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More Settling In

I was talking with one of our preK parents this past week about how hard it can be as an adult to slow down to child time. It can be so tempting to jump in and just tie that pair of shoes rather than coaching someone through the process. I could simply put all the library books away in their proper places rather than helping to teach the system that organizes our library. We are continuing to settle and develop the routines of the school, and this takes some real time. It seems obvious that when you finish using glue, you twist the top back down and put it back on the art shelf in the plastic bin with all of the glues, but this is a skill that is learned and rehearsed, and it needs support to develop. So even though it may take a little more time right now, we know that in the long run, we're helping our children take on all these responsibilities themselves.

Cheryl's PreK Reflections

Hip Hop Speaks to Children (a music CD you can request from the library) got us in the groove this week and freeze dance gave little ones the opportunity to practice 'freezing' their bodies when a teacher is about to let them know about a transition or direction. Everyone is raising their hand to be a part of circle songs (pick an animal to pretend to be!) and participating in games to get to know one another. Fostering the idea of what a welcoming atmosphere looks like in our school we read and reread "All Are Welcome Here" and role played how to welcome a friend to play.

The letter of the week was kicked off with 'A' so do encourage your child to tell you things around your home/ neighborhood drives that start with the 'A' sound! We'll continue all year using fun ways for different learners to practice letters, numbers and shapes (molding with playdough, singing rhymes, stamping, writing on slates and in salt, etc.). The children wanted to hear and discuss "My Little Fox" again - a story about a Mama who lets her young fox go off but always is there, waiting to hug him right after he returns to the den. Family and school family portraits were crayoned and lovingly chatted about. We created nature crowns, taste tested mint and peach, and made goldenrod paintings to say goodbye to Summer and hello to Autumn. Dramatic play was in full swing - it's so fun to see their imaginations (Red Riding Hood Farmer on horseback) and roles of family members coming out!

Math with Tracy

Our math class has been busy developing some number concepts, working on writing numbers, and developing a bank of math games that we can play during "math choice time." Each day we do a little counting practice: counting up and down, counting by 2's or 5's or 10's, counting and comparing groups. We have also been playing a variety of math games. "Guess My Treasure" is a game that we play with rocks or some other treasure in groups of 10 (or 5 or 20 depending on where the mathematicians are at). The "it" hides part of the group, and the other person needs to figure out how much is missing. We're developing the concepts of addition and subtractions by manipulating real objects, and everyone is engaged. Another way we've been practicing these concepts is through dice games. We played "Race to 100" this last week, and you can ask your child how that works.

Math with Theresa

We are beginning the mathematical year with the oldest kids by studying patterns.

  • We have figured out how many different ways you can arrange two, three and four scoops of ice cream.

  • We have calculated how many different handshakes can occur when there are 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 people.

  • We have discussed the differences between combinations and permutations.

But, even more importantly, we are studying the patterns of our classroom and the patterns of learning.

I want the kids to know where and how they are supposed to be sitting. I want them to know where their pencils and notebooks are, and be ready to use them. I want them to understand that math is a conversation and a process, even more than it is knowing the right answer. I want them to get used to talking about and proving their ideas.

I also want them to internalize a few strategies:

  • Always start with what you know. You can always start by putting a name and date at the top of the page, and then read the problem.

  • Don't panic when you are confused. Stay calm, re-read the problem, talk to your friends about it, and see what you can figure out.

  • "Smart" kids are not necessarily successful. Hard working kids almost always are.

Once we have these ideas down, they will be ready to go!

Our Theme: Monarchs

On the monarch front, we found that we have to s-l-o-w down if we want our science to work.

The kids jumped in and did wonderful experiments, discovering that monarch caterpillars can, indeed. escape captivity and make chrysalises on the ceiling and in sundry other places. They measured and weighed them daily, and they found out what a monarch does when it is raining and when it is near milkweed.

But science must be replicated and recorded. Unfortunately, because we did not have all of our greater patterns in place (such as a place to put papers) there was a lot of data misplaced.

We are going to be chalking up last week to awesome observations and working to record some more solid data this week.

A Side Trip Into Popcorn with Tracy

I found this cool project where you use colored corn to make mosaics. I brought the recipe into my math class, and they mixed up a rainbow of kernels. We measured, checked the recipe, measured some more, and made predictions about how long the kernels would take to hold the colors. They turned out beautifully after just one night. We set everyone up for some fun art, but then there were all these new questions. What would happen if we popped the corn? What would happen if we planted it? So, now we're following up on those questions, and you can ask your scientist artists about what we find.

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