Thursday, April 28, 2011

Big Strides for Small People

Helping each other up a tree stump.
Teacher Jen says: I am so proud of the TOP kids!  Today while while we were hiking we stopped to explore on a hill.  We only had a few spoons and one magnifying glass and everyone did such a great job sharing and taking turns.  I heard.."Can I use that when you are done?". "May I use that next?". "Can I dig with you?".   And that was only the blue group!  The yellow group were extraordinary in their ability to climb together on a huge fallen tree.  Kids were saying "excuse me" to get by each other and helping each other if they were stuck.  One child gave suggestions to how to get down from a high place by saying,  "sit down then turn around and come down on your tummy. "

The kids are working so well together.  They take turns and chat while they play with toys.  Their ability to be aware of where they are in space (not pushing or knocking into each other) has grown dramatically.  They are able to pick up sticks and play with them without hitting anyone. We are so proud of the TOP kids accomplishments---You should be too!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Partners in digging!

TOP Kids happily digging and making dirt castles by the big tree.

Today we worked in pairs and groups to fill up buckets with dirt.  The kids could choose where to dig in the meadow.  Some chose mole hills and others chose the dirt by the big tree.  While they dug in the earth you could hear them speaking to each other and helping each other out.  We had fun tipping the full buckets over to make castles of the dirt.  Of course, we ended the fun by filling back in the holes we had dug so we didn't impact nature.

There was only time for a quick hike through the woods.  During the hike we climbed over logs, lay down on the bridge and observed the different sized rocks in the stream and slid down the mud slide. 

Back again to our picnic tables, now in the sun (yippee!) we finished lunch in time to make a face on a paper cup and then fill it with dirt and grass seed so we can watch the cup's hair grow!  We suggest spraying the grass every day or so-but not pouring water into the dirt.  We are looking forward to hearing about how the grass is growing at home!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Out on the old wagon trail!

Fern fronds unfurling in the spring;  This is how they look through a magnifying glass.

This last thursday was so beautiful that we loaded up the wagon and went on a search for the perfect picnic spot.  The Yellow group got to pull the wagon to Juel Park and the Blue group pulled on the return trip.  Along the way we ran into a elementary school group reenacting a wagon train!  The girls were dressed in prairie dresses and the boys had hats on.  We had to wait till they crossed our trail in order to continue to Juel Park. 

When we got to our wooded destination, each child got to use a magnifying glass.  The kids looked closely at fern fronds just unfurling, mushrooms and moss and lichen. We read a special book while eating lunch next to a stream in the woods.  The Tiny Seed follows a special seed from a flower as it sails on the wind.  The children listened closely to the tale as they ate lunch.
The Tiny Seed [Book]
Eric Carle's creative book about seeds and how they are spread around the world.

We are happy with the children's response to our new guidelines for school. 
We have told them that it is everyone's job at school to do your best at joining in on the group activities.
One of these activities is singing.  Everyone is supposed to do their best at singing while we are in circle time.  Since we have started this concept, many more of the children are joining in and doing the hand motions and lifting their beautiful voices in song.  We have been praising them for singing along.

We also have a song for crossing the street.  It goes:
Look to the left, Look to the right, listen with your ears, is it alright?
We sing this while we hold hands and look left and right -then ask each other if it is safe to cross. 

Hope your Easter/Passover/Spring weekend was lovely.  The weather certainly cooperated on Saturday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

P is for Puddles!

Checking out the fun patterns the overflowing stream makes!
Today we continued with our "P" week by visiting the pig and all of the other animals in the barn.  Daisy the Cow was very excited to see us and moo-ed very loudly!  (Her food was coming right behind us-so that MAY have been the reason!)  We saw 3 eggs in the chicken coop and learned that the sow was going to go visit another farm today and we were going to get a different pregnant sow back.  We can't wait to find out when there will be piglets to watch!

We celebrated Theo's birthday today with a very funny book called Gruffalo.    We all enjoyed the story together in the meadow while the sky threatened to rain.  Thank you Theo for the yummy, gummy treats for after class!
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Next we were off hiking within our color groups.
The blue group found a flooded path and investigated areas where the creek overflowed its banks onto the foot path.  Everyone was very interested in the paths the water took when it left the stream.  Of course, we splashed in the great puddles!

The yellow group hiked a long way until we found the perfect spot for stories and snack.  Along the way we saw a beautiful white trillium flower, lichen,  ferns unfolding
and small purple flowers.  In our secret place the kids hunted for beads among the moss and grass. 

At lunch we began our Earth Day project of  making Bird Feeders with pinecones.  They will come home on Tuesday.

Next week we will be focusing on Earth Day and what we can do to help the environment.  You can talk with your child about ideas that they can share with the class during circle time next week. 

PS  After having 2 weeks off from TOP we have found that many kids have forgotten some of the TOP concepts.  We will be working on these in the upcoming weeks.  Your kids have not heard the condensed version I have here.  But this is how it will go:

1. Be Nice to your friends at preschool. (no bad words or hard touches)
2. Be Safe  (listen to what the teacher says - remember the hiking rules for TOP)
3. Be Loving to nature. (don't pick plants that are living-be quiet around animals)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"P" is for pigs and pinecones!

TOP kids investigating the stream bed.

We were so glad to see everyone back at preschool today!  We began with a circle time and everyone was happy to sing or do some of the hand signals for the TOP Song!  Yeah!  Then we talked about "P" words. Pigs, pickles, peanut butter sandwiches and pinecones were some of the words that the kids came up with.  So-next the kids each got a bucket and collected pinecones.  Some of the kids were very excited about this and quickly filled their buckets.  Others took a while to get on board-but soon we had lots of pine cones for a project we are going to do on Thursday.

Then it was time to separate into our color groups and go hiking.  The yellow group found some good mud near the cow enclosure and some kids almost lost their boots trying to get out of the muck!  Next we started looking for a good spot for snack time.  We ended up finding Trillium flowers instead!  Trillium are special spring flowers that have 3 leaves and 3 petals.  This makes them easy to remember.  There are many of them at this time of year in Farrel-McWhirter Park.  We will continue to point them out to the kids.  You may ask them if they know what they are-it may take a few classes for this knowledge to stick.

We had a fun snack on a log by the stream, then threw stones into the water-carefully standing next to each other so no one gets hit. 

The blue group had a fantastic time exploring, climbing and working together to build a bridge today.  We also had fun collecting, sorting and counting pine cones.  Marcos had 55 pinecones in his red bucket!  The 2 color groups both ended up in one of our special TOP places and had fun near the stream.

Lunch was outside in the sun with books about pigs.  What a great day!