Teaching an Appreciation for Failure and Encouraging a Growth Mindset

Teaching an Appreciation for Failure and Encouraging a Growth Mindset

From the viewpoint of an educator, I have witnessed how a child’s fixed mindset and fear of failure can hinder his desire to fully immerse himself in learning experiences. When a child has a fixed mindset, he believes that his intelligence is limited; he does not respond well to failure and associates failure with being unintelligent and unsuccessful; and he will seek out activities that are not challenging to validate his intelligence rather than work through an activity that he struggles with because of his fear of failure. This fixed mindset will negatively impact this child throughout his entire life if it is not changed. So how can we help change this mindset in children that already have a fixed mindset? Furthermore, how can we help prevent this mindset from developing at all? The two following approaches will help to change and prevent a fixed mindset; and instead promote a growth mindset.

Praise Effort, Not Intelligence: Research has demonstrated that praising intelligence (i.e. “I knew that you could do it because you’re so smart.”) places children at high risk for developing a fixed mindset. While the intentions of praising intelligence are to enhance confidence, motivation, and determination; children instead experience a short lived positive reaction to this praise followed by an immense fear of becoming or appearing unintelligent, thus causing them to avoid challenging tasks, resist learning, and negatively respond to failure. Children who are praised for their efforts (i.e. “You put so much effort into that task by trying new strategies and through trial and error you’ve succeeded!”) understand exactly what steps they took to succeed as well as learn that through hard work, much effort, and determination; their skills and knowledge will change and develop, allowing them to achieve a task that was once new, challenging and confusing. This perseverance, resilience, determination, and motivation along with the understanding that skills and knowledge are acquired are the qualities found in children who have a growth-mindset. Praising effort rather than intelligence encourages children to develop these qualities.

Teach An Appreciation for and the Importance of Struggling and Failure: Children with a fixed mindset and a growth mindset approach struggling and failure very differently. Research has shown that children with a fixed mindset experience poor self concept, negative thoughts, and helplessness in response to struggle, setbacks and failure. Teaching that struggling and failure are essential to learning, gaining knowledge and developing new skills will encourage children to take risks when presented with new learning opportunities. Children will learn to appreciate struggling and failure when they no longer associate struggling and failure with being unintelligent or unsuccessful. Those who understand the importance of failure will become even more determined to problem solve to overcome a challenging task because they know that they will acquire new knowledge and skills; thus boosting long term confidence. Understanding the importance of struggling and failure is a characteristic of children with a growth mindset.

Praising effort and teaching the importance of failing helps children develop the qualities essential for achieving a growth mindset. Developing these qualities are crucial because a child with a fixed mindset will become an adult with a fixed mindset if it remains unaddressed. A fixed mindset can prevent people of all ages from reaching their full potential and achieving consistent happiness because of their strong fear of failure. Adapting a growth mindset equips people with the qualities that allow them to become resilient, determined, and positive.

What You Could Do Immediately:

The next time an opportunity arises to encourage a child’s growth mindset, keep these questions in mind before providing a response:

  • Will my response praise effort, determination, perseverance, resilience, motivation and confidence?
  • Will my response encourage working through failure so that new knowledge and skills are gained?
  • Will my response support the importance of problem solving to overcome challenging tasks?

My Recommendation:

Achieving a growth mindset is an ongoing process that requires daily reflection. With daily reflection, one will be able to determine if one’s responses, qualities, and outlook are contingent with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. A parent is a child’s role model, so adapting a lifestyle that reflects a growth mindset will teach a child to adapt a growth mindset himself. Modeling the qualities of a growth mindset every day is the best way to teach and encourage it.

 Four “Put Me in the Zoo” Learning Activities that Enhance Cognitive and Language Development

 Four “Put Me in the Zoo” Learning Activities that Enhance Cognitive and Language Development

As my son is growing older, I am creating educational activities based around his interests. Put Me in the Zoo has been one of his favorite books for some time now; so I created four activities based around the creature that is featured in this book with the purpose of teaching him:

1. to recognize the colors red, blue, orange, green and purple

2. the word of each color

Materials:

Preparation:

In the book, the creature is depicted standing in many different positions; I chose the stance below because it was the easiest for me to sketch out and copy. I used nine pieces of yellow construction paper to create the creature. I cut out, arranged, and taped each piece on the wall. Then I taped the contact paper over it.


The creatures spots changes colors in the book, so I traced the top of a mug to create circles on red, blue, green, purple and orange construction paper. I also traced a separate batch of circles in each color and wrote out the word of each color within the circles. I cut the circles out and laminated them. As a teacher, I have found that laminated material has a much longer life span than those that are not; and it works especially well with contact paper. Laminated material can easily be placed and removed from contact paper without damaging any of the material.

I also created word cards for each color. I wrote out the name of each color using a crayon in the appropriate color. Next to the word, I traced an outline of a circle in the same color.


 These word cards can be differentiated by:

1. eliminating the outline of the circle all together

2. shading in the rest of the circle with the appropriate color

3. tracing an outline of a circle in the appropriate color (as depicted above)

4. writing the word of the color within the outline

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Activity 1: Matching Color to Color

Pictured below is the completed activity:

Ask the child to point to or say the color of the spots depicted on the creature on the specific page in the book. Then, ask him to pick the appropriate color circle (as seen on the creature on the specific page in the book) and match it to the spots already placed on the creature. Do this every time the creature’s spots change in the book.

Activity 2: Matching Color to Word

Pictured below is the completed activity:

Ask the child to point to or say the color of the spots depicted on the creature on the specific page in the book. Then ask him to pick the appropriate color circle (as seen on the creature on the specific page in the book) and match it to the word that represents the color. Do this every time the creature’s spots change in the book.

Activity 3: Matching Word to Color

Ask the child to point to or say the color of the spots depicted on the creature on the specific page in the book. Then ask him to pick the word that represents the color (as seen on the creature on the specific page in the book) and match it to the appropriate color. Do this every time the creature’s spots change in the book.

Activity 4: Color Selection

Ask the child to point to or say the color of the spots depicted on the creature on the specific page in the book. Then ask child to pick the appropriate color from a selection of two or three colors before putting them on the creature. Do this every time the creature’s spots change in the book.

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I hope you enjoyed reading about the four super fun Put Me in the Zoo learning activities that I created for my son. Please comment and let me know if you tried any of these activities and how it turned out! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Activity of the Day: Object Permanence and Memorization Fun

Activity of the Day: Object Permanence and Memorization Fun

Good evening and happy Monday! Today, Paulie had so much fun engaging in an activity that really enhances his cognitive development. The activity involves placing an item underneath a bowl and asking the child to find the item. This is not a new activity for Paul; when he was younger, I used to place an object under one of two bowls. Now that he is older, I use three bowls. Paul watches me place the object under one of the bowls, and then he watches me mix them. The way I line them up varies. After I mix them, I ask him, “where did the (for example) ball go?” and then he looks for it. After we engage in the activity for a while, I add another object; so now he has to remember where two objects are. He watches me place one object under one bowl, the other object under another bowl, watches me mix the bowls, and then looks for the item that I ask him to find. This activity offers a great opportunity to enhance language development. Use as much language as possible. Explain what you are doing; what he is doing; and use as many descriptive words as possible. The language that we used during this activity was: yellow, ball, under, red, bowl, red, triangle, smaller, larger, bigger, mix, mixing, mixed, round, circle, over, in, out, ridges, bumpy, smooth, watch, lift, find, etc.

Here are some pictures! =D

Thank you so much for reading! I hope that you have a happy day! =D

Activity of the Day: Playing with Chick Peas and a Coke Bottle

Activity of the Day: Playing with Chick Peas and a Coke Bottle

Happy happy happy Monday! Today, Paulie strengthened his fine motor, sensory, language and cognitive skills while playing with chick peas and a coke bottle.

Fine Motor Development

  • The activity required Paul to pick up one chick pea at a time using his pointer grip.

Sensory Development

  • Paulie manipulated the chickpeas by squeezing them, pinching them, and rolling them in between his hands or one of his hands and another surface.
  • He also felt the bottle.

Language Development

  • The following words were used during this activity: bumpy, hard, rough, small, many, loud, shake, turn, right side up, upside down, smooth, thick, long.

Cognitive Development

  • Requires Paul to understand that only one chick pea fits through the opening to the coke bottle.
  • Requires hand eye coordination.

Here are some pictures!

Thank you for reading! I hope you have a happy day! =D

Activity of the Day: Watering Plants

Activity of the Day: Watering Plants

Good evening and happy Tuesday! Paul’s responsibility to take care of his plants is enhancing his cognitive development, sensory development, gross motor and fine motor development, and language development. 

Cognitive Development 

  • This activity teaches Paul that he needs to pick up his watering pot, fill it with water, walk over to the plants, kneel next to them, pour water in one plant, and then repeat for the additional plants. 
  • He is learning about how plants grow and sustain life. We talk about how plants need oxygen, carbon dioxide (and that we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide), water, and sunlight to survive and grow. 
  • He is learning about the parts of plants and trees. 

Sensory development

  • This activity requires that Paul touches a variety of textures. We talk about everything that he touches and their attributes.  

Language development

  • During this activity, the following words are used: gentle, rough, soft, hard, green, blue, yellow, first, second, then, watering pot, water, full, empty, pour, slow, slowly, fast, walk, run, careful, carefully, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water, rain, clouds, rain clouds, sunlight, hot, cold, liquid, solid, etc

Gross motor development

  • Paul has to walk on an uneven surface and keep his balance while carefully bringing a watering pot to the plants. 
  • He needs to climb up and down a high step. 

Fine motor development 

  • Paul has to use his hand and fingers to hold the tools needed for the activity. 

I love doing ongoing activities with Paul. Every time he engages in the activity, his language development, sensory development, cognitive developmeny, gross motor development, and fine motor development are strengthened. Thank you for reading, I hope you have a very happy Tuesday!! 

Activity of the Day: Playing with Rice

Activity of the Day: Playing with Rice

Good afternoon and happy Thursday! As an early childhood educator, placing rice in the sensory table was always one of my favorite activities to do with the children. For such a simple activity, so much learning can occur so long as it is facilitated =) Today, Paul played with dry rice for the first time, and he had so much fun learning through this sensory activity! 

Sensory develoment 

  • He manipulated the rice by squeezing it with his hand, pinching it with his fingers, rubbing it on the floor with his hands, and using other tools such as bowls, measuring cups, and blocks to manipulate the rice with. 
  • He also felt the rice as I poured it on his hands and hid his hands underneath the rice. 
  • He picked and swiped the rice to find my hand, as well as other objects, hidden in the rice. 

Language Development

  • We used the following words during this activity: grain, hard, small, slippery, dump, pour, drop, rub, hide, hiden, cover, slip, a lot, a little, add, subtract, etc 
  • I used the following commands and questions: pick it up with your fingers, squeeze it with your hands, rub the rice between your hands, rub the rice on the floor with your hands, where are the shapes, where is my hand, where is your hand, use the scoop to scoop the rice into the bowl, etc. 
  • the goal is the expose Paul to as much language as possible. 

Fine motor development 

  • He is using his hands and fingers to manipulate the rice and tools. 

Cognitive development 

  • He engaged in pretend play =) he pretended that he was eating and cooking with the rice. He served us both rice in bowls and said “num num” and pretended to eat it. He even used utensils! 
  • He followed the commands and thought about the questions I asked.
  • He is practicing two step commands, such as “pick up the rice with your hand and eat it.”

Here are some pictures: 

Activity of the Day: Making Banana Bread

Activity of the Day: Making Banana Bread

Happy Tuesday! Today, Paul had so much fun learning through making, tasting, smelling, and exploring all of the ingredients needed for baking Banana bread. 

Language Development 

  • The following academic language was used during this activity: add, plus, subtract, minus,  more, less, bigger, larger, smaller, equal, first, second, third, then, last, finally, solid,  liquid, etc
  • The following language was also used: soft, wet, warm, hot, cold, hard, stick, butter, eggs, one, two, cups, measuring cup, bowl, flour, rise, sugar, sweet, stick, sticky, salt, salty, nits,  pecans, crumble, mash, fork, masher, mashed, pour, dump, mix, batter, in, on top, pre heat, oven, oven mit, rough, smooth, grainy, soft, etc

Sensory develoment 

  • He felt the difference between a cold stick of butter and hot melted butter. 
  • He felt the difference between a banana and mashed bananas. 
  • He felt the texture of flour, sugar, salt, egg shells, and the batter. 

Fine motor development 

  • He manipulated all of the ingredients and tools with a his fingers and hands.

Cognitive Develoment 

  • Practicing following one step, two step, and three step commands such as “pick up the spoon and scoop the sugar into the bowl”

This was a fun activity that strengthened Paul’s language, sensory, cognitive, fine motor, culinary and mathematical skills. Here are some pictures =)

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have a happy day =)

Activity of the Day: Making and Manipulating Mud

Activity of the Day: Making and Manipulating Mud

Happy Sunday! Today, Paul had lots of fun learning through making mud and getting dirty! 

Sensory Development 

  • Paul touched and explored the dirt in four phases. First he explored the dirt before we added water; then watched and felt the dirt as it turned into mud as we added the water; then played with the mud while it was wet; and then  explored the mud after it was completely dried up and hard from the sun. 

Language Development

  • During this activity, I used as much language as possible. We used the following words: dirt, dry, soft, dirty, gritty, mud, muddy, dump, add, pour, water, wet, sticky, heavy, light, sunlight, hot, dried, hard, etc.

Fine Motor Development 

  • Paul used multiple grips and grasps to manipulate the dirt, mud, and tools that were used during this activity.

Cognitive Develoment

  • Paul learned how the state of dirt changes to mud when water is added; and how mud hardens when it is exposed to sunlight.

Here are some pictures;

Activity of the Day: Learning Mathematical Concepts through the Manipulation of Blocks

Activity of the Day: Learning Mathematical Concepts through the Manipulation of Blocks

As a early childhood educator, the constructive play area is an essential center in my classroom because it provides children with mathematical learning opportunities through the manipulation of blocks. In this center, children play with abstract geometrical shapes to create a structure using their imagination. During this play, students develop a foundation for spatial reasoning, spacial orientation (knowing how to get around; mapping), number sense (estimating, counting, understanding the meaning of the words many, few, less and more), geometric thinking (generalizing shapes across contexts by creating, manipulating, and drawing shapes), spacial visualization (using a mental image to manipulate imagined movements), problem solving, recognizing attributes of shapes (understanding points and lines), and understanding AB patterns (understanding repetitive and growing patterns strengthens the foundation of algebraic thinking; for example, a repetitive pattern of circle square circle square circle square). 

Paul has officially started building; and he is currently learning how to balance blocks on top of each other. =D Here are some pictures:

Activity of the Day: Playing with Water

Activity of the Day: Playing with Water

Good evening and happy Friday! Paulie had a blast playing with water, especially learning about why some items sink and why some items float =)

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