Great Opportunities

November has been full of special opportunities for the students. The first Friday of the month the class went on an adventure to Egypt! The sixth graders created presentations and dressed accordingly to the Ancient Egyptian era. My students love going to presentations given by the middle school students, but the annual Egyptian Fair is always one of their favorites. Students move through each student’s presentation and listen to the interesting facts about medicines used at the time, the architecture, and the different layers of the hierarchical system. The connection between the “big” kids and the younger students is so special. It is such a precious mentoring experience for both age levels.

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The weather in Texas can be quite unpredictable. We were fortunate one Monday to be able to have a picnic outside. It is such a pleasure to have the flexibility, beautiful campus, and available space to have an impromptu picnic! It is so nice to get some extra fresh air before the weather gets too cold or rainy.  

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Another wonderful opportunity the children were able to be a part of was making Thanksgiving decorations for those who don’t have any. This spectacular group of PreK students donated 102 hand decorated cards and 130 beautifully colored placemats to the Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Andrew Curry, D.D.S., the children were also able to give over 200 tubes of toothpaste to the shelter. This was an excellent opportunity to remind the children the importance of doing things for other, even when you receive nothing tangible in return.

As we are finishing up the study of pets, the children have had two fantastic hands on learning experiences arise. Thanks to the connection of one of the mothers in class, the children were able to see, pet, and hear an 11 week old potbelly piglet. He was so cute and the children loved getting to learn about the pet.

 

To close out the study, we took a field trip to a local pet store, the DogPatch. It was a great way to bring many of the concepts we have been discussing together. The children were able to see and feel different pets. They were also able to see the different environments of the animals. Being able to see all of the food, cages, toys, clothes, and grooming supplies brought everything full circle. Children, especially at this age, learn by touching, hearing, seeing, and using as many senses as possible. The more sense the children use, the more connected the concepts are for them; this also aides in crossing what has been learned over to long term memory. Studying pets has been a great way to offer opportunities to teach the children the importance of taking care of others, gathering information that can be used to compare and contrast concepts such as animals and habitats, explore a variety of materials used to care for pets, and jobs related to pets. 

What a great month November has been, and it is only half over! We are looking forward to more studies and learning about the birth of Jesus. Pets has been a great study and we bring it to an end by saying bye to our class pet, Jingles.

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Claire Gordon
Shelters, Pets, Ukuleles, and Halloween!

In Pre-k this week, the class has had a few more days to jump into the pets study. One of the great things about our curriculum is it allows flexibility to focus on ideas that peak the interest of the class. Some of our vocabulary words since beginning our study are rescue, shelter, wild, domesticated, enclosure, and cage. The class loves pretending to be wild and domesticated animals, I do believe wild animals are their favorite. Instead of taking a field trip to a local animal shelter, the class took a virtual field trip. Using technology to tour an animal shelter gave the children a more thorough view of what a shelter looks like and the different areas where the shelter helps the pets. The following day the children were put into small groups and asked to build a shelter. I asked them to discuss with one another and make a plan of where they would put certain areas for the animals. They had the option of making it flat, like a blueprint, or build it up. I explained there was a time limit and when time was up, each group would share about their shelter. In the class discussion about shelters, we covered that the animals are in cages, there is are areas for animals who are sick or need shots, and a place for the animals to get groomed. I was very impressed while listening to the children describe their shelters. Every group added something to the shelter that would benefit the animals; the rooms the children added were things we hadn’t even gone over in class yet. These children are so thoughtful! Several groups added places for the animals to potty, areas (in great detail) for them to exercise and play with toys, a place to view the area from above to see how the animals play together, and places to keep/distribute food and treats. These were extraordinary animal shelters -- any animal would be lucky to live in them! The activity was a great demonstration of the children’s level of comprehension.Watching them apply their knowledge about shelters as they designed and created the animal shelters was amazing.

Later in the week, the children compared and contrasted different pet foods. You might have been told that we conferred and contracted, the terminology is a little tricky to pronounce at times. We did confer, but I assure you there were no contracts being made about pet food in PreK this week. The class compared three different types of pet food: cat, dog, and turtle. I had no idea how badly turtle food smelled until Jingles, the class turtle, came into my life. This week, the class learned how it and canned cat food smells - and they were excited about it! After the fun of the different smells settled, the children explained how the foods were alike and how they were different. It was challenging to find commonalities amongst the three, but the groups persisted and were able to list a couple.

Wednesday morning, we had a surprise visit from two 5th grade ladies. Elle and Annabell gave the class a presentation about ukuleles. Elle let each child feel the frets and strings, strum the ukulele, and tap it like a drum. Annabell closed the presentation by playing a short song for the class. My class was engaged and fascinated by the ukuleles. I will have to ask Elle and Annabell to come back when we are studying music.

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Today the both PreK classes joined in on a St. James tradition. For many years, the PreK classes at St. James have traveled to Opportunities Inc. and sang halloween songs to the students. The students this year worked very hard to learn all of the songs and they were very excited to wear their Halloween costumes. The classes did an outstanding job! After their performance, the children went to a classmate's house for a Halloween party. Fun was had by all! 

Have a blessed week, 

Claire

Claire Gordon
Class Road, Estimating, Twizzler Roads, and Transportation Morning

The road study has been loads of fun for the class. The children have discovered and discussed the purpose of maps and traffic signs, jobs that involve roads (engineers, contractors, construction workers, mail carriers,people who deliver food, etc.), and interesting road features. This study has lent itself to several creative activities involving math and planning. The class had to work together to build a road, which turned into a city. Each child added a portion of the road, I love this because it shows their creativity and encourages the children plan out the next move; even though sometimes they had to adjust and change their plans. Some wanted to add curves or bridges, but they had to wait to see what was needed and go from there. During a  small group activity the class learned about estimating. I filled the guessing jar with trucks and cars, explained that estimating is taking an educated guess, and had every child estimate how many vehicles where in the jar. I kept track of everyone's guesses and, as a class, we figured out which number was the greatest, smallest, and closest to the correct answer. Two students guessed the correct number! I told the children that estimating is something that we do on a daily basis and they will do it often in their school careers, especially in science and math classes.

For a little fun fine motor strength building, the class had to unravel (harder than it sounds) twizzlers and create roads. It seems easy to us, but for their little hands and fingers it can be challenging to manipulate the twizzler and get it the desired length without it tearing. If their design called for shorter roads, the children had to cut the pieces to the ideal size and map it out. Hearing the children described their roads to me was great; I loved how they created bridges, curvey roads, and intersections. So much higher order thinking!! The students remembered and understand concepts from the study and are able to apply the information while creating the roads. The best part is they are having fun and stretching their brains further everyday! Pre-k is really the best place to be!

To wrap the study up, the class made gravel slime. To say they enjoyed the slime is an understatement! Science experiments are always a fun way to tie in elements that we have been studying. The slime was around for a few days for the children to make roads or for the toy trucks to have loads of gravel to drop somewhere. For our final day of the road study, the class had transportation morning. The children brought bikes, scooters, and other fun non-motorized things to ride for a bit on Friday morning. Roads has been a terrific study, and we are looking forward to what we will discover in the Pets study!!

Have a great week!

Claire

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Claire Gordon
Roads, Litter and Maps

We have had beautiful weather this week and I have tried to make the most of it with the class. When possible, we took our learning outside! This week I introduced our new study on Roads. Finding the children's previous knowledge of roads has been enlightening, they know so much about the subject already. This makes for great conversation and a deeper look into the different areas of our study. To give the children some visual representations of what we were discussing in class, we took a stroll around campus to check out our roads. After we explored campus I gave the class an assignment. I asked them to draw something they discovered on our walk. I love seeing how the children interpret what I have said or shown them. I added the assignment to their journals. 

This week, letter L was the focus in the children's Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. At St. James we like to encourage the children to take care of our school, along with others and the community. Last year the children studied Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle and it has stuck with them! Tracy and I thought it would be great to have the children go on a litter walk. This helped reinforce being responsible for keeping the campus clean and a fun way to integrate the letter L. Both Pre-K classes walked around campus and picked up litter. As soon as we came in each child washed their hands, a mini-lesson on cleanliness too! 

One of the vocabulary words this week was map. The class looked at a paper map, and quickly informed me that their parents use their phones instead of a map like the one I had. We discussed the positive points on using both types of maps. Together we made a map of the school, and independently I asked the children to draw their own map of the school. They took the job seriously! I love the creativity the students have, so much personality shines through the maps. 

We have had a great start to Pre-k, and the best is yet to come!
Have a blessed day!
Claire

savannah jarratt