Aldersgate Preschool


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Save those boxes

It may be too late for many, but I encourage you to save any boxes you have during the Christmas holidays – especially Amazon boxes.  Boxes sometimes make the best toys – as I’m sure any parent of a 1 year old soon figured out.  I remember my grandson climbing up on one of the boxes from a gift (we had closed the tabs so it was secure again) and then climbing down.  He has a January birthday so he must have been 11 months.  (Wow, look at those high math skills  – ha!)  Anyway, he did this over and over, and then over again.

Climbing on boxes is only one way kids play with boxes.  Older kids love to build spaceships, houses, cars or trains and so much more.  I used to do Home Daycare.  I remember using multiple boxes in a row as a train.  The children worked so well assigning roles, and deciding where the train was going.  The school age kids got involved making signs for the destination and for the boarding area.  We made pretend tickets.  This all developed naturally as they played.  This train play lasted almost the whole Christmas break – imagine keeping up to 10 children busy during those long winter days while all of them were out of school!

 

 

One of my favorite books is Christina Katerina & THE BOX by Patricia Lee Gauch.  Kids enjoy this but I have used it most with parent groups.  In the story Christina’s is so excited with her new delivery, a refrigerator.  She beams, “Oh, how grand and new.”  Christina replies excitedly, “It is!  Oh, it really is!”  She was, however, looking at the box.  The box became a castle, a clubhouse, a racing car, a floor of a mansion (after the box collapsed) – she was going to have a ball.  Eventually the kids scrubbed the floor with water and it disintegrated.  But, don’t worry, Christina and her friend soon had two new boxes from his mom’s washer and dryer.

Throughout the story the mother is ready to get rid of the box.  Isn’t that often the way?  We want to clean up the “mess” when kids often see it as an opportunity.

A newer book (published in this century – and boy that makes me feel old!) is Not a Box by Antoinette Portis.  Our copy happens to have been donated by the Inglehart family – thanks so much!  In this book the author asks a rabbit “Why are you sitting in that box.” The following page shows the rabbit sitting in a racecar along with the words “It’s not a box.”  We follow this format throughout the book with the box becoming a volcano, a robot, a boat, a pirate ship, a hot air baloon  . . . .

This book spurs a child’s imagination for all the different things a box could become.  I love it!

Image result for imagination is more important than knowledge

To see the source of the photo just click on the image.

Just imagine what your children could create with all those boxes that accumulate over the holidays.  Just add tape, paper, plastic lids (for wheels, well, actually for whatever the kids imagine), markers or paint (just put a tarp underneath).  You could even add shapes cut from the wrapping paper that covered the boxes.

Just imagine!


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I Want to be Thankful

Today we had a Devotion Worship.  As you can imagine, we talked about being Thankful.

I started with couple of videos about turkeys.  This first one is a song about turkeys.  The second one showed real turkeys and how they gobble.  The kids (and teachers) thought this was interesting.

I then asked the kids “Why are we talking about turkeys?”  They quickly replied, “Because it’s Thanksgiving.”  I then asked, “But is Thanksgiving just about turkeys?”

We talked about being thankful.  I read the scripture,

Let us come before God with Thanksgiving and praise him with music and song.  Psalm 95:2

We then talked about what we are thanful for.  Some of the responses included; my house, the world, presents, rabbits, food.

Did you know we use other words sometimes to say we are thankful.  Gratefulness and praise are also part of giving God thanks for all we have.  The Bible verse also mentioned singing as another way to thank and praise God.

We ended by watching and dancing to a wonderful Group VBS song, THANKFUL.  

After class today we had a teacher training.  We also did our weekly joys and concerns with the staff.  We ended by saying the prayers each class is currently using.  We also said the prayer by Dear Abby.

O heavenly Father:

We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service

That thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may God bless you and yours.

Wish wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

And may we all be thankful for our many blessings.

 

 


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Make this Christmas Season Meaningful

I usually write a post about toy options we suggest for your kids for Christmas.  I looked back at some of my old ones and to be honest, I think those posts cover the options really well.  You can find those options HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERETHIS ONE is specific to books we like as gift options.

Instead, today I will write a little about traditions that would enrich young children’s (and your family’s) lives as we look forward to Jesus’ birthday.

Advent Calendar

The last couple of years I have prepared an advent calendar of activities for my grandkids.  (This might be a great suggestion to your kid’s grandparents as it does take a little preparation.)  I try to include activities that are very quick, days that give little treats, activities that encourage active play, activities that include art and finally activities that point to the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus birth!

I am including PDFs of the list of ideas I created to print for their calendar.  Feel free to click on them to download them for  your use if you like.  Just an FYI, they are not in date order.

advent activities_        advent activities year 2

I also found this kindness activity list.  Just double click on the image and you can download it.

(Unfortunately I’m not sure of my source for this.  If anyone knows, please contact me so I can add it to this post.)

Light a candle at dinner time each night. 

Have each person take a turn sharing something about them: favorite thing to play, something good they did that day, something they would wish for, say something they love about the other people at the table, sing a favorite song (or sing different Christmas songs – by the way, our songs we are learning at school will soon be on our website for your listening enjoyment.  :), list people you love, a favorite memory, . . .

Read a Christmas book

This is something you could make a special time for each evening.  Some of our favorites that focus on the story of Jesus’ birth include:

Christmas in the Barn  by Margaret Wise Brown

The Donkey’s Christmas Song  by Nancy Tafuri

The First Night  by B.G. Hennessy

The Friendly Beast  an Old English Christmas Carol, illustrated by Anna Vojtech

Mouse’s First Christmas  by Lauren Thompson

The Nativity  illustrated by Julie Vivas

The Pinetree Parable  by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born  by Rhonda Gowler Greene

That Special Starry Night  by Jeff Carnehl

Who is Coming to Our House?  by Joseph Slate, Ashley Wolff

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star  pictures by Lesley Harker

The Giving Manger

This is an advent kit you can purchase.  I’ve seen it advertised many different places this year.  I love the idea of it.  You put the empty wooden manger in a visible spot in your home.  Through Advent you fill the manger with hay (placed with every act of service someone does) and finally you add baby Jesus on Christmas day.  You can read more about it on their blog HERE.   The menu bar will also take you to where you can order the set if you would like.

Celebrate with a pretty table

Your kids can take turns setting the table with whatever they decide makes it feel festive.  Perhaps old birthday napkins, home-made napkin holders (just cut up a paper town tube and let the kids either draw on it or apply stickers), special dishes, . . .

Christmas Blessings to those we love

Each night (or once a week), call someone you love and have the whole family sing them a song.

Connect through KindCraft

This local group has ongoing project of service for others.  They have a facebook group that you can find HERE.  This is how they describe themselves on the group page:  We have a heart for serving our community with our families. Our goal is to provide families with opportunities to serve once a month. We believe it is so important to teach our kids about compassion, empathy, & the importance of making a difference for someone else.

Hide Baby Jesus

Yes, I really suggested you hide Baby Jesus.  I started this one day (a long time ago), just as a joke with my kids.  I took the baby Jesus from our Nativity set and hid it in a little artificial tree that was nearby.  This then lead to a pretty consistent thing we did for the following years.  I liked to compare the kids to the Wisemen as they were searching for the Messiah – baby Jesus.

Blessing Jar

Thirty Handmade Days, a blog written by Mique, focuses on craft projects.  Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be too crafty for the blessing jar.  Mique suggest putting toungue depressors with things we are blessed with into a jar.  Each day you pull out a stick and then count how many of those things you have in your house.  You can read more about it HERE.

Here is a beautiful video about all the blessings we have in our everyday lives.

Okay, so that is a lot of ideas.  Some are very simple and others are more complex.  Honestly, you can do none of these and still take moments to remember to true reason for the season.   I don’t write this to put more pressure on you in this already busy time.  It’s just about taking time to pause amidst the hub bub of the holiday and be mindful of the gift of Jesus and our many blessings.

I wish each of you a joy-filled Advent season and a beautiful Christmas.


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10 Things I wish every Early Childhood Educator Knew

Your preschool staff had a wonderful continuing education training yesterday.  Cari Ebert, MS, CC-SLP (a nationally known speaker) shared her thoughts (backed up with research) of the the most important things for early childhood educators to understand.  I am so proud to say we already embrace the ideas she presented!  However, she gave us some wonderful research to back our thinking as well as tips and tricks of the trade.

She first addressed what teachers of young children should be – RESPONSIVE

– Responsive teachers are engaged  (they get down on the child’s level, talk with children (not at them), follow children’s lead, play with children)

– Responsive teachers are intentional (they embed learning into everyday activities and routines, teach in context, create child appropriate environments)

– Responsive teachers are playful (they are lighthearted, they are animated, they laugh with children, they build relationships)

     – Responsive teachers are sensitive (they respond to a child’s pace, limit the number of test-like questions, keep interactions natural, keep expectations realistic)

She then talked about how young children learn best:

In context (this is one of the reasons we do not do a letter of the week), exploration using all their senses, through social interactions (we often say social interactions are often the most important thing about Aldersgate Preschool), and finally through play-based movement.

Cari talked quite a bit about her worry about high-tech (screen) type play/activities.  

Here is a list of all the things high-tech play is displacing.  When children spend time with a screen they miss out on:

face to face interactions with other people

play-based movement (rolling, crawling, walking, climbing, running, jumping, skipping, hopping, hanging, digging, dancing – all of this movement supports the child’s natural development of muscles, coordination and even brain development)  You can see a previous post about the importance of movement HERE.

exploration of the environment

manipulating and playing with toys (and here she highly suggested battery-less toys)

the ability to wait (delayed gratification – those screens are pretty immediate in their actions)

outdoor play

parent-child verbal interations

Anna Sosa, Ph.D of Northern Arizona University conducted research that determined that parent-child verbal interactions were reduced when they had electronic toys, rather than traditional toys such as puzzles, shape sorter, blocks and books

Screen time also affects vision, sleep, language and motor skills. (This tags right onto my soap-box discussion during our orientation meetings this year)

With more time looking at objects close up (screens) more children have less time to develop their long distance vision muscles.  Therefore, we are seeing more children needing glasses for near-sightedness.

Sleep is affected by the use of screens.  This blue light affects the development of melatonin.  Screen time also takes away time for that heavy, deep play movement we mentioned before.  The children’s muscles haven’t been used an therefore the body does not feel tired for sleep

A recent study found that toddlers who were exposed to handled screen time were more likely to have expressive language delays.

Screen time limits the use of hands and development of those muscles and coordination.  We are seeing more issues with children being able to cut, hold utensils, etc.

Screen time displaces movement which contributes to strength issues – beginning with the large muscles (such as core strength) which then affects the small muscle development.

Cari explained the difference between speech and language.   Language referes to a whole system of words, symbols and gestures used to intearact and communicate with other people.  Speech refers to the actual words we speak.

Cari also talked about the importance of phonological awareness skills and a language rich environment.  This is something I will share in a later post.

You can find more information from Cari Ebert on her group page on facebook or instagram.  She posts information and fun ideas for both parents and teachers.

We will definitely ask Cari Ebert to present again.  She has a few other presentations about speech & language, sensory input and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Happy Halloween – let your light shine

This week we had a devotion worship.  This is a short worship experience that includes songs, prayer, scripture and a short message.  This week we focused on shining the light of God’s love.

We began by singing the song

A Pumpkin Orange and Round

tune: Farmer in the dell

A pumpkin orange and round, a pumpkin orange and round,

Happy, Happy Halloween, A pumpkin orange and round.

Two circle eyes . . .

One triangle nose . . .

One happy mouth . . .

Now he’s a jack-o-lantern . . .

And we sand “If You’re Happy Cause God Loves You”

Recently we have add the verse “If you’re happy cause God loves you, wave to a friend.”  I always mention that God wants us to share the love he gives us.

 

When the children arrived they saw a pumpkin sitting at the front of the worship center.  This represented our hearts before we know God.  Our hearts are good and we feel love even before we know God.

But then the pumpkin changed just like our hearts change once we know God.  Our hearts are extra happy!  Just like the face on this jack-o-lantern

In fact our hearts shine the light of love that God gives us.  Just like this flashlight shines love into my heart and it reflects to everyone around me.  We shine the light of love when we are kind to others, when we are helpful, when we care about others.

We read about this in the Bible in 2 Corinthians 4:6 (paraphrased)

“It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!  and our lives filled up with the light of knowing God did.”

Just like a jack-o-lantern.  So as children see those on Halloween perhaps they will remember the light is like God’s light of love shining to the world.


We ended with a prayer.

“God, we love you.   We are so happy that you love us.  Help us to always share your love so people see me light a shining light.”

Happy Halloween everyone! 

Have fun and be safe!

 


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Fall Festival 2019

The weather decided to usher in fall just in time for this year’s festival.  I personally enjoyed that.  I also loved that it didn’t rain.  It is so much more fun when we can be outside for games and play instead of in the basement.  And we had a LOT of fun!  Here is the evening captured in photos.

 

 

I love it that our staff have fun while working!  I sure hope our families and kids had just as much fun as we did!

 

 


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Upcoming Fun in the Community

Fall is a wonderful time to get out and enjoy activities throughout the community.  There is a blog, MacaroniKid that gives information about events for specific towns.  . Here are a few that would be great for families of young children.

Fall Festival (of course!)

We are preparing for a lot of fun THIS THURSDAY from 5-7pm – right here at your preschool.  We hope you will join us for the fun.

Hot dog meal (with chips, banana, carrots, and cookie), carnival type games, crafts, pumpkin patch, preschool friendly campfire and so much more!  You don’t need to pre-register or anything.  We will collect money at the door to cover the cost of dinner.  Adults, $3.00, children 2 yr and older, $2.00

Touch a Truck

No photo description available.  October 5, 11am – 1pm   (click on the photo to take you to the post online)

Come see fire trucks, police cars, cool cars, construction equipment and other awesome trucks!! PLUS: Food, Games, Prizes and More Fun!

Visit a pumpkin patch

Aldersgate patch is open from 10am – dark.  The proceeds from the patch support youth mission projects.  Your child will have chances during the day to check out the patch with their class.  It would be a fun time to stop and pick a pumpkin and then play on the playground.  Just a quick reminder – we ask you to close the sandboxes and keep toys on the playground you find them.

Here is a place to find out more about the area pumpkin patches. (click on the picture to take you to the online post)

Milldale Farm Fest

Mildale Farm Fall Fest logo Woman helping 2 little kids decorate a pumpkinOctober 26, 9am-2pm  (click on the photo to link to the full online post)

Explore the acres of this well-known farm.  Among other things enjoy a petting farm, crafts, fishing and more.

Trunk or Treat

  Aldersgate UMC annually hosts a trunk or treat.  This year’s event is Sunday, October 27th, 4-6pm.  Children wear costumes and visit the various decorated trunks (sponsored by members and groups at Aldersgate UMC).  Be sure to visit the Toy Story themed trunk sponsored by the Preschool Board.  There are also games and other activities for families to enjoy.

You can always check out MacaroniKid blog for other activities in the local area.  HERE is the link.