Exercise, Math and PE

We started our exercise study on Monday.  Why investigate exercise?  Our bodies are made to move.  Young children are in nearly constant motion when they are awake.  They wiggle, stretch, bend, jump, hop, bounce, and climb.  Moving makes children feel capable and confident, releases tension, and builds strong bodies and minds.

This study begins with children’s natural desire to move.  A study of exercise not only offers opportunities for children to explore a topic that interests them, but also enables them to gather information, become more aware of the world around them, and solve problems.  Children will explore many types of exercise, observe people while they are exercising, and learn about the mechanics of movement and how to use special equipment to stay safe when exercising.  They will also learn about nutrition and jobs related to exercise, and the connection between exercise and healthy bones and muscles.  They will gather data, meet interesting people, explore a variety of challenging exercise movements, and prepare energizing snacks.  A study of exercise offers a meaningful way for children to use literacy, mathematics, the arts, and technology to investigate and represent their understanding of important concepts related to physical development, science, and social studies.

Our focus question for the week was what do we know about exercise?  Abbi said “you can jog for exercise.”  Townes said “people exercise to get stronger.” Piper stated “you can use a treadmill to get exercise.”  Our home living center has been turned into a gym.  We added a trampoline, weight bench, hula hoops, and yoga mats. 

We learned about the number fourteen, and all about the letter D.  We read about Dinah the Dinosaur and the sound she makes.  We water colored Dottie the Dinosaur, traced and wrote our own Dd and practiced drawing diamonds!

We read The Happiest Tree a Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami.  We learned the following vocabulary words:  improved, clumsy, performance, rehearsal, topple, sets, India, astonishment, cloak and snagged.  We also read We All Went on Safari A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs.  We learned some fun facts about Tanzania, and counted to ten in Swahili.

We are learning about symmetry in math.  The children were given sheets with half of a butterfly and tadpole.  They were told to make the pictures match, to copy the lines to make the picture symmetric.  I explained that symmetry means for both sides to look exactly the same.  With this activity the children were introduced to a topic (symmetry) that will be discussed in their math classes from now until college; and depending on which career they choose, even longer.  Symmetry is found everywhere in nature and is also one of the most prevalent themes in art, architecture, and design.  It seems to be such a small aspect of the study of Geometry, however it is an integral component connecting Mathematics to the real world.  Children have a natural interest in finding balance, what better way to feed that curiosity than by teaching a basic understanding of symmetry?


Students were able to explore dance and movement concepts using scarves in PE.  One of the first ways that children express themselves is through movement.  Each new movement gives children more information about the capabilities of their bodies.  Preschool children demonstrate knowledge of dance and movement in many ways when they use scarves as they respond to music.  Movement, taught with pretend imagery, is beneficial to children’s learning and enjoyment of dance.  Coach Nicole also introduced jumping rope, and this helps with their balancing skills.  Balancing involves movements to help stabilize the body’s position when the person is not a rest.  Jumping rope requires balance.  Balancing is difficult for young children because of their uneven body proportions.  As children become less top heavy, their ability to balance improves. 





Tracy Jones
PreK Presents the Nativity Story

St. James Day School PreK had our Christmas Program on Thursday, December 7, at St. James Episcopal Church. This time of year it is easy to get caught up in the rush of the Christmas holiday and lose focus on what is the true meaning of Christmas. The children were able to share the Nativity story to a sanctuary filled with loving family members and friends. I am so blessed to be able to teach my students about Jesus’ birth and talk openly about God at St. James. The children were very dedicated to learning the songs and movements for the program. How impressive these children are! They memorized songs, lines, solos, and moving parts. This takes a tremendous amount of focus, attention and courage to get in front of a lot of people. These kinds of activities are very important to their social-emotional development.  Young children’s social-emotional development involves learning how to understand their own and others’ feelings, regulate and express their emotions appropriately, build relationships with others, and interact in groups.  Children’s interactions with others are crucial to their learning.  When their interactions are positive, young children are more likely to have positive short and long-term outcomes.  Words could never express how proud I am of their determination and hard work.

We stepped back in time to 1697 and visited the 5th grade living history exhibit of Colonial America.  We started in the Southern Colony of Maryland, followed along to Pennsylvania Colony and finished in the Rhode Island Colony.  PreK was very attentive to the presentations, and were able to purchase penny candy from the general store. 



Tracy Jones
Orbeez, Patterns, and Kindness

We have learned all about the letter G this week.  We added the words green, go, gopher and goat to our word wall.  We are also on the number 11.  The children had to trace and then write the number 11.  They had to trace the word eleven and then write it themselves.  They went on a number hunt, and had to circle every number 11 they found.  They cut out 11 pennies and pasted them into a piggybank, and drew 11 windows on a building. 

I added orbeez beads to the sensory table, and this has been the most popular center.   They will stay in the table until Christmas break.   

We worked on AB, AAB, and ABC Christmas patterns. Guiding children to understand patterns is a foundational skill in mathematics.  Children begin to identify patterns in their environment at an early age.  As they learn to label patterns by having one name stand for something else, they are creating an algebraic representation.

We put up our Christmas tree, and have been making our own ornaments.  The children painted their own Christmas tree and decorated it with pompoms.  They are very unique and are on display in our windows. 

I absolutely love teaching at St. James and being able to lead the little ones in a daily chapel and the Pledge of Allegiance.  What a great way to get your day started on a positive note!

I have been talking to the students about kindness.  The simple acts of kindness seem to go unnoticed in this world we live in.  The children were given the prompt “I can light up the world with kindness by…..” on a Christmas bulb.  They had to draw of picture of them performing an act of kindness and I transcribed their words onto the picture.   Activities like this are helping their emergent writing and critical thinking skills.  Writing originates from drawing and is supported by make-believe play.  Understanding the mechanics of the writing system has a moderate correlation with reading in the primary grades.  


Tracy Jones
Bread Study and Community Service

We have investigated bread!  Bread is everywhere.  Nearly every culture in the world eats some type of bread.   As we studied bread, we learned concepts and skills related to physical development, literacy, math, science, social studies, the arts, and technology.  We also developed thinking skills as we observed, investigated, asked questions, solved problems, made predictions, and tested our ideas.

We enjoyed making our own bread.  Making bread allows the children to demonstrate their knowledge of print by following a recipe.  Children see print in their homes, in their schools, on street signs, and elsewhere throughout their communities.  Knowledge of print and its uses includes understanding that print carries a message and that print is organized and read in particular ways.  Young children’s concepts about print are a good predictor of later reading, writing, and spelling ability.   Making our own bread also allowed them to compare and measure ingredients.  Preschool children understand that there are different ways of measuring.  They are beginning to recognize the attributes of length, height, width, capacity, and weight.   

One of the reasons I love teaching at St. James is the fact that I have the flexibility to allow a child to make breakfast for his friends. Colin, our guest chef, served chocolate chip waffles to his classmates and teachers……..priceless moment!  Who would not want this loving, nurturing and FUN environment for their child?  This is the prime example of building positive relationships with peers, which is so important in social-emotional development.

We celebrated our study of bread by taking a field trip to Be the Blessing Bakery.  The bakery is a program of the Randy Sams' Outreach Shelter. They provide jobs by employing individuals experiencing homelessness.  Cathy Smith, Bakery Program Director, taught our little ones the importance of wearing nets over their hair while cooking.  They were able to see how cupcakes are made and the ingredients used.  Each child took a turn at putting the batter into a muffin cup and then were able to decorate and eat their own creations!! 


Our community service project this fall was making decorations and cards for the Randy Sams Thanksgiving luncheon.  Both PreK classes joined together for this project.  Together we made 102 cards, and 130 placemats for the shelter.  Also, 216 tubes of toothpaste were generously donated by longtime St. James Day School supporter Andrew S. Curry, D.D.S.  Mrs. Jennifer Laurent, Executive Director of the Randy Sams Shelter, came to our classroom and talked to the children about the shelter, and picked up the decorations.

Tracy Jones
Happy Halloween!

Part of our community service in PreK is going to Opportunities, Inc., to sing halloween songs. These types of activities help with their social-emotional development.  The foundational skills for being a productive member of social and learning groups are established during the early childhood years, and they are important for early school success.  Children who are socially competent interpret social situations and match their behavior accordingly.  We have been practicing for about a month and the children did an outstanding job!

After singing, we loaded up and headed over to the Curtis farm for a hayride, games, and lunch.  What a great way to establish and sustain positive relationships, and making and keeping friends.  Being able to establish caring relationships and to enter successfully into ongoing social interactions are essential skills for school and for success in life.  A very special thank you to the Curtis family for sharing their house with us.  The children had a great time!! 

After singing, we loaded up and headed over to the Curtis farm for a hayride, games, and lunch.  What a great way to establish and sustain positive relationships, and making and keeping friends.  Being able to establish caring relationships and to enter successfully into ongoing social interactions are essential skills for school and for success in life.  A very special thank you to the Curtis family for sharing their house with us.  The children had a great time!! 

Tracy Jones