Not a Box!

A box is just a box . . . unless it’s not a box.
Last Friday we found a junk yard in our school….I wondered aloud…..”I wonder what we could do with this big boxes? What do you think?”

Children created different structures and used their imagination to turn cardboard boxes into cars, planes. beds, boats, surfing boards, castles, space ships, rockets,etc.

The spent hours exploring the different options that the boxes offered. Why is it children like boxes so much? This could be the reason:

ASENSORY PLAY. Every day we plan rich sensory experiences for our children. Yet “asensory” experiences play an important role in sensory development as well.

For instance, a cardboard box is a great example of an asensory environment. The brown color suggests nothing in particular. The smooth sides infer little. The cube shape defines empty space. The subtle smell lacks distraction. The sound of the cardboard folding is muted and music-less. This very LACK of sensory inputs is an essential contrast to the more powerful and deliberate stimulation we traditionally think of when we talk about “sensory play.”

This relief from the sensory world may explain, in part, why children found the cardboard boxes so appealing as they offer a great opportunity to imprint their imagination.

“Living Things: What Do They Need to be Happy and Healthy to Grow?”

This week we began a new project based learning experience titled “Living Things: What do they need to be Happy and Healthy to Grow?” Through this initiative children will have the opportunity to observe animals in different habitats and will be encouraged to reflect upon the different environments and how they affect the health and the well-being of the animals.

 The Life Science Standards we will be focusing throughout our project include: 

– Shows a growing ability to classify living and nonliving things

– Communicates about the characteristics of living things

– Demonstrates understanding that living things grow, change, and reproduce

– Shows awareness of life in different environments or habitats

– Groups or categorizes living things, e.g., appearance, behavior, plant, or animal

– Demonstrates awareness that living things go through a growth cycle

We began our project by observing our class pets behaviors (fish and silk worms), noticing what they need to grow and be alive. The children take turns feeding them and taking care of them. We also spend time looking at photos of a variety of living and non-living things and asking the children how they could tell if something was alive or not. We came up with a list of how to tell if something is alive:

–       living things grow and change

–       living things breathe

–       living things reproduce

–       living things need food and water to live

–       living things move

On Monday we took a walking field trip to the Love Pet Shop at the mall. The children were able to observe dogs, cats, hamsters, mice and Chinchillas and for each one we asked ourselves: is it alive?  How do we know?. While we explored we also engaged students in conversations about how the animals might be feeling, what they saw to make them think this, and how they might improve the animals well being by adding to their environment. The children used their drawings to express what they liked the most from our field trip.

Throughout the week we continued to look at a variety of different habitats and how the habitat provides for each animal (food, water, air, etc.). We also looked at the children’s baby pictures, their homes and favorite environments. Through all these photos we observed how we, as living things, grow, change and also need shelter.

We look forward to sharing more about our project with you over the next several weeks.

As part of this project we would like to invite you to get involved both from home and in the classroom.

Ideas for classroom involvement:

–        Leading a science experiment or exploration activity

–        Reading a story about animals, habitats etc.

–        Sharing an interest or hobby that relates animals

–        Your ideas???

Ideas for Involvement from home:

–        Take a look at the Peek of the Week page on this blog and use the information provided as a talking point when asking your child about his or her day

–        Use your child’s interest and questions to begin your own investigations at home

Please let us know if you would like to be involved in our project in any way!

Happy Birthday Planet Earth

Today’s children live in a time where the future of our planet and the sustainability of the world’s resources depend on our ability to care for the environment. Understanding the key role that children have as citizens of the world in actively supporting sustainability, we carefully planned learning experiences that allow children to reflect upon real life problems and come up with solutions on what they can do at home and at school to care for the Earth.

PK Bears celebrated Earth Week with great enthusiasm and meaningful learning activities. We started our week planting flowers, watching videos about natural resources, playing alphabet scavenger hunt in the garden and making class experiments about water pollution. We ended our week singing happy birthday to the planet Earth and participating in the toy swap. Earth week offered an opportunity for our children to develop an awareness of the environment and different ways to protect it. We hope they are already sharing with you the many ways we can help our planet Earth.

PK Bears also participated in the “Relay for Life” walking one lap around the track field. After watching a video of a three years old girl who donated her hair for those children who have lost it, our PK Bears displayed great empathy towards this story and were motivated to participate in this important event.

Thank you for your cooperation to our Earth week celebration!!

Grandparents Wanted

Grandparents are always welcome at SAS. We appreciate their knowledge, immense experience and charismatic approach. Please let your parents know they are welcome to share their time, passions and wisdom with our little ones. So far Jayden’s and Landon’s grandparents have visited our school and we would like to see many others, even if they read books and do other activities in Chinese.

PK Bears enjoyed baking cookies with Mary and Steve, Jayden’s grandparents. The children enjoyed counting, mixing the ingredients, seeing the changes in the dough while taking turns and participating in a cooperative cooking experience.

Thank you for having fun and learning with us!

Todd Parr visits SAS

Todd Parr, an award winning author and illustrator, will visit our elementary school next week.  

To welcome Todd to SAS, PK Bears were invited to collaborate in an art mural highlighting our differences.  After watching a video about Todd reading “It os Okay to Be Different”,  children had the opportunity to draw their self portraits using oil pastels. Our Art work is displayed by the school library.

PK Bears and PK Owls will meet with Todd Parr on Tuesday at 10:30 am for a grade level presentation.

Todd’s books are on sale starting Monday, March 14th in the library. To learn more about Todd and the wonderful work he does, visit his site at http://www.toddparr.com/ . Also, an education guide with an interview from Todd in addition to activities to do with several of his books is here: http://www.toddparr.com/imgs/fun/ToddParr-Ed-Guide.pdf .

 

 

Benefits of Playing with Bubbles

The PK Bears enjoyed the beautiful warm weather making bubbles in the garden. Counting, measuring, seeing the changes in the water, blowing, catching bubbles, so much learning and so much fun!

Here are some of the benefits of our learning invitation today:

source; http://mamaot.com/11-benefits-of-playing-with-bubbles/

Visual tracking skills. Follow where the bubbles go. Some are fast and some are slow. And some will even glow!
Hand/eye coordination. It takes serious practice to link up what the eyes and hands are doing in order to accurately dip and blow with a wand.

Sensory processing skills. Bubbles are wet. and slimy. and sticky. They feel funny. And the physical act of blowing can be a very effective sensory-based way to help children “organize”, calm, and focus their bodies.

Oral motor skills. Obviously. Blowing bubbles is good exercise for little mouths, but it can hard work! Bubble blowers (like the tube-shaped ones) are easier than bubble wands, and kids won’t inhale bubble solution if they decide to suck instead of blow out. Skinnier tube blowers are typically easier than fat ones. And blowing at bubbles that have already been blown and are sitting on the end of the wand can also be easier than straight-up blowing through the wand.

Social and communication skills. Kids can ask or sign for “more” and establish eye contact when doing so. And if playing in a group, they can practice taking turns and keeping personal space between their bodies so they don’t bump into or knock each other over.

Gross motor skills. What an easy way to get kids to reach way up high, stand on their tippie toes, squat, jump, run, stomp, and kick.

Following directions. You can give them directions on how to pop the bubbles with each turn (clap them, poke them, squeeze them, jump on them, etc.) either one at a time or by telling them a popping sequence (first poke, then squeeze, then clap). Or they can follow the directions to a turn-taking sequence (first Johnny pops, then Caitlin, then Danny). The possibilities for directions are endless.

Identifying body parts. Pop with your finger, your elbow, your knee, or your nose!

Speech skills. I’m not a speech therapist, but I know that /b/ and /p/ (those formed in the front of the mouth with the lips) are early speech sounds that are naturally used during bubble play. A few examples include “Bubbles!” “Bye-bye bubbles!” and “Pop!”

Language and cognitive skills. You can teach toddlers and preschoolers how to understand and describe where the bubbles are and what they’re doing by pointing things out when they happen. “The bubbles are going up (or down)” “They’re going fast (or slow).” “There’s a bubble in front of (or behind) you.” “I see one next to you.” “There’s one above (or below) your head.” “It’s to your right (or left).” “That’s a really big (or little) bubble.” “Go pop the biggest (or smallest) bubble!”

Have a great weekend everyone!

Learning Shapes in Preschool

Why do young children need to explore shapes?

Shapes are an essential part of prekindergarten math. Shapes are the foundation of geometry. Children develop spatial thinking when they explore shapes. Strong spatial thinking helps children know how to mentally organize the space around them, move around, and remember things. Spatial thinking also supports other types of mathematical skills, such as a counting skill called decomposing. When students make, combine, sort, match, and take shapes apart, they are building their capacity to do these same activities with numbers.

What can young children do with 2D and 3D shapes?

In prekindergarten we work throughout the school year to support students to be able to:
1) Match shapes
2) Name shapes
3) Group, sort, and classify shapes by attributes
4) Describe shapes using attributes
5) Build shapes

What activities do you do with shapes?

Block building and puzzles are particularly important because it is helps students visualize the effects of assembling, disassembling, merging, and layering shapes.

What are some important words (i.e. vocabulary) to teach children about shapes?

When we teach shapes we introduce students to a variety of vocabulary. As students sort, name, match, describe, and build shapes, we encourage them to use these words to explain their thinking.
Sorting Words: sort, same, different, match
Names of two-dimensional shapes: square, circle, triangle, rectangle
Names of three-dimensional/solid shapes: cone, rectangular prism, sphere, cylinder, cube
Properties of shapes: side, corner, flat, curved, flat, faces,

Teaching Children Life Skills: Being a Good Friend

PK3 children are learning about Friendship and what it means to be a friend. We asked the children “What is a friend”. They all had great ideas such as, “A friend plays with you.”, “A friend reads with you.”, “Mommy is a friend.” and “A friend is nice to you.”

Being a good friend is not a skill that children just pick up from hanging out with other children on the playground. Developing friendships takes a lot of work but can be one of the most rewarding things to happen in a child’s life.

Teaching children to be a good friend will help them make lasting friendships throughout their lives. Life skills like these are important to learn at an early age because it will become more natural for your child the more they practice these skills.

We have been reading books about love and friendship: Guess How Much I love You, Being Good Friends, The Kissing Hand, Rainbow Fish, etc. These books show how friends can be very different from one another and still get along. They offer an opportunity to discuss the characteristics of a good friend (helpful, thoughtful, supportive, generous, good listener, etc). They also emphasize the importance of being kind, sharing, and working together to solve problems.

We are also encouraging children to participate in team building activities that help develop friendships. Simple activities we like to do together include building obstacle courses, making puzzles, baking, and constructing blocks towers. All of these activities are pretty open-ended, require some problem solving and negotiation, and encourage communication, which are all great friendship skills to have!