More Than Just Likes and Followers: Using Social Media in Your School

About two years ago, I began to hear a common concern from families that were attending our program.

“It looks like they ‘play” a lot at your school….when do they learn?! And how will you prepare them for kindergarten if all they do is play?”

Obviously, statements like this frustrated staff. We understood the importance of play based learning, and I believed that most of our parents did as well. However, outside pressures, talk of statewide testing, the constant focus on academics for children younger and younger each year…left parents feeling….well, confused. They knew that their children should be playing at school, but they didn’t know why. And they knew that their children were learning, but they didn’t understand how.

This is where social media came into play. I was already using a wide range of parent communication strategies. Newsletters, emails, parent/teacher conferences…however, I needed a constant stream of visual evidence to help them understand what we were doing in the classroom and why it was important.

Instagram was an obvious choice. Instagram provides a visual feed that is easy for parents to access, beautifully presented and most importantly….FREE!

Before I began I made a couple of important rules for our Instagram page…

  1. No photos of children’s faces. Our page is public and this was not something I felt comfortable with. Our parents all sign photo release forms, however, I still don’t post picture of direct faces or use the names of children.
  2. Our Instagram page would have one voice. Although the teachers are responsible for taking all pictures, I am the only person who has access to our IG account. This ensure that the content and voice of the page are consistent…which is important!
  3. Quality of Content! Everything I post is carefully edited, proofread (I still make some errors…) and thoughtful. It is important to me that the content we share is beautiful and accurately tells our story. Our Instagram page is a resource and source of inspiration for many, but it is also a simple way for prospective and current families to learn more about program.

Since creating our Instagram page I have seen a dramatic increase in interest in our school….but more importantly, parents understand our curriculum and choose our school because of it. Before families even walk in the door they have an understanding of our program, they speak our language and they want their child to learn through play.

If we know that a picture says a 1000 words, than the power is in the picture….so use it!

When I post a picture to Instagram, I first make sure it is of value. I then focus on one element of learning to explain in the caption. Here is an example of a great photo, and the different elements I could highlight in the caption:

If you have any questions about how to successfully use social media to help your community understand your curriculum, please feel free to comment below!

 

Igniting Creativity in The Hive Classroom

How do we inspire our youngest artists? Our little ones need open ended activities and space and time to properly explore them. They need a wide range of materials and access to them. They need to be encouraged to push further and think deeper. And most importantly they need to be acknowleged not for their product but for their hard work and determination. Check out the incredible work our little artists have created in The Hive Classroom!

Open ended painting with corks and paint!
Creating with pipe cleaners!
When children have access to a wide range of materials the possibilities are endless!
Worried about going through materials too quickly? When children ask for tape, feathers, pipecleaners or other expensive materials, I like to ask the question, “What is your plan?” If children have a clear plan, I then ask, “How much do you need?” This limits waste and encourages children to have a creative direction.
Finding inspiration from peers.
Simple open ended painting.
The “Before” of one of our MOST favorite activities! Each cotton circle has a circle of paint under it….check out the “After” in the next photo….
The “After”: As each child uses the mallet to crush the cotton circle….and explosion of color is created!
Creating an ongoing collage in a box!
Simple box collage! Another easy way to do collaborative art!

Fantastic Fall Fun in The Forest Classroom!

The Forest Classroom always reminds me of Fall….it is warm and inviting and has that cozy feeling that makes you never way to leave. But over the past month they have brought even more beautiful Fall elements into their classroom. Check out the fantastic Fall fun the Forest had this month!

 

Using mallets and golf tees with pumpkins is always a favorite activity!
Leaf Painting! Our students love incorporating nature into the artistic process. Here is a simple way to take your leaf collection to the next level!
This ooey-gooey sensory table isn’t for the faint of heart! Search for bones, eyeballs, bats and creepy crawlies in the red slime!
Using scissors to cut leaves is a WONDERFUL way to practice those important fine motor skills! When it comes to scissors we want our students to get as much exposure as possible, but it can also get boring using them in the same way everytime. This is a great way to change it up!
Are you my mummy?! A simple project that is ALWAYS a big hit…in fact my little guy (in the blue sweatshirt!) made 6 of them! Students love getting to rip up the toilet paper and glue it on to the mummy! When else are you encouraged to rip up toilet paper!
When it comes to bugs the more legs the better!? Right!? Searching for insects in beautiful green and brown slime! What will you find when you start digging!
Loose part Jack-O-Lantern making! Using pumpin seeds and leaves, students made their own spook-tacular faces!