Sorting Recyclables

Because we are still focusing on all things recycling, we learned about how important it is to clean up after ourselves.

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We initially learned about what the word “litter” and “recycle” mean, and then we went on a make believe clean-up in the front yard playground.

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The children sorted their trash according to “cans” and “other trash”.

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By teaching out little ones about conservation, we are encouraging them to be good custodians of their own future.

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Playdoh Planets

Young children do not think in two dimensions.

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If they are presented with a picture, they are often unable to truly grasp its meaning, because they are not yet capable of symbolic thought.

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It is therefore imperative that they are given every opportunity to participate in their learning on three dimensions.

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Play dough provides the perfect medium for this. For this activity, we created the planet Earth out of blue and green play dough.

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Our older students then used a tape measure to measure the circumference of their planets. The tactile experience of manipulating play dough helps children develop a deeper understanding of how matter changes (physics) and encourages them to use scientific thinking as they observe changes, make predictions, and talk through differences in the materials they are using. The fine motor skills needed for writing and drawing are also refined as children roll, poke, and shape their play dough creations.

 

Trash Sculptures

Preschoolers love to explore the world around them.

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To help teach your little ones about the principles of recycling, we created sculptures out of trash!

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This activity allowed for the repurposing of discarded materials (styrofoam) to help your students learn about the importance of reusing materials.

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This project also enabled your children to access their imaginations and creativity by providing them with three-dimensional materials.

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Waltzing Threes

Recent research tells us that young children are naturally curious about math in the world around them. Preschoolers love to learn by doing — engaging their minds, connecting with their senses, and tapping into their enthusiasm. Research reinforces the value of letting them learn about math through hands-on games and activities they enjoy.

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One surprising research finding is that, while young children appear to learn to read best by mastering skills in an orderly, linear fashion (e.g., print awareness first, then phonics, etc.), the “normal” learning curve in math can vary from one child to the next.

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In fact, some children seem to be able to understand and engage in certain math activities without first having mastered other, simpler counting and math-related tasks. Since we have been learning about the number 3, your little one participated in an activity designed to strengthen their understanding of it.

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We learned about the waltz, and how it is composed of the beats 1-2-3. With a partner, your little ones practiced chanting “1,2,3” as they danced around the room to the Blue Danube Waltz.

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Calendar Time

Time is a hard concept for preschoolers.

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It isn’t something that they can touch, feel and explore. Without the ability to tangibly interact with time, children need adults who understand the concept to help them learn about time.

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For our class, we use a calendar that we visit every day at circle time! We use words while doing so to indicate time such as yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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When these words are used in context, especially in conjunction with a calendar, it helps make the concept of time more concrete.

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To help make learning the month of April more individualized to your little one, each student is given their own calendar that they work with every day during circle time. Using stars, we mark off the days together! By participating in the act of counting the days, they are able to gain a stronger grasp on how time passes.

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Snowballs, Spheres, and the Letter W

Snow is formed when temperatures are low and there is moisture – in the form of tiny ice crystals – in the atmosphere.

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When these tiny ice crystals collide they stick together in clouds to become snowflakes. If enough ice crystals stick together, they’ll become heavy enough to fall to the ground.

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Using insta-snow, your little one performed two actions.

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They first learned about what a sphere is, and formed one with their “snow”, and then talked about the letter W, and used their snow to make their very own letter W!

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Your little ones have a powerful desire to explore and question the world around them.

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They couple their imaginations with accessible materials to recreate many of the situations they learn about on a daily basis.

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They do this as a means to integrate the known with the unknown.

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Rain Rain, Go Away

A number of studies have indicated that games can help kids develop essential emotional and intellectual skills that support academic achievement.  For most preschoolers, collaborative games are a highly-social activity. In many of these games, players work together in teams to achieve goals, compete against other players or both. Their teamwork abilities are put to the test, and they must hone their communication and interpersonal skills in order to progress.

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These pro-social behaviors are critical for healthy social development — children with positive social skills are more likely to have high self-esteem, good peer relationships and achieve in school. For this activity, we played a game called Rain Rain, Go Away. Each child was given a paper raindrop that they were told to hold onto as they walked across the circle rug.

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They would do this during the music, and when the music stopped, they were instructed to put their raindrops on the ground to sit on. There were also segments in the music where rain sounds would initiate, and during this portion, students placed their raindrops over their heads.

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In addition to the social benefits acquired, your little one was given the opportunity to practice their listening skills! Listening skills are very important because they help children learn how to develop their language skills, so we are constantly playing games that foster this important developmental task.

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Where Does Rain Come From?

Teaching scientific concepts to young children poses unique challenges, so in our classroom, we use simple vocabulary and fun projects to keep them captivated!

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Water rotation is an ideal introduction to rain formation, so we talked about where rain comes from and where it goes!

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With paper towels, plastic droppers, bowls, and blue water, we practiced dropping rain on our “clouds” and then watched as it dropped into the bowls!

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Hands-on activities such as these reinforce complicated concepts and allow your preschoolers to grasp how rain works!

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Collaborative Thunderbolts

These days, curriculum often recommends using partner chats, turn-and-talk, and other one-on-one conversation strategies to help students reflect on and deepen their learning. Although it may seem like a simple thing, chatting with a partner involves a complex set of skills that many children do not come to school with: listening and speaking in turn, staying on topic, and not monopolizing the conversation, to name just a few.

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Conversation skills are important for academic and social learning at all ages. The school day is full of conversations—we talk with each other in large group gatherings, at work and choice times, and of course during snack, recess, and lunch. Children who are not skilled in this arena may struggle, academically and socially. That’s why it’s important to teach conversation skills explicitly. I’ve found that taking time to teach first grade students how to chat with a partner has had striking benefits—for individual students, and for our classroom community.

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For this activity, we used circle time to learn about the letter W with a partner! Using lightning bolts made out of foam, we created our letters. Before starting, your little ones were informed that the letter W is made up of a series of different shaped lines. These lines attach to form W! With their partners, they attached these “lightning bolts” together to form a W!

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