Aldersgate Preschool


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Fall Fun Activities

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Playtime and Stories Help Adults Learn Too

We begin each year with an all-staff meeting.  This is a great chance for us to re-connect after the summer break, learn new techniques and strategies, discuss routines for the upcoming year and just have fun together.  This year our theme was “Our Story.”

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Through the use of the story theme we branched off into various topics:

Our individual stories are important.  We took time to share with each other.  We also talked about our group story as a preschool.  Eventually we made a group story about a day at preschool using the Mad Lib format.  It was pretty comical.

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Cooperation is important for adults and children.  Acting out the book The Enormous Carrot was fun for us as well as reinforcing a great way to share stories with children.

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We also acted out the book Puppy Too Small.  This book is a great way to talk with children about being excited about what you can do, instead of focusing on the things you can’t do.

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We were glad to honor two of our staff members with the Jennie Nichols Dancing the Rain Award this year.  DeAnne Arnold and Sara Willis have both faced breast cancer recently and were shining examples of a positive & faith-filled spirit.

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We took time to delve into some books that were new to us.  As with anything, sharing a discovery can often bring more insight and ideas.

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A new Christmas song by Brandon Heath was our springboard into devotion.  This story song gives us the Inn Keeper’s perspective of the Nativity story.  He second guesses his decision to put this peasant girl in the stable instead of finding a place in his home.  After all, he tried to rationalize to himself, she is just a girl.  We talked about seeing beyond the surface.  “Just a grumpy person” may be a person hurting and lonely, looking for support.  “Just a child that grabs toys” may be a child that doesn’t have enough at home and feels the need to gather things to him or herself.  We prayed for God to give us a loving, compassionate heart that would see deeper into the needs of the people we meet and the children we care for.

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I don’t know if you know this about our staff but we LOVE to LAUGH!  Throughout the morning we had staff members say a sentence that began with “Once upon a time” that related to a familiar story . . . while using a dental mouth spreader.  We had fun trying to figure out just what they were saying.

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Friendship, Feelings and hopefully lots of fun!

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As we approach the beginning of another school year many parents are wondering how to best prepare their child.  Here are some links to some previous posts about that:

    Getting Ready for the School Year

    Helping Your Child get Ready for School

We hope you find those helpful.

This year I want to focus on children in a different way; how they learn about their feelings, how they manage those feelings, and how they learn about being a friend.  These skills are especially important once they join a group situation such as their preschool class.

As adults we kind of take all of this for granted but young children are right in the thick of it as they try to figure it out.  Children are born egocentric, meaning IT”S ALL ABOUT ME!  Children have this innate need to meet their needs.  It’s a survival thing.  This learning is something we can provide.

As children grow it’s our interactions that give them clues about how to respond appropriately in emotional and social situations.  We also have several previous posts on this blog that deal with these skills.  You can use the search box to find several.  (I guess you can tell we think this is important.)

As we prepared for school this year our staff and preschool board had a lunch together.  Our theme this year was “Our Story.”   Molly Stucky decorated our tables with a stack of children’s books and other decor.  They looked beautiful AND we found some new books we love!

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Many of you are probably already familiar with the Elephant and Piggie books that are written by Mo Willems.  If not, you are in for a treat!

These books are great as early readers but they also have fabulous themes, short humorous text, and simple yet expressive drawings that work well for young children.  I especially love that many of the themes focus on friendship and emotions.

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My Friend Is Sad shares the story of Piggie trying all kinds of ways to cheer up his friend Gerald the Elephant.  In the end you realize that Gerald is most happy when he spends time with his best friend, Piggie.  Reading this story is a wonderful way to begin a discussion about noticing other people’s feelings, feeling empathy for them and then thinking of ways to try to help them feel better.

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I’m sure you know how hard it is for children to waaaiiiiittttt for things.  (Could you hear the whine as you read that?)  In the book Waiting Is Not Easy! Piggie tells Gerald the Elephant he has a great surprise for him,but . . . . . Gerald will have to wait for it.  As the book progresses you watch Gerald become more and more distressed about waiting.

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This is a wonderful chance to talk about how frustrating it is to have to wait, about things you can do while waiting, and about other ways to handle our frustration.  The picture with the big written word “groan” even visually shows how our actions and words affect others around us.  The book ends with both friends enjoying Piggie’s surprise, the beautiful star-filled night sky.

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While many of these books deal with social themes, this one focuses the reader’s attention on books and words.  The two characters, Gerald and Piggie, realize they are in a book and that someone is reading it.  I love how this makes us, as readers, see their actions differently.  It’s like we are interacting directly with the characters.  Later in the book the characters realize they can control what we, the readers, say.  They have us say the funny word, “Banana!”  Ha Ha.  While it may not be the funniest word in the world they way the characters respond makes us laugh.  This is a GREAT book for children just becoming interested in letters, words, and reading.

I think you get the idea.  These books are cute, fun and might just become your child’s favorites.  They are also very reasonably priced.  We ordered a few from Amazon with the cost just a little more than $6.00 each.  We hope you’ll enjoy some time with Gerald and Piggie soon.  We know our classes with throughout the year!

 

 


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Board Games…. Not Boring at all!

With this heat I thought you might all enjoy reading this post our previous Assistant Director, Shelly, posted back in 2012.  Have fun playing some board games!!!

Earlier this week, I spent some time watching our Blue a.m. class kids as they played some simple games: Zingo, Memory, and Avalanche.  It was fun to watch them and see how much fun they were having!  It caused me to wonder, how often do we enjoy board games with our own children at home?

There are so many benefits to playing games:

* social emotional: Children need to learn about winning and losing.  Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose and that’s okay.  Losing can be tough but it’s a great lesson!

Games also allow us the opportunity to learn about taking turns.  We practice patience and qualities involved in sharing when we do this.  We also learn about cooperative play… so important in life!

* fine motor: Strengthening our hand muscles, eye/hand coordination, and isolating our fingers are all important in getting us ready to properly hold and use writing utensils and scissors.

*cognitive skills: Recognizing the amount of dots on a die, one to one counting as they move a game piece across the board, learning to recognize numbers, colors, shapes, are all great practice.  It’s pretty neat, too, to see how children learn to “strategize” from a very young age.  Games also teach about the scientific concept of cause and effect: if you do this, then this will happen.

Some of our favorite games up here at the preschool are:

*Zingo                         *Avalanch Fruit Stand                   *Hi-Ho Cherry-O

*Operation                 *Candy Land                                    *Chutes and Ladders

*Bingo                         *Memory

There are lots and lots of other great games out there.  While places like Toys R Us and Target are good places to find games, I encourage you to also check out these great sites and stores:

As we hear so often, “the best thing you can do for your children is read to them,” I feel just as strongly about playing games.  When you are reading to them, you are connecting with them and spending quality time together.  The same is so true about playing games.  Games are a great way to bring families together!

Shelly


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Find Rudy (Inspired by the Find Momo books)

{I wrote this during the last couple of weeks of school but never posted it. I hope you enjoy it t

This past Christmas my husband and I got a new puppy.  His name is Rudy.

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He is a king Charles cavalier spaniel and poodle mix, a cavapoo.  While he can be ornery as all get-out, he is smart.  He learned very quickly to sit and stay.

I promise this will relate to preschool soon.

Also, at our house we love the Find Momo books by Andrew Knapp.

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Since our grandchildren call my husband Momo, these books caught my eye at Half Price Book Store. Andrew and his border collie dog Momo travel all over and take amazing photos with Momo “hiding” somewhere in the photo.  Here are a couple samples of his work.

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Do you see him hiding in the bottom right corner?

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Did you find Momo in this one?  Look under the guardrail.

As you can see, he takes beautiful photos.  (Sorry, the quality here isn’t as good as his originals.)

Here is a link to his website.

Anyway, with Rudy’s ability to sit and stay, my grand kids and I decided to use Andrew’s photos as inspiration and make some of our own “Find Rudy” photos.  Here is one of our first efforts.

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Some days I surprise my grand kids by texting a new “Find Rudy” photo to them.  This was one they liked.

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As you can see, my photos don’t rival Andrew’s but we are having fun.  My friends on Facebook also seem to be enjoying them.

Here comes the preschool tie-in.

These past two weeks Rudy has joined us at preschool.  The Blue and Purple classes have pet visits.  These pet visits provide a great chance for us to connect even more as a school family as we meet animal family members, to learn about some pets, to practice speaking in front of others and probably most importantly, and to practice asking questions for new information.  I was happy to have Rudy visit with each of these classes.

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On the days he was here, he joined me in greeting the children.  He gave them high-fives as they arrived.  Rudy would have loved to jump all over the children and lick their faces but even Rudy has to learn about personal space and school appropriate behaviors.

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Giving high-fives was still a lot of fun.  While he was here I took some time for a couple of “Find Rudy” photos at preschool.

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We even took a “Find Rudy” picture with one of the classes.

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With technology, these kinds of things become even easier.  Is there something you could start taking photos of using your phone?   Perhaps you can do a Letter Hunt – (i.e. capture the M for McDonalds.)  Do you have collections of things you could take photos of and then create an I Spy book?  You could go to an area like downtown and take photos of interesting architecture you see.  (perhaps you could even find shapes or letters in the spaces.)

A friend mentioned Chatbooks as a fun app for quickly organizing and ordering phone photos as small books.  I haven’t tried it yet but plan to do that with my Rudy pictures.

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What a fun way to be creative with our kids (or grand kids!)  We would love to see what you come up with!