Overview and Goals
Happy New Year and Welcome back to school everyone! The first few weeks back at school will be a period of readjustment as the children settle back into the routine and get to know our new student teachers, Julianne and Amy. If your child is having reservations about the changes please let me know and I will provide extra support! Our focus for the week will be on establishing relationships with the new teachers and getting reacquainted with friends as we explore the new materials in the classroom! The new materials that we have around the classroom are designed to reconnect the children to some of the topics we began exploring this fall; opportunities for bird watching, snow sculpting, and habitat building are embedded throughout the room. The science area features some hands on activities that are designed to encourage the children to explore the idea of hibernation and the changes that animals and their habitats undergo in preparation for the cold!
~Materials: Easel, brushes, paint, paper, clay, clay tools, wire. Watercolor paints and paper, small brushes.
~Rationale: We will start this session by getting reacquainted with the properties of clay as we explore the endless possibilities that it offers for creative expression and symbolic representation.
The watercolors will give the children an opportunity to explore color mixing in a unique and creative way.
~Skills: Self-expression, fine motor, symbolic representation, creative expression, cause and effect relationships.
~Materials: Pipettes, color-mixing trays, and color mixing bottles
~Rationale: The light table provides the children with a unique way to explore the concept of color mixing. Children will be able to experiment with the properties of different colors and explore cause and effect relationships as they mix different colors together to create new colors!
~ Skills: Cause and effect relationships, experimentation, creative expression, inquiry and observation.
~Materials: Snow table, snow, small shovels, and small molding containers.
~Rationale: The materials at the sensory table will mirror the outdoors and provide children with an opportunity to experiment with snow in a more comfortable environment with an array of interesting tools.
~Skills: Creative expression, sensory exploration, cooperative play, hand-eye coordination.
We will continue to focus our attention on animal habitats, focusing on the concept of hibernation and the changes that animals and their habitats undergo to prepare for winter. We will discuss winter survival "tactics" and adaptations animals may have during this season.
~Materials: Assorted stuffed animals for sorting (into "True hibernator" / "Light Sleeper" / "Doesn't hibernate" groups). Open-ended prompting questions designed to foster an interest in hibernation and winter survival techniques. Different textures of animal fur, and various articles of warm (human) clothing. Boxy the turtle!
~Rationale: The materials at the science center are designed to create community awareness of hibernation and the different ways animals stay warm and survive during the winter. The inclusion of the warm winter clothes will provide children with the opportunity to compare and contrast the clothing they use to keep warm with the different things animals do to produce the same effect.
~Skills: Scientific inquiry, observation, generalizing, reasoning, grouping, conceptual knowledge-knowledge of the natural world, descriptive language, heuristic language, informative language, symbolic representation.
Math and Manipulatives
We will start this session by picking up where we left off before winter break: emphasizing the concept of patterning.
~Materials: Mosaic pattern grids, flexi blocks (moveable legos), classmate bingo, puzzles featuring winter and animals, in both inset and interlocking varieties.
~Rationale: During the previous session, we exposed the children to concepts such as sorting, matching, and categorizing. Knowledge of these concepts is necessary for creating patterns, a concept we introduced the children to and will now explore more deeply. Patterning is an important pre-academic concept and patterns can be found all around us. Daily schedules, calendars, repeating floor tiles ... these are all examples of patterns. These "simple" concepts lay the groundwork for mathematical thinking and more advanced mathematical concepts. By offering open-ended materials (where children can create their own patterns freely) and structured activities (during large group or when playing structured games) we will strengthen children's understanding of what patterning means in everyday life and we will be giving them a solid foundation for years to come. The classmate bingo game will be offered as a fun and engaging way to reconnect the children with their peers after the long break.
~Skills: Patterning, concept knowledge, one-to-one correspondence and whole/part relationships.
~Materials: Cardboard tubes, pencils, thin markers, clipboards. Open-ended fabric, stuffed woodland animals, animals costumes. Kitchen with dishes, fruits and veggies, and dress-up clothes.
~Rationale: We will explore hibernation and winter survival as an extension of our exploration of animals and their habitats. The lower section of the loft has been turned into a "cave" and the upper section contains materials designed to build the children's awareness of bird watching and observation. The dramatic and symbolic play areas are designed to support children's discussions and to offer opportunities to enhance their understanding of this topic. The materials provided present opportunities for self-expression, creative expression, imagination and creativity.
~Skills: Role-play, symbolic representation, social interactions, discussions and conversations related to animals and their habitats as well as yearly cycles, problem solving, and sharing.
~Materials: Hollow blocks, unit blocks, ramps, wood boards, and big fabric pieces.
~Rationale: Children use creativity and problem solving while developing their awareness of geometry through building. Communal building with hollow blocks encourages cooperation.
~Skills: Construction skills, dramatic play, symbolic representation, problem solving. Mathematical concepts such as symmetry, dimensions and fractions.
Language and Literacy
We have made sure to incorporate opportunities for language and literacy in all areas of the classroom. We have book selections scattered in strategic places in the classroom such as the dramatic and symbolic play areas, science and writing area.
~Materials: A variety of writing implements, paper, notebooks, and a posting of the upper and lower case alphabet. A well stocked library with books about winter, animals, and habitats.
~Rationale: The library is placed near the couch for cozy reading time with new friends and teachers. Throughout the room there will be many opportunities to enjoy the spoken and written word.
~Skills: Letter recognition, listening and receptive abilities, fine motor control, descriptive and creative writing, dictation.
The gym set up features familiar, basic equipment for the first few weeks that we are back. The climbing wall supports coordination, jumping, depth perception and turn taking. The monkey bars offer opportunities for upper and lower body strength and coordination as well as depth perception when crossed on the top. The Rolling slide to support coordination, core strength and is just a lot of fun in general ☺
~Our time in the playground will be dedicated to unstructured and structured large motor activities as well as scientific explorations and experiments. We will also have the sledding hill open now that there is enough snow!