A few more highlights from 2012…

Happy 2013!

Though a bit late, here are a few highlights from our fall & early winter.

In October, just as we did with apples, we explored all things pumpkin.

We picked pumpkins…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We pounded golf tees into pumpkins…(such concentration!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We dissected pumpkins…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We cooked with pumpkins…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We savored the beauty of the changing leaves on our liquid amber trees.  Two friends were inspired to make leaf bouquets.  (The bike served as a nice method of transportation on this leaf hunt!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In November we visited the local farmers’ market, where children went on a scavenger hunt and purchased vegetables for our Stone Soup Feast…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in December we practiced our gift wrapping skills in the block room.  Some friends even organized a tape dispensing/wrapping assembly line!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you parents and kids for a great first half of the school year!   Here’s to lots more fun in 2013!

“A is for Apple”

“A is for Apple”:  a common theme in preschool.  One way to explore this concept is, perhaps, through worksheets, tracing the letter “A”, cutting out and gluing construction paper apples.  These activities would, indeed, offer opportunity to develop fine motor skills.  However, they do very little to explore the concept of “apple.”

In a play-based program, we certainly talk about the fact that apple starts with “A”, that the letter A makes certain sounds.  (Though the letter A becomes much more exciting when a child in the class connects that her name starts with an A!)  And then we delve into all things apple!

This year, it started with a field trip to a local apple orchard, Machado’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children hiked through the orchards…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tasted a variety of apples (and pears and peaches, too)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

watched mesmerized as a huge machine cored and peeled several apples at once…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and delighted in the smells of fresh baked apple (and pumpkin and berry and peach…) pies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the classroom, we set  up an apple tasting station, in which children sampled three different apple varieties and recorded their favorites on a chart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Our discerning panel of taste-testers!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the art table, we put cut apples in paint for print-making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the dramatic play area, children set up an apple stand, selling “apples” made from balled-up pieces of grocery bags and tape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, children set to work peeling, coring, and dicing apples for a batch of applesauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Can’t let those nice peels go to waste!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the art table, we covered the table with paper, squirted tempera paint on the paper, and explored how well apples roll!  The laughter and shouts of delight that ensued made cleaning endless trails of paint off the floor entirely worth it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter recognition and phonemic awareness are, indeed, very important concepts to introduce in the early childhood classroom.  Yet the concept of “apple” covered so many different curriculum and developmental areas:  math concepts of counting and graphing; concepts of print-making and color-mixing; scientific inquiry skills of observation (as they observed the change of an apple as it turns into applesauce, investigation (as they investigated the physics of an apple rolling through paint at high speeds), and exploration (as they used all their senses to explore the qualities of an apple); and social-emotional skills of collaboration and communication, not only in their apple store dramatic play, but also as they coordinated the catch and release of all those fast-rolling apples!

Our goal is that by providing a wide variety of open-ended, hands-on activities, we will engage children’s natural curiosity, inquisitiveness, and creativity.  These activities are meant to offer children the opportunity to explore the world around them, to interact, to try new things.  Furthermore, varied, open-ended activities will meet the needs of our diverse group of learners, with different learning styles and at different stages of development.  And, most importantly, our goal is that we create activities that allow children to have fun!!

 

Punch Line

So the other day, a 4-year-old in one of my classes told me a joke, which, I believe, she made it up right there on the spot!

She was exploring a weighing and measuring station at the science table, which included a balance scale and colorful plastic bears.  She put two bears on one side of the balance scale, then looked up at me and said, “What’s more than two bears?”

She proceeded to put several handfuls of bears on the other side of the scale, until the container was nearly overflowing, and exclaimed, “Too much bears!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were both giggling with delight!

 

 

Back in action!

Hooray!  Our classroom is bustling again with children and families!

Children returning to our school for the 2nd (or even 3rd) year entered the classroom with such confidence and enthusiasm–and got right to work playing!  And new children we are welcoming for their first year entered the classroom a little cautiously, taking it all in…and then got right to work playing!

And our little preschool world is, once again, as it should be:

the mud pit has been reinstated in our sand box, and the dinosaurs are getting much needed mud baths…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the playhouse is receiving fresh coats of (water) paint…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kitchen gadgets are covered in tempera paint…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

markers are employed conveying all kinds of creative thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the cash registers are full of (kid-made) money…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the watercolors are prepped and ready for mixing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and OOBLICK (cornstarch & water) is back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you, kids, for infusing our classroom with energy and creative play!

Thank you, families, for making all this fun possible!

 

Welcome to the 2012-2013 school year!

Let me start with a note of gratitude:  I am grateful for summer vacation.  I am grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, to travel, to garden, to read, to rest.  I savor it because it is a gift, and I savor it because it will come to an end.

I am grateful that summer comes to an end.  Because there is excitement in transition…excitement in the dog days of summer giving way to fall…excitement in getting back to work, back to a routine…excitement in restoring our classroom to a cheerful, brimming, bustling space…excitement in seeing the enthusiastic smiles of our students and their families as they return to reclaim and reinvent another school year.

Welcome everyone, to the 2012-2013 school year!  I am so grateful to be back at school with you!  It is a privilege to collaborate with you in creating a wonderful place for children–a place where children can…

Experiment…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observe…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Move (run, dance, jump, spin, dig, build)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connect with nature…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curl up with a good book…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build meaningful relationships…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a mess!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Childhood is a gift, and it can pass so quickly–may we savor these unique and precious moments with children.

Thank you for being part of our LCP community.

Here’s to a wonderful, fun-filled year!

With love,

Robannie

 

Placer Nature Center Field Trip

Our 4 & 5 year old class enjoyed a spring field trip to the Placer Nature Center.  Docents led small group sessions in the center’s classrooms, presenting information on local plants and animals through the use of puppets and art activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we hit the trail in hopes of finding signs of wildlife (and keep out of the poison oak!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children were fascinated by the skeletal remains of a deer.  Our guide did a great job handling this unique learning opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She also did a great job of setting the pace for kids who love to run!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ended the hike with a very special wildlife sighting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Placer Nature Center for a great day!

The hunt is on!

Not to be outdone by the leprechauns, the Easter Bunny paid a visit to our school, leaving behind a note and supplies for a special activity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher Sherry and the 2-day class read the note together …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and then small groups of children took turns hunting for eggs on our playground!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The car proved to be a popular hiding place!

Children got lots of counting practice, as each child was encouraged to find seven eggs.  It was heart-warming to see that, after a child found her “quota”, she proceeded to help her classmates.  It’s an exciting thing to find an egg, and very satisfying to add it to one’s collection; yet these little people thoughtfully returned eggs to their hiding spots and called out to friends who still needed to find more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equally exciting to finding eggs was the act of hiding them again for the next group of classmates.

Check out these expert–and adorable–egg finders & hiders!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All that work deserves a treat! (Thanks parents for supplying so many fun prizes!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And no preschool day would be complete without some finger painting.  These “eggs” were thoroughly decorated!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Spring Break, everyone!!

 

 

 

 

 

How do you catch a leprechaun?

It all started with a glittery, green path outside the front door of our classroom, left by–who else?–leprechauns!  Just that little infusion of imagination and magic, and the kids turned our St. Patrick’s Day activities into a whirlwind of fun!

Children got right to work collecting treasure the leprechauns left in our  sensory table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the treasure found its way into other curious hiding places…like the playdough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, children fashioned leprechaun houses out of cardboard boxes, styrofoam trays, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, & tissue paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the crucial finishing touch to every leprechaun house was, of course…GLITTER!!!  

(Check out the blur of those little hands vigorously shaking out the glitter!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children were quite thoughtful and intentional in their leprechaun house design, making sure there were soft places for the leprechauns to sleep and shiny things to lure them home.  Aren’t they inviting little houses?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, children set to work finding any other treasure those sneaky leprechauns might have hidden around the classroom.

In the 3 day class, some children decided to draw maps that would lead to the treasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the 2 day class, a rollicking treasure hunt ensued, with the aid of special leprechaun-spying glasses!  Children gathered (and hid and gathered and hid again) a sack full of leprechaun treasure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a special cooking project, our 3 day class made Dutch babies!  The leprechauns got the last laugh, though: when we pulled the beautifully puffed Dutch babies out of the oven, they were green!! The kids didn’t seem to mind too much…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to end this post with some of the children’s words, in response to the question:

How do you catch a leprechaun?

“We make a cage attached to a rope attached to a tree.  When the leprechaun goes under it, it falls on him.  He gets captured.  I would take all his money.”

“Get a leprechaun house and make a treasure map for him.  He goes to his house at night time.  Then you catch him.”

“A cup is hanging on a string and it falls on him when he steps on a clear button.  It traps him.”

“You catch him with a big net.  You bake him and eat him.”

“You tiptoe up to him and then you sneak up to him.  Then you catch him, but quietly.  You keep him in your house in a bird cage so he can fly around.  Then I let him go.”

 

Even dinosaurs get the fleas…

Oh dear!  The children discovered that our outdoor dinosaurs have fleas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without delay, children created a dinosaur washing station, featuring state-of-the-art shampoo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what salepersonship they displayed as they touted the merits of their Dino Washing Station!

“This is where you clean your dinosaur!”

“We can clean it up in no time if you got fleas on your dinosaur.”

“Yep, they’ve got flea bites all over.”

“I put a special shampoo on it.”

“It won’t hurt their eyes.  Not even their mouth.”

“Not too cold, not too hot, just medium.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great little conversation I overheard…

“This one has eye shadow.”

“Eye shadow is for girls, not dinosaurs!”

“Well…this is a girl dinosaur.”

This activity brought to mind the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.”  As a play-based preschool teacher, my goal is to make a wide variety of materials available, and then allow the children to bring their own imagination and creativity to bear.  While our “planned” classroom activities (still play-based, still open-ended!) are important for introducing or practicing specific skills and concepts, it is most often these moments of “unscripted”, spontaneous play that allow children to go deeper–into their imaginations, an idea, or a concept.  And it stands to reason: what can possibly be more engaging than something that springs from our authentic, creative self?!  Witnessing these “unscripted” moments is one of the many joys of being a preschool teacher.

Here’s to engaging, child-directed activities, full of imagination, conversation, cooperation and delight!