Music, Boxes, Board Game, Roman Feast, and Muffins with Moms

Mrs. Tipton, our music teacher, is an amazing teacher. Not only do the students learn sweet songs, play learning games that reinforce listening skills, and learn about (and play) a variety of instruments, they learn how to read music! Mrs. Tipton teaches the children the notes and music symbols. Young children have an amazing ability to easily retain this information and it is a skill they can use while learning any instrument. Mrs. Tipton lived in Kentucky for a long period of time, and to honor the Kentucky Derby, she taught the children “Camptown Races” and they rode stick horses to race around the playground. Early in the week, the class saw another class riding the stick horses and they looked forward to it all week. Even though there were a few tumbles, the children really enjoyed this activity and learning a new song.

In small group the class played a board game, Boggle Jr. The children loved playing in pairs and trying to beat the timer! This exercise illustrated how kind these children are to one another. They couldn’t contain themselves, they had to help their friend to find the letters in the game. Boggle Jr. is an exciting way to review letter recognition, exercise your fine motor skills, reading small words, time management, and teamwork. I am leaving it out for the remainder of the year for the students to play during centers.

Since beginning our study on boxes, we have discussed 3D shapes, length, and height. Boxes are an excellent way to introduce cubes and rectangular prisms, they allow the children hands on experiences with the two shapes. Noticing the differences and similarities. One morning, I split the class into small groups and told them to take turns stacking boxes to match their heights. We started with the tallest person in each group. They stacked the boxes and then compared each stack to see which one was the tallest. Then, to compare length, the shortest child in each group laid down and the other group members used boxes to measure them. After everyone had the boxes laid out, the children used a measuring tape to measure the length of the boxes.Comparing and contrasting items, people, and places comes naturally to children and it leads to critical thinking and creative projects!

Last Friday, the 5th graders held the annual Roman Feast. This was the best one yet! The children had so much fun walking around and play games that taught us about Ancient Roman culture. We also had Muffins with Moms last Friday. It was a sweet time to make memories with loved ones.

We have had such a wonderful year. I have been blessed to be in these children’s lives and I look forward to seeing what the future hold for each of them!

Claire

Claire Gordon
A Few of my Favorite Things...

April has been a very busy month is PreK! The children have continued studying music, attended enrichment classes, went to a program at school and at the Perot, participated in Show and Tell, and supported our fellow St. James students by attending the Medieval Fair and a pep rally for the Quiz Bowl team. All while preparing and practicing for the big annual PreK Talent Show.

The music study has been a fun way for the children to explore instruments, music terms such as: tempo, volume, rhythm, instrument families. Music lends itself easily to math. The class takes votes on favorite instruments, types of music, certain songs, etc and then we tally, discuss which numbers are greater than or less than, add (and subtract) the totals; hearing and seeing patterns are done regularly, especially when we hear salsa music! The class loves being able to get up and dance around to the music.

One of my favorite things about St. James is that all students go to PE everyday. While in PE the children practice gross motor skills, play games that reinforce listening, sportsmanship, and honesty, and they get their blood pumping and have fun! My class comes together for two large group meetings in the morning, once before PE and once right after and the children are always more interactive after PE. Getting up and moving helps the brain make better connections and helps the children be more alert.

Another thing that I love about St. James is the sense of community that we have on campus. Not only do the older children mentor the younger students, but the younger students are the older childrens biggest fans. The younger students love viewing projects and presentations put together by the middle school students. This gives the older children an opportunity to put their leadership skills to practice and be good examples of what is expected at St. James. This also sets the stage for a safe and trusting campus. All of the students see and interact with all of the teachers and other students so often that we all feel comfortable asking one another for help or direction if needed. Recently the class traveled back to medieval times as the 6th grade presented the annual Medieval Fair. There was also a school wide pep rally to encourage the Quiz Bowl team before they traveled to Little Rock to compete. It was great to see everyone cheering on the students who had worked so hard.

Every year PreK puts on a talent show in front of their families and the entire school. The children learn several group songs and they show their talent. When typed out it doesn’t seem like much, but it is so much more than that; the children have to be aware of timing and their placement, the order of the show and when they have their turn, memorizing songs and lines, endure through practices, and have the courage to stand in front of a large audience and speak. I am beyond proud of PreK for their determination, perseverance, and attitude with the whole process of the talent show; from the first practice to the final bow. They are amazing children!

Have a blessed day!

Claire

Claire Gordon
Easter and Music

We ended March by celebrating Easter, remembering that Jesus died and was resurrected so that we could be saved and forgiven.

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Last week the class began the Music study. Music, sounds, and noises are very much a part of the children’s daily lives. We listen to music on the way to school in the morning, sounds are present as we walk to PE, and different noises are abundant in the classroom at every point in our day. This is a study that the children enjoy impart because they are familiar with the terminology and the subject, but also because it is fun to express oneself with music. There isn’t one person who can’t add to a conversation about music. Being able to relate and move to different music is a great way to connect and deepen the community in the classroom. Last week the children listened and danced around to instrumental, pop, jazz, and silly music in class. One morning, the daily question was: Can you make sound with these? I had paper towel rolls, paper plates, spoons, bowls, can, and rubber bands. Of course, the children said yes and demonstrated different ways to make sound. I left the sounds making items out all week for the children to use and experiment with making different noises. We discussed low and high sounds. Using the big drum the children took turns making sounds and patterns by hitting the drum with their hands and/or a paper towel roll. The children were able to feel the vibration of the drum, some were able to see it too. This week we will delve into the study even more and learn about the different instrument families. Today, we focused on the percussion family and everyone marched around playing a percussion instrument. Also this week, the children will be attended a performance at the Perot. What better way to study music than to go to a professional performance? I love that this study aligns with the annual PreK talent show. Putting focus on the aspects of practicing, working together, and feeling the accomplishment of completing your work with a performance. This is by far the loudest study, but it is a great one and many memories will be made!

Mrs.Claire

Claire Gordon
Healthy Living and Addition

There are many benefits to studying exercise. One major benefit is learning ways in which to live a healthy life. I focus on eating a balanced diet, exercise, and getting good sleep. The class has had several the opportunities to discover new ways to exercise. The homeliving center has been transformed into a gym. The gym is a place where students may lift free weights, stretch on the yoga mat, workout on the weight bench, jump on the trampoline, or jump/hop in and out of hoops. Another way the children have been able to burn some energy and get exercise is through a website, GoNoodle, that teaches breathing techniques, gives brain breaks, and helps develop coordination, gross motor muscles, and listening skills. GoNoodle partners with St. Michaels to reach our community. It is perfect for rainy and cold days. Not only does GoNoodle give the children an opportunity to exercise, it reinforces concepts being taught in the classroom (it can be programed for grade level and content) and the songs are silly and encourage rhyming and creativity. The children love GoNoodling, even more so now that they are comfortable with the format.

In addition to physical movement, we are studying the importance of a healthy diet. The class viewed the food pyramid and discussed what each section meant. I am impressed with how knowledgeable the students are with fruits and vegetables. Many have tried a variety of fruits and have a love of vegetables and healthy eating. I gave the class an option: try a selection of fruit or make guacamole. It was almost an unanimous vote to try the fruit. The class tried kiwi, plum, raspberries, and mango and we opened a coconut. Opening a coconut was something new to most of the class. Each student held, shook, and smelled the coconut before I hammered it open. The class tried to predict the best ways to open it, and it became very clear that pounding it with a hammer was going to get the job done. Once opened, the children came to inspect the coconut; visually the coconut was lacking, but the smell stayed true and the kids had a fun time with the experience. After enjoying the assortment of fruit, we took a vote and used tallys to see which fruit was the favorite; raspberries took the win! With this array of fruit, we had see find out the countries of origin. I grabbed the globe and showed the students all of the countries (China, Eastern Europe, England, South America) the fruits had come from. I reminded the children that fruits can be grown all over the world, but these places are where the fruit came from first. How fun to have a lesson that incorporates healthy eating, science (predicting, exploring, testing theories), math (tallying), and geography!!

The children practiced addition, recognizing math symbols (+ and =), counting, and taking turns while playing a math game. I paired the students, with one group of three, and each student was given a die. They took turns rolling and counting their die. After rolling the dice, the children found the corresponding number of cubes and put the cubes in the circles next to the addition sign. Then, working together, the children moved all of the cubes to the equals circle to solve the math problem. It is so great to see the children having a ball while learning!

Mrs. Claire

Claire Gordon
Exercise, Valentine's Day, Rhyming, and Table Painting

The class has jumped into a new study - Exercise! With a trampoline and a child size weight bench in class, the children have been very eager to exercise. The study covers healthy eating, bones/muscles/tissues, what happens to the body when exercising, equipment, different styles of exercising, and healthy life habits. To illustrate what happens to your breathing when your heart rate increases, the class played Huff and Puff. Each student had to “push” a cotton ball across the rug by blowing on it, without using their hands. Seems simple, right? Well, if you don’t get behind the cotton ball just right, it can stay in one place or move in a direction you don’t want. The children had to be very patient while focusing on their breathing and watching which way the cotton ball was moving. After the game we discussed what happened as they were crawling on the floor. The children noticed that their breathing was labored and their heart was pumping faster. This helped them to see how breathing and heart rate are related and that exercising gets oxygen and blood around your body in a quick way.

I couldn’t let Valentine’s Day slip by without pulling out my number/letter game. The students took turns tossing bean bags onto the poster and telling the class what numbers/letters their bean bags hit. This was an easy way to review number/letter recognition. It also reinforced taking turns, being a good audience member, and encouraging friends.

The children reviewed rhyming words while playing a rhyming activity last week. This activity made the students stretch their brains and grow outside of their comfort zone. It is easier for children to list words or sounds that rhyme aloud than match a given set of pictures. Listing words with the same beginning sound is a common mix up when trying to rhyme. The activity gave each child a page with a picture and three empty boxes. The children had to find three objects that rhymed with the assigned picture. Many students could tell me several words that rhyme with their picture, but it was challenging to look through the pile of objects to find three specific items that went with the page. For some, it proved to be a frustrating task in the beginning, but the children stayed on task and followed through. This doubled as an activity of perseverance; I am proud of the class for sticking with it and, also, helping classmates through their difficulties.

When I told the class they would be painting on plastic, on an upside down table, all while standing, I got a lot of laughter and some quizzical looks. Many thought I was joking, until they noticed the tables ready for painting. This has been one of my favorite activities to date. Not only does it foster creativity, fun, and memorable experiences, it is so good for their little bodies. Vertical surface working, allows for more movement and better posture. Working on a vertical surface strengthens the abdomen, back, shoulders, and arms of the students. It also gives them a sense of freedom and confidence to find positions (stand, kneel, sit, etc.) that are comfortable and make “working” more enjoyable. This way of working naturally advocates the correct wrist, head/neck, and grasp positions. I could write a book on the advantages of vertical surface working. It has many benefits for preschool children, and it is fun at any stage. I encourage you all to try to implement this method at home. The fridge is an excellent (and easy) way to do so; add some paper, tape, and crayons - viola! Easy vertical workstation at home. The highlight of this activity, for me, was watching the children as they walked around to look at everyone’s art. Seeing the pride on their faces as they explained their art and the kindness displayed as they looked at and commented on their friend’s art was simply priceless.

Have a blessed day!

Mrs. Claire

Claire Gordon