Saturday, January 26, 2008

Preschool Prepares to BLAST OFF

Our space technicians have been a truly dedicated crew, making sure our space shuttle is fully prepared for its inaugural launch next week. Work on the shuttle has been a genuine team effort, and everyone has been able to contribute in some way. Paint, glue, construction paper, crayons, markers, toilet paper tubes, plastic containers, three kinds of adhesive tape; all are essential to the performance of the children's work. Below are several photos, as well as a movie, showing how involved the children are with this project. It's wonderful!

On Friday, the children excitedly assembled telescopes, a useful tool to gaze at the infinite heavens above. It can be hard to see much in the night sky in this city, but the moon is usually visible. Next time you're out with your child, take a look up and see
what's there. I won't ever forget looking through a telescope when I was younger, in Florida, and actually seeing Saturn and its rings, would you believe it? It was truly a humbling and perspective-changing experience.

On display in the classroom are beautiful outer space scratch art drawings made by the children. They include imaginative descriptions involving many different planets, space ships, stars, aliens, and even the mysterious 'Planet X.'

Jessie, our new music teacher, sang a wonderful song with us about stars (video posted below). Her classes are very interactive, and every child is given multiple chances to offer their own approach to an activity.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the pot luck dinner. It was a lot of fun, and there was so much delicious food! Remember, the school auction is approaching (February 11), so be sure to come out and support Columbus Preschool.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Captain's Log:

Our crew: Seventeen rookie astronauts
Our equipment: One rocketship (upside-down table), spacesuits for each crew member, puppets, camera
Our rations: Food (pretzels, graham crackers), Water
Our mission: Travel around the universe, learn about the infinite darkness above

As you can see from our brainstorm web below, we are already familiar with many space terms and concepts. From meteors to martians, stars to our solar system's eight planets (sorry, Pluto), we have been having great discussions about everything space-related.
We have been noting basic characteristics about the planets, such as size, color, distance from the sun, general temperature, number of moons, and terrestrial planets vs gas giants.

Back on Earth, our lowercase letters have been coming along quite nicely. By now, the children have become more comfortable with proper pencil grip, and have been
coming up with some great words that contain the letter sound.

We discuss how some letters make more than one sound, such as 'G.' However, one child was able to suggest a word that has two G's, each making a different sound (juh and guh)....
Give up??......

GARBAGE! (also: gauge, gunge... I think the latter is a British term...)

The class also helped to create a new activity for freeplay: a color-matching game.
Using the corks you generously (and merrily) donated, the children painted the bottoms different colors. We can use remaining corks to play other matching games (letters, numbers, shapes, etc), so keep drinking, people!

Some of the children were making the most delicious pizza during freeplay, and were truly generous in sharing with others. Pepperoni-carrot, anyone?

And lastly, here are some oh-so-precious photos of the children dancing. While we have been working on our dance steps, the children have also been singing along to "What a Wonderful World," by Louis Armstrong, both in dance and music class. They are pretty familiar with the song by now, so if you want to have a sing-along at home, go for it!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Three, two, one....

....and we're back!!!

I'm thrilled to report that everyone came back to school ready for action! Our first week of the New Year has been very exciting, and we are all back in our preschool groove.

Our curriculum is soon heading to the final frontier: OUTER SPACE !! Before the break and even since we have come back, there has been much chatter about the infinite darkness above. There is much to talk about, including astronauts, spaceships, stars, planets, galaxies, asteroids, orbits, eclipses, comets, and even aliens.

With preschoolers, I find it particularly challenging to convey ideas such as size, scale, and perspective with these subjects. To show a child an inflatable model of Earth, telling them that "This is where we live," must be confusing in some way. However, group discussions, exploration, and inquisition hopefully make this clear. Outer space is fascinating, and can be difficult to grasp even as an adult.

We will be taking trips on rocketships (we've already gone to Neptune, and there is even talk about the mysterious 'Planet X'), to explore uncharted territory, so be sure your child comes to school with plenty of oxygen tank reserves.

One activity from before the break involved making marshmallow sculptures with toothpicks. The children had lots of fun with this, and we can revisit this project when we begin talking about stars and constellations.

We've been having all sorts of fun in the classroom this week. During Freeplay, there has been such a great deal of bookmaking that I think we need to create an extension of the library to house the students' work.

Thanks to the freakishly unseasonable weather, we were able to take two trips to Central Park this week, and the children had LOTS of fun with bubbles. Note: making your own bubble solution if far superior to anything you can buy in the store.
Dish soap + water = gigantic bubbles.
We used Palmolive, at about a 1:10 ratio. We were able to make bubbles inside the classroom as well, in the water table, which was a big hit with everybody.

We have been bringing small parts of the gym into the classroom as well, and during extended day (as a trial), we played some parachute games. Here is another important equation, that I'm sure most of you are familiar with:
Children + parachute = guaranteed fun
We also gave the ring toss a try, with surprising success.

Also on Friday, we had some surprise visitors from next door. Dean, Charlie, and Liam came to our class and each read us one of their favorite stories. Sitting for three stories back-to-back can be very trying for the attention span of the average four-year-old, but the children did a FANTASTIC job of listening, and we are all very proud of them for being so polite (and patient).

And here is a picture of our most recent Math workshop, which is as beautiful as it looks. The children really look forward to this, and work very well with Shannon's class.

Finally, we have begun to practice making lowercase letters, which you can see on display around the classroom.

I am on the lookout for a giant box, like a refrigerator box. If anyone has any leads, please let me know!

As always, please feel to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns about anything Preschool.

It's good to be back!!