Friday, September 28, 2012

A is for Apple!

Our second day at TOP and we are already getting it together!  Most of the kids were OK with their parents leaving and the ones who are still having a hard time-were able to sing and talk during circle time.  

This year our curriculum is based on the alphabet. We will be speaking about nature while going through the letters of the alphabet. Our curriculum at TOP is flip-flopped so that a child who wants to stay 2 years doesn't have a repeating program.    A is for Apple is an easy way to start-since we sit under the apple tree!

During circle time Thursday we opened with the poem we are learning:

Way up high in the old apple tree.
2 Little apples smiled at me!
I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down came the apples.
MMM were they good!

We have motions for this and your child is beginning to learn the hand signals.
We also explain that we are doing the American Sign Language sign for "apple".

We also did silly versions of this poem-going through bananas, mangoes, plums-as the children came up with suggestions of other fruits.  We are very pleased to see that the children are speaking up-and we are working on the raising of hands during circle.  That is coming along too!  Already!  Yeah!

Then we went over some of the safety rules again and soon it was time for the TOP song and hiking!

We began our hike together as a group of 12.  During the beginning of the hike we found the following:

  1. a dead mole on the trail
  2. a pile of feathers from a black and white spotted bird
  3. a pile of fur from an unknown source
  4. a slug in a tree
  5.  another pile of feathers

There was a lot to observe Thursday!  We looked at the mole, picked up the feathers, touched the fur and some people had to be redirected from poking at the slug!

When we found the feathers the 2nd time we had a talk about what probably happened to the bird. We spoke about how the bird probably did not survive losing this many feathers! In some research on the web I found that the bird feathers may have come from a European Starling.
Then it was time for snack and stories.  We always bring hand sanitizer so everyone was cleaned up before they put food into their mouths!

Jen and I then divided the group into the Blue Group (Teacher Jen's group) and the Yellow Group (Teacher Ann's group).  As we headed different directions the Yellow Group wanted to stop and the other kids!  They are already learning to use their senses to listen and observe.  They are becoming nature scientists!

The Yellow Group ended up at the playground and enjoyed the sun.  The Blue Group ended up playing in the stream and learning how we stay safe with rocks and sticks!

Lunch was fun in the sun and everyone had something to say about their day at TOP!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First day at TOP 2012 is TOPS!

We had a great start to The Outdoor Preschool 2012!  This is our third year, so our third group of kids!  We have all boys this year-so Teacher's Ann and Jen have to get used to not saying "Boys and girls!"  Otherwise we have an awesome group of kids eager to be outdoors learning about themselves and each other.

We began the day picking apples and some kids chose to make apple prints, others chose to play balls in the field. On these warm, non rainy days, we will often spend more time in the open since soon we will be hidden deep in the forest most of the day hiding from the rain!

The kids practiced stopping and going by playing Red Light, Green Light with the teachers using hand signals for stop and go-that we will use out on the trails.  We also practiced calling their names and having them say "I'm here!" or "Here I am!" or something like it.  We don't care what they say when we call them-as long as they vocalize.  This is another practice for playing in the woods.  At times kids can walk behind a tree and "disappear".  When we call them they need to answer!

We spent part of circle time having the kids come up with rules for safety in the woods.
There were some "don't hide from the teacher" and some "don't run ahead".  So these kids are well on their way to hiking safety.  You can ask your child about teacher sandwiches-and I don't mean our lunches!
Having a hiking partner is fun and a great way to get to know one child.
On the hike we gave each child a partner.  They were to stay with their partner and hold hands while moving. Many of the children have already made a friend at TOP with their partner!  We will continue with partners for a few more days and then reintroduce it at various times during the year.  Right now we are going out on the trail as a group of 12.  When the children get more accustomed to the safety rules and the flow of the class, Jen and I will separate out into the Yellow Group and the Blue Group.  Creating two different, smaller groups allows us to lead them into more sensitive spaces in the woods and creates stronger bonds between the children.

Soon it was time for snack and stories.  We read Ten Apples Up on TOP!  As you can see from the photo, everyone was very engaged with the silly counting book.

Lastly we went over the rules to visiting the animals.  Angus was able to tell us how horses like to be visited.  He said we should be quiet and not move our hands around as the horses can get scared.  I couldn't have said it better myself!  So we went and petted Daisy the Cow and saw the chickens and bunnies.

Lunch entailed more learning.  Washing up outside is different than at your house.  And also getting out your own lunch and putting it all away afterwards was a new thing for many kids.  We also chatted during lunch about each child's favorite part of the day.  I heard "The hike!" and "Snack!"  And also visiting the cow. 

So, we're off to a great start of the year!  Thank you for entrusting Teacher Jen and I (Ann) with your children!

PS The weather is getting cooler.  Soon you will need to send your child in waterproof pants and a gortex level of jacket.  You will also need to send your child with Bogg Boots.  No other boots work for the hiking and wet we have.  Bogg boots keep feet not only dry but warm!  I also have resourced some good gloves that I will send out information on.  Keep posted!