Aldersgate Preschool


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Science is Fun!

ImageScience is a very important (and popular) part of a child’s life.  As a child learns about the world around him, making sense of it, using their senses to discover and investigate… this is all science!

Sometimes, I get to visit  preschool classes and conduct experiments.  Recently, we did a sink/float experiment.  While this sounds pretty simple, it is fascinating to the children… and fun too!

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What types of things sink and what types of things float?  The rubber band ball sinks but one rubber band floats!  The bouncy ball sinks but our splash ball floated!  We also tried cans of pop.  What will full cans of pop do in water?  Will Mountain Dew do the same thing as Diet Coke?  What about Diet Sunkist and Dr. Pepper?

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Not only did the children learn about cause and effect (dropping a can into the water makes a big splash), they also noticed that some of the cans sink in water and some float!  From there, we looked to see which cans sink and which float.  “The diet cans float!”  With a little help from me, we could conclude that the sugar in the other cans caused them to sink.  While the children loved doing this with the pop, they love investigating with any types of items: paper, cork, foil, metal utensils and plastic utensils.

Science is all around us!  Recent brain research has found that a child’s brain develops much more effectively when their environment is rich in experience!  You can do your own experiments at home: sink/float in the bathtub or in the sink.  Let the children choose what items to place in the water and predict whether they sink or float.

Or, you can check out these great ideas for more science experiments to do with your children.

20 Great Science Experiments for Preschoolers

Science Experiments with Kids


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Pumpkin Science Update

Many of you will remember our previous blog post from December 5th.  We put a rather large pumpkin on some potting soil in a pot on the playground.  Here’s a picture from that post.

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We hypothesized (made guesses) about what would happen to the pumpkin. 

Today, I asked some children what they thought had happened to the pumpkin.  I said that I was pretty sure it had changed.  They had some ideas about what might have happened.

“It turned pink.”  “No, silver.”  “I think it would be great if it had sparkles.” 

Can you tell I was talking to a group of girls?  I am confident the ideas would have been very different if I had asked a group of boys. 

We went outside to check our predictions.

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It really had changed.  Sadly it was not now pink, silver or sparkly.

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While outside, we had several boys join the investigation.  The children described this pumpkin as “smooshy,”  “like squishy cake,” “flat and bumpy.”  We again made predictions of what would now happen to the pumpkin.  Someone thought “it might turn into a frog.”  Another child said, “no, maybe a stick.”  Hmmmm, I am afraid they may be disappointed in the outcome but I suppose scientist through the years have faced some disappointments. 

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I love watching children investigate things.  If we allow them the necessary time, they will ponder things for quite a while.  I can almost see those brain neurons firing and making connections.  I love that the children wanted to touch it.  They even took off their gloves so they could really feel it.  We often talk about how important hands on experience is for children.  Today it really was! 

Keep watching.  We will do more important pumpkin investigating this spring!


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Not All Preschools are Created Equal

The New Year has just begun and it’s hard to believe that preschool enrollment is this month!  The office staff has been getting geared up in planning for the 2013-2014 school year with information, preschool fairs, upcoming tours and endless phone calls of questions about our program.  While it sounds crazy, we actually kind of enjoy it.  You see, it’s this time of year that we get to share about a program that we are very proud of, our preschool.

So, I want to take a minute to share some things that, I believe, are important factors in choosing a preschool that is right for you.

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* Teachers.  A preschool is not a preschool without good teachers.  What makes a teacher good?  Dedication to children and a passion for working with them.  Children are people and should be treated as such.  A good teacher engages with children, respects and listens to their ideas, and realizes that while they are people, they are very different from adults.  A good teacher is well versed in child development and knows how children learn best, recognizes their individual differences and loves each child for who they are.

Zachary play sequence
*Curriculum.  There is a lot to be said about developmentally appropriate practice.  Children’s brains are wired to learn in a certain sequential order.  There’s a reason why a one year old cannot read, their brains are not ready for it.  But, when they are talked to often, read to, and engaged in songs, fingerplays, and language, their brains will build the capacity to be able to read when they are ready at five or six years old.  A preschool’s curriculum should understand and support that.
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*Play. A good preschool recognizes the value of play and nurtures it.  Children were born investigators and learners.  Their brains are absorbing everything around them.  When children are active, they learn.  When children are running, skipping, spinning, they are activating their brains.  A quality preschool recognizes that children need good, quality time to play and an environment that inspires it.  When touring your child’s class, kneel down to their level and view the classroom.  Is it colorful and interactive?  Does it encourage and inspire play?

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*Schedule.  A good schedule in preschool should include both structured learning in smaller groups as well as more unstructured play time with free reign in the classroom.  This unstructured time should be open time for children to interact with their friends, to roam from area to area freely and engage in the activities that interest them.  Good, quality outdoor time should be included as well.  It is also so important for children to learn about taking turns talking, listening, being read to, etc in a circle time that includes an entire class.  Social skills, learning how to engage in unstructured play (ever hear a child say they’re bored?), learning about taking turns, raising their hand, asking for help, these are all such important skills that should be learned in preschool.

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*Parents. When talking to parents about our preschool, I always encourage them to come and tour our school.  We all have instincts and know when something feels right.  So, when touring preschool, it is so important for you as a parent to feel comfortable there.  Are the teachers personable?  Is there good communication between the staff and parents?  Do you feel welcome?  After all, you are getting ready to share your most valued possession with them.
 
There are so many things that go into creating a quality preschool.  It’s so important to keep all of these into account, to ask questions, to advocate for your child.  At Aldersgate, we are proud of our program and enjoy sharing it with you.
Here are a couple other great articles regarding preschools:
Let us know if you have questions, we love answering them!
 
 
 
 


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Learning to Read – you are your child’s first and best teacher

I came across an amazing resource for families with young children.  Janae Jacobson has a wonderful blog, www.icanteachmychild.com full of activities and ideas for parents with young children.  She recently wrote an e-book titled I Can Teach My child to Read!  A 10-step guide for parents. 

I Can Teach My Child to Read eBook

Learning to read is such an important and amazing skill.  While reading her book I found myself thinking “That’s exactly what I want to tell parents.”   I plan to personally purchase this e Book for friends and family as a baby gift.  There are tips that would be helpful from birth on. 

Here is what Jenae says about her book,

“In this book I share the basic fundamentals of teaching a child to read in simple, easy-to-understand language that can be implemented the minute you set this book down. After reading this book, I hope you will feel equipped and empowered to begin teaching your child to read!”

To launch her new e Book, Janae is offering it at half off for just $1.99 through Saturday, January 12th.  I encourage you to take a look.  You can learn more about the book and purchase the PDF version here or the Kindle version on Amazon.


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Kindness for Kids – a New Years Resolution

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from www.bethechange.co.nz

This fall we had a young couple stop in our office asking, “Do you have a preschool here?”  I quickly answered “Yes,” and began mentally preparing to give information about classes, enrollment, etc.  They surprised me however by saying, “Here, could you use these?”  It was a bag filled with small paper cups, napkins and paper towels.  They explained they are going around doing random acts of kindness.  How heartwarming.  It certainly made my day and I have thought about it often since.

Ms. Shelly shared a Devotion Worship message this fall based on the book “Fill A Bucket” by Carol Mc Cloud.  This book does a wonderful job of explaining for children the concept of each person having a bucket (or spirit) that can be filled by other’s kind deeds.  The children quickly embraced this wonderful concept.  At school, we  love noticing when a child shares a toy, helps hold a door open, carries supplies for a teacher, etc. and thanking him or her for “filling up a bucket.”  A child’s joy at being able to do something special for another person is such a priceless gift.

January is typically a month for resolutions and thinking of ways we can better ourselves.  As I thought about our “Fill a Bucket” devotion and the random act of kindness, I began thinking how good it would be to help children be intentional about doing good for others.   We can turn the love from of our own filled buckets into kind and helpful actions.  Of course with young children we need to break something like this into simple, manageable discussions or concrete actions.

I found a youtube video of a Fill Your Bucket song by the Learning Station.  You can see the song here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaddbqEQ1NE   This might be a good way to begin a conversation about this topic at home.  I would encourage you to make a list of things you could do as a family, as adults, as children to show kindness to others.  Here are a few ideas:

AS A FAMILY:

  • Pick up trash at a neighborhood park
  • Shovel a neighbor’s driveway or sidewalk
  • Take a meal to someone who is sick
  • Visit a nursing home – share pictures or songs with some of the residents
  • Collect stuffed animals and take them to a local fire department or children’s hospital

AS AN ADULT:

  • Write a thank you letter to someone who was influential in your life
  • Pay something toward the order of the person behind you in a fast food drive through
  • Do a chore that is typically one your spouse does

AS A CHILD:

  • Look a cashier in the eye and say THANK YOU
  • Hold the door open for someone as you enter a public building
  • Write/draw notes for people you see everyday (the mail delivery person, your teacher :), your Pastor, etc.)
  • Share one of your toys with the Salvation Army Family Lodge

These lists by no means cover all possibilities.  Hopefully these will give you a foundation to come up with your own ideas.  I encourage you to find a way each day to share about times each of you have shown kindness.  Make a big poster, light a candle while you talk or write them on slips of paper to fill up a jar.  Simple rituals like these will make a big impact on young children.

We will be discuss this idea once we are all back at school (by the way, school begins again on January 3rd.)  We will find a way to celebrate kind acts there as well.  Watch for more information about this.

“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Mark Twain

I hope we can promote more kindness in ourselves, our children and our world.

Here are some websites I found that talk about showing Kindness.  I hope 2013 can be a year we http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

http://www.sproutonline.com/kindnesscounts/sesame-workshop/empathy-in-children-aged-two-to-six

http://www.sproutonline.com/kindnesscounts/the-center-for-parenting-education/praising-kindness-the-right-way