In the Art Center we have begun work on a large collaborative project. We are transforming the center column of our classroom into a giant tree! We looked at images of trees, read about trees and observed the large tree outside at the gate of CHP. We are learning about the parts of a tree such as the roots, bark, branches and leaves and how they help a tree to live. We have been learning that a tree is a home to many animals, birds and insects and that trees clean our air, cool our planet, and display seasonally changing beauty. Our first hands-on activity in this long-term project involved small teams of children mixing colors, rolling paint onto the cardboard branches and trunk and recreating bark through collage.
In our drama group last week, we began to tell some Halloween stories. The children reenacted the story, Say Boo, about a frightened little ghost, who gets some help from kind friends to be ready for Trick Or Treat! We incorporated scarves as props as we swooped and floated as ghosts. We created some set pieces to help tell the story.
This week in literacy, the children wrote about what they will dress up as for Halloween, complete with illustrations. We also finalized our first collaborative project of the year, wherein we work together to establish the rules for our classroom community. The children titled this year’s version “The Big Book of Rules,” and every family will receive a copy of this important book.
In math this week, we continued with our apple exploration. We worked on one-to-one correspondence during an apple counting activity, explored non-standard units of measurements by measuring how many apples tall all our friends are, and analyzed and published data by making a graph depicting the results of our apple taste test.
This week at the Science Center we talked a lot about trees. The children did some individual leaf rubbings and a large group leaf rubbing. We read several books about trees and began to discuss animals that live in trees. In support of our classroom collaborative project (transforming the center column into a giant tree), we reviewed our stuffed animal collection and pulled out all the North American tree dwellers. They’ll be “moving in” over the next few days…
We had another great week with the two year olds! This week we really focused on learning each other’s names. We sang a few songs that help us practice. During our walks outside we talked about what the children can do if they need us to stop walking while on the rope. We have practiced them saying ‘flat tire!’ to signal that their shoe has either fallen off or has come loose. They can also say ‘red light’ if they need us to stop. These routines and expressions help build our community as we learn how to take care of ourselves and each other.
Autumn Leaves were the theme of the week in the Art Center. We painted tempera on large construction paper leaves in an array of autumn hues. We then moved on to smaller paper leaves created with a crayon resist and watercolors. (We will use them in an upcoming large collaborative activity.) As we paint and talk together we are learning how trees signal a transition of seasons when they change colors and shed their leaves.
This past week is drama, we reviewed our relaxation animal breathing and played our Coffee Can Theater guessing game introducing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and family. The children explored the different sizes of the spiders through movement. We also read and interacted with each other as the two main characters, who become friends, in Cat and Mouse by Tomek Bogacki.
This week in literacy, we explored writing our names with all kinds of manipulatives. We found hidden letters with a crayon resistance and watercolor paint activity. We also traced our letters in our name book and used dry-erase markers to copy the letters. We had fun exploring the letters in our own names and the letters in our friends’ names. Our kindness project this week was writing thank you cards to different people in our lives.
Our music groups are off to a great start. This week, we’ve focused on learning the difference between the beat of a song and its rhythm. We’ve been singing classic songs to kick off the year, but one our favorites to sing at the end of our group is “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley - maybe your family can sing it at home, too!
This week at the Science Center the children participated in an apple tasting competition. The children sampled green, red, and yellow apples. They were encouraged to describe the different tastes. Their descriptions included: sweet, like a lemon, sour, good, yummy, not good, and very sweet. They voted for their favorite apple, and we counted up the votes and made a chart. Today, we tallied all the votes and the winner is red apples!
This week the two year olds went on their first trips outside and to the playground! We sang our song about holding on to the rope. On our walks, we looked for seasonal things like pumpkins, spiders, and ghosts! At the park, we talked about how to stay safe at the park. We stay on one side, we don’t use the swings, and we keep our orange pinnies on our bodies. The children were so happy to climb and use the slide. When we got back to school, we gathered for some calm singing time to practice transitioning from outside energy to inside energy. We continue to have special time together in the nest after arriving at school and before we say goodbye.
The children are continuing to learn and explore in the Math and Blocks Centers. The kids collaborated with each other to develop a method to clean up the blocks that uses their sorting, matching, and counting skills. The returning students are doing a great job mentoring the new students in this center! We’ve also been reading lots of Halloween math books such as “The Bat Parade” and “Five Little Pumpkins”.
ART - 3’s and 4’s
We spent much of the week finishing up work on our self-portraits, after which a drop-in activity was made available. We painted on rubber leaves and on leaves collected from the park. Then we created a print by pressing paper on top of the leaves. We were able to compare the prints made with leaves cast in a mold to actual leaves we had found ourselves. We learned how prints are created with a careful downward movement and pressure, and we learned that leaves have veins!
ART - 2’s
Together as a group we explored a sensory art activity. We exercised our fine motor skills and experienced a variety of visual and tactile sensations as we selected and arranged a large variety of collage materials over sticky contact paper. We worked alongside each other sharing materials and had great fun peering through colored mylar and listening to the snapping sound made by our hands on the tacky surface!
This past week in our drama groups, we began with yoga breathing exercises to focus and relax our bodies. I also introduced a storytelling technique called “Coffee Can Theater.” Characters and props are placed in a large can, and the children enjoy guessing what is inside to create a narrative and explore large motor activities.
This week in literacy we had a lot of fun telling some classic stories and exploring sequencing. Some of our favorites were There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. We loved acting out the stories and telling them in the proper order with our sequencing game.
This week in science, we began our exploration of apples. The children looked closely at apples and drew pictures of the outside and the inside. We discussed and compared the insides and outsides and talked about where apples come from. The children began work in their individual science journals, which they will add to throughout the year.
The Two's now know the 'nest' as their home base and seem to find comfort and pride in having a space that is just for them. We’ve introduced several puppets, who help Chloe and Lizzie sing their morning song, tell fun stories, and reinforce positive social interactions. The children love the puppets as they are so silly! We have now established a routine at school and have started to talk about what comes next on our schedule. We still practice “never letting go of the rope” as we get ready for our first park trips later on.
Pull-out music groups started this week and were so much fun. We experimented with drums and the ukulele, and we talked about the difference between rhythm and beat.
This week in literacy, we explored letters with all our might! We read ABC Kids and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and added letters to our "coconut tree". We used magnet letters to find the letters in our names and spell them. We even practiced learning and spelling our friends' names as a way to get to know our letters and each other.
In math, we are off to a great start! The children are learning how to use the math center tools and manipulatives. We are also spending lots of time in the block area, which provides a rich environment for learning about counting, sorting by shape, turn taking, sharing, and spatial awareness. We are practicing playing and building safely as well as cleaning up by sorting, matching, and counting.
The first few weeks at the Science Center have been a time to explore the center and to get to know each other. The Science Center includes a variety of science tools, puzzles, games, plastic animals, nature objects, science related books and magnifying glasses, as well as our brand new discovery box. The children engage in both self-selected activities as well as more focused, teacher-directed activities. So far this year the children have had a great time playing with dinosaurs and looking at dinosaur books. The children’s play always leads to great discussions and gives me the opportunity to promote science related concepts and vocabulary. In the discovery box, we have played with rice and also kinetic sand.
We have been very busy in the Art Center getting to know each other and becoming familiar with routines and expectations. The children have painted on paper plates with “warm" and “cool" colors, learned how to wait for turns to paint at the easel, and visited many group drop-in activities where large sheets of paper and various materials were available to explore. More recently, we have been working with markers and watercolors to create self-portraits, which will be sent home as part of a school fundraising effort. During this process, we have been talking about the parts of our faces and thinking about ourselves: what we like and who we are. It is pretty exciting to discover that we can describe ourselves symbolically through our own art!
In drama this past month, we have maintained an open group schedule to introduce how to use the Drama Center. Children have enjoyed dropping in to choose props, puppets, dress-ups, and manipulatives such as story puzzles. We are working on referring to each other by our names through various songs and games and will continue to add other elements like movements, sounds, and props. A favorite story this month was our interactive telling of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," incorporating a reversible storybook doll of all the characters.
In music, children have been dropping by our newly created Music Center, filled with instruments and books that encourage the exploration of music and sound. Smaller music groups are coming to fruition, which will provide children the opportunity for more teacher-directed music exploration to complement their self-directed exploration of the music center.
During the first few weeks in the nest, the twos are getting to know their teachers, the classroom, and each other. We have started venturing out of the nest to go to music with Mel and to visit Nancy in the art area. We go to the kitchen to eat snack and read stories together, and then we go in the back room for dancing and games. We have been ending our day with a little time to play in the big classroom, which we have to ourselves for a while. Before we go home we return to the nest to hear a story and sing some songs. The routine really helps the children feel safe and comfortable at school. Learning what to expect each day is so helpful after a big change like starting school for the first time. Everyone is doing so well and it is fun to see what activities the children are drawn to and how they are starting to interact with each other.
Some of the books we have read so far are Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton, Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley, No Matter What by Debi Gliori, and Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin and James Dean.