Aldersgate Preschool


Leave a comment

Nature walk – a perfect fall activity

I love fall.  I love the cooler weather (although we’ve had a little extra cool than typical), the beautiful colors, the pumpkins and other fall fruit.  It’s the time of year I most enjoy being outside.  Perhaps your family does as well.

Children are naturally inquisitive about nature and often will use it in their play.  On our playground the children use small stick, stones, sticky balls, leaves, and acorns in a variety of different types of play.  It’s an environment rich with possibilities. I’ve seen many of our families out for a walk together.  That’s fabulous.  Next time your family heads out for a walk, you may want to try making it a Nature Walk.  This has two benefits; expending energy and the awareness of nature.  Simply print out the picture below and check off the items you see on the way.  You could take time to compare two of a similar item you see – i.e. a robin and a crow.  This encourages your child’s observation skills, attention span, fine motor development and literacy awareness.

In the spring our Red classes will be learning about the 5 senses.  In past years they have taken a listening walk.

I love watching them walk around with their clipboards intently listening so they could mark off the different items.  Feel free to copy and past the two checklists for your own nature walk.

 

 


Leave a comment

Water

It’s one of the simplest forms of nature around. It’s colorless, tasteless, inexpensive, and MAGICAL for little ones! WATER!
harrison (7)

And, there are so many things you can do with it: freeze it, melt it, shoot it, pour it… the possibilities are endless.  Sometimes at the preschool, we freeze water in different containers and let the children experiment with it.  What does salt do to ice? How about if we spray water on?

 

savannah (5)

Sometimes we add some liquid water color or food coloring and allow the children to drop colors onto a coffee filter.  It’s fun to watch what the colors do as they absorb.

IMG_0084

For “Water Day” at summer camp, we left buckets of soapy water and sponges by the tricycles.  The children needed no instruction, they knew exactly what to do!

IMG_0076

Water shooters aimed at pie pans?  Yes, please!  And it was such great exercise for their arms and coordination as they filled the shooters with water, aimed and then shot the water toward the pan!

IMG_0077

And, I loved watching the children experiment with the water wall!  There are lots of great tutorials and adaptations of a water wall if you do a quick search on pinterest.

Or try these ideas:

  • For little ones, simply putting a bunch of water in a plastic tub is enough to keep them busy.  Add some toys or sponges.  Squeezing sponges is excellent exercise for the hand muscles!
  • Try freezing small toys in containers and then let your children figure out ways to break the ice or melt it and get to the toys!
  • Slip and slides are fun and inexpensive.  Last year, we added a little shaving cream fun while slipping and sliding.  My girls love covering themselves with the shaving cream and it added a little bit of slip too!  Plus , they smelled great after!
  • Have you seen the water blob?  So fun!  I have yet to make one but have friends who have and said it was a blast!
  • A bucket of water and a simple paint brush… let the kids paint the driveway!
  • Also great for fine motor and hand strengthening is spray bottles!  They cost $1 at the store and kids love them.

Other ideas?  Please share!


Leave a comment

A Science Lesson on Wind

We recently had a science lesson in our 3 year old classes. We talked about wind!What is wind? That’s a tough thing to explain. We blew into our hands. We can’t seen wind but can we feel it? Yes! We looked at pictures of wind… waves, a tree blowing, a windmill. Wind is air that blows.

IMG_9797

Then we looked at some different items. A balloon, cupcake wrapper, scarf, napkin, cotton ball, pom pom, wadded up newspaper, and a rock. What things will move with wind? Each child picked an item and made a prediction.

The cupcake wrapper moved with the wind (fan)!

IMG_9798

The feather moved with the wind!

IMG_9801

But, the rock? It didn’t move with the wind! I asked why. And, I had several children tell me because the rock is strong! Hmmmm… we talked about the words light and heavy. For most of the children, this was a new concept for them to understand but something you could talk about at home.

IMG_9806

The lighter items moved with the wind but the heavier ones didn’t as much. The rock didn’t at all!

Science doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun and beneficial!  You could easily do this at home or even outside!  Watch how things move in the wind, make predictions,  and then observe what happens!

 


1 Comment

Empty backpacks sometimes mean better learning

I remember talking to a friend once about when her oldest went to preschool.  She questioned his teachers because he never seemed to bring anything home.  “If he isn’t bringing anything home, then what is he doing all day and what am I paying for?”  She became so angry about it, she pulled him from that preschool.  Years (and 6 more children) later, she laughs at the memory because she now realizes why his backpack was empty.

IMG_8793

A perfect example: Our Blue and Purple classes learned about some animals last week.  The teachers could have talked about the animals, read a book about them, and perhaps given a coloring sheet or worksheet to the children.  But, how meaningful is that?

IMG_8770

Instead, someone from Ernie Miller Nature Center visited and brought some real, live animals (and some animal skins, too)!  We’ve talked about it before: when children are able to see, touch, smell (use their senses) to learn, they learn it that much more effectively!

IMG_8767

And, brain research has also found that when our emotions are attached to learning, we are a lot more likely to learn too!  While we didn’t touch the snake, we loved watching it!

We may not get to have visits with animals everyday, but we do try to keep the children’s experiences as authentic and hands-on as possible.  Lisa Murphy (early childhood educator and presenter) says it well when she tells us, “Children need experiences to attach words to.”

So, their backpacks may not always show you what your child is doing, but we hope that you know that we are filling their minds with wonderfully rich experiences!


Leave a comment

Scientific Art

Is summer getting long? Does the heat outside cause grouchiness? How about trying some magic inside? Earlier this year, I conducted a really cool science experiment with our Blue class. It’s super easy and super cool which are two really important factors in how I choose activities with my kids.
The things that you need are things that you probably already have around your house:
*2% or higher milk
*food coloring
*Q-tip
*dish soap
Pour some milk into the bottom of plate until you have a nice, shallow puddle. Put a drop of each color of food coloring onto the milk. Then, place your Q-Tip into the dish soap and touch it into the milk. Sit back and watch the magic happen!

You can experiment with where you put the color drops: in the middle together or spread out in different corners. See how it affects the color. Give your child toothpicks and let them experiment with the food color before you add the dish soap.

Another activity that I did with my children every summer was crayon rocks. This is another super easy and super fun (notice a trend here?) activity.
All you need:
*nice, smooth river rocks (cleaned)
*crayons
*oven
Gather your rocks onto a foil lined cookie sheet and heat in the oven until they are nice and warm. Pull your rocks out and, using your crayons, begin coloring. (The only hazard involved here is making sure that your child does not touch the hot rock and honestly, my children never did.) The crayons will melt as the children color and it’s a pretty cool thing to experiment with.

Melted Crayon Rocks

Click on the picture above for more pictures and  instructions.

Hope this helps you survive the soaring hot temps outside!


Leave a comment

Building is learning (Block Play)

I say it quite often but truly believe: “there is intent to all that we do here at Aldersgate.”  From our schedules, to the way we serve snack, to the way that our rooms are set up.  We do it all for a reason.

Each of our classrooms at the preschool are set up with four distinct areas: block play, dramatic play, art, and quiet area.  We’ll be talking about each in future posts but for today, I’d like to tell you about our block play.

Did you know that there are lots of different kinds of blocks? We have bamboo blocks, wood blocks, lego blocks, letter blocks, sign blocks, number blocks, transparant color blocks, foam blocks, brick blocks, hollow blocks, natural tree blocks, rainbow blocks… you get the idea, right?  I’m not sure that we could ever have too many blocks.  Kids love them!  And, we enjoy seeing the things that they create with them…

IMG_2236IMG_3810

IMG_2371IMG_2394

Block play is often a social time for children.  They work together to build and create things, they compromise, they take turns, they take pride in their accomplishments, they practice trial and error, and they learn!

There is a plethora of information that you can find if you google “benefits of block play in early childhood.”  But, the best thing that I have seen that, really, says it all is a poster that diagrams wonderful benefits that children experience just by playing with blocks.

image found via Designs for Childhood

Interested in enriching your home with some blocks? We order most of ours from here. But, really, they can be found anywhere; from Target to Wal-Mart to U.S. Toy.  And, as always, let us know if you have questions!


1 Comment

Science is Fun!

ImageScience is a very important (and popular) part of a child’s life.  As a child learns about the world around him, making sense of it, using their senses to discover and investigate… this is all science!

Sometimes, I get to visit  preschool classes and conduct experiments.  Recently, we did a sink/float experiment.  While this sounds pretty simple, it is fascinating to the children… and fun too!

Image

What types of things sink and what types of things float?  The rubber band ball sinks but one rubber band floats!  The bouncy ball sinks but our splash ball floated!  We also tried cans of pop.  What will full cans of pop do in water?  Will Mountain Dew do the same thing as Diet Coke?  What about Diet Sunkist and Dr. Pepper?

IMG_2204

Not only did the children learn about cause and effect (dropping a can into the water makes a big splash), they also noticed that some of the cans sink in water and some float!  From there, we looked to see which cans sink and which float.  “The diet cans float!”  With a little help from me, we could conclude that the sugar in the other cans caused them to sink.  While the children loved doing this with the pop, they love investigating with any types of items: paper, cork, foil, metal utensils and plastic utensils.

Science is all around us!  Recent brain research has found that a child’s brain develops much more effectively when their environment is rich in experience!  You can do your own experiments at home: sink/float in the bathtub or in the sink.  Let the children choose what items to place in the water and predict whether they sink or float.

Or, you can check out these great ideas for more science experiments to do with your children.

20 Great Science Experiments for Preschoolers

Science Experiments with Kids


Leave a comment

Pumpkin Science Update

Many of you will remember our previous blog post from December 5th.  We put a rather large pumpkin on some potting soil in a pot on the playground.  Here’s a picture from that post.

pumpkin sicience

We hypothesized (made guesses) about what would happen to the pumpkin. 

Today, I asked some children what they thought had happened to the pumpkin.  I said that I was pretty sure it had changed.  They had some ideas about what might have happened.

“It turned pink.”  “No, silver.”  “I think it would be great if it had sparkles.” 

Can you tell I was talking to a group of girls?  I am confident the ideas would have been very different if I had asked a group of boys. 

We went outside to check our predictions.

IMG_2360

It really had changed.  Sadly it was not now pink, silver or sparkly.

IMG_2361

While outside, we had several boys join the investigation.  The children described this pumpkin as “smooshy,”  “like squishy cake,” “flat and bumpy.”  We again made predictions of what would now happen to the pumpkin.  Someone thought “it might turn into a frog.”  Another child said, “no, maybe a stick.”  Hmmmm, I am afraid they may be disappointed in the outcome but I suppose scientist through the years have faced some disappointments. 

IMG_2362

I love watching children investigate things.  If we allow them the necessary time, they will ponder things for quite a while.  I can almost see those brain neurons firing and making connections.  I love that the children wanted to touch it.  They even took off their gloves so they could really feel it.  We often talk about how important hands on experience is for children.  Today it really was! 

Keep watching.  We will do more important pumpkin investigating this spring!


Leave a comment

Planting a Pumpkin?

“Ms. Cyndi, what are you doing?”  “Why are you planting a PUMPKIN?”

As you can see from the picture below, on the playground, we have a pumpkin in a pot.  This will be our year-long experiment.  We are asking the children, “What will happen if we leave this pumpkin here all year?”  If/then statements are a wonderful starting point in scientific thought.  If we leave this pumpkin here all year, then  . . .

We are already hearing quite a few hypotheses:  “It will get old and squishy.”   “It will grow.”   “It will die.”  It will get hairy.”   “It will get holes in it.”  “It will get rooting, um, no rotten.”  (This is great vocabulary practice as well!)   . . .

As I was working on setting it up, the children noticed some places on the pumpkin that are already deteriorating.  The outside shell is chipped away in places.  We talked about what could be causing that to happen.  The general consensus was birds pecking at it.  I noted that the edges looked a little like bite marks.  Hmmmm, I wonder about that.  One child offered the possibility of mice eating it.

I love this simple project.  I love the interactions and the questions.  I love the thought the children are already giving this.

What will happen?  We, the teachers, don’t know.  We aren’t sure if it will just rot or if the seeds will germinate in the pot.  We each have our own hypothesis.   I am hopeful that we will see regrowth next year but we just don’t know.   “What will happen if we leave this pumpkin here all year.”pumpkin sicience