It is Farm Animal Week...lots of animal sounds will be heard during class this week.
Growing up my boys spent three weeks each summer at my grandfather's farm in Ohio. Grandpa was actually an educator (teacher, principal and a Dean of Education) but he had what he called a "gentleman's farm". A big garden, geese, chickens and a goat. He had a tractor and a big barn to play in with hay and a rope swing. He enjoyed farming but loved being an educator and this was the best of both worlds for him -- and for us! There was a big pond to paddle around on and spend time fishing or just watching the geese as they landed on the water several times a day. My uncle had the real farm with pigs, cows and a huge combine and tractor. He had the big tree with the rope and wood seat swing that you see in classic Midwest farm pictures. You could swing so high on that swing!
I can still see the clothes blowing in the wind on the line behind the garden and my aunt picking beans and putting them in her apron to carry into the kitchen for our dinner. So many memories that we share with each other from those visits to the small town of Laura, Ohio. A trip to the farm was not complete until we visited the hardware store in West Milton. Squeaky door and creaky wooden floors. You could find anything and everything in that store and if it wasn't in the hardware store you could find it in the Variety Store! From canning jars to children's toys and tools to mops...if you needed it you could find it in these two amazing stores.
We still have the tractors Joel and Nick bought at Wertze's Hardware store. All of the children in the small towns had tractors. The kind of tractor you had depended on the owner of the hardware store. They were either red Internationals or green John Deere tractors and trailers. They had so many pieces of farm equipment and accessories...our sons were in farm heaven when they went down that aisle. If you look on the bookshelf behind me during class you will be able to see what Mr. Wertze considered the proper type of farm equipment. I have to admit I googled Wertze's this evening...still the same and I bet it still smells the same inside! https://wertzhardware.com
We will talk about farms, animals and what different kinds of food we can find on a farm. During the week you can ask your child what animals live on a farm, what they eat and what they say. It is also a time to talk about pets, wild animals and domesticated animals. You can ask them where their food comes from and how food grows. We will have conversations about animals, food and family for the next few weeks as we lead up to Thanksgiving.
Hope you have fun on the farm this week. I know I will.
This week is Turkey Week. It is hard to believe we are moving into the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving and, in fact, it is my favorite holiday. This year will be a very different kind of Thanksgiving. As I read over the newsletter from last year I was grieving some of the traditions and events from years past that won't happen this year but I also realized how much of what Thanksgiving is about is still something we can focus on this year. It is a time to be thankful for what we have and appreciate all of our blessings.
We might not be celebrating with a big family gathering like we had in the past but we still have our immediate family to be with and to be thankful for the time spent together. We, as a society, have had a chance to reevaluated what is important. Time spent with each other has moved up the 'what is really important' list. It has always been important but we had let other things move it off the priority list. What I like about Thanksgiving is that it has always had a spotlight on relationships and thankfulness. We have so much to be thankful for as we finish up the year. This is a time to look back at what has been important to you this year. I am so thankful that our family has been able to connect online each Sunday with our Family Paris Chat. I am thankful for the chance to hear Zoe and Ansel laugh. I am thankful for the smiles I get to see during our preschool zoom sessions. I miss being able to be with people in person but I appreciate the creative ways people are finding to connect with each other. Life has definitely slowed down for some and this has given those people an opportunity to spend time doing things they wouldn't have had time for otherwise. Other people have had to reinvent their daily activities during this pandemic and are keeping quite busy. No matter which one -- busy or have more time -- we have all had the time to discover what is really important to us. There are so many things I took for granted that I will cherish once we are able to return to a portion of what was normal. Hugs, snuggles and going to the grocery store without feeling nervous - ha! Take time this month to count your blessings. The biggest one for me is time with my family.
At preschool, for Turkey Week, we have always painted two big papier mache turkeys. It is so much fun to watch the kids paint these turkeys. They love it. I will have the turkeys in The Garden space during November for some gobble gobble time.
During class we will be singing about turkeys and focussing on farms, animals, family and food. We will start our Gobble Gobble songs this week and be gobbling for at least a month. When you think you have heard enough gobbling we will start ringing our bells and some of you will be thankful you can turn down the volume when we sing Ring Ring Ring Your Bells!
It is hard to believe but we are off -- It is November!
When people think of spiders they do not always visualize a cozy home setting. This week we will be talking about spiders and starting conversations about our homes. For some of you the thought of a spider is unpleasant or uncomfortable. Your child will pick up on that feeling. If possible you can have someone else be the person that shares spiders (or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable) with your child. My daughter-in-law has worked really hard to teach Zoe and Ansel about spiders and that they need to be careful with them even though she is scared of them herself.
With the spider we will be talking about their webs and how a web is a home for a spider. We will talk about other homes for animals – nests, holes, caves, etc. As we talk about homes for animals we will talk about our homes and where people live.
When my sons were younger we had several pets that are not the typical pets. They were allergic to dogs and birds, Curt is allergic to cats and it made me sad to see fish die so we had a tarantula, an iguana, gerbils, a hedgehog and a turtle. Having pets is a way to teach children responsibility and empathy for living creatures. Showing them how to "touch gently" whether it be a plant or an animal teaches them to be careful with living things. If your family doesn't have a pet your child can nurture a plant. A way to teach responsibility is to let them feed the family pet or water a plant. They can care for something and feel quite proud of their ability to take of something that is alive. How can you help your child develop that empathy for living creatures? You can give them an opportunity to care for something. Giving them something to care for will help them develop a variety of skills. Not only do pets provide children with entertainment and affection, but they also teach them about responsibility, compassion, trust, coping with loss, respect, and loyalty, and they help build children's self-esteem, patience, and social skills https://rockandrolldaycare.com/7-things-child-can-learn-pet/. If you don't have the energy to have a pet -- and it is a lot of energy to have a pet whether it is a dog, cat or snail -- taking care of a plant develops several of the same traits as a pet animal. They can also develop compassion for animals in the world by watching them, talking about where they live and caring for them by setting out feeders. On your hikes in the woods you can teach them the importance of caring for all of nature. I loved going on hikes with the boys and having conversations about the trees -- What kind of tree is it? How old is the tree? Who lives in the tree? What can we do to take care of the trees? Learning to respect all living things is an amazing gift you can give your child.
As you take your nature walks this week show your child the webs outside. An early morning walk, with the dew on the webs, is a perfect time for finding spider webs. The dew drops will highlight the webs in the gardens and make it easier for the children to see them. It is also a good time to look for nests in the trees now that the leaves have fallen. Ask your child where he/she thinks the birds live during the winter. You can ask them where they think the spiders go when it is cold.
We will be talking about homes for animals, and people, during the next few weeks.
During pumpkin week we will talk about the color, size, shape, texture and weight of pumpkins. I will have some pumpkins on the screen to show the children. We will explore the pumpkin and see what is inside one.
Learning through sensory experiences is one of the many ways your child develops their awareness of the world around them. Talk to your child about the pumpkins you have at home and the ones you see growing in a garden/at the pumpkin farm. If you go to a farm you have an opportunity to talk to them about where food comes from and how plants grow. If you buy your pumpkin at the store you can find some books about farms and food or research it online. When you cut open your pumpkin you have a great opportunity to teach your child new words. Words that describe the texture of the inside of a pumpkin and words that describe their feelings while they are exploring a cut open pumpkin. Remember that some kids love to get messy and others will just want to watch as you pull a handful of goopy seeds out of the pumpkin. Either way your child is learning and creating new pathways of information in his/her brain. These early learning experiences are stored and used to build their foundation for later learning.
We will talk about a variety of ways your child learns but one of them is through sensory play.
Touch. (from an article by Danielle Steinberg)
As we start the month of October we will be exploring leaves, trees, pumpkins and spiders. I love being outside in the fall....well actually outside in any season.
There is so much your child can learn when they are outside. Just walking on the ground is a learning experience. For many children walking on uneven ground is something that they do not experience on a regular basis. They spend a lot of time walking on the level floor at home or on the sidewalk outside but they may not be out in the woods or walking on a trail with roots and rocks. Giving them an opportunity to learn how to balance on uneven ground helps them to build core strength, develop a sense of how their body works and allows them to take safe risks. When you allow your child to determine if it is something they feel safe doing it builds a sense of pride when they are successful.
You can set up safe risk with developmentally appropriate activities. For the little ones just crossing over the tree root is a big accomplishment and for the older children climbing on the big rock may feel like they have scaled a mountain. If they try and can't do what they attempted then they have a chance to deal with disappointment and reassess what they are capable of doing. When you are there to help them set up safe risks you are allowing them to build their self confidence, learn how their body works and how they can safely explore the world around them. When they are outside they have an opportunity to discover how they are a part of this world we live in.
This week we will be investigating leaves. We will talk about colors, size, shape and texture. When you take your child on a leaf walk ask them questions about the trees. You can ask what color the leaves are and what trees have changed colors. You can listen to the wind and the sound the leaves make when they are walked on. Compare a leaf that has fallen on the ground and one that is still on the tree. You can talk about an evergreen tree versus a deciduous tree.
I found out an interesting fact about needles and leaves.
It may not seem like it, but needles are leaves. They do the same job that broad leaves do— capture sunlight, “inhale” carbon dioxide, and “exhale” oxygen—providing the tree with food and air for us to breath...Needles have a thick, waxy coating that retains more water than a regular leaf.
Learn something new everyday -- it should be a goal for you because it is definitely something
your child does every day!
Danielle had Ansel and Zoe make a fall picture for the cedar "leaves" they found today. They were at OO Denny Park. They made a beautiful picture collage using the leaves they found from the evergreen trees. I had not thought of collecting the types of leaves they collected as I have always thought of fall leaves that are red, orange and yellow from deciduous trees. We will be examining different leaves this week and I will add cedar tree 'leaves' to the mix. You may want to make a collage out of them on the day we make our leaf collage by using cedar leaves instead of dried deciduous leaves. Fall is so much fun!
Be sure to take a small bag or little treasure box to fill up on your nature walks. We will have lots of activities this week that have natural items as part of the project. A fun way to gather items is to go on a Color Walk and try to find something that matches a specific color -- red leaves, brown pine cones, yellow dandelion and a grey rock.
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from an autumn tree.
~ Emily Bronte
Have fun walking in nature and listening to the leaves!
This is Apple Week and we are officially starting the fall activities....and it definitely is starting to
feel like Fall! I am always sad to see the summer season come to an end but I have to admit I love
fall. I love the sounds of the leaves crunching under my feet as I walk in the woods or on the
sidewalk in the neighborhood. I love the taste of warm apples in apple dumplings and the smell of
apple cider and cinnamon simmering on the stove. It is fun to eat a cup of chili on a picnic in the
mountains on a sunny day as you sit under the colorful leaves and listen to a river. So many memories
of times spent outside in the fall with my family.
For my family making applesauce is a family tradition. My mom would make batches of canned
applesauce each fall. When Joel and Nick moved out of the house she would make them their own
jars of applesauce to have in their apartments. She no longer cans, and I never felt comfortable
canning, so we no longer have homemade applesauce sitting in the cupboard. What we do have is my
version of homemade applesauce and we will be making it this week! It is so easy to make, yummy to
eat and makes the house smell so good. As Joel and Nick got older it was one of their afternoon
snacks when they got home from school. It is a comfort food for both of them.
This year we may see a change to our family traditions. For some of you most of the traditions may
stay the same and for some of us there will be a lot of changes. For me and Curt there will be so
many of the fall traditions that we will have to change. I was just chatting about this with a family
friend that has been a part of so many of our family activities. We always camped together, carved
pumpkins together and spent time taking long, leaf walks at Discovery Park. Even though we cannot
be together like we usually have been we are planning some new traditions.
Carving pumpkins outside in the back yard while drinking our hot cider is on the calendar --
hopefully on a dry, sunny afternoon! There are many ways you can connect with family and
friends this fall you may need to readjust the tradition or make a new one. One tradition you
could add to your family activities is making applesauce together. It can be done in-person
outside or over a virtual chat with the grandparents. It is easy to do and provides a point of
connection that will bring back fun memories each fall.
Another fun tradition is a fall walk. As you walk around the neighborhood point out to your child
the different trees on your walk. Talk about trees that bear fruit, trees that loose their leaves
and trees that stay green all year long. Collect some leaves and compare the colors, look for
‘helicopters’ (as we call the maple seed pods that are all over the ground right now), see if you
can find acorns and chestnuts, look for pinecones of different sizes and see if you can find a
spider web with dew or raindrops on the web. The spiders are quite active this year. I found 5
different webs in just one bush in the front yard today!
On your walks it is also a time to talk about
patterns. There are so many places you see
patterns. Show your child things that look the
same, things that repeat A maple leaf is an
excellent example of symmetry that you can show
your child. Another is the waves at the beach and
patterns they make on the sand. You can show
them patterns on their clothing, patterns from
shadows on the wall as well as patterns they can
make with their bubbles. Our sons loved to do
bubbles is in the bath. Try adding some bubble fun
to the bath. When they are wet the bubbles will
stick to their skin without popping. You can make multiple bubbles and talk about the pattern the
bubbles make. There are patterns in nature, patterns in words and patterns in math. Can you
think of a favorite pattern to share with your child?
If you want to find out more about patterns this is an interesting article to read about the
different kinds of patterns.
Natural patterns include symmetries, trees, spirals, meanders, waves, foams, tessellations,
cracks and stripes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterns_in_nature
I am looking forward to making some applesauce and some memories with the children next week!
“Cooking is a way to teach kids about reading and math”. Emeril Lagasse
Friends and Family Week
We will continue taking about your child and how they are part of our community. This fall we will talk
about homes, food, people, emotions and the world around them. At home you can talk about who is in your
family, who lives at your house and who lives in other places but are still part of your family. You can talk
about places people live — houses, apartment, farms, cities, in the mountains and by the water. When you
are out on a walk (and hopefully we will be able to do that again soon!) you can talk about the people in our
community and what they do when they are working. It is a great time to talk about the people in your
family and what they do for work. Joel told us that when Ansel is pretending to be PaPa 'he talks in a
deep voice and says he is going to go work on a project’! Children are aware of our activities and this is a
time to add to their vocabulary, and their understanding, of what people are doing to help their community
As you talk about what people do for work, and for fun, you can ask them what they like to do with their
family. What makes them happy when they are with family. It is a time to talk about emotions as well.
When we are sad who helps us feel better? When we are sad what can we do to make ourself feel better?
What happens when we are mad? How can we help someone else if they are feeling sad or mad. How can
you tell if someone is sad? How can you tell when someone is happy? Be sure to let them know how you
are feeling and how you are going to deal with it. You can say — I am feeling happy and want to dance. I
am sad and want a hug. I am mad and need a chance to be by myself. I was wrong and need to say I am
sorry. Giving children words to use with their emotions, and the actions that can be taken, gives them a
strong emotional base to build on as they grow.
Emotional Intelligence is the "capacity to be
aware of, control, and express ones emotions”
according to Daniel Goleman.
We will work on his 5 key elements this year:
~ Self -regulation
~ Social Skills
More than ever we are dependent on our
family and friends this year. I have realized
how important my family is and how I had taken for granted my interactions with them. This is a great
time to build that connection with your child as well as teaching them the importance of strong
relationships with other people.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson
Welcome to Crown Hill Explorers!
I am excited to see all of you as we start our new school year. It is a different start to our school year but I think it will be a great adventure this year. It is an adventure for all of us as we re-think the world we knew and discover new things about ourselves, our families and our community. I will never take for granted giving someone a hug. I will value human interaction more than I had in the past and I will continue to work on ways to connect with the people in my life. This morning I waited patiently for the gentleman in front of me in the grocery line to go and get something he needed -- masks! He was almost finished when he realized he had not found them and was wanting them. It was a simple gesture but it meant a lot to him to not have to get back in line to purchase the masks. I think it is important to take time to connect with other people right now. What can you do each day to connect with your child? To make a stranger feel better with a kind gesture or action? To give yourself a hug and say to yourself I can do this? As we start this year I will miss the way I have always started the school year but I will treasure the fact that we can still connect with each other, that we can still share a smile or action that makes someone feel better, and we can do this together! We will be a stronger community as we move through this adventure together.
During our first week we will be learning about ME!. We will have a story called
I LIKE ME and we will sing songs that talk about ‘me’ and ‘my body’.
This whole year we will talk about our 5 Senses. As we help children see the world around them we can also help them ‘see’ with their hands, their nose, their ears and their mouth. I will encourage you to take the children out in nature and to explore their world using their 5 Senses. I will also encourage you to read to them. There are so many books that will help your child to ‘see’ the world through literature. Take the time to explore both the physical world around you and to explore the world of books.
Use the words associated with our senses when you are outside exploring and inside your home when you are talking with your child.
You can ask your child to ‘listen’ as they crunch the leaves on a walk, ‘look’ at the colors of the leaves in the trees, ‘taste’ the apple they have for a snack, ‘smell’ the food as it cooks for dinner and ‘feel’ the slippery soap during their bath.
This year we will spend a lot of time encouraging the children to engage in the world around them by using their 5 Senses and developing an awareness of how their body works by interacting with their world – inside and outside.
“This is the Way” Circle Time - page 51
This is the way we wash our hands,
wash our hands, wash our hands.
This is the way we wash our hands
So early in the morning.
We will add this song to our list of songs this week. Washing hands has always been important for the children but it is even more important this fall. It is a fun song to sing while they wash their hands and brush their teeth. You can add verses to the song to help your child with an activity they may not want to do. Singing is a great way to ease a power struggle when asking your child to do something they may not be all that excited to do -- put on your shoes, get in your car seat, pick up your toys. You can add verses that are things they are struggling with or things that are just fun. Singing uses different brain pathways and can help a child to manage a difficult situation as well as just adding fun and enjoyment to their day.
I look forward to getting to know you and your child this year!
It is hard to believe tomorrow is September! I love the beginning of Fall but I am always sad to see Summer end. At the moment it seems we are being given a gift of both seasons! Crisp, foggy mornings turning to warm, sunny afternoons with clear evenings. With the yesterday’s surprise rain we will have a wonderful view of the stars and the amazing moon tonight
This will be a great week to venture out on a destination hike. With the change in the weather there is so much to see and experience while on a hike. It is a perfect time to explore the textures of nature on your hike. You can pick up a green leaf and feel the difference between it and a brown leaf that has fallen from the tree. Find a tree that has smooth bark and one that has rough bark. Already did that on a previous walk? Well, guess what?! They will find this a new and fun game on this walk as well. Please, remember repetition is how they learn.
Take a piece of paper and a fat crayon to make bark prints, rub the crayon on the paper as it rests on the tree bark and talk about how one is different from the other.
If you are at the beach you can do the texture print using a piece driftwood and a seashell. Send them on a scavenger hunt to find things that are the same or different. What can they find that is smooth and slimy, smooth and cold, smooth and soft? What can they find that is rough and hard? How is a barnacle different from the rock it is attached to? So many different textures at the beach…so much fun to exploring.
As the sand slides through their hand talk about how it feels. Is it cold? Is it smooth or gritty?
When they touch the tree bark you can ask, 'What does the bark on that tree look like?'
While you have a conversation about texture you can add new words to their vocabulary. Be sure to use words they are familiar with to help build their vocabulary. They might already know “wet” but “moist” may be a new word for them. Giving them examples of gradation is a way to build their vocabulary. Wet – soaked, moist, damp. Rough – bumpy, ridges, smooth. Soft – pliable, delicate, hard. Find words that are intriguing to them and add them to their vocabulary.
Play with words and make a game using them. Zoe just realized that coat and boat rhyme. She loved saying the two words over and over again as she made this discovery. Children like playing with words just like they like playing with their toys. Silly words, words that sound the same, words that can be said in a different tone. Playing is how they learn.
There are so many discoveries you can make outside in nature. They can use all of their senses: they can see their world all around them, there is always something making a noise to hear, they can learn to touch living things gently, there are things they can eat (be sure to teach them the importance of checking before putting something in their mouth) and things they can smell. The outdoor world is a place of adventure. It is a place they can sit still and watch or run and be free to move their bodies. Enjoy taking a walk or hike outside this week. Nature’s wonders are waiting for you. Go outside and find them!
Here are three places to go and explore – Danielle, Ansel and Zoe tested ;-)
It is hard to believe we are heading into the last full week of August. This morning on my walk it felt a lot like fall. The air was cool, with the scent of saltwater, and there was the sound of leaves crunching under my feet. Yes, the leaves are starting to fall already. Our maple trees are turning colors and telling me summer is slowly winding down.
With the change of seasons I will encourage you to get outside and find a special hike, trail or a spot with a tree to observe this fall. Make this a place where you can stop and enjoy watching your special tree as it changes colors this fall, what wildlife is visiting your tree and how the weather is impacting your tree. Or maybe your tree does not change colors and stays green all year long. It is a wonderful time to talk about the different kinds of trees and why some change colors and why some stay the same.
One of the places our family enjoyed going for an evening walk was Discovery Park. We had a special hike we took and we knew that trail well. We would watch for little animals as they busied themselves getting ready for winter, listen for the owls, feel the breeze as we popped out of the woods and onto the grassy spot near the blackberry bushes. So many memories are woven around our family time at Discovery Park. It is a wonder in the city. The maple leaves are colossal and the blackberries delicious. The scents change with the seasons and there is always something to observe. It is exciting to see what is happening along the trail that we would always walk on. Curt and I still walk the same trail. There is always something changing or different and there is always something that is the same. It is comforting to know that some things don't change even when life is changing and very different. There are some things in nature that remain the same -- the trees will lose their leaves in the fall, the air will smell of the saltwater, some the birds will fly south and the squirrels will burrow into their winter nests. Even the change is the same. We can anticipate the changes and be a part of the rhythm of nature.
For children their world is full of 'always different'. They are learning all about the world they live in and to them it can be full of new and different even when it seems the same to you. They learn through repetition and repetition can be very comforting for them. Part of the rhythm of childhood is repetition. Repetition gives them the comfort of knowing what will happen next. Repetition also allows them to acquire skills. For a child to master a skill they need to have the opportunity to explore, and engage, with that activity many, many times. That is why they like to read the same book, sing the same song, go on the same walk, play with the same toys. By exploring the way the playdough responds when they roll it with a rolling pin, roll it between their fingers and squish it with a block they are discovering how the playdough changes and how it stays the same with manipulation. They are imprinting this information in their brain to be used at a later date.
They need lots of experiences to build their library of skills and knowledge.
Being outside in nature engages all of their 5 senses and helps them to develop their awareness of their world and how they are a part of this world. They can see the colors of the leaves, hear the sounds of the waves, touch the textures of the bark, taste the blackberries and feel the wind on their face. The more opportunities they have to be outside the wider their knowledge base becomes. They will learn the difference between the feel of the bark of a magnolia tree and the bark of a cedar tree. They can tell the difference of the sound of a crow and of an owl. They will feel the difference of wind on their face and rain on their face. It is important to allow them to have a variety of experiences so they can understand how things are different and how things are the same. Be sure to allow them to engage in the safety net of what they know along with experiencing the excitement of things that are new.
Here are a few local parks and trails for you and your family to get to know. We will be collecting items from nature for several of our activities this year and on your nature walks you can find items to share with the other children during small group time.
You can also create a specific walk around your neighborhood or even around your yard. Watch a garden as it goes from summer bounty to fall foliage. Find a tree to observe as it changes with the season this year. Adopt a special tree to be 'your tree' and keep a journal of what is happening with 'your tree'. You can note the leaves as they change colors, the nest you can see when the leaves fall, the snow as it sits on the branches, the new buds in the spring and the new nests being built in 'your tree'. Watch to see who lives in 'your tree'. Spiders, birds, squirrels? Get to know nature in your yard, your neighborhood and on your walks in the woods.
All of these walks/hikes have been places Danielle has taken Ansel and Zoe this summer. I will send out more from her list (and it's a long list) of fun places to explore, and spend time in nature, with your family in my weekly notes to you.
Local parks / hikes
1) Discovery Park.
2) Carkeek Park.
3) Llandover Woods
4) Krukeberg Botanic Garden
5) Richmond Beach
6) Forest Park
7) Schmitz Preserve
Enjoy the world around you!]
Song Time Tuesday and Wednesday this week at 10:00