Aldersgate Preschool


“Natural” Play!

“Look, there is a pumpkin growing!”  “Where, Where?”

Last week your kids excited explored the volunteer vines that have graced our playground.  In the fall last year we brought in some of the left over pumpkins and gourds for the kids to play with on the playground.  As they “got squishy” we threw them into a blank space in the mulch.  Happily, they sprouted into vines this spring and now we are seeing their fruit.  The kids are exploring the natural process and having great discussions.  There was great debate over what had caused the broken, somewhat chewed off, section on one gourd in particular.

I took great pleasure watching them explore.  I also enjoyed the struggle two boys were having as they moved all the heavy stuff: tires, boards, orange cones.  I’m not exactly sure what the plan was or why they needed to do this but, they did.  Their concentration was natural.   Their excitement over a completed task was heart-felt!

I recently came across an intriguing video that has stayed with me – it’s actually a commercial.  Nature Valley filmed several generations from a couple of families as they talked about how they played.  What they did.  How their days were filled.  What brought joy to their childhood.

How would you answer the question, “What did you play when you were a child?”  I wonder, are your kids getting the chance to experience some of those same kinds of play experiences?

While I know this video shows children older than our kids ages, perhaps you can use this as motivation as you make choices:  choices for your child as he or she grows, choices about play, choices about time spent, choices about your family values. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this.Untitled-1




The Many Hats of Mr. Nate

There’s a man in the preschool classrooms!!


I’m so pleased that many of you have seen the positive aspects of having Nate McGuire join our staff team.  The kids, especially the boys, are super pumped to have a man as one of their teachers (even if only occasionally as a sub.)  Let me tell you a little about Nate.


Nate McGuire is a member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church.  He is married to Erica and has two children.  His original degree was in criminology but he decided an education career fit him better.  While he was a stay at home dad caring for his young children Nate attended classes to obtain his elementary education degree.   During this time Nate’s two children attended Aldersgate Preschool and Nate also joined our Preschool Board.  He was a regular volunteer in the classroom and he even came to make some special appearances at our Devotion Worships using science to demonstrate some theological concepts.nate

Nate graduated from Ottawa University in 2013.  He worked at Madison Elementary in Gardner School District as a first grade teacher for the last two years.

With his wife’s career demanding more travel and his growing involvement in a variety of their kids’ extra curriculur activities, Nate decided to stay home again this year.  This way he can be a cub scout leader, an Aldersgate Church Youth volunteer and more.


We are so glad that life brought Nate to this decision.  We have recruited him to wear MANY hats for Aldersgate Preschool.


Nate will be our “go-to” sub,  He is beginning the year supporting one of our staff who is needing help long-term while she cares for her husband following a boating accident.  He will also be extra hands in our younger classes when not on duty in one of the Red Classes.  I am looking forward to watching Nate become familiar with all of our classes over the year as he subs for many of our teachers.

Nate is also going to cover some of our more basic needs such as light cleaning on the days our cleaning crew does not work and also our handy man.  Whew!  That is a HUGE relief for me and for all the staff.  THANKS NATE!

Finally, we are possibly most excited that Nate will be our science guy.  In the past, our Assistant Directors have presented a few science concepts in each of the classes.  Having someone different from the regular teachers come in to do a science project somehow highlights these concepts and helps the children get more involved in them.  So, Investigate with Mr. Nate will be what we now call those science moments!  (I know, it’s a little hokey but the kids will love it!!)

Welcome Mr. Nate!


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Come join the play, stingray!

Glad you’re here, little deer!  Hello there, cuddly bear!  Who’s at the door, dinosaur?


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We had an animal theme for our back to school staff meeting.  Fun, right?  We had a great time taking care of business, learning about life and teaching from the animals, connecting even more with our co-workers and readying things for the school year!  Below you can see some things we can learn from animals.

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As for the teaching, did you know meerkats actually bring their babies dead scorpions, and then scorpions with the stingers removed so they can learn to hunt them safely.  Finally they bring them live scorpions with the stingers still intact.  We do this graduated learning with our kids as well.  For instance, while learning to use scissors we introduce them with play dough which is very forgiving for incorrect scissor grip.  Next we give strips of paper that are easy to cut across.  We also suggest children try fringing the edges before attempting to cut clear through a sheet of paper.  I could give examples like this in a variety of skill areas.

The staff also accepted a challenge from me.  If one person could complete the animal matching sheet 100% correctly then I would bake everyone a batch of cinnamon rolls.  Knowing how important teamwork and cooperation is around here I even allowed them to work together.  If, however, no one was able to get the answers all correct then the staff would pull their resources together to purchase the office staff a sonic drink of our choice.  🙂

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Let’s just say we’ll be enjoying a refreshing drink someday soon.  (Oh, okay, I’ll probably end up making those cinnamon rolls too.)  This showed us that even though we feel like we know a lot about animals, we don’t know it all.  It is the same with kids and child development.  We learn something new daily.  We will learn something new when we meet your kids since each one reacts differently and has different needs specific to them.  We need to learn their needs and the best strategies to meet those needs.

Of course we played games too – we are preschool teachers anyway.  We played Win, Lose or Draw.

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This was a wonderful way to bridge to different topics we needed to discuss.  One category was safety.  We even had a practice tornado drill.

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It was a full morning and a wonderful start to our school year.  Since then the staff have been busy, busy, busy getting forms, rooms, curriculum, cubbies . . . . all ready for the year to begin.  We can’t wait to see your kids beginning tomorrow for our first group of visit days.

I will close in the same way we finished up our staff meeting.  We played a rousing game of People Hungry Hungry Hippo.  The team that collects the most balls wins.  Perhaps this will be a new large motor activity – well, maybe for the older kids anyway.

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So for now:  Time to scoot, little newt.  Gotta go, buffalo.  See you soon, raccoon!

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Getting ready for the school year

This time of year is full of contradictions – for both you and your child.   Your child feels excitement about a new school year (and possibly even a new school) while also feeling some apprehension about what that all means.  You are excited for this next step in your child’s life while also feeling some sadness that he or she is growing up so fast.  Let me reassure you, it’s okay.  You can own those feelings with pride – and the knowledge that the rest of your child’s life will be filled with those moments of mixed emotions.  Our job, however, is to hopefully make your child’s start in preschool and Discovery Days as easy, stress-free and fun as possible – for your child and for you!  Here are some thoughts about ways to support that transition.


This article gives some wonderful concrete steps to do as you prepare for the upcoming year.   (Simply click on the photo for the link.)  Specifically we encourage you to:

  • Plan to come to your child’s class visitation time.  This will be a great time to meet the teachers as well as a few children in the class and to enjoy playing in the space together.  Here is the visitation days.
  • Practice going to school during your play over the next few days.
  • Visit our playground.  You are welcome to enjoy the playground in the evenings and weekends.  We just ask that you please re-cover the sandbox and leave on their respective sides of the fence.   This will help your child feel more comfortable being here.
  • Talk positively.  Even though you may have those mixed feelings be sure and speak about preschool positively.  You can listen to your child’s uncertainty and let her know it is okay to feel that way but also reassure her that you know the staff here will keep her safe and show her some new and fun things to do.  This is the reason we delay the extra programs that extend the days so children can head home after just the 2 1/5 hours which really go by very quickly.

Another helpful skill you can be practicing at home is self-dressing, at least the things that are age appropriate.  With a group of children it may take a while for a teacher to get to your child to help put on his or her shoes, pull up pants in the bathroom, etc.  A child will feel so much more pride if he can do it “all by himself!”  Here is a link to a blog post with age appropriate skills regarding dressing him or herself.


Another tip about clothing – give your child options that are easy to manipulate.  Zippers, belts, tight leggings . . .  those all offer more opportunities for frustration as a child tries to manage things independently.

We are busy getting things ready:


Last week we got all the tile floors waxed and buffed.


Yesterday all the staff were in for our CPR and First Aid training.  (Shoot, I forgot to get a picture when all the dummies were strewn around the commons area.  It is quite a sight!)


And today, um, well, as you can see, the classrooms aren’t ready yet.  We had all the carpets cleaned this morning!

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Tomorrow our lead teachers are back to begin their curriculum planning and our Preschool board meets in the evening.

Thursday we have our all-staff meeting.  Following that, believe me, the teachers hit the ground running with all the preparations to ready the room, the shelves, the files and the plans for the day we finally greet you and your precious child.  Trust me, we will take good care of him or her this school year.

We can’t wait.  See you soon!