Welcome to my Blog!

Greetings and welcome to my page. My name is Rebbecca, I am a mom of two and a preschool teacher in southwestern Virginia. I have had the blessing of working in a Reggio Emilia inspired center for nearly 10 years, with the Greenies (my students) for 7 of the last 10 years. Our emergent curriculum and play based learning approach has changed the way I think about working with children. I am looking forward to sharing my inspirations, reflections and stories with you. So glad you're here!

“If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” Shel Silverstein

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Touring the Green Room

Okay, so it has been a while since I last made a post, sorry! I have gone back to school and am now a full time preschool teacher, mom, and student. I enjoy keeping up on Facebook and sharing quick ideas and inspirations on there. Come find me and join the fun!

Now that I have a few brief moments before classes pick up again and I disappear once more into the land of text books and essays I wanted to share something special with you- a tour of my own classroom!

We are a NAEYC accredited center and Reggio inspired. Most importantly every classroom is different and largely inspired by the teachers and children. They say that the classroom is an additional teacher. I take great pride in our space and hope that translates to the children as we learn why it is important to take care of it and everything in it. Okay, let the tour begin!


Our construction area is easily the most popular. The stage gives the Greenies a safe space to build that is protected from traffic. We can tip it up and out of the way as needed for more space. 

We try to keep a good amount of materials available. Anything on these shelves are available with a request. 
One thing to note- I have very limited amounts of plastic in the classroom! I like to offer natural and recycled materials as much as possible. Another thing to note are the "stop signs." Each child has their own sign that tells others that they are still working on a project and to ask before you touch. Here are close ups of our construction shelves:



We often try to change our environment depending on the needs of the Greenies. This group was particularly fond of construction and dramatic play. About half of our classroom space is dedicated to these interests. Our dramatic play area consists of a loft- upstairs is our designated "bedroom" with bed, clothing, and babies. The bed was my son's toddler bed! It used to be called the tree house so I added real branches. Downstairs is your traditional kitchen and sitting area. We have 2 lamps for lighting which give off a nice soft glow. 


Science and nature are a BIG interest of mine and I love to share it with the children. I created this area so our science treasures are always on display. The table usually holds a choice related to science, math, or technology. This week we have colored beads, cardboard tubes, and a mirror. We are also observing 4 potted paperwhite bulbs. We threw away the box before the Greenies could see what the flowers will look like and then asked them to draw their own representations of what they think the blooms will look like. The drawings are displayed next to the planted bulbs (see the second picture below.) Note that the drawings are on the same level as the kids!


This space was set up as a place to gather for circle time but also for quiet reading, families to sit comfortably, and other focused play that needs a big, quiets space. If you were to look at our room you would notice that it is split down the middle for quiet and active play. In this space the kids have books, puzzles, puppets, etc. There is a large frame that holds our family pictures. We also have a fish tank, say hello to Dug! The shelves with the blue curtains were made by a friend and much of the furniture was found on FreeCycle, Craigslist, or donated.


No room is complete without a writing center. The choices on the shelves are always available. The see-through board above the supplies was made by a class parent. We had the plexiglass, the parent created the frame. We use this for painting directly on but this week it is used to display art (again, at the kids level.) I forgot to take a picture, but we have 2 large tables in front of the writing center, one for writing, the other for art, small  manipulatives, etc.


A few more fun spaces to take note of:

Thoughtful Spot- Winnie the Pooh said that everyone needs a thoughtful spot. We do not use time out, however this is a designated space for the Greenies to go to if they need a spot to be alone. Sometimes I go in there myself! This is located under our stairs to the loft.

Famous Art Display

Area of Wonder- Always something new and thought provoking!

Window Seat- another quiet gathering space. If you could see out the window you would see our class garden space.

Media table- sensory experiences galore! Dry, wet, and in between.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my classroom! Come and visit!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One Wild! Summer...

I love inspiring children through nature. Earlier this year I attended a training for the program "Growing Up WILD." It is a wonderful program aimed toward early childhood educators. You might recognize its older brother Project Wild. The group of Greenies I was working with this past year exhibited a strong sense of being nature-smart. From digging worms to bird watching- I knew I had a perfect group to take the training I had received and run with it. I decided to take lessons from the materials and some of my own ideas and created what I called the Mini-Naturalists Summer Course.

We had about 9 weeks this summer and each week we focused on a different theme from the book. Here are some highlights from the summer.

 We began the week by getting an idea of where our understanding of the topic is in relation to what we want to learn as a group.

Amazing Ants Week. We place some tasty bits on a napkin near an ant colony and wait...

and wait, and wait. This Greenie kept vigil while all other decided to go play. A few ants came close but we never saw the gathering and returning to the colony in action.
Wiggling Worms week. We used realistic worm lures to paint with. We used three shades of brown that one Greenie explained must represent dirt, sand, and mud.
Later in the week we get up close and personal with real worms. We observe them, touch them, and try to decided which end is which. We come to the consensus that the end trying to get away from us must be the head.
What is Wild? Week. After some discussion we learn that wild means anything that must take care of itself while tame means it needs someone to take care of them. We take turns sorting out animal cards into Wild or Tame.
The finished data collection. But what if an animal was wild then it became tame? That needed a category of its own: Domesticated. We used beanie babies to show how that worked. We were surprised at how many animals could be both wild and tame.
Wildlife is Everywhere week. I decided to tweak this lesson a bit and focus on kinds of habitats and conservation. We created a desert in the media table. Notice the lizard living in the bone :) These are authentic bones and antler pieces.
The Greenies decorated "observation tubes" which were strung around necks as we went on a nature walk. It was quite a challenge to do so quietly but the rewards were worth it! Here we find a cricket to watch.
Fishing Fun Week. We used pretzels as rods and sun butter as bait for our goldfish. Fun with food, you can't go wrong!

We went for a walk around a local pond and talked about how fish might hide from predators like these hungry geese. We noticed a dock, cattails, rocks, and other foliage.

We made sure to take time and make notes in our field journals- 1 subject notebooks cut in half.

Hiding in Plain Sight Week. In order to study camouflage we visited the Entomology Department at Virginia Tech.

We saw many neat specimens under glass and impressed the students with our "Head, Thorax, Abdomen" song. The Greenie noted that many of the moths were the same color as the environment- and a few had big spots like eyes, sure to scare away any predators.

We get a turn to hold a living specimen- a giant cockroach! Cool!

Back in the classroom, one Greenie has hidden a few lizards- and herself- in a plant. can you find the Greenie?

Taken from the book, I hide 7 animals in our garden and challenge the Greenies to find as many as they can without giving away the locations. Most only found 4.

This guy was particularly sneaky! Nice use of light and shadow.

Our last week was Seed Need. We talked about where seeds come from, how they grow, and dispersal. Out last activity was to use a variety of seeds to make art. We bough pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soy nuts, and a variety of raisins. The Greenies decorated tortillas covered in soy butter then ate their tasty art.

I was most happy that the Greenie maintained their interests in the topics. We had a great time learning more about our local environment and hopefully lessons to last a lifetime.

Here is a direct link to the program:


Monday, July 9, 2012

Pay It Forward

The Greenies were very excited to be recipients of a 'Pay It Forward' from Ulaanbataar, Mongolia. Pay It Forward is a growing trend among teacher bloggers who want to share their classrooms with other classes across the world. Since we became recipients we will be paying it forward to three other classes (let me know if you are interested!)

We began by looking at a globe to find out where Mongolia is. The Greenies were surprised to find out that it is exactly half way around the world!

We read a letter written by Naomi, the teacher of a playgroup, which includes pictures of the groups children. The Greenies want to know all the children's names so we read them one by one.

We look at a woollen mat and postcards with wonderful narratives on the back of each one telling us more about their culture, home life, and more.


We display our new treasures on our classroom door including the letter, postcards...

... an example of their traditional writing....

... and a list of games played with bones from the ankles of sheep.

We loved our package and cannot wait to Pay It Forward! What a great way to learn more about other children around the world.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where The Wild Things Rest

RIP Maurice Sendak 1928-2012

During this week we are celebrating the teachers of our center. One of the things were were asked to comment on was our favorite children's author. Mine is Maurice Sendak. With him on my mind I was saddened to hear of his passing today.

Maurice was an amazing artist. Sometimes beautiful-

Often melancholy-

His books are enduring-

I read these two books to my sons tonight- my milk man and my wild thing, tucked into my sides, enraptured.

"When you not only hear a treasured story, but also are pressed against the most important person in the world, a connection is made that cannot be severed."

Maurice was bright and brilliant, despite the pain of his childhood. He connected to the children of many generations, yet never tried to.

“I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue-sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody. Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it. Because if one thing goes wrong or anything goes wrong, and usually something goes wrong, then you are compromised as a human being. You're going to trip over that for a good part of your life.” 

“You cannot write for children They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.”

 “Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.” 
“And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things.” 

Maurice, you will be missed dearly and your books will remain in a very important place on the shelf in my classroom. May your wild rumpus start. 

“Can you draw a picture on the blackboard when somebody doesn't want you to? asked the rooster promptly.
"Yes," answered Kenny," if you write them a very nice poem."
"What is an only goat?"
"A lonely goat," answered Kenny.
The rooster shut one eye and looked at Kenny.
"can you hear a horse on the roof?" he asked.
"If you know how to listen in the night," said Kenny.
"Can you fix a broken promise?"
"Yes," said Kenny,"if it only looks broken,but really isn't."
The rooster drew his head back into his feathers and whispered, "What is a very narrow escape?"
"When somebody almost stops loving you," Kenny whispered back.”
Maurice Sendak