LITERACY: We have been enjoying many fun books and activities in this area. Has your child mentioned our "alphabet snacks"? Each day we have a snack starting with a different letter of the alphabet. So far we have enjoyed all of the following: A-apples, B-bagels, C-cucumbers, D-donuts and dairy (string cheese), E-English muffins, F-friend's birthday treat, G-grapes, H-hot dogs and hot cocoa...this was the favorite so far! It has been fun to hear the children guess what the next snack will be, allowing us not only to reinforce the phonics aspect of this activity, but also to talk about the scientific concept of predictions/hypotheses. And in the social and emotional realm, this gives the children chances to handle being "wrong" if they don't guess our snack. This is really difficult for some children, but it is an absolutely essential emotional skill to have. On an individual level, we have a whole lot of independent reading going on in the classroom, with several of the students working through our reading and spelling equipment. Many of the children are also working on lower case alphabet printing, enjoying one-on-one time with Mrs. Sallak for this activity. In our fairy tale study, we have been reading all kinds of Gingerbread Boy variations and discussing what is similar and what is different among all of the stories. Does your child remember some of the books we have read? (Gingerbread Boy, Gingerbread Girl, Gingerbread Cowboy, Gingerbread Baby, etc.) Soon the children will be acting out the story in class!
MATH: The class' math skills are marching right along, with each child making his or her own steady progress. Our younger children are working on recognizing numerals and quantities to 9, and some are also working on the written numerals. Many of the older children are working with concepts of addition and place value, up to 19. The children are also enjoying activities that encourage sorting, categorizing, classifying, comparing and contrasting. Soon we will be exploring graphs and measuring!
SCIENCE: We have now moved into our second invertebrate group, arachnids. We are enjoying learning about the fascinating world of spiders and the amazing things they can do. We will have some fun craft projects and songs as we study these little critters.The Kindergarten students will be starting a series of science lessons on magnets this week. This is always a fun series as the students also start to learn how to work within the scientific method.
Parenting Thought: With the Christmas season upon us, I'm sure most of your children are already making wish lists and dreaming of new toys and gifts. As parents, though, how do we navigate this time of year in a way that fosters reverence, kindness and thoughtfulness? How do we avoid a sense of entitlement and the appearance of greediness in our children as they are bombarded with commercials promoting all the latest and greatest items? How do we encourage grateful hearts and selflessness, while still allowing our children to enjoy the excitement and joy of Christmas traditions? These can be difficult questions to answer, but now, while your children are young, is the best time to be mindful and intentional in how you choose to handle this season, setting habits for years to come.
I had an eye-opening moment several years ago that prompted my husband and I to significantly change our gift-buying habits. I was cleaning out our kids' closets right after school got out for the summer, and I found four Christmas gifts that had never even been taken out of their packages. They had been unwrapped and then stashed away and forgotten. Clearly, our children had been inundated with so much "stuff," they couldn't even enjoy it. After that, we made drastic cuts to what our children receive each year, aligning our choices with the following poem: "Something you want, something you need, something to do and something to read." Each child gets two gifts per category. This has worked well for our family and has forced us to think carefully about the gifts we choose, while also freeing up time and money that can be used to help others during the holiday season. With those thoughts in mind, here are some ideas to get you started as you ponder the best way for your family to celebrate "the most wonderful time of the year."
- With the starting point of 2 Corinthians 9:7, "...God loves a cheerful giver," help your child focus on what he or she can give to others during the Christmas season. A hand-drawn card for Grandma and Grandpa? Inviting a friend over to play? Helping shop for toys for underprivileged children? Helping clean up the children's area at church? Shifting your child's focus away, even briefly, from what he wants and onto what he can give, is very meaningful.
- Plan gifts that are not "things." Although toys are fun and exciting and provide some entertainment on Christmas day, also try to include gifts of your time and attention, such as a planned trip to the Children's Museum, the ice rink, a local park...anything that gives you time together.
- Limit your child's exposure to screen time. Corporations actively seek to market their wares to children as young as 18 months old, hoping to build brand loyalty and a customer base as early in a child's life as possible. The more your child has access to screen time, the more she is flooded with enticing advertisements that inevitably lead to the "gimmes," especially in the time leading up to Christmas.
- Plan a few nights during the hectic Christmas season that your family can be together at home, without an agenda, without electronics. Use this time to play games, build with blocks, bake, craft, read and relax.
- Approach each decision regarding gifts, events, gatherings, etc. with purpose and intention. Carefully consider how to, even in this hectic time, keep your plans in line with 1 Corinthians 10:31, "...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."