Declaration of Independence

It's that time of year when we figure out how to put on our shorts, shoes, shirts, and socks- especially after having some fun in water, sand, or mud! These tasks will all lead up to our inevitable need to put even more clothing on during our winter months. However, putting on clothing is not simply about being ready for colder temperatures- these fine and gross motor tasks give each child increased independence and build confidence in their ability to do things for themselves. Taking on new responsibilities is hard for everyone, it takes time to figure out how a shoe fits or where to put your arms when putting on a jacket or where your head goes when you put on a shirt?

At the Smilie Memorial Pre-K program we provide positive encouragement when children do things for themselves! We "notice" when you have put the effort zipping, buttoning, snapping, and even trying to tie your own shoe. We are there when children ask for "help" with specific tasks and demonstrate step by step how to meet the challenge of dressing oneself.

Help us help your child by:

  • Providing positive encouragement when an effort is made to dress themselves
  • Allow children to choose (from seasonally appropriate) clothing they like when they demonstrate they can put it on themselves
  • Encourage children to ask for "help" instead of using the phrase "I can't"
    • Instead of "I can't" try "Yes you can! I believe in you. You are still learning and I can help!"
  • Try to find the humor: How many arms do you have? Could an Octopus wear a t-shirt? What about our dog?
  • Allow for some extra time to figure how a piece of clothing gets put over their head or their legs- practice using dress-up clothing or maybe have fun with an old halloween costume!
  • Show your child a few ways a task can be completed by working together
    • Example: Putting on a jacket
      • "You can use a flip trick by laying the jacket in front of you like this" (demonstrate how)
      • "Another way you can do it is by finding the arms and putting your arms through like this"  Then show your child how you put on your jacket!

Fall Blooms and Plantings

Ms. Smith works with O.J. to create a sunflower
seed packet after he successfully harvests more
than two dozen seeds! Happy planting!
The Smilie Preschool three and four-year-old classroom have kicked off the year with explorations of fall blooms and spring bulbs. Beginning our year with seed harvesting from sunflowers, students are developing language and fine motor skills by picking apart sunflower seeds and making observations about colors, shapes, and sizes. Children documented their findings by creating images while teachers wrote down the language they used and repeated the children's idea, affirming their discoveries. We reflected on our discoveries and the lifecycle of sunflower by reading "Sunflower House" by Eve Bunting, "Cardinal and Sunflower" by James Preller, and "The Tiny Seed" by Eric Carle.

Our four-year-old students finished off this week with some bulb observation, checking out a variety of daffodils, also known as narcissus. Our daffodil bulb study began by checking out these hardy bulbs and discovering their parts. From roots to scale leaves we are noticing that each bulb not only had a different shape, they also varied in size and color. Additionally, some root systems were more apparent than others. The children enjoyed drawing images of these "sleeping plants" and were eager to get the bulbs into the ground. We look forward to working with our three-year-old students next week on planting these wonderful spring blooms in our school garden. Learn more about the history of the daffodil.
Choosing the right sunflower to harvest seeds from was a difficult task!
Sunflowers vary in size, shape and color- and so do their seeds.

Our First Self Portraits

P looks at himself in the mirror while
holding an image of himself. He is getting ready
to put markers to paper!
What could be more fun than looking at yourself in the mirror! Smilie's preschool students created self portraits with the aid of mirrors and photos. The children took a long look at themselves, describing eye and hair color and often made connections with other students and their teachers. These moments gave children an opportunity to tell stories, do some self-reflection, and discuss their feelings. We enjoyed seeing children add additional details including parents, furry family members, and the occasional robot! 

While children looked at images of themselves and created drawings, educators conducted interviews of each child to learn more about their favorite things, emotions, and ideas. Teachers recorded the interviews on paper and read the statements back to children, helping children to better understand how their ideas can be documented as we start to build the foundation for early literacy skills.

We look forward to creating family portraits in the coming weeks as we develop our family books for our classroom.

When was the last time you created a self portrait? Interested in an art project for home? Create some self-esteem self portraits as a family! This PBS article guides you through the process and will leave you thinking of positive thoughts and hopefully have some great refrigerator art as well!

How tall are you in blocks? What about magnetic tiles or markers? Measuring using a variety of materials builds our number sense. What will you measure this week?

via Instagram

Welcome to Smilie Memorial Pre-K Program

Welcome to the Smilie Memorial Pre-K Classroom Blog! Each week I will post about a featured lesson in our curriculum. Please subscribe to our blog via email to get weekly updates.

Students use gluesticks, stickers, plastic letters, and loose parts
to create images.
Our first two weeks of school were very busy with introductions, new routines, and classroom explorations. Our classroom is defined by distinct centers that guide our learning including; art, science, dramatic play, math, reading, writing, and a sensory area. While each of our centers overlap, the children are able to explore a variety of toys, manipulatives, and materials that provoke questions and stimulate curiosity.

Students may freely explore centers during large blocks of time throughout the day. These explorations allow children to create a "play plan" for themselves and provide opportunities for student-led learning. Each center is supplemented with materials based on student interest. Lesson plans are developed based on ideas and interests from our students and are adapted to meet the developmental, social, and academic needs of each learner.

Sensory exploration is particularly important to our three and four-year-old students. Currently our table is filled to the brim with sand, graduated cylinders, funnels, and some cups from our dramatic play area. We look forward to changing this out as the year progresses.

Our three and four-year-old students learn by doing. Sensory exploration allows opportunities for children to engage all of their senses and naturally encourage children to employ scientific processes. While playing with sand, sinking their hands into a bin of beads, experimenting with the flow of water, scooping soil, squeezing gack between their fingers, and much more- we are encouraging each children to describe their experience and discuss their ideas.

Each day we ask each child to engage in one teacher-led activity. For the beginning of the school year our teacher-led activities have been developed based on the need to learn more about one another and to plant the seed of curiosity among our learners. We have started this year by exploring a seasonal bloom and discovering more about ourselves.

Please visit our blog each week to learn more about our students as they become more independent, capable learners who are ready to explore big ideas and ask questions about our world.

Declaration of Independence

It's that time of year when we figure out how to put on our shorts, shoes, shirts, and socks- especially after having some fun in wate...