Playful Directions

Mrs. Forst's Pre-Kindergarten Blog

Forest 4s: The Real Woods


This gallery contains 16 photos

1 Comment

Hour of Code 2016

Today Pre-k participated in our fourth annual “Hour of Code” event.  We didn’t actually spend an hour on the project, but the computer programming that we played with was lots of fun!  The instructors (Mrs. Kate Weber and Dr. Anne Faye, our Director of eLearning) explained that computer programming was as simple as giving someone or something directions.  After a quick practice with paper arrows and maze, the children moved on to Kodable, an iPad app with similar parameters.  For this task, the children directed a fuzzy creature through mazes while practicing planning, problem solving, the Scientific Method and visual-spacial skills.


If you are more curious about Hour of Code, check out  Computer Science Education Week.  Here is a short introduction found within their site:

We live in a world surrounded by technology. And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science, and less students are studying it than a decade ago.

That’s why schools across the nation joined in on the largest education event in history: The Hour of Code. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14), students will be amongst over 2 million worldwide spending one hour learning the basics.

See for details.

Leave a comment

Conferences (Team Family)

There are many ways for teachers to approach conferences.  It could be a time to focus on the academic strengths and weakness of a child.  The social and emotional skills of each student could be the star of the conversation.  We could spend our 20 minutes discussing the activities the children have been involved or their interests in over the past few months.  We could even discuss troubles the child has at home and school, seeing where they meet and work on solutions together.

In the past, I’ve prepared notes for each conference detailing strengths and areas for growth for each student.  I’ve spent the first 15 minutes talking to the parents and then, in the last five asked them if they have any concerns or questions.  I think it worked, but I think we can make our conferences more useful.

This year, I want to try something new. I want to know what you, the parent or caregiver, are most interested in discussing.  We’ve spent two months with your child and are getting to know them pretty well.  You are the members of our team that we don’t know well, yet.

Before you meet with us on Friday, please consider what you’d like to talk about most.  I want our time together to be productive for you, especially since you are taking time out of your busy day to visit with us.  For this reason, one of the first things I’ll ask you on conference day is:

What would you like to talk about today?




Introducing: Book Buddies


We met with our fourth grade book buddies for the first time today.  This year, Mrs. Ferguson (the Fourth Grade teacher) and I are hoping to get together at least once every six day cycle.  Right now, we’re are scheduled to meet on Day 2.

This tradition is held very dear here at WTN.  All of our grades have reading buddies.  The elder children get the opportunity to model literacy and be a mentor for the little ones.  The younger buddies love having the one-on-one attention.


Leave a comment

Scheduling: Oct. 25th Parent-Teacher Conferences

Dear North Hills Campus Parents,

I am writing with important details about the Parent/Teacher Conference Day scheduled for Friday, October 25, 2013.

What to Expect
You will have the opportunity to meet with your student’s teacher to discuss his or her progress.

Please note the following before scheduling your appointment with your student’s teacher:

Appointments will be approximately 20 minutes long.
All appointments should be scheduled through our online appointment book, which will be available at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 26.
Appointments will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis; so schedule early.
How to Schedule Your Appointment
1. Register

Visit the online appointment book at:
Enter your email address and a password (you can select your own password), then click “Login/Create Account.” Fill in the required fields to register.
If you have used Pick-a-time before, you will use your email address and password that you previously used. If you cannot remember your password enter your email address and click “Forgot My Password.” Your password will be emailed to you.
For each student, enter his or her student ID — all student IDs follow the formula: “FirstNameLastName” i.e. John Smith would be JohnSmith (no space or punctuation) — and his or her birthday — in the form MM/DD/YYYY i.e. March 7, 1993 would be 03/07/1993.
2. Schedule

Each colored square represents an available meeting time.
Click on a square to book that time.
Enter when you want the reminder email to be delivered, and be sure to click “Create Appointment.”
If you want to make changes to your schedule, you can log in at any time with your email address and password.

If you have any questions, please call Kim Rovnan at 412-486-8341.

Extended Day
Students in PK – grade 2 may attend Extended Day, held in the Science Room, during your conference time, free of charge. Students in grades 3 – 5 who come with their parents during conference time should bring a book to read or a quiet game to play while they wait for their parents in the corridor outside the classroom.

The full day Extended Day program will be available from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for students in PK – grade 5. The charge of $65 will be added to your monthly eBill. A fun day of activities, crafts, and playtime has been planned. Time will be spent outside and children should dress appropriately in play clothes. Please pack a lunch and a beverage, a snack will be provided. To register, please contact Dionne Brelsford at

What to Do on Conference Day
On October 25, please be sure that you arrive promptly for your appointment. Upon arrival, please meet your child’s teacher in his or her classroom. Finally, we ask that you adhere to the allotted time for each teacher so that the day flows smoothly for everyone.

We are excited to offer this opportunity to you. If you have any further questions about conference day, please contact me or Kim Rovnan at 412-486-8341.


Laurie Vennes
Director of North Hills Campus

Leave a comment

Writing Naturally


This is how learning happens.  It begins with an idea and flows naturally into purposeful  practice.  The meaningful context makes the learning “sticky”.  Connections are made between emotions, previous experiences, practical applications,   The development of relationships between ideas in the brain foster even stronger connections.  We hold the strongest, most well trafficked connections for years, sometimes for  the rest of our lives.

The boy on the left decided that too many people wanted a turn with the stuffed alligator at rest time.  We understood his concern but were unsure if there really was a demand.  We suggested he take a poll.  He proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes engaged in sounding-out* each of the words for his question and polling the entire class.  He then analyzed the results and found that most of the children did, indeed, want a turn with the alligator.

Last year we had a similar problem with a stuffed dog.  This child remembered the solution from last year and decided to replicate it. (In fact it might have been his idea last year!)  He gathered all of the students’ names and created a list.  Each day, the next person on the list will have an opportunity to rest with the alligator.

The example above begins as learning frequently does, with a problem.  The child considered the problem and compared it with his previous experiences.  He recalled a strategy to “fix” the problem.  To solve his dilemma, he had to access memory of:

  • surveys
  • letter-sounds
  • print directions
  • letter-shapes
  • concepts of word (what constitutes a word? how can I stretch it out?)
  • who have I already asked and who is still waiting?
  • tally marks
  • some sight words (yes, no)
  • what do lists look like?
  • how to fit many items on a page
  • titles (his list has one)
  • counting concepts
  • motor skills required for writing
  • experiences from last school year

Each of these islands of skills and knowledge have been practiced many times and connected to multiple experiences.  Using them again for this project more firmly cements them into his collection of information about writing and problem solving.

finding relationships=strong connections=longer memory

*sounding-out : to slowly stretch out a word orally into it’s individual phonemes or sounds; used to discover the letter sounds within words; used to writing down “the sounds you hear” when you are beginning to read and write

WTN’s Northbound Trail in the News!

Check out the Fox Chapel Herald article! Go WTN!