Trees & Advent

After a wonderful holiday break we have jumped right into a new study - Trees! 

Trees are important for many reasons: They help us breathe, provide food, provide shelter, reduce soil erosion, and help reduce energy needs. Trees are everywhere around our campus, city and during this time of year they can even be found inside our homes. 

So far we have talked about trees, compared our size to the size of many trees, taken a small tree hike, and collected different tree parts. In large group time we go through these tree parts and discuss them in multiple ways. We compare sizes of sticks, we count seeds, and we are even going to sort the tree parts (pre-math skills). I love bringing nature into the classroom and seeing how it benefits the children. One morning we even got to see a caterpillar who had hitched a ride on a seed one of the children had brought in for our collection. There's such a high level of curiosity in the children and they love hands on activities.

We have brought in reading by using a tree guide to look at the pictures of trees we don't have on our campus. We brought in animals and imaginary concepts by discussing a piece of a branch a beaver had chewed on. Next week we will have a visitor who will be discussing more on the role that trees play in the lives of animals. I can't wait to see what the children learn through this study!

This week we experienced the first day of December and it was a joy of mine to be able to start an advent study with the children. One of the things I love about St. James is the way we get to bring in the Bible for our study time. We sat in front of our Christmas tree with the lights on and discussed how Isaiah prophesied the coming of Christ, the light of the world. We sang this little light of mine and talked about how great it is to have light in the darkness. After reading out of the Bible and singing, we watercolored a candle to represent the light Jesus brought to the world. I am so excited to discuss more about this advent season with the children. 

Along with starting a new study and starting our advent study we opened a new center this week. Our "Take a Break Center" is a safe area to go when we have overwhelming feelings. We read a book about anger and we discussed calming techniques. This center is a great way for us to explore how to regulate our own emotions, behaviors, and learn to take care of our own needs appropriately. This center even helps the children figured out what they need to do in order to return to the classroom...."Do they need to apologize to someone?" "Do they need to clean up a mess?" etc. 

It's been so neat to see how we can mix the outside world, classroom environment, and the Bible to meet the objectives set out for our children's growth and development. During this weeks study we are meeting the following objectives: 

  • Social emotional objectives like participating cooperatively and constructively in group situations, balancing needs and rights of self and others.
  • Language objectives like using language to express our thoughts and needs and expanding expressive vocabulary.
  • Cognitive objectives like demonstrating positive approaches to learning, using classification skills and remembering and connecting experiences.
  • Literacy  like demonstrating phonological awareness (rhyme, alliteration), demonstrating knowledge of print and its uses, demonstrating emergent writing skills. 
  • Mathematics like using number concepts and operations, and comparing and measuring. 

See you soon! Mrs. Sarah 

Sarah White
Thanksgiving is coming....what will we do?

It's time for fall break and I am amazed at how much the children have grown since the beginning of the year. Every morning we start off with our table activities and I'm really proud at how many of them they have learned to complete. Table activities in Primary II can include anything come puzzles and coloring sheets to AB patterns and sensory tubs. These simple activities help us develop important skills, for example, learning AB patterns helps us develop early math skills. Patterns are everywhere in our world and learning about them helps children learn prediction, base ten counting, and skip counting. 

After our morning table time we start large group. Typically large group is where all of our big topics are discussed as a group but much of the large group time the last 2 weeks has been focused on practicing for our fall program. Public speaking is an area that is often skipped over in early childhood in the rush to develop typical math an dreading skills. We like to focus on public speaking year round by giving the children many opportunities to speak up in class and to put on programs. The children practice their program for many visitors and even took a hike to the middle school campus to preform for the 4th and 5th graders. The highlight was of course the opportunity to perform for our families and the children excelled during this performance!! 

Throughout the rest of our day there are a multitude of different activities that we participate in to spark our interest in learning. In fact my favorite thing about St. James campus is the variety of environments we have available for our activities. For example, we went on a leaf hike as we explored the change in seasons from summer to fall. The children were able to travel around campus and collect different leaves. We added an element of music by singing songs about the leaves, math by comparing the leaves (shapes and sizes), and even a bit of science by discussing why the leaves were falling off the trees. 

We were also able to travel to the Rec Center on campus to experience yet another hands on learning activity. Ms. Shannon our resident tech and science guru had set up some Orbeez water beads for the children to enjoy. This was a huge hit as they loved all the colors, feeling the different textures, and comparing the different sizes. They worked hard at developing important social skills such as waiting your turn and sharing space with others. All of this learning took place behind the scenes as the giggles, laughter, and wondrous cries of "Oh! look at this!!" took center stage for me. 

Of course we don't want to have too much fun - then we wouldn't be at school, right?!

 So, the children left the orbeez and went right back to studying math and this time we focused on AAB patterns,

 

you know by singing, "Duck, Duck Goose" on the big green grassy lawn outside!

 

Tricked you there, didn't I? It really is an exciting way to teach AAB patterning.

We do love to learn and we really want the children to learn in an environment that sparks their curiosity and makes them laugh. Learning is very important but it is also important to me that the children want to learn and find joy in understanding the world around them.

Until next time, 

Mrs. Sarah

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Sarah White
Fall is Here

There is a sense of wonder that exists as the leaves start to fall. The brisk mornings that are beginning to linger through the day bring a fleeting glimpse of the change to come. Seeing fall through a child's eyes brings a new perspective to the ever changing cycle of seasons. 

Here in Primary II we have noticed this change and are having a splendid time investigating our world. We love to run, jump, and climb everything around us. We have learned songs about fall and of course Thanksgiving. These songs are not just fun to sing but they help us remember the important details of fall. 

We are fully in the middle of our investigation of balls. We have discovered a plethora of descriptive words (and now know what that means!). New vocabulary has also been introduced, such as; sphere, force, circumference, and energy.  We have applied force to balls using three different methods - muscles, wind, and water. Yes, you saw that correctly we used water in our classroom, it does wonders for our sensory input. 

As you can see studying balls has given us some unique options when having adventures at school. However, Our most exciting adventure has been our trip to the pumpkin patch. We have studied the life cycle of a pumpkin, read books about pumpkins, and learned songs about pumpkins. After all of that work it seemed like a trip was needed. This trip was a great experience as it allowed us an opportunity to try pumpkin muffins, to touch so many kinds of pumpkins, and to explore the basics of carving a pumpkin. 

The perfect ending to October was our Halloween party today. We had a blast with a runway show, wrapping each other up like mummies, and making monsters from play dough. Shhhh.....don't tell anyone but all those fun activities actually let us develop some fundamental skills in public speaking, gross and fine motor!! It's scary how much fun we can have learning by using play. 

Children learn as they play. Most importantly in play children learn how to learn.
— O. Fred Donaldson
Sarah White
Hickory Dickory Dock & The Gingerbread Man

We kicked off the past two weeks with a study into Hickory Dickory Dock. What seems like a simple nursery rhyme to us adults was really a study into phonological awareness, rhythm, and drama. We also used this rhyme to get to know and understand our school routine. Routine are very important in this age group and their inquiring minds enjoy discussing what we are doing next. We worked through our visual schedule and even took some time to plan activities together. 

The children also love getting to act out our stories and they did so using a hand puppet (Millie the mouse). We used rhythm sticks to help us explore musical concepts and expression. We also learned a lot about self regulation and managing our emotions by practice resting position. Self regulation is hard so we love to reward the children's hard work by having a king and queen of line! You can only be king and queen if you can stand silent and still in line. Keep an eye out because these kings and queen are learning to be our future leaders!

Our next study was on The Gingerbread Man. We used this book to start an investigation into who works at our school. Understanding who is around and why can go a long way in reassuring a child who is new to school. We even had a guest speaker at the end of the week.....Mrs. Tara! She brought in her cart and explained to us how she keeps the school clean. We even got to explore some math by comparing our heights to some of the tools and bags that she uses. (So much more exciting than a worksheet!)

If you can't tell by now we really love to learn through play and investigating the world around us. At this age the foundations for critical thinking and cognitive development really grow when we can engage the whole child in learning. For example - not only did we study basic math with Mrs. Tara but we also made gingerbread play dough and practiced measuring, pouring and mixing. We even spent time smelling our play dough. When all the senses are fully engaged we make memories to help us remember these concepts. 

During this week we also introduced geoboards! These boards were a huge hit! The children practiced fine motor skills while exploring spatial relationships by stretching rubber bands across pegs to make specific shapes. They loved creating their own shapes as well as the shapes we requested - circle, square, diamond, etc.

We are having an exciting time here in Primary II. 

Have a blessed day, 

Mrs. Sarah 

Sarah White
Time flies and now a new school year has begun!

We have had a blast with our beginning of school unit. For many of us this is our first experience of school, and it’s important that we know what’s going on with our day. We are learning by exploring questions about our school. 

What names do we need to know at school? 
What do we do if we are sad or scared? 
What are our rules? 

We have studied these questions through nursery rhymes, games, songs, and dances. What a way to learn! Our favorite nursery rhyme was Little Miss Muffet. We even got to take turns acting out different roles in the rhyme in front of our class!! 

Our class is full of leaders and we have had fun taking turns being leaders in our class. We have line leaders, blessing leaders, door holders, flag holders, and light controllers. These positions allow us to take responsibility of ourselves and help others in our class. We love having our own responsibilities. Did you know that we can now put up our folders, lunch boxes, and backpacks all by ourselves? 

Both fine and gross motor skills development is very important at our age and we practice these through play. Developing fine motor skills helps us learn to write. We have played with play dough, puzzles, counting bears, magnets, and so much more! We have even practiced using scissors correctly! In Coach Nicole’s PE class we’ve had a ball working on our gross motor skills development. 

Letters are oh so important and we’ve studied 2 letters so far, L and F. We’ve learned that these letters have big lines and little lines and have practiced making the lines. We have also learned that everyone has a name, and we are working on recognizing our names and our friends' names. 

Primary II is a busy class full of play and wonder where we are learning even when we are playing. From learning to regulate our emotions in home center, capturing a Cicada, and learning about insects, we are constantly in motion investigating our surroundings. Keep an eye on us; you never know what we will learn next. 

Mrs. Sarah

savannah jarratt