Blocks! - January 26, 2018Top of Page

[This entry from Teacher Sandra]
Block play has many benefits.  During block play children are allowed to use their imaginations to create and to set their own goals. They then work to build structures that are representational of those ideas. Block play matches all development levels. Children’s play is scaffolded as they grow and learn with each new challenge that arises. The children’s play becomes structure building with a purpose.
PK students displaying their creation made of blocks   Preschool student playing with blocks in the classroom
Blocks can be used independently or in a group. Blocks are often used alongside of dramatic play. Children strengthen their knowledge and vocabulary skills through testing ideas and sharing experiences as they create things such as cities, roadways, zoos, castles, caves, and inclines (to name a few). Their vocabulary flourishes as they are encouraged to use descriptive language and ask questions. All the while they are also developing and strengthening their social skills by negotiating roles, taking turns, sharing, cooperating, collaborating and treating each other with respect (by speaking kindly and listening to each other).
 Preschool students with their block creation in the classroom   Preschool student playing with blocks in the classroom
Children begin to label and name topic specific jobs, and parts through their associated play. Their problem solving skills are strengthened, and children benefit from knowing immediately if an idea or solution was successful.  Block play also helps to develop early mathematical concepts. Through their play the children will learn size, shape, weight, and will begin to understand concepts of higher, wider, taller, shorter, heavier, and lighter. Through trial and error the children will naturally learn about balance, gravity, spatial awareness, and probability. Clean up time is a wonderful opportunity for them to also practice sorting, grouping, and categorizing. A sense of respect for our community is also reinforced when we work together to take care of our classroom. Children also develop, strengthen, and refine their physical skills. Block play builds confidence. All of these benefits translate into many other parts of children’s lives. 
Here's a video showing how block play is a foundation for STEM learning...
Preschool student playing with blocks in the classroom  PK kids playing and their creation made of blocks

Small Groups=Big Fun and Big Learning! - November 28, 2017Top of Page

[Most of this written by Teacher Kem]

In the past couple of months you may have heard your child say something about their “ group” or “group teacher.”  Or perhaps in the past couple of weeks your child may have said they are changing groups…  

Small Group is the time during the day were the children sit with their group (7 or 8 children) and their group teacher for snack and a group project.  The group project is something that each teacher has planned for their group.  A “project” can be scissor work, playing BINGO or rhyming games, working on sorting or patterning skills (early math skills). It could be open-ended drawing, writing letters, counting, or working on individual puzzles or a big group puzzle. 

Image of PreK students working in the classroom     Image of PreK students working in the classroom

At small group, the teacher helps assist the children in alpha-recognition, or reminding them about a proper pencil grip. Small group-time is also an opportunity for the teacher to assess where a child may be in regards to a certain skill-set where the teacher might recognize where a child may need extra instruction, or what a child may have already mastered. 

Image of PreK students working in the classroom     Image of PreK students working in the classroom

We change our groups three times during the year. This creates a positive challenge for your child as he/she learns how to be part of a new group of friends. In many instances, changing groups has helped foster new friendships and “team” mentality/behavior.  When we change groups, all of the teachers' observations gets handed off to the next group teacher.  By spring the children have had the opportunity to be in all three groups and the teachers have compiled all their observations to get a clear picture of your child’s growth and success in the room. 

Image of PreK students working in the classroom     Image of PreK students working in the classroom

In April, you will have the opportunity to meet for a conference with Tom to discuss all of these observations as well as your child's whole development (social, physical, cognitive, emotional, language, as well as kindergarten readiness). Don't they look grown-up and studious in the photos? It's lots of fun too!

Image of PreK students working in the classroom Image of PreK students working in the classroom Image of PreK students working in the classroom

Itsy, Bitsy, Spiders - November 1, 2017Top of Page

[Most of this written by Teacher Sandra]
Last Thursday we investigated spiders at our Science table.  The children love discovering about small creatures and they had many questions after Skylar had shared her skeleton spider during our letter A sharing day.  Skylar told us that spiders are arthropods, and that spiders have an exoskeleton.
Image of preschool student in classroom  Image of preschool student working in classroom
At the science table children got to look through books and discuss what they already know about spiders, and what else they wanted to know.  Teacher Sandra also brought in a living spider specimen for the children to observe.  Children got to work on a spider coloring page that helped them to identify and label parts of a spider.  While working on their spider page children were busy strengthening their fine motor, hand and eye coordination, and their vocabulary skills with writing, cutting, gluing, and coloring (trying their best to stay in the lines), and also describing.
Image of preschool student cutting paper in classroom    Image of preschool student drawing in classroom
When asked what they already know:
Elliot offered that “They have spider webs.”
Vin added, “ So they can catch bugs.” 
Skylar said, “The spider eats the fly. They are really fast!”
Josie said, “ They crawl & some fly.”
Roger said, “Some spiders are good and some are bad.”
Wren offered, “I just know they bite.”
Image of preschool student coloring in classroom    Image of preschool student looking at photos in classroom
We all discussed why spiders build webs, and why they bite.  We talked about spiders being hunters and predators, and flies and other insects being their prey. We further discussed exoskeletons, and spiders segmented bodies and jointed legs. It was a great mini-study and timely for Halloween!

Oceans, Gardens, Ideas - October 6, 2017Top of Page

Greetings and welcome to the Woodside Preschool Pre-K Classroom home on the web! Here I'll do my best to keep you up to speed on the happenings in our classroom. We are off to a tremendous start and we've only just begun...
We invite children to explore, play, and create and encourage them to express themselves and collaborate. We take their ideas and questions seriously and use them to guide our curriculum and studies. As Joaquin was building in the pictures below, he declared proudly, "We are making ideas!" 
Pre-K students playing in class          Pre-K students playing in class
This group displayed an interest in fish and the ocean early on so we focused on that for a bit. At group-times, we invite them to share their knowledge and questions. In the next picture, the children are using their bodies to measure how big a whale is.
Image of preschool students measuring by laying down on floor      Pre-K students inspecting fish with magnifying glass in class
Teacher Kem brought in live creatures to observe.
Teacher Kem with Pre-K student inspecting crab in class
Another highlight of this week was going over to the elementary school garden. Lena's mom won the visit at last year's school auction and was kind enough to share it with our class. We studied calendulas and various other seeds, artichokes, broomcorn, dog plants, and more. We also ate raisins and sunflowers. We love visiting all the resources on campus with Pre-K. More good times to come...
Pre-K students in the garden      Group of preschool students lined up outside
Preschool students working outdoors    Image of preschool student her bowl of seeds