Wow! How did a whole month of school already go by? We have been very busy as the children have settled into classroom routines and expectations. This is our biggest group of new students ever, but they are doing great! Here is an overview of the topics we have been studying or that are coming up soon in our curriculum.
We have begun our phonetic study of the alphabet with an introduction to the concept of letter names and sounds, along with beginning to learn the alphabet in sign language. We are reading many books about the alphabet, and some of the older children are being introduced to putting words in ABC order. We will progress through the entire alphabet, introducing the letter names but focusing heavily on the sound each letter makes. This is the basis for phonics instruction. Most of our time will be spent with lower case letters, since the majority of English is written in lower case. We also have puzzles, toys and building materials available to the children to support letter recognition.
We are also using our songs and stories throughout the day to work on significant language development as we introduce and reinforce new vocabulary words.
We are now well into our study of fairy tales, providing great fun for all of us. Fairy tales are the first genre of literature we will study this year; we will stay with this topic for a few months before moving on. Can your child tell you some of the ways we know that a story is a fairy tale? This is a very rich form of literature, with a lot to offer little learners, so we are taking our time and enjoying the stories.
We started the school year with a study of shapes, introducing the 10 plane geometric shapes. The children have access to our geometric cabinet to explore different shapes in various sizes as they learn concepts and vocabulary such as “straight,” “curved” and “angle.” As the year progresses, we will study solid geometric shapes.
We are also studying patterns in many forms: patterns of color, shape, position, sound and even food. The children are getting quite adept at noticing patterns all around.
Children are also working individually, as they are ready, with concepts of numeral and quantity recognition, place value, addition and subtraction.
Our science lessons right now are revolving around the fall harvest. We have learned about sunflowers and apples and are moving on to pumpkins next as we enjoy this time of year. The Kindergarten class enjoyed a trip to Bell’s Orchard to pick enough apples to make some fabulous applesauce with the whole class. We will be enjoying that treat tomorrow! And for all of you parents whose children “won’t eat the peel,” almost every child in class today ate the spiral peels that appeared when we used the peeler/corer/slicer tool. They gobbled them right up!
Our Kindergarten group started the year studying shadows and playing shadow tag. Next they will move on to a study of gravity.
We have started our continent study that will last the whole school year. We began with an overview of the globe/map/continents and then moved on to North America. This topic really will show up in many academic areas as we study cultures, foods, languages, animals, climates and stories from around the world. This is a great area to consider for Show-and-Tell ideas!
Soon our studies will include lessons on the Native Americans and Pilgrims as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The children have been working on learning the words to The Pledge of Allegiance. This can be very difficult to learn, so we are in the beginning stages. We have given the children this brief explanation of the vocabulary:
I PLEDGE: a pledge is a promise
ALLEGIANCE: allegiance is being a loyal friend
TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: the flag is a symbol of our country
AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS: in a republic the people help choose their leaders and laws
ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE: our nation cannot be separated
WITH LIBERTY: liberty is freedom
AND JUSTICE: justice is fairness
FOR ALL: for all people who are part of our country
Grace and Courtesy:
We have also spent a lot of time working on grace and courtesy in the classroom: how to shake hands when greeting a teacher, how to make eye contact when greeting a teacher and how to move quietly and carefully through the classroom so as not to disturb anyone’s activities. In addition we have been working with the children to remember that “all good manners start with please.” We hope to hear “please” as the first word in any request from the children. For example, “Please may I have more snack?” Or “Please will you help me tie my shoes?” The children are also working on answering the teachers with “Yes, Ma’am” or “Yes, Mrs. Sallak/Johnson/Ratten.” We are working on breaking the habit of answering with “yeah” and hoping moving to a more polite response. This may seem a bit old-fashioned, but we feel it helps set a gentle tone of respect in the classroom, and it is a habit that will serve the children well in years to come. Our world could greatly use more gentleness and respect.
The children have enjoyed a great deal of singing as we revisit old songs and learn some new ones. We have worked with rhythm instruments to develop concepts of patterning and to begin listening for a four-beat measure. This will eventually feed into an introduction to reading musical notation. We have also introduced the children to our classroom set of bells, explaining proper use of the mallet and damper to make music. Soon, when we are confident all of the children can be gentle and careful, we will move into matching the notes of the bells as the children train their ears to discern the different notes.
As we gear up for the children’s first performance of the year, they are diligently learning a lot of songs and also how to follow the director’s lead. Busy, busy, busy!
As you can see, the children are working very hard each day at school. We certainly don’t expect that they are grasping and remembering all of the above concepts and terminology, but we are confident that each child is absorbing what he or she is ready to learn.
Illness: Thank you in advance for your diligence this cold and flu season. Please remember that no child may be at school with a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Children must be free of these symptoms for 24 hours, without the benefit of medication, before returning to school.
Halloween: We recognize that each family has a different perspective on Halloween, and out of respect for this, Little Lambs does not celebrate Halloween. Please do not send your child to school in any type of costume or allow them to bring Halloween things for sharing. We will celebrate the fall season with our pumpkin patch field trip and in November with our Harvest Program.
Classroom Volunteers: If you are interested in volunteering in the classroom on a regular basis, please speak with Mrs. Ratten regarding which day(s) you would like to join us. We love having extra helping hands!
****October’s Parenting Thought****
“Go out and play!”
Those of you who have been with Little Lambs for a while will recognize a familiar theme in this month’s Parenting Thought: PLEASE let your children get outside and play! We are huge advocates of children having lots of unscheduled, unscripted, good old-fashioned play time. Recent research supports how critical this is for both children and adults. Allow your child time to explore things that bring him or her true joy. Is your child fascinated by bugs? Flowers? The stars? Does he love to run? Bike? Paint? Whatever it is that is a source of curiosity and joy for your child, try to encourage it and allow time for it. While classes and teams and lessons can all foster some of these loves, it is important for children to have time to learn and explore through play on their own, without adult planning. Ideally, unscheduled play time won’t be an afterthought or something to squeeze into the day but, rather, a natural component of the day, without stress or agendas. Research suggests that children who engage in self-directed, unscripted play are better learners and problem solvers than those who do not. In the Montessori philosophy, “play is the child’s work.” In other words, play is not frivolous or silly; it is useful, purposeful and critical to a child’s healthy development. Our Kindergarten children provided us a wonderful demonstration of this. As we left the park one Friday, one child turned to another and gleefully said, “Phew! I’m tired from all that work we just did!” And, indeed, they had been “working” hard as they played. They worked together to gather sticks and leaves and then to plan and build little houses. They searched and explored for what they needed and, unbeknownst to them, used math and logic as they built their sturdy little structures. We live in a results-oriented world that puts a lot of pressure on parents to have their children producing results. But, please, give yourself permission to just get out and play!