teachers in the Early Kindergarten classroom, we spend most of our days observing, noticing and paying attention to the little moments that occur in our learning community. Little moments are just that, moments that are simple and may occur briefly within the bigger context of the day. We feel that these little moments are important because they have the ability to hold so much information about the children involved, the situation that is occuring and the community as a whole. These little moments are my favorite, too, because they invite us to slow down and celebrate the learning and growth that happens every day!
We wanted to share a little moment with you so that you can see an example of the small occurances that happen in our community and the importance that they hold.
Helping a New Friend at the Message Area
A Learning Story about a Caught Little Moment
I.B. is the newest member in our learning community. She has been welcomed into our communtiy by the other children through play both inside and outside of the classroom. During Explore one day, I.B. wanted to create a letter for Santa like she saw a classmate do the day before. Unsure on how to navigate the new surroundings of the Message Area, as well as the steps to writing a letter, I.B. turned to an older friend that was sitting next to her.
I.B.: I want to write a note to Santa. (turns to L.H., who is next to her) May you help me write?
L.H.: I’ll help you. I know how to spell.
Together, they “have a go” writing “Santa.” L.H. stretches the word out with her “rubber band”, working with I.B. to hear the sounds in the word. When they are done, I.B. turns the paper over.
After she wrote who the letter was for, she got a new piece of paper to write what she wanted Santa Claus to know (she would like a rocking horse, please). She then put both pieces of paper in an envelope and proceeded to sign her name. While she was doing it, L.H. approached her with another envelope.
I.B. thanked her with a big smile and put both envelopes in her cubby to take home at dismissal.
The Learning and Development Story
This little moment held so much inside it. For I.B., a new student, it showed the courage she had to ask a new friend for help in a new learning environment. She was able to take a risk and did so with confidence and eagerness. She knew there was something to accomplish (writing a letter) and she took a confident attempt to find a peer around her that could possibly help her accomplish the task. It was inspiring to see this new student try as hard as I.B. did!
L.H. did not hesitate to help our new friend when she confidently asked for it. She has been in our community since the beginning of the year and has been working hard to be part of a helpful, positive community who works, learns and plays together. This little moment shows her trying hard to be a productive member of a strong learning community!
It was also encouraging to see L.H. use her skills of "having a go" in order to teach I.B. and help her through the process of writing her important letter. The instruction coming from the student gave both girls gives a sense of autonomy from the teachers. This was a perfect example of how a classroom with mixed ages provides opportunities for teaching within the group. We know that when you teach someone something, it in turn, reinforces what you already know and helps to build relationships. This is what we saw at the Message Area.
This moment also shows that I.B. and L.H. are preliminary and semi-phonetic spellers (referenced by First Steps Developmental Continuum). They are aware that print carries a message and are confident to experiment with words. They are beginning to develop the understanding of sound-symbol relationships and are making attempts to show some evidence of sound-symbol correspondence. They have many opportunities for meaningful practice of these skills in places like the Message Area, as well as other parts of the classroom and through many parts of the days.
The Teacher’s Story
I felt honored and lucky to be able to witness this interaction between I.B. and L. H.. It was wonderful to watch this caring and compassionate dance between two strangers making their way to the path of friendship. I admired the great risk that I.B. took to ask an older classmate to help her with such an important task. I equally admired L.H.'s ability to accept this request and handle it in such a gentle, informative and playful way. We are looking forward to see this budding friendship evolve as they continue to play and work together with the tools and skills that helped them build this amazing beginning.
We have many resources and strategies at hand for supporting children who are at this stage in their writing development. This moment of observation provided us with invaluable authentic assessment — information we will use to support these young writers effectively to move along the continuum of writing and spelling development. Observing children carefully during their moments of independent choice, when they are most engaged in purposes that have meaning to them, allows us to make decisions that will support further growth for each individual.
Thank you for taking the time to hear about this little moment inside the Early Kindergarten. We look forward in sharing many more to come throughout the year.