Spring 2020

Sunflower

The spring of 2020 was probably the most uncertain time of all of our lives. I felt like I was waiting for something but didn’t know what I was waiting for nor when it was going to get here. It was an eerie feeling.

Kind of like that feeling before a snow storm. Although the spring of 2020 gave us so much to consider, I noticed it was a breathtakingly beautiful spring. The most beautiful spring I can remember. Unfortunately, our springs in this area have been reduced to a couple of weeks at best. This spring the colors were vibrant and vivid. The blooms were heavy, long lasting and big. The pear trees didn’t shed nearly as quickly as they usually do.

The sky was even bluer. We had a LOT of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. This resulted in a technicolor spring. There are so many lilac bushes in Miss Amy’s neighborhood I could smell them every time we went outside. The tulips, daffodils, dogwood, red-buds all the early bloomers, really showed off. It gave me some comfort.

Getting to know the upstairs children took me out of my comfort zone and kept me on my toes as they are not easily impressed. We turned everything into a project. How many buckets does it take to return the sand to the playground from the dump buckets? The answer was 87.

We documented new birds that came to the feeders we made.

Mr. Peanuts, our squirrel, does indeed like peanuts although it took him 11 days to find them. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were very social, they made some duck friends and they all slept in the puddles outside.

We learned the Hand Jive – Bob Bop Clap Clap Side to Side. Everyone is very coordinated except for me. I made Bananas Foster French Toast with whipped cream. It was delicious! Now we are all back where we are more accustomed to being. It feels like home. We planted some impatiens but they failed to come up. We planted basil instead. We also turned grass seed, selfies, and plastic cups into a “Chia Pet”. We continued our seasonal tree art collaboration that was inspired by a project from a few years ago.

Seasonal Tree

Until next time,

Ms. Micha

TGI Fun Day!

Most people think Memorial Day weekend is the “unofficial” beginning of summer – little do they know; the OFFICIAL unofficial beginning of summer is Fun Day Friday at Miss Amy’s!

Fun Day may have looked a little different this year – our classes and playgrounds are separated, we had to forego water play activities, but none of that was able to put a damper on our fun!

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

The morning began with a little fog, and we excitedly watched it lift as we munched on fresh strawberries from our bountiful strawberry patch. YUM! We waited with bated breath for all of our friends to arrive and busied ourselves with quite the rousing game of GIANT checkers.

Giant Checkers!

At last! All of our friends arrived and so we gathered our paints, bubbles, and games. We slathered on the sunscreen and headed for the sandbox! Some of our friends enjoyed the bowling game. They seemed to get quite the kick out of seeing who could stand the pins up the fastest and most successfully!

While other friends took advantage of the beautiful morning and gathered all their tools to create a volcano surrounded by a river.

“A” was thrilled with her watercolor squirt bottle masterpiece.

Alas, into each of our lives, a little rain must fall. So, when it did, we grabbed our games and bubbles and ran for the upstairs porch. We enjoyed some more bowling, bubble-blowing, and some Beach Boys tunes. “Surfin’ USA” was a very popular song and may have incited a little (or maybe a lot…) of dancing.

C, R, & C were sad that our neighbors couldn’t come have fun day with us so they decided it would be a nice thing to blow bubbles into the air and hope they would find their way across the fence. What thoughtful boys!

We also managed to squeeze in a very intense game of “Simon Says” [*Spoiler alert* The teacher :::ahem::: was not the victor.] These guys are pro-level! Their favorite? ‘Simon says…”be a pretzel”’.

Finally, the rain subsided and we headed for the sandbox once again to complete the construction of our volcano & river. We also put the finishing touches on our paintings.

One advantage of working with children is viewing life through their eyes. Despite all of the changes in our world and in our lives, all we saw on Fun Day was FUN!! That, and ice cream sundaes.

Miss Stephanie

THE BABY CARRIAGE 2000

Yesterday had all appearances of being an unremarkable day. It was a rainy and somewhat chilly day, so we opted to spend our morning indoors. Of course, we would rather be playing in the fresh air but we were determined to not let an indoor day dampen our spirits.

As the morning unfolded, the imaginations of our young friends began to engage in dramatic play. They discovered a couple of babies and proceeded to imitate life and the world around them in the shape of family. Almost immediately they began to collaborate by assessing what these babies needs will be. They shared their thoughts and ideas and they strategized what they would need and how they would go about caring for these babies.

Their problem solving paid off and it was decided that a baby carriage would be a good start. So “C” flexed his excellent engineering muscles and set about designing the perfect baby carriage for their new little ones. As everyone made suggestions, “C” incorporated them into the plan and had me label all the ‘important parts’. Let me tell you this carriage has all the bells and whistles. It is a two-seater with lights, a phone charger, and a drink holder. It also has music capabilities with some pre-recorded songs ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Rock A Bye Baby’. It will even include assembly instructions. After completing the specifications “C” dubbed his creation “The Baby Carriage 2000” and everyone applauded their approval.

“A” found a telephone and called in the order to ‘Amazon’. After the order was placed, she proclaimed “Maybe it will get here today!!” which made us all very excited and happy. My gears were quickly set into motion as I thought of a way to take this idea a bit further. I quickly sent Miss Jasmine downstairs to retrieve our baby carriage. When she arrived at the door with the carriage in hand our girls were so thrilled, they cheered in excitement and “C” stood with his hands on his hips nodding and smiling.

The remains of our day were spent taking turns with the carriage and taking care of our very happy babies.

Miss Stephanie

A Winter Smorgasbord!

Hopefully, the majority of the bugs, viruses, flu, colds, coughs, and all other ailments have passed. Thank you to our parents for keeping your sick children home until they are all better. Thank you for helping us with handwashing, nose-blowing, sneeze & cough catching.

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Pajama Party Day!

Our Winter season birthday party was so cozy. The children piled onto the rug downstairs and watched Daniel Tiger together. We munched on some corn pops while we lounged in our PJs. I don’t know who enjoyed being in PJs more, the staff or the children.

We began counting in Italian when we returned from Christmas break. Some of the numbers were the same or similar to Spanish so the children caught on quickly. We learned to say Good Morning “Buongiorno” and Goodbye “Arrivederci”. We focused on Italian until Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day, we prepared a huge feast featuring Marcy’s delizioso pasta! Thank you again, Marcy! Marcy sent enough for 40 hungry construction workers. She even sent plenty for our vegetarian friends. The children got straight to work making garlic parmesan cheese bread, salad, and home-made salad dressing. For dessert, Miss Amy shared her Valentine’s gift from Mr. Mike & each child enjoyed one chocolate. Mmmmmmm Gooooood!  Thank you, parents, especially Marcy, for bringing items for our Valentine’s Italian Feast!

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Be My Valentine!

Our children thoroughly enjoyed Valentine’s Day! This wasn’t traditional, decorate a bag or an old shoebox and drop-in store-bought Valentines nor exchange of artwork which in my experience, usually results in tears. This was fun, different and a good experience. We measured, smelled ingredients like balsamic vinegar, garlic, & oregano. We mixed and stirred and used new words. Fractions and volume were demonstrated. A cooking lesson exposes children to so many opportunities to learn. I’m only highlighting a few. We like to reflect on past events and the comment that struck me the most was from one of our boys; he proclaimed “It’s not Valentine’s day anymore. I was really happy with that spaghetti”! Our students have evolved so much in the past eight months in every way. It looks streamlined with the new storage system. The riddance of the old carpet and the addition of the light-colored floor makes for a lighter, brighter classroom. The new traffic pattern and layout have created a cohesive floor that allows for more meaningful play.

We have decided on Chinese numbers, hello & goodbye. If you would like to follow along at home; a simple YouTube search will be helpful – that’s how I do it. We do two or three numbers at a time and I spend a whole week on each new addition of the two-three numbers. Currently, we are learning ‘Hello’ and numbers one – three. As of now, I’m not sure which direction our Chinese counting will take us. We will be watching play urges and listening to conversations from the children to see where this might lead us.

 

We remind our parents to label every item that their child brings from home. Even if it’s a one of a kind custom item, it is 100% necessary to write their child’s name on every single article. We go outside every day unless the temperature is below 20 degrees. We go outside even if it is raining. We are so very fortunate to have our porch as a play area. So, children MUST have a coat DAILY. We DO get dirty! They’re clothes, shoes will get soiled if not with dirt, mud, and sand. It will be with paint, markers, glue, flour, or some other amazing concoction.

 

Miss Stephanie, Miss Amy, and I are currently working on individual goals for each child. We will be involving our parents with this. This is something I’ve been working toward since I started in June. While it will be casual and informal, my hope is to make each child’s experience personalized in addition to being able to track progress with data and input from teachers, aides, and parents. It’ a work in progress!

Until next time,

Ms. Micha

‘Twas The Month Before Christmas Break

‘Twas the month before Christmas break & all through the center

All the teachers were scurrying & the children a ‘twitter

The artwork was hung on the walls with great care

In hopes that the parents soon would be there

The children were drawing & painting on easels

Dancing, singing using glue and glitter

Then settling down for circle & lunch

Then off to find their cots for a short winter’s rest

While visions of Amazon Wish Lists danced in their heads

Singing about the “Lil one” that rolled out of bed

With Miss Amy in her office & Tilly in her pen

Let the end of the year festivities begin

With Christmas break in all of our sights

The Teachers all elated danced in delight

Because the journals were all dated

The weekly count down was about to start

The days they did pass just like an abacus on an advent calendar

Sometimes slowly & sometimes much faster

With cheers of joy and ruckus laughter

With clay, felt, loose parts, and a few noodles

We finished on our artwork and some very good doodles

With cotton ball snowmen

Pipe cleaner reindeer

One with a red nose

One with a crooked antler

When outside there arose such a clatter

We all sprang from our posts to see what was the matter

Away to the artier windows, we flew

Oh, don’t children forget to put on your shoes

The sun glistening down on the sandbox below

Gave the illusion of a dream-like trance to the objects below

When what to our gazing eyes did appear

What? It’s early! Ate the parents really here!?!

Minivans, SUV’s, and some compact cars

Thank our lucky stars!

The parents! The Parents! ALL OF THEM ~ They are HERE!

Come along children, come along children

Come one and come all

To the top of the sign out sheets, the names began to disappear

On their way out the door, we collected our gear

Hand in hand they crossed the crowded parking lot

Safely into the car seat was each tiny tot

Inside the center, the eerie silence was broken

With a roar & a cheer

Woo Hoo! Woo Hoo!

Christmas break is finally here!

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The staff all professional knew exactly what to do

Quickly to work we flew

Brainstorming plans for 2020

Jobs for everyone? Oh, yes, there’s plenty

We rotated materials exchanging this for that

Oh, look! New blocks, a ball, & a bat

Dolls galore & even a new hat

We put out new puppets, new paint, new glitter, new train tracks, different puzzles, new markers, & glue

Oh, Look! We found a lost shoe!

We vacuumed & cleaned up a slew

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We sprayed Lysol & bleach & every kind of cleaner

The teachers went to work with the kindest demeanor

As we stood back admiring our good work

Miss Amy so kindly and eloquently spoke

“Next year will be fun & full of surprises.

I can’t wait to see what’s beyond the horizon!

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Then with her head just slightly a’ tilt

Miss Amy said “I’m so proud of this community we’ve built.

I’m thankful for each child, each Mom, & each Dad.

Happy Christmas to all & to all a good night”!

The End

So, I got up early this morning and drank a lot of coffee. The caffeine boost inspired me to spin our version of ‘Twas The Month Before Christmas Break from the eyes of a pre-school teacher. I hope everyone gets a least a small chuckle at my festive attempt to be witty. Looking back, I have to say we have had an amazing Autumn.

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Thank you so much for your interest and enthusiasm concerning the Steampunk Fall Birthday Party. It certainly was not a cookie-cutter theme. I like to think that’s a reflection of our program here at Miss Amy’s. We are not a one size fits all generic program. It certainly is important to me to treat each child as an individual and with love, kindness, and respect.

With Love ~ Miss Micha

Messin’ & Gomin’

September was an action-filled month for sure. Filled with a lot of firsts; we received our first book orders of the year (which was very successful by the way), our first field trip to the Farmer’s Market, IMG_2052 our first ASQ-3 (Ages & Stages) assessments were conducted, and our first parent-teacher conferences took place. Yes, we were busy.IMG_1890

So, as the ‘downstairs’ (aptly named because the 2’s & 3’s classrooms are located downstairs) parents know, Ms. Micha likes to get messy! It’s always been a part of what I think is important in an Early Childhood classroom setting. I was ‘stim’ before ‘stim’ as a thing. I think about what I liked to do as a toddler.

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According to my mother, my two favorite activities were 1) messin’ 2) gomin’ followed up by prowlin’ as a close third. We will save prowlin’ for another day though. Today we are going to talk about messing and goming. If you are not familiar with these Appalachian terms, we will start with the definitions. These words can be used independently or interchangeably.

 

Goming/messing – (verb) To have a full-body experience in a substance. Typically, a common household product that’s usually sticky or equally obtrusive and/or invasive with the potential of being disturbingly messy and used not for the intended purpose, extremely difficult to clean up.

 

Examples of said substances that are prime candidates are shampoo, honey, syrup, cooking oil, lotion, hair gel, flour, sugar, baby powder, Vaseline, etc.  The list goes on and on, you get the picture. Like I said; according to my Mother, messing and goming were my two favorite things to do. My dear Mother went on to tell me a story about a two-year-old Ms. Micha, a four-year-old cousin, who liked to mess and gom as much as I did, and he was really good at it.

 

Easter eggs, grape juice, and a powder blue bedroom with wall to wall, pale blue carpet. Forty-nine years later, she could recall every detail. I think most children really enjoy the sensation of how these amazing substances feel.

 

My own love of mud mixing, sand building, silly putty, play dough, and the taboo substances like glue, oil, soap, and so on is where my inspiration to do the things that I do in your child’s classroom originated.

 

October is here and yes; it will be busy too! Classroom pictures, the Fall Birthday Party (Steampunk style), a Halloween Party, and Trick-or-Treating! Yes, you better believe we will be cutting open a pumpkin and scraping out the inside! We started our Fall Fairy Garden just this week.

 

The children are doing remarkably well of taking care of their belongings, recognizing their own names as well as classmates’ names. We finished up Japanese and we are already counting 1-10 in German plus a few phrases.

 

That’s all for now, we will update again in a few weeks.

Auf Wiedersehen,

Ms. Micha

Back to School

     During the back to school season, I always get a feeling of melancholy. Going back to school after a summer break was a big deal! My favorite part was getting new “tennis” shoes. Some people may call them athletic shoes, or sneakers. I believe it depends on where you are from as to what you call them. It’s kind of like, do you say soda, cola, or pop. Most of us born and raised in Southwest Virginia call our athletic shoe tennis shoes and it doesn’t matter that some of us have never played tennis in our lives.
So, with new white Nikes or Reeboks and my new Levi’s that were so stiff, they could walk to the bus stop by themselves. I would make my way through the halls, stopping to catch up with my friends, finding out your schedule, your teachers, your homeroom, where your friend would be and of course your crush.
My teachers left such impressions on me there are things that I do in my classroom today that is a direct result of my teachers. My wish is to impact children in ways that hopefully stimulate lots of thinking and challenges them to step outside of the box.
We have completely conquered counting aloud in Spanish and are now learning to count in Japanese! It is great fun and the children enjoy it so much. This is an activity we do during transition times throughout the day. Transitions are the toughest part of a toddler and/or preschooler’s day. Adding signals or cues make transitions so much easier for all of us, plus it is a fun thing to do.
Our fairy garden is another huge success for us!

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Miss Amy found some nice galvanized trays. We then added some aquarium gravel. Then we put in some potting soil. Next, we spread the grass seed/mulch mixture and watered it. The children found some really great decorations and ornaments to go inside.

 

They chose objects that they felt may attract friendly fairy’s and then they waited….and waited….and waited some more. At last, we saw the first signs of bright green grass. That is when Miss Amy thought a ‘grow light’ may come in handy and how right she was. WOW! What a difference a day made. We now have a beautiful lush grass so thick and long that Miss Stephanie had to give it a ‘hair-cut’.

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We have been busy, busy, busy…We even made, and ate, Purple Stew!

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If you have been following our blog then you know that this is our most favorite song and dance. You can find it on YouTube GoNoodle Purple Stew. The recipe is rather simple; It contains purple potatoes, purple carrots, purple onions, purple cabbage, a couple of beets, corned beef hash, some V-8 juice, and little bit of blue food coloring. Viola! Purple Stew! We all liked making it and most everyone enjoyed eating it.
Back to school season is a time of renewal and reflection. I’m excited to begin the process and build new relationships. I am very proud to watch a few students graduate to the older classrooms upstairs and spread their wings a little. I fondly remember a teacher that let us go for a walk and brought in exotic fruits and vegetables for us to taste. The teacher that encouraged u to make a big mess and sing a little louder. So maybe this is why I always “need” a new pair of “tennis” shoes every August and why I now like “soft distressed” jeans rather than those 505’s that could stand alone.

Until next time ~ Miss Micha

Boy’s Day Out!

So Miss Amy and I took only the children who were going to kindergarten to the Colonial Trade Fair at the Virginia Highlands Festival. Since all of my girls were out we took eight boys. The  Trade Fair camp is being held at the Fields Penn house until the end of the festival.

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Off on an adventure

It was actually perfect because they were really into the weaponry part of it. We met a nice lady named Stephanie Foster who makes cording and gave each of the boys a coin and showed us her camp, the gentleman with her showed us his outfit and hat.

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He’s not fooling us, he’s a pirate.

The boys really loved the hat and insisted he was a pirate even though he told them several times he was not.

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This colonial hat would make a great pirate hat.

We also met a couple and their daughter at the Knight Miners tent. They were from Georgia. The boys really loved their tent because they had megalodon teeth. They also enjoyed the “crystals” aka quartz they were selling and the handmade onyx knives. They had several oddities as well like animal bones, skulls, porcupine quills, and shark jaws.

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Tell Miss Amy not to touch 😀

Miss Amy picked up a shark jaw and a tooth fell out, Abe screamed: “Oh no! I hope you have money to pay for this, you break it you buy it!”. Luckily the Knight family was very understanding. Their daughter also had her own tent of wares which I thought was very cool, and it was a favorite of the boys because it had tumbled rocks, crystals, arrowheads, sea glass, marbles, and fools gold.

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What sort of magic lies in there?

They are all such magpies that they wanted to look through and touch everything! A few of the boys noticed that they also had pet rabbits with them. Jillian explained that they were pets, but their babies would be for food and they had already taught their daughter how to harvest them, and she can do it all herself. They also have a full farm back in Georgia where they harvest a lot of their own animals.

The last tent we went to sold wooden toys and various handmade items. Larry and Shelia Ard are from Indiana, and they are an older couple, but really enjoyed having the boys running around exploring everything.

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They have lots of puzzles and games too!

They showed us how to use toys like tops and yoyos. Larry even showed them how to shoot a bow and arrow.   They also let all the boys sample some maple candy. There were several bugs crawling around in the outdoor tent and they spent a long time explaining how important spiders and honey bees are to our planet which I thought was very nice.

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Thanks for the wonderful time! Till we meet again, sir.

As a going-away present, we bought several worry dolls from the Ards to get rid of those kindergarten fears.  ~ Miss Amber

Happening Twos & Threes

There are so many “new” happenings in our two & three class with the focus on new ways of doing old routines. This has the children very excited and ready to learn!

 

 

 

Here are some highlights of our current and upcoming  projects:

  • Counting 1 – 10 in Spanish! Not only Spanish, but we will also be learning to count 1 – 10 in ten different languages!
  • Our indoor fairy gardens are well underway. Wait till you see them! We can’t wait for some fairies to move in. We are hoping they are good and helpful fairies and not mischievous fairies.
  • We have three new sensory & fine motor areas. This is one area where the focus is on counting, sorting. These skills will help the children later on as they begin to flex their mathematical muscles. 

  • The children are working hard to not only get those small muscles moving but we do “big work” or “heavy work” every day. This helps the children make that mind-body connection. 

  • Everybody knows how important music, movement, & art is here at Miss Amy’s. In addition to the Music Together program, we sing and dance daily. We have learned so many new songs! Our favorite new song of the moment is Purple Stew and the children were wondering if the purple stew is real. Can stew REALLY be PURPLE? So, you guessed it, we will be making purple stew soon! 

We will keep you posted on our fairy garden, what languages we are counting in, and all the wonderful projects and collaborative things that we have going on.

Till then, to be continued ~ Miss Micha

 

Change

As with anything in life, change is inevitable.  Major changes began in the fall of 2017 for our little school.  For many years now we have had the same staff, fitting comfortably together like a well-worn puzzle.  Our days were filled with ideas and conversations that we had discussed as a collective group of early childhood educators over and over again.  Always finding something new in our old ideas.  We were comfortable, like a family.  Then the inevitable happened.  A lead teacher, dear to our hearts, moved away.  This seemed to set in motion a flurry of change that felt at the time more like a hurricane!  We also said goodbye to 2 devoted young ladies who had worked with us, aiding and substituting since they were teenagers, young ladies who had been raised by early childhood educator mothers, who taught them well.  They both moved on to pursue their own young lives.  This too was not easy.  Even though I want the best for both of them as if they were my own. The new task at hand was a daunting one, of job postings, interviews and decisions.

As the weeks progressed, it was easy to see that the replacement for our lead teacher fit nicely in with our current staff and families, bringing with her new ideas and conversations.  It took a few tries to find new young ladies to work aiding classroom teachers, young ladies who understood what we were trying to accomplish with the children.  As with most early childhood programs, I am sure this is a struggle.  We are located in a more rural area, and so we are challenged to find those who are “just right” for us.  I have found over the years that the children themselves are the best indicator as to which support staff will work out or not.  Children have a special sense when it comes to these things.

As the calendar moved forward into the fall of the year, it seemed that our lead teacher replacement was working out nicely. She fit in with our other teachers.  The children and families really had adjusted well to our new staff and the changes happening all around.   Even though things felt different, there was an air of newness and excitement in the classrooms.

I have been reflecting during the holiday break, over the changes of the past several months, giving thought to our style of teaching, emergent, a project-based approach, and have realized that since we teach our children to problem solve, to love learning, to try new things and welcome everyone who enters our school that the children did not seem troubled by the changes happening around them, and that possibly this ease with which the children approached each day, taught us to relax and accept the changes before us.  To find joy in each day, and to share that joy with our friends, classmates as well as co-workers.  So as we enter into 2018, I hope that each of you can embrace the potential that all change has to bring us new experiences and new learning.  Happy New Year!

Miss Amy