Aldersgate Preschool

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Christmas Gift Ideas 2016

It is definitely that time of year again.  Time for shopping.  Each year I’ve put together a list of ideas for Christmas gifts that we recommend for little ones.  This year I am going to reference back to those (we still love them!) and link to a blog that I follow.

Our toy recommendations are:

From Christmas 2015


From 2014


We love Lakeshore Learning.  This post includes some of our favorites from there.


Books make great gifts too.  Here are a couple of posts about books we like.

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Not Just Cute is one of our favorite blogs.  You’ve probably noticed many of my quotes in the weekly emails are by Amanda Morgan, the writer of this blog.  She has a great post about books for children of all ages here.


Here is her list of best toys for encouraging imagination:


Of course we offer all this with the full realization that toys and gifts are not what make Christmas.  We are starting to learn our Christmas songs for the Christmas Worship on the 10th and I love hearing from the children about Jesus and all that he has done for us.  It is so wonderful to recognize Jesus’ birth every year with our Christmas celebrations.  This book is a great one for talking about the real reason for Christmas.



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Using Dice with Preschoolers

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While walking through a classroom I noticed children playing a game with dice and pompoms.  I loved that the kids were practicing lots of one-to-one counting as well as writing numerals and using their pincer grasp.  This non-competitive game provided lots of learning opportunities while reinforcing concepts surrounding the fall season.

I thought I’d share some additional fun ways to use dice with young children.

(Click on the photos for a link to the websites.)


Oriental Trading offers these larger foam dice.  The larger size allows children to touch and count the dots with greater ease.


At Stir the Wonder blog there is information about this very toddler appropriate first experience with dice.  I love that the children are physically manipulating the blocks as you count the number you are adding.  How tall can you build?  This could be played with any kind of stacking blocks as well.

You can also extend this idea to more physical activities.  Jump, clap or hop the number the die shows.  Run as long as it takes for someone to count to the number on the die.  Drop pompoms or balls into a basket or through a paper towel tube to correspond with the number on the die, etc.


The Measured Mom blog offers this game page free.  Matching the die face to the printed one is a good introduction.  You can count the dots as you are looking for matches.


One Perfect Day blog has an in-depth post that includes a variety of ways to practice a variety of math concepts using dice along with loose parts (small items like stones, pompoms, beads, etc).  I love the idea of children actually moving items to represent the same “picture” they see on the die.


Inspiration Made Simple blog has this fun game connecting dice to the parts of a robot.  There is a free download included in the post.

These ideas should provide many hours of good number fun.  Keep on rolling!


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Board Games…. Not Boring at all!

With this heat I thought you might all enjoy reading this post our previous Assistant Director, Shelly, posted back in 2012.  Have fun playing some board games!!!


Earlier this week, I spent some time watching our Blue a.m. class kids as they played some simple games: Zingo, Memory, and Avalanche.  It was fun to watch them and see how much fun they were having!  It caused me to wonder, how often do we enjoy board games with our own children at home?

There are so many benefits to playing games:

* social emotional: Children need to learn about winning and losing.  Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose and that’s okay.  Losing can be tough but it’s a great lesson!

Games also allow us the opportunity to learn about taking turns.  We practice patience and qualities involved in sharing when we do this.  We also learn about cooperative play… so important in life!

* fine motor: Strengthening our hand muscles, eye/hand coordination, and isolating our fingers are all important in getting us ready to properly hold and use writing utensils and scissors.

*cognitive skills: Recognizing the amount of dots on a die, one to one counting as they move a game piece across the board, learning to recognize numbers, colors, shapes, are all great practice.  It’s pretty neat, too, to see how children learn to “strategize” from a very young age.  Games also teach about the scientific concept of cause and effect: if you do this, then this will happen.

Some of our favorite games up here at the preschool are:

*Zingo                         *Avalanch Fruit Stand                   *Hi-Ho Cherry-O

*Operation                 *Candy Land                                    *Chutes and Ladders

*Bingo                         *Memory

There are lots and lots of other great games out there.  While places like Toys R Us and Target are good places to find games, I encourage you to also check out these great sites and stores:

As we hear so often, “the best thing you can do for your children is read to them,” I feel just as strongly about playing games.  When you are reading to them, you are connecting with them and spending quality time together.  The same is so true about playing games.  Games are a great way to bring families together!


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Summer is coming!

With summer quickly approaching many of us (grandparents included) are racking our brains for ideas of things to do.

Do you remember the simple things you did as a child?  I certainly do.  It was always great to have some easy go-to activities that didn’t require much set up.  Here is a list of some of those with a few more in-depth fun ideas as well.

  • Bug hunt – check under rocks and logs
  • Look for pictures in the clouds
  • Play with shaving cream
  • Play on the preschool playground
  • catapults-to-make-with-kids Make catapults
  • Make a wish on a dandelion
  • Necklace of clover  – just tie stem around the head of the next one and continue on until you have the length you want
  • Car trails and tracks in the dirt
  • Chalk on the sidewalk or on the wood fence
  • 0233153f46ad73ee4d1d9e17110af105 Make a bubble station
  • I spy
  • Follow the leader
  • Write letters in the dirt
  • Squirt guns
  • Blanket fort – inside or out
  • Watercolor painting outside
  • Collect rocks
  • rocket  Make paper and straw rockets
  • Animal hunt – hide plastic or stuffed animals around the yard
  • Sun bleach prints – lay objects on a colored paper and check it later to see if the sun has faded the parts not covered
  • Water play in tubs – paint brushes, dish soap bubbles in tubs, bike or trike wash, baby bath, wash plastic toys, plastic tarp and water for a slip and slide, turkey baster and other kitchen gadget play, wood or Styrofoam pieces for boats, lego boats, spray bottles and/or sponges (yes, this means the players will also most likely get wet), add some ice cubes (colored ones are even better)
  • Make sand or mud pies
  • a2e9c00e2fe7858ec38299624eaa2a15 Make wood roads and ramps
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Play hide and seek
  • Make up “knock knock” jokes
  • Sand tunnels for matchbox cars
  • Read books in the shade of a tree
  • Create an obstacle course
  • Water-Painting-Writing-Practice-for-Kids Chalk and water painting letters
  • Play tic tac toe with nature items
  • Catch fire flies
  • Sprinkler fun – try dancing through it, jumping, crawling under the spray . . .
  • Visit all the parks within 5 miles of your home
  • Paint rocks or sticks
  • Play in the rain – it’s a GREAT time to let the kids enjoy some puddle jumping!
  • Have some fun!!!!



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Launch Boards are fun!

Launch boards are a lot of fun!  Kids of all ages enjoy them and they will use them over and over.

We are including these in our fall fundraiser.  Your purchase includes one launch board and a small bean bag.  Don’t feel limited to only launching bean bags.  Balls of all types are fun.  Scarves, stuffed animals  . . .  all offer a variety to the fun.  Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if you launched a roll of crepe paper?

Here is a short video showing two adorable guys playing with one.  As you can see, even the little guys will do this over and over!

launch board

(click on the photo to go to the video)

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Welcome to a great year!


What fun.  We are having a great second full week!  As I walk through all the classes I’m already seeing so much interaction, learning, possibility . . .   I snapped a few photos on my phone to share with you – can you believe all the cameras are in use in the classrooms as the teachers take photos to share with you throughout the year!  Here is just a sampling of what I saw.

(By the way, you are welcome to stop in and get a photo of your child in front of our chalkboard door in the office if you would like. )


As children learn to trust others outside their family circle, the build confidence in themselves.  Trust is the foundation of all meaningful relationships.  Also, through these positive experiences children learn to be more open to exploration and new experiences in the future.


Safety and self-help:

It’s the little things that add up to a safe space.  As children learn our routines it creates a safer environment for them.  Our staff are always vigilant but giving the children (even young ones) the skills that create a safe transition, etc. is so very helpful.  We have our Discovery Days and Preschool Lite kids “put their bottoms on the wall” as their way to line up.  This is a concrete direction for them so it is easier to follow.  This might be a great safety strategy for you in public as well.  “Put your bottom on the car while I get the stroller out.”


Movement (and fun!)

What?  They play with balloons at school?  That’s not learning???  Yes, actually, watching a balloon as it moves through the air is great eye-tracking practice and that’s important for reading.  Also, experiences that encourage children to twist, stretch their necks up, turn upside down, jump, etc. all support the rapid vestibular input to their brain.  Here’s a wonderful article about the importance of this.


Sensory and art:

Art is just one area in which children can use their creativity.  An article I read recently on the blog Inquire Within related creativity to innovation in this way:

  • Imagination – the power to bring to mind things that aren’t here in the present.
  • Creativity – applied imagination.  The process of putting your imagination to work and having original ideas that have value.
  • Innovation – putting original ideas into practice.

This makes us realize how important it is to nurture the creativity in our children.

Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways  important to all types of learning.  And, those scooper tools are just cool and fun to use (they also provide great fine motor coordination practice.)


Reading, reading, reading:

I can’t say enough how important the exposure to books is for young children.  It is by far the most significant support toward helping children grow into successful readers.  Independent reading and being read to everyday are both incredibly valuable!


Hands on learning:

How much more impactful is the number and measure of 30 gallons of water (which happens to be how much an elephant drinks in a day) when you are hauling, pouring, matching, watching . . .  These experiences will be in these kids brains for future scaffolding once they are introduced to volume and other math terms and concepts.  By the way, the kids also saw how much water they should drink in a day.  It was much less than an elephant (1.5 liters) but still more than probably most get – isn’t that true for so many of us.


Yes, it really is going to be a GREAT YEAR at 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