SUMMER SESSION WEEK SIX
Wow! The time has gone by so quickly. This is our last week of class. We will be making prints in class this week. Printmaking and rubbings are fun for the children to do and you can do most of them with minimal materials.
The weather has definitely felt like summer so I am including a few water ideas as well.
An easy and fun art activity is to make prints out of bubbles. Add some color to a mixture of bubbles and dish soap. You can add glycerin if you have some.
To make bubble prints you can either blow the bubbles on to the paper or make bubbles and lay the paper on top of the bubbles.
Bubble Print by Blowing:
~Tape a piece of paper to chair/table/fence. Let you child blow bubbles onto the paper. Use several colors if you choose.
~Cover the table or floor and let your child blow the bubble mixture onto paper that is on a flat surface.
~Blow the bubbles onto a paper towel. After they have dried you can cut the paper towel in to squares and use it for napkins at the next meal.
Making Bubble Prints with a Straw:
In a bowl pour the colored bubble mixture. With a straw blow into the bubble mixture until you have a lot of frothy bubbles coming up above the top of the bowl. Gently lay a piece of paper onto the top of the bubbles to make a bubble print.
Find some leaves, ferns and flowers that are fairly flat.
Lay the leaf/fern/flower on a paper bag or surface that can be cleaned. Paint the leaf/fern/flower. Carefully lift it off the paper bag and set it on a clean surface. Press a piece of paper onto the painted surface. Lift off the paper and you will have a print from the leaf/fern/flower
Crayon Nature Rubbing:
Set a leaf/fern/flower on a flat surface. Lay a piece of paper over the leaf/fern/flower. Tear the paper off of a fat crayon. Gently rub the long side of the crayon over the surface of the plant. Add more than one color and a variety of plants to make several rubbings on one piece of paper.
Crayon Texture Rubbings:
You can make rubbings from any surface that has a pronounced surface. Lace, baskets, bark on a tree, the sidewalk, etc.
Lay the piece of paper onto the textured surface and press a pealed crayon on the surface. Rub back and forth the get the rubbing.
Spray Bottle RAIN Painting:
Fill several spray bottles with water and add different colors to the water (liquid water color or food coloring)
Tape a large piece of paper to the fence, or between two chairs on the grass. Or you can lay plastic, paper, or towels you don’t care get stained, under the paper. Let the children spray the water onto the paper. The spray will look like clouds and then the clouds will rain on the paper. Add more color and watch it rain again and again.
Don’t want to get messy with paint? Just fill the spray bottle with water and spray the water on the deck, sidewalk, house to make designs that will be there and then disappear.
You can also paint with paint brushes. The children will paint and paint with water.
The birds and other wildlife need water during the summer. Set out water for the birds and butterflies in shallow containers. The birds like a shallow container of just water and the butterflies prefer there to be rocks to sit on while they drink.
Have Fun! Please, keep in touch and send pictures when you have time. I will miss all of you!
SUMMER SESSION WEEK FIVE
COOKING WITH CHILDREN
This week we will have some food related activities and songs.
Children love to feel like they are contributing to the family activities. They love chores – take advantage of this desire to help while they still feel like it is fun!
It has been shown that children that help with a meal are more likely to eat the meal than if it is just set in front of them. Picking the veggies from the garden to make a salad and then helping to put the salad together will encourage them to eat this salad at dinner. Children are capable of many simple tasks in the kitchen. They can tear up the lettuce, cut up bananas with a dull knife, butter the bread/toast, set the table and put on napkins. Children can look at pictures in the cookbook and help choose the menu for the meal. They can help with the preparation of that meal. They will learn basic math skills measuring and pouring the ingredients into a bowl, new vocabulary words when ‘beating’ the eggs and safety skills when learning about what is hot and what is sharp. These are skills that will help them be safe in the kitchen. Being part of the family meal preparations will help them develop good nutrition habits as they grow up.
A great multi-skilled activity is making Kabobs. It teaches patterns, numbers, colors, while developing fine motor skills and good nutrition choices.
Set out cubes or small pieces of fruit/tender vegetables for your child to press onto a skewer. If you are going to grill the veggies / fruit on a BBQ soak the wooden skewer before threading the fruit / veggies onto the skewer.
Play a game of:
~ Colors -- add a red food, add an orange food, add a white food.
~ Numbers -- have them match a number with the amount added to the skewer.
~ Shapes -- round blueberries/peas, cubed watermelon, circle bananas, triangle cantaloupe.
~ Patterns – draw the pattern on a piece of paper or have them match one skewer pattern with the second skewer.
In a blender:
Add any kind of soft fruit – banana, blueberries, strawberries
Add juice or milk (optional)
Add ice cubes (optional)
Turn on the blender and blend till the fruit is ‘smooth’ and drinkable.
Pour into cups.
Pour some smoothie into cups, cover with a piece of aluminum foil with a hole in the center, add a popsicle stick, freeze for tomorrow’s snack. Without the milk/juice this will freeze in a few hours.
In a Ziploc baggie add ripe fruit and let your child smash it inside the baggie. Once it is 'smooshed up' you can add it to the smoothie mix: pre-smoothied!
With the banana peel from the banana you used to make the smoothies you can make a Banana Boat.
~ Place the unpeeled banana on a cutting board so it sits up like a boat in the water.
~ Cut along the ridge of the banana an inch from both ends. Then cut back up leaving the center exposed when you remove that section of the peel.
~ Scoop out the banana.
~ Fill your banana boat with cargo or little ‘people’ made out of fruit
~ Add a little paper sail on a skewer to make it a sailboat
~ Serve it on a blue plate with fishy crackers in the water around the boat.
Children love pushing down the bread in a toaster.
Let them be in charge of the toast for breakfast. If you would rather them not have jam on their toast unsweetened applesauce is easy to spread and tastes yummy.
We will be having a chance to paint toast this week during class.
¼ cup of milk in small containers – one container for each color
White bread works best but any bread is fine
Q-tips or clean paint brush
You can blend the colors and talk about primary colors and what colors added together makes another color.
Paint the colors on the white bread using Q-tips or clean paint brushes.
Once the designs have been painted you can toast the bread in the toaster or on a cookie sheet in the oven for 6 min @ 350
There are so many foods your child can help you make. They can make the dinner salad, wash the potatoes for the baked potatoes – they may be the cleanest potatoes you have ever baked, make toast for breakfast, stir the eggs for the scrambled eggs and measure the ingredients for bread, cookies or pretzels. While working together in the kitchen with your child you can talk about smells, textures, measurements, utensils, tools, shapes and how the food changes when mixed, cut, baked, cooked. You can teach them about what foods are nutritious and how those foods help their body to grow and stay healthy.
1 ripe banana
¼ cup butter
¼ cup vanilla yogurt
¾ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
~ With the peel still on let your child squish the banana until soft. Remove the peel and smash the banana in a bowl
~ Add butter and let your child mix or turn on the mixer.
~ Add yogurt and mix
~ In a separate bowl let your child break the egg. It’s easier to get the broken shell out of a new bowl ;-)
~ Continue mixing and add the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda.
~ Smell the vanilla and add
~ Shake the cinnamon in on top and smell it
Pour the batter into a loaf pan that your child has greased.
Bake at 325 degrees for 75 minutes.
Pretzels are a lot of fun to eat and to make!
Now that we can buy yeast again here is a fun recipe that the children can use to make all sorts of shapes – snakes, alphabet letters and whatever shape they choose.
1 package dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
1 TBS sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup white flour
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Mix the yeast and warm water. Let set for 5 minutes
Add the flours together
Add the sugar and salt
Mix together with the water/yeast to form a ball.
On a floured surface knead the dough then roll it with a rolling pin for 5 minutes. Children love using a rolling pin and if you have a smaller one it is perfect for this recipe.
Roll dough into coils to form the pretzel shape or have your child make their own shapes.
Brush with a beaten egg
Sprinkle with kosher salt (optional)
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
As well as teaching your child safety with sharp tools and hot foods / appliances you need to be aware of food safety. Never eat raw eggs or dough/batter that has a raw egg in it. Be aware that your child will want to taste the foods they are working with. I usually pull out some of the batter or dough before I add an egg and then add the rest of the ingredients so they can eat that dough before it is cooked.
Cooking with children is so much fun. You will create memories that will stay with them as they grow up. The smells from the kitchen will bring back the memories of their childhood – and yours. Every time they smell bread dough rising, banana bread baking or the scent of fresh strawberries in a bowl they will be transported back to time spent in the kitchen with their family. Enjoy your time together in the kitchen!
Have fun cooking with your child!
SUMMER SESSION WEEK FOUR
Some of my favorite memories are of playing games outside on a summer evening. Playing outside on a summer night is a great way to build a family tradition and have fun together. Here are some ideas for games that can be played alone or with other people / family.
RED LIGHT – GREEN LIGHT
This is a classic children’s game that can be played in small spaces or in the yard. It can be played with several children or just one so it is perfect for our time of limited social interactions.
One person is the Traffic Light. The other child, or children, line up some distance away from the Traffic Light Person. The Traffic Light Person turns their back to the children and says Green Light. Everyone runs toward the traffic light until he/she turns around and says “Red Light” which signals everyone to stop. This continues until, while the Traffic Light Person has their back turned, someone crosses over the line by the Traffic Light Person. Then that person gets to be the Traffic Light.
HIDE and SEEK
Another classic children’s game. Children love to hide. A version of this can adapted to a single child. Have the child play Hide and Seek with stuffed animals. Have the child hide their eyes and you can hide their stuffies all around the room. It is basically a version of an Egg Hunt. Say “Open your eyes” and have the child find their stuffies. Then do it again, and again, and again! Let the child hide the stuffies if they want.
Relay Races can also be done as a solo activity or with a small group. Set up two lines and race between the two points back and forth.
~ Spoon and an Object Race – using a spoon to carry an object from one basket to another basket
~ Water Fill – Put water in one container and with some kind of smaller container take the water from the filled container to the empty container. How fast can you fill the empty container?
~ Bean Bag – Take a bean bag from one container and run to the other container – toss it in that container and run back to retrieve another bean bag. Run back and forth till all the bean bags are in the second container.
~ Clothes Pin Drop – Have a bunch of clothes pins in a basket and a container with a narrow opening. Pick out one clothes pin and run to a container with the opening in it. Drop the clothes pin through the opening. Run back and get another clothes pin until they are all gone.
~ Animal Run – Have a picture of an animal in a basket. Pick out the picture and run/hop/crawl like the animal to the other line.
~ Clothes Race – Have a piece of clothing in a basket. Run to that basket and put the piece of clothing on. Run back to the start and take the piece of clothing off. Mittens, hats, socks, are easy pieces of clothing to use for this race.
~ Water Balloon Race – Have a basket of water balloons. Pick one out of the basket and run to the other line. Have a target to toss your water balloon at. Run back and get another water balloon.
~ Any kind of repetition that your child would like to do makes a great relay race.
Make a Bingo Card with a variety of things to find that your child is interested in. Then go on a walk to try and fill in all the squares on your card. This can be an inside activity, one to do in your yard, on a neighborhood walk or one you do on a hike.
~ Things I See --Different colored vehicles, construction vehicles, animals, colors, numbers, plants/trees/flowers, sounds, etc.
~ Family Bingo Card -- send a family member a card/letter/call them/visit them to mark off their square.
~ Things I Eat – put the pictures of food your child likes to eat (or you want them to eat) and mark them off during the day.
~ Books I Read – like the Summer Reading Programs at the library you can make your own reading program and have them mark off the card as they read the books during the summer. You can do the squares with names of books or categories of books.
WHAT IS MISSING
Put a variety of objects on a tray. Have the child look at the tray and say the names of the items on the tray. Have them close their eyes and take an item away. Can they remember what item is gone? Start with 3 items then add more as they get better at naming the missing items.
A variation of this game is to hide the item under a cup instead of taking it away.
OR hide one item under a cup and have them guess what cup the item is under.
Play a game with food. Can they guess the food by smelling it? Have them smell different fruit and then make their SMOOTHIE SNACK with the food they guessed. Bananas, strawberries, raspberries mixed together with some yogurt and ice cubes in a blender makes a yummy snack. You can then take the extra smoothie and freeze it for a frozen smoothie popsicle for another day.
Using beads or colored O’s cereal have the child follow a pattern (or just go free form!) to make a necklace.
You can roll a dice made of colored squares to choose the color to add next.
This is another classic children’s game that takes no equipment and can be done anywhere. Find an object and say, “I spy with my little eye something that is _____”. Give some kind of clue about the object you are looking at: A red boat in the water, a green car, a yellow rose, etc. After the child guesses it is their turn to spy something.
Playing games with your child is a learning activity that is fun and builds family relationships. You can play games that will be a foundation of family activities as they grow up. The Jacobson Family played croquet and we just gave Joel a croquet set for his Father’s Day gift. It will be part of their family traditions to have Ansel and Zoe learn the fun of croquet! Greta’s family plays putt putt golf at the Red Putter every time they go home to Door County. We love the Red Putter! The memories you create playing games with your child can last a lifetime.
Have fun playing games with your child this week …. And all of their life!
SUMMER SESSION WEEK THREE
Music and Dance
The 4th of July is the beginning of summer season for most of us. School is over and we should be heading out on vacations and road trips. This year will be a little different but you can still make some fun summer memories by creating you own road trips, parades and summer treats.
Music In The Park – or this year at Home
This needs to be a supervised activity. Using thick glass containers – jelly jars, mason canning jars or glasses that are not easily broken.
~ Line up the glass containers
~ Fill them with water - full to empty - in increments depending on how many containers you have.
~ If you use 8 containers you can make a simple scale.
~Using the eraser end of a pencil tap lightly on the glasses and paly a song.
~Tape a piece of cardstock or cardboard to the top of a bowl.
~Use the eraser end of two pencils as drumsticks
Tissue Box Guitar
~stretch four rubber bands with different thicknesses over the opening of a tissue box (or any box with a hole cut in it)
~strum a tune on their guitar
Listen to Nature making music
~stop and listen to the birds, bees, frogs as they make their own music.
Record your child
~ making music.
~ singing with their instruments
~ humming a tune for others to guess
~ creating sound effects for a story
Need a quieter activity?
Make a Whisper Tube. Using a long cardboard tube, have your child/children decorate their own whisper tube. Then have them use it to “talk”, in a whisper, to you/each other. Then have the person answer them back, using a whisper, from the other side.
4 pieces of string
square piece of cloth
large paper clip
~Tie the four pieces of string to the four corners of the cloth
~Tie the loose ends of the string to the paper clip
~Ball up the cloth and throw it high in the air OR drop it from a high place.
~The parachute should pop open and drift slowly to the ground.
Make several paper airplanes and see which one flies the furthest, makes trick moves, flies the fastest.
On the sidewalk or the driveway draw a roadway. Take some chalk and draw a road. Depending on the size of your ‘map’ you can add intersections, stop signs, places to visit and “home”. Take a road trip on your scooter, bike or little car.
Picnic in the Park
Have your child help you make a picnic then go to a park for lunch, snack time or dinner. Read a book while eating your picnic food. Even a picnic in the backyard, or living room, is a fun way to spend the afternoon.
It is Parade Time
It is going to be a different 4th of July but you can still celebrate this holiday with your own parade.
Make you own shakers, a special hat, put on some marching music and have a family parade.
Parade Noise Maker
Using masking tape, or duct tape, cover one end of a toilet paper roll. Fill it with something that makes noise -- bells, beans, popcorn or combination of several items. Tape the other end of the toilet paper roll. Add streamers to one end and decorate the tube.
Make a headband out of construction paper. Cut out red, white and blue (or any color you choose) stars (or any shape). Tape each star to a pipe cleaner. Tape the other end of the pipe cleaner to the inside of the headband. Add decorations to the headband if you choose. The stars will dance as your child marches in the parade.
Play some fun March Music and go on your own parade around the neighborhood or your backyard / house. If you have neighbors involved they can sit on their front porches and clap as you march by.
Summer is a time when we usually go on vacation, visit family, go to parades and fairs. Food can be a big part of these community and family gatherings. Celebrate summer with this recipe for frozen bananas.
Frozen Chocolate Bananas
Frozen treats are a summer tradition and bananas are favorite snack so the two together make a great summer snack idea.
6 ripe bananas. Recipe makes 12 bananas
1 cup chocolate chips
1 TBS butter
1 cup crushed graham crackers - optional
~ cut a ripe peeled banana in half
~ insert a popsicle
~cover with plastic wrap and freeze
~melt chocolate chips in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Or use a double broiler to melt the chocolate.
~take the banana out of the freezer
~dip and roll the banana in the chocolate.
~sprinkle with graham crackers or anything you choose while the chocolate is still warm.
Eat at once or freeze up to ½ an hour.
Have fun! Happy 4thof July!
SUMMER SESSION WEEK TWO
Classic Children's Stories and Poems
As your child grows there are many skills they will need to learn. One of those skills is learning to read. The best way to create a reader is to instill a love for learning. One of the ways a child learns to love reading is by being exposed to the written word. Children who love to read are given an opportunity to learn about the world around them, develop empathy for others, create their own stories and explore new concepts through the books they read.
Reading is a skill that is built on a foundation of pre-reading skills. Your child will need to develop both discriminatory and memory skills that are both auditory and visual. They need memory skills to recognize a sound or image and they need to be able to distinguish the differences between the sounds and images. When we sing songs, do flannel rhymes and read stories children are learning these skills. They want to do them over and over again because they are developing this pre-reading skill and mastering the specific skill needed before they move to the next level of learning. Children need to be exposed to written words as well as hear those words spoken. Seeing the words written on a page or showing them words on signs / buildings / their fishy cracker bag shows them that words mean something and that what is said can be written down in the form of a word.
The following activities are ways to enhance their vocabulary, develop their awareness of the written word and create a sense of fun while learning about the written word.
WHAT IS MISSING
We develop visual memory when we play the Bug in a Rug game during circle time.
You can play a What is Missing game by showing your child 3 or 4 objects.
~Name the objects.
~Have your child hide their eyes and take away one of the objects.
~Name the objects again and say “something is missing” when you come to the empty space where the hidden object was.
~Ask your child to try to remember what object is gone.
~Put the object back and do it again by removing another object.
CREATE A PIECE OF ART AND LABEL IT
~Have your child draw or paint a picture
~Ask the child to tell you about the piece of art
~Label the artwork with the words they have used to describe it.
CREATE A STORY
~Show your child a picture or use a picture they have created
~Ask them to tell you a story about that picture
~Write down the story they tell you. Read their story to the child and other family members and friends.
~If it is a long story you can record the story and have them listen to their story.
SILLY STORY TIME
When reading a story that is familiar to your child insert silly words instead of the correct word. This needs to be a story that they know and can tell it is not the correct word. You can do this with stories or songs.
An example would be: Baby Beluga in the deep blue TREE. Or Is the water COLD
They need to have the visual / auditory skills to know that this is not correct that it is: deep blue SEA and the water is WARM
For the little ones you can do this with picture books by pointing to the cat and calling it a dog.
They need to know what a cat looks like and what a dog looks like to be able to ‘see’ the difference when you call it the wrong name.
WORDLESS STORY TIME
Find a collection of wordless story books or make up some story cards of your own. Have your child tell you a story using the book or cards. This is a great open-ended activity. It can be the same story they tell you (using their memory skills) or it can be totally different every time (using their imagination)
STORY IN A BOX
A different twist on the wordless story is the create your own story with some props in a box. Put a few items in a box that are items you child already knows about. Have them pull out an item and start a story. Pull out more items to continue the story.
A little boy had an egg for breakfast. After he ate he brushed his teeth with a toothbrush.
For the little ones you can have them pull out an item and just identify it. This is an egg, this is a toothbrush, these are flowers, this is a block.
Show your child a picture and ask them to come up with as many words or sounds as they can that rhymes with it. They do not have to be words they can just be sounds. DOG: frog, log, hog, bog, ogg, mog, sog, wog, rog…
The sillier the more fun they will have.
Have your child repeat what you say. Silly words, silly rhymes, words they know, words that are new to their vocabulary. Say the words using a quiet voice, a loud voice, a silly voice. Then let them be the leader and you repeat what they say.
Playing with words and voice intonations is a way to learn cadence and rhythm patterns.
Use as many descriptive words as you can when serving up snack. Say words that rhyme with their snack. Make up silly stories about where the snack came from or who would like to eat it. Use snack time as a time to introduce vocabulary words about food, kitchen tools and words to describe what they are doing.
You are chewing your food.
You are drinking your milk.
The banana peel is yellow but the banana is white.
DEVELOPING A LOVE FOR READING AND BOOKS IS A GIFT YOU CAN GIVE YOUR CHILD THAT WILL LAST A LIFETIME. LET THEM EXPERIENCE STORIES AS YOU READ TO THEM OR AS THEY ‘READ’ THEIR OWN BOOKS.
BY MODELING A LOVE OF READING YOU WILL TEACH THEM THE VALUE OF BOOKS AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO READ.
SUMMER SESSION WEEK ONE
Welcome to our first Crown Hill Virtual Summer Session. I am excited to see all of you during our virtual classes and I hope you can find some fun things to do with your child in the emails I will send each week.
ABC’s are the beginning of letter recognition and reading. Playing with letters is one of the ways to expose your child to the printed word.
On a piece of cardstock or cardboard write your child’s name in block letters. Let them fill in the letters with a crayon. Then give them some glue and cover the crayon with glue. Add pasta, sand, buttons, little pieces of paper/tissue paper to the glue to make a mosaic out of their name. For the little ones be sure that the items you glue to the letters are not choking items if they are still putting things in their mouth.
You can have them decorate DADDY and give it to him for Father’s Day
FINE MOTOR SKILLS / LETTER RECOGNITION
Roll ropes of playdough and make alphabet letters out of the playdough. Let your child use scissors, or a little cheese knife, to cut the letter you say.
Yummy snack idea-- roll out cookie dough or bread dough to make alphabet cookies or pretzels just like the playdough activity. Tastes much better!
Another yummy snack idea is to give your child a big pretzel stick and some cream cheese or humus on a plate. Using the pretzel like a pencil they can write letters in the cream cheese / hummus and enjoy a snack at the same time.
Write a letter to someone and go for a walk to drop it in the mailbox
Point our letters on signs and buildings on your walk.
Build a tower with alphabet blocks. As you put the block on the tower be sure to say the name of the letter that is on the block
Scrabble Game Tiles are fun to sort and play with. You can match them up, spell their name, stack them, put them in a line. Write their name and familiar family member’s names. While you are playing with the tiles they are learning what a letter looks like and as you say the name they are building their awareness of letters and words.
Learn to Sign Their Name A beautiful sign language alphabet book is THE HANDMADE ALPHABET by Laura Rankin. It teaches the alphabet and the sign for each letter with beautiful illustrations.
LARGE MOTOR ACTIVITIES
Play Alphabet Simon Says
Using tape, or chalk, write your child’s name on the floor or sidewalk.
You can do the whole alphabet if you want and other people’s names.
Then call out a direction that starts with the letter. “Jump on J”
“Hop on H” “Laugh on L”. You can let the child call out the letter and directions – it may not be as accurate but it is fun and they love being the leader.
Using the letters you have drawn you can play a version of hopscotch. Give your child a bean bag and have them toss the beanbag on the letter you say. For the little ones you can point the letter out for them.
Say a letter and see if your child can make that letter with their body. Can they make the letters of their name?
Dance to a song and when the music stops make a letter with your body and have everyone guess what letter it is.
MAKE A BOOK
Using your child’s name make a Name Book. On each page write the letter of your child’s name. Then fill in the page with pictures that start with the letter on the page or pictures of them. You can make the letters a color and find pictures of them dressed in that color or in an environment that has the color in it. Orange letter and pictures of pumpkins / pumpkin farm.
Attribute Book Write an attribute that describes them for each letter of the alphabet. Or just use the letters of their name if you want a less time consuming project.
Name Alphabet poster Write their name in capital letters from top to bottom on a long piece of paper. Using the capitol letter write a word that begins with the letter of their name. It can be a noun that starts with that letter or an attribute that describes your child.
And we all know that singing the ABC song is just the right amount of time to wash our hands!
As we finish our first ever Virtual Summer Session I have so many thoughts going through my head. With all the changes in how we are educating little people (and big people) I had no idea how we would do a summer preschool. I was not sure if people would want to spend time in front of a screen during the sunny days of summer in Seattle. We used this summer session as a way to fundraise for additional materials needed for virtual preschool sessions and to expand our outdoor area. We had over 40 families participate in our summer program and the children had a wonderful time. I learned from them how best to communicate with them and how to share information with them on a screen, I watched them as they laughed and interacted with each other (and with me), they shared special treasures with me and they actively engaged during what is now our new Circle Time / Rectangle Time together. I loved every minute of it. It is a summer session I will never forget.
Each day during the virtual spring learning months, and each week durning the summer, I sent an email with activities, ideas and thoughts. I will continue to share ideas in August as we take a break from the virtual learning. We will start up again in September with our virtual preschool class. We are adding to our Rectangle Time a small group activity time and small group sharing time.
As we adjust to this new normal we will all continue learning from each other. I will learn from the children and they will learn from the activities presented during our virtual time together. We will all learn together in our virtual preschool classroom just like we did in our actual classroom. Together we are problem solving, investigating, laughing, taking risks, developing friendships, sharing our thoughts and growing together. It is a different venue but we are still playing and that is how we will learn together.
I will add posts from the spring class emails and from our summer session emails. I hope you enjoy the ones I share. We learned a lot from our time together during Summer Session 2020.
This was definitely an end of the year we will always remember. Spring of 2020 at preschool will be one for the record books. Starting in March we went to a Virtual Preschool. I sent out daily emails for the preschool families that followed our weekly themes and we had Virtual Circle Times for all the classes.
I was surprised how quickly the children adapted to "Rectangle Time" and how they responded to having class online. I learned how to use the screen as a tool. I spent my days learning how to read a book without have a glare on the page, how to make sure we had proper lighting and how to add fun into our 'regular' curriculum that was now being presented as online activities. One of the favorites has turned out to be hiding from each other while singing All Around the Mulberry Bush and popping up at the end of the song.
I find it ironic that one of my go-to books for our outdoor classroom, 150+ Screen Free Activities, has become one of the go-to books for my online curriculum as well. I have adapted the ideas to use with the children on the screen during our class times.
As we move through the 'new normal' I have worked to adapt in person circle time activities, science activities, stories and sharing time to the virtual classroom. The online classroom is different from the physical classroom but how children respond to learning has stayed the same. They are engaged when the learning is something that they are interested in, participate in and have a connection with. Is a virtual classroom the perfect environment for young children? I would say no but at the moment it is one of the only venues that we can safely engage in a preschool classroom environment with the children. So as the children are learning from me as the teacher I am learning from them on how to adjust my curriculum and my new classroom to meet their needs. I am re- learning how to teach my curriculum and how to be a preschool teacher.
It is a challenge and a joy to be able to reach these little ones in their own homes as we navigate this new way of teaching on a screen.
I will post the emails I sent out this spring and the emails I have sent for summer session. I have more children enrolled in our virtual summer session that we would usually have in our summer classes. Partly this is because we can have as many families as would like to come to class join us and partly because there are not a lot of other options outside of our summer sessions for preschoolers do right now.
The online class is: comforting, familiar, consistent and they have fun coming to class with their siblings, parents and friends. I think the key to the success of the classes was summed up by one of the children when we started our online classroom. She exclaimed, "I know this song! I know this!". During this time of uncertainty, with a lot of unknowns, the hour we spend together singing, reading stories and talking is something these children know. This is something they know this. It is an hour during their day that is familiar to them. We have all adapted to our new preschool setting and Rectangle Time.
This April is so different from what most of us had expected out April to be like. I know I had not imagined our world turning upside down like ti has. What has given me a sense of calm and hope is watching the gardens bloom, hearing the birds singing sweetly in the morning and know that nature has not changed at all. It is the same as it has been every year. I was looking back at previous newsletters and decided to use one I wrote a few years ago. What I wrote is the same -- gardening brings us hope of what is to come. We have faith that the seeds will grow in to plants, that we will have joy watching our flowers blossom and that there is pride in our accomplishments.
FROM April 2017
Ours was an “eating garden” not the “canning gardens” they ran through when visiting the relatives in Ohio. It was there for them to experience the joy of growing something, to see where some of our food comes from, and to be able to taste the goodness of their harvest (if we could keep the raccoons and birds from experiencing it first!) We would take pictures of their two corn stalks and send them to Great Grandpa – I am not sure who was prouder of their corn. When they got to high school they both took horticulture. The teacher came up to me one day and asked if Joel and Nick had gardened when they were younger. I said they had and she replied, “I knew it. They have such a respect for living things.”
It is so important to let little ones nurture things from nature. They develop an empathy and a respect for living things when they garden, as well as a knowledge of where food comes from, experience the science of growing seeds, patience while waiting for their plants to produce something to eat or look at, and pride in what they have accomplished. This love for nature will stay with them. Joel and Danielle have been working on the garden at their home Wedgewood. Nick does not have garden space but he likes to read books on gardening and loves planning a menu to eat all the things that Joel is growing! My Grandfather would be so proud of his little gardener.
I am glad we had, and are still having, fun digging in the dirt together. Children love to see the plants and see where food comes from before it gets to the grocery store. Take them to a blueberry or strawberry farm and let them pick some fruit. Then let them help prepare the food for a family meal. You know where food comes from but to them this is a new and exciting adventure. Take some time to get dirty with your child – or just visit the pea patch and see what other people are doing in the dirt.
Some of the children have already had the opportunity to plant seeds in the garden at preschool. We will all be planting soon. We will encourage the science of gardening while we set up experiments outside and have fun digging in the dirt at preschool. Be sure to check out the garden area when you are at school: the raspberry plants are leafing out, the hummingbird is visiting daily, and the slugs are enjoying our primroses. There is a lot going on in the preschool garden, and more to come!
Our Wildlife Habitat Garden has attracted the birds this winter and soon the butterflies will return. The garden is a place that allows the children to experience nature and encourages habitats for the animals in the area. When we encourage children to be a part of nature they develop a caring attitude toward nature that develops their ability to nurture – plants, animals and people.
You have the chance to plant a seed of something very special in the hearts, minds, and spirits of your children as you garden together.
When our sons were young they loved the mischievous fun of the leprechauns. They would wake up to clothes in the wrong drawers (shirts in the underwear drawer and vice versa), green milk, green oatmeal, a trail through the house made by little leprechaun feet (you can use little paper shamrocks instead of painted feet) and at the end of the trail would be a special surprise from the leprechaun with a note. In that note the leprechaun would explain how much fun he had playing tricks on them and making a mess. They would go outside and look for the "little people" in the garden, build little homes for them and leave them surprises. It was so much fun. As they got older they would still wait for the leprechauns to bring the surprises on St Patrick’s Day -- not as many tricks but still little green goodies. We enjoyed playing leprechauns and we have great memories from the tricks they played. The leprechaun visit combined imagination, surprise, tradition, and play all in one day of fun.
It is so important for children to have opportunities to play -- unstructured, open ended, child centered play.We see play as just “fun” but for children play is hard work. It is a child's full time job to play. For children play comes naturally. It is so important to give children opportunities to play -- unstructured, open ended, child centered play. We may see it as meaningless but it is an important developmental activity for a child. Children learn through play. By giving children an opportunity to play we give them an opportunity to learn. Through play they develop social skills, self-confidence, opportunities to problem solve, ways to develop leadership skills as well as the beginning skills for academics. They discover how the world works and how they fit in that world. As we “grow up” it gets harder for us to play as freely as we did as children. We have to work at it. How does play come so easily to little children? They have less outward restraints -- they have less focus on what society "thinks" as well as being less self-conscious about what they are doing. What can we do to enhance their learning while they play? We can give them opportunities to develop their imaginations by allowing them to engage in open ended play. Children used to have toys that were not connected to a product, movie or book. They would use a stick as a doll or train. They developed their own scenarios without adults orchestrating the play. When they had a train it was just a train not a train with a name and a specific role in the play. It is hard not to allow your child to have a Thomas or a Dora but you can help them develop the play without mirroring the story or TV show. Kids are attracted to the same things as when our boys were young but the difference then was that a train was just that -- a train, dinosaurs were dinosaurs, tools were hammers without a specific builder using them. Our first experience with attaching a particular movie/story to the generic dinosaur was Land Before Time and the dinosaur characters in the movie. We had to drive to a Mercer Island Pizza Hut to get Sharp Tooth. I never thought I would have allowed an advertiser’s scheme to manipulate me to buy pizza in order to get a toy. I was though -- through my children's big, pleading eyes. We drove across town to buy a pizza in order to get the last dinosaur in the collection. Advertisers have found a big target population to sell items to – our children. It is important to give your child a chance to use their creativity when they play not just copy what they see or hear. One way to help your child develop their imagination is to give them opportunities to think and play "outside the box" that society puts their toy in. A prime example of how children enjoy the open ended "toy" is watching a child play with the box and wrapping paper the toy came in instead of with the toys that came in the box. If you allow children to have items that they can use to create their own play scene -- things that do not already have a story line attached to them—you allow them to engage their mind in their play..
Giving them opportunities for open ended activities will encourage your child to develop their imagination and enhance their cognitive skills. Our sons played for hours with wooden blocks, animals and cars. Often they built towers, towns, boats, roadways -- the start of each project was new and changed as they developed the idea for that day. It was the same set of blocks yet used to create different outcomes, scenarios, stories. Toys are the same, yet different, now -- Legos used to be an assortment of colored building blocks but now they have a theme or specific story line attached (Pirates of the Caribbean) that pre-determines the outcome of the play, many books have a show or movie that sets the visual imagery, dolls/trucks/trains have a pre-determined personality or story line. The play is less imaginative and creative if the child is just re-creating what they have already seen or knows about the characters or materials they are playing with. It is important to help the child create his/her own story line or scenario rather than just mimic one that has already been determined by a toy manufacturer.
A natural arena for open ended play is the backyard.
Give them time to be outside playing in the yard -- they can dig in the dirt, play with water, use animals as they make their own zoo or farm, plant a garden, watch the clouds, read a book. Being outside is something that is important for developing empathy for living things. They learn to respect living things -- both animals and plant life. Children need time outdoors -- unstructured time to play in natural surroundings. They experience the world through all of their senses. It gives them opportunities for leaning balance, eye hand coordination, cause and effect, visual discrimination, depth perception, enhances their hearing, creates associations with sound/sight to the knowledge they have acquired while reading books -- and you just thought they were playing outside! As they get older they can organize group play. The older kids set up the scenario and the younger kids get to play the parts. It is through this kind of multi-age play that they can develop social skills, problem solving techniques, leadership skills and self- confidence. Allowing the children to govern the play gives the child opportunities for developing abilities to manage their bodies and emotions, express their opinions and feelings, and create an environment of cooperation. They learn how to play together with rules and how to deal with their feelings when the outcomes of the group play are not what they want them to be.
When you are inside the house you can set up open ended activities that allow children to use household items for activities that encourage academic learning through play -- measuring and pouring develops spatial awareness (science, math, verbal skills), sorting items like buttons, nuts and bolts, food items (sensory awareness, verbal skills, visual discrimination), using socks for puppets, scraps of cloth for art projects (visual discrimination, 5 senses, creative problem solving).
There is a place and time for both open ended activities and playing with beloved characters. We had Snow White and the Seven "DORFS" memorized – I could not miss a word or page - ever! While on a trip to Ballard I had to stop at a toy store and ask permission to put the "dorfs" that were on display in the window in the correct order (Doc to Dopey). Winnie the Pooh and Mickey were part of the Disneyland play, Beatrix Potter was played out with their stuffed animals but they also made magic brews in the backyard, set up wild safaris in the garden and just laid in the grass and looked at the sky.
Give your child a balance of activities so they can develop creative thinking skills, cooperative play, and problem solving skills.
Through play your child is developing many new skills that will be the building blocks for a lifetime of learning.