Distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all educators, but Pre-K teachers face a unique challenge in engaging their students. Pre-K activities are largely about play, creativity, and social engagement; how does that translate into a technology-based, socially isolated world?
AdoptAClassroom.org sat down with Dominique F., a Pre-K teacher in the District of Columbia. Dominique has fully embraced distance learning for her young students. Distance learning has pushed her to think of new ways to do what she’s always tried to do in her thirteen years of teaching; provide building blocks for the rest of her student’s education.
Dominique said; “I’m very forward thinking. I’m always thinking about how to do the scientific method in Pre-K.”
Read on for some of Dominique’s tips to engage young learners. We hope that they inspire you!
1. Invite Guests to Speak in Class
Dominique hosted a variety of special guests in her virtual classroom, including a NASA representative to a martial arts instructor. Some of these guest instructors were local to the DC area while others were from other parts of the country.
Prior to the speaker from NASA, Dominique’s students had been learning about Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel into space. To accompany the history lesson and guest speaker, Dominique planned a hands-on activity to further engage her students, with D rocket ships she purchased from the AdoptAClassroom.org vendor marketplace for the students to assemble and color.
2. Take Your Class on Virtual Field Trips
Virtual field trips have been a teacher go-to during distance learning. Since they’re often free, they offer a fun, engaging, and affordable way for students and teachers to explore new places and countries. For young learners, there’s something especially exciting about virtual field trips.
“My students are four and five years old, so they haven’t been on many real-life field trips. Virtual field trips are the only experience they’ve had, and they’ve been such a good experience for them,” Dominique said.
Even free field trips can start to garner costs with the addition of hands-on activities.
“If we’ve taken a virtual field trip to Peru, I want my students to make a flag. We don’t just want to make it out of paper, but we want to make it 3D.”
Dominique uses funds from AdoptAClassroom.org to purchase materials and take her lessons to the next level.
If you need resources for Pre-K activities, whether for virtual field trips or to host a speaker from NASA, register your classroom with AdoptAClassroom.org.
3. Engage with Current Events…by Loving Where You Live
Dominique and her students can see the United States Capitol building from their school. In the weeks after the storming of the capitol building in January 2021, Dominique wanted to focus her lessons on everything beautiful and special about the District of Columbia. She had her students sketch DC and hold up their illustrations to the camera.
“I just want them to know that they live in a special place. No matter what people might try to do to tear it down, it is one of the best places in the world to live,” Dominique said.
Her students were not able to fully understand the event, but they knew the people around them were stressed and worried. Dominique provided the space for them to express their worries in a way that was forward-facing and affirming.
4. Caterpillar to Butterfly Kits
This perennial childhood favorite is one of Dominique’s yearly Pre-K activities. Most years, students observe and watch the caterpillars turn into butterflies in their classroom. They have the opportunity to study the chrysalis and, together as a class, release the butterflies into nature.
This year this project will look different – and cost more.
Dominique hopes to supply each one of her students with a butterfly kit so, with the help of their parents, they can care for the caterpillars and watch their whole life cycle. This requires buying each individual student a butterfly kit.
With the support of AdoptAClassroom.org donors, Dominique is hoping to purchase these caterpillar kits and see that same familiar joy spread across her student’s faces when they release the butterflies, even if it is over the computer screen.
At AdoptAClassroom.org, we support innovative Pre-K teachers like Dominique, so they can get the supplies they need to engage young learners. If you’re a Pre-K teacher with great ideas but don’t have the funding to carry them out, register your classroom on AdoptAClassroom.org. Note: To be eligible, PreK teachers must teach at a preschool program that is based in an accredited K-12 school in the United States. If you’re not sure if your school qualifies, contact [email protected]
Once you’ve registered your classroom, you’ll be eligible for funding opportunities from crowdfunding, corporate donors, and grants. Register here.
Looking for tips on how to raise funds for those Pre-K activities you’ve been dreaming of? Check out our Fundraising Guide here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more fundraising tips.