Aldersgate Preschool

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Christmas Gift Ideas 2016

It is definitely that time of year again.  Time for shopping.  Each year I’ve put together a list of ideas for Christmas gifts that we recommend for little ones.  This year I am going to reference back to those (we still love them!) and link to a blog that I follow.

Our toy recommendations are:

From Christmas 2015


From 2014


We love Lakeshore Learning.  This post includes some of our favorites from there.


Books make great gifts too.  Here are a couple of posts about books we like.

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Not Just Cute is one of our favorite blogs.  You’ve probably noticed many of my quotes in the weekly emails are by Amanda Morgan, the writer of this blog.  She has a great post about books for children of all ages here.


Here is her list of best toys for encouraging imagination:


Of course we offer all this with the full realization that toys and gifts are not what make Christmas.  We are starting to learn our Christmas songs for the Christmas Worship on the 10th and I love hearing from the children about Jesus and all that he has done for us.  It is so wonderful to recognize Jesus’ birth every year with our Christmas celebrations.  This book is a great one for talking about the real reason for Christmas.



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For the Beauty of Each Child

We are so blessed and thankful to share their our days with beautiful children.

We created a little video that celebrates them all.


(Unfortunately we were able to only have a small representation of children.

Please know that we hold close even those not pictured.)

Lord, today we share our joy for the beauty of each child.

All embraced for who they are; active bold and meek and mild.

Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

A child so busy, hard at work, focused and engaged in play.

It’s our gift to watch them grow, trying something new each day.

Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

Happy greetings, hugs so warm. Daily feel their love surround.

Stories, thoughts, discoveries, laughter fun and joy abound.

Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

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Using Dice with Preschoolers

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While walking through a classroom I noticed children playing a game with dice and pompoms.  I loved that the kids were practicing lots of one-to-one counting as well as writing numerals and using their pincer grasp.  This non-competitive game provided lots of learning opportunities while reinforcing concepts surrounding the fall season.

I thought I’d share some additional fun ways to use dice with young children.

(Click on the photos for a link to the websites.)


Oriental Trading offers these larger foam dice.  The larger size allows children to touch and count the dots with greater ease.


At Stir the Wonder blog there is information about this very toddler appropriate first experience with dice.  I love that the children are physically manipulating the blocks as you count the number you are adding.  How tall can you build?  This could be played with any kind of stacking blocks as well.

You can also extend this idea to more physical activities.  Jump, clap or hop the number the die shows.  Run as long as it takes for someone to count to the number on the die.  Drop pompoms or balls into a basket or through a paper towel tube to correspond with the number on the die, etc.


The Measured Mom blog offers this game page free.  Matching the die face to the printed one is a good introduction.  You can count the dots as you are looking for matches.


One Perfect Day blog has an in-depth post that includes a variety of ways to practice a variety of math concepts using dice along with loose parts (small items like stones, pompoms, beads, etc).  I love the idea of children actually moving items to represent the same “picture” they see on the die.


Inspiration Made Simple blog has this fun game connecting dice to the parts of a robot.  There is a free download included in the post.

These ideas should provide many hours of good number fun.  Keep on rolling!


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What did you do at school today? #2

It was just a short couple of minutes.

It was affirming to see so many children busy with activities in that short time.

Children were busy playing AND learning.


This is more than just playing with stickers.  This is language as the teacher and child named the items on the stickers, talked about the colors, etc.  This is fine motor coordination and growth.  This is emergent literacy as they used and named letters on the stickers.


This is a group of boys playing with pegs and shapes with holes.  This is also boys categorizing as they match colored pegs to their shape.  This is eye-hand coordination.  This is balance and counting as the stacks started going up.  This is social skills as one child found a green one for his friend.


Aww, what a sweet interaction.  This is also confidence building.  Ms. MaryBeth had asked a child to “help” her out of the chair.  He did so with pride.  This little one wanted to be helpful too.  Look at her face.  Look at her pride. It’s important learning to  know you are capable and helpful.


Children love the train table.  These are two of our youngest playing and learning about give and take with others.  This is little eyes building eye-tracking skills that are so important for reading.  This is children experimenting with gravity as the trains go faster down the hill.

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Children are busy gluing down shapes.  Children are also learning about patterns and order in our world; both visual and procedural.  You have to put the glue on first, THEN add the shape.  You can read more about the importance of visual patterns on this post.  PATTERNING


This is exploration with paint and art.  This is also learning about a procedural process.  Our world is full of processes such as filling your car with gas, baking a cake, and even building a car on an assembly line.  This is also a child experiencing a new art technique called print making.


Let’s make spiders.  This is important fine motor strengthening.  This is one to one connection as they match legs to dots.  This is counting.  This is biology as we talk and learn about spiders.


Who doesn’t love to play store with a cash register.  This is also number recognition and exploration.  This is playing with others and trying on roles we see in our community.


“Who has the longest?”  I loved seeing the pride of accomplishment on these boys faces.  Counting and number awareness are the basis of math.  This is also language development as we used the words, longer, shorter, bigger, littlest, etc.  I also enjoyed watching the little guy observing the action.  There is learning in observation too.

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Fall Fun Activities


My motto today is . . .

If you do the chalkboard art, fall will come.

Hopefully that actually happens.  The weather forecast for next week actually has the high in the 70’s and I don’t see the word humid anywhere in the mix!!  There is hope.

As I anticipate fall I can’t help but also think about the many wonderful opportunities for activities with young children.  Here is a short list of ideas.

Play with Leaves.

Rake leaves – and of course jump in them.  

(If you don’t happen to have many leaves at your home, feel free to come rake some on our playground.)

Use leaves to make rows that form letters.

Go on a colorful leaf hunt.


Throw colorful leaves on a small blanket “parachute,” toss them and watch them twirl down.

Use leaves, nuts, sticky balls, etc. to make a pattern.

Take a picture of a tree, once a week.  Notice the changes.

Sort leaves into piles by color, size or shape.

Visit the Pumpkin Patch.

Find different shaped pumpkins; fattest, biggest, skinniest, bumpiest, etc.

If it’s not crowded, race through the patch like a maze.

Play Eye Spy

Guess how many pumpkins are in an area and then count them.

Buy an extra pumpkin for golf tee hammering.


Enjoy the fall weather.

Take walks and notice the changes happening in the world.

Put on a raincoat and boots, walk outside on a rainy day.

Watch for squirrels.  They are super active this time of year.

I like to sing an adapted version of the song, Gray Squirrel.

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail.

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail.

Scamper up and down the tree.

Find a nut for you and me.

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail.

(If no one is allergic) Find a variety of nuts and seeds forming on plants.

Crack them open to investigate what is inside.

Go apple picking at a nearby orchard.

Drive out to the country to watch a farmer harvesting crops.

Cut an apple in half.  Put one half in your refrigerator and the other half on your deck or patio.  Observe how they change.

Take a walk on one of the many nature trails around town.

Lay on the ground and look up through the trees.

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Play, play, play outside!


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What did you do at school today?

It is the time of year that children often have very little to say when you ask “What did you do at school today.”  Here’s a small glimpse into the day of some of our Blue and Red AM classes.

I’ll also include some answers to “What did you learn today at school?”

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Through active exploration these children learned a lot about elephants . . . and colors.  Through painting with primary colors on their elephants children can explore how the colors change while they mix.  They can also enjoy the different designs and patterns they create as they paint.   The paper elephant shows how large an elephant’s head is compared to the childrens’ own bodies.  Next, they filled empty milk jugs (30 of them!) and then poured the water into a large tub.  This shows them how much water an elephant usually drinks in one day.  Finally they matched the number on their jug to the number line on the fence.  You can imagine how memorable this activity will be for the children.  Aren’t you impressed with how well they used all their muscles, including their brains!

The elephant day is a special activity that Red classes enjoy each year.  However, it’s also in the everyday play that children learn as they do so many things.  Here are some examples from the morning Blue class.

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Look at all the physics properties these two boys are dealing with:  force, gravity, law of motion, acceleration  . . .

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Spatial awareness, size, geometry, volume are just a few ideas these boys dug into (and learned about) in these play experiences.

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These two children explored creative representation, magnetic force, print awareness and motivation and much more.


And, as always, there was a lot of practice with social rules.  Just imagine how much social coordination these girls navigated to create this adorable photo!

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Bullying is still a hot topic

We continue to hear news about bullying situations.  It is a real problem for older children and can even become a dangerous situation.  A preschool parent posted this wonderful article about knowing the difference between bullying and the more common less intense behaviors.  You can read that article here.

Rude vs. Mean vs. Bully

The pictures below show just a few opportunities children at preschool might have to interact socially.  With any social situation comes the possibility of inappropriate behaviors as children learn the social norms expected of them.

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Developmentally, preschool children are still assimilating information about social situations.  Young children have little information about dealing with others.  They lack the knowledge about how to use social skills for ill will.  Below is a previous article from our blog regarding this issue.

No Bullies at Preschool 

As we begin a new school year, there are a few guarantees.  A few of those are:  There will be social conflict.  There will be hitting.  There will be tears as children figure things out.

It is our job to teach children how to manage these situations.  I love watching children grow these skills just as much, if not more than, the typically thought of cognitive skills of preschool.  With children, wherever two or more gather, there will be social conflict.  We can stop and take off our adult ideas about motivation and simply teach.