November 2019 News!
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 large 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 free choice. Please ask your student what their Native American name is. . . . we all picked one! We will have an in-school production of the first Thanksgiving, complete with little Pilgrims who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, in our own Mayflower, some Pilgrims will vomit as it was a terrible voyage from England!! When the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, they were met by the Native Americans. The Native Americans were very busy, riding their horses, fishing, tending to their crops, lighting a campfire and hunting turkeys with their bow and arrows. The NA’s taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and fish, while the Pilgrims shared their tools to make the jobs easier. They decided to celebrate each other with a big meal called Thanksgiving! We made a classroom cornucopia, complete with our “native American” corn; we usually only make one, but nearly everyone wanted to be entered into the drawing, so we made another and will raffle one for the preschool class and one for preK. . . . . . . GOOD LUCK!
This month our “social objective” continues to focus on making eye contact while speaking, reciprocal language, and we have started shaking hands properly. We like the right hand, firm grip, double pump, shake. J (The children are having their right hands stamped with the letter “R”, for “right”; to help them learn their “right” and “left”.) When we play our “handshake” song, we remind the children to use their stamped “right” hand. We’ve worked on shaking with our right hands, using a firm grip, and meeting the hand web (the skin of the hand between the thumb and pointer finger) to web. This activity helps a child become familiar with, and gain confidence in social interactions. It provides practice differentiating between left and right. It helps a child begin to be aware of how a handshake feels and control his or her motor movements appropriately. Shaking hands with your child provides great practice and fun. Play Handshake Detective where one person has to make a mistake-he or she uses the left hand, does not go web to web, or has a limp clasp. The other person has to detect what is wrong. Have fun! (Our Native People and Pilgrims were “shaking hands” at the first Thanksgiving)
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.
The class jobs have been coming along quite nicely. The older children are reading the names assigned to each job; everyone is beginning to know which job belongs to whom before a teacher can announce the jobs at circle time! They are SO clever. . . J. 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 Pre Schoolers. 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 drawing air rectangles during our small group time as well as looking for objects in the classroom that are rectangular. We also look for things that are brown in the classroom and/or outside. We related our new number by having our 3-year-old preschoolers raise their hand. The four year olds will get their 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 as well as catching our sneezes and coughs in our elbows. We use tissues for our runny noses and wash, wash, wash our hands.
We have spent all month preparing for our Play. The children learned about the Pilgrims who traveled long and far on the Mayflower to escape the mean King. They learned about the Native Americans that greeted the Pilgrims when they arrived. We spent time talking about their feast that was shared by all and talked about the feast that we share with our Family and Friends on Thanksgiving. The children made costumes during free choice for both the Pilgrims and Native Americans and chose one for our school play. We read about the different and descriptive names that the Native Americans had and each child picked a name that they would like to be called. They worked so hard and learned so much about this special Thankful and Giving Holiday, they are amazing.
We read 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving' Story and Pictures by Dav Pilkey. They loved it. They all commented on how farmer Mack Nugget looked like Santa! They don't miss a trick. We also read 'A Turkey For Thanksgiving' by Eve Bunting. This was a really, really, really long story and the children did a great job. They had to work hard and keep their looking eyes and listening ears on, their talking mouth off and their still bodies on. Both books were a great lesson on being Thankful and Giving.
Its the perfect time to tell you all how Thankful I am to be a part of Harmony Preschool and how Thankful I am to spend time with your very special children. I am blessed and hope that you have a very special Thanksgiving, Miss Robin.
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.
The children have learned how to build each letter using our Handwriting Without Tears wood pieces!
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 hope the children have told you about our new Pre-K playmate! His name is Mat Man and we use him as part of our Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. I introduced him to the children and we talked about his various parts. Mat Man has big and small straight and curvy lines. Some of his lines are straight lines down, some are slant lines and some of his lines go across. We then took Mat Man apart, counting his pieces. At the end the children took turns reassembling Mat Man - heart, belly button, hair and all! We will continue to play with Mat Man throughout the year.
I am hopeful your child has showed you their awesome BURPIE! They are practicing burpies at school and making progress every day!!
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; and we’d like to do it again!! 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 19th and 20th. I’ll send out a sign up genius for party donations and another reminder about the book swap, in December
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, depending on how often we need to wash hands).
Please label everything your child brings to school, and remember to check their backpacks for school art.
Mitten Borrow Box: I have a box of mittens that we often use on the children, but it is already slimming down; if you find unfamiliar mittens with your little ones belongings would you please send them back for the “borrow box”, Thank you!
Reminder: tuition is due the 1st of each prior month. Thank you.
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.