Aldersgate Preschool


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Nature walk – a perfect fall activity

I love fall.  I love the cooler weather (although we’ve had a little extra cool than typical), the beautiful colors, the pumpkins and other fall fruit.  It’s the time of year I most enjoy being outside.  Perhaps your family does as well.

Children are naturally inquisitive about nature and often will use it in their play.  On our playground the children use small stick, stones, sticky balls, leaves, and acorns in a variety of different types of play.  It’s an environment rich with possibilities. I’ve seen many of our families out for a walk together.  That’s fabulous.  Next time your family heads out for a walk, you may want to try making it a Nature Walk.  This has two benefits; expending energy and the awareness of nature.  Simply print out the picture below and check off the items you see on the way.  You could take time to compare two of a similar item you see – i.e. a robin and a crow.  This encourages your child’s observation skills, attention span, fine motor development and literacy awareness.

In the spring our Red classes will be learning about the 5 senses.  In past years they have taken a listening walk.

I love watching them walk around with their clipboards intently listening so they could mark off the different items.  Feel free to copy and past the two checklists for your own nature walk.

 

 

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Our Halloween fun – What? No Parties?

My husband actually said to me, “Oh, that’s right, you bah humbug Halloween.”  He was referring to our lack of costumes and parties in our preschool classes.  Don’t worry, I quickly set him straight.  🙂

At Aldersgate Preschool we elect to keep our kids’ holidays pretty low-key.  I know you can relate to the hype and “energy” surrounding holidays in our society.  That’s part of our thinking.  Here are a few of our thoughts driving our decision about holidays.  (Hang in there with me through this part – there are photos at the end.)

Routines

We work hard to provide routines for the children while they are in class.  Education.com says this,

” One of the most important things that you can do to make your young child feel safe is to establish as much routine in his life as possible. Children (and adults) feel the most secure when their lives are predictable. When adults provide environments that feel safe, children learn that they can trust others to take care of them and meet their needs, so they become free to relax and explore their world. “

Confusion and missing items

I directed a preschool that did have parties and a parade.  Oh, the tales I could tell about the missing pieces of costumes, the mix-ups about who are doing crafts, the crafts that were not age appropriate, the children upset or crying . . .   Sorry if I sound cynical but with preschool and younger children these are a few of the realities.

Family time becomes even more special

Think about how special Trick-or-Treating becomes when it is the real highlight for your child.    I know some children are also exhausted after parties and the change of routines.  Hopefully our low-key day allows children to have a “less melt down” experience while they trick-or-treat.

Young children can be scared of the unusual

I saw a perfect example of this in our three year old class.  Ms. Susan showed the children an electric jack-o-lantern.  Most of the children enjoyed the glow and the novelty as they talked about the shapes used in the face, etc.  However, even with this friendly faced item, one boy said, “Oh, that’s a scary face.”  He looked concerned until he was comforted by another teacher.  When the festivities are at home with parents, those fears are lessened and there is more more flexibility in how the activity must proceed to accommodate each child’s level of fear or excitement.

The holiday can generate interest in new learning 

As you will see below, we do talk about Halloween and the other holidays.  We use the children’s base of knowledge to encourage interest in different kinds of activities that build skills; social, cognitive, language, fine motor and many more.  (Okay, here are those pictures I promised.  Look for all the different kinds of opportunities the children enjoyed yesterday – on Halloween.)

Developmental opportunities:  Science, language, sensory, cooperation

Developmental opportunities: group dynamics, language (in the photo on the left each child got to talk to their class “puppet” and say what he or she will be for Halloween), self control, cognitive areas

 

Developmental opportunities:  dramatization & language (this two year old class had the children practice knocking on the door in the box and saying “Trick-or-treat!” and then “Thank You.” Of course there was a little playing of Peek-a-boo too.)

Developmental opportunities: group dynamics, cooperation, self control (it’s hard to WAIT!), physics, cognitive, language, large motor

 

Developmental opportunities:  cognitive skills, listening skills, fine motor control

Developmental opportunities:  Fine motor, project planning, persistence, creative exploration (the first picture is a creation of two monsters), language (there was a lot of talking between the artists)

 

Of course all the staff talked with the kids about their plans for Halloween and what costume they will wear.  Then, today we visited about their actual Halloween experience.  Today I heard lots of stories about trick-or-treating and of course LOTS of candy.

We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Halloween!


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Fall Festival 2017

This year’s fall festival was filled with laughter, busy children, singing, game playing and most of all connection between families and kids.  These are the nights I love to stand back and just watch.  Watch a child leap with joy when one of his “buds” is spotted.  Watch an older sibling Aldersgate alumni receiving lots of hugs and conversation with teachers.  Watch families eating together and building stronger bonds.  Watch our staff enjoying all the kids and their families.  It’s a good thing (even when we have to move it inside.)

We feel the change from the Worship to begin our fall festival to various scheduled campfire sing-a-longs was a good one.  Sometimes necessity (a lack of risers for the kids to sing) causes things to improve.  I hear there were not very long lines for food and activities (except maybe those games downstairs).  I’ll remember to spread those out to rooms more spread out if we are inside again.

Here are some photos of the fun we had.

  

   

  

   

 


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STEM – it is for young kids too

Have you ever watched a child that is totally immersed in his or her play.

 

They try things one way and then another.  They ponder.  You can just hear the questions forming as they re-evaluate what they have done or make new plans for the play.  This is the kind of thinking that supports the newest educational buzz word – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)

NAEYC – the professional organization for early childhood professionals has this to say:

“From their earliest years, children engage with the world in ways that can promote learning related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They balance blocks to build a wall; bat at a mobile to make it spin; and push and pull magnets together and apart. Research shows that the earlier we guide and support children’s wonder about the world–and thereby identify opportunities for children to acquire foundational STEM skills–the more successful they are in all areas of learning later on.”

source: http://www.naeyc.org/STEM

Community Playthings has created a series of videos about different aspects of early childhood classrooms.  Their video on Building STEM Skills demonstrates the ideas beautifully.

BUILDING STEM SKILLS

As you can see from the the photos above, we incorporate STEM very easily into our toys, our routines, and our plans.  I’m sure you do as well.  We are also aware of the benefit of asking good probing questions to support their discoveries.  “I wonder why that won’t stay on there.”  “Hmmm, how do you think you could change it to make that work?”

STEM is part of our everyday experiences and we encourage even our youngest children to explore all these important concepts.


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Teaching children values – money talks

He saw a need and found a way to help.  Isn’t that what we all hope to do?

Recently a little guy noticed that our bird feeders were empty.  He worried about the birds being hungry.  His mom reminded him that he has some share money that he could use.  His face lit up and he did just that.  He bought some birdseed and filled the feeders.  Look at that big smile!

Don’t you just love the idea of “share money?”  I asked about this and found out they have a little bank they found on Amazon.  This concrete tool helps teach about giving, spending and saving.

          (click on photo for link)

I would love to post other ideas or routines our families have that help teach values.  Do you have a special prayer routine?  Is there a way you encourage kindness?  Are their regular times you emphasis the importance of family?  Let me know and I will pass on the information.


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Getting Ready to Write!

This is an article from a December 2010 newsletter (the old fashioned paper format) written by our former assistant director, Shellie Todd.  It is still very relevant today.
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Our staff recently participated in an in-service taught by a former Aldersgate parent and current Occupational Therapist for Olathe School District, Heather Rogers.  While our staff has always been aware of the importance of good fine motor skills in early childhood, the in-service helped to enhance and deepen our awareness of such skills.  Did you know that there are many prerequisites that must occur before a child is able to sit at a desk and effectively write with a pencil?

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From infancy, a child is working on this progression as he/she begins to gain stability with their head and neck.  From there, an infant will work on their trunk stability (being able to effectively sit).  Even as preschoolers, we practice this as the children sit for circle time activities.  We encourage them to sit up, lie on their sides, or even their stomachs because all of these support their ability to have good trunk control.

Children also need to develop shoulder stability, forearm and elbow stability and wrist stability.  If you’ve ever walked through class during preschool time, you may have seen your children manipulating playdoh, writing on an easel, crawling across the floor, or moving on scooters.   We’re always working to build those muscles to prepare them to become writers.

Being able to strengthen fingers and develop finger control comes next.  REalizing that they have ten fingers is very important in fine motor development.  They are learning that they can isolate some of those fingers to do certain jobs like stringing beads, grabbing things with tweezers, and using a Lite Brite.  These activities all require the use of three fingers together (the tripod grasp) and it is this tripod grasp that will lead to the ability to hold a pencil effectively and write.

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“There” are some ways that you can practice fine motor skills in your own home.  many of these things are simple and inexpensive.

  • turning pages in a book
  • picking up buttons one at a time
  • opening and closing lids on a jar
  • doing push-ups (and crawling on the floor too)
  • doing the crab walk
  • wind-up toys
  • spin tops
  • spray bottles
  • hanging things with clothespins
  • playing with silly putty or playdoh (try hiding small things in it for them to dig with their fingers and find)
  • squeezing eye droppers
  • charlotte-22
  • mini slinky
  • Chinese yo-yos
  • Squeezing out sponges or wash cloths


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It’s Glorious!

It’s so amazing, what we are all creating.  It’s like a symphony.  

This year’s staff meeting had a music theme.  Did you know the research has found that music uses both sides of the brain, a fact that makes it valuable in all areas of development.

I love the thought that we are like a symphony with each of us playing our part to create the beautiful music that is Aldersgate Preschool.  Our teachers and office staff play wonderful “music!”

Aside from the task of “taking care of business” we also:

spent some time getting to know each other better

enjoying some food themed snacks,

honoring Ms. Hillary with the Jennie Nichols Dancing in the Rain award.  Her kind heart, even in the face of personal loss, is a wonderful example to us all.

and playing some music.

These are boomwackers.  We’ve had them for a while but never knew how best to use them with the kids.  This year we developed some lesson plans for activities using these toned rhythm instruments.  We are sure the kids will love these.  Hopefully you will hear about them once they’ve had a chance to use them during their large motor time.

We continued developing lessons for movement along with music by dividing into groups and presenting ideas for different equipment to the rest of the staff.  I just love that these photos show the fun our staff have while thinking about new and age appropriate activities for your kids.  (They kind of act like kids themselves!)

We closed our meeting with prayer.  We prayed for our families.  We prayed for your kids.  We prayed that our staff use all their God given skills to best serve the kids and you.  We have several families that are dealing with things that need extra prayers.  We prayed for them.  Please let us know if you have any family concerns that prayers may support.

Oh, I almost forgot.  We LOVE to have fun.  With that in mind we also had a group develop their own little “girl band” presentation to the song Hey Mickey.  We all had a good time with this and we look forward to having a good time all year long.

Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies in each one of us.

It’s glorious.