Valentine Party, February 12th: The children will celebrate Valentine’s Day on Thursday, February 12th, with a party, songs, games and a card exchange. If you would like to volunteer for this day, please speak with a teacher.
You may send Valentines to school with your child any time. We have 17 students; if you choose to do Valentines, please allow your child to bring one for each classmate. We LOVE to see homemade Valentines, so this is a great opportunity for the children to use the skills they have worked on in class this year: tracing, cutting, coloring, gluing and, for some, writing their name. If you are looking for simple ideas for your child to make homemade Valentines, just talk to one of the teachers. We are happy to share some ideas. It is usually easiest to have your child sign his or her name to each Valentine without needing to include specific classmates’ names.
An Opportunity for Ministry: Pregnancy Resource Center is a local Christian organization that seeks to protect human life by assisting girls and women with unplanned pregnancies. Formerly called Crisis Pregnancy Center, PRC is a ministry near and dear to our hearts, as Mrs. Sallak was one of their founding board members. Over the next few weeks, Little Lambs will be participating in PRC’s “Fill the Bottle” campaign. We will have a baby bottle in the classroom in which parents and students may drop in spare coins to be donated to the Center. We will explain to the children that sometimes mommies and daddies do not have all the help they need to take care of their new babies. This money will be used to help them do a good job of taking care of their children by providing things like diapers, clothes, bottles, etc. At Little Lambs we are blessed enough to minister every day to children who are cherished and who have had all their basic needs met. This is an opportunity to minister to children who are not starting life with the same amount of support but who, through God’s grace, are at least getting a chance to start their lives.
We recognize that many of you already have causes you support financially; please do not feel that there is an obligation to join us in this fundraiser. We count it a great blessing to serve your children every day, and we are thankful that we are able to help PRC bless other children as well.
Classroom Activities: We hit the ground running in the new year! Here is a glimpse at what has been going on in the classroom:
Literacy: As promised, we have been working on prepositions, building up the vocabulary to go with the concepts of “over, under, next to, behind”, etc. The Kindergarten children will soon be unveiling their “Preposition Book” in the classroom! This concept has been challenging for some of the children since it is fairly abstract, but we’re seeing good progress.
The children have also been introduced to the idea of fiction and non-fiction as we finish up our fairy tale time. While studying many different versions of “Goldilocks and The Three Bears,” we have also been reading non-fiction books about real bears. As luck would have it, the storyteller at the Aloha Community Library even had a bear theme when we went for our field trip! Can your child tell you about some of the different Goldilocks stories we read? My favorite is Goldie Socks and The Three Libearians!
The Kindergarten group has now finished all of the Mercy Watson books, a delightful series of stories about a feisty pig named Mercy. We have been reading these aloud for the Kindergarten group throughout the school year. We worked on being able to compare and contrast the different stories through the use of a Venn Diagram. The children did great with this concept!
We are moving into a study of rhyming words this month, listening for matching endings in words. We will primarily use books to work with this concept as the children train their ears to discern rhymes.
Most exciting of all right now, we are hearing an enormous amount of English from our students for whom it is a second language, and we are seeing a reading explosion for many of the children! It is so awesome to watch these skills develop, and the confidence that follows is tremendous.
Math: We have now finished introducing all of the solid geometric shapes in our classroom set, and the children have shown a remarkable knack for remembering them, even with some complicated names! We are learning some vocabulary that goes with these shapes, such as “face” and “base.” Bonus point…those words rhyme, fitting in with our literacy studies! We also have two new activities in the classroom that allow children to manipulate different versions of these shapes and to build a 3D construction that is represented in a 2D photograph. These are wonderful exercises for the children, challenging their mental perception and concentration and their small motor manipulation of the objects.
The children continue to enjoy our “Kid Sort” game in which they try to discern a common attribute among a chosen group of children. The teacher chooses children based on an attribute that only the teacher knows, such as wearing stripes, and then the students try to guess what the common attribute is. Some of our guessers are really good at this!
Several of our Kindergarten children are now moving into multiple-digit addition, solidifying the concept and process in preparation for addition with carrying. We also continue to work with all the students, as they are ready, with the idea of place value in both physical quantities and written numerals.
Science: Are any of you hearing endless renditions of our water cycle song? It has a lot of big words – evaporation, condensation and precipitation – but the children really enjoy it. As we are finishing this area of study, we have talked about different types of precipitation. Of course, snow is the class favorite, even though we haven’t seen any this year. Nonetheless, we pretended to be snowflakes during a music and movement activity and have enjoyed several snowman books and songs. Soon we will be moving into one of our favorite spring activities…learning about plants!
Social Studies and Geography: As we move through our continent study, we are now arriving in Europe. There is a lot to learn as we look at the people, animals, foods and customs from many different countries in Europe. We have been looking at the differences between globes and flat maps (map projections) as the Kindergarten children get ready to make their own maps.
Music: We have been doing a lot of movement and rhythm work, learning about quarter notes and rests as we learn to follow simple rhythm notation. This has proven to be a very popular activity, so we are trying to add it in to our schedule more often! The children enjoyed a fun lesson on tempo with their rabbits and turtles that came home a few days ago. Could your child explain what we did? When we heard music or rhythms with a fast tempo, we all held up our rabbits; when we heard a slow tempo, we held up our turtles. The kids did a great job! Soon we will begin learning songs for our spring performance.
P.E.: The children have been enjoying activities with music and movement, as well as games that promote balance and coordination. The parachute and balance beam are very popular, as are the obstacle courses. Our older children had a chance to try out our brand new jumping bags on Kindergarten preview day last month. In general, balance and body-control activities are VERY important for this age group, and these are great areas to support at home. (See parenting thought below.)
Parenting Thought: A key component in Dr. Montessori’s educational philosophy is that the hands lead the mind. Children should be working consistently with their hands in order to foster strong, life-long brain development. Scientific research in the form of MRIs and other brain scans now backs up what she could only learn through observation. It is for this reason that we are so adamant that our students are using their hands in meaningful, purposeful, challenging ways every day at school. Whether it is coloring, tracing, squeezing play dough, building with blocks, wringing out sponges or sweeping up crumbs after snack, we want to see our students working hard to build up their hand strength and dexterity.
With the rise of screen time, scripted play dates and “scheduled” free time over the past few years, we have seen a sharp decline in small motor skills that were commonplace for children a decade ago. A significant amount of instruction time is now spent on things such as how to hold a pencil or a pair of scissors, before we can even get to the skills of using these tools. Self-help skills that were well in place by age three several years ago (putting on shoes, using spoons and forks) are now part of our instruction time for many older students. So, how can you help support this area of development for your child? Here are a few ideas to get started:
*Significantly limit screen time. Pediatricians recommend NO screen time before age two, and no more than two hours a day after that. We strongly recommend no more than 20-30 minutes per day. There are endless amounts of worthwhile non-screen activities for our students. And you might be surprised how quickly screen time adds up. Some families use iPads or Kindles for story time or devotionals, not always noticing how many minutes can pass in this way. We humbly suggest that you use the “real” thing instead.
*Put away the academic workbooks. Unless there is a clear academic delay that needs extra support, your preschool or Kindergarten child does not need to work on his or her “ABCs and 1-2-3s” outside of school. Natural play time and reading with an adult will meet this need perfectly for most children.
*Allow unscheduled play time for your child. Don’t worry about scheduling extra-curricular activities for your child. Our students are working hard all morning; it’s critical that they have plenty of free time to build, color, run, climb, rest, read and play without a schedule. And let it be MESSY play time once in a while. Encourage your child to use his or her hands in activities that may be sticky, or dirty or messy…nothing a bath can’t fix! Get outside whenever possible and let your child have time to wander, time to wonder, time to fall and get back up and try again.
*Don’t do for your child what he or she can do alone. When your child asks for help, wait a few moments to see how he or she does without you. Sometimes a simple comment such as, “I know you can give it a good try” can be enough to encourage your child to accomplish a task on his own. Sometimes we use this little trick in the classroom: “You keep trying while I put away my things. If you still need help when I’m finished, I’ll help you then.” You’d be surprised by how much a child can figure out with just a couple more minutes and no one hovering nearby!
These early school years are ideal for setting the foundation for life-long skills. At this age, children have such an innate curiosity and love of trying new things, they can accomplish a tremendous amount without even realizing they are learning. It just takes some time and patience, some of the best things we can give our children.