Each classroom had to decorate their classroom based on a theme. We decided on Eric Carle's From Head to Toe, as the book has been a favorite of our students since Day One. Also, as any teacher working with young children can attest, Eric Carle is a haven of learning.
This became a wonderful excuse to read the book every morning during our informal circle time. Our students loved it, since this age group thrives on repetition. After the children got into the routine of reading the book every morning after singing the "Good Morning" and Alphabet song, we videotaped us reading the book to the children. Much to our surprise, no kid pushed, grabbed, or cried during the entire story. We then uploaded it to a laptop and had it playing on loop during Open House.
Unfortunately, this was probably the easiest thing we would be doing with our students. My co-teacher and I were tasked with finding projects that were age-appropriate, engaging, and within the theme. We decided to break it down by animal/action. We didn't get every animal, but we came very close.
The kicker is that this is almost exactly how Eric Carle makes his creations. Only his are a lot more intricate (and make him a lot more money).
The coolest part was that the children were still interested in the project long after we finished it, which meant we were able to point out everyone's names/tails on multiple occasions. That might seem like a fruitless effort on a 1-year-old, but it really does lay the groundwork for higher learning. Everything is a connection, and that is why I love early childhood education.
I talk a lot about pre-literacy skills, but I should point out that every project for this theme was a exercise in gaining pre-literacy skills. Anything that takes what they read and incorporates it into real-life scenarios gains pre-literacy skills. This is the age where they learn that pictures are a representation of real-life objects, which is the precursor to reading.
But I must admit: I'm glad there is only one Open House a year. Sunday afternoon was two months in the making and we're exhausted.