Aldersgate Preschool

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Overland Park Arboretum – a great place for kids

A couple of weeks ago my son invited me to go to the Arboretum with him.  I hadn’t been there in quite a while but I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful flowers and walking the trails.

Well, I quickly realized I needed to write a blog post about this space.  I am grateful I brought my phone along so I could take pictures.

I did not get photos of the large pond that has flowers, bridges, large Koi fish, turtles and more.  So I am borrowing this one from the internet. Click on the picture to see additional photos of the gardens.

As adults we stood and watched the fish and turtles for a while so I can only imagine the appeal they would have for young children.

HERE is a link to their website so you can look around at what they have to offer.

As we headed west we quickly came upon the children’s area of the garden.  I first noticed the train garden.  What fun!

The tracks go overhead on a bridge, through a replica of old Overland Park downtown, through a country scene and even under the sidewalk with plexi-glass over it so you can see the train.  Evidently volunteers run the track and they weren’t there yet when we were so we didn’t get to see the trains moving.  I’d suggest you call the center to see when volunteers were planning to arrive on they day you are visiting.  I know this past Sunday they said the volunteers typically get there around 9:30.

The large caboose is one the children can peek into the windows to see what that looks like.

Nearby we saw the vine tunnel.  It wasn’t completely covered this year as I have seen it some previous years I’ve visited.  It still looks like fun!

A little further down the trail there was a natural play area.  While there weren’t any children playing I could visualize the fun a young one would have navigating the different structures.

We walked the concrete paths and then the trails through the woods.  All the trails are easy walks about a mile long so children should be able to navigate them watching for wildlife and water features.  It was hot and humid on the day we visited and I still enjoyed it.  I can imagine how delightful it would be on a beautiful upcoming fall day.

At the front entrance if you head straight onto a paved trail, there are lots of different international statues.  I can see the kids enjoying the hunt for the next statue.

I hope you all take some time to enjoy the arboretum.  It typically costs just $3.00 a person however on Tuesdays there is no charge.

I’d love to see any pictures of your kids having fun playing in this beautiful place.



10-3-18  We received these pictures of some of our Aldersgate Preschool kids enjoying the Arboretum.  I love it!

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Just a tub of pom poms

Who knew?  Fill a tub with an assortment of pom poms and watch the opportunities for play (read learning) develop.

The Yellow and Orange classes have their tub table filled with various sizes and colors of pom poms.  Also included are cups, bowls and the special “window” tongs.  (These are actually bug catcher/viewers but we use them for lots of things.)

Of course during play it’s a great time to label the colors and sizes.  I enjoyed listening to Ms. Katka’s interactions with the kids about their play.

Soon, this sweet girl showed me her tongs with A LOT of pom poms in it.  “Look what I have!”

“Wow,” I said, “You have a lot of pom poms in there.  I wonder how many are in there.   Can you guess?”  (That’s estimating!)  She guessed there to be four.  We counted them (one to one counting) and she actually had 10 in there.  You should have seen the surprise on her face.  (This shows she already has an understanding of quantity and numerals.)  She filled the tongs again and I asked her to guess again.  This time she guessed that there were 8 and after counting we found there were 9 inside.  This 3 year old girl was already adjusting her estimating skills due to experience and knowledge.  Amazing!

The fun thing about 3 year olds – what you do with one others will also want you to do with them.  So we counted a lot!  It was interesting to watch their concentration as we carefully counted each one.

Soon, the play extended to wondering how many pom poms you can hold in your hands.  We discovered some could hold quite a few.  I think the most anyone held was 17!

Another day, in another class, the children explored the pom poms with a different focus.  Today we talked about the colors.  Did you know that there are light and dark options of the same color?  We found lots of those today.

We also took some time to describe the pom poms.  We found big ones, little ones and even medium sized.  We also noticed that some were sparkly.  That’s a fun word.


“Hmmm, you have a couple of really big ones in your mix.  Do you think that makes a difference to how many you can hold?”

I just love this “playing!”

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What did you do at school today?

It was nice today to be able to walk around and check on the activities of all the classes.  While we had just a few tears as children arrived, they quickly subsided and the kids were BUSY!  Here’s a little snapshot of the activities I saw in a short 15 minutes.

These girls were intently drawing self portraits for their journals.  What a wonderful way to gauge their growth in drawing and writing by doing this at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the school year.


Our Brown class kids were busy cleaning up.  This is using sorting and classifying skills.  It also promotes emergent literacy as they see the photo and the written word for the item to go in each tub.  Of course self esteem develops as they realize they have an important job in the class.


Next it was time for circle.  Ms. Kim held up a symbol as the children watched for their corresponding symbol.  It was a great time to reinforce the school readiness skill of sitting in a spot during circle and also the names of each child in the class.


Our youngest ones today, the Discovery Days 2 class, were also sitting on their symbols – a specific animal on the rug.  This helps the children know an area to be which also helps them understand appropriate social cues such as how much distance we should have between people.  Ms. MaryBeth was reading the book God Made Me.  What a wonderful message as the children talk about the different body parts – how each is similar and yet unique.

The Yellow class was in the middle of their “Work Time.”  During this time children are busy playing – the work of childhood.  I loved the social interaction I had with the little guy with a camera.  He was dressed up and busy taking lots of pictures – what a wonderful way to try on different roles he may have seen or to use his imagination.  The car ramp (in the photo on the right) is a hot item in this class.  Just imagine the social coordination the children learn as they take turns, remember a certain person is using the “red” car, and engage each other in conversation.  As the year progresses we often see more experimentation with the items on the ramp – do the bigger cars go faster, etc.

These two often play in the dramatic play area.  In this instance the little guy is serving some pizza.  What a wonderful chance to practice nurturing another person.  The little girl was patiently waiting for her food and even said “Thanks.”  You just can’t practice those social graces enough.

During work time the Yellow (and Orange) class teachers are taking children a couple at a time to use the restroom.  This builds familiarity and comfort with those basic needs.  I love listening to the stories the children tell as they walk.  Children are also learning independence and self sufficiency.

Our morning Blue class was enjoying some playtime on the playground.  As I walked up to the boys on the gator-totter I heard the little one in the middle ask if he could play too.  The others quickly rearranged their positions to make room for him.  There was some trial and error as they figured out how they could all sit and still easily make the gator rock.  That’s physics folks!

The sandbox is another area of great interest.  Today I saw lots of math as the children worked with filling buckets (or dinosaurs) with sand.  “I wonder how many scoops of sand the dinosaur holds.” That’s the kind of support adults can add to their play which encourages more contemplative play.


The Red class Large Motor activity today happened to also be on the playground today.  Ms. Janel was busy having the children hop, run, balance and more.  The whole time she was recorded her observations.  This is called baseline information to compare with future attempts.

I couldn’t help but engage with the kids.  I love how quickly they comply with my request for a quick wave hello – for the camera of course!!