Building Connections

We love blocks in our classroom. We have large blocks, small blocks, magnetic blocks, wooden blocks, plastic blocks, sometimes we even make our own cardboard blocks. We tote them around, build them out and up, design rooms and spaces, use them as imaginary tools, and create intricate structures to support our stories. Sure, they’re fun, but why highlight them as a major part of our daily life?

Experimenting with blocks engages our children’s physical, social/emotional, cognitive, and language development.  While building in a group, a child will engage in dialog regarding sharing, shape usage, design planning, and idea exchanges. A quick article explaining more about the learning behind block use can be found in the Community Playthings Resources

At this time of the year we usually see much of the second stage of block building, creating rows and stacks.

Give it a try.


I can do things by myself.

Throughout the day, parents, teachers, and children encounter obstacles that present an opportunity for practice and learning.  As parents ourselves, Katie and I realize how much easier it is to simply do some of the quick and easy tasks for our young ones.  I’m sure there have been many occasions where I simply put my child’s shoes on for him so I could get him out the door in a hurry.  We get it.  However, beginning around 2 or three our children are capable of and should be expected to accomplish a lot on their own.

In case  you’re are still a bit sceptical, here is a list of skills we know *3-5 year olds CAN accomplish on their own:

  1. Putting on their own:
    Clothing, including pants/underpants/shirts/skirts/dresses/socks/mittens
  2. Opening their own:
    Bag of pretzels/muffins/chips (anything that comes in a chip type bag)
    Juice boxes (except for Honest Kids…I can’t even open those)
    Applesauce (with the exception of those new squeeze bottle ones…who’s idea were those screw-on tops?)
  3. Personal care:
    Nose wiping
    Bathroom needs (all regular wiping, cleaning routines…unusual accidents understandably require help)
    Hand washing
    Sneeze/cough covering
    Brushing their own teeth

The good news is we see ourselves as a great practice ground for these new independent experiences. It is much easier for children to adopt unaccustomed roles and routines when they are also in a new environment.

I’m sure my own children take advantage of me whenever they get the opportunity because I’m their Mom.  I’ve been there too long and lived through too many routine changes from infanthood to pre-teen.  Yet, they would never consider pulling the “I’m too little” card on one of their teachers. (Well, maybe they would, but thankfully the teacher wouldn’t fall for it.)

We are here to help them grow and become more independent as they mature toward the ripe old age of 6.


*Children and adults with true physical challenges might find these tasks more difficult.

Read more @ Responsibility? What’s that?

{This Moment}


Onward and Upward!

082814_4580v2Whoo! We did it. We made it through the first two days of school.  The children were all patient and polite while we spent the first two days introducing them to the basics of room and materials management.  Yesterday we were all a about blocks and the kitchen.  Today, the loft was the MVP (most valuable plaything).

Outside, there was quite a gathering at the sandbox following its introduction yesterday.  You might have also noticed that your child came home with an extra quart of sand in his or her shoes.  We also learned how to walk “the circuit”, climb on rocks, swing on the swings and hang on the low monkey bars.

The students have been having lots of fun and we’re learning many, many routines that will help the days run smoothly.  By 11:30, all of the children look ready for a nap.  Next Monday we will begin our regular schedule.  Please expect your child to be tired and possibly irritable for the first few days to weeks of school.  Beginning new routines and meeting new friends is much more stressful than we usually credit.  Patience, love, and consistency will get your child through this exciting time.

If your child is buying a school lunch next week, please remember to fill out and submit the online lunch order form by Sunday night.

If you plan on picking up your child in car line at the 2:30 0r 3:15 dismissal, please remain inside your car and we will bring your child to you. If your child needs help buckling please pull into a parking space or forward to the front of the campus center to get out of the car and assist. This helps our line move quickly and smoothly.

More on Routines

We have been quite busy the last few weeks learning the myriad of routines and procedures involved in a Pre-K student’s daily life. Following the Responsive Classroom approach, we slowly and intentionally model every possible action taken on within our classrooms. This includes everything from how to hold a pair of scissors to what a listening body looks, feels, and sounds like.

We begin the class year with almost all of the manipulatives put away and the shelves covered. In this manner, we can slowly introduce each type of material and guide the children on safe uses and clean up strategies. Outside play routines and materials are handled in the same manner. We have found that by dedicating the first few weeks of school to setting up and practicing routines, the rest of the year flows much more smoothly.


Our Day: Arrival and Choice Time

One of the most asked questions when families come for a tour is, “What does a normal day in your classroom look like?”  This is a very good question, but one that can really only be touched upon in a quick conversation.  I’ve decided that it might be helpful for both current families and those interested in our program if I spend some time introducing our daily routines in a more illustrated manner.  So, let us begin at the beginning.

Each morning starts with the arrival of our students.  As parents, you are familiar with this portion of your child’s day.  The children arrive with Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, or beloved friend in tow.  After a hug and a kiss at the door and checking themselves “in” to school, they glide, jump, shuffle (depending on the level of energy so early in the morning) over to the cubbies to hang up their coats and backpacks.

Once their things are safely packed away, each child meets with a teacher to read the Morning Message.  This message greets the class, tells them which special classes they will be visiting during the day, and asks them a question.  Our question usually relates to the current topic of study or a skill we are focusing on.  Sometimes, it is just designed to help us get to know our students better.

Now that they have completed their morning tasks, the children are free to choose to play in any open center.  This part of the day is invaluable for the teachers.  While the children are moving around, playing with others, and interacting with the environment, the teachers are circulating within the groups.  We use this time to observe how our class is getting along, what their interests are, and how individual children are faring with the materials.  We watch for moments when we can pose a question to provoke deeper thinking within the play.  The social strengths and areas for improvement are noted for later discussion during Morning Meeting.

The children also benefit greatly from this time of choice.  Through an opportunity to freely choose the materials they wish to play with, they engage in practice with well-loved activities or feel safe to explore something new.  This time of the day is one of the best for practicing many important social skills such as sharing toys, taking turns, listening to a friend, and sharing the creation of a story.  Children can choose to play alone or with others and practice positively asserting their needs for both.  Many children use this time to reenact important themes that are running through their minds.  We have scary ghosts and happy princesses.  We see animal families and new babies arriving regularly.  Story ideas come from books they have read, television shows they have watched, and stories (both real and fantasy) that they have heard in and out of school.

Around 9:00, we begin to transition to a new activity.  After hearing the ringing of our chime, the children know to stand still and listen for directions.  Together, they begin to clean up the area where they are playing.  When their space is tidy, they know that it is helpful to look at the other centers to see if they need help, as well.  Finally, when all is put away, each child finds a spot on the carpet so that we can begin Morning Meeting.