Friday, February 16, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

If I could be the postman
For just one single time,
I'd choose to carry Valentines
So lovely and so fine.
I would not mind the heavy load,
Or mind my tired feet.
If I could scatter happiness
All up and down the street!

The preschoolers have been busy sharing "happiness" with each other and people among the Breck community.  The L53 Post Office is open and it is a current favorite activity.  The children are writing kind messages to each other and using their knowledge of letter sounds to complete the writing.  They also make sure to address their envelope and include a stamp.  Some example messages include, "I love the play with you", "You are a good friend", and "I love to play outside with you".


Our "love mural" is complete and it is quite lovely!


Weekly highlights...

The children have been busy putting there imaginations to work with play dough and loose parts.  We love play dough exploration for many different reasons.  First of all, while children investigate play dough with their hands, they are building up strength and stamina for pencil and scissor control.  As children poke, flatten, roll, and shred the play dough, they are also developing eye hand coordination and concentration.  Lastly, adding loose part elements such as gems and sticks, creates even more open-ended imaginary play and creative exploration.  Their imagination can take them anywhere they want!  This week we have had a cookie shop, structures built with sticks and play dough adhesive, homes created for bears, people, and more.  Not to mention all of the math and literacy development that is incorporated as they play.  These are just a few of the many reasons, we frequently incorporate play dough exploring in the classroom.


The children are loving the classroom "mystery box".  The box is filled with different "mystery" objects and the children have to use descriptive words to explain what a specific object feels like to a partner...without looking at it!  It is a wonderful activity that allows the preschoolers to practice and develop their vocabulary of descriptive words, which is important as they become readers and writers.  


 

We completed "candy heart math".  The children each got their own cup of candy hearts and the goal was to figure out how many they had of each color.  First, they used a sorting mat to help organize their hearts by color.  They made predictions about which color they might have the most and least of by looking at the sorted piles.  Next, they used a graph to help count and record their data.  They lined up the different colored hearts on their graphs to help figure out how many they had of each color.  They interpreted their data by looking at their individual graphs and seeing how many they had of each color, what color they had the most of, what color they had the least of, which colors were the same amount, and more.  Some children enjoyed figuring out how many hearts they had all together!



Later in the week, we also used the candy hearts to see if we could create 4 different patterns...

 


We read the wonderful book My Heart is like a Zoo by Minnesota author Michael Hall.  It has beautiful pictures of animals that are all made out of heart shapes.  The children are drawn to the playful text, rhymes and new vocabulary words introduced throughout.  We stopped to look at each animal as we read and noticed the techniques the illustrator used to create different animals from hearts.  We decided it would be fun to make our own creature out of hearts too.  As we looked at the pictures, we thought the caterpillar might be a fun one to make, which led us to create "love bugs"!  We used patterning and counting and cut a heart for every letter in our name.


   


The biggest highlight of all was celebrating Valentine's Day!  The children have been eagerly waiting for this holiday to arrive, counting down the days on the calendar each morning.  On Wednesday morning, we had our class Valentine celebration!

First, we enjoyed a "heart shaped" snack and punch...





Afterward, the children were thrilled to FINALLY open their mailbags they have been watching fill up for the past two weeks.  We sat together in a circle and opened our valentine cards from each other.  The children were so polite, thanking their friends for all of the special cards and messages.




 

Later in the day we made decorative hearts from pipe cleaners and beads.  The children started by folding the pipe cleaner in half to create a letter "V" for Valentine.  Next, they put bead patterns and designs on each side of the "V" and in the end turned it into a heart shape!  This was a fun and great small motor activity for the children.



Minnesota is still a daily part of our conversation through books, games, artifacts and conversation.  We keep adding symbols and important places to our classroom Minnesota map.  Next week, the Raptor Center will finally be visiting!  The children have been waiting and can't wait to see and learn about real raptors.

Dates to Remember:

Monday, February 19th- Presidents' Day- No School

Thursday, February 22nd- The Raptor Center Visits Preschool

Thursday, March 1st- Conferences- No School

Friday, March 2nd- Conferences- No School

Tuesday, March 13th- Field Trip to Westwood Nature Center

Saturday, March 17th- Sunday, April 1st- Spring Vacation- No School

Monday, April 2nd- Wednesday, April 4th- Faculty Workshop- No School

Thursday, April 5th- School Reconvenes

Have a great long weekend!




Friday, February 9, 2018

February!

I wiggle my left hand,
I wiggle my right,
Inside of my mittens,
So warm and so tight.

I wiggle my pinkie,
I wiggle my thumb,
So when I make snowballs,
My hands don't get numb!
(A current favorite poem of the preschoolers)

Although January was great (and COLD!), we sure are excited about February!  Heart cutting, card making, drawing, and more have been popular choices in the classroom this week.  We also decorated our "mail bags", which was another highlight.  The children had a wonderful time creating collages on their bags with cut out hearts and other materials.  Their bags are officially up for mailing!  Feel free to let your child bring in their valentines at anytime, but please have them here by Tuesday, February 13th.  Thank you!

Heart cutting...



Decorating our mailbags...




All ready for mailing!  Bring in those Valentines! : )
 

Had to share pictures from last week when the children re-told the story of The Mitten!  Last week, the children studied this story through reading different versions.  The children love the characters, which are all animals, and they enjoy the predictable illustrated clues throughout the Jann Brett version.  We read the story a few times and noticed new details and connections each time.  We discussed story elements and looked at the main characters, setting and events that happened throughout.  During our large group re-tell, the children beamed with excitement and loved having the opportunity to play the role of different animals that squeeze into the mitten.  Their favorite part was when the bear sneezes in and the animals fly everywhere!


 


Weekly highlights...

Marble painting with partners is too much fun!  The children dipped marbles in different colored paint and explored motion as they maneuvered the marbles around the box in order to create designs on their paper.  The most challenging part was using teamwork to move the marbles around and communicate with each other.  The children did great!  Later, we cut the marble painted paper into heart shapes!



Dice games are wonderful in encouraging one-to-one correspondence and simple addition.  Dice games also help children build subtizing skills, which is the ability to see a small group of something and know the amount without having to count it.  Mathematical activities that include dice help children develop skills in this area.  This week they enjoyed a valentine dice game where they had to roll two numbers, add them together and color the number.


We started turning our dramatic play center into the L53 Post Office!  Just like we did when we turned it into PETCO, we had a class discussion about what happens within a post office and the supplies we would need in order to create one in our classroom.  Different roles generated by the children included a mail person, cashier at the post office, and customers to mail packages and cards.  They felt we needed stamps, cards, envelopes, writing utensils and packages for mailing!


After we made our list, the children got busy working on signs and labels for our classroom post office.



Today we generated ideas of kind messages we might write in a letter or a valentine and what needs to happen in order for our letters to be sent.  Official "mailing and delivering" will begin next week and the children can't wait!

There are many reasons dramatic play experiences like these are important for children, but here are a few pieces of child development and learning happening through authentic play experiences like our post office:
  • Oral language development (spoken words to express knowledge, ideas, feelings, etc).  Oral language is an important component to writing, reading comprehension, listening, and speaking.
  • Authentic learning experiences (real life scenarios) that encourage and motivate children to write, read, and utilize foundational math skills all in "real life" ways (examples: using letter sounds to write labels and signs, counting and adding money to "purchase" items, etc.)
  • Children make sense of their world when they pretend in different "roles".
  • Social skill development as children practice sharing, compromising, communicating, solving problems, and display empathy.
  • Self-regulation development.  Research shows that through dramatic play, children are highly motivated to follow rules and stick to their roles in play.  While doing so, it is developing their ability to inhibit their impulses, collaborate with others, and create plans.
  • Each child is being challenged to his/her ability in a setting that is highly motivating
  • They are learning academic and social/emotional skills in a way that is natural and FUN for them...there is a purpose to their work!  
Just an important reminder as to why dramatic play is highly supported and encouraged in the classroom.  It truly is the work of the child.

We have been busy learning more about the symbols that make our state of Minnesota unique.  Ask your child about the state bird, fish, drink, rock and muffin (yes, Minnesota has a state muffin)!  We continue to add and label all of our state symbols on our classroom Minnesota map, using it as an opportunity to also review beginning and ending sounds in words.  Our map sure is getting full!  We also learned about Paul Bunyun and Babe the Blue Ox.  They were fascinated by the "tall tale" of this giant lumberjack and his pet ox and how their large food prints created the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota.


To reinforce our Minnesota studies and literacy, the children have been working on their very own "Symbols of Minnesota" book.  They are working hard to illustrate a picture of each symbol and are using their knowledge of letter sounds to write the words.  We will continue to work on our books as they learn more about Minnesota and have them completed by spring vacation.  The children continue to be quite inquisitive about Minnesota and ask questions for investigating daily!

Playing a "Minnesota memory" game, which reinforces Minnesota symbols and places has been a favorite new game.  They love the teamwork aspect of playing games in small groups and it is great for developing patience and flexibility.  Memory games are wonderful "exercises for the brain" as children work harder to concentrate and remember where specific pictures are.



Our state rock, the agate was put in our science area for observation.  Observing these rocks raised many other questions about rocks such as, how are they made?  Why do they look different?  Why are agates orange?  To encourage deeper thinking and investigation, we put out a variety of other rocks for inquiry.  The children used magnifying glasses to see, think and wonder about the rocks.  They used the same format we had used with the ice experiment, which encourages children verbalize and express their observations, wonderings, and questions.


 

The preschoolers started a collaborative mural.  First, they made heart prints with paper tubes all over the paper.  Next, we read a few stories and shared in conversation about the meaning of love, kindness and valentines day.  The children had many wonderful ideas to share as they completed the sentence "Love is...".  Conversation consisted of love being family, friends, helping, enjoying time together and more.  They are each illustrating a picture of what "love" means to them.  We will add all of our pictures together on our classroom mural.  Stay tuned for the final product!




We ended the week with our third grade buddies and made valentines together.  We talked about how giving valentines is a nice way to show someone you appreciate them.  Instead of just thinking of our friends this time, we thought about others among the school we could make valentines for to show our appreciation.  The buddies worked together and made valentines for teachers, bus drivers, our lunch helpers and more!  They were all very thoughtful with their words in sharing why these people are important among our community.  A wonderful morning as always and great way to end the week!




Our CARE theme for the month is flexibility and being defined in Lower School as "there is more than one way".  Demonstrating flexibility is a daily practice in preschool, as we listen to others ideas and try to new things.

Dates to Remember:

Friday, February 9th- RedWhite and Blue Day in Lower School to kick off the Winter Olympics

Wednesday, February 14th- Valentine's Day Celebration (***A friendly reminder to have valentines at school by Tuesday, February 13th.  Please do not include candy or other food items***)
*Valentine's Day is also "wear red, white and pink day" in Lower School!

Monday, February 19th- Presidents' Day- No School

Thursday, February 22nd- The Raptor Center Visits Preschool

Thursday, March 1st- Conferences- No School

Friday, March 2nd- Conferences- No School

Have a wonderful weekend!