Aldersgate Preschool


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Fall Festival Fun!

We had another great Fall Festival last night! 

It was fun to see everyone playing, eating, singing and pumpkin shopping together.  I appreciate all of our teachers, office staff and board members for their help making the night run smoothly – with the exception of not enough seating for dinner.  For those of you that couldn’t find a place to sit to eat I am making a note to set up more tables next year.  We appreciate  your patience.

Let’s focus on the successes though.  Here are some pictures that capture just a little of the fun!

               


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Overland Park Arboretum – a great place for kids

A couple of weeks ago my son invited me to go to the Arboretum with him.  I hadn’t been there in quite a while but I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful flowers and walking the trails.

Well, I quickly realized I needed to write a blog post about this space.  I am grateful I brought my phone along so I could take pictures.

I did not get photos of the large pond that has flowers, bridges, large Koi fish, turtles and more.  So I am borrowing this one from the internet. Click on the picture to see additional photos of the gardens.

As adults we stood and watched the fish and turtles for a while so I can only imagine the appeal they would have for young children.

HERE is a link to their website so you can look around at what they have to offer.

As we headed west we quickly came upon the children’s area of the garden.  I first noticed the train garden.  What fun!

The tracks go overhead on a bridge, through a replica of old Overland Park downtown, through a country scene and even under the sidewalk with plexi-glass over it so you can see the train.  Evidently volunteers run the track and they weren’t there yet when we were so we didn’t get to see the trains moving.  I’d suggest you call the center to see when volunteers were planning to arrive on they day you are visiting.  I know this past Sunday they said the volunteers typically get there around 9:30.

The large caboose is one the children can peek into the windows to see what that looks like.

Nearby we saw the vine tunnel.  It wasn’t completely covered this year as I have seen it some previous years I’ve visited.  It still looks like fun!

A little further down the trail there was a natural play area.  While there weren’t any children playing I could visualize the fun a young one would have navigating the different structures.

We walked the concrete paths and then the trails through the woods.  All the trails are easy walks about a mile long so children should be able to navigate them watching for wildlife and water features.  It was hot and humid on the day we visited and I still enjoyed it.  I can imagine how delightful it would be on a beautiful upcoming fall day.

At the front entrance if you head straight onto a paved trail, there are lots of different international statues.  I can see the kids enjoying the hunt for the next statue.

I hope you all take some time to enjoy the arboretum.  It typically costs just $3.00 a person however on Tuesdays there is no charge.

I’d love to see any pictures of your kids having fun playing in this beautiful place.

 

UPDATE:

10-3-18  We received these pictures of some of our Aldersgate Preschool kids enjoying the Arboretum.  I love it!


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Just a tub of pom poms

Who knew?  Fill a tub with an assortment of pom poms and watch the opportunities for play (read learning) develop.

The Yellow and Orange classes have their tub table filled with various sizes and colors of pom poms.  Also included are cups, bowls and the special “window” tongs.  (These are actually bug catcher/viewers but we use them for lots of things.)

Of course during play it’s a great time to label the colors and sizes.  I enjoyed listening to Ms. Katka’s interactions with the kids about their play.

Soon, this sweet girl showed me her tongs with A LOT of pom poms in it.  “Look what I have!”

“Wow,” I said, “You have a lot of pom poms in there.  I wonder how many are in there.   Can you guess?”  (That’s estimating!)  She guessed there to be four.  We counted them (one to one counting) and she actually had 10 in there.  You should have seen the surprise on her face.  (This shows she already has an understanding of quantity and numerals.)  She filled the tongs again and I asked her to guess again.  This time she guessed that there were 8 and after counting we found there were 9 inside.  This 3 year old girl was already adjusting her estimating skills due to experience and knowledge.  Amazing!

The fun thing about 3 year olds – what you do with one others will also want you to do with them.  So we counted a lot!  It was interesting to watch their concentration as we carefully counted each one.

Soon, the play extended to wondering how many pom poms you can hold in your hands.  We discovered some could hold quite a few.  I think the most anyone held was 17!

Another day, in another class, the children explored the pom poms with a different focus.  Today we talked about the colors.  Did you know that there are light and dark options of the same color?  We found lots of those today.

We also took some time to describe the pom poms.  We found big ones, little ones and even medium sized.  We also noticed that some were sparkly.  That’s a fun word.

 

“Hmmm, you have a couple of really big ones in your mix.  Do you think that makes a difference to how many you can hold?”

I just love this “playing!”


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What did you do at school today?

It was nice today to be able to walk around and check on the activities of all the classes.  While we had just a few tears as children arrived, they quickly subsided and the kids were BUSY!  Here’s a little snapshot of the activities I saw in a short 15 minutes.

These girls were intently drawing self portraits for their journals.  What a wonderful way to gauge their growth in drawing and writing by doing this at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the school year.

 

Our Brown class kids were busy cleaning up.  This is using sorting and classifying skills.  It also promotes emergent literacy as they see the photo and the written word for the item to go in each tub.  Of course self esteem develops as they realize they have an important job in the class.

 

Next it was time for circle.  Ms. Kim held up a symbol as the children watched for their corresponding symbol.  It was a great time to reinforce the school readiness skill of sitting in a spot during circle and also the names of each child in the class.

 

Our youngest ones today, the Discovery Days 2 class, were also sitting on their symbols – a specific animal on the rug.  This helps the children know an area to be which also helps them understand appropriate social cues such as how much distance we should have between people.  Ms. MaryBeth was reading the book God Made Me.  What a wonderful message as the children talk about the different body parts – how each is similar and yet unique.

The Yellow class was in the middle of their “Work Time.”  During this time children are busy playing – the work of childhood.  I loved the social interaction I had with the little guy with a camera.  He was dressed up and busy taking lots of pictures – what a wonderful way to try on different roles he may have seen or to use his imagination.  The car ramp (in the photo on the right) is a hot item in this class.  Just imagine the social coordination the children learn as they take turns, remember a certain person is using the “red” car, and engage each other in conversation.  As the year progresses we often see more experimentation with the items on the ramp – do the bigger cars go faster, etc.

These two often play in the dramatic play area.  In this instance the little guy is serving some pizza.  What a wonderful chance to practice nurturing another person.  The little girl was patiently waiting for her food and even said “Thanks.”  You just can’t practice those social graces enough.

During work time the Yellow (and Orange) class teachers are taking children a couple at a time to use the restroom.  This builds familiarity and comfort with those basic needs.  I love listening to the stories the children tell as they walk.  Children are also learning independence and self sufficiency.

Our morning Blue class was enjoying some playtime on the playground.  As I walked up to the boys on the gator-totter I heard the little one in the middle ask if he could play too.  The others quickly rearranged their positions to make room for him.  There was some trial and error as they figured out how they could all sit and still easily make the gator rock.  That’s physics folks!

The sandbox is another area of great interest.  Today I saw lots of math as the children worked with filling buckets (or dinosaurs) with sand.  “I wonder how many scoops of sand the dinosaur holds.” That’s the kind of support adults can add to their play which encourages more contemplative play.

  

The Red class Large Motor activity today happened to also be on the playground today.  Ms. Janel was busy having the children hop, run, balance and more.  The whole time she was recorded her observations.  This is called baseline information to compare with future attempts.

I couldn’t help but engage with the kids.  I love how quickly they comply with my request for a quick wave hello – for the camera of course!!


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Our playground is music to our ears – literally

You’ll want to be sure to stop by and see the new sound and sensory area on the preschool age playground.  Thank YOU for your support of our fundraisers throughout the last few years.  We used fundraising money to make this update!

I wish I had a picture of how the front “vine tunnel” area looked before we started the renovation.  Let’s just say it was overgrown and wasn’t enticing any longer.  The ditch that is a water drain system was always clogged and also full of weeds.  Therefore we decided to make some changes.

Epic Landscape removed all the overgrown weeds, rocks and cleaned out the drainage ditch.  It was amazing to see how quickly the area opened up.

They added the large boulders, our concrete and rock “river” and laid the large pavers for a walking path.  Already the space had a sense of order and peace.  I will give them a “shout out” for the great work they did!

We also had to replace our shed so you can see the new concrete pad in place ready for a new shed. This is a great time for me to give a huge thank you to my family.  My husband, daughter and sister all helped with various parts of this playground.  I appreciate my family’s support in all my projects!

Our butterfly chairs make a great first impression of the space.  I plan to add a tic-tac-toe game onto the “stump” table.

  

Probably the highlight of the area is our music instruments.  The church bell chimes, “croaking” frog wood strikers and our hand drums (the green boxes that children can sit on and then tap the front panel with their hands) all offer some wonderful interest to the kids.

Another goal of this space was to bring natural elements into the playground.  The rocks, stone pavers and wood elements do that wonderfully.  I’ve already heard children calling the wood bridge a “drawbridge” as they play.  Our wind spinner is also an attraction.

The large turtle statue is also a wonderful addition.  His name is Tucker (in remembrance of many small red-eared slider turtles we used to have in tanks inside – all of which were named Tucker.)  As the sign says, we hope to teach the children about gentleness as they play with him in the hopes that his head won’t crack off.  That won’t be a pleasant event for any child.

We also hid several concrete animals in the river bed.  Hopefully the kids will enjoy going on a hunt for the items  such as the large Megalodon tooth (a mold of a prehistoric shark tooth that is huge!), small animals such as this bumpy toad (my favorite!) and a couple of fossils molds.

The mulch, log, rock and wood area beside the shed seems to make a great dinosaur habitat.

And finally the swing bench offers a great spot for reflection and conversation.  I already got to spend some time out there getting to re-connect with some of our blue class friends.

Watch for even more to be added.  Once this heat finally reduces a little we plan to add a couple of small trees and a few more plants.

I would be remiss in talking about the playground without thanking our staff for their work in cleaning things up.  As part of our set up days everyone helped trim trees, pull weeds, wash structures and do some repairs.   I love our playground AND I love our staff and their dedication to this place!!


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Celebrating the old – Embracing the new

I goofed.  I accidentally deleted all of our photos from the end of the year picnic and the celebration of our retiring staff.  I’ll try to make up for that here.

We are so grateful for the MANY years our retirees, Donna Massey, Laura Lauridsen and Leslie Wurtz, embraced young families, connected with children, laughed and loved here at Aldersgate Preschool.

 

Ms. Donna Massey worked here for 25 years!  She shared her laughter with the children every day.  I loved hearing her joking with the kids.  I will miss hearing her laugh.  Donna also served many years as our snack planner and “cook.”   The addition of healthy and a variety of snacks served to make us an even better school.  Donna also has a passion for mission work and that lead us to giving often to various groups in our community.  Don’t be surprised if you see Donna around this year though, as she may be working as a sub at times.

 

Ms. Laura Lauridsen also worked here for 25 years!  Laura worked with all ages throughout the years with her patience and loving smile.  Laura has a gift for actually playing with the kids in a way that guides them to the next level of thinking and especially to more developed social skills.  Laura’s positive spirit lifted us all through the years.

Ms Leslie Wurtz worked here for 24 years!  Leslie’s natural drive for learning often led her to research the newest ideas and theories in Early Childhood.  She worked tirelessly to provide children the most developmentally appropriate activities and environment.  I loved to hear Leslie engage in conversations with the kids.  She truly cared about the whole child.  We are glad that Leslie has agreed to sub for us some this year!

We also honor the rest of our staff members that left us this year for various other reasons; Hillary White, Janette Parker, Robyn Nameth and Kari Guinn.  We wish them well in their future ventures.

All that change has brought us renewed enthusiasm as we welcome Aisha Vyhanek, Andrea Niermeier, Becky Melton, Beth Houseworth, Julie Crabb Katka Johnson, Natalie Woods to our staff!

This year’s staff meeting had a bee theme.

Each year we recognize a staff member or two that served us well the year before, even in the midst of challenges in their own lives.  Lori Thomas and Virginia Watson were chosen to receive the Jennie Nichols’ “Dancing in the Rain Award.”  We celebrate their commitment to Aldersgate Preschool.

As usual, we had a variety of activities that drew us together in various groups, built connections, guided new thinking and built a strong team.  We even learned that bees communicate with a technique called a “waggle dance.”  Of course we had to do our own “waggle dance” as we communicate how much fun we like to have here at Aldersgate Preschool.

 

Don’t you just love our fearless “waggle dance” leaders!!

 

We ended the meeting with everyone choosing a word for what they will focus on this school year. Just a few of those include: lively, enlightened, kindhearted, purposeful, prepared, gentle, positive and kind.  Sounds like a good place to live – right?

We ended our morning with sharing a wonderful lunch that the board provided.  It was a great time to connect to those wonderful volunteers and church staff members that work to make Aldersgate Preschool great.

  


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Fruit of the Spirit

Yesterday we had our last Devotion Worship of the year.  We learned about this verse:

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23

   

  

 

We started with a few of our favorite songs that praise God.

Then we talked about some items of food deciding if they were food that helped our bodies feel better, healthier and stronger.  Did you know candy is something we can have sometimes but shouldn’t eat a lot.  The healthy foods were all fruits.

God tells us about the fruit of His spirit.  While they are not actual fruit, these are all things that help us feel better, be better, and do better.

  

To reinforce the scripture some children brought forward pieces of a puzzle – each piece having one of the fruits on it.

I learned a few things from them:

*Gentleness means not wanting to knock down your friend or your little sister.

*Peace means wanting peace and quiet or being alone.  (Perhaps they have heard a parent use this phrase before?)  🙂

*The children all felt like they are already very good at having patience.  They thought differently when I mentioned the possibility of having a birthday and needing to wait till the end of the day to have cake and presents.  Aaaahhh, they understood – being patient and waiting is hard.

 

We prayed to God asking him to help us grow His “fruit” us.

We ended the worship with a fun song called The Fruit of the Spirit.  We used our bodies to make some fruits as we sang; banana, watermelon and pineapple.  It was a lot of fun. 

 

You can see a youtube version of the song here.  (Fast forward through the instructions to 2:36)