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Heads, Hands, and Hearts

When people ask me to tell them about our school, I like to tell them that we educate the whole child. We want our children to be critical thinkers, able readers, and strong mathematicians. We also want them to be honest communicators, good friends, and emotionally resilient. We want them to know how to change a tire, throw a ball, and bake a loaf of bread. I love that all of our teachers take the time to support a wide range of skills in our children and that we have the freedom of not having to prepare them for standardized tests. We do place value on tests, but we place a greater value on preparing them for life, and we hope the skills they are building will carry them into a happy adulthood.

Cheryl's PreK Class

"The creek is flowing!" "The ice is melting!" "Let's make a dam!" Outside free play was filled with a restless excitement (and some unseasonal 'lawn mowing' play) with our littlest ones completely immersed in our small creek. We did our best to keep everyone dry with waterproof boots, snow-pants and mittens - thanks families for sending in extra clothes too!

The children reveled in their senses this week inside the classroom as well. We explored our sense of touch by making our own play-dough; to explore taste and smell we juiced a lemon. Feeling proud and owning their learning they stepped up when given the opportunity to measure (math!) ingredients and squeeze a lemon.

We continue to grow our heads (they kissed their brains each time they came up with a rhyming word) and hands (they formed the letter 'R" with dough, made homemade pillows with the older kids, chiseled and hammered away at ice crystals in our sensory bin and cut out magazine images of things they can smell), but I have found the winter time to really grow their hearts. During free choice time, this group all volunteered to help me move a table back to the art center and I am hearing kind words such as "Do you want to play with us?". Like a pack of puppies or formation of birds, free play has our children run around giddy, weaving in and out of formation together, imaginations running wild and creativity getting the freedom to form. The smell of spring coming and seeds stirring below had the youngest eager to listen to read-alouds such as Groundhog's Garden. We continue to move inside with our dancing to the music of the Hokey Pokey (learning left from right). We read and re-read for understanding The Seven Silly Eaters (a personal favorite and highly recommend) which rhymed the entire way though. Ask your child if two words rhyme or not and if they can sing you a song about a rooster and describe their pictures to you that they created with things that start with the 'R' sound. These beginning literacy skills are building future readers.

You may already have your own favorite play-dough recipe but below is what we used and children asked me to share with you:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sa"

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

2 tablespoons oil

1 cup water

1-2 drops food coloring

Mix water, salt, cream of tartar, oil and food coloring. Heat on stove and add flour and stir until it looks like mashed potatoes. slowly form ball. Store with lid.

Theme: Science Projects

"This is so exciting!" "What are they going to do next?" "Look! Look! He's really going for it!" Watching the children, watch worms was a treat this week. Many of our science projects require more participants than the partners who actually created the project. Everyone has the opportunity to learn a little more while help out with planting seeds, observing worms, or tasting ice cream blindfolded. A number of our experiments had their procedures modified as the children attempted to get them to work. The children figured out better ways to record their results and realized that they have even more questions. Some of them started to talk about what they wanted to do for their experiments next year. We'll be sharing the results of our experiments at our science symposium this week.

This focus on science isn't just about using the scientific method, but also about using scientific tools. We also spent some time learning about microscopes. The children got to use three different microscopes, and we discovered the features they all shared. They drew a picture of a microscope, and we looked at objects under different magnifications.

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