Aldersgate Preschool


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Fun while learning – indoor play

It’s that time of year.  Time to think about indoor fun.  Time to think about new activities to keep the kids busy and stimulated.  I spent some time looking at the blog BUSY TODDLERS: making it to naps, one activity at a time.  I am linking to several of her posts.  WAIT!  If you have older preschoolers, don’t despair, there are lots of things in here that would interest them.  Simply click on the photo to link to the full blog post.

Post it notes!  These are great fun for kids.  In the activity above the goal is to match letters to the ones in your child’s name.  You could do this for all the alphabet – or even for those letters your child is less familiar with (our Pre-K families probably got this information on their recent conference form!)  I would also consider making this an active game by having your child run, hop, spin, crawl, etc. to put on the letter.  All that movement will further stimulate your child’s brain.

This is the same kind of idea as the one above but with numbers.  For the youngest children you could just write the numerals in the colors of the sticky notes.  Encourage your child to match the orange sticky note to the orange numeral 3, etc.  They will be matching colors but can also build some awareness of numbers.

There is a wide array of concepts this post it note idea could adapt to; colors, shapes, emotions, and even sight words, etc. as children begin working on those in Kindergarten.

Manipulating stickers is a wonderful fine motor activity.  This changes the typical sticker play a little by placing it on a vertical surface.  Imagine how this will strengthen the wrist muscles.  For children working on patterning this would be a great way to do that.

If you’ve never thought about play in the bathtub (even when your child is in there for getting clean) I’d encourage you to, especially in the winter!  There are so many ways to play.  I remember my nephew often putting on his swimsuit and playing with plastic animals in the tub for almost an hour at a time.   I’m sure a quick search on Pinterest for “bathtub play for kids” will offer you a wide array of options.

While this is a fairly traditional (read “old school”) game, it’s still a good one!  The Peak Performance Center has a website all about helping people improve their performance.  In it they explain that human memory is a process that involves three domains: encoding, storage and retrieval.  This fun game supports growth in all three areas.  By the way, this is a great alternative to smart phones while you are waiting at a restaurant, etc.

Very young children will love this activity.  Surprisingly I am confident our oldest kids would also enjoy this as well.  While this seems like a “just keep them busy” activity, children are actually building hand-eye coordination, building strength in their hands and even cementing knowledge in the physical make-up of some dry foods.  Remember, there is learning active in all play experiences.

We LOVE shaving cream at preschool.  This is actually an activity I’ve done with my grand kids, multiple times.  They love it and they ask for it, even the seven year old.  At a recent conference, we were also talking to a family about using shaving cream as a way to practice drawing shapes, letters and numbers.  You could even combine this with the previous idea for playing in the tub.

 

Colored ice is also a staple around here.  Often the church staff or members ask us about the ice trays with colored water stored in the freezer.  You can also freeze a popsicle stick standing up in the tray (just stick it through some cling wrap) and then children can use this for painting too.  Also, adding salt to the mix brings in some science experimentation.

Perhaps you remember doing this as a child.  It’s so fun to expose a “secret” message, picture, shapes, etc. while painting with water color.  Psst, it’s just white crayon drawn on white paper.  You and your child could take turns drawing or writing the secret part.

This blog had a ton of other ideas.  I’d encourage you to check it out.  Also we have some previous posts about indoor activities.  Some include much more active play.  I’ve linked to a few of those below:

INSIDE PLAY

INSIDE ENTERTAINMENT

WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?

Have fun playing!

 


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Kindness is contagious!

Isn’t it amazing how just taking time to focus on something seems to manifest even more of that.  That is how I feel about our Kindness Campaign.  It is amazing how often I see children do kind things or hear a teacher talking about a kind action.

I LOVE IT!

Our teachers are sharing the kindness strips that our families send in during their circle time.  The children just BEAM when their kind deed is announced.

 

Again, I LOVE IT!

Our kindness chain is sure growing!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

Perhaps this focus has even helped you become more aware of kind actions all around you.  I sure hope so.

One little guy make cookies and took them to the Police Station to thank them for keeping us safe.

Today I noticed a little guy in the Blue class giving a thumbs up to his friends as they were performing a play of The Three Little Pigs.  I know that made them feel great.  He got to add a link to our chain.

I’d love to see any of the kindness activities your buddies are encouraging the children to do.  Please drop us an email or add it as a comment to this blog post.

As another way to carry the kindness focus into the homes you may want to pick up a couple of books about kindness from the library.  I found this wonderful blog post about books that encourage kindness.   HERE   I hope you enjoy some from it.

 


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We actually have 7 senses – did you know?

We are all familiar with the 5 common senses: sight, listening, touch, taste and smell.  Did you know there are two others that are just as essential to everyday life?  Let’s take a look at those with a few excepts from Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. Hanscom.

Proprioception

Proprioception comprises sensory receptors in the joints, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that tell you where your body are without you having to look at them.  The receptors sense when muscles and other connective tissues are stretched or at rest (Biel and Peske 2009).  Our brain analyzes the information from the receptors and gives us a sense of body position and motion.  Proprioception regulates how much force you need to use when completing tasks, such as peeling a boiled egg without crushing it, holding a baby chick without squeezing too hard, and writing with a pen without ripping the paper.

Children develop proprioception through a series of pushes and pulls that happens when they interact with their environment, such as by picking up heavy sticks and putting them back down again to build a fort, raking leaves, and shoveling snow.  This push and pull creates new gravitational loads and adaptations that strengthen the bones and muscular tissue over time, offering increased awareness of the different muscles’ capabilities and positioning for better body awareness.

Children with poor proprioceptive sense are generally more susceptible to fractures, falls, dislocations, and injuries.  They tend to be clumsy and have been know to walk in a robot-like fashion.  . . . Without proper proprioceptive feedback, children may fall out of seats, fall frequently, and trip while walking up stairs.

To maintain or strengthen the proprioceptive system, encourage your child to have play experiences that offer resistance to the joints, muscles and connective tissues.  This can also be referred to as doing “heavy work,” which basically consists of activities that require pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects.

 

We have a previous post that talks further about “heavy work” which we sometimes call Calming Work.  You can find it HERE

Vestibular Sense

Of all the senses, the vestibular sense is often the most over-looked.  Yet it is the most pwerful and arguably one of the most essential of our senses.  It is also known as our balance sense.  There are little hairs  inside our inner ear.  When we move our body and head in all different directions, the fluid in the inner ear moves back and forth, stimulating these little hairs.   This stimulation provides us with awareness of where our body is in space and helps us effectively navigate and move around our environment with ease and control.  

The late A. Jean Ayres, PhD . . . stated “The vestibular system (network of senses) is the unifying system.  All other types of sensations are processed in reference to this basic vestibular information . . . When the vestibular system does not function in a consistent and accurate way, the interpretation of other sensations will be inconsistent and inaccurate, and the nervous system will have trouble ‘getting started'” (Ayres 2000, 37).

Due to the lack of efficient movement opportunities today, many children walk around with an underdeveloped vestibular sense.  The results; fidgeting, tears of frustration, more falls, aggression, and trouble with attention.

  

Children develop a strong vestibular sense by having frequent opportunities to move – especially activities that go against gravity.  Walking and running offer some vestibular input, but activities that encourage children out of an upright position provide rapid input to the inner ear.  In other words, children will benefit immensely by going upside down on the monkey bars, rolling down hills, and dancing until their little hearts are content.

 


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Our little ones need a lot!

This is not a typical post listing ideas for items to give for Christmas.  I’ve done those.  You can see those HERE , HERE and HERE

Today I am writing about so many other things that are the basic things that young  all children need.  I don’t want to preach, but truly the things listed below are so much more important than any gift you can give.  Your child will remember these more too.  Your child will thrive and blossom when surrounded with the blessings of these items.

CHILDREN NEED A LOT OF . . .

FAMILY TIME 

I know, if you are a stay-at-home mom you are thinking, “I’m with my child all day, every day.”  I mean a little more than just being with them.

I’m talking about playing (hide-n-seek, board games, rolling and tickling, playing catch, being the ‘sister’ for your ‘mommy’ child, ordering from your ‘waitress’ child, . . .)

I’m talking about having family dinners together.  Talk, laugh, share stories about when you were young (this is a favorite for my grand kids), ask questions, talk about feelings you felt today . . .)

I’m talking about going for walks, visiting a fire station, watching for squirrels, doing a family puzzle, . . .

I’m talking about cuddling and connecting.  I’m talking about saying I love you . . a lot.

TIME

Once again, I know you may be thinking “the days already seem so long.”  But the old saying, The days are long but the years are short is so very true.  Put the ‘hurry’ away and relax and enjoy.

I’m talking about time for your child to practice a new skill (like putting on clothes and shoes, learning to zip, put his or her own clothes away, feed him or herself, walking – even into school, . . .)

I’m talking about time to process emotions.  Time to figure out how to manage things when I’m frustrated or sad.  Time to let me be sad or frustrated.  How can a child learn to manage those kinds of feelings if he or she never experiences them.  It’s truly okay.  You can be there to support but your child will benefit from struggling a little at times.

I’m talking about time to JUST PLAY.   I know how I am if I have to stop in the middle of a project or thought.  I get frustrated – just ask my staff.  And I’m an adult.  Imagine being a child and always having to cut short the time to: build long train tracks, to draw a masterpiece, to pile the pillows which then turns into building a fort, to play with the water in my bath – or even other times during the day, to set up my ‘grocery store’ just so, to build a tower  . . . .

HERE is a previous blog post written by one of our parents.

OUTSIDE TIME

I’m talking about time to run, skip, jump, roll, swing, dig, twirl, climb, and breath in the fresh air – it’s all good for your body! (and a growing child’s brain!)

I’m talking about time to experience and enjoy all kinds of weather; hot, cold, balmy, windy, sunny, snowy, and even rainy.

I’m talking about gatherings with other families and friends, but also time on his or her own to learn how to entertain himself or herself as well.

SECURITY

While I certainly want all children to be safe, I’m also talking about a different kind of security.

I’m talking about security in knowing your family expectations  – consistency is so important.  HERE and HERE are a couple of  previous posts about discipline and setting boundaries.

I’m talking about security in the fact that expectations will be developmentally appropriate.  Imagine how unsure you feel if you are asked to do something that you aren’t able to – don’t even think about asking me to do a back bend, my body is not ready for that.  Did you know, a child’s brain isn’t typically developing the left side of the brain (the side for letters, writing, organized thinking  . . .) until at least three years old?

I’m talking about security in knowing his or her parents have “got this!”  Imagine living in a country that is totally changing, totally unstructured.  You would wonder who’s in charge.  Will your family be expected to pay more for taxes than you had planned – so then what happens to you.  It’s the laws (the rules) and the structure of our government (whatever your political beliefs) that give us the security we enjoy in this country.  It’s the same for your child even though he or she may fight the system (imagine a tantrum right here) often.  Ultimately he or she is reassured with the knowledge of consistent expectations.  Once again, it’s okay for your child to struggle a little within the security of the consistent boundaries you have set.

I’m talking about the security in knowing you allow him or her to explore and grow to the best of his or her abilities.  I love a job where I can use my gifts, learn and grow as I work.  I feel secure in the knowledge that my superiors will back me up – even if I make a mistake in the process.   In children’s terms they enjoy trying new, even a little challenging things, with the knowledge that you trust them to try.  They can do their best, but then you will be there if the challenge becomes overwhelming.

LANGUAGE

I recently read an article that sited a study that showed the importance of language in the family as a predictor of future success in school and life.

I’m talking about rich language full of new words.

I’m talking about casually restating what a child says and also extending a child’s sentence structure.

I’m talking about questions, ‘I wonder’ statements and time for reflecting.

I’m talking about labeling emotions and talking about them – a lot.  HERE is a link to a previous post about helping a child deal with emotions.

I’m talking about giving verbal directions and then multi-step directions as your child grows.

I’m talking about reading and telling stories (in books, at bedtime, during dinner, about family history, about things that happened that day . . .)

I’m talking about playing with language (sounds, rhymes, patterns, silly words . . . )

I’m talking about language through song.

SLEEP

We cannot say enough about the importance of sleep – for all of us – but especially children.  Think about how you are not at your best (in other words, how cranky you are) when you don’t have enough sleep.  Young children’s bodies are even far less able to handle sleep deficiency.  HERE is a link to a post by the National Sleep Foundation.  You  may be surprised by the number of suggested hours of sleep for each age group.

I’ll finish today by saying abundance, abundance, abundance and then more abundance of these things for your child.

 


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Our Halloween fun – What? No Parties?

My husband actually said to me, “Oh, that’s right, you bah humbug Halloween.”  He was referring to our lack of costumes and parties in our preschool classes.  Don’t worry, I quickly set him straight.  🙂

At Aldersgate Preschool we elect to keep our kids’ holidays pretty low-key.  I know you can relate to the hype and “energy” surrounding holidays in our society.  That’s part of our thinking.  Here are a few of our thoughts driving our decision about holidays.  (Hang in there with me through this part – there are photos at the end.)

Routines

We work hard to provide routines for the children while they are in class.  Education.com says this,

” One of the most important things that you can do to make your young child feel safe is to establish as much routine in his life as possible. Children (and adults) feel the most secure when their lives are predictable. When adults provide environments that feel safe, children learn that they can trust others to take care of them and meet their needs, so they become free to relax and explore their world. “

Confusion and missing items

I directed a preschool that did have parties and a parade.  Oh, the tales I could tell about the missing pieces of costumes, the mix-ups about who are doing crafts, the crafts that were not age appropriate, the children upset or crying . . .   Sorry if I sound cynical but with preschool and younger children these are a few of the realities.

Family time becomes even more special

Think about how special Trick-or-Treating becomes when it is the real highlight for your child.    I know some children are also exhausted after parties and the change of routines.  Hopefully our low-key day allows children to have a “less melt down” experience while they trick-or-treat.

Young children can be scared of the unusual

I saw a perfect example of this in our three year old class.  Ms. Susan showed the children an electric jack-o-lantern.  Most of the children enjoyed the glow and the novelty as they talked about the shapes used in the face, etc.  However, even with this friendly faced item, one boy said, “Oh, that’s a scary face.”  He looked concerned until he was comforted by another teacher.  When the festivities are at home with parents, those fears are lessened and there is more more flexibility in how the activity must proceed to accommodate each child’s level of fear or excitement.

The holiday can generate interest in new learning 

As you will see below, we do talk about Halloween and the other holidays.  We use the children’s base of knowledge to encourage interest in different kinds of activities that build skills; social, cognitive, language, fine motor and many more.  (Okay, here are those pictures I promised.  Look for all the different kinds of opportunities the children enjoyed yesterday – on Halloween.)

Developmental opportunities:  Science, language, sensory, cooperation

Developmental opportunities: group dynamics, language (in the photo on the left each child got to talk to their class “puppet” and say what he or she will be for Halloween), self control, cognitive areas

 

Developmental opportunities:  dramatization & language (this two year old class had the children practice knocking on the door in the box and saying “Trick-or-treat!” and then “Thank You.” Of course there was a little playing of Peek-a-boo too.)

Developmental opportunities: group dynamics, cooperation, self control (it’s hard to WAIT!), physics, cognitive, language, large motor

 

Developmental opportunities:  cognitive skills, listening skills, fine motor control

Developmental opportunities:  Fine motor, project planning, persistence, creative exploration (the first picture is a creation of two monsters), language (there was a lot of talking between the artists)

 

Of course all the staff talked with the kids about their plans for Halloween and what costume they will wear.  Then, today we visited about their actual Halloween experience.  Today I heard lots of stories about trick-or-treating and of course LOTS of candy.

We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Halloween!


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Teaching children values – money talks

He saw a need and found a way to help.  Isn’t that what we all hope to do?

Recently a little guy noticed that our bird feeders were empty.  He worried about the birds being hungry.  His mom reminded him that he has some share money that he could use.  His face lit up and he did just that.  He bought some birdseed and filled the feeders.  Look at that big smile!

Don’t you just love the idea of “share money?”  I asked about this and found out they have a little bank they found on Amazon.  This concrete tool helps teach about giving, spending and saving.

          (click on photo for link)

I would love to post other ideas or routines our families have that help teach values.  Do you have a special prayer routine?  Is there a way you encourage kindness?  Are their regular times you emphasis the importance of family?  Let me know and I will pass on the information.


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Time flies by – enjoy it now!

This is a post I wrote for the Jan/Feb 2007 newsletter.  It’s an oldie but still worth the read – I think.

Believe it or not, these years with your young children will be over before you know it.

days-are-long-neutral-bog-resize

As many of you know, I am busy with preparations for my oldest daughter’s wedding (and I hear rumors of a possible engagement soon for my other daughter!)  This is a hectic time with lots of planning that can be both exhilarating and overwheleming at the same time.  Perhaps some of the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on comes from the underlying realization that we have truly moved out of the “child” phase of our family life.  Where did the time go?

(This photo is from this past Christmas, not 2007, but it is one I will always enjoy.)

cyndi-and-kids

I am proud of the young adults my children have become, but I do constantly wonder if I spent enough time truly enjoying them while they were young.  Did I:

  • take time to listen to the imaginative stories?
  • stop to take time to read a good book with them?
  • spend enough time cuddling at bedtime, or anytime?
  • take time to teach a new skill rather than rushing ahead and doing it myself?
  • go to the park enough?
  • make enough snowmen with them?
  • really listen to those sad feelings when a friend said something hurtful?
  • stop to read another good book?
  • allow helpful hands while baking when I knew I could do it so much faster by myself?
  • play enough games with them?
  • really listen when they were singing me the new song they just made up?
  • help my child investigate things like “Where is the end of the earth?” (This was an actual question my son asked at age four.)
  • paint, color, and do play dough enough?
  • stop to read ANOTHER great book?  There are so many fun ones available!

I mention all this because you are in the middle of these important years.  You still have time!  Be sure to catch some of that time for these things that seem so much more important when you are looking back.  Enjoy it now. . . while you can!

Cyndi