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!

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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

Transitions

Our goal is to make our transitions throughout the day smooth! If you suddenly
tell a child to stop what they are doing to clean up so that they can go on to
something else, it is not going to go smooth. Children need time to prepare for
what is going to happen next. This way they have time to finish what they were
doing before having to clean up and move on.

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In the mornings we have free choice as students arrive, then snack, recess, and
then we come in for circle time and activities. When we line up outside to go in,
we go over what we are going to do (take shoes off, wash hands, sit on the carpet
for circle time). With our older students, a verbal reminder everyday about what
we do before circle time helps make our transition from recess to washing hands,
to circle time fairly smooth.

One way we transition our Pre-K students is by using a sand timer. They get a five-
minute warning before they are expected to clean up. The sand timer is put
where they can see it, and they know that when the sand runs out it is time to
clean up. The sand timer captures their attention. They keep an eye on it, and as
soon as the sand is gone they will say “Time to clean up!” Having a visual helps
our transitions go a lot smoother.42143646_496700014145714_8412756835873849344_n.jpg
When the children are really interested in an activity it is a great opportunity to
expand on that lesson, so we spend more time on it. One activity our Pre-K
students were really into was the ‘Letter Community’ lesson under the “Include
Everyone” topic in the Friends and Feelings unit. We first reviewed the letters,
identified whether they were uppercase or lowercase, and took turns rolling the
cube and writing down the letters. The children got excited to see what letter
they were going to roll next and what letter their friends were rolling. There were
a lot of laughs when they rolled the same letter twice in a row! We expanded it by
making predictions on what letter they thought they were going to roll next, and
which circle would have the most letters. Each child had several turns because
they were enjoying this activity so much. It was fun to see them so excited about
writing!20180917_110314.jpg

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One activity that our Pre-K students were not as into, was the ‘Sharing Stories’
lesson under the “Sharing” topic. They quickly arranged the story pieces,
explained what they did, and were done. It could be the dynamic of the group that day, so we like to leave the pieces on the shelf as an activity that is available for another day.20180918_105429.jpgWith preschool, it all depends on the day and the class. As with any lesson, sometimes they are really into it one day and not as into it the next.

We love that Mother Goose Time has the lessons planned out for each topic. It allows us to look ahead and decide what we are going to do for the day. We can follow the child’s lead on what we may spend more time on doing, or what we may accomplish rather quickly. Our students know that after circle time they get to do the activities, and with most of the materials provided, Mother Goose Time makes it easy to stick to this routine.

What is Mother Goose Time?

Mother Goose Time is a wonderful curriculum program that covers all content areas and is based on National Standards for Early Childhood.  It comes packaged and ready to go each month, with a new theme, manipulatives, a book, concept webs, pre-cut and counted materials, etc. Here is just a sampling…

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Art Supplies, Games, A New book, a magnetic storytelling set to go with the book of the month, and so much more!

The materials that Mother Goose Time gives us each month are fantastic. We really enjoy the manipulatives that we get with each unit, and our children love playing with them outside of the intended activities. This month, we had Tangrams included in our September kit. Here are just a few of the ways these shapes have been used in the first few weeks.

It is fun to see their imaginations at work when they are using the materials in a different way. The manipulatives that are sent make counting and pattern recognition more fun for our students.

 The art materials that are provided are great too. The materials that are provided allow the children to use their creativity. It is fun to see how the children choose to use the materials that they are given to complete their projects. Our Bumble Bees (toddlers) really enjoy any material that allows them hand stimulation. A few of their favorite items that have been sent are the pom-poms, sponges and cotton balls.

Yesterday, we were talking about Playing Together. We used a bunch of PomPoms that had been saved from other activities for our Tray Play activity. The goal was to take turns with the big tweezers and fill the jar with pom poms. It was so fun to have these materials on hand and to watch them work so well together.

When our boxes arrive, we undo the packaging and sort the materials, so each class has what they need. Then we place the daily materials into the file boxes. The younger group gets the Little Goose Supplement and the older group gets the More Math and More Literacy books for an added challenge for those who need it.

So much fun and learning are packed into each Mother Goose Time Unit and we are so excited for the year ahead!

Sharing!

Today in our Mother Goose Time “Friends and Feelings” unit, we focused on Sharing! Before we get to a few of the cute activities for today, we wanted to share a little trick we have discovered for getting our 2 yr. olds to stand in a line, wait their turn, and get all those little hands washed without chasing them… Magic Shoes! We found these little shoe cut outs at the dollar store, laminated them, and when it is time to line up, we lay out the shoes and have each child pick a pair to stand on. They are spaced out enough that they don’t bump into each other. When it is their turn, they can pick up their shoes and hand them to the teacher. It works like a charm and even if they aren’t exactly standing on them, they are preoccupied and not fussing with anyone, so we will count it as a win!

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Sharing space, toys, attention, etc. is a really hard concept for children and the younger they are the harder it is. They are still learning that they are separate from others, and their needs/wants are not the only ones that exist. If you spend any time at all with children, you will inevitably hear some adult telling some child they need to share. What that means is they must give up something that is making them happy, because suddenly someone else’s needs are coming before their own. Put that way, it doesn’t really sound fair at all. As adults, we are wanting to teach children to be kind and generous, but from their child’s perspective, giving up what they have sounds like a terrible idea and is usually met with resistance.

At our center, we try a different approach and here are some examples. Say Sally has four baby dolls in her arms and Tommy is upset because he really wants a baby doll, but Sally has them all. Tommy knows that grabbing isn’t ok, or maybe he gives that strategy a try and it doesn’t go well. Now Sally is mad and really doesn’t want to share at all. Sally is happy with all 4 baby dolls and forcing her to give up any is not going to work. We come to Sally and say that it looks like Tommy is sad because he wants a baby doll and we ask if there are any she would like to give Tommy, maybe even ask which one Tommy can have. Given a choice, she will most likely choose to give up one easily. We praise her for being such a kind friend and notice how happy that made them both. We can encourage her, but if she really doesn’t want to give up any, we help Tommy find something else to do until she is finished with the babies, because let’s face it, she probably won’t have all four forever. Giving both children the language to problem solve is so important.

Sometimes we will practice sharing with a timer. We give each child a toy to play with during “Sharing Time”, set a timer for maybe 1-2 minutes, and then when the timer goes off, everyone trades. Trading works really well because while it may be hard to give up what you have, it is fun to get something new.

Acknowledging the feelings of the children involved, giving choices, and trying to have more than one of the classroom items available are a few good strategies for teaching young children to share.

Today we practiced our sharing skills in a few ways. We worked together, we worked on the same task, but just next to each other, and we took turns. Even very young children can share, when we teach them how.42174137_10155859394561527_7417860329276702720_n42098387_10155859394431527_5580414461816078336_oWe took turns to make our “Helping Hands” posters to remind us each day that we can be such kind friends. We love that Mother Goose Time spends the entire first unit of each school year teaching children these important skills that we will continue to practice all year!

3 Important Things

Each month, the Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassadors focus on a new umbrella topic. For the month of July the topic was “Tell your story, grow your program”. This post answers the question of what we believe to be the three most important things we do for children and how MGT helps us achieve those goals.

We believe that the three most important things that we do for the children in our care is teach them, listen to them, and believe in them and their ability to make good choices.

Mother Goose Time is a huge part of what we teach our children. It covers all of the content areas, but we also focus on the social and emotional growth. The goal of teaching is not just to be sure they are academically ready for kindergarten, but that they become well rounded and kind members of society. We are not only teaching our students the curriculum, but we are teaching them right from wrong, how to respect others, and be honest. Some of our students are here at least eight hours a day, if not more. We spend a lot of time with them and play an important role in their lives, although most of them won’t remember us. 

Mother Goose Time is helping us achieve these goals by providing us with a fantastic curriculum. They have planned out units that teach us about different cultures and parts of the world. At the beginning of the year there is always a unit that covers friends, family and feeling. We get to talk about how to manage our feelings and why we may be feeling a certain way – this is a great way to set the tone for the rest of the year. This curriculum provides more than just math, science, art and writing activities, but they focus on the whole child. We get to learn about so much more throughout the year and Mother Goose Time really helps us take the guesswork out of it.

We listen to our children in what they tell us, but also how they come to us each day. Taking the time to see them as small human beings with important thoughts, ideas and feelings, creates a safe learning environment. Our teachers know each child individually. It is also important to communicate with parents so that we are all on the same page with how their children are doing at home and at school. We use a program called HiMama to record their daily notes, send pictures and send emails back and forth with the parents. At the end of the day they will receive their child’s daily report. It is a great way to communicate with the parents because there often is not much time to chat with them at drop-off and pick-up.

Believing that each child is unique and capable of kindness is the heart of our program. If they learn all of their academics and make good choices, that is wonderful, but ultimately out goal is that children leave our program and know that they are loved! MGT helps us not only teach our children lots of fun things, take the time to listen and know them, but is truly the framework of our program. We love using this curriculum and all that it provides for our teachers and children!

We Work Hard for the Money!

A constant struggle for Early Childhood programs is the lack of financial resources. We aren’t funded by state or our local community, and while I understand that quality childcare is incredibly expensive from the perspective of the parents, we barely make ends meet most of the time. So where does it all go, and how do we decide?

The basics are simple… Rent, Food for Snacks, Classroom/Safety Supplies, Cleaning Supplies, and Curriculum. We are so thankful for the Blogging Program with Mother Goose Time because when we write about this wonderful program and how we use it in our classrooms, we receive a good portion of our materials for free. We probably wouldn’t be able to afford this curriculum for all of our children without this trade.

Staffing expenses are the highest part of our budget. We believe that what our teachers do is truly important – the word “important” doesn’t even feel like enough. Some of the children in our care spend more waking hours with us than they do with their parents. A child is essentially who they will become in terms of basic moral code and personality by the age of 5, so the time we spend and the things we teach are critical. I wish that I could pay our teachers more for what they do every day. We provide Health, Vision, and Dental insurance to our full-time staff, as well as free childcare to those with little ones. I was fortunate enough to be with my kids every day in those early years, and I don’t want my staff to miss out on that time with their own children, while providing for others. There are also additional expenses for Worker’s Comp, insurance, etc. And don’t even get me started on the expense of field trips, but those adventures are so important to the children!

Now, on to the fun stuff- what do we play with? Early Childhood is all about Play and Mother Goose Time helps us prepare. The lesson plans lay out ideas for STEAM Stations and Tray Play activities (Little Goose). We try to purchase any materials needed to make those activities happen. MGT also has a Toy box Program. At this point in the life of our program, we have a lot of toys, books, games and puzzles. While we have never purchased the actual toy boxes, although the included activity cards would be nice to have, we use this resource as a way to decide what to pull out from our collection and what, if anything, would be new and fun to add. In our classrooms, we change out all books, and shelf activities with each new unit. It is a lot of work, but it keeps the children engaged in their learning and we avoid an abundance of “stuff” being out all at the same time. MGT does the research and we make it happen- a great partnership for sure!

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We are so thankful to work with precious children. In no other job do you have “co-workers” run up to with hugs and enthusiasm each morning. We truly have the best job, even with its challenges. We are thankful to work with parents who see the value in what we do and are so excited to bring their child to us each day. I know that quality child care is expensive, but it is so worth it!