Thursday, September 3, 2015

Preschool 9-3-2015

We had a great second day of preschool B today.  We started off the same and kept the activities very similar to day one to focus on the routine and expectations in the classroom.  After playing on the SmartBoard we reviewed our class expectations and then read a book called "The Way I Act".  I LOVE this book because it highlights good qualities in a high quality poem like format.  It helped us talk about the type of people we want to be.  Then we reviewed what centers was supposed to look like and got to work.
 During centers I met with the small guided reading groups.  We had so much fun.  We were learning about blending letters for the first time, blending the beginning into the middle sound, and were practicing our early readers with sight words and CVC phonics.
 After we cleaned up (which they did phenomenally well) we read a book about drawing pictures and writing words to match.  We talked again about how we draw in the empty space and write on the lines.  We discussed the lines and how we use them with our letters.  We also had a mini lesson about how to draw people.  We talked about using circles for the head, eyes and body and using lines for the mouth, arms and legs.  Some kids drew a person for the very first time today and it was adorable!
 After writing we got to play some math games.  We warmed up with our staircases game and then moved to building towers.  They loved building towers and the math language that came out of it was amazing.  I love that I caught the two girls comparing their towers of 6 to make sure they were the same length.  They cooperatively worked on building all the towers they could on their sheet until they ran out of blocks.  Then they started again.  I love how great they worked together!  The environment in our classroom is wonderful, there is so much compassion and desire to learn.  Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Preschool Day 1

What a fantastic first day of preschool B 2015!  We hit the ground running talking about who we are from our inquiry block.  We shared our favorite colors and started a list of words to describe ourselves.  So far we have "Learners" and "Readers" on the list.  A great start!  We spent some time talking about expectations after we had our "Who We Are" list started.  We talked about how expectations are rules and we shared ideas about why they are important.  We came up with the following reasons for having expectations: *So we can learn *So we can stay safe *So we can all be happy.  What a great list.  Next came our class expectations or rules.  We decided on the following: *Treat things nicely *Treat people nicely.  Using this language we were able to go throughout our day discussing how to treat things and people nicely within the task we were set out to do.  

The first task at hand was learning about centers.  We've never really done "Centers" before in preschool.  I've always had activities for kids to do as I work with small reading groups.  This year I'm making them into more formal centers where we set a timer and rotate from activity to activity.  They did great at picking up the routine.  We went fishing for letters and sang the song about their name and sound when we caught a letter.  We played puzzles and we worked in small reading groups.
 We jumped right into what good readers do (use their eyes to look at letters, point at letters, say the letter sounds, and listen to letters).  We are working on reading books, blending letters into words, and combining sight words and simple phonics within stories.  After our reading and centers time we did a "Jumping Contest" where I play a song and the kids can jump around the room without touching or talking and get their wiggles out. The sofa turned out to be a great centerpiece for a "jumping race track" around the room and when the song was done they were all lined up!
 Next we moved into writing.  We talked about the way to hold a pencil, that we don't turn pages since we only work on one page per day, we draw pictures on the top empty space and letters/words on the lines below.  We also started talking about the way to form letters.  We talked about what lines are on writing paper (sky line, airplane line, baseline, worm line).  We talked about how letters start at the #2 position on the clock and work their way around (not all of them, but we worked on letter a today).  Then we drew and wrote.  It is always so fun to see from the first day of school to the last week of school how much they grow during this 4 year old year.  I love it!
At the end of the day we learned how to play "Staircases".  It's a number sense game that I love.  We roll the dice and then make a step with that many blocks.  We keep rolling the dice until we have steps 1-6 to make a staircase.  If the roll is a number we already have we simply roll again.

With all these great activities the kids went home already reading and playing math games.  Try to read and play at home so we can keep the momentum going and build upon these concepts on Thursday.  Happy learning!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back to School Photos

Miss K did a fantastic job with our back to school photos this year.  I try to hire a professional photographer at least once a year to take pictures of the kids and then I gift the digital files to the parents.  This morning I sent all preschool parents the photos of their child and now I get to share them with you.  Happy back to school photos! These will be the delightful 8 that you'll get to watch grow and learn all year long...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Deeper Look Into Inquiry Blocks

We had a fantastic back to school day today and afterwards I received an email requesting more information about the inquiry blocks we'll be talking about.  It is a bit of an abstract idea, not nearly as concrete as studying a topic or theme per day like the last 3 years has been with these kids.  So I decided that I'd put the ideas in my head down in writing and share the details with everyone.

This year, in both Preschool and Kindergarten, we'll be spending approximately 6 weeks working through an inquiry block. The blocks include:

  • Who We Are
  • Where We Are In Place And Time
  • How We Express Ourselves
  • How the World Works
  • How We Organize Ourselves
  • Sharing the Planet

These ideas are very vague and are so intentionally.  As we start talking about a subject one idea or another may stick as a highly interesting subject for the class and we have the ability to stay with the idea until we have exhausted it or stumble upon something else more interesting.  In my Kindergarten Yearly Scope I have defined each of these blocks as:

  • Who We Are
    • Inquiry into noticing and naming, identity and passions, relationships and cultures including families, friends, and communities.  A focus on how families and friends are important and help each other. 
  • Where We Are In Place And Time
    • Inquiry into personal and family histories; advances in communications (letter, telegraph, house phone, cell phone, computer phone). Past, present, future: yesterday, today, tomorrow.
  • How We Express Ourselves
    • Inquiry into the ways we express ourselves through ideas, feelings, appearances, actions and the arts. A focus on the many ways to tell a story.
  • How the World Works
    • Inquiry into different kinds of materials and how they change. A focus on water and temperature causing changes, being scientists and researchers to make and test guesses, using senses to make observations.
  • How We Organize Ourselves
    • Inquiry into the jobs people do and how organizations are developed to address the needs and wants of a community. A focus on the classroom community and jobs that need to be done to keep our environment clean and a safe place to learn. 
  • Sharing the Planet
    • Inquiry into resources (elements) on Earth. Needs and wants of all living things and how they are connected to other living things and their environment. 
Kindergarten and preschool will vary throughout the year as each class will latch upon different key ideas and desire to focus on differing aspects of the inquiry block.

The ideas floating around preschool are far from concrete.  I have an umbrella of projects and will be looking for the interest-led spark that will lead our discussions, impact our writing and art and show up in our science lessons.

In preschool this year you can expect some, but not all, of the following ideas to be explored:
  • Who We Are
    • Conversations about being "Bucket Fillers" and developing friendships.  
    • Passions and interest of each child.
  • Where We Are In Place And Time
    • How things haven't always been the way they are today and things will change in the future.
    • Possible exploration of communication and its changes over time.
    • Exploration of family in terms of siblings, parents and grandparents.
    • Vocabulary: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
  • How We Express Ourselves
    • A study on emotion and actions/reactions.
    • Color and Music
    • Friends/Bucket fillers
    • Telling stories
  • How the World Works
    • Magnets
    • Simple Machines
    • Properties of water at different temperatures
    • Plants
    • Insects
  • How We Organize Ourselves
    • Community helpers: firemen/police/librarians, etc.
    • Jobs we do around our homes and in school to help out: cleaning up messes, sharpening pencils, setting the table
    • Responsibility for one's self
  • Sharing the Planet
    • Space
    • Friends/Bucket Fillers
    • Treating animals and property with respect
    • Serving others to help impact a positive environment 
I am really excited to explore these ideas within our preschool class as we continue learning to read and understand the world around us.  I hope you follow along on our journey of exploration!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School Day is Tomorrow!

This will officially be the last year I am teaching preschool. I have one more 4 year old class of 8 fantastic students. I've had most of them in my classes since they were 2 years old and I'm so thrilled to take them all the way up to kindergarten. As Back to School day approaches I finished straightening up the house so it will be a perfect learning environment. This evening Miss K came to set up the photo backdrop and props for our back to school photos and I couldn't be happier. She does such fantastic work!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Where to Begin?

Wow! Where do I even begin? Life here in the past few months have been CRAZY! The short story: we hired a contractor to remodel the basement/preschool room. We made some poor choices and he ran off with our money :(. After a lot of heartache and searching we found a variety of new experts to complete the job. 3 months into our 2 week job and now it's officially finished. Yay!
Finally adding drywall

Adding paint

And now carpet

building in the bookshelves
Organizing and filling the bookshelves
adding in a door
making an under stair pantry
Finished pantry 
Now, you'll have to wait until after Back to School Day for the final pictures of the amazing new space we have to learn in.  I'm so excited!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Last Day of Preschool

Today was the last day of preschool and boy did we have fun!  We played puzzles and practiced graphing, we played outside in the sandbox and the playhouse, sang our songs to be ready for graduation and enjoyed the cool weather.
 What a great group of kids!
 The afternoon kids were building shelters out of tree branches, potions out of leaves and dirt and had a "baby" log they were carrying around and "stealing" from each other.  It was such fun dramatic play!
 We also finished up our assessments and played with puzzles, read stories, worked on graphing and counting to 100.
We had a fun day and I loved sharing our growth with the parents at the end of the day.  Thank you for sharing your kids with me this year!  I love them all!