Friday, October 25, 2013

Welcoming New Friends - Teacher Sue

The beginning  of the year is always one of transitions and new beginnings. As our older class begins their year of preschool, playing with old friends and making new friends is a very important aspect. Our older class this year has a handful of brand new students. We work hard to give these new children an easy transition into their new class by fostering the friendships all around. It has been wonderful to watch all the children in the class as they develop and build confidence and enthusiasm for making friends. Many of the kids who were in the class from last year are branching out and enjoying spending time with their new friends. We add in activities that encourage the children to work together whenever possible. We feel it is important to guide the children with communication and model the necessary steps to building those friendships as well as the skills for being a good friend.

The play dough table lends itself naturally to lots of sharing and helping each other create.

Play dough birthday cakes are especially fun!

Even at the easels friends can enjoy painting together.
Helping to build with blocks with groups of friends can give the children the skills to cooperate kindly.

Outside play can foster the friendships through all sorts of games and sharing together.

We love to observe as the children blossom and enjoy so many lasting friendships within our preschool family.  The children have all been amazing at welcoming our new friends into our classroom!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More Than A Story - Teacher Elaine

One of our favorite parts of a Small Friends preschool day is when we sit down as a group to listen to stories.  Our story times offer opportunities to practice literacy skills, build vocabulary, and practice language.  We often act out or retell a story using props and a flannel board or we will expand on the theme of a book with games and art projects.

Your child might have talked about “the germ book” that we read in class.  We like to begin the year by reading Those Mean, Nasty Dirty Downright Disgusting but …Invisible Germs by Judith Rice.  Then we talk about how important it is to wash our hands before snack time.  The book illustrates how various germs would look if we could see them.  For example, the germ that gives you an earache has big ears and the one that gives you a sore throat has a long neck.  After reading the book, I use flannel board pictures to retell the story to see if the children can remember which germ goes with each illness.  The children not only love the illustrations, but they enjoy playing the matching game themselves afterwards.

Another similar story is Who Is Driving ? by Leo Timmers. The children have to guess which animals are driving the various cars in the story.  As before, Sue retold the story with flannel board pictures to see if the class could remember what animal drove which car.  This type of guessing game helps the children to recall a story and practice memory skills.

Our classes love to act out stories with props.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle and Sitting In My Box by Dee Lillegard are great books to read at the beginning of the year with our younger class.  We have the children hold puppets and beanie babies to retell the stories in their own words, usually repeating a key phrase or refrain. This script repetition builds confidence in speaking before a group.  We also put Brown Bear magnets in the classroom as another way to practice the story.

Sometimes we incorporate our stories into art projects throughout the year.  For example, we made “owl babies” with pinecones after reading Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. 

Stories are always fun, no matter how you tell them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our First Sketching Lesson - Teacher Jean

Our kindergarteners experienced their first monthly sketching lesson with Teacher Sydney last week, and I had the privilege of accompanying them and documenting the process.  We brought the children in groups of three and four so that each child would be able to receive focused attention and feedback from Teacher Sydney (hereafter referred to as TS).

TS started by reading ish, a story of a little boy who was embarrassed when his brother made fun of his drawings. He almost gave up on his art, until he discovered that his little sister was admiring his work all along, even collecting his discards to put up on her walls. She helped him to appreciate that his flowers were flower-ish, and his vase was vase-ish.

TS then introduced the children to the idea that all drawings are made up of dots, lines and shapes.  Each child traced some dots, lines and shapes with their finger, then with a pen.  They identified vertical, horizontal, curvy and pointy lines (also known as zig-zag lines).

Next, TS brought out the “inspiration” for this month’s drawing: dahlias from our own school garden. She asked each child to say something that they noticed about the flowers.  Here are some of the observations the children came up with:
“The flowers are orange.”
“The bud is closed up in a circle.”
The flowers have yellow on them.
The leaf is green.
The stem looks brown.
One petal is sticking out.
Next came the blind drawing, which TS described as an artist’s exercise. The artist tries to look at the object instead of at his or her pen while drawing. Our artists did two blind drawings: the first was for 30 seconds and the second was for 45. They were then asked to identify some dots, lines and shapes in their drawings.
After the exercises were complete, it was time to start the final sketch.  Each child chose the flower they would start with, and began to draw what they saw, trying to fill the paper with their drawing. 

When the children completed their drawings, they added watercolor, choosing colors that they saw in the flowers before them.


Finally, after everyone had finished, TS led the children on an “art walk.”  The whole group moved together from one drawing to another, stopping to appreciate something about each one, and to enjoy that no two are the same, but that they were all dahlia-ish.

We are so fortunate to have our own artist-in-residence, and look forward to watching as our kindergartners develop both confidence and skill as they practice sketching with Teacher Sydney throughout the year.