The Last Week of May.

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We have had an other death in the preschool family. This time it was our catfish that died. We dug a hole, picked flowers and said our farewells. The children wanted to know why the fish had died and I explained that it was probably because it was very old. We talked about life and death for a while and some of the children concluded that it wasn’t just fish that died when they were very old, people did too.

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We had our second harvest from our vegetable garden. This time we harvested radishes and lettuce. I had excellent help picking the produce.

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We love blowing bubbles! It is very interesting to watch the children as they develop their bubble-blowing-technique, from sucking on the bubble wand when the children are very young, to skillfully blowing several bubbles at one time as they grow older and more skilled. Sometimes, two bubbles stick together and fly off hand-in-hand! Other times, the children manage to catch bubbles with their wand, study them for a while before re-launching it. Some children have even figured out how to insert a finger into the bubble without breaking it. Science is at work here, every day!

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Some children turned a puppet theater into a library! They selected several books from our outdoor library to offer to their prospective patrons. I saw money changing hands a time or two. Late fees perhaps?

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I laminated several pieces of construction paper of different colors. The children started off by comparing the different colors to different objects around our classroom. Before long though, the game had changed and now two girls had lined up the sheets of paper on the floor, like a hopscotch game of sorts. I watched the girls as they kept re arranging the pieces, putting some colors next to a certain other color, carefully planning every step. I watched the girls stepping back from the game to get a better view, changing things around until they were completely satisfied.
We got some puppets out to play with, and most children happily tried them out. Some of the youngest children were a little wary of the puppets at first: they somehow came alive once you had your hand inside them! I noticed that the puppets soon were hugging other puppets!💟 The two puppets pictured, a baby elephant and a baby koala, quickly became good friends. They soon befriended a xylophone alligator, (a child who was not all that into puppets). The xylophone alligator played the ABC song and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. The baby elephant and the baby koala both sang!

The end of May is here and June is just around the corner…

Until next time!

– Miss Maria

Math is everywhere!

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Some of the most obvious math games at any preschool or daycare have numbers on them. Pegboards is are good examples. The pieces match depending on how many holes the piece has or how long the peg is and if the colors match. The number of pieces also match the corresponding number printed on the pegboard.

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Here we have five cards depicting ducks in pleasant settings,  from one duck to five ducks. Each card has a rhyming verse on it.

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On the back of each card I wrote the corresponding numeral, for number recognition. I added dots for counting as a way for the child to double check that they were right about the numeral, or simply for counting, for the child who does not yet know his or her numerals.

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Number lines are also interesting, even for quite young children. Who doesn’t want to know if they grew a little taller since yesterday? Rulers are also good tools to measure how tall or how long something is. We let our children measure away! Blocks are also great for counting, and building with. How tall can we make it before it topples over? Let’s ask Miss Jess for some help. Look, the tower is taller than Miss Jess!

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Refrigerator magnets are good for sequencing. Toy animals work well for grouping as do pretend fruit and vegetables, that you can also sort according to color.

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Stacking cups are great for sequencing; small to large or vice versa. They also work very well for comparing different volumes.  Stacking cups are also great for serving pretend food in!

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Memory games are of course great tools for improving memory skills and concentration. If two cards are the same, you have a match. Memory games match in different other ways too. The back of all of the cards of a memory game are all the same. They match. This is especially useful when several memory games have been mixed up and it is time to sort them out.

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A shape sorting bucket is a great way for children to match a block to a hole of the same shape. It is also good for practicing patience and perseverance. When all else fails, the child can open the top of the bucket to deposit the blocks this way, and try again an other day.

You can count the petals on a flower too!

The children help to collect the eggs that our clever hen Minerva Louise lays. After the eggs are washed, we write the date the egg was collected on the egg, and then the children count the eggs.

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Today we harvested some of our vegetable crop, for the very first time this season, that we have been caring for in our vegetable garden. We picked lettuce, kale and radishes. All the children who have helped to tend our garden get to take some of our vegetables home with them, to share with their families.  Of course we counted all of our vegetables!

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This owl is both a color matching game and an engineering toy of sorts. The toothed wheels detach, revealing a matching color underneath. When all the wheels are connected you can make them turn all at once, just by turning any of the wheels in either direction.

Math really is everywhere!

You do not need any fancy toys; your fingers will do just fine when counting! You can count friends, ants on the sidewalk or clouds in the sky!

You can practice volume by measuring how much water will fit in the watering can before it overflows, or while filling up a bucket with sand to make a pie!

We can compare who has the biggest hands or feet when using finger (toe) paints and making hand prints or foot prints.Who has the longest hair, Rapunzel  or Sleeping Beauty

Children learn by doing, by hearing and by seeing, over and over again .

Wishing you all a great weekend!

– Miss Maria

A farewell to our butterflies.

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Our caterpillars turned into butterflies over the weekend.

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On Monday morning we gathered all the children at Miss Amy’s on our lawn, and let our butterflies go. Butterflies can fly very fast!

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This is what the empty chrysalises look like. The little black blobs are the exuvia,  which contains the head capsule from when the butterflies were caterpillars.

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Our garden is growing very well. We are growing kale, lettuce, potatoes, Swiss chard, carrots, radishes, peas, cauliflower and beets.

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The children are doing a good job, helping to water our garden and to monitor our plants’ progress.

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Today, Friday, we had our annual Field Day. We played games and had a picnic lunch with ice cream cones for dessert.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

– Miss Maria

Life and death at preschool.

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Butterfly update: We moved our five chrysalises to a larger container, with netting on the sides and clear plastic on the top and bottom and with a zippered top. As we were watching the chrysalises one day they started to wiggle vigorously! This is normal. It is a way to scare off predetors.
The very first of five chrysalises hatched and our first Painted Lady butterfly was born! This all happened yesterday, while no one was looking. You can see the hatched chrysalis in the photo in the top left hand corner. The little dark blob that you can see, is the exuvia  that contains the head capsule from the caterpillar stage. We are hoping that the remaining four chrysalises will wait until Monday to hatch so that we can witness this amazing event. In the bottom photo you can see an orange-red liquid on the side of the mesh, it’s called meconium. It is not blood but the waste product of the chrysalis.

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Our very first Painted Lady butterfly, or Vanessa cardui, as it is also known is beautiful, don’t you think? If you want to find out more about the Painted Lady butterfly, check out this website.

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We had one birth this past week, but also one death. One of our goldfish died and was buried on Monday.

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First we dug a hole next to our rabbit Flopsy, who died several years ago. Each child said good bye to our pet fish and put a flower on top of him/her that they had selected and picked themselves. The children took their time selecting their flowers, and decided to pick some for their Moms and their Grandmas at the same time!

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Our hen, Minerva Louise has been very busy laying eggs every day for several weeks now.

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The children enjoy feeding Minerva Louise special treats, as a thank you for the eggs she lays.

Wishing everyone a happy weekend!

Photo credit goes to Miss Susie, for taking the photos that I am in myself.

– Miss Maria

Composting 101

We are so very excited to start our new composting project this week. As we move forward with our vision of a sustainable school, we have been working hard on our garden, setting up compost bins outside, and talking with the children about all that is involved. They have made posters about composting (green versus brown) and we’ve talked about what food waste is and what food in our lunches is compostable.

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Composting is giving us great learning experiences and conversations already: Nutrition (if it isn’t good for our compost, i.e. processed foods and artificial foods, is it good for our bodies?), Math (measuring and weighing our food waste each day), Science (soil composition and decomposition of organic matter), and more and more each day as the children ponder all sorts of questions.

The children were able to set aside their food scraps yesterday and weigh them.  IMG_1021

The food scrap total was 2.2 pounds from 17 lunches. Being able to put it all in a bowl only made the things that went into the trash even more evident. Next, how do we reduce even more waste? Some ideas we talked about included reducing packaged foods, eliminating plastic utensils and more. The kids have proven that being “sustainable” is a way of being mindful of our habits and of our impact on the natural world….the world we depend on to feed, nourish, and nurture us.  AND sustainability can be a whole lot of fun.

–Miss Lori

Butterflies will soon be fluttering by…

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We have five visitors here at Miss Amy’s: Painted Ladies or as they are also known, Vanessa cardui.
They started out as tiny green eggs from which hatched tiny caterpillars.
The tiny caterpillars grew fast. Soon they suspended themselves from their last prolegs and started the molting process with can last as long as 24 hours. It is pretty hard to see it in my photo, but the chrysalis or pupa
are a brown or tan color with beautiful gold specks. When the chrysalis are almost finished the caterpillars’ heads capsule falls off! This is completely normal. After about 10 days the Vanessa cardui emerges. At the time of writing this the butterflies had not yet emerged. Please check back for an update next week!

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We have been talking about how butterflies start out as an egg, how they hatch into a caterpillar, how they eat (a lot, and fast!), and how they make a sleeping bag, of sorts (the chrysalis or pupa) and how they change and turn into a butterfly which we will let go,so they can find nectar to feed on and meet up with their friends. We are hoping to be able to watch our Vanessa carudi emerge this coming week. Did you know that it takes about an hour for the butterflies’ wings to expand and ‘harden’ before  they can fly? The Painted Ladies live for between 10-24 days as a caterpillar.
They are one of the most widely distributed species of butterflies in the world and can be found on every continent except Antarctica and Australia.

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We have enjoyed reading Eric Carle’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
We learned a very important lesson, namely that one should stick to eating foods that are good for you, if you don’t you might get a very bad stomach ache! See for yourself! Check out what the Very Hungry Caterpillar ate on Saturday…

I will post an update on our Vanessa cardui next week.

Until next time!

– Miss Maria