Thursday, November 10, 2011

October: A time for imagination!

October's virtue was creativity which fit well with Halloween. After a month of school, the kids knew the routine really well. In fact, if I tried to vary the schedule by skipping circle time I had a mutiny on my hands. :) They would begin each day by asking what their job was for the day. Since they had been practicing writing their name daily, they were able to find their names on the job chart. I used words and symbols to describe each job so they could answer their own inquiries.

We continued our reading program with the letters H (haunted house), short I(icky), J(jack-a-lantern), S (spider), L(leaves), M (monster), and T (trick or treat). We tied our art projects into the theme and the letters. ie.. by making a spider from egg cartons, googly eyes, foam and construction paper accordion-folded into legs. We also made a class jack-a-lantern from orange tissue paper that was wadded up and glued into place on a large outline. Then we painted our own jack-a-lanterns and added cut out shapes to make a unique face on it. We used stamps to make Halloween cards and made trick or treat bags which we decorated with pictures that we colored.

We also begin doing more math activities. We learned how to play board games with dice. We counted to 20 and looked for missing numbers on the velcro board. We started with numbers 1-5 and learned how to write them. Their favorite activity was sorting by shape and color Halloween candy and then charting how many pieces of each kind there was. They wanted to do this activity over and over. We counted how many jumps they did on the trampoline. We looked for the pattern of objects on the calendar and anticipated what came next in the sequence.

We learned lots of new songs like "Monster Day", "'I'm a mean old witch", "Spooky Wheels on the Bus", "Deck the Halls with scary pumpkins", "Five Little Pumpkins" and "This is the Way we Rake the Leaves". We made believe that we went on a Bear hunt and even pretend traveled to San Francisco and Yellowstone by bus to see the Golden Gate bridge and Old Faithful. Then we flew to Washington D.C. to see the White House and the Washington Monument. We stayed flexible doing animal yoga poses and pretended to be a frog, cat, dog, lion and snake.
We read books about imagination and Halloween such as "Quick as a Cricket", "I love school", "Where the Wild things are", "The Biggest Pumpkin ever", "Harvest time for Lil Critter", "In front of my house", "What Eddie can do", "Pumpkin Soup", and "Corduroy's best Halloween ever".

We celebrated Halloween with a party that included yummy cookies to decorate that Caleb's mom made, juice from Natalie and other treats. We played Halloween bingo and made a foam Halloween project with their names on it. And of course we all dressed in our costumes.

The highlight of October was our first field trip. We went to the Farmstead on November 26 and rode in a hay wagon through the corn maze, picked pumpkins, rode the cow train, jumped on a giant trampoline and had a birthday celebration for Ammon too. We followed up the trip with lessons on roasting pumpkin seeds and the many ways we eat corn (popcorn, corn chips, corn bread and corn on the cob). It was a great day with parents and grandparents attending and enjoying this enthusiastic group. I can hardly wait for the next one.

Teaching imagination and creativity through music, stories and pretend activities.

September: A great beginning

Wow, I've been so busy planning and teaching preschool, I haven't updated the website in forever. So here's a quick update.

I have the cutest class this year. There are 4 boys and 5 girls all ages three and four. They have big personalities, very creative minds and great enthusiasm.

In September our theme was about being brave, so we talked about learning new things, going new places and making new friends. We spent one day in Montessori fashion practicing life skills such as peeling a carrot, pouring cups of water, measuring cups of rice, and cutting and pasting pictures. We also improved small motor skills by doing sewing cards and stringing cereal into necklaces. Each child kept a chart of the things they accomplished. We also made an "All About You" book for each child with their handprints, footprints, height, weight and favorite things.

We read many books about being in new situations such as "Chrysanthemum", "Miss Mingo's First Day of School", "Courage", and "If you take a mouse to school". We also read books about harvest and apples such as "My apple tree", "Ten apples up on top", "Clifford goes apple picking", "Picking apples and pumpkins", and "Johnny Appleseed".

With everything being new, I spent time establishing routines such as circle time which includes our welcome song, pledge, prayer, guessing can, calendar and singing time. I use the music "Chicka, chicka, boom, boom" to signal that we are changing activities and it's time to clean up the room. We talked about classroom rules such as taking turns, raising your hand to speak in circle time and showing our classmates and teacher respect.

We jumped right into our reading program by introducing a letter every Monday and Wednesday. In September we learned short A, B, C, D, short E, F, and G. By the third week the students were begining to blend sounds into three-letter words. I taught them how to write the letter in the air and on a paper. We brainstormed objects that begin with that sound. We sang songs about each of the sounds and used several ABC songs that emphasize the letter sounds and names. We played lots of games to practice the letter sounds. One of their favorite is very simple but effective. I bought a letter train that is a series of 5x5" cards with a letter on each and objects that have the beginning sound. I put these all over the preschool room with poster putty and then say to a child, "Alexis, can you find a card with the letter that makes the sound b as in bird?" Then she looks all over for it. The other kids can't wait for me to ask them to go look for one.

I believe that music is a great teacher and a wonderful way to keep the kids moving and learning. In September we learned the Hokey Pokey, Head shoulders knees and toes, apples and bananas, If you're happy and you know it, Mulberry bush, I've something in my pocket, There were ten in the bed, Counting song, and the baby shark song.

Stay tuned for the October events!

We teach music, movement, reading, writing and math in Boise, ID