Pet Study, Math, and Handwriting Without Tears

Why investigate pets?  Pets are beloved parts of many families and classrooms.  Young children love to watch their animal friends and imitate the animals’ movements, sounds, and expressions.  Pets, whether at home or at school, teach children the importance of taking care of others, showing affection, being sensitive to others’ needs, and developing lasting friendships.

A study on pets not only offers opportunities for children to explore a topic that interests them, but it also allows children to gather information, become more aware of the world around them, and solve problems.  Children will explore many types of pets; investigate what pets eat, how they communicate, and what they need; observe people caring for pets; and learn about jobs related to caring for pets. Children will gather data, meet interesting people, and explore a variety of materials used to care for pets.

We have a class pet for the next five weeks. Thank you to Aubrey's parents for buying us this sweet and special lion head rabbit. We took a class vote to determine a name, and after tallying our votes, the winner was Lollipop! Young children are interested in living things. They are especially interested in the plants and animals in their immediate environment. No matter what topic of the life science children study, they can learn the major concepts as they interact with living things. Through regular contact with nature, children expand their curiosity and observation skills, practice nurturing behaviors as they care for living things, and gain knowledge in other academic areas.

A big thank you to Reed, who also brought a soft shell longnose turtle to class for the children to enjoy in the science center.

We worked on spatial relationships and shapes by putting together puzzles and talking about how each piece fits in a specific space. Understanding spatial relationships and shapes helps children build the foundation for understanding geometry. Children who have a strong spatial sense do better in mathematics.

We made modeling clay! We started with a recipe, and read it together before beginning. Long before they learn to read, young children try to make sense of the print around them. 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. We talked about capacity (how much something holds) and the measuring tools. Each child was given an opportunity to measure, pour, and mix the ingredients. As the children played with the dough, we talked about how the ingredients changed after they were mixed together.

We started our Kick Start Kindergarten books this week. These workbooks teach in a developmental order that helps children master skills and boosts confidence. HWT teaches the easiest skills first, then builds on prior knowledge. Capitals are taught first, and lowercase letters follow.


Tracy Jones
Getting To Know One Another and Chester Hunt

We spent our first week getting to know one another and learning our class and center rules. All of these activities are teaching the children to participate cooperatively and constructively in group situations. Functioning as a member of a group requires an understanding of the feelings and rights of others and the ability to balance personal needs and desires with those of other people. 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.

You will hear me talk about fine motor skills all year. Fine motor skills involve grasping and releasing objects using fingers and hands, as well as using both hands together and often coordinating these movements with the eyes. They require hand and finger strength and dexterity. The children had to choose a pattern card and make a chain that matched the pattern.The grip children use when connecting links together is similar to that used when writing. This activity helps students gain hand strength while they practice hand-eye coordination and patterning.

We attended our first Spanish class. The children practiced introducing themselves in Spanish and learned that a ball is called pelota.  We also had music class. Each child was given an instrument and they are learning how to hold it in the resting position. Children learn to appreciate different kinds of music and become comfortable with different forms of musical expression when they listen to recordings, create melodies, learn songs as a group, talk about sounds, and explore musical instruments.

We have been reading The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. This sweet story of affirmation is about Chester Raccoon and each night as he goes to school, his mother places a special kiss in his hand as a reminder of her love.

Our first week ended with a surprise scavenger hunt. Chester Raccoon left us clues to search for him. After looking all around campus, his heart clues led us back to the Pre-K building. To our surprise, we noticed Chester's paw prints leading us back to our classroom. Once inside the room, we discovered that Chester had left us heart shaped cookies! His note said that he'd already hopped back in the book, but to enjoy the cookies! What a fun 1st week!!

Tracy Jones
A Glimpse Into Pre-K Life at SJDS!

I can not believe that this is the last blog for this school year.  Big changes take place with social-emotional development in Pre-K. Part of my job as a teacher is to help students flourish through building relationships with others and interacting in groups.  My main goal is to create an environment in which children feel safe so they can participate actively in daily routines and experiences through hands-on learning. St. James is my passion and I absolutely love working at a school where religion is openly talked about and taught.  Looking through pictures of this year brought a huge smile to my face. We have laughed, cried, and shared many things together. We truly are a family!! I will miss this class, but look forward to seeing them on campus in August!

The slideshow is a glimpse into our Pre-K year…….enjoy!!

Tracy Jones
Tastings and Talent Show

We had a taste testing party to determine what were our favorite breads.  We tasted garlic bread, pita bread, Hawaiian rolls, cornbread, muffins, cinnamon raisin and blueberry bagels, croissants, biscuits, and vanilla brioche.  We voted after every tasting, tallied our answers, and the winners with a three-way tie were cinnamon raisin bagels, Hawaiian rolls, and the vanilla brioche!  

The PreK classes rocked their talent show.  I am so very proud of all the hard work the children put into this show.  There were moving parts, lines, and just walking up and introducing themselves to a gym full of people is amazing, but it's just what we do at St. James Day School. Thanks to all the parents who took time to decorate, it was absolutely beautiful.  

Tracy Jones
Bread and Easter Activities

Why are we investigating bread in PreK?  Bread is everywhere! Nearly every culture in the world eats some type of bread.  From a very young age, children may be offered a variety of types of breads at meals.

A study of bread provides children with an opportunity to learn how bread is made, the kinds of bread we eat, who works with bread, and how and when we eat bread.  

A study of bread encourages children to explore a familiar topic and allows them to gather information, solve problems, imagine, and think symbolically.  Children will explore different types of breads, investigate their characteristics, and learn how bread is made and served.

The children love having flour in our sensory bin!  Our homeliving center has transformed into Best Bread & Bistro.  I put out a loaf of bread and cookie cutters and you would have thought it was Christmas morning!!

We painted bread and toasted it for a snack.  Each child was given a piece of bread. I poured milk into four cups and added red, blue, green, and yellow food coloring.  The children had to take a paintbrush (unused) and paint designs on their bread. We toasted it in the toaster and they thought this was the coolest activity ever.

We made playdough! Activities like this are not only fun, but helps them understand comparison and measurement.  They understand that there are different ways of measuring. They are beginning to recognize the attributes of capacity (how much something holds).

We gathered the ingredients and measuring tools.  We read the recipe together and talked about which tools were needed to measure each ingredient.  We took a class vote and tallied our answers to see what color the playdough would be and blue won.  Each child was given a chance to measure, pour, scoop, or mix the ingredients.

The children sorted and graphed jelly beans!  We enjoyed a visit from the Easter bunny, had a blast hunting eggs despite the weather and enjoyed a great lunch. I am so thankful to be working at a school where religion is such a daily part of what we do.

Tracy Jones