Monday, December 17, 2012

Celebrating the Lights of the Holidays - Teacher Marah

After Thanksgiving, we choose to celebrate lights and how they are woven into the upcoming holidays.

First in the older class, we made light catchers and put them in our windows. We have added some more lights around the room along the loft and across the walls.

We were excited to have Kellen and his mom and sister come in to talk to us about Hanukkah and how they light candles each night of the celebration. We also played the dreidel game and have had "spinners", including dreidels, on a table in our classroom. 

Teacher Marah brought her advent wreath and shared with us how her family lights a candle a week leading up to Christmas and how that has been a tradition in her family for many years.

In the older class we have been singing some songs and learning a poem about lights and candles that we will share for our program this week.

You will also notice that the gifts the children made for you have a "light" theme. Sorry for the spoiler alert :)

We hope that you know that your children light up our lives every day and we look forward to our time of songs and celebration with our families this week.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Simple Gifts - Teacher Elaine

Tis the season.  Many of you may be thinking about things to get your children if you celebrate the coming holidays.  I don’t know about you, but I was always overwhelmed when shopping at the large toy store chains.  So many of the toys these days seem to be big on bells and whistles (and your checkbook) but fall short on creativity.  I suggest that you try to find gifts that are multipurpose and unstructured which can be manipulated, changed, and stimulate the imagination such as blocks, puzzles (Ravensbergers are good), games, clay, decks of cards and books.

You might want to consider putting together some gifts of your own like a tool kit including a small hammer, nails, scrap wood or large pieces of Styrofoam covered with burlap, C-clamps and goggles.  We had the children hammer golf tees into pumpkins and they loved it!
Some other ideas:

A sewing kit with various beads and colored yarn or wire.
A playdough box containing several batches of playdough (recipe is in your handbook) and various cookie cutters and rolling pins.
A recipe box filled with simple recipe cards (you can draw symbols instead of words for younger children).

A crystal growing kit - Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing has easy directions on the bottle.

An “Imagination Station” art box filled with things like corks, bottle caps, feathers, pompoms, stickers etc.

It is also fun to make your own games.  For example, put a specific color on a cottage cheese container (do this with several containers using different colors), cut a slot on the lid, and have your child put colored buttons in the corresponding container.  This is great for practicing fine motor coordination and color recognition.  Make your own bowling game with empty plastic pop or water bottles (they will stand up better if you put some beans on the bottom) and various rubber balls.

We have used most of these ideas in our classroom.  They are fun, inexpensive, and child-directed.  Give some of them a try.  I wish you all a relaxing, peaceful season filled with simple pleasures.   

Monday, December 3, 2012

Awesome Explosions: Science In Our Classrooms - Teacher Sue

Every day we have a table set up with a parent helper who navigates through either a math or science activity. On this particular day we were having some fun with baking soda and vinegar explosions.

Science is such a wonderful area to explore with preschoolers. Preschoolers are naturally curious about the world around them which can lead to exciting and fun opportunities right in our classroom environment.

We are not “teaching science” but rather letting children explore and observe science principals in action. They want to try this same experiment over and over again!

All we need to do to begin the process is ask a simple question that will pique their curiosity. “What do you think will happen?”

Science activities will increase descriptive vocabulary as well. In this case we heard “wow, amazing, cool, it exploded, bubbles, fizzy, lava, overflowing, and blowing up” just to name a few. These are just a few examples of words that can be reinforced and help the preschooler gain a better understanding of their world.