BEGINNING OUR LEARNING

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind. – C.S. Lewis

With the beginning of school comes many different emotions. This is never more true than with our Pre-K 3 families. For many this is their first exposure to formal education. We are lucky here at St. James to be able to combine our Creative Curriculum with Handwriting Without Tears in a way that provides a very supportive environment. Our first unit, Beginning of the Year, combines nicely with the beginning stages of reading, writing, name recognition and phonetic awareness. The children also participate in two enrichment classes, Music and PE, as well as our daily chapel time. We believe mixing our unique scheduling with lots of playtime and laughter supports the whole child - mind, body, and soul.

Our Beginning of School unit uses familiar nursery rhymes to help explain the routines, social skills, and rules that we use at school. For our first week we start with the question, “What names do we need to know at school?” Learning the names of our friends and our teachers helps us feel like we belong to a community. We explored this concept using  Humpty Dumpty and Three Little Kittens. The children had a blast searching our room for their “lost” name mittens.

Our second week covered the question, “What should we do if we get sad or scared at school?” A little dramatic play with Little Miss Muffet helped us discuss our fears and thrive in our new environment. We had a blessing this year as we found a box turtle on our property during our “sad/scared” week. Due to the flexibility built into our curriculum we were able to explore our turtle. We learned what he eats, how he lives, as well as how he defends himself. We used our explorations to introduce “Tucker the Turtle” - a self-regulation technique. We then took a walk and said bye to our “Tucker”.

As I mentioned, part of our unique schedule is our enrichment classes that the children travel to during the week; Music and PE. Music is a wonderful way for the children to explore many concepts including rhythm, sound, and rhyme. PE is a great way to develop our gross motor skills as well as our cognitive learning. We have to learn to follow multi-step directions and wait our turn. We are learning that organized games can actually be fun and exciting.

All in all, we have had a very busy couple of weeks here in Pre-K 3. We have had some tears and some struggles as we grow but we have also had joy and love. I look forward to what the future will bring these lovely, bright minds. See you in a few weeks!

IMG_20180828_142648.jpg
IMG_20180828_141955.jpg
IMG_20180828_111328.jpg
IMG_20180828_110804.jpg
IMG_20180828_103318.jpg
IMG_20180823_080641.jpg
IMG_20180820_111541.jpg



Katelyn Gunter
May Flowers

April showers bring May flowers, that's how the saying goes and boy have my flowers bloomed! This end of year blog has been the hardest one for me to write. How do you say good bye to such a wonderful group of children? 

The last few weeks of school have been a wild and crazy ride. The children participated in their spring program and were absolutely amazing. There were children that wouldn't touch a microphone at the beginning of the year who now were handling their speaking parts like professionals. I think public speaking is so important and it's been great to see a school that supports exposure to public speaking at such a young age. The children sang songs about all sorts of subjects ranging from educational to Biblical. I was so proud of how loud they sang and how maturely they handled walking across the stage to receive their certificates in front of all the families that were watching. 

After the spring program was finished we began to wrap up our last study of the year, Recycling. Recycling was such an interesting study to work through with the children. I never though that they would be so excited to sort trash but they sure had a blast! Paper, Plastic, Glass, Metal....it was all sorted and along the way they made so many discoveries. We discussed where items came from - soap bottles, bags of chips, tin cans from food, paper towels rolls, glass baby food jars, and so on. We counted items, compared and contrasted the types of items using our descriptive words, and even hunted for shaped like our cones, spheres, and cubes that we have studied. I was amazed at how well the children retained these concepts. 

We also learned about the impact that tossing trash outside had on the environment. We talked about what animals might think of the trash lying around in their habitats. Once the children realized the dangers of litter they became ambassadors to their families. I had several parents stop me to tell me how their little ones were implementing recycling procedures at home as well as stopping to pick up litter from outside. 

Aside from wrapping up our curriculum we had 2 major items left to finish of at the end of the month: our community service project and our fun fair. For our community service project we teamed up with the Primary I class to complete a book drive for For the Sake of One. For the Sake of One is a Christian Non-Profit that works with local foster children. We not only donated books to the group but we also worked on an art piece with a bible verse to offer encouragement to the families that come through their office. 

At St. James we believe that family is incredibly important. You know your child the best and we want to work with you to help your child receive a great educational foundation. Our end of the year Fun Fair was a great example of how our children's families work together with our teachers. Mrs. Diane, Mrs. Amanda, and myself had the pleasure of working with two wonderful room moms who helped decorate and coordinate the parents volunteers. There were games that went with each study the children learned throughout the year and our parents helped with setup, running the games, and cleaning up afterwards. The children had fun and the parents had fun, overall it was a perfect way to wrap up the school year. 

I started out this school year with all the jitters a new teacher typically has and I have ended it with a mix of sadness and joy. Life always has it's ups and downs and here at St. James we believe failure is a great way to learn. So, while I don't believe anyone but Jesus can achieve perfection I do believe this was as close to a perfect year as we could have. I can't wait to see what these children go on to accomplish next year. 

 

Sarah White
April Showers

     Spring has arrived on the St. James campus. The children have really embraced the changes and it has been exciting to watch their imagination bloom. One of the advantages of having a campus in the middle of nature is getting to observe firsthand the natural world and all of God's beautiful creation.

     For example, the children discovered caterpillars on a tree in our playground area. We collected them and I got their identity confirmed through an entomologist. Once we knew they were safe for the children we proceeded to raise them and learn about their life cycle. Out of our 4 caterpillars we had 3 form chrysalises and become butterflies (Limenitis arthemis). In our classrooms, we were able to observe the entire process and then we were able to "touch" our butterflies by sitting in our observation tent with orange juice on our fingers. Through this journey of development the children used math skills, critical thinking skills, and even art skills. 

     The children have also observed other animals around our campus. We have 3 active bird nest around our building and they have been able to observe the parents care for the young birds. We also discovered a toad in our playground area and were able to touch the toad and discuss where he came from and what his habitat was like. The toad was then relocated to a much safer area of our campus. 

     Another advantage of having a wooded campus is having several great trails to explore. Our class joined with Primary I to take a hike through the woods. We started off our hike by  practicing our leadership and safety skills. We discussed staying together in the woods, not touching random plants, and how to set a good example for the younger class. We partnered up with our younger cohorts and took off on an exploratory adventure. 

     Aside from all of the life science we have been experiencing we also have finished our clothing study. We learned about where our clothing comes from, how it is made and all about patterns (pre-math skill!!). We ended our unit of study by having a shirt party - we all got to wear our favorite shirts. During our large group time each child was given the opportunity to come up to the front of the class, speak into a microphone and tell us what was special about their shirt. I can tell you that I am so proud of these children. Every single one of them got up in front of the class and talked on that microphone!! Yay!! That is such a difficult thing to experience. 

     Now, I know you are probably wondering when we work on the letters, writing, etc. All of those wonderful skills that we need to know by kindergarten. What is really neat is how our curriculum is set up to help us experience the letters and learn about them in real life. For instance in our clothing study we made shapes and letters with scarves. We also looked at stripes on shirts in horizontal, vertical, and diagonal patterns and then used those lines to make different letters. 

     Every day is an adventure here are St. James Day school and we love every minute. I had the joy of watching our older grades put on the musical "The Jungle Book". The children were amazing and it was a wonderful experience. We have so many more programs coming up - Lights on with Louie, Midieval fair (6th grade), Talent Show (Pre-k), and our spring program. I look forward to sharing these experiences with you next time. 

 

Sarah White
All Things Bright and Beautiful

The seasons are not the only things changing around here. The children are growing and learning so quickly. At the beginning of the year we worked on recognizing our names and the letters of the alphabet. Now we can not only recognize our names but we can recognize our friend's names too.  We can recognize the letters, make the phonetic sounds and are learning to write them. I have enjoyed getting to be a part of the children's journey with writing. Writing at St. James is a bit different and you won't see a lot of worksheets around our classrooms. I know for many that is a serious infraction to learning. However, our goal at this age is to expose them to letters/writing and to pique their interest, and worksheets rarely interest 3-4 yr old children. So, instead we discuss lines, curves, shapes, and colors. We write with sand, play dough, shaving cream, paint, q-tips, and paintbrushes. We go on an adventure, a journey, not a lesson. 

On that note we have recently journeyed into a new study about clothing. This study gives us an opportunity to focus on concepts and skills in literacy, math, science, social studies, the arts,and technology using items we are already familiar with in a basic way. We started off our study by discussing what clothing we wear during different types of weather. This is a great way to compare items and to develop our critical thinking skills.  The study has asked the following questions so far: 

  • What do we want to know about clothing? 
  • What do we want to find out?
  • What makes our clothing special? 
  • Who might wear this? (ballet dancer, fireman, astronaut, etc.)
  • How do we find out what size clothes or shoes we wear? 
  • What tools can we use to measure?
  • What are the features of clothing? (buttons, pockets, logos, etc.)

We have read the following books: 

  • Llama Llama Red Pajama
  • Cap for Sale
  • Uncle Nacho's Hat
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears 
  • A pocket for Corduroy
  • The Mitten

 The children are practicing public speaking by showing off their favorite items of clothing and to help prepare for the Spring Program. They are also learning songs to help them with their counting, weather concepts, general knowledge and even patriotism for the Spring Program. The Spring Program will be in May and it is hard to believe that May is so close. We really only have one study left after clothing and then the year will be over. Well, speaking of spring our spring break is here and I look forward to sharing more of the children's studies and growth when we come back. See you in a few weeks!

 

Sarah White
It's building time!

We have had a fantastic time exploring the subject of buildings. The past few weeks we have investigated the following questions: 

  • What do the buildings in our neighborhood and others look like? 
  • How many buildings are on our campus? 
  • Is a building always a house? 
  • Who builds buildings? What tools do they use? 
  • What are buildings made of? What makes them strong? 

The children have thoroughly examined the story of the Three Little Pigs. They even compared our traditional story with two other stories, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs & The Three Javelinas. During our examinations we noted the difference between straw, sticks, and bricks. We talked about wise decision making and how different materials are used when building houses in the desert. The children also practiced the storytelling process by learning to place pictures of the story's events in order. This helps develop listening and cognitive skills because they have to listen and remember the story in order to retell it correctly. 

We examined the buildings on our campus and discussed their purpose. We even counted windows and doors while comparing them to the familiar shapes of squares & rectangles. We looked at a hand drawn map of the area and noticed the similarities between the map and what we see when we walk around campus. Learning how to compare objects is a very important skill and one that we have worked hard on developing. We even charted the differences between single family homes and apartments on the board. 

We love to build towers, do you? It's so much fun that we decided to examine those towers we were building to see if they were structurally sound. We compared different blocks and how they stack together and counted the number of blocks it took before it fell over. This was important to know as we then examined other ways to build a tower higher without it falling, such as, wider bases or interlocking blocks. 

Surprise!

    We had a little special visit this week from the Tooth Fairy. This visit kicked off a little side study of healthy habits for us. We've talked a lot in the classroom about responsibility and taking care of ourselves but it is always good to repeat these discussions (especially during cold/flu season). The Tooth Fairy taught us about brushing our teeth and our tongue. She was very nice and made us laugh while we learned about what kinds of food are good for our teeth. The next day we discussed bacteria and viruses and how these germs spread. We talked about washing our hands, covering our cough, and general self care throughout the rest of the week and look forward to more discussions on the topic over the following weeks. 

As always, we have had a fun time learning and I look forward to sharing our future adventures with you! 

Here are a few of the Objectives we've covered with this study so far: 

  1. Regulates own emotions and behaviors - Social Emotional
  2. Establishes and sustains positive relationships- Social Emotional
  3. Participates cooperatively and constructively in group situations - Social Emotional
  4. LIstens to and understands increasingly complex language - Language
  5. Uses language to express thoughts and needs (expanding vocabulary) - Language
  6. Remembers and connects experiences - Cognitive
  7. Demonstrates positive approaches to learning - Cognitive
  8. Demonstrates phonological awareness (Alliteration & Rhyme) - Literacy
  9. Demonstrates knowledge of the alphabet - Literacy
  10. Demonstrates emergent writing skills - Literacy
  11. Uses Number concepts and operations - Mathematics
  12. Compares and Measures - Mathematics
  13. Demonstrates knowledge of physical properties of objects and materials - Science
  14. Explores drama through actions & language - Arts

 

Sarah White