Spring 2020

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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.

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Until next time,

Ms. Micha

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

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

 

Picture This!

Happy Saturday! I just wanted to take a second to let y’all know about the new art themed picture based blog post series I’m about to start up. Each week, I take oodles of pictures of the art that your wonderful children are producing day in and day out and I wanted a way to share this outside of my normal blog posts. So, every few weeks, I’m going to update “Picture This!” with new pictures of our recent art! Don’t worry, still the same blog, just a running series of posts within and I’ll always call it “Picture This!” Excitement! Now, without further ado…

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The kids love this book, so I thought we’d find a way to incorporate it into an art activity!

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In case you’ve never read Sneezy the Snowman, he melts over and over again because he’s too cold and keeps trying to warm himself up by drinking hot chocolate, sitting in a hot tub, and standing by a fire.

Here’s a link to a reading of Sneezy the Snowman on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RiHfYElP-M

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First we painted snowmen and decorated them and then, using straws, we blew our snowmen into oblivion!

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Looks like a melted snowman to me!

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Next, we decided to take normal Play-Doh to the next level and draw on it!

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Each child got their own hunk of white Play-Doh and then took to it with markers.

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And once they’d finished drawing on it, we mixed it up with great success! Beautiful!

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Played with our Play-Doh…

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And even practiced our letters.

Our end result: Play-Doh as unique as each child’s imagination and a great future toy!

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We also tried our hand at replicating snowflakes!

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All we had to do was place tape on watercolor paper in the shape of snowflakes…

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Paint…

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And pull the tape off!

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Not one snowflake like any other!

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With Pajama Day coming up and yet another book we all love, we started making our very own red pajamas from all manner of materials, including tape, noodles, and glitter.

Here’s a link to a reading of Llama Llama Red Pajama on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD1g3P-nKWo

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After we were finished decorating our pajamas, we could move on to the next step of making sure we put heads, hands, and feet on our pajamas.

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Because headless pajama would be scary – Eek!

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Some of us wanted to use yarn for our hair and others just used pencils and crayons.

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But either way, we drew our faces, painted our hands, and stamped our feet and soon had…

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Pajama clad versions of ourselves to take home on Pajama Day!

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We also painted many a picture over the past few weeks, something we quite love to do.

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You just can’t go wrong with paint!

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Our creations included this car, which looks like it came straight out of a children’s book…

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And the Moaning Lisa!

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We circled back around to snowflakes and tried our hand at decorating them too.

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Once more, not a snowflake too similar!

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We had a few sensory tables thrown into the mix as well!

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Here, our biodegradable packing peanuts are dissolving in water…

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Being squished by children…

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and rolling around in a bucket of shredded paper “snow!”

Can you tell yet how desperately we are hoping it will snow very very soon?

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Finally, we built things, drew things, and just played and had fun!

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Wiki Sticks!

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Spaghetti and Meatballs!

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Melty Beads

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Loose Parts

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Look at that structure!

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HAPPINESS!

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It’s only a snapshot – I take at least a hundred pictures a week – but hopefully it brings you into our world of art and exploration. Until next time!

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

A Blast From the (Recent) Past

Hey y’all, it’s been a while since we last posted, but – oh buddy, let me tell you – this holiday season has been crazy! From Trick-or-Treating with all the kids at Halloween, to Thanksgiving, to our annual Christmas party, to New Years, it has been a very busy time. Just add fifty odd children, some snow, sand, freezing pipes, and general chaos and that about sums us up! But, in the best way possible. We’re getting ready and raring for a fantastic next year, but first I think we should do one final recap of some of the fun things we did last year. I’ll warn you now, it’s going to be a long one!

Reminiscence #1: Pumpkin Slime!

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Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, at the height of fall wonder, we decided it would be fun to make some pumpkin slime. All we needed was some hot water, glue, borax, and orange food coloring and we were in business. Our end result was gooey and slimy, slick, but sticky. Sometimes it stretched out and sometimes it snapped right in half. We could mold it into different shapes and watch as it melted back into a gelatinous mess. It was a great opportunity to explore a new material and tons of fun too!

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Making the “Great Wall of Slime-uh” (Hehe, get it? Great Wall of China, Slime-uh?)

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We also really enjoyed writing our names in slime before it became one giant puddle!

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And, last but not least, where would we be without a slime highway to get us from place to place!

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Reminiscence #2: Preserving Fall Leaves

If you’ve never tried to preserve some fall flora between two sheets of wax paper, I’d highly recommend it! All you have to do is find some leaves, grass, or flowers, and gently iron them between wax paper. Depending on what you choose to preserve and what you want it to look like, you could create a great little picture like the one below. Alistair was very careful in his placement of his leaves and grass so that he could create a wonderful scene of two leaf people. I personally think they are Mom and Dad leaves and are walking hand in hand with their leaf baby. He even gave them smiling faces! Too cute!

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Reminiscence #3: Magnifying Glass Fun

Remember when you were a kid and you first discovered the strange and mystifying magnifying glass? Of course you spent the next hour running around your house or school, magnifying everything humanly possible. But, no matter what you found and made big, nothing ever compared to making your own face strange and distorted. Gigantic eyes – all the better to see you with, and a huge mouth – all the better to eat… er, smile at you with!

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Reminiscence #4: Construction Zone Ahead

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Here at Miss Amy’s, we really really like to build things. In the above picture, Astrid decided to craft Santa’s sleigh and if she’d had the time to build eight reindeer and hook them up to the sleigh, she’d have done that too. And, by golly, if she could have put in an “electronic chip,” she’d have been well on her way to making it fly “like a drone.” Isn’t imagination wonderful?!

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A few other things that have been built lately include Astrid’s skyscraper (above), two lovely “tornado” proof shelters for when Hurricane Kt hit, and sand castles, just for the joy of experiencing what packed wet sand can be sculpted into.

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Speaking of packed wet sand, some of the children decided to test their engineering skills and wanted to build sand bridges. They started out trying to use the wet stand to build bridges above ground, above a river they’d dug out, but it wasn’t working. The sand kept falling off and breaking. It just wasn’t sturdy enough. That’s when they got the idea to try building bridges by digging tunnels. When the sand is dry, tunneling never works, but this time, they were able to make a complex system of tunnels or bridges. They even tried digging a tunnel so big that they could crawl through it!

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Reminiscence #5: Wearable Creations

When I was a kid, I remember spending endless hours pretending to be different animals. Sometimes I was a bird sitting on a nest of pine needles I’d scraped together around myself and sometimes I was a big cat, stalking through grass and hunting my prey. But, no matter what I was doing, I imagined myself transformed into that creature. At the time, it was the best I had. I didn’t have access to tons of paper and glue, scissors, tape, and string. I only had my own imagination. The children here though, have far more. Instead of just imagining they are a shark swimming through the water, they can make it real.

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I don’t know about you, but that’s one terrifying shark to me!

Some of the older kids like to make other things they can wear too. The other day Astrid made a wonderful paper and string headband that I wore almost the entire day, as well as a funny mesh hat. And not long after that, Raleigh decided he’d lost on eye in battle and needed to make a spectacle so he could see.

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Reminiscence #6: “Shadows”

Oh my goodness, since the kids discovered this, it has been one of the most exciting and fun things to do on a bright sunny morning. When the sunlight shines in through the windows, the children with grab anything that reflects light and cast “shadows,” as they call them, around the room. Then the other children will chase the shadows and try to catch them as the shadow-throwers move them erratically. Sometimes I feel like a disco ball has just dropped from the ceiling with the number of little light balls that are flying around the room!

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Reminiscence #7: Miscellaneous Moments

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We also decorated gingerbread cookies. Tasty!

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And saw the creation of this amazing little frog!

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We were the best of friends…

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And we were thankful for every minute!

Thank you all for such a great year! I had a blast and I’m looking forward to making this coming year even better. There is truly, never a dull moment here, even when all we are doing is playing in the sandbox. We are always learning and growing, learning about physics, chemistry, biology, language, love, the works! And always growing into our best selves. This is the place to be. We love it here and we hope you do to. Happy New Year everyone!

~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher & Atelierista (Art Teacher)

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

Tis the season of growth.

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                    Happy Arbor Day!
Here at Miss Amy’s we have planted several saplings. Pictured, you can see from left to right; Washington Hawthorn, American Redbud and Sargent Crabapple. We made wire cages for our young trees to protect them a little until they are big enough to fight for themselves, so to speak.

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We have also planted a garden; carrots, onions, Swiss Chard, beets, peas, potatoes and spinach. Next month we will plant even more crops and add an other garden. As you can see, there is a path right through the middle of the vegetable garden for easy access by all. The children are enjoying this new adventure and are eager to help.

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Here is a close up of some of our seedlings. From left to right; cauliflower, broccoli and kale.

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We also have a strawberry patch and a black currant bush which are both in bloom at the moment.

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On our porch, a Robin has decided to nest and she is now lying on her eggs. We are all looking forward to seeing the little chicks in the not too distant future. She may be a little surprised at the noise level in the coming weeks though. When she built her nest the weather was a lot cooler than it is now… We will all do our very best not to disturb her or her chicks.

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Speaking of nests and birds… We have our very own pet chicken! Her name is Minerva Louise. We have raised her since she was just a few days old, which is now several years ago. Minerva Louise has been very busy these last couple of months, laying about one egg every single day.

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Plants and birds are not the only things that have been busy growing here at Miss Amy’s. Several of our children have been asking to be measured to make sure that they are actually getting taller. Some children check their height several times a day, just to be on the safe side. One girl wanted me to measure her with the yard stick and we concluded that yes, she was in fact taller than the yard stick itself, and she would never be smaller than it ever again! She was not quite convinced so she came back several times to compare herself next to it. To her great relief she had not shrunk one little bit! We talk about growing taller and growing bigger a lot, as you can probably imagine. I tell the children that they all grow a little bit taller every day. This is very exciting to young children. The older kids are not quite so sure about that, so I like to add that they may only grow a very small bit every day, so that they may not notice it. This reassures most of them. Many times I have heard that “You are growing taller too, Miss Maria!” I try to explain that you will eventually stop growing, when you have reached the hight you are supposed to be, and after that if you keep growing it is just your waistline that grows a little wider but that is usually something we adults do not really like so much…

Let’s hope that we never stop growing, socially and emotionally and that we learn something new every day, for as long as we shall live!

Have a great weekend and plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day!

– Miss Maria

Our morning of “Miss Janet Day”

As I came into work on Wednesday morning I was greeted by a few of my friends with big hugs and big “Hello’s ” and that will most definitely make my morning great. Once I got all settled in and ready for my morning to start my friend Elianna ask me if I knew what day it was.  I ask her what it was and she yelled ” Miss Janet Day ” (I was not expecting that reply) and it was Miss Janet Day.   Miss Janet teaches our Music Together class on Wednesday’s, music is one of Elianna’s favorite classes.  We had fun singing, dancing and playing various types of instruments. We finished up with music and then headed outside to enjoy the beautiful sunny Spring morning!

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A few of the girls took turns shooting hoops and they did a great job of it.  They actually made several baskets,  there were times that the ball went other places  instead of in the hoops, like on top of their heads, but they had a blast anyway.

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After our outside time we came back in for circle time. First some of the boys and girls sat around the table and looked at books.

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Then when Miss Maria was ready for our circle time we gathered all of our classes together to sit on the rug. We start with our ” Days of the week ” song.

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When we figure out what day of the week it is Miss Maria will pick someone to change the day on the calendar.

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Then we all count to see what the date is.

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She has another child add the number on the calendar.  They all want it to be their turn to change the calendar and most do fine when they don’t get picked but of course there are a few that will be upset if they aren’t picked.  The changing of the calendar is one of their most favorite things to do and they will sometimes take turns being the “teacher” and do the calendar with a few of their friends.
We had a few mintues left before lunch so Miss Maria read a couple of books to them.

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Then off to wash our hands and enjoy our lunches!!

Miss Susie

Miss Maria’s Color Matching Game.

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This is what my color matching game looks like. There are 11 different colors;
Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green, Purple, Brown, Pink, Black, White and Gray.

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If you would like to make this game yourself, this is what you will need;

11 plastic containers
11 screws
11 washers
33 color labels; one for each end of the container and one for the bottom of the container, to go on the inside. Easy visibility of all the 11 different colors will help the children to identify what color goes where.
11 keys
11 key rings with corresponding colors.
1 plank of wood. The size of woood will depend on what size containers you chose. I wanted the containers to be attached to something so that they would not get lost or spread out across the room. Miss Amy helped me with this, and she was the one who suggested the wood.

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How to play the game;

Each child picks what color they like, or you could gently suggest a color that they need to work on.

The child carries the key with the color key ring with them while you send them off on a color treasure hunt! As they look for objects to collect, they can compare the items they find with the color of the key chain that they are carrying.

Once they have found an object of the same color as their key chain, they take it back to the corresponding container and put the item inside.

The child can repeat this step as many times as he or she likes. The child may want to switch out their key for one with a different color. They may want to work in pairs or a small groups.

You could make this a seasonal game; For Easter you could let the children look for colored eggs, chicks or lambs!

You can let the children look for items around the room or keep items in a large container for them to look through, and make it a color sorting game.

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We had a good trial run this morning. I would suggest that you tell the children to collect one item at a time, and bring that item back to the container before they look for the next item. I didn’t inform the children that the item had to fit inside the container,  so during our trial run some children found some rather large items that did not fit. We discussed the color of the large item they had found to see if it was the right color before it was put back where it was found again. Some children found things that were much too large, to heavy to move or simply not portable. We compared these items to the color keys too. There are many ways to play. Perhaps you can find a different way to play, and if you do, please let us know so that we can try it your way too!

Wishing you all a great weekend!

– Miss Maria