Blog Ambassadors

We are so excited to have been selected as Blog Ambassadors for Mother Goose Time, the company that develops and produces our amazing curriculum! In return for writing and sharing all the great things happening in our classrooms, we will receive free supplies and/or curriculum directly from Mother Goose Time.

For a complete list of Ambassadors, follow this link:

https://feedly.com/mothergoosetimepreschoolcurriculum/MGT%20Bloggersunnamed

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Whatever Would We Do Without Mother Goose Time?

After almost 8 years, we have become so accustomed to having the prepared lesson plans and materials that not only meet National and State Standards, but are also complete and fun. What would we ever do without this wonderful program? At the beginning of October, due to an ordering mix up, we were forced to find out!

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In the first week of our “Weather and Changing Seasons” unit, we had to get creative! We had a Curriculum box for 1 child, so we still had a copy of the lesson plan, but some of the activities weren’t possible without the proper materials for everyone. Our children still had loving care and great activities (of course), but what we found was it took so much more of our time and energy to come up with a plan and collect the materials. We ended up with more cotton balls than we actually needed and a whole box of fruit loops that we won’t actually eat. There was a sense of uncertainty each morning about what we were going to learn and how. We were able to make copies of some of the limited materials we had, but that took time, ink and paper.

Needless to say, it made us feel so grateful for Mother Goose Time! The plans, the counted materials, activities across the content areas that are backed by standards- AMAZING! Week #2 is going much smoother, our kiddos are loving it and our teachers are happy too!

Mother Goose Time in Action- September Edition!

The month of September has been so much fun! Making new friends, establishing routines, and learning all about our Amazing Bodies. Here are a few highlights from this month with Mother Goose Time!

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We are excited for October and to learn all about the “Weather and Changing Seasons” with Mother Goose Time!

Community!

Wonders Early Learning Center embraces children from 6 weeks up to 6 years. We have 5 classrooms and 12 teachers total. In the midst of so much learning and fun, it is easy for our staff, children, and parents to lose site of the larger community. We have a couple of ways to foster  that community feel across the classrooms.

A Welcome at the Door!

As our families arrive each morning, they ring a doorbell and a teacher comes to welcome them in. It is a good way to “read” the child upon arrival, but it also allows a chance to check in with each parent briefly. Our Littles, Preschool and Pre-K children begin the day in one mixed-age group and break off into smaller groups as more teachers and children arrive. The younger children get to see the olders and the older children get to help the youngers.

The Reading Tree!

We want to foster a love of reading at school and at home, so the past couple years we have sent home reading logs with space to write 20 books. When the family fills up their log, they can return it and the child can choose a prize from the Treasure Box. We set a goal for how many books we can read- last year it was “2016 Books by the End of 2016”, and then they read another couple thousand more by the end of the school year. We kept a large graph, but by the end of the year it took up the entire wall! This year, we decided to make a Reading Tree and each time a reading log is returned, we hang up a leaf with the child’s name and how many books they read. We are already up to 140 books read at home in just 2 weeks! The reading logs are for all families, no matter the child’s age or classroom, and the goal is collective.DSC_0254.JPG

The Community Board

We have a large board in the main hallway that we call the Community Board. We try to do something new each month (possibly theme related) that involves all of the children in our care.  For the month of September, we incorporated the Shape of the Month (Circle), and the theme of making new friends at the beginning of the new school year. Not only did we add some new children this year, but some new teachers as well. We took our pictures on the first day of school (or close to it) and hung them all in a circle. We used the materials from the September “Open House” packet to tie it all together- leftover colored circles to highlight our teachers and the sign, etc. We still have to get pictures for a couple of our new teachers, but there is time. 🙂DSC_0268.JPG

Fostering a community feel prevents division and conflict and it sets the example for our children that we can accomplish great things when we all work together!

“According to Wonders Teachers”: Class Routines at Circle Time

With the new school year comes the quest to find the perfect routine for a new group of children. What worked last year may not feel just right now, and what works for Pre-K probably won’t work with toddlers. So, I asked some of our teachers to share what is working in their classroom (at least for today)!

DSC_0199   Ms. Elizabeth in the Littles Class (Ages 2-3) said:

“For littles we use the buttons on the rug and circle time toys to keep their hands busy. When they have found a button they can choose a small toy to hold onto until it is time to get up to find our picture. Then they find their name and picture at one of the activities and get started! It keeps them from going all over the place when it is activity time.”

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Circle Time Toys to keep little hands busy and ears listening!

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Name Cards with pictures attached to the chairs with Velcro. Once everyone has had a chance to do the activities, they can take the name tags off for free play.

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Working hard on a noddle bracelet! I love that Mother Goose Time provides the activity cards and the materials for such great activities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ms. Heather in the Preschool Class (Ages 3-4) said:

“I really like the mats! After they wash their hands, they grab a mat and sit criss-cross applesauce and wait for their friends. When everyone is ready, we stand up on our mats and do exercises to the Circle Time Song from the Mother Goose Time CD. It gets some wiggles out and keeps them from getting too distracted!”

The mats are simple foam place mats from IKEA, but there are lots of good ideas like this that give children a choice and their own space for Circle Time.

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Ms. JenCSC_0197nifer in Pre-K (Ages 4-5) said:

“In Pre-K we use the 5 Star Listener poster to help us with transitions. They know that when we come inside from recess we walk to our room and sit on the carpet and they show me they’re a 5 star listener (eyes are watching, ears are listening, lips are closed, hands are still and feet are quiet). When they’re ready then we move on to the next thing. When I say let’s meet at the carpet they know to show me a 5 star listener and then we’re ready to move on. I also have been using the 5 minute sand timer. I give them a 5 minute warning before it’s time to clean up and they know that when the sand runs out it’s time to clean up and get ready for our next activity. When I turn the lights off they know to stop what they’re doing, put their hands on their head and look at me. That has been a great attention getter for my class.”

All of our kiddos love Circle Time! They like the special things that happen there and the predictability that when they hear the “Circle Time” song it is time to gather together and learn something new!

The First Week of School!

Infants (6 weeks- 12 months or walking) and Wobblers (Walking-2 Years)

Our center operates inside of a church (not affiliated, but shared/rented space). Because of this, three of our classrooms have to be completely mobile. Our Infants and Wobblers reside in the sanctuary. They have rolling shelves, folding gates, foam tiles for the eating area, a mobile sink/changing table, light weight room dividers, etc.  At the end of the week, everything rolls up and is stored for the weekend. Within that space, we are able to offer safe and age appropriate experiences. They have opportunities for quiet space, climbing/large motor, a variety of engaging toys, sensory experiences, and lots of snuggles! Our Infants and Wobblers use the “Experience Baby” Curriculum from Mother Goose Time.

Littles (Toddlers, 2-3 year olds)

Our Littles use the Little Goose Supplement to take the main Curriculum and make it developmentally appropriate for Toddlers. This group loves Dramatic Play, Sensory and Large Motor experiences. The activities/toys on their shelves rotate with each new unit to keep them engaged.

Preschool (3-4 Year Olds)

We call this room the “Island Room”. Our Preschool kiddos love the novelty of having new activities and books on the shelf each month. Having the classrooms set up and inviting on the first day is so important. Children that are continuing on in our program know where things are and what is available, but on a child’s first day, having an activity out and ready invites them to come in and play.

Pre-K

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Our Pre-K Class (The Jungle Room)
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Pre-K Circle Time Space, Thanks to Mother Goose Time for the great materials!
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Math and Science Shelf
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Quiet Reading space and Carpet activities

Our Pre-K class is all set for a great year! The first week of school is focused on the classroom rhythm, getting to know each other, developing the class rules and setting them up for success. Their teacher will be working on basic assessments (mostly observing the children’s play, but some more formal ways of documenting where each child is at).

Here goes the first week of school!

The very first day of school, the lesson plan included an activity where the children all chose their favorite color and drew on a large piece of paper together while the music played. When the music stopped, they talked about what they drew and how it felt to work together (Did they have enough space to work? Did anyone get in their space? How did that feel? How was it handled/could it be handled?) It was such a good time to talk about how we can work together and respect one another in our classroom.

Our First Circle Time!

21430090_10154977699421527_7874787942004033101_n21462904_10154977699356527_5181626094983302308_n21432716_10154977699251527_7420465976677000544_nOur very first Circle Time of the School year was a success! Goal #1 is getting every child to the carpet in an orderly fashion and holding their attention for just a few minutes to sing a song and chat about the options for the day. The older children got to the calendar, weather, and a short activity too!

The first week was great! We are getting to know some new friends and we are so excited about the great Mother Goose Time themes and materials for the year ahead!

First things first!

It is that time of year again- the days are getting shorter and the excitement is growing for the school year ahead. Our class lists are full, and our lists of things to do is long.

First things first- time to get organized! Before we can think about decorating our beautiful classrooms and welcoming little children, we need to process the end of last year and look forward to what is to come.

Warning- the following image may be disturbing!

The past few years, we have taken time over the summer to prepare what we call the “blue box” for all of our units. We put books, toys, puzzles, games, etc. into these tubs and label them with the name of the unit. I store everything in an upper room at our house and then transport the box to the school when that unit comes, because our storage space is so limited at the school. Our storage room (attic like space) happens to be off of our sons bedroom, which means my children sometimes get things out or throw their own items into the mix, resulting in a scene like this!21151304_10154948224086527_3826174847590592919_n

Having the blue boxes does help, but we noticed that sometimes materials are needed for more than one unit and then there are manipulatives or science materials that don’t go with any unit, but are needed throughout the year. We also have some units that are complete, but not necessarily on the list of units for this school year. So, this year I decided we would try something new- SHELVES!

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And with the snap of a finger, it goes from crazy to organized… Ha ha, I wish! But honestly, it took the better part of a day and it is so much more functional. We have other units aside from this current year’s line-up, bins for manipulatives, shelves for our puzzles and games that don’t necessarily go with a unit, science and math materials, more books, dramatic play items, and all of our posters very organized and accessible.

Now, to the blue boxes!

I begin with the printed list of units from the Mother Goose Time website or promotional materials. This is our third cycle with this curriculum company, so many of these units are well prepared as far as books, puzzles, toys, etc.

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Looking at the list of what we will be studying, I begin placing relevant items into the box for that unit. Sometimes I find books and materials from past units that are still usable and relevant to a new unit. This puzzle and the coordinating book, “Bella and the Umbrella” was from the “Community Helpers” unit (2016) I believe, but is perfect for the “Weather All Around Us” unit (October 2017).

 

21105868_10154948224286527_7649538131472533931_nAfter I get each box packed, I label the boxes with the month, title, the 4 weekly themes, and the letters and numbers that will be the focus of that month. Then I line them up in order and they are ready to roll!

Here is a little bit about what is in September’s box for “My Amazing Body”! The focus topics for this unit are “My Body Parts”, “My Five Senses”, “Staying Healthy”, and “Getting Dressed”.

21231845_10154948224561527_7383693936068204005_nAll of these materials will be spread out between the three older classes and a few items will work for our Infants and Wobblers too.

We love to read, so we have a collection of books that will be divided among the classes and we will add books from the library from the Suggested Book List provided on the Mother Goose Time Website, and throughout the Lesson Plan books.

Some units have more books/materials than will reasonably fit into one “Blue Box” but once it is all packed up, we are ready to take it into the classroom!

21149978_10154948224646527_1331310829733779156_n.jpgHaving this task of sorting and organizing done ahead of time makes it possible for us to switch out units quickly, keeping our children excited about what they will learn next. It is a good process to see what we have and maybe fill in if there is a unit that is lacking materials. Our program has grown a lot in the past two years, so the last time we did this year’s cycle of units, we had 1 class and now we have 5, meaning we may need more materials, or something that is appropriate for a different age group. Now we know what we have  available and we have time to fill in what we may still need (and if my own children get into the preschool materials, we will at least know where they go back.)

It is a good regroup as we focus our hearts/minds on the children that will fill our school and the exciting year ahead!

Wings and Nests

We have has so much fun “Down at the Pond” this month, but soon we will be shifting our focus to the sky… “Birds and Eggs” is the theme for April and we are very excited about this unit. In preparation, we decided it would be fun to spruce up our cozy reading corner and combine it with dramatic play. This means we need a nest, of course!

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We used a small hard-sided kiddie pool and filled it with the pillows that have always been in our reading corner. Then we used a fitted Twin-sized sheet to cover our nest, tucking in the extra underneath.

Next, it was time to make some wings!

The pictures loaded in reverse order, so scroll down to the end to see how to begin (sorry!)

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Cardinal
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Blue Jay
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Bald Eagle
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The inside of the wings becomes a little quilted. We will use puff paint to write the names of each bird on the inside of the wing.

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Time to fly!
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Stitch a loop of elastic to create the handles.
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Sew a strip of elastic to each wing which will keep the pair together.
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Overlap the feathers at the top of the neck.
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Place, glue and stitch one row of feathers at a time, overlapping the row before.
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The stitching on the inside of the wing will create a quilted effect.
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Stitch the feathers in a row to the wing piece.
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Begin placing the feathers at the center edge of each wing, overlapping in the same direction. I used hot glue to tack the feathers in place quickly.
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Lay our the edged wing pieces with the stitching side up, so the feathers will cover the turned edge and the inside of the wing will be finished.
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Cut Feather shapes out of felt, mostly the bigger size and then a few smaller feathers for around the neck.
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Add Feathers to this side of the wing
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Turn under and stitch the two straight sides of the wing, and simply stitch the curved edge to prevent fraying.
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Lay out wings
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Make a paper pattern for the wings. Fold fabric in half and cut (2) wings
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Measure from base of neck to tail, and wingspan

 

Pond Models

17191359_1318042994953330_8651053450306257687_nThis month, we are having so much fun playing Down at the Pond!17203119_1318042984953331_898567106711839977_n

 

Our Sensory Table has water, marbles, stones, and creatures hiding among the lilly pads (green foam). The tiny frogs can sit on the floating lilly pads and sometimes they like to jump and splash. We have heard children sorting and counting the different items and coming up with wonderful stories.

17192065_1318089701615326_8598662087242525072_o On Day 9 (Floating Pond Plants) we created our very own tiny ponds. The children were given the materials of brown and green sand, pebbles, and water, and the results were quite amazing. It really looks like a pond! After discussing Sink/Float, it was so fun to see how some materials sunk to the bottom, while others floated on the surface, just like in real life.

Float or Sink? Salt Water or Fresh Water?

What sinks? What floats? What is salt water and where do we find it? What effect does salt water have on objects? What happens when Fresh and Salt water meet?

On a very rainy March morning, we decided to tackle these good questions! On Day 9 of the Mother Goose Time unit, “Down at the Pond”, we were learning all about Floating Pond Plants. We set up a simple Sink/Float station, and then took it a step further for our older friends. Would the introduction of Salt to the water change the results? In both measuring cups we had 1 2/3 cup fresh water. We added 1/3 cup of salt to one of the measuring cups and stirred until it was dissolved. Then we tested each item, first in the fresh water and then the salty to see if the results were the same or different.17156142_1318067818284181_379047564054723541_n Then we moved on to the egg test. First we made a hypothesis, based on the Sink/Float station, about what we thought would happen to the egg placed in the fresh water versus the egg in the salt water.  The measurements of water and salt were the same as before. The egg placed in the fresh water sunk, and the eggs placed in the salt water floated!

17103794_1318067801617516_4128197596339231014_nNow, what happens when Fresh water and Salt water meet? Our Preschool and Pre-K friends have been learning all about the Water cycle and different bodies of water during our Pond unit. Rivers and Streams flow to the ocean as part of the water cycle. We started out with the same measurements, but this time we added some food coloring and used an eye-dropper to slowly add salt water to the fresh. The Salt water sunk to the bottom, or maybe it made the fresh water float. (The separation was very slow, which is hard for preschool, so we left it sitting on the counter and we will revisit later, but this photo is mid-process.)

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Most kids enjoy science, but a number of our students learn best through these types of activities. They really need to test their theories and see what happens, in order to make the connection. These experiments were a fun way to demonstrate the differences between salt and fresh water properties and it was a great expansion to the Sink or Float activity from Day 9.

*Experiment ideas courtesy of Little Bins for Little Hands

 

Mother Goose Time Manipulatives Giveaway

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Each month, we receive a new set of manipulatives as part of our curriculum unit from Mother Goose Time. These sets get used in a variety of ways- construction, counting, sorting, letter/color/shape concepts, sensory…you name it, they will play it. Mother Goose Time wants to share a set of manipulatives with one lucky winner. Click on the following link to enter!  Manipulative Giveaway This special runs from February 13-20!