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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“S” is for Super!

This week in “Going on Safari” with Mother Goose Time, we are focusing on the letter S. During circle time we came up with a list of words that start with the letter S, like we do with each of our focus letters. This is the longest list our Pre-K class has made so far this year! They discovered that there are plenty of words that start with the letter S.  It is a great way to practice those letter sounds, because when they say a word they have to hear the correct sound that we are looking for. If their word doesn’t start off with the sound we are looking for, they get to try again.

Today we took an outline of the letter S (found in the Mother Goose Time Member Resources), traced over the outline, and played a game spelling the sight words for the letter S – sock, sun, and snake.

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We filled the pocket cube with the three pictures and words that came in our Daily Kit for the letter S, and we took turns rolling the cube. Once the cube was rolled they said what word they landed on – or what the picture was. We then spelled the word out loud together. They wrote the word that they landed on inside their letter S. If they landed on a picture then they had to find the correct word to spell it. We practiced sounding out the words as we were spelling them. The trickiest part of this activity seemed to be writing the letter S the right direction (we will keep practicing!).
We kept going around the circle until everyone had each word written once. If we had more time, to practice further, we would keep going until all of the words were written a couple of times.

This activity is a great way to practice those fine motor skills, sounding out words, letter and word recognition, and writing our words smaller. These are big skills to be working on as we prepare for Kindergarten. We focused on writing our words from left to right and keeping our letters close together so that it was all part of one word. They all did a great job and we will be putting these into their portfolios as a writing sample for January. It is amazing the growth in just a few short months with Mother Goose Time!

“Passports”

Today is our first day back from Winter Break and we were excited to come back to a new unit! We kicked off the new unit, “Going on Safari” (MGT January 2019), with Lesson 1- Passport. Take a look at all the fun that MGT has laid out in the Teacher Guide! Our Daily kit included a new rubber stamp, a kid-friendly world map, Safari themed name tags, Pocket cube cards, a passport for each child, and so much more!49181236_641817706237738_4175799189239758848_n.jpgWe started off by everyone signing in for the day, followed by our name tags. The children love choosing their name tag for the month – there are always fun designs! We talked about when they might sign their name, as prompted in the Mother Goose Time Teacher Guide. The children said they would sign their name on projects so that they know who’s project it is. In Pre-K, we have them practice writing their name on their work so that they are in that routine for kindergarten. Signing in for the day is a great way to practice writing their name.

At circle time we talked about passports, and when we would use one. We started the Passport Stamp activity by reviewing the World Map that Mother Goose Time sent us.

The children had fun exploring the different things on the map. They shared what they saw and we talked about the different oceans. We named each continent and what color it was. We then opened up our Passports and matched the continents in our passport to the continent on the map. 49571352_629467547470670_8079008984729649152_nThey took turns matching, and once everyone agreed that the continents matched, they stamped their passports. This was a fun activity to review colors, shapes (matching the outline of the continent in their passport to the one on the map), and a great opportunity to talk about the oceans, and what parts of the world may be warm or cold (South America is warmer, Antarctica is cold). We talked about the Pacific Ocean (our ocean), and how it is colder where we are, but warm in Hawaii.

 

 

The Continent Toss game was just as fun. Once they rolled the cube to land a continent, they found that same continent on the map and told us what color it was, and what continent they thought it was. The World Map that Mother Goose Time sends us is very kid friendly and easy to read, and they love all of the pictures that are on the map!

Stay tuned for more Safari adventures with Mother Goose Time this month!

 

Polar Express Day- A Holiday Tradition!

aec.whv38954dvd_0It has become a Holiday tradition that the day before Winter Break is “Polar Express Day”. The children wear their pajamas to school and we watch the movie, complete with hot chocolate and popcorn. To start of the festivities, we do a book exchange. Each child brings the gift of a book for another child in his/her class, and we exchange our gifts before we start the movie. Our children get so excited about giving

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Next up is movie time! Like all little people, sitting still through an entire movie is not a reality, so we look to Mother Goose Time for some fun activities to have available for those that need to keep their hands busy. We looked ahead in our Teacher Guide and Daily kits to find some activities that matched up nicely for the occasion.48387804_10156054318126527_6811048825503875072_o.jpg

We made the best type of sugar and calorie free cookies- Art!
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In this activity, children got to decorate pretend cookies. They had so much fun with the colored sprinkles and “frosting”. It was interested how the sprinkles turned the frosting different colors.

48405536_10156052303871527_5946514622268833792_nWe had some leftover gingerbread scented play dough and the children have really enjoyed it with festive cookie cutters. We love the MGT STEAM ideas!

Simple and sweet- the children enjoyed these patterned cards and it made for a simple activity they could do independently during the movie.

The Stocking Station was very popular. The children decorated their stockings with the materials available and then sewed them together with white yarn. These turned out so cute and were the perfect task for the occasion.  We are so thankful for Mother Goose Time kits that have the materials we need, all cut out, and enough for everyone!

From all of us at Wonder Early Learning Center, Happy Holidays! Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us!49017895_10156059412671527_8759714730815258624_nHere are just a few more pictures from our celebration!

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Winter Days and Winter Nights

Since we are closed next week for our Winter Break, we are doubling up on our lessons this week, and we are doing a little rearranging too to fit it all in. Today we decided to talk about Winter Days and Winter Nights (lessons 19 & 20 in Dec. “Sights and Sounds”- Mother Goose Time). These two lessons paired perfectly and we really enjoyed our activity time together. Mother Goose Time comes complete for each day, but offers a lot of flexibility and creativity for our teachers as well.48377723_10156050642891527_3856800071106428928_n.jpg

Our Pre-K class set up the following stations to explore today: Winter Diorama, Winter Postcard, Night Sight, and Winter Solstice.48382334_10156050643041527_7794692882857721856_n

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We love that Mother Goose Time includes STEAM  Station ideas in the front of the teacher lesson plan book. We set up our Winter Diorama today. We used the foil to create the ‘ice’ and cotton balls to create the snow. The children have loved playing with our winter animals this month, but it was even more fun having this winter scene set up for them. During the Winter Diorama activity we talked about what animals we see in the winter and why their fur gets thicker, along with other ways they might stay warm when it is cold out.

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For the postcards, we talked about what sounds we hear in the winter and what some of their favorite sights are. Many children said they like hearing the birds singing, and one of their favorite sights of winter were snowmen! They explained what was on their postcard and we wrote it on the back after deciding who they wanted to send their postcard to.

The children loved the Night Sight activity. We started this activity by reviewing the letters b, c and r (our focus letters for this month) and we put the letter cards in the pocket cube. We practiced the letter sounds and talked about what sound ‘a’ and ‘t’ make when they are next to each other, the “at” family. They took turns rolling the cube and if they landed on a letter, they said what letter it was, what sound it makes, and then placed it on the owl to complete the word. If they rolled a picture they told us what the picture was, and then found the letter that made the same sound they heard in the word when they told us what the picture was. We love that Mother Goose Time adds a “simplify” or “challenge” option in some of their activities. We challenged the children today to say each letter sound in the word to show them how we sound out words as we read.

The Winter Solstice activity was also fun. They worked together to line up the strips from shortest to longest, and vice versa. They recognized that when they lined up the strips they made a pyramid or the shape of a Christmas Tree.

We ended our class time by gathering together to read a story. We read “Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter”. 48405517_349503999184291_6900411143425097728_n.jpgAs we read, we took the opportunity to talk about the seasons, what is different about each season, and how we know winter is approaching (it gets colder, it gets dark earlier, etc.). This story was a great way to end our lessons on Winter Days and Winter Nights.

 

For more information about Mother Goose Time, head on over to their website at https://www.mothergoosetime.com/

 

Making Tracks

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We had so much fun making Animal Tracks! (Week 2, Lesson 6 in the MGT “Sights and Sounds” unit). At circle time we started off by reading “Big Tracks, Little Tracks (Following Animal Prints)”.20181212_115650.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

In this story we learned how to identify different tracks – which was a great way to lead up to our art activity.

During our Invitation to Create, the children made “Snow Tracks” by recreating different animal prints using a Q-Tip, white paint, and blue paper. Everyone got their own track guide (included in our Daily kit from MGT), and they decided what tracks they wanted to make on their paper.

We talked about what they noticed about the tracks that were in the Inspiration Photo and the tracks that were on their guide.

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We talked about the different ways we can make tracks, and their similarities and differences. During the Community Challenge activity, Community Tracks, we took a big piece of paper and used our fingers, hands, and fists to make different tracks on the paper. It was fun to see how everyone decided to make their tracks. We talked about other ways we can make tracks (in sand, mud, etc.) other than the snow, which, where we are, we don’t see too much of.

20181212_120921 (1).jpgOur Pre-K class is doing a snowflake kindness lesson along with the other winter activities we are doing this month. Everyone has a poster saying “Snowflakes of Kindness Create a Blizzard of Happiness.” Everybody is adding a snowflake to everyone’s poster, saying something kind to each friend. The children will get to keep their poster with all of the nice things their classmates have said about them. It is easy for children to say “You’re not my friend,” but at school we try really hard to reinforce that we are all friends, we teach them to use their words or talk to a teacher instead of being physical, and we teach them to work together, so this snowflake project is giving everyone a chance to think about each friend in their class, and say something kind about them. It is so fun to see a smile on each child’s face because one of their classmates said something kind to them!

To round out our lesson on Animal Tracks, Mother Goose Time included a Participation Story and a game that the children really enjoyed.

We love that our lessons come so complete and cover a number of content areas and standards in a short amount of time. We are able to expand upon them, or take them as they are, and our day is complete!

For more information about Mother Goose Time, please visit their website at https://www.mothergoosetime.com/

Learning to Blow Out

It may sound silly, but blowing out is a skill! When can a child successfully blow out a candle or blow their nose? To learn about musical instruments that require air to make a sound, we must first learn to blow out.

47573747_10156026595701527_5798867218729009152_nIn the first week of our December “Sights and Sounds” unit with Mother Goose Time, we have been learning all about different families of instruments. On Day 2, we focused on Woodwinds and then Day 3 was all about Horns. Both of these types of instruments require air to make a sound, and while we can’t teach our small children to play these just yet, we had so much fun pretending as we learned to blow out.

For our younger children, just blowing out was really tricky. We asked them to put their hand in front of their mouth to feel the air moving. Then we tried blowing some bubbles.

Then we used our air to have pom pom races! This was a lot of fun and they loved seeing how far their pom pom could move. (This activity was on Day 3, but we liked it so much fun, we did it both days). The older children took it a step further with tape lines on the floor to see if they could blow it short or long, and making the pom pom move in different directions.

We used our breathe to create art. We used straws to move paint across the paper and the designs were so surprising.

Mother Goose Time even provided some bright yellow frames which turned these splatter paintings into masterpieces.

Blowing air out of our nose or mouth is a new skill. We can blow on soup to help it cool, blow out our birthday candles, and blow our noses (still working on that one). This becomes mindfulness when we practice taking deep breaths, and then blowing away our feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, etc. Not only was it fun to have pom pom races, blow bubbles and make art with our breath, but it is a really important skill to have.

Who knew simple air could be so fun!

 

Parent Involvement with Mother Goose Time

We are so blessed to have found this curriculum company eight years ago! This program is very complete and aims to not only meet the academic needs of the children, and the ease of implementation for the teachers, but then it goes one step further to communicate with parents the what’s and why’s of our day together. We are very excited about Mother Goose Time and there are so many ways that the MGT program communicates with parents, we thought it might be easier to share in a video.

For more information about the Mother Goose Time curriculum programs and all they have to offer, please visit their website at https://www.mothergoosetime.com/

Happy Learning!

Software Savior

Gone are the days of paper Daily Notes! It is so time consuming to write on each child’s paper what they had for snack or what we did that day. And then after all that handwriting, the parents left it in the parent pocket anyway, because their hands were too full of artwork and belongings. This generation of parents craves pictures, details and instant feedback about their child’s day.

We use an app called HiMama to help us communicate with parents. The teachers can quickly upload information to a single child’s report, or to their class at the touch of a button. Screenshot 2018-12-05 at 9.45.08 AMThey get daily reports filled with pictures, notes, and even what they had for snack. The reports can also include the child’s mood, how long they napped, and any supplies that they may need. The reports automatically get emailed to the parents every night, or can be sent immediately when the child is checked out. Several parents use the reports to talk to their children about their day. The children love looking at the pictures from the day and telling their parents about what they did. Here is an example from the second day of our “Sights and Sounds of Winter” unit (December 2018 with Mother Goose Time)

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One parent has said that sometimes her child explains what they did exactly how it is written in the report (yes, they really do listen!) And for those that say they cannot remember what they did, the report is there to show the parents exactly what their child did that day.

HiMama also allows us to keep track of where the children and teachers are (classroom, playground, bathroom, etc.) which helps us keep track of ratios and it makes totally hours for payroll much faster. 🙂Screenshot 2018-12-05 at 9.57.03 AMWe can use HiMama to send important emails either to an individual child, one classroom at a time, or the whole center. The parents can email their child’s classroom directly, making for a great way to communicate in the event that we do not catch them at drop off or pick up due to busy schedules. Parents can check in throughout the day to see pictures or details that may have been posted. (We do warn parents, however, that just because they don’t see anything yet, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen- it just means the teachers are busy with the children and they will post when they have a free moment.)

We have the menu posted for parents to view so that they know what their children are eating. Some parents use this for lunch packing ideas because if their child has it for snack and ate it, that may be something they might also eat from home.Screenshot 2018-12-05 at 9.41.51 AM

The calendar for the year is also posted, allowing for parents to keep track of any important things coming up. Screenshot 2018-12-05 at 9.43.27 AMWe have been very happy with HiMama, and so have our families. Being able to document and report important details and all the sweet moments that occur throughout our days together is such an asset to our program.

Family Fun!

Family engagement is important in any preschool. Teachers and parents have to work together in order for the children to get the most out of early childhood education. When teachers and families work together it benefits the child greatly. It is also fun to get families involved and have everyone come together to show their support.

Reading Logs

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We encourage our families to read at home together by sending home reading logs and doing a classroom/school competition. This year we are seeing which classroom can read the most books by the end of 2018, and then again by the end of the school year (June, 2019). Each classroom is keeping track of their reading logs and how many books each child is reading. At the end of the school year we will see which child has read the most books. The classroom that wins will get something for their class, and the child that wins will be given a new book. The children are excited to turn in each reading log and that helps keep the parents excited, too.

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Family Nights

Another way we encourage families to get together is by hosting family nights. This year we are hosting family night once per quarter. It is an hour long, and something fun is planned each family night. Some family nights we have done in the past include game night, a picnic in the park, a scavenger hunt with pizza for dinner, and a picnic at the fountains downtown. Family nights are always fun and it gives the families an opportunity to meet with each other, and put a face to the name their child might always be mentioning. Family nights are a great way to encourage family engagement and bring everyone together.

Conferences

Our teachers try to make themselves available at drop-off and pick-up, but sometimes that just isn’t enough time to have a full conversation with a parent regarding their child. We try to set aside one day in the fall for Parent-Teacher conferences and then by appointment in the Spring, especially for our Pre-K children, after we have completed their Child Progress Monitoring Reports from Mother Goose Time. This is a great time for parents to hear how well their child is doing, and the things they are working on. It is also good for the teachers to learn more about the child from the parent’s perspective.

Fundraising

Finances for Early Childhood programs struggle like all educational programs and it is hard to ask parents for more than they are already paying. Let’s face it, childcare isn’t cheap, but neither are quality teachers and outstanding curriculum. We are so thankful to be part of the Blogger Program with Mother Goose Time to not only share the amazing things this curriculum has to offer in the classroom, but also to help us lower the cost to a point where it is possible for our program.

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To offset the costs, we have done some fundraising this Fall and will have a new set of options for the Spring. These extra funds help us do field trips, purchase new materials/toys/supplies, and allow for a tiny buffer for our budget.

Many local restaurants offer Dine-out Fundraising options. It is a fun and easy way to raise money and to see all the families go out to dinner together.

The Benefit App is a great way for families to contribute with minimal effort and no extra expense. All they have to do is download the app on their mobile device.  They can connect Credit or Debit cards through the app. Then when they shop at any participating retailer, they simply select what payment method they would like to use, and purchase an e-gift card for the exact amount to be used right then. They can also purchase these “gift cards” for places they frequent, to be used as payment anytime. A percentage of every purchase comes right back to our school.

Our final fundraiser for the fall was “Cards for a Cause” through Usborne books. Find a local Usborne consultant to set up your fundraiser. These box sets of cards for all occasions are very nice and our families were excited about them. They sold for $30 each and $13 of that came right back to our school!

HiMama

This program is by far our favorite way to engage parents! We use HiMama to help us communicate with parents. They get daily reports filled with pictures, and all the details of the day including what they had for snack. The reports can also include the child’s mood, how long they napped, and any supplies that they may need, any health issues, etc.. The reports automatically get emailed to the parents every night. Several parents use the reports to talk to their children about their day. The children love looking at the pictures from the day and telling their parents about what they did. One parent said that sometimes her child explains what they did exactly how it is written in the report (yes, they really do listen!) and for those that say they cannot remember what they did, the report is there to show the parents exactly what their child did for the day. HiMama also allows us to keep track of where the children are checked in to (classroom, playground, bathroom, etc.) which helps us keep track of ratios.

We use HiMama to send important emails to an individual, class, or the whole center. The parents can email their child’s classroom directly making for a great way to communicate because sometimes we do not catch them at drop off or pick up due to busy schedules. Parents can check in throughout the day to see pictures that may have been posted. We have the menu posted for parents to view so that they know what their children are eating. The calendar for the year is also posted, allowing for parents to keep track of any important things coming up. We have been very happy with HiMama, and so have our families!

 

 

Trading Spaces

Sharing isn’t just for the children, but our entire center! We share our learning space with a church, which works out nicely due to zoning requirements, bathrooms, access to a kitchen, and an outdoor space (state requirements). The downside is that every single Friday our classroom supplies, furniture, etc. has to be converted for the church’s use on the weekends and every Sunday afternoon, after church, we have to set it all up again. Our weekends are very short, and our time together on Fridays feels like it is mostly spent cleaning and tearing things down. It is challenging for us to meet the church’s expectations, and them to meet ours, with all the shifting that takes place, but we try our best!

We have had to get creative with what we have in our classrooms, as most of it has to be light weight and movable. The church actually only has two preexisting classrooms, which worked great when we first started our program in this location in 2014. However, our center has now grown to five classrooms and we are quickly maxing out our space. The two existing classrooms are occupied by our Infants and Wobblers. Everything in our Wobbler classroom has to be moved to the back of the room, or taken to the Infant room for the weekend. The infant classroom is unusable on the weekends due to the cribs, high chairs, rolling carts, etc. that have to be stored there to get the Wobbler room cleared.

Our Preschool and Pre-K classrooms share one big room, with dividers down the middle to make a ‘wall’ and two ‘separate’ classrooms. It can get interesting when two busy classrooms are sharing one open room. On the weekends, this space is part of the sanctuary/fellowship space.

Our toddler classroom is another classroom that has to completely disappear on Friday’s, since they are located in the foyer of the church.

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Empty foyer- Toddler class space

We are limited in space to what we can hang up, and at the end of the week it has to be taken down. We try to keep things we hang on the walls under the level of the room dividers, or attached to them as much as possible. We also rotate bulletin boards- hang ours during the week and trade for theirs on the weekend.41990641_10155859518756527_1029582555105460224_n It gets tricky when you want to display a fun art project that your class worked hard on. We can hang it up for the week, but then we have to try to take it down without any damage and hang it again the next week.

We are thankful for the space we have to do this work and we appreciate the church’s willingness to accommodate us. However, this is an extraordinary amount of work that we do twice a week to keep our program running. The teachers are mostly responsible for putting things away on Fridays and we do have a couple of parents who volunteer to help set up on Sundays, but mostly it is up to the directors to make sure it all gets done.

We are always on the lookout for other options where we could leave our classrooms clean and set up over the weekend, but when it comes to a different building, we struggle with zoning requirements or rental/real estate costs. Every option that sounds great is not zoned correctly, and would cost a pretty penny to try and get it rezoned. Seeing as the demand for quality childcare programs is so high in our town, a logical explanation is it is just too difficult or costly for these programs to exist. 

It takes a lot to run a childcare center, and cutting our weekends short and spending most of Friday packing everything up once again proves that we really do love what we do. We are so thankful for Mother Goose Time and the ease of the program because not only are we attentive to the curriculum, the needs of the children and the requirements of the state, but there are a lot of things spinning behind the scenes. These little children and their families are so worth it, and this work is not for the faint of heart!