Playful Directions

Mrs. Forst's Pre-Kindergarten Blog

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Map It Out

Our car is coming along.  In fact today it was suggested that it should be a camper instead since we are “making” such a long trip.  Since I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to stay awake for the whole drive to Florida, I thought it would be good to train some fellow navigators.  This atlas we’ve been looking over is way too complicated.  We decided to start with something a bit simpler.


We began with Map My Neighboorhood by Jennifer Boothroyd.  In this book, we learn how to draw our own maps.  We begin with a list of the places we would like to include and work from there.

Our first attempt was made out on the Northbound Trail.  The children used a large notebook, scissors, paper scraps, and glue sticks to create the areas they felt were important.  This map was made together.

The most difficult parts were deciding what to include and choosing a size for each piece.  Scale might be a bit beyond us at this point, but the practice with position in space was valuable.

Our next mapmaking enterprise took place in the classroom.  Each child created their own map.  I set up the paper first with the locations of the doors and windows marked.  When placing the paper in front of the children, I made sure that their paper was oriented so that the doors and windows were aligned with the room.  The children had many different takes on what was important to include on their classroom map.  None of you will be surprised to hear that the loft was almost always the first furniture added.


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Road Trip (Part I)

Two of our dear friends moved back to Florida last week.  We are already missing their smiles.  Sigh….

No worries! The children have a plan….

We’re going on a road trip to Florida! Yippee! Oh, fine, it is only imaginary, but we can still make our plans.  To assist in the planning, I photocopied all of the pertinent states from my trusty road atlas and stitched them together with old-fashioned scotch tape.  The class was quite surprised to find such a spaghetti mess of roads between here and there.  Yet undaunted, they began to take action.

First, the children decided we needed a car to get there.  Enter our trusty stand-by, a nice empty box.

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Here are a few bits demonstrating the process and explaining some of the technical details:

I think we’ll need to attack the map next….

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Upon returning from our Spring Break, we noticed two new inhabitants near our pond.


We have been watching them from afar and are beginning to formulate questions about our new feathered friends.  The goose above can be found sitting on the pond’s island, visible from the both the pond and fireplace decks.  The other goose can frequently be found hanging out on our sled riding hill.  We can easily observe the former from our Nature Playground.

This morning, we asked the children where they thought the geese might have been before arriving at our school


We had answers ranging from “Up north” to “Hawaii”.  The children noticed that some of the ideas held connections.  Many places were warmer than Pennsylvania and a few listed the same state.  One of the students added that geese like to go where it is warm in the winter and referred to it as “hibernation.”  This set other children on their toes, with their hands waving madly in the air.  It took us a few tries, but eventually we figured out that it is actually called “migration” and that hibernation is something different.

Our new questions are:

Who hibernates? Who migrates?

We’ve asked the children to help us figure out where to find the information.

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Opera Interactive (and a surprise connection!)

This morning a Pittsburgh Opera ensemble joined North Hills Campus students for an adventure exploring opera.  This is an annual presentation that mixes improvisation, opera, world languages, and story telling.  The actors come prepared with a trunk full of props and a bucket full of topic ideas.  The children choose a story plot randomly and then choose two arias for each singer to perform.  The students pick the arias based on the emotions they think will fit best with the story. At the end, the new show is put together and performed for the students.

And now for the topic for today’s show….

(drum roll, please)

The Family Pet

No, really. I swear I didn’t put that piece of paper in their jar of choices.  It gets even better. The actors (without any coaching from me or the class) began referring to the “setting” as a Pet Shop.  Now, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the Pre-K built a pet shop in our classroom two days ago.  Our children were so completely connected with the opera ensemble! I wonder if we’ll see any singing in our class pet store?

Shopping in the Pet Store

Shopping in the Pet Store

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Panda Ponderings

With our students’ growing interest in all things panda, we spent the morning finding out what questions they had about pandas and what they would like to learn. Their questions are as follows:

Where do they live?

What do they eat?

Where do they eat?

How do pandas eat?

What do they do?

How do they play?

How far can they hear?

How do panda babies grow?

How do panda greet each other?

How do panda take care of their babies?

Do pandas kiss?

What do baby pandas do?

Where do panda sleep?

How old do they get?


The next step in our quest for knowledge is for our students to figure out where we can find information so that we can answer these very thoughtful questions.



May 17 Save the Date!

20130314_8431Save the Date!

May 17, 2013

10:00 a.m.

The Pre-K Performance

Working Title: Children’s Literature Unbound

The Pre-K Performance this year is going native. We are putting the script writing*, prop collection, costume design, and set construction in the children’s hands.  Following many years of successful teacher created, directed, and designed plays, we began to reflect on the purpose of putting on a show.  We decided that there were certain lessons that we wanted our students to get from such a project.  Some of these included performing for a group, taking pride in a performance, problem solving as issues arise, and persistence in complicated tasks.  We also wanted them to have an opportunity to express themselves, take responsibility for their own performance, and practice editing a story.  We decided that they could get all of these opportunities by making their very own play.

The children are currently working on a recreation of the popular children’s story, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”    We are working on a few ideas regarding the sharing of this story with our families.  We’ll let you know the plan as soon as we have all arranged.  However, please know that you are invited to arrive at WTN  at 9:45 on May 17th to see our thespians perform at 10:00.  The show will be followed by a reception in the library.  Afterwards, your child may either go home with you or stay for the rest of the day.

*Curious about the script? We’ll be posting some of the previous drafts soon!

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Build On!

Driver’s license, check. Hands and feet, check. Something to drive? Not quite yet!  This morning’s message asked the children to think about what type of vehicle they wished to make.  Their decision became more complicated with the additional possibility of either creating on your own, or with a friend. They had to do some serious social negotiation and practice the essential skill of perspective taking  to make a group project a reality

Each child also had to think quite abstractly to design a vehicle from our various boxes.  Not one child said, “The box can’t be a car!” or any other such silly thing.  Instead, they envisioned a plan and drew their first draft. We had representations of trains, airplanes, fire trucks, and cars.  They chose boxes based on size, but not on shape.  We’ll have to see how they adapt to the confines of the length and height of the boxes.