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!

 

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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!

Harvesting in the Orchard!

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We have had so much fun this month with Mother Goose Time and our “Orchard Harvest” unit. After all of the learning we have done in the classrooms, it was time for an adventure. Being in Oregon, we are lucky enough to have real orchards nearby, so we loaded up all of our kiddos and went to Detering Orchards for some apple picking!45226713_10155949303476527_6650063250702467072_n

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While we were there, we got to show what we know about how apples grow and what they need. We learned a few new things too, like did you know that a single apple tree can produce up to 1500 apples per season?

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Next, it was time to do some picking!

We were picking Golden Delicious Apples and we learned that if they are green, they will be sour and if they are more golden yellow, they will be sweet. This orchard had over 30 varieties growing and we liked spotting all the different colors. We were instructed to pick apples from the tree and not the ground, but to look all the way around for bad spot before making our selections. Apples on the ground or with spots are better for cider making then eating fresh.

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After we enjoyed our apples, we went for a little hay ride around the farm and we got to pick out a pumpkin from the field.

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It was the most perfect Fall Day and it didn’t even rain!

We were able to bring back a big box of apples, so today our project was to process some into applesauce, because we all love applesauce and now we know how it is made!

First, we peeled/sliced/cored the apples. It was such a good challenge for our muscles and we loved tasting the apple slices. Then we added them to the crock pot with some cinnamon to simmer all morning. We are so excited to taste our homemade applesauce for snack later!45167698_10155949302251527_4092668890339868672_n

We still have a bunch of apples to use, so maybe we will make some cider or apple chips too. This has been such a fun way to round out our Orchard unit, but we are looking forward to “Transportation Station” coming soon!

How Many Seeds are in a Pumpkin?

To go along with our “Orchard Harvest” unit (MGT October), our Pre-K class did a mini-lesson on pumpkins and we covered several content areas all at once. We covered reading, math, science and sensory with two pumpkins and a book!

20181024_104306.jpgWe read “How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?” and then we got to do the same activity that was in the story. We brought in two pumpkins, cut the tops out, and split the class into two teams.

20181024_104224First we predicted how many seeds were going to be in each pumpkin.

Then we got into our teams and started scooping out the seeds. Some of the children used their hands while others wanted to use a spoon or tweezers. It was fun to see everyone working so well as a team to get all of the seeds out, and how they approached the task.


After we got all of the seeds out of the pumpkins, it was time to count how many we had. That seems like an overwhelming task, but we can all count to ten, so we worked together to make  One of our children is really into numbers, so he was very excited about this part. hm_collage_mini_magick20181024-4-p9yexz.jpgOnce we were finished counting all of the seeds for each pumpkin, we added those two totals together.

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We wanted to find out how many pumpkin seeds we had all together. The total ended up being 649 pumpkin seeds! They were all surprised that there were that many pumpkin seeds between the two pumpkins.

We observed how the children counted and what was retained from the story. They had a lot of fun with this activity. Sometimes a really exciting hands-on activity makes learning across the content areas so fun and easy to see what the children really know!

Authentic Assessment!

The children loved the ‘Counting Lemons’ math activity in Week 2, Lesson 8. 20181010_111209We first reviewed the numbers on the card and then passed them out so everyone had one. Our Pre-K class used fruit counters to review some of the fruit that grows on trees. Each student counted out the fruit and placed it on their grid, and then switched cards so that everyone had a turn with each card. Some of our classes used the playdoh to roll out lemons as they counted.

So much of authentic assessment is observing. How are they counting? Are they using one-to-one correspondence as they count? We learn a lot about our students just from observing them. This was a great activity to see if our students could count to four, using one-to-one correspondence. It also allowed our students to compare the written number to the amount of fruit on their grid.

hm_collage_mini_magick20181010-26-1pzidze.jpgThe ‘I Can Read’ book, ‘Big Pig,’ in Week 2, Lesson 8, provided a great opportunity to observe how they hold their pencil, if they could tell the difference between one word and one letter, and if they could recognize the words in the story that were on the pointers provided. I first read the story as they followed along in their own books, and then we talked about the three words we were going to keep an eye out for (I, have, and a). As we read the story a second time they asked to circle those three words every time they saw them come up. As they did this, I watched for how they held their pencil, if they could recognize the words they were supposed to circle, and if they circled each individual word or each individual letter. This lesson gave a good opportunity to talk about pencil grip, and how we hold our pencil down low so that we have more control over our writing. A couple of students started to circle every word on the page, while another student circled two of the words together instead of recognizing them as separate words and circling them individually. One student started circling every individual letter instead of the whole word. As we worked through their book, with a couple of reminders on how we hold our pencils, they started to get the hang of what they were supposed to do- also a good assessment of how they understood and followed directions.

There are plenty of opportunities with Mother Goose Time to use authentic assessment. By observing and noting things we see we are able to better teach our students because we have a better understanding on what they need help with and what, as a class, we need to work on.

E is for Elephant!

With Mother Goose Time, we learn about three letters each month and then review them all in our final unit in June. This month (Orchard Harvest- October 2018) began with introducing the Letter E. Our Pre-K class extended their learning on the letter E by doing a mini unit on elephants.43103023_10155894378386527_3007159908215816192_n.jpg

They learned some fun facts about them, one being that an Asian elephant’s trunk is 11 feet long! We got to see what this looked like by measuring out 11 feet of tape. We then took turns measuring ourselves to compare the sizes!43260403_325240904949966_6645808986811531264_n

“National Geographic Kids: Elephants” was one of our favorite books this week because it had a lot of fun facts!43151803_557898987982682_6788269697650393088_n.jpg

We reviewed what we learned at the end of the week and each child was able to tell us something different that they had learned. We painted an elephant with watercolors, and on the back wrote down what facts we learned, so they could take it home and share what they learned with their families.

We wrapped up our week on elephants by making elephant bread!43306411_470012640171167_4883593113672613888_n (1).jpg

We love the extra materials that Mother Goose Time has online, the letters are one of our
favorite materials to use! For the letter E each child was given five pictures: eel, eagle,
elephant, Earth, and egg. They colored the pictures, cut them out, and glued them onto the letter E. This was a great activity to practice scissor skills and word recognition.43134818_247382599455244_9085345042230411264_n We love the letter books that are come with each Mother Goose Time unit. They are having fun cutting the pages apart and making their own little books to read.

It is so fun to use Mother Goose Time and expand it to follow the interests of the children. These activities also give us a very tangible way to quickly assess what skills children have mastered, are developing, or what we need to practice more. Skills such as how we hold a writing utensil, how we use scissors, what we read/listen to and can remember, following simple directions, etc. When children are playing and learning at the same time, we get a better sense of where they really are in their development.

Letter Learning!

We all know that preschool is all about learning Colors, Shapes, Numbers and Letters. Mother Goose Time makes it so easy to make that learning fun for little ones and efficient for teachers!

For the month of September, our unit is “Friends and Feelings”W we have been working on the Letters F, H, and T. These letters are great for beginning to write because the lines are straight and the sounds are pretty easy to hear/make.

For each letter, the children get to make their own mini book. They enjoy coloring them, tracing the letters and cutting them apart. The teachers help with the stapling and then they have a book to practice reading. They are so proud of themselves when they finish sharing what they can do.

We expand our letter learning as we play. At the beginning of the unit, our MGT kit included pieces to make puppets and feathers were for the hair or whatever the child wanted them to be. We found ourselves having more fun blowing the feathers into the air and watching them float back down.

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F is for Friends and Finger painting!

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Our Make and Play was a Happy Horse made out of the letter H- so clever!

Picture collages, Letter Community Game and Word Walls- we are learning letters in so many ways!

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We read The Kissing Hand (because H is for Hand). Then we made our very own when we talked about the Sad and Scared feelings. We hung them in the room to remind ourselves that we are loved even when we feel sad. This was not laid out in the MGT unit, but it fit in nicely.

Here are a few other ways we have extended our letter learning…

Textured T Printing and Happy Handprint H!

We have been pulling some ideas from “Art Across the Alphabet” from the Applebaum Training Institute for some extra letter learning fun. This book is a great resource and it qualifies for 5 clock hours in most states!                                        42110617_10155861619081527_8973449479038435328_o.jpg

Being intentional about the activities we present, how we speak to children, and our plans for the day leads to some amazing and fun learning! It is even more fun when we can incorporate concepts across the content areas. Thanks MGT