Sunny News 3/12/21
February (finally) brought lots of snow to play in and ice to explore. We found many tracks in the snow, and spent time studying them, discussing them, trying to identify them, and figuring out how the animals who made them got into our playground!
In February we also focused on feelings, friendship and kindness. We read some great books about feelings, like “If You’re Angry and You Know It” and “The Way I Feel”. There seem to be cycles of inclusion and exclusion in our classroom, so this is something we work on continuously. We have had some wonderful discussions about how it feels to be excluded. The kids were able to identify feelings such as sad, hurt, angry, left out, frustrated and excluded. Many shared about times they were excluded by older siblings. We continue to explore these feelings, while enforcing the rule that all are included in school.
On 2/12 we had our “Celebration of Love”, during which the mailboxes were opened for deliveries. For the past couple of weeks since then, there has been a great deal of time spent making cards, drawing pictures and writing notes to friends (and grateful teachers on occasion), then delivering them to mailboxes. They’re even learning how to write their friends’ names by copying them from the mailboxes! I love watching as kids go up to others saying, “_____, check your mailbox”.
We recently introduced the helper of the day. One child each day gets to ring the bell, choose a song and greeting, dismiss kids, be the line leader, and generally help out as needed. There’s definitely excitement around this, though it can be hard to wait for your name to appear. Some children check the name of the helper as soon as they come into school, try to read whose turn it is, and make sure their friend knows it’s their day.
Before I even realized it was Read Across America week earlier this month, we had been having a great time acting out the story “Caps for Sale”. We read it several times, and now acting it out has become part of our morning group time. Ask your child the story – they could probably tell it to you, and might even let you be the peddler or a monkey!
We also read Bartholomew and the Oobleck, then had a blast playing with our own oobleck. As one child exclaimed, “It’s a solid, then when you pick it up, it’s a liquid!!!” Another child would put her hands in, say, “Ugh, it’s disgusting,” then thrust her hands back in to explore some more. This cycle repeated itself multiple times. Oobleck really is a unique and fascinating substance to explore. If you’d like to make it at home, just mix 2 parts cornstarch with 1 part water, and add a few drops of food coloring if you’d like. Just be prepared for some mess – you might want to take it outside.
Silly book day was a loads of fun. Somehow we managed to read 9 silly books in one day – laughing and exclaiming about each one. The child who brought the book sat with me while I read, and took great pride in sharing his/her special book. Making and wearing our silly hats was fun, too!
Other happenings in the classroom have included:
- One child making a bird out of paper, then teaching others how to make them, until we had a flock flying in our classroom.
- I Spy has become a popular, child initiated game at lunch.
- I introduced a song in Spanish, Mi Carita, which received some interesting initial responses like, “I don’t know Spanish”. After two weeks, however, the kids can say many of the words when asked, and most can sing the song through with me! Perhaps they can even sing it on their own to you…
- We’ve been working on opposites, patterns, dice games
- I brought the play kitchen into the classroom for the first time this year, and a whole restaurant industry has developed. There are waiters who write down orders, cooks and customers. I will probably gain a lot of weight with the amount of pancakes and ice cream I’ve been fed!
- We’ve been looking at different feathers the teachers found. If you find feathers when you’re outside, please send them for us to study.
Sunny News 11/23/20
It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks. One of our focuses has been on gratitude – taking the time to think about whom and what we’re grateful for. We sang the song, “Thanks Be for the Little Things”, and our list was long, including (but not limited to):
- Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas & grandpas, aunts, uncles & cousins
- Hugs, kisses & smooches
- Ice cream
In your children’s backpacks, please be sure to find their Thank You cards! They made some special drawings, and were very excited to talk about the people and things they love.
They also enjoyed acting out the story of Stone Soup, first telling me NO, then deciding to share. All had a wonderful time cutting vegetables for our real stone soup. The children learned knife safety (we used plastic knives), discovered which vegetables were easy to cut (squash, potatoes) and which were difficult (carrots, broccoli), and several were even brave enough to try cutting onions! Today many surprised themselves by trying the soup and liking it. We hope you enjoy the container we sent home, and that you have a chance to read the mini Stone Soup book together.
In other news, there’s been lots of discovery with the ramps and balls. People have developed new ways to increase the angle of the ramp, to stop the balls at the end of the ramp, and even to collect the balls at the end of the ramp. They’re watching and learning from each other, sometimes working together, sometimes alone.
We’ve explored a milkweed pod, discovering how it disperses its seeds (all over our classroom:), investigated letters and words in our stone soup recipe and Bingo song, and read a variety of books about motion, gratitude, seeds, letters, racoons…
We’ve also made it outside almost every day, which will be our plan throughout the year, so please continue to send your children with appropriate clothing. We discovered how many huge puddles there were on our playground a little too late today, so you probably had some wet feet after school. Once we knew where they were, those without rain boots were asked to avoid them. Attached is our outdoor policy for your reference.
Sunny News 10/23/20
We had another wonderful day outside. The children are exploring new playmates and friendships, and finding new ways to play together. There’s been a shift to some dramatic play (usually involving babies and doctors), and lots of running games! I’ve seen wonderful moments of children finding ways to include others, and reporting to me if they notice a friend who is sad. Our class is feeling more and more like a community, full of caring, compassion, curiosity and joy.
We’ve shifted our focus away from water as it gets colder, and are exploring leaves and trees, since they are literally falling upon us (the leaves, not the trees). We read the book “A Leaf Can Be…”, and got into a wonderful conversation about how trees make the oxygen that we need to breathe. Some children also explored the magic of making leaf rubbings with crayons. I’m still in awe every time the outline of the leaf appears through the paper – amazing!
We’ve also been starting our morning group time with some stretches and movement, which is good for the body, and seems to have increased attention spans as well.
Sunny News 2/24/20
Our bakery unit concluded with some great finger plays like “Pat-a-cake” and “5 Brown Buns”. We told the story of the Little Red Hen in which the hen is baking bread, but nobody wants to help until it’s time to eat…imagine that! We set up a center where the kids could retell the story using props, which many enjoyed. On Friday we introduced a different version of the same story, The Little Red Hen Bakes a Pizza.
In other literature connections, we read a book called “I Can’t, Said the Ant” in which a teapot falls, and ants and spiders devise a clever plan to fix her spout and hoist her back onto the counter. We’ve been enjoying singing “I’m a little teapot”, forming our bodies into teapots, and even acting out the song in groups of 3 (a cup, a teapot, and a person to pour). The kids are definitely getting better at re-telling stories, which is an important skill for literacy!
When studying “V” for Valentine’s day, we introduced the song “Down in the Valley”, and are practicing making motions for others to copy (which will connect with our next unit about physical science as well). You can ask your kids to show you how to make a V with their legs while lying down:).
This past week we’ve been exploring games and puzzles that involve counting, number sense, number recognition, predicting and spatial awareness. Racing dice, one of my favorite early childhood games, is a great game for practicing counting and number recognition, as well as a marvelous way to learn about probability. In addition, the competition is only between the numbers, so no person wins or loses. I’d be happy to send copies of the game boards home for those who would like to play at home with your kids (including older siblings). All it requires is a game board and dice.
We also continue to play with and work on rhyming words, through song and story. Rhyming, rhythm & repetition are all wonderful learning tools, important for language & literacy development, and fun to boot!
We have some very exciting physical development news as well! Over the past couple of months, when we’ve been able to get outside, we’ve been working with children on learning to pump the swings by themselves. We had quite a bit of resistance at first, but have seen one child after another master this important and gratifying skill! The children’s pride is evident when they shout to the teachers to show off this wonderful new ability. And those who have mastered the skill are now teaching others as well – students becoming teachers in the marvelous circle of learning.
Looking ahead, we will be moving into a physical science unit, involving ideas such as motion, ramps, gears and magnets. We will also be integrating a kindness curriculum into our weekly program, to continue our work with children on recognizing and attending to their own needs and emotions, while also being aware of the needs and feelings of others around them.
Sunny News 2/7/20
The bakery has been in full swing this week, both with play-dough and with real cookie dough! Bakers prepared all kinds of sweet and savory treats using play-dough earlier in the week. They took phone orders, made lists, rolled, shaped, filled, cut and paid for their baked goods. On Wednesday everyone had a chance to help make the cookie dough, reading the recipe, adding ingredients, whisking and mixing. Today our pretend bakery became a real bakery, as we all gathered round the table to roll and cut our homemade cookie dough. There was a lot of trial and error, and talk about what happens when the dough is too thick or too thin. For snack we sampled our cookies, and declared them delicious! I hope your children shared the cookies they brought home from the Sunny Hill Bakery. For those children who were absent today, we have bags waiting for them.
We introduced checklists into the bakery to add to the dramatic play. The kids were incredibly engaged in reading the pictures together at group, and using the letters/words to decipher ones they didn’t know. In the bakery, many were busy filling out orders for all the yummy foods.
In other news, kids did some wonderful paint printing of “O’s”. They painted the bottoms of muffin tins for small O’s, or the bottoms of pie plates for large O’s, then put paper over the paint and saw the magic of the paint transferring with fascinating colors and textures. You can see the wonderful diversity of their work around the classroom.
All of the older kids, and some youngers, have been busy working in their journals on Fridays, and you will gradually see them start to come home. We’ve also begun having one child at a time share a story from her/his journal at group time Friday morning, to practice speaking in front of a group, to take pride in their work, and to inspire others with their ideas.
Finally, we will begin passing around our class book in the next week or so. Our book is based on the book “Mary Wore Her Red Dress” by Merle Peek. Each child drew a self-portrait, used water color paint to add their clothes, then chose what color and piece of clothing to emphasize in the song. When your child brings the book home for the night, please enjoy reading and singing it with him/her, and see how many pages s/he can read or sing to you. In order to get through the whole class, we ask that you return the book on the next school day.
Sunny News 1/27/20
Our grocery store is growing in complexity, as children make labels and price tags for the food. If you decide to come shopping, make sure to bring lots of money, though, because if you want lettuce, it will cost you $100! At the suggestion of one of the students, we may be transitioning to a bakery, so keep your eyes open for things to come…
In other big news, snack has moved into the classroom as one of the centers. Children are learning the steps required when they want to eat snack:
See if there’s an empty seat
Wash your hands
Get your name stick, a cup and a napkin from the snack shelf
Place your name stick in the cup on the table and open your napkin
Read the snack sign to see how much snack you can take
Pour yourself some water
Having snack this way provides marvelous opportunities for independence & competency, following multi-step instructions, name & other letter recognition, motor skills, number recognition & counting.
Pre-K’s spent more time with the letter “S” last week, both working with crossing the midline in larger form by painting large “S”s, and trying to think of words with the “S” sound. They also worked in their journals, drawing, telling and writing stories.
This week and next week the kids are working on their mid-year self-portraits, which will be assembled into a book in the coming weeks. It’s wonderful to see the increasing detail in these portraits as the children grow!
We’re enjoying the fingerplay “Here is the beehive”, and wondered about the ending of “What Pet Would You Get” by Dr. Seuss. Today we made a chart of which of the pets from the story our class would like to get. There was some concern about family members with allergies, but I assured the kids they could choose any pet they wish they could have, since they wouldn’t actually be bringing them home:).
Look for “Open” & “Closed” and “In” & “Out” signs in stores
Observe & discuss things about the supermarket, bakery, or other stores you’re in, like jobs people have, signs, prices, organization of products, etc.
Look for things that start with “S” or “O”