Friday, October 21, 2011

Oh Mister Sun!

What a glorious sun-filled day!  When we get a sunny day-we make good use of it.  Instead of an art project, we put out shovels and pails and let the kids dig in the molehills and in the dirt around the trees.  Some of the kids used the pails to gather newly fallen leaves.  They were amazed at the size of the leaves falling from the Big Leaf Maple tree in the center of the lawn.  We will spend more time on leaves in the coming weeks.

We had a productive circle time with kids really expressing themselves and taking turns talking.  Again, we voted on where to go for the day.  Almost everyone agreed that the tire swing was our destination in the sun.  To really get the day going, we sang the song:

Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me

Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Hiding behind a tree...

These little children
Are asking you
To please come out
So we can play with you

Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Please shine down on...
Please shine down on...
Please shine down on me!

Everyone worked very hard to try and do the hand motions and sing along.  We will continue to learn new songs and build on the old songs each week.

During snack time each day at preschool we read a book to the children.  Often it is something connected to what we are learning that week.  Almost always it is a book with a natural theme.  Halfway through the book we stop and talk about what might happen next. We have the kids each predict what could happen next in the story.  This is a pre-reading activity and helps the children to be more engaged with the story.

Next week is the week before Halloween.  We will not have any costumes at school because we are usually covered in gortex-but we will have fun learning about pumpkins next Thursday and have a popcorn treat.  Please let us know if your child can't have popcorn!

Thursday Ronan's mom, helped out at school while Teacher Ann went to visit her parents in Southern California.  Thank you Annmarie!  See you all next Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bug Boxes!

Sharing with an adult the bug box.
Focusing on her bug box

Yesterday was our 4th week of preschool and it was so fun to see what progress the group has made.  As teachers, Jen and I have been working hard to make TOP a community.  We have been encouraging new friendships and helping the children to learn each other's names.  When children are playing together we step in for a moment and have the kids say who they are playing with.  We model saying, Tom can you ask Steve to hand the bug box to you?  Or on the tire swing, when there are 3 children on a swing, I ask them to talk together and decide if they want to swing high or low, or whether they want to spin.  I go over eveyone's names and wait for a consensus before I will begin to push them. 

So in that vein, during circle time we played the game, "Who stole the apple from the apple tree?" Here it is:
Who stole the apple from the apple tree?"
Who me?
Yes you!
Couldn't be?
Then who?
Jane stole the apple from the apple tree!
Who me?

And on and on around the circle with each child pointing out the next child by name.  We helped them to get all of the names. We were impressed that every child participated (whether in a big clear voice or quietly) and that they were all engaged for the entire game!

We also were able to have a discussion about where the children would like to play in the park.  A couple of children mentioned the tall grass so we headed out there.  But after a quick stop at the tire swing it started to blow and rain-so into the woods it was! 

For snack I read the book "Slugs", a silly, pretend story about if slugs lived like us.  Then I broke out the bug boxes.  One for every child.  The bug boxes have magnifying glasses on top-so some of the kids put in lichen, or pine cones.  Others found banana slugs and spiders.  The bug boxes were used-put away and used again.  Children also climbed into a tree stump they had and then saw how many kids could fit in there, making me think of the old photos of people squeezing into a telephone booth!  When it was time to leave I think I saw 7 children in that stump.  I think it was supposed to be a castle?  Ask them!

I had a mom as my assistant yesterday.  Thank you!  One of Jen's children is sick.  We are so appreciative of your help when we can't be there.  If you would like to be a helper some day, please send me an email and I'll put you on the call list.  Sometimes it is last minute like Tuesday's was but other times we do know a few weeks ahead of time.

The beginning of the "Stump Castle" with only 3 people playing in it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fun in the Rain!

Today was the darkest day we have had so far.  We were very pleased to see everyone arriving dressed for the weather.  Teacher Jen was out today with her sick child so a big "thank you" to Max's mom, Beth, for coming in to help chaperone.

We began the day playing with foam blocks.  After building by themselves for awhile, the children followed the teacher in building the same form she did.  This ability to build the same shape begins to give children a name for their building shapes.  We used words like "column, rectangle, cube, square" to help the kids find the next block.  The children enjoyed the challenge of following directions and working together.

Our first exploration of the day was visiting the animals.  We observed the goats, Bitsy the Micro pig, Sunny the big sow and Peter the rabbit.  The chickens and Daisy the cow.  The children are learning to be quiet and respectful of the animals, not to climb the fences around their pens and to pet softly.

We then hiked to our favorite spot and had snack. Our book today was a book about spiders.  Everyone was very interested in the information in the book.  Did you know that spiders have 8 eyes, 8 legs and that they poison their prey?

After snack the kids climbed the trees, played on the branches, walked in the water and explored for a long time.  When it was time to hike back we had a quick circle time singing the spider songs that we learned on Tuesday.  There was a lot of participation in the singing and hand motions.

On our way back we played troll at the bridge and had one last climb on the elephant tree.  Lunch was in the overhang. 

Most of the year we are in the overhang for both start of the day, lunch and the end.  But we will be in the woods the rest of the time!  See you next week!

TOP information:
Our birthday policy is that the parents can bring in a snack that will be given to the children after lunch.  It should be a snack that everyone can eat regardless of allergies.  Usually a gummy snack is safest.  The birthday child can bring in a book to share that the teacher will read to the group.  Oh-and we'll all sing happy birthday too!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spiders!

Blue Group  playing in our secret place!

Boys sharing looking at the beetle in the bug box.

Our theme today was spiders!  We sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Theres a spider on the floor" songs and everyone joined in with the hand movements and singing when they could.  We spoke about what a spider does and why they are good for our world.  You can ask your child what spider's eat and what shape of spider webs we saw.  (mostly "Orb" spider webs-round) 

This was the first day we split into color groups for the whole hike.  The yellow group went on a long hike today.  (your child may come home quite tired out!)  The teachers had spray bottles with water to spray on webs to make them pop out of the background.  The children were quite good at finding hidden spider webs on trees and in the bushes.  Some used magnifying glasses to look more closely at the natural world.  Along the way we found a beetle and a slug, which took turns in the bug box.  Both were released without harming them. 

The blue group was very investigative today.  Stopping everywhere to play and explore the woods.  When they arrived back at the picnic table for lunch they had a worm in tow.

Lastly, the kids made their own  spiderwebs using marble art.  Ask them how they did it!

It was a little cooler and a little wetter in the woods today. Thank you for sending everyone in waterproof pants.  We have noticed some kids are not wearing Bog boots.  There were many kids with wet feet at the end of our hike after much stomping in the new puddles.  Today was ok becuase it wasn't too cold-but soon it will be very uncomfortable to end up with wet socks.  Please help keep everyone comfortable by sending your children with appropriate clotheing for the woods and rain/wet.  It will make everyone happier!