Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Week Four: The Letter D, Dinosaurs and Determination

We only had four children in class today: Ella, Andrew, Sadie and Henry. We missed our other friends, but we had a great time. All the children were so well-behaved and enthusiastic, just as Rana and Erin had reported.

We started out with a circle time that included two stories: How Does a Dinosaur Eat His Food and The Carrot Seed (this one is about determination). The kids were really interested. We talked about what it means to be determined. We then talked about dinosaurs. We gathered up our containers and went outside to dig up dinosaurs and make our terrariums. I had been a bit apprehensive about interest level and ability, but there was no shortage to either.

The kids were so happy to dig in the rice, Henry and Andrew in particular. Another concern I had was that the girls might not be as interested in this lesson, but there was no reason to worry about that, either. Ella especially loved selecting rocks (Andrew and I had gathered some the previous day since there are not many around our house) from the rock box and then finding sticks and leaves etc to add. She had the proudest look on her cute face. All of them were excited to make their dinosaurs a house.

We then participated in lots of variations of Dinosaur Run, a game my sister and I invented as kiddie camp counselers 10 years ago whose primary object is to get the kids tired out a bit under the guise of Dinosaur fun. Dinosaur Tag, Dinosaur Red Light Green Light, and Dinosaur Follow the Leader were all big hits, particularly with Henry. He always wanted to go back to Dinosaur Tag, though he would submit to a few rounds of Dinosaur Ring Around the Rosy. (Andrew, too, was about to pull his hands away from our circle until I added Dinosaur to the title.)

Andrew and Henry ended up playing Dinosaur Tackle during Dinosaur Tag. I tried to get a photo of them in which neither was pulling on the neck of the other's shirt. This was the best I could do. It never got too rough, fortunately.

Snack consisted of mud and dirt (chocolate pudding and crushed chocolate graham crackers). The kids took turns smashing their individual bags of crackers with a little wooden hammer and then dumping them carefully on top, and we talked about what hard workers they were for doing this. During snack, we discussed the letter D and all the sounds it makes and sang some songs (D is for Dino etc).

The biggest surprise hit of the day was the Washing of the Snack Plates. (This was part of the "determination and hard work" theme.) Each child took a turn standing on a chair at the sink and thoroughly washing his/her plate. They would then hold their plate up to show the class how clean it was and we would all cheer. I knew kids liked this sort of thing, but even I was surprised at how completely proud each one of them was. They were beaming. Henry ran over to his classmates, who had just cheered for him moments before, and informed them of his achievement. Then all the kids grabbed some toddler brooms and mops and "cleaned up." I was about to let Henry use the dust buster, but when I off-handedly mentioned that it would make noise, he quickly exited the kitchen walking backwards. So I put it away.

Ella kept me laughing all morning. That is a little girl who is not confused about what she wants. Her sass and spunk are totally adorable. She was really comprehending what was being said, and once when I inserted a joke she would not understand into a remark I made to her about a toy, she gave me this funny look. She had tracked everything I had said and knew I had included something strange. I have never seen that expression on such a tiny baby face before. That child is not in danger of being manipulated out of anything.

Sadie was so sweet. She loved holding the stuffed dog I used as a prop for D words and cuddled it during story time. She loved chasing around during Tag. It was so cute to see her toddling in the uneven grass in her boots. She specifically wanted her construction paper to be pink. She worked diligently on her D project and was quite focused.

Henry was enthusiastic about everything we did and seemed to take a lot of pride in his accomplishments in each activity.

He was so gentle and patient about taking turns. He endured with utter patience the trial of someone taking his chair while he vacated it to wash his hands, and agreed to just stand during the letter craft.

The kids were great and we had a wonderful time together. I feel so lucky that our kids are so well-behaved and get along this beautifully.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Week Two: Manners and the Letter C

The swings were very popular, which was perfect for learning to take turns and be patient.

(Andrew decided to perform when he realized I was taking his picture!)

I just wanted to give you a little update on how the lesson went on Wed. I have to say that Rana was being completely honest ;) about the children doing so well. They were all wonderful. It was a lot of fun. I am very impressed with your children!

We focused on being polite and using good manners. They were able to practice this at the park and it went very well. In fact, they were really getting into it! It was really cute. It seemed like they all knew the letter C well.

I have attached the lesson plan that I followed. My one regret is that I should have saved the craft for after the lesson time because that first hour is precious. They seem to be the most attentive. I switched it because I needed them to make their "Miss Bee" so that I could teach the second part. Anyways, just something to consider.

I am very excited after teaching and look forward to this year with all of you.

First Day

I wanted to express again how great the children were in preschool
today. They seem to have great chemistry between them and enjoy
playing and interacting with each other. And despite our 8-month age
span, everyone was able to participate just fine and aspects of the
lesson and activities seemed interesting for each child. I'm very

I've attached the lesson plan I used today so that as you prepare your
lessons you will know what I already did. AS I mentioned, I think it
would be good to start with the same "greeting" song (which is on the
lesson plan) to give the children some continuity as they travel from
house to house.

Also, I saw on Alexandra's preschool schedule the topic of calendar
and weather. I think this is a great idea and it was part of every
day's preschool at Parkwood and is still part of the day at Celeste's
kindergarten. Does someone one to create a calendar with detachable
weather pictures, a picture of a school house or something to
symbolize preschool, and some pictures of other things that we can put
on the calendar (holidays, church (for every Sunday)...). This way
the calendar stays the same and just travels from house to house and
we don't each need to create one.

Also, I noticed on Alexandra's preschool schedule that they did not
follow the alphabet in order. And I think at this age it isn't
necessary either. I did "B" today and the "bbbbb" sound to go with
"body," "baby," and colors "blue," and "brown." So I would simply
choose a letter that has to do with the topic you want to teach about.
Also, I think it would be good to be sure to do the first letter of
every child's name at some point during the year, so "M", "A", "E",
"G" (she introduces herself as Grace and not PKB, so...).

Concerning snacks, Moriah has a peanut allergy. Erin can give us
specifics, but she said obviously no peanuts, but foods processed in a
plant where peanut products are processed have been OK. Erin, if this
is wrong, please let us know. I know of no other food allergies for
the children. If your child has a food allergy, please let us know.