May Newsletter

May 1, 2017

                                                                                       

Dear Preschool Families,

 

Happy May Day! Can you believe that it is already May? Where did the year go? We have had a wonderful year with all of the preschoolers. It has been so much fun to watch your children grow and mature. The students have mastered so many skills, everything from working on negotiation skills with classmates (and teachers) as well as learning to use scissors and recognizing the letters in the alphabet and the sounds the letters make, the gains are endless.

I want to mention an activity that I thought was a really fun way to keep the children connected over the summer months. Last summer, my daughter and about 15 other families planned to meet up every Monday at a different park. (I had no idea how many parks with playgrounds we have in the metro area, but it’s literally hundreds!) I was fortunate to be included in several of these “park parties,” and I loved it!! The families who were able to get together on a specified Monday usually met at the park in the morning and each family brought their own picnic lunch. (You could also meet in the afternoon and have a picnic dinner. J) The adults consisted of several dads, several nannies as well as some moms, and some grandparents J.The kids played, some families went for a walk, and some parks had water access so the children played in the water; it was just a fun relaxing time for the children and adults to have one day every week to get together and maintain their friendships over the summer.

I sat down over the weekend and decided to Google the parks in Denver. I was so impressed by all the links I saw, and every link I went to, had more links! You all probably know about milehighmamas, but it is a new resource to me, and it is a great resource! This site even had a link to a page where summer concerts were listed, and most weeks have 8-10 concerts! If you are interested, below I have listed some of the sites that I went to that were most informative for me.

http://denver.cbslocal.com/top-lists/top-playgrounds-in-denver/

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/07/01/best-parks-denver/

http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2016/05/31/top-5-playgrounds-in-denver/

http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2015/09/17/denver-playgrounds-theme/

http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2016/04/18/denver-new-playgrounds/

http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2015/06/02/free-summer-concerts-denver/

We have had a wonderful year with your children and we appreciate you loaning them to us. We hope you all have a healthy, happy and safe summer!

 

Important dates ahead. . . .

 

May 3rd (Wed.)~Ice Cream Social 2:15 ~ We will attend the Ice Cream Social with our 4th grade buddies. Morning children may return with their parents at 2:15 to go to the social with their buddy.  Weather permitting; the 4th graders will meet us on our playground.

May 5th (Friday) MAY DAY AND PRESCHOOL PRESENTATION HONORING MOTHERS ~ 9:00 Late start and 11:00 dismissal… This is a “dress-up day.” All preschoolers (all dayers, morningers and afternooners) arrive at 9:00 and dismissal for the entire school is at 11:00. When the children are dropped off, Mothers should plan to stay to see the preschoolers’ short presentation (in our classroom) honoring their mothers. After the presentation, all parents are invited to the PA Spring Reception. Then, at 9:45 the May Day celebration begins in the Sunken Gardens. May Day is a very special day at St. Anne’s. The sisters began the May Day tradition many, many years ago. The whole school will gather in the Sunken Garden and all the students sing the traditional May Day songs that the sisters sang so long ago. If this is your first May Day, you will be impressed by this presentation.

Here is an abrievated version of the schedule for the Preschoolers for May Day:

     9:00 ~ Late Start… All students arrive at 9:00am. (Mothers stay for the program.)

     9:10ish ~ Preschoolers sing some songs in the classroom to honor their mothers.

     9:25ish ~All parents go to the Parent Reception.

     9:45 ~ May Day celebration begins in the Sunken Garden.

     11:00 ~ All students are dismissed.

May 12th (Friday) FIELD DAY… 9:00-10:00ish. ALL PRESCHOOLERS COME TO SCHOOL AT 8:00 and dismissal is at 11:00. (Only the all dayers will stay for the afternoon) ~  Preschool has it’s own special Field Day. Our Buddies plan some fun activities and come to our building with equipment and games for the Preschoolers to do. It’s a fun morning for all!

May 29th ~ (Mon.) No school… Memorial Day

May 31st (Wed.) ~ 9:30-11:00 END OF THE YEAR PARTY…. ½ DAY 11:00 dismissal ~ LAST DAY OF SCHOOL~ All Preschoolers arrive at 8:00 and dismissal is at 11:00. Our party promises to be FANTASTIC! We will have a magician, face painting, and playtime. Come one come all!!

March Newsletter

March 20, 2017 - Newsletter

 March 20, 2017

 

Dear Preschool Families,

 Recently our focus has been on art, in preparation for St. Anne’s Art Exhibition that is scheduled for March 20th to 22nd, with Family Night on March 21st from 3:30-6:30 in the gym.  This is an opportunity for your children to proudly present their artwork to the entire school community.  The art show is not to be missed!  The children are very pleased with their van Gogh reproductions and are eager to share their artistic impressions of The Starry Night.

We began our art study by brainstorming ART and creating a Circle Map.   Several books about drawing, painting, and art have been read and videos featuring famous galleries and museums have been viewed.  The children enjoyed the opportunity to draw, lying on their backs under a table that had been prepped with an underlay of paper.  Reference was made to Michelangelo’s ceiling painting of the Sistine Chapel.   Line, color, symmetry, technique, and uniqueness in artwork have been discussed.  The children have worked on a variety of artistic endeavors using a multitude of materials and techniques, and our classroom and hallway showcase an impressive collection of your children’s talent.  A photography studio has been set up in the classroom, complete with a digital camera on a tripod and a hand painted backdrop.  A typewriter has been refurbished and is being used for check-in information at the studio!  The idea that we all have the ability to express ourselves creatively through art has been conveyed, as well as the fact that we can all enjoy the pleasures of being an artist, with more emphasis on the process than the product.

Our goal is for our students to live ‘ishfully’.  This term/concept is artfully presented in the book ish! by Peter Reynolds.  His message frees us to create without worry, learning that there is something more valuable than getting things just ‘right’.  We salute all the ish moments, complimenting, respecting, and encouraging ish-ness, not only in art, but in everything your children are striving towards.

In the past I have shared some highlights from an article that I would like to review once again.

A publication, Earlychildhood NEWS, had an interesting article entitled, “Art in Early Childhood: Curriculum Connections”.  The article highlights the importance of art in young children’s learning and development and describes elements of an art program/curriculum that are developmentally appropriate.  The article makes reference to Friedrich Froebel, the father of kindergarten, who said that art activities (both making their own art and enjoying the art of others) are important as they encourage each child’s “full and all-sided development”.  The “all-sided” referred to the child’s cognitive, social emotional, and motor abilities.

To touch on the “all-sided” development, a few comments follow:

  • Art and Social Emotional Development

         Children feel a sense of emotional satisfaction when they are involved in making art, as they have control over what they will make and what materials they will use…independent choices and decisions.

        Art builds self-esteem as children receive genuine feedback from classmates, teachers, and parents.

        Group art activities help children practice important social skills like taking turns, sharing, and negotiating for materials.  (The collage and Not a Box creations are examples.) 

 ·      Art and Cognitive Development

    The sensory exploration of materials helps children build knowledge of objects around them.

      Art activities encourage children to make decisions and conduct self-evaluations.  The article speaks of four decisions the child makes:

  1. What they will portray.
  2.  Choice of media and perspective (arrangement of objects).
  3.  Speed at which they will finish their project.
  4.   How they will evaluate their creation.  “Most often, children evaluate their artwork by thinking about what they like and what other people tell them is pleasing.

        The use of symbols in their artwork provides a foundation for the later use of words to symbolize what they know and feel.   

  • Art and Motor Development

               Children gain confidence in their use of tools for making art and later for writing, as well as the development of hand-eye coordination for forming letters and spacing words in formal writing.

Some of the elements presented as important parts of an early childhood art curriculum included:

  • using reproductions to expose children to masterpiece art
  • taking field trips to museums to provide opportunities for art appreciation (in our case the Art Show, as well as regularly displayed artwork throughout the school)
  • providing access to a classroom art center in which children choose their own topics and media
  • displaying children’s artwork in a classroom gallery (and on a larger scale, in the Art Show!)
  • involving families in the art program (the Art Show family night for example)

St. Anne’s appreciates and supports a dynamic art curriculum.  It is our intent in preschool to present a curriculum that will begin to foster the children’s excitement for art and the wonderful opportunities that await them in Ms. Cardenas’ and Mr. Sigler’s art studios.

 

OUTDOOR CLASSROOM NEWS

In the midst of the ever-popular water play, mud mixing, pirate adventures and exploration activities in the outdoor classroom we have been moving into a Native American Indian theme.  The outdoor classroom lends itself beautifully for this study, as has the unit on art and creativity.

Native American art encompasses a wide array of artistic and creative expression including paintings, sculpture, weaving, beading, music (dance, song, and instruments) and legends.  We hope to touch on all of these art forms over the next few weeks, providing an integrated study of math, science, music, history, geography and language arts.  Currently we have been drawing pictures on the tepee, depicting images of hunting, fishing, daily life, and nature.  We will continue to learn about the life of the Native Americans, comparing and contrasting with our experience.  Several children’s books have been shared and discussed, with great curiosity and interest being expressed in hunting, tribal disputes and weapons. 

 

THANK YOU NOTES…

Your time spent during conferences was appreciated!  It was a wonderful time to celebrate your child!

The snacks you have so generously provided are thoroughly enjoyed!  A trip to the snack table refreshes and energizes the class during our busy day!

Have a wonderful spring break!

 

Gale McLaughlin

March Newsletter

                                                                                           “Every child is an artist.
                                                                The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
                                                       
                                                                                       – Pablo Picasso

 

Dear Preschool Parents,

 

The month of February naturally puts love at the forefront of all we do.  The preschoolers know what they love.  They can even describe what it is in a very thoughtful and deep way.  As with all things that are challenging to describe finding the right words is difficult however, one preschooler said, “It’s hard to say what love is, but you know you love things and people.”

Speaking of love…. With the warmer weather we are spending more time in the outdoor classroom.  We LOVE the learning opportunities that the outdoor classroom provides.

Outdoor learning benefits the developmental domains:

cognitive (curiosity, making connections, creative thinking, problem solving/decision making, organizational skills, sorting, classifying)

social (language, teamwork/cooperation)

emotional (self-awareness, self regulation, empathy)

physical (fine & gross motor)

 

The outdoor classroom provides many opportunities for flexible thinking and a growth mindset as the children confront open-ended problems to solve.  Recently we have been building structures out of nature items: stones, sticks, bark and tree “cookies”. In order to build the children needed to gather and sort these items, thus cooperating and planning, sorting and problem solving.

Our next theme will revolve around art.  Art presents an important opportunity for the children to learn and grow. Art activities support the development of many life skills, including; cognitive, social, emotional, multisensory, self-esteem and creativity.  Creativity can enhance imaginations, discovery and experimentation. Art provides the opportunities to learn colors and shapes by mixing primary colors into secondary colors or the combination of shapes to make new forms.  These simple activities can result in essential thinking skills, such as; pattern recognition and development, along with mental representations of what is observed or imagined, and planning and organizing a project.  Art provides opportunities for language development to learn colors, shapes, actions and descriptive words.  Creating, experimenting and taking risks help children develop a sense of innovation and a growth mindset. Art activities support fine and gross muscle development, as well as eye-hand coordination.  The use of crayons, markers, paintbrushes and scissors not only strengthens the fingers for writing, but also provides practice for fine motor control. Art activities support sharing of materials, interacting with others, along with the planning involved with creating and producing something that is in step with the imagined result.

 

Sincerely,        

Char Brady    

  

THANK YOU for all of the wonderful snacks you provide.  When you provide snack you not only provide nutrition throughout the day, but also an important opportunity for the children to socialize through snack time conversations.  The snack you provide also encourages risk taking,  ie; trying new foods, chatting with different friends, and taking responsibility of choosing snack and clean up.  Academically the children are reading the snack signs, counting out snack and figuring out how many seats are available.  Thank you!

January Newsletter

                                                                                                            Jan.  27, 2017

 

Dear Preschool Families,

 

Several parents have asked for ideas to help their pre-readers with literacy skills. A strategy that many preschool/kindergarten teachers use is called a “picture walk.” An important goal for a child learning to do a “picture walk,” is to show the child that he does not need to be able to read the text in order to “read” a story. When a child learns how to do a “picture walk,” he uses the pictures, his imagination and his background knowledge to make connections and “read” the story. This strategy helps a child build a literacy foundation before they read. Below is a quick overview of the process of a Picture Walk.

 

How can I help my child with pre-reading skills?

The basic steps for a “picture walk”.

 

~ Pick a picture book with which your child is not familiar. (You will want to choose one with lots of color, detailed illustrations and a topic that will interest your child.)

~ If your child is confused about how to handle a book, show him how to hold the book, right-side up and emphasize that there is a front and back of the book; showing him that the title is on the cover. Show your child where the story begins, usually right after the title page.

~ Read the title and describe what you see on the cover. Talk about what you see happening on the cover and use the pictures to predict the story. Discuss your predictions and your child’s predictions with your child.

~ Open to the first page and begin “reading” the pictures in the book, but do not read a single word. (You can actually cover the text with your hands, so you and your child are only looking at the pictures.)

~ Ask your child what she sees on each page and what she thinks is happening. Encourage her to talk in full sentences about the characters, setting (place), events and details she notices.

~ Continue this process, page by page until you finish the book. Sometimes when there is only one page left, it is fun to pause, not turn the page and ask your child how she thinks the story will end. (You may need to review some of the setting, details, events and characters to support her as she makes her prediction.)

~ After you finish the “picture walk,” ask questions about the story. “What do you think the story will be about?”, “Do you think this is a fiction or non-

fiction book?”, “Which picture is your favorite picture?”, “Why is that your favorite picture?”, “Where do you think they are going?”, “What do you think this character is doing in the picture?”. These are a few basic questions; the questions you ask will vary depending on the story you read.

~ Finally, after you complete the “picture walk,” read the book to your child.  Discuss the story with your child, were any of the predictions you made,

(relating to character, setting, plot, events, etc.) accurate?

~ Be sure to leave the book in a place where your child can pick it up and “read” it again.

~ After your child is comfortable with “picture walks,” it is fun to have your child lead you through a “picture walk.”

 

How we are using “picture walks” at St. Anne’s?

 

Before reading a book to the class, we sometimes do a picture walk with the entire class. Also, we recently started using paired reading with “picture walks” during part of our library time with the preschoolers. This activity involves assigning two children to “read” to each other. Each child chooses a picture book to “read” to their partner and they takes turns “reading” their book to their partner. The reader shows the cover of his book to his partner and proceeds to take a “picture walk” through the book for the other child. After the first child finishes the picture walk for his partner, the children switch roles and the other child becomes the “reader”.

“Picture walks” support children with many pre-reading skills that are important for them to know before they begin to read. Some of the basic benefits of “picture walks” are: to help children learn how to hold a book, where the story begins, and how the story sequences. The walks also help the children with the left to right and top to bottom progression, which is so important when beginning to learn to read. Learning to tell a story, which is the basis of “picture walks”, is the first step in literacy development. When children express their thoughts about what is happening in a book as they look at pictures and “read” the pictures, they build their reading comprehension skills as well as encourage creativity and foster their imagination. When a child is “reading” a familiar book that he has already read during a “picture walk, “ the illustrations help him recall events and other information about what is happening in a story.

So, the next time you read with your child, take a “picture walk” before you read the story and see where it takes you.

Our month in review and what’s coming next. . .

WOW! It’s so hard to believe that it’s 2017 and that this is the last full week in January! We’ve been having a great time learning about “The West” and what it’s like to be a cowboy or cowgirl. Besides our art centers and writing center, our classroom had several different areas where the children could play and learn. One area was called “the range.” In this area the children created many scenarios, some of which were: to set up a tent, unroll bedrolls and sleep under the stars, construct fences to keep animals from escaping, build a fire and cook over the campfire. The children especially liked roasting cotton balls, which they pretended were marshmallows. Another classroom area was “the chuck wagon,” where the children worked together to prepare all sorts of different cowboy grub; two of the highlights were beans and hotdogs, and “cowboy stew!” We also had an area where the preschoolers took care of animals. We watched a few video clips about how 4H children raise, groom, take care of, and train their animals to compete in the stock show. There were several days when the “vet” came to check the animals’ health, and more often than not, the vet had to administer shots and give medicines. The Outdoor Classroom was included in our theme, and when we were in the Outdoor Classroom, the children looked for bandits, built with Lincoln Logs, painted at the easel, preformed some rodeo competitions on their stick horses and cooked delicious snacks at the outdoor chuck wagon. Last but not least, the preschoolers had a really fun time celebrating “Western Day” in music. It’s been a wonderful month; we have had so much fun learning about cowboys, cowgirls, and the western heritage!

For the next couple of weeks, we will concentrate on a theme of love, kindness, to go along with our next holiday, Valentine’s Day.  After this theme, we will move to learning about art and different artists. During this time, we will be working on creating projects for the all school art exhibition in March.

 

Sincerely,

Mandy Keiley

 

Reminders:

~ Dr. T asked that we remind families to please adhere to our birthday snack guidelines. The guidelines are listed in the Family Handbook.

~ Because the Colorado weather changes so quickly, the children often take off their coats. If it is left at school, it will probably end up in one of the lost and found places around the campus. If your child’s name is in an item, it will be returned to your child by the 5th graders. If there is no name, it will be donated. This happens every month. . . please put your child’s name on his/her clothing.

THANK YOU!!

~A huge thank you goes out to Heather Lew who came in and taught the preschoolers about Chinese New Year. The information was so interesting and the props she brought were wonderful and helped the children visualize some of the aspects about Chinese New Year. Heather gave each child a traditional red envelope with a few gold (chocolate) coins inside as a New Year gift.

~We also want to thank Jewel Brown for the amazing presentation she did for the children about her horses and what it was like to be a rider (A very successful rider, I might add.) who showed horses in many, many different places. (Did you know that Jewel’s horse was the Grand Champion at the Denver Stock Show in the late 1990’s?) Jewel let each preschooler choose one of the ribbons she won during her many years of competition.

~ We have the most wonderful snacks of any school I know. A gigantic thank you to all of you who provide us with fantastic, delicious, healthy nourishment!!

 

LOOKING AHEAD:

~ We look forward to visiting with our 4th grade buddies in early Feb.

~ Friday, February 10th the preschoolers are in charge of the Lower School Assembly. The assembly is held in the Lower and it begins at 8:05. All afternoon children are welcome to come join the morning and all day children for the performance. The assembly usually lasts about 8-10 minutes. . .  the pledge is said, announcements are made and the preschoolers will sing a short song. You are welcome to come watch, if you can.

~ February 20th is Presidents’ Day and there is no school.

~February 27th is a Teacher Work Day and there is no school

 

Valentine’s Day

~ Our Valentine’s Day Party will be on Tuesday, Feb. 14th. The party will be from 2:00 – 2:50. Our room mothers will be sending more information.

            ~ All Dayers arrive at 8:00 and leave at 2:50. (Their regular times.)

            ~ All MORNING AND AFTERNOON children will come to school at    12:05 and leave at 2:50. (The regular afternoon times.)

            ~ There are 10 morning children, 10 afternoon children and 10 all dayers.

~ PLEASE DO NOT ADDRESS THE VALENTINES

December Newsletter

December 14, 2016

 

Dear Preschool Families,

 

The hustle and bustle of the season is upon us, even in preschool!  We have been planning and preparing, making ‘to-do’ lists and checking them twice!   Advent bells and December calendars are helping with the count down.  The North Pole, Wrapping Center, Bakery, and Airport have generated several engaging play scenarios for the children to explore.

December’s theme has been holidays, culture, and traditions and within this study we have focused on several goals in our social studies, literacy, and math curriculum.  Activities and play scenarios are planned with intention.  Enclosed is an outline of goals that were a focal point for this unit of study, however many other goals from our scope and sequence were addressed as well.

Our current theme in the classroom, holidays, culture, and traditions, ties together the school themes of the past two years.  The school theme last year was Celebrating Our Stories and this year is Inspiring Our Individuality.  The holiday season provides a wonderful opportunity for us to share and celebrate our stories with our families, while shedding light on and inspiring our individuality, within the context of culturally diverse ideas.

Research has shown the benefits of storytelling to include:  

  • Preschool aged children who are exposed to storytelling exhibit improved language acquisition, emergent literacy skills, comprehension, and cognitive growth.
  • Storytelling connects children with history, family, and each other, and helps develop empathy.
  • Storytelling has the potential for building a community of learners who encourage and respect culturally diverse ideas.

Enjoy your stories…a treasured gift for the holidays!

Please note:  Enclosed is an outline Pastor Merrie prepared of material presented in Religion.

Tributes:

Grandparents’ Day… Congratulations to your children for their outstanding performances in their classroom presentation and the all school Music Program!

Thank you notes:

As always, we are grateful for our snack families and “helping hands”.  Your involvement is highly valued and key to cultivating community.

Your participation in the Canned Food Drive was also appreciated.  The school wide outreach projects are valuable in that they not only benefit the recipients, but possibly more importantly, they enable your child to see themselves as part of a larger community in which they are capable of making a difference.

The books you have so thoughtfully donated to the classroom, from the Book Fair Wish Lists, are being thoroughly enjoyed!  Books, like stories, are always a treasured gift!

Warm wishes for the holiday season,

Gale McLaughlin

November Newsletter

November 2016

 

Dear Preschool Parents,

 

I would like to add to Mr. Smiley and Dr. Tarleton’s comments in the St. Anne’s Newsletter (fall 2016) concerning the importance of the preschool outdoor classroom. Now that the school year is well underway and we have spent a significant amount of time outdoors the benefits are apparent, yet still evolving.

Our outdoor classroom allows learning to occur naturally. Through thoughtful observation and responding to the children’s needs and interests the curriculum becomes much more than an adult designed activity. The outdoor classroom is a hands-on, child initiated learning discovery area.  Engagement is key. Real, valuable learning occurs when the children are engaged in activities through self-initiated activities involving the environment and those around them.

To encourage engagement and curiosity we must allow plenty of time. Children need unhurried time to explore and create. The physical environment provides opportunities for intrinsic learning, wonder and curiosity. The outdoor classroom materials open up limitless possibilities for self-discovery. The emotional environment is necessary to encourage the children to take risks and have the opportunity to be innovative. Children who are initiating their own learning can be supported by thoughtful observation and responding, rather than leading.

According to ‘Lens on Outdoor Learning’ by Wendy Banning and Ginny Sullivan,

 “The many skills children develop through play, particularly the self-control practiced and refined in imaginary play, are related to long-term academic achievement.”

The researched benefits of outdoor learning is highly recommended by many physicians according to an article in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, in which Hillary Burdette and Robert Whitaker write,

“The problem-solving that occurs in play may promote executive functioning—a higher-level skill that integrates attention and other cognitive functions such as planning, organizing, sequencing, and decision-making. Executive functioning is required not only for later academic success but for success in those tasks of daily living that all children must master to gain full independence, such as managing their belongings and traveling to unfamiliar places.”

All aspects of an integrated curriculum is supported in an outdoor classroom. When entering the outdoor classroom we encourage the children to pause for a moment and greet nature by saying, “Good day dear earth, good day dear sun, good day dear flowers every one, good day dear beasts and birds in the trees. Good day to you and good day to me.” We also encourage curiosity by reminding the children to “Look up, look down, look all around. What do you see? What do you think? What do you wonder?”  Since nature naturally encourages wonder and curiosity our reminder is intended to help the children be mindful and respectful of their surroundings, with a large portion of appreciation and thankfulness.

Thankfully,

Char Brady

 

Thank you!!! 

Parents we appreciate all that you do!  Helping Hands is a great contribution to our classroom time.  The contribution of your time, mindful and purposeful interactions are priceless. We hope you enjoy your time in both the outdoor and indoor classrooms as much as the children enjoy having you here. 

ALSO… thank you for the snacks.  The children are excited to share what they have brought in for the week.  Their classmates appreciate all of the healthy and delicious snacks that we’ve had.

It naturally encourages wonder. Children can use all of their senses as they observe their environment. The natural materials allow children to sort, classify, count, compare, and examine. The role of the teachers is to guide children to integrate these experiences into cognitive concepts. Teachers should indicate honest interest through their tone of voice and facial expression. Sincerity conveys to children that their responses are important. When you allow time for children to think and respond, you show respect for both the children and their ideas.

In nature we have the opportunity to focus on things in the here and now. Questions that focus on observable events in the children's immediate environment are more likely to elicit a response than questions about objects or events remote in time or distant from the children. Young children focus on the present rather than the past. They need concrete cues to help them recall the past. Model scientific curiosity by asking questions of yourself and the children; for example, I wonder what ants eat? What do you think they eat? Ideally, questions enhance the child's experience, not detract from it.

Think about ways to extend their learning by adding new materials, posing challenges, and pointing out interesting results of their efforts.

October 3, 2016 - Newsletter

                                                                               

October 3, 2016

 

Dear Preschool Families, 

I would like to share some information about St. Anne’s Preschool curriculum, and in particular, how Preschool has implemented the use of THINKING MAPS over the past two years.  This will be a review for those of you returning to Preschool this year.  The focus of this letter is to elaborate on our use of THINKING MAPS, which was briefly referenced at Back-To-School Night.  The children enjoy working within the framework of these maps and exploring their big ideas!  

Throughout your child’s education at St. Anne’s they will be exposed to, and learn to independently utilize, 8 THINKING MAPS which are based on 8 COGNITIVE SKILLS.  The THINKING MAPS are visual representations of specific thought processes.  As 75% of the population tend to be visual learners, this visual language is important to cognitive development, encouraging children’s critical thinking skills and organization.

THINKING MAPS are used by all teachers and in all content areas in the Lower School, as “teachers at all grade levels are involved in teaching cognition”.  A publication for teachers written by David Hyerle and Chris Yeager entitled, THINKING MAPS…A Language for LEARNING, also states that, “THINKING MAPS give all students and teachers a common language for meaningful learning.”  Your children will have the same tools for thinking no matter where they are learning.  As our preschoolers move between grade levels they will use the same THINKING MAPS as tools for promoting student-centered and cooperative learning, concept development, reflective thinking, creativity, clarity of communication, and continuous cognitive development.  

In our classroom these maps are created on poster sized post-it notes, as we need space for several BIG ideas to be represented!  The larger visual is also necessary when working with the entire class during circle time.  To date we have introduced two of the THINKING MAPS, namely the Circle Map, and the Double Bubble Map.  Reproductions of some of the maps we have used in our class are enclosed, providing you with a visual to enhance your understanding of the process.  Enjoy talking about these maps with your child.  They have ownership and pride in their production!  

The Circle Map has been used on numerous occasions in our introduction to, and reflection of, a variety of topics.  The Circle Map is for brainstorming and defining in context.  It contains facts, details, or key information about a topic. The class is actively engaged during brainstorming as they “dump” ideas.  There is no risk involved as there is no correction and all ideas are recorded.  The children will begin to recognize that everyone thinks differently and that each child brings an array of background knowledge/experience to the brainstorming exercise.  Purposefully, we have either ‘added to’ the Circle Maps done in the am or pm session or created a ‘fresh’ map in each session.   Both scenarios have provoked meaningful and thoughtful conversation, and expansion of ideas, as we compared the am and pm maps.  We have also referred back to an earlier Circle Map, integrating that content into a new area or topic of discussion.

The Double Bubble Map is used when comparing and contrasting, looking at the similarities and differences between anything we are studying or investigating.  The double bubble map is a good tool for initiating thoughtful conversation about the indoor and outdoor classrooms.  The children are learning how to self-regulate by learning what to do, when to do it, and how to go about accomplishing it, as it relates to their use of the indoor and outdoor classrooms and the playground.  

THINKING MAPS, as mentioned earlier, will be learning tools widely used throughout the year.  As the children become more familiar with the terminology /repetitive language associated with the construction of the THINKING MAPS, and begin to understand when and how to incorporate the maps, the deeper and more meaningful their learning will become.

As discussed at BTSN and in the last newsletter, we have continued to spend time in the outdoor classroom on a daily basis.  The children are always eager to return to the outdoor classroom, having discussed play plans for the next day even before leaving!  Play plans are used for teaching scaffolded writing and self-regulation.  The play plan process involves the child planning what they would like to do, then drawing it, and finally writing it with the help of lines drawn to represent the words.  We have been modeling the writing process on the message board each day.  The pictures and writing are both scaffolded, with the pictorial representation becoming more detailed and the writing evolving from teacher drawn lines and words to child generated scribbles, lines, initial letter sounds, and invented spelling, depending on where the child is developmentally.

The process of creating a play plan is beneficial in developing self-regulation by helping the child learn how to avoid distraction, and become self-organized and self-directed, acting purposefully.  Drawing a picture of the plan helps them remember what they are doing. 

Apart from curricular discussion, we would like you to know that we are thoroughly enjoying your children!  They have been successful in cultivating community within their classroom and they are settling into the daily routine.  As they move through the day, their energy, enthusiasm, and excitement are a joy to observe!  It is a pleasure getting to know you and your children, and we look forward to conferences as a valuable time to share information from home and school and as a wonderful time to celebrate your child!

We feel we can never thank you enough for all you do, in so many ways, to support your child, your class, and your school.  So every letter will salute you!  Attending the social functions, providing delicious snacks, and signing up for the class parties and Helping Hands only touch on a few of your contributions!  

 

With gratitude,

Gale McLaughlin

October 24, 2016 Newsletter

                                                                                 October 24, 2016

 

Dear Preschool Families,

 

 We want to extend a big thank you to all of you for joining us at conference time to talk about your children. We appreciated meeting with you; it is wonderful to be able to sit down and discuss your child with you. We enjoyed sharing our thoughts about your child and hearing your insights, as well. This is a wonderful group of preschoolers and we look forward to a fun-filled year.

The past few weeks we have focused on fall. In our indoor and outdoor classrooms we have observed many signs of fall. There have been an abundance of acorns from our very old oak trees, as well as Buckeyes, and Coffee Tree pods. We have seen, created projects and played with lots of beautiful leaves, pumpkins, and Indian corn. (If you haven’t seen the beautiful fall trees, and the “advice from a tree,” above our cubbies in the hall, be sure to check them out.) It has been really fun to watch for signs of animals that have been eating the buckeyes, acorns and pumpkin seeds. The children had fun picking sunflower seeds out of dried sunflowers. In the morning we all enjoy commenting on the frost that is on the roofs at St Anne’s, as well as the grass. And last week we even found a large sheet of ice in one of our outdoor water tables! We will be sad to see the Rose Garden disappear for the winter, but look forward to watching for new growth in the spring. The temperature is definitely chillier and jackets are being worn more frequently. Fall is so beautiful at St. Anne’s and we look forward to seeing the campus and especially the outdoor classroom, when the snow begins to fly.

With Halloween around the corner, we have also been focusing on Halloween-themed activities. There have been several Halloween songs and finger plays. Pumpkin pounding (with golf tee’s and hammers) has been a favorite. Cleaning the “gook and seeds” out of pumpkins as well as washing the pumpkin seeds, has been appealing to a few. We have made Halloween hats, a pumpkin puppet to go along with the verse “We are Jack-O-Lanterns.” Many days we have a “question of the day” posted for the preschoolers to answer when they check in. Last week, one of the questions was, “Do you like monsters?” The children were to answer in the yes or the no column. It was interesting and surprising to see that quite a few more children liked monsters than didn’t!

We have been discussing “fact” and “fiction” and reading samples of both types of books. Most of the non-fiction books we have read so far have been true stories, rather than factual books. This week, we will be discussing bats, which will introduce a different type of non-fiction book.

Dr. T told us that several people who had coffee with her expressed an interest in knowing what the letters that are on the top right hand side of the play plans mean. These letters are a key to where a child is in the Scaffolded Writing process. Everyday we write a morning message such as: We are going to read. The message begins with saying it aloud, then drawing enough lines to write our message, taking care to make each line the same length as the word will be, when it is written. After the lines are written, we repeat the message, saying the words as you point to each line. When we know we have the correct number of lines, we write the message on top of the lines, saying the message as we write. After it is written, we point to the words and all read it together. You all saw your child’s play plans during your conference, and the child’s process is a little different than the morning message process. First the preschooler thinks of what he/she wants do, and after the activity is decided, they draw a picture of them doing the activity (we ask the child to include him/herself in the drawing). After the picture is finished, the teacher draws the lines for what they are going to do. (Some children are beginning to draw lines, usually more than we need, but they like to be a part of the line drawing) All play plans begin with, I am going to ______. The lines are written first, then the words are written on top of the lines. When the words are written, you read the message with the child, pointing to each word. Many of the children begin the process trying to think of a plan and they often just make a few marks on the page (as a scaffolding support, there are times that we ask them to add more detail or maybe we will say 'if you are going to play MagnaTiles with George, where are the MagnaTiles and where is George?'). This is just brief description of the early stages of a play plan. I have attached a copy of the Key that has a quick description of each level, for you to see. As a child masters the level, we help and encourage them (i.e. scaffold with them), to help them move to the next level.

A few weeks ago, the preschoolers enjoyed meeting their fourth grade ‘buddies’. The buddies actually “interviewed” the preschoolers during this meeting and the interviews and a picture of the fourth grade buddy and the preschool buddy are posted outside the fourth grade classroom. The buddy program aims to connect older students with younger students to help foster the strong sense of community and belonging that we have at St. Anne’s. This week we are going to meet with our buddies again to make a Halloween project together, so I’m sure you will be hearing about your child’s visit. On Halloween, the fourth graders will come to our classroom, pick up their preschool buddy and walk them over to the soccer field where they will participate in our all-school parade. This is a fun activity and the fourth graders are so responsible about watching out for their preschool buddy. Be sure to join us for the parade.

As always, a big thank you to our snack providers; the snacks have been wonderful! We also want to thank the Helping Hands who have joined us in our classroom and our outdoor classroom. We so appreciate all your help and support and feel so very thankful to be teaching at St. Anne’s!

 

Most sincerely,

Mandy Keiley

 

Reminders and looking ahead

 

~ If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for Helping Hands, and would like to, the sign-ups are on top of the shelves in the hall (to the left of the preschool door). If you need a different time or day, let us know and we will work with you to find a time that works. Also, more dates and times will be posted after the first of the year.

 

Looking ahead:

~ Monday, Oct. 31st  is a ½ day. ALL children arrive at 8:00 am and pick up is after the parade at 12:00. We will have our Halloween Party and the amazing St. Anne’s Halloween Parade on this day. All children come for the morning session (8:00 arrival). We will have our party in our classroom at 11:00. At 11:35–11:40 our 4th grade buddies will arrive to take their buddy to the Halloween parade on the soccer field. Dismissal is at 12:00. Please be sure to sign your child out on the Preschool sign-out sheet.

~Halloween Costumes ~ Please send your child’s costume to school on Monday, Oct. 31st in a bag. EACH piece of their costume must be labeled with your child’s name. Children may not wear their costumes to school. Parents are welcome to help their children put their costumes on after they finish their snacks and projects at our party.

~ November 10th from 3:30-7:30 is the St. Anne’s Book Fair Family Night at Barnes and Noble on Kentucky and S. Colorado Blvd. This is always a really popular event.

~ There is no School on Friday, November 11th because it is a Teacher Work Day.

~ November 17th, in the evening, is the St. Anne’s Holiday Artisan Market. There are always great things available at this Market!

AND LOOKING WAY AHEAD…

~Several people have asked us about the Grandparents’ Special Friends’ Day schedule. We will send a detailed schedule closer to the 22nd, but because the program is an afternoon activity, the morning preschoolers should plan to come to school at 12:05 with the afternoon children.

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August 2016 

Dear Preschool Parents,

Welcome to preschool!  Preschool is an exciting time for the children as they grow and learn throughout the school year.  This year will provide the children with many opportunities to learn and practice new skills in a safe and encouraging environment.

We are a play based preschool.  Our philosophy is based on the idea of Exposure With Developmentally Appropriate Expectations.  Simply put, we feel that children learn best and thrive in an environment that encourages each child to progress at his/her own rate, while acquiring skills when developmentally ready.  This approach builds a secure foundation for future growth.  Play is essential for social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.

We hope to make each child’s learning experience fun-filled and exciting.  Our goal is to instill a sense of curiosity and a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

Sincerely,

Preschool Teachers