Whole School News:
November has brought us a new shape and color: rectangle and brown. The children have had fun looking for “rectangle” shaped things around the classroom; they did a great job finding tons of rectangles!! (Examples were doors, blocks, bookcases, etc.) The shapes and colors are going to be displayed going down the stairs, each month a new shape, color, and number will be added. At every circle meeting, we discuss the season, month, day of the week and number work before diving into the month’s theme. Have you heard your youngster sing autumn leaves are falling down, the months of the year chant, or the days of the week song? They are awesome! This month, we’ve learned our ever-popular “Albuquerque Turkey” song! We are having fun with our “Thanksgiving” theme: making “pilgrim” hats, Native American tunics and headbands; pretending to be pilgrims and Native People during our nature walks. In Prek and Kindergarten we made a cornucopia; Fiona and Ivy won the wraffle to take them home as a Thanksgiving decoration.
This month our “social objective” continues to focus on making eye contact while speaking and reciprocal language
Our preK “physical” challenge has been the PUSH-UP! A proper, only hands and toes touching the ground, push-up. Help your child achieve mastery by practicing at home! It is a perfect exercise for this age group, working on their whole upper body and core strength.
We continue to encourage self help skills; I have attached a “chores your child can do reference list” for your perusal.
November was really busy for our Preschoolers. We began talking about our new Color (Brown), new Shape (Rectangle), new Number (3) and our new Month (November). The children learned that the rectangle has four sides. Rectangles have two up and down straight lines and two side-to-side straight lines. Two are short and two are long. They have been coloring and cutting rectangles, looking for things in the classroom that are rectangles and looking for things in the classroom that are brown. We related our #3 by having our 3 year old classmates raise their hand. The four year olds will get a chance next month! We continue to talk about the season being fall but the very cold weather it sometimes brings. We need our warm clothes to keep our bodies healthy and safe.
We continue to work hard on their self help skills. Continuing to have your children put on and take off their jackets, pack and unpack their snack bags and backpacks helps to reinforce those skills. It is important to encourage them to do things for themselves. Independence is a wonderful accomplishment for them and is such an important part of their school year now and in the future.
We have done tons of Thanksgiving art! Hopefully it is an added decoration for Thanksgiving. The children learned an adorable song "Albuquerque Turkey", I hope they sing it for you over the Thanksgiving break! They have all been working hard, learning lots and making friends. We talked alot about the Thanksgiving Holiday and what it means to be THANKFUL, I hope you enjoy reading what your children are Thankful for! Please know how Thankful I am to spend my mornings with your children. This year more than any other school year, I realize just how special our Harmony Families are and how lucky we are to be at school!
November has been a great month in Pre-K! I am proud of how well the children are doing during our small group time. They are attending well during our calendar and alphabet work, remembering to use "the two hand rule" when they want to speak and they are listening respectfully when it is their friends turn to talk.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the children have learned how to build each letter using our Handwriting Without Tears wood pieces. . . . practice makes progress!
Each week, we learn how many lines each letter has, what kind of lines they have, what sound the letter makes as well as demonstrating different things that the letter begins with on our alphabet tray. The children are enjoying working on our Pre-K Alphabet Book and their Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. One of the concepts you could support from home, is the notion of going “forward” in a book; turning the pages from right to left and then using the book from the far left side to the right and down and then continuing onto the next page.
I am hopeful your child has showed you their awesome football UP/DOWNS! They are working out every morning; taking care of their “bodies” before we start to exercise our “brains” with our work!! We start out with some cardio: up/downs, jumping jacks, squat jumps. . . then some strength and core work: push ups, v-sits, bridges, planks, side planks. . . and finally stretches. . . . before we begin calendar work. . . we are sweaty!
We have been working on self-help skills this month. When finished with a project the children are asked to clean up after themselves and put away materials they have used (i.e. scissors, glue sticks, chalk). They are doing well with independently cleaning up after snack and putting away their snack bags.
With the onset of colder weather, we are expecting the Pre-Kers to independently zip their own jackets and put on their own hats and mittens. Many of the children are able to zip on their own. It would be most helpful if the children practiced zipping at home and we will continue to work on it at school. They are very proud when they are able to get themselves all ready!
We have had a wonderful month! I am enjoying my time with your prekers very much!
In December, we will begin to play with “patterns”. Already the preKers are familiar with an AB patterned; but we will expand and create ABC patterns. “Patterns” are things arranged by a certain rule or rules. Beginning to understand patterns, children are exposed to math concepts; for examples, counting stragtegies, problem solving, and algebraic reasoning. Patterning can be infused into all types of play. . . . beads, stickers, stamps, different color playdoughs, even folding different colored face towels into patterns. We will be working with “AB” and “ABC” patterns intermittently throughout the balance of this school year; but next month we will use KWANZA colors, CHRISTMAS colors, and HAUNUKKAH colors to pattern.
In December we will discuss the different ways people celebrate the holiday season. There will be equal attention given to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza. The aim here is to create awareness that there are many different holidays being celebrated during this season. I would LOVE input here. If there is something special you do with your family, and you are open to sharing it with the class, consider this your invitation. I personally celebrate Christmas, and share with the class a conversation about how my family has a birthday cake on Christmas Eve and sings happy birthday to a baby named Jesus. If you celebrate something else, would you consider sharing too? Please let me know!
Some reading suggestions. . .
The Mouse before Christmas, by Michael Garland
The Gifts of Kwanza, by Synthia Saint James
Hanukkah! by Roni Schotter
Happy Hanukkah, Biscuit, by Allyssa Satin Capucilli
In years past, we have had a Polar Express Party!! The teachers and I thoroughly enjoy the “Santa Buzz”; and loved setting the classroom up like a train, going to the north pole, wearing pj’s and enjoying hot chocolate and treats!! We will have another book swap; each child will bring a wrapped book to school on the day of the party. The Polar Express Dates will be December 17th and 18th. I’ll send out a sign up genius for party donations and another reminder about the book swap, in December. I am unclear on what this years party is going to look like. . . . it will not be exactly the same as years past. . . we continue to brainstorm. . . STAY TUNED!
**we set a $5.00 limit on the bookswaps. . . here is an example of my favorites (step into reading)
Teacher holiday gifts: Gifts are really not necessary, we are so blessed! BUT, Please consider a grocery store gift card for the Hanover Food Pantry in lieu of any gifts; we would very much appreciate it and feel thankful every day! Here is more information on our food pantry in Hanover: https://www.hanover-ma.gov/sites/hanoverma/files/file/file/food_pantry_brochure.pdf
It is run by volunteers. You would be surprised by how many Hanover families our pantry supports. The HFP accepts donations on Monday from 9:30-11:30. When my children were young, I struggled with how to safely teach them the concept of charity, until I found our pantry. If you’re interested in my attempt to impart “charity” into my young children, please reach out; I’m happy to share.
Thank you so much to the families who have donated paper towels, and hand soap! We consume these items very quickly, and have a hard time keeping up!!! (We sometimes use as much as 4 rolls of paper towels in one class).
Please label everything your child brings to school, and remember to check their backpacks for school art.
Please remember to send in easy to put on mittens. Gloves and big ski mittens slow us down and make it hard to navigate the playground. The more the children can do for themselves, the more time we get to spend outside; especially as the cold weather approaches, mittens over gloves, pull on boots rather than laced/up, and easy to put on coats are best here.
I remember taking full advantage of the early sunsets and putting my kids to bed EARLY! Here’s a helpful link on sleep requirements for our young population! https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep/page/0/2 A good night sleep is so important for our youngsters!
Child Development Ditty 101:
“From infancy through about age 10, brain cells not only form most of the connections they will maintain throughout life, but during this time they retain their greatest malleability” (Pg. 49, The Exceptional Child, Inclusion in Early Childhood Education, 5th edition, Allen.)
I know in my own life, these words have profound meaning. “Research is showing that intelligence is not fixed at the time of birth, not determined solely by genetics. Instead, intelligence is greatly influenced by environment and experience. Current brain research also demonstrates the importance of experience during the early childhood years.” (pg. 26 aforementioned resource)
Children are designed to learn. “Learning of some kind is going on in every child, every day. These transactional learning’s can be both positive and negative; they are the consequence of direct and indirect (or unintended) teaching.” (pg.222)
“A preacademic curriculum includes the components that reinforce the concept of the whole child: physical activities, social interactions, and creative and affective (meaning multisensory) development. Each area of development contributes to the child’s cognitive learning.” (Pg. 339, aforementioned resource).
Many resources, both textbooks and trainings that I have read and or attended communicate a common theme; children are born with a genetic cognitive predisposition whose development and potential is greatly impacted by their environment and opportunities. I personally like to add to this “cognitive” development piece by talking about Howard Gardner’s 8 learning styles, mentioned in September’s newsletter. Every child is bright, and has their own unique learning style; they receive information in their own way. Also, I believe it’s important to say again that children’s cognitive development is connected to their social, emotional, and physical development; all areas are interrelated and important. Unfortunately, I am seeing an alarming disconnect between a child’s physical self and cognitive self in our schools. . . there are less and less movement opportunities throughout the school day, overall children are spending far too much time sedentary and indoors, and too much emphasis is placed solely on a child’s “cognitive” development without factoring in their social/emotional/ physical self. A strong, active child will have much more stamina in a learning environment. A learning environment that is physically challenging, age appropriate, nurturing, respectful, and multisensory is stimulating for ALL children. An interesting read:
On a very personal note, of our five children, three have ADHD. . . . interestingly, they have also, naturally, been very active since they were babies. . . their neurologist attributes their ability to manage their school day and workload, with minimal medication, because of their 2X/day vigorous workouts. The cascade of awesome brain chemicals resulting from those workouts mimic most of what an ADHD medication could have offered my children; but I find it so interesting that they probably have been solving their own “attention” issues from a very young age as they seemingly NEVER STOPPED RUNNING, JUMPING, CLIMBING, FLIPPING, WRESTLING, OR SWIMMING! J
All positive and enriching experiences will help a child grow cognitively; even when you think they won’t remember!! Additionally, by letting children grapple with minor problems, we enable them to create their own solutions and thereby help them to grow and gain independence.
You are the most important teacher that your child will ever have. My goal is to support your proactive parenting process; by sharing information with you, I hope you find this information interesting and useful.