This and that…

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Here at Miss Amy’s we play with play-doh almost every day. Popular things to make are of course snakes and worms. We have also been making letters and numbers, pizza and cookies.
Pictured are, from top left to right, pizza, a mountain cake and a compass showing “west and north”, according to its creator. The girl who made the pizza told me that I could not eat her play-doh pizza for real. “It doesn’t taste good. It may give you a belly ache. It may even make you go crazy!” These were great advice that I paid close attention to.

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These are photos showing the Hobgoblin’s castle.

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Blowing bubbles is always fun. Some children become extremely excited!

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In the mulch under our Red Bud tree, we have a fairy house that the children are free to play with any way they chose. On this particular day, it was filled with wooden discs that still has the bark attached to them. The children were having a fire and we’re roasting things over it using sticks.

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One girl carefully arranged a whole basket full of toy animals. She told me that she was feeding them bugs so that they would not go hungry. When she was done, she said that she had made a zoo.

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A girl dressed in a mermaid costume were building a “multi color castle”, those were her exact words. An other child wanted to help her build the castle so I tried to be encouraging, suggesting that some help would be nice. The mermaid clad girl told me that this would not be possible. The castle was “poison” and she was “poison”, therefore only she could touch the castle…

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A river made of wooden blocks!

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A touch wooden castle with a staircase!

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A traffic jam?!

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One of a kind: our one and only spinach plant, our only black currant and one wasp.

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Flowers growing in our yard!

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

– Miss Maria

The Rain Finally Came!

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After having watched the clouds in the sky for many weeks now and only dreaming of rain, it finally did rain! We have had two big rains this week and our vegetable garden sends its thanks!

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Look at how well our vegetables are growing in our garden!
We have carrots, which very reluctantly showed themselves at first but they have steadily kept growing and they really perked up after the rains.
The Swiss chard, the beets and the broccoli are all looking well as are our sugar snap peas. Our cauliflower is being eaten by caterpillars! Something will have to be done about this. We will probably have to resort to some kind of non toxic homemade bug spray. We are 100% organic in our garden!

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Our garden is flowering! Tomato, potato and pepper flowers!

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What to do on a rainy day? Go outside and make rainy-day-art! It was barely sprinkling so we decided to make art outside this morning. We used clothespins to attach large pieces of paper to our fence. The children used spray bottles filled with paint to make their art. At first the pictures looked a lot like clouds with rain falling from them. The children enjoyed watching the paint mix with other colors and drip off the paper.

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A lot of caring is going on here at Miss Amy’s Child Care. The teachers care for the children and the children care for there teachers. The children care for eachother, for our hen Minerva Louise and for our two remaining goldfish. We care for our vegetables and for our school, for our toys and for ourselves. There is an aweful lot of caring going on here, and that is how it should be.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

– Miss Maria

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

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

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

We Are Family.

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All week I have been thinking about what my blog entry this week would be about. I tried to think of a unique angle or an interesting subject, and until yesterday, Thursday, I still had no idea what the subject was going to be…

All week I watched and took part in the childrens’ trials and triumphs.

Growing up is hard work!

There is so much to discover and so much to learn. There are so many complicated rules to follow and just when they think that they know them all there is a new one to learn! There is so much that the children want to try to do by themselves and so many skills not yet mastered…

Frustration, anger, fear and sadness, as well as the thrill of discovery, of mastery and of growth. These are all emotions bubbling up inside a preschoolers mind.

I watched children solving problems together, completely on their own and children taking turns and helping eachother. I watched as a 4-year-old boy helped his 2-year-old friend put her shoes on for her, without any prompting from a teacher!

There is so much love!!💟

I have dried tears, received hugs and high fives and celebrated someone’s mile stone. I have tried to understand exactly what was bothering a child who was experiencing a huge temper tantrum (as were the rest of us…).

As the week progressed, I tried to spend face time with each and every child. I really tried to pay attention, to really listen and try to understand what is happening to these young children on their journey, passing through here at Miss Amy’s.

The other day, I forgot that the group of 3,5-year-old girls that I was laughing with were in fact not my peers but children in my care (oh how lucky I am!).

Children pay so much attention to adults and to eachother. They want to do good and they want to be helpful. Please give children ‘real’ things to help with. They know if you make up a task just for the sake of finding them something to do!

The first children I had in preschool, many years ago when I was a teacher’s aide, will be finishing their first year of college next month! I think of these, my former students and wonder what they are doing now.

Being a preschool teacher to me is an ongoing job that does not end at the end of my work day or when they graduate from my class! We are family, of sorts, and families are forever.

– Miss Maria.

Take Flight 

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it. – Peter Pan

Every year around this time my class becomes obsessed with flight. They talk about it, they try to do it, they draw it. Their entire day seems to become centered around flight.  This year is no different. A lot of my kids this year are more technical, scientific, and hands on as opposed to my class last year that dreamed of fairies and caring for birds.  

Lego planes are quite popular with boys and girls! 

 

 Our recycled art is taking off too! They have found ways to use old cardboard and marker lids to create planes and space satilights. 

 

  

  The block center is being used to make gigantic satelights that are ready for orbit.   

Even the fish aren’t exempt… 

 

“Miss Amber the fish aren’t swimming they are flying through the water!”

-Miss Amber