Implementing Handwriting Without Tears - faced with a challenge

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by CrayolaCrayon, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Aug 1, 2011

    Hi everyone. I have a unique situation at the preschool I work in and am hoping to get some opinions on what will work best. I will be working with 4-year-olds for the first time this September. There are three teachers for the 4-year-olds (myself included) and the children will rotate through each classroom during the day. Each teacher has their specialty. Basically, this means I get a group of children for an hour and a half to 2 hours. During that time, I will be teaching Music & Movement and Handwriting Without Tears. This will be my first hear doing HWT.

    I will have 16 kids coming into the classroom at a time and am trying to figure out the logistics of implementing Handwriting Without Tears. I have one assistant and two long tables. The challenge I face is that I do not have my own classroom. I share my space with another school that has older students. Therefore, I do not (and am not allowed to) have centers like dramatic play and blocks because they would have to take it out of the room on weekends. This makes things difficult because I cannot have my students playing, taking one or two at a time to work on a skill.

    I am very excited to implement HWT but given my situation, I haven't figured out exactly how to make it work yet. I am leaning very strongly towards Literacy centers. For example: Each table has eight kids, split into two groups of 4. At the first table, one group is practicing with the Slates (HWT) and the other is using Roll-a-Dough (HWT). At the second table, one group is doing a fine motor skill activity (like lacing) and the other is working on an ABC puzzle. The kids would do ONE center and then go to another center the following day. By the end of the week, the kids will have been to each center - and Friday will be our "catch up" or "free choice" day.

    I would like to hear how you would handle this. What do you think of my idea? I hope I did a decent job of explaining it. How would you structure the class if you were in my shoes? What has been your experience with Literacy centers in Pre-K? If you teach Handwriting Without Tears, how do you breakdown the program day-to-day? How often do you have your kids practicing with the slates?

    I am looking forward to your responses!

    CrayolaCrayon
     
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  3. zoey'smom

    zoey'smom Cohort

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    Aug 1, 2011

    This is my second year using HWT with preschool. I love mat man. I think your idea would work great. Last year I pulled kids as they played in free centers and then did a lot of whole group activities with mat man and songs later. Last year we had the workbooks but I did not care for them. As far as slates, I did not have them last year, but I hope this year I will. I know that did not help much, but I do like HWT.
     
  4. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Aug 1, 2011

    Last year was my first using HWT, and I did many things as a large group activities. We sang the songs on the CD, played with the wood pieces and wrote letters in the air, on each other's backs, etc. We did shaving cream letters on tables in a large group as well.

    LOVED Mat Man! We did this as a large group as well. I'm adding Mat Man Shapes this year.

    That being said, I plan to do most of that more in small groups this year - but it did work pretty well, so if that's what you have to do, it does work.

    After we learned a few letters I put children in pairs to practice making the letters with the wood pieces and the letter cards. I was able to give struggling students easier letters, or some practice on a letter in their name that was difficult. Very easy way to differentiate.

    I didn't use the slates at all. Roll a dough letters and magnetic letters were at a center - but maybe you could have an assistant work with some students and those materials while you work with others on another skill.
     
  5. abcme

    abcme Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2011

    I think it would work well unless that was too much time to spend at one activity. But maybe I didn't understand fully.
     
  6. TeacherNicole

    TeacherNicole New Member

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    Aug 3, 2011

    If you have the kids for an hour and a half to two hours that means they will be at that one center for that long? If I understand correctly, in my opinion, that is a bit long for such young kiddos. Otherwise, rotating the centers is a great idea- that's what I do and it works well for my class. :)
     
  7. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Aug 3, 2011

    Zoey'sMom, thanks for the input. I think Mat Man is the cutest thing! I can't wait to introduce the kids to him. I am sure he will be their favorite part of HWT's curriculum. What did you not like about the workbooks? I don't see myself as the kind of teacher to use workbooks with 4-year-old's but the director seems to really want me to incorporate them.

    LovetoTeachPREK, I'm happy to hear you have experience with the program and it works with large groups. I really like your idea of having the kids write the letters on each others backs!

    Abcme and TeacherNicole, I would never have the kids at one center for that long! That would be ridiculous. Haha!

    The first half hour of the class will be Music & Movement. Then, the Handwriting Without Tears lesson - such as demonstrating how to use the wood pieces to make the letter E. Following that, will be the literacy centers. I plan on having the children at the center for about 15 minutes.

    So the time outline so far is:
    Music & Movement/Drama - 30 minutes
    Handwriting Without Tears lesson - 15 minutes
    Literacy Center - 15 minutes

    That brings me to an hour!

    The remaining time will be be used up in different ways, depending on the day and group. My morning group, for example, will have snack with me. The second one will have lunch with me. That will take up about 20 minutes. Plus a bathroom break.

    When it comes to the Literacy Centers, I want to run them similar to this:
    http://www.pre-kpages.com/literacy-manage/

    I hope with the visual, the kids won't complain about being at one center vs. the other! I ran this whole idea by my director today and she seems very on board with me. She told me she thinks it will be "fantastic!" Woohoo!

    Now I just have to figure out what supplies to order... My head's spinning...! :blush:
     
  8. zoey'smom

    zoey'smom Cohort

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    My Principal thought we should get them, but as I got started I didn't like them. First it was finding the time to do it. I started with mostly older 4 year olds, but as the year went on I had 6 three year olds added. The 4-5 year olds did fine with them. I tried to use some of the pages with the older threes, but the three year olds were not ready for them. So then I just used it for the 4-5 year olds. I liked some of the pages, but I rather do hands on. My opinion, I thought it to be a waste of money. Now that being said, I also teach Kindergarten and love the K workbooks and do use them. This year I did not get the Preschool workbooks. I hope that answers your question.
     
  9. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2011

    What about making play totes?

    What about making play totes where the children can pick from many activities to do at the tables?

    You can change out the materials like a center, without all the set up. This would give you the portability and flexibility you need.

    So, would children have to sit at the tables while they are in your room? Can they have an option of being on the floor or at a table? As a teacher, I like working with the children on the floor. As a matter of fact, I think I spend most of my time on the floor with the kids.

    I don't know if I would like only teaching "two" subject areas. Please let us know how this works out for your school through periodic updates. This is an interesting concept to use with preschoolers.
     
  10. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Aug 5, 2011

    Zoey'smom, I'm also not seeing when I will find time to use them. I'm thinking I will just squeeze in a page once a week. My students will all be 4, some turning 5, so it's good to hear this age group is at least able to do what's in the book. What sort of things are in the workbook anyway? That's something I am still not sure of.

    Pre-K Teacher 1, I like your idea of play totes! Do you use these in your classroom? Your idea works as a great addition for what I was originally thinking. I would still like my students to have one "assigned" task per day but once they finish, play totes would be a PERFECT thing for them to do! I see this working well for a child who finishes early or on a day where we have extra time. Some center activities I am thinking of can easily become a play tote to revisit later!

    The class would only be spending 15 minutes at the table, during their literacy center time. Even then, some children will be on the floor because not every activity will be table-top. Thank you for asking this question though, because it made me realize I want to make sure at least one of each week's literacy centers is on the rug.

    Last year, I only taught Music & Movement to the 3-year-old's and was wishing I could do more. I am very excited to have the opportunity to teach HWT & Emergent Literacy but of course, I really wish I could just have my own classroom! I can definitely message you periodically. Feel free to message me as well, in case I am forgetting to message you and you're wondering about it.
     
  11. zoey'smom

    zoey'smom Cohort

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    Aug 6, 2011

    If you go their website you can see sample pages. I loved the prewriting pages. The letter and number pages were ok. There are also other resources online too. Like letter to parents and so on. If you have any other questions let me know. I am still pretty new to it, but I do like it.
     
  12. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Aug 6, 2011

    I didn't use the workbooks last year. They are so expensive, and I would rather spend our limited budget on manipulatives or art materials.

    There are a few neat things in the workbooks, though - I like the aim and scribble and the coloring pages. There is a neat explanation for coloring triangles and diamonds that correlates to drawing slanted letters like "A." But you can do those kind of things without buying the expensive workbooks. If they are already provided for you, though, maybe you can pick and choose the activities that you want to do.

    Pre-K Teacher 1 - LOVE the totes idea! I do totes at dismissal times because we have early and late busses, but they are just play materials. It would be a great idea to put skill-building activities in there as well. I think it would work especially well for CrayolaCrayon since she can't have designated centers left up.
     
  13. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Aug 7, 2011

    I did something similar with trays. I would set up "tray activities" for the children. I thought the totes would work better for portability for you.
     

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