Christmas was a wonderful time of year in Pre-K 3. We wrapped up our December with lots of fun! Of course with 3 yrs olds we focus on the play side of learning so we wrapped up the first of our year with fun ornaments, painting, and games. These activities allowed the children to use and develop their fine motor skills while laughing and playing. This is important for two reasons: one, they will need these fine motor skills when they begin to write and two, we want to foster a love of learning so that they will want to spend their lifetime learning. All of these fun activities ended with us receiving a visit from Santa. The children really made a connection between fun and school when Santa brought them each a special present just for them.
We have wrapped up our Ball study and have moved on into our Tree study. What better time to study Trees than the fall season? The leaves are changing outside and the children are putting up Christmas trees inside. So far, we have studied the following questions and have many more to go:
What do we know about trees? What do we want to find out?
Did you see a tree on the way to school today?
Are you bigger or smaller than this tree?
Which of these come from a tree? What do trees need to grow?
This study is one of my favorites for many reasons and one of them is the beautiful campus that we are blessed with. Because of our location we were able to take a hike with Mr. Clint, who works for The Nature Conservatory in the Arkansas office. Mr. Clint talked to us about all the trees, moss, and plants that were on our trail. He also taught us about what happens to the woods during the winter.
One of the other reasons why I love this unit is because we bring in a lot of math, art, and poetry to mix with the natural science. For Math, we have been working on size concepts as well as developing the concept of “Fewer vs. More”. On the Language Arts side, the children have loved comparing/contrasting and developing new descriptive words. We have even learned a poem called “A Tree My Size” to help us with these new concepts. In Art we combined the Tree Study with our Bible study and painted an advent tree. The children are now coloring biblical ornaments to decorate our tree with.
Christmas time is a wonderful time to be in Preschool with all the crafts and excitement. We will of course be wrapping up our year with a party and some fun food. We wish you a Merry Christmas and we will see you next year.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. Albert Camus
Fall is here and the children are filled with wonder as they watch the changing of the seasons. Change can be such a fun learning experience and it’s great when changes in nature occur at the same time we are changing studies. We are wrapping up our Balls study after almost 6 weeks of learning. Over the last two weeks the children have learned about games we play with Balls, how to make shapes out of our bodies, what kinds of animals play with balls, and what is inside a ball. We have read multiple stories like The doorbell rang, Just like Josh Gibson, and Have a Ball. We have also been studying the life cycle of a pumpkin during which we carved a jack-o-lantern and are now observing it decompose.
Life here at St. James is not all about business and class work, we also like to have fun. Last week was Halloween and of course we had an exciting celebration. The children showed off their public speaking skills by putting on a little fashion show. They also teamed up and played games like “Pin the Spider on the Web” and “Mummy Wrap”. After playing games and doing crafts we enjoyed a lovely lunch together. It was a great time to bond and form important social relationships with the other children and their families.
At this age we also spend a lot of time in our centers. Yes, we play! Play is very important for social development, gross and fine motor skills, and it also engages the student in their own learning. We build towers, count, work on patterns, tell stories, and even paint. In fact, this past week we painted the letter L as we learned a new song for our fall program, “Leaves are Falling”. Through these centers and our curriculum activities the children really have started making great connections with their letters and numbers in ways that worksheets just can’t compete with.
We have started our second study of the year and the theme is Balls. Some of the questions we have studied are: “What do we know about balls?” “What do we want to find out?” and “Do all balls bounce?” We have made predictions and tested them. The children love setting up experiments and seeing what the outcomes are. For example, we hypothesized if a ball would bounce or not and then set up experiments and practiced our counting skills by counting bounces and balls. This produced great in depth conversation when our basketball didn’t bounce because it wasn’t properly aired up.
This study has also allowed us to introduce new vocabulary and concepts such as sphere, circumference, and force. The children used hands on methods to learn about each term. The children searched for circles around our room and then compared them to the balls to discuss the difference between circles and spheres. For circumference they measured balls and pumpkins with strings and then compared the sizes. We even used art to learn about force by painting with balls.
One of the things that I love about St. James is the community service aspect of our school. In order to educate the whole child (mind, body, and spirit) we add some special experiences like community service. Our Pre-K 3 classes chose to support Harvest Texarkana this year. The month of September is national hunger awareness month and so we chose to run a food drive. The children learned about hunger and food scarcity and raised food to donate.
Our Pre-K 3 classes take one field trip a year to the Pumpkin Patch and this year’s trip was so exciting. The children loved seeing all the pumpkins. They listened to stories and even tried pumpkin muffins. In our classroom we have been studying the life cycle of pumpkins and the children enjoyed the opportunity to see real seeds and the inside of a pumpkin. The trip was a wonderful way to introduce fall to the students.
The past few weeks of school have flown by. The children have wrapped up our first 6 weeks study, The Beginning of School. This unit taught us about how we function at school. We had daily and weekly focus questions that we reviewed each day. The last three weeks of our study answered the following questions.
1. When do things happen at school?
2. Who works at our school?
3. How do we make and keep friends? How can we be part of a group?
We answered these questions through many books like Hooray, a Pinata!, Peeny Butter Fudge, Neighborhood Song, and The Gingerbread Man. We wrapped up our study with a Gingerbread Man hunt across the campus. The children had to listen to clues and use deductive reasoning to figure out where the next clue was on campus. At the end of the hunt we found gingerbread men that had been left for us! It was a very exciting way for us to review the locations of classes, people, and buildings.
The children also got to practice their public speaking skills and their listening skills during this study. They brought personal items from home and used a microphone to tell their friends about the items. We discussed descriptive words as well as our similarities and differences. The children were amazed by how many of their friends liked the same items as they themselves did.
I would be remiss if I didn't include all the hard work we've been doing in our Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. This curriculum uses multi-sensory developmentally appropriate tools to teach writing, reading, and math skills. Now, what that all means for our little learners is that we get to play, sing, dance, and jump while learning how to write. You will not find a lot of worksheets in our classrooms, instead you will find letter tiles to help us spell our names, chalk and wet sponges, magnetic boards to practice with, and even sand to write in. During the beginning of the year we focus on informal pre-instruction readiness activities, such as, right/left discrimination, top/bottom, basic strokes, etc. We are now beginning to focus on learning our capital letters and the children are doing great!! So far, we have worked on the Letter L and they have practiced making it with magnetic pieces as well as tearing paper to glue in the shape of an L.
All good things must come to an end eventually and September is no different. We chose to wrap up the month with a visit from a Fire Truck. Our Friendly Firemen were a great way to say goodbye to September and hello to October, National Fire Safety Month. The children listened to the firemen, looked at how they were dressed and talked about fire safety. They not only discussed Stop, Drop, and Roll but also where to go in case there was a fire at school or home. As always, the tour of the truck and listening to the sirens when leaving were huge hits.