Ready to Learn Preschool at Ray Elementary School

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Welcome to our preschool web blog! We have lots of information here about our classroom.   Our classroom follows a play-based philosophy, which means we understand that children learn best when they emotionally engaged in activities of their choosing. Our classroom is structured to teach children foundational skills in reading, math, science, art and music, as well as to develop social and emotional skills essential for later school success. We invite you to explore our blog and learn more about our program.

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April 13, 2015

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Percy, the Preschool Tree

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all had a fabulous spring vacation! We’re coming back in time to celebrate the “Week of the Young Child!” (that’s our kids). Preschool has some great activities planned. I hope you’ll all participate.

Monday:  Pajama day (have your child wear their pajamas)

Tuesday: Dress up like your favorite character day

Wednesday:  Planting day (no party dresses or suits, please – we’ll get them dirty!)

Thursday:  PARENT CONFERENCES – be sure to schedule a time by the sign-in sheet

Friday:  PARENT-CHILD ACTIVITIES – both morning and afternoon classes should come in the morning at 9:30; all children must be with a parent or caregiver. We’ll be turning ourselves into young authors and illustrators and creating our own books! Families will share their creation with one another at the end of the event. There will be refreshments and possibly a special visitor!

FIELD TRIP: If you haven’t sent in your field trip money for our trip to Emerald City Theater on May 14, please do so as soon as possible! We are running out of parent tickets. The cost for each child is $13.00, $7.00 for each adult. Make sure to sign the permission form.

Calendar:  There is no school on Memorial Day, May 25. There is no school for our students during our registration week, May 26-29. The last day of student attendance is June 19.

I look forward to hearing about everyone’s vacation adventures!

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March 23, 2015

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Hannah’s grandfather came to our morning class and gave the children a video presentation of southwest Native American dance in the auditorium. He also showed us pictures of paintings he did. Its was so exciting! The children were fascinated, danced along with the video and asked many great questions. Thanks, Mr. Steve for coming to visit our classroom!

 

 

 

Hi Everyone!

We’re in for another blast of cool air before spring really arrives. Please dress your child for outside play.

Announcements:

1) Spring break actually starts on Friday, April 3. This is a professional development day and there will be no school until April 13.

2) We are going on a field trip on May 14 to see “Elephant and Piggies” at the Emerald City Theater. If you haven’t turned in your money, please do so as soon as possible so we can cover the cost of the tickets which have to be purchased in advance. It costs $13.00 for each child, $7.00 for adult chaperones. We have tickets for 10 chaperones per classroom (5 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon). Adult tickets are on a first-come-first-serve basis.

3) Wednesday afternoon a team of people from Early Childhood will be at Ray School to register new students from 1-4 pm. Please let any friends know that they can come to Ray that day to sign up for next year. You do not have to sign up your child if they are already in the program.

4) There are only a few days left that our Donors Choose project will have funds matched! Please go to http://www.donorschoose.org/project/listening-center/1523374/?rf=link-siteshare-2015-03-teacher_account-teacher_2208801&challengeid=365440 to contribute to our fund for a Listening Center (cd player, wireless headphones, cabinet, books and cds). Add the word SPARK where it says “Promo or gift code” on the checkout screen.

What we’ve been doing in class:

This last week the children got to go on the Kohl Storybus! I hope they told you all about it. It was the story of the 3 Pigs. We’ve been reading 3 Pigs stories and will read more of them (there are dozens!) and compare what we’ve read. As we look at the story of the 3 Pigs, we’ll be thinking about homes and how they’re built, what we need to have in a home, how homes differ depending on the environment. We’ll also be thinking about construction and moving into 3 dimensional sculptures.

We started talking about measurement in school, mostly comparing small, medium and large sizes. We are thinking about different words we use to describe a size as well as the attributes of the size (tallness, width, weight, etc.). We will be looking at units of measurement this week. Since measuring using a ruler is pretty high level for this age group, we start with non-standard units of measurement, such as unifix cubes, blocks, etc. The important thing is that we use the same unit of measurement.

In art last week we were looking at color mixing. We mixed watercolor paints and we mixed cellophane. We’ll be doing more of this this week with play dough (see play dough recipe on recipes page of the blog).

In literacy we’ve been working on rhyming and identifying beginning letter sounds. We’ll be continuing on with this as we learn more letter sounds. If your child is not catching on to the alphabet or letter sounds, don’t worry. Reading is a developmental process and children learn at different rates. By the time they are in 3rd or 4th grade, it all evens out. It is important to “keep it real,” and by that I mean, keep reading cool stories to your child, point out letters in your child’s name and maybe in other places where you see the same letters, and don’t stress yourselves or your child out. Keep giving them experiences and the vocabulary to go with those experiences. For example, invite your child to help in the kitchen to make a favorite recipe. Read the recipe to your child, show them the ingredients and the measuring cups, use real words for what you’re doing like “Combine the ingredients with a spatula.” These are the kinds of things that will help your child become strong readers.

I look forward to seeing you all this week!

 

Jane Averill

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March 15, 2015

Hi Everyone!

 Wow! What amazing weather we’re having! It feels so great after all that cold! I hope you all got a chance to go outside and find signs of spring – birds singing, crocuses in bloom, daffodils starting, and buds on the trees. We’ll be looking for signs of spring this week when we go outside.

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Announcements:

1) We are going on a field trip to see the Emerald City Theatre Company’s production of “Elephant and Piggie’s We Are In a Play,” based on Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie book series. The play is Thursday, May 14. We’ll be meeting at Ray at 9:00 and we’ll be going by bus to the Apollo Theater on Lincoln Ave. The cost of tickets and bus is $13.00 per child. Please get the money in as soon as possible because we have to send in the deposit this week. We’ve ordered 10 parent tickets per classroom – 5 for the morning and 5 for the afternoon or however it works out. Parent tickets are $7.00 (you don’t have to pay for the bus). We’ll be distributing them on a first come, first serve basis. There should be a trip form in your mail folder.

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2) I will not be in school this Monday and this Friday. There will be a substitute. On Friday, the Kohl Storybus will be coming to Ray with its current story, “The Three Little Pigs.” We’ll be reading Three Pig stories during the week and next week. Can you think of variations of this great story? We have the 3 Little Dassies (Australian animal), The 3 Little Fish and the Big, Bad, Shark, The Three Horrid Little Pigs, The Three Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf, and we may have the Three Little Ninja Pigs though I’m not sure.

3) I am starting a new Donor’s Choose project to get a listening center for our classroom. This would include a cd player, a wireless headset system, and some books/cds as well as a small shelf to put them on. The purpose of this is so children can listen to stories (or music) while they look at the books being read. This is so valuable for children who are working on building their vocabulary, and particularly for children learning English. It also helps students feel comfortable with their favorite books before they are reading or as they are just learning. I’ll let you know when the project has been approved and send you the information. Do you have relatives or friends looking for a way to contribute to your child’s classroom? This is a great way!

4) Please make sure you have spring vacation marked on your calendar – April 6-10 school will be closed! Please note that election day is April 7 in case you need to make plans to vote early.

 

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Making shadows and silhouettes

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Parents are welcome to stay and read to their child!

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Making dumplings for Lunar New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE’VE BEEN DOING IN SCHOOL

Light: We’ve been finishing our work with light in the classroom. The children have been learning about things that are transparent (you can see through it), translucent (light passes through but you can’t see through it, like waxed paper), and opaque (no light passes through). We’ve been learning about silhouettes and shadows, how colors work with light, and how light reflects off things that are both shiny and smooth. We also started learning about color mixing. Did you know that purple comes from mixing magenta and turquoise (or cyan), not from red and blue? And orange comes from magenta and yellow. Of course, turquoise/cyan and yellow make green. We’ll be experimenting more with color mixing in the next few weeks.

We’ll be moving more to light coming from the sun now that we can go outside again.

Measurement: We’ve been learning about small, medium and large in so many ways. Of course, one of our favorite stories, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, is all about small, medium and large. We’ve been learning through some of our stories that what is large to one person may be small to someone else. We compared the length of our feet with partners, and we’ll be doing more comparisons, especially comparing Leprechauns and giants like Abiyoyo.

We’ll be learning about units of measurement. The important thing about units of measurement is that when you measure something, the unit you decide to use has to be the same for everything you are measuring. You can’t measure the length of a table by using different sized blocks, though you can use blocks to measure if they are all the same.We’ll be exploring what it means to be “just right” and other activities.

About Books: We have been learning a lot about how books work. We have learned they have covers with the author’s name and title on it, and title pages. We’ve learned that pages are numbered, that they are held together at the spine. We’ve been learning the difference between fiction and non-fiction books. We’ve read books by the same author (Jan Brett, Mo Willems, Dr. Seuss) and we’ve read books that have similar stories (The Gingerbread Man and The Runaway Rice Cake). We will be working up to making our own books and having that be a regular activity at the Writing Center. There is also a great book making app on our ipads. Stay tuned …

The children are learning to read each others’ names, as well as identify the letters of their own names. They are writing their names each day on the sign-in cards. We will continue learning more about writing, invented spelling, and how to share ideas through writing over the next weeks.

THANK YOU

Thank you to JunYu’s mom, for making dumplings with us for the Lunar New Year and for showing us how to write Chinese characters. Thank you to Heeseong’s dad for the Korean labels we have around the room. Thank you to Izzy’s mom and to Qur’an’s mom for taking care of library every Wednesday. (REMEMBER TO BRING BACK YOUR LIBRARY BOOK IN THE CANVAS BAG AND LEAVE IT IN THE BAG, IN THE BOX ON THE CUBBY). Thank you to all of you who helped cut up the silhouettes for us. Thank you to the parents who helped out on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Thank you for the donations of the glue sticks, paper, etc. Did I miss you? Let me know

What’s coming…

Planting, gardening, birds and bird songs, Eric Carle, Hannah’s Grandpa’s art and celebration of southwest Indians, and much more. Let us know.

Happy Spring!!!

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March 1, 2015

Hi Everyone!

It’s March! So spring is near!! How many signs of spring can you and your child find together? Look for birds nests in the trees (before the leaves come back), birds singing as they call to their mates and mark their territories, buds on shrubs and trees, early bulbs (snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, etc.). Are you noticing the days getting longer? How can you help your child discover this? I used to watch the sun set next to a building with my children and point out how it changed day to day. We will be looking for signs of spring at school, too, especially as it warms up enough for us to go outside!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 CANVAS BAGS ARE IN!

The children have been given a canvas bag with green handles (school color) and they have decorated them. They are now ready to transport library books back and forth. We will be sending them home on Monday with their snowmen in them (so the snowmen can get home safely). PLEASE BRING THEM BACK ON WEDNESDAY WITH YOUR CHILD’S LIBRARY BOOK! Put the bag with the book inside into the library box by the cubby. Our library volunteers will return the books and check them in. If you can’t find your child’s library book, please see me and we can make an arrangement. It is so exciting for your child to take home a book from school, but they need your help to keep track and take care of it.

WISH LIST

–Glue Sticks – we have been doing so many cut-outs that we’re running out of glue sticks!

–House stuff – we need real stuff to put in our house! Turkey baster, tongs, address book, baby stuff (bottle, wash cloths, towels, blankets, utensils, other?)

–LED light string (white preferably) to hang inside under the loft – we need it to have an accessible on/off switch

SHADOWS:

We have really had a great time with our shadows. Of course it will continue outside when the blacktop is dry and we can see our own shadows! The children have been having puppet shows, with our own puppets and with the Chinese zodiac shadow puppets. We’ve been coloring transparent sheets and seeing them on the overhead projector. We’ve been learning about what is transparent and what is opaque.

There is so much more to learn and play with! Our next step is to understand more about color. The morning class has a head start because, thanks to morning sun and a crystal in the window, we get rainbows every sunny day!

This week we’ll be working on shadow portraits.

3 LITTLE PIGS:

We are going to revisit our friends, the 3 Pigs. To make this study really special, we’re going to work on what the 3 pigs do best – building! Look for lots of fun building projects, and we’ll be asking for your help. First off, we could use some help from a real builder. If you know about construction, brick-laying, carpentry, have access to any materials, please let me know.

The children have already read many of the 3 pigs books but we’ll be revisiting them and finding out which ones we like the best.

Finally, we’ll be getting a visit from the Kohl StoryBus on March 20. The Storybus has been outfitted with the 3 Pigs story on the inside so we’ll have a great time playing in the bus and exploring different aspects of the 3 Pigs story.

YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST TEACHER

Measuring: Young children can learn to measure even if they don’t really know how to count. If they understand some basic concepts about measurement, it will help them as they get older and learn more complicated measurement concepts. Here are some of the big ideas around measurement:

All measurement is comparison. One thing is bigger than another, or smaller, or shorter, or lighter, or heavier, etc. While later skills will teach children how much bigger or smaller, for now, we are looking at comparisons. We need to help children know more comparison words than “bigger” or “smaller.” What kind of bigger? Heavier, taller, wider, thicker? This is a challenge to us adults to come up with the varied language children need to describe the world around them.

–When we think about measurement, we are thinking about the attributes of something. Size, color, weight, depth, density, speed, etc. As children are able to separate out different attributes of an object, they learn they can measure and compare the attributes of different objects.

All measurement is approximate. Even the most exact measurements in a laboratory is really an approximation of the size. So we learn that it’s ok to estimate how much bigger something is. If we are using a tape measure, we can say, “a little over 6 inches” or if we are using our hands as a measuring unit we can say “a little less than 4 hands.”

–Units of measurement are repeated, and they must be the same in order for the measurement to be fair and as close to right as possible. The unit might be a hand, but it’s got to be the same hand, not a bigger one with a smaller one. You can measure with a foot, a block, a cube, a book, as long as you are measuring with the same unit.

We will be working on these concepts in math. I hope you’ll be doing it at home, too.

Happy Spring! (almost)

Jane

 

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February 16, 2015

Hi Everyone! I hope you’re enjoying this three day weekend with your children.

First of all, welcome Aisha, Ahmad’s new baby sister! She was born last week, healthy and happy!

We have an exciting week planned. This Thursday is the Lunar New Year, celebrated by much of East Asia and many in the United States. We would like to do our part in preschool. If your family celebrates the Lunar New Year and you would like to help us with our celebration, please let Ms. Jane know as soon as possible. We’ll try and build in as many family traditions as we can. Ray School is planning a school-wide celebration as well.

Lunar New Year – the Year of the Ram

To start, we have a story book that explains the story of the animals of the zodiac called “What the Rat Told Me.” Every year this book catches the imagination of the children in our classroom. Since we are also exploring shadows with our overhead projector, I thought it would be fun to make some shadow puppets of the animals. I have printed out pictures but now I need help transferring them to black cardstock and cutting them out. If you would like to help with this project and have time to do it this week, please let me know and I’ll get you the materials. We need it done by Wednesday so we’ll have time to play with them.

Another Lunar New Year favorite is the story of “The Runaway Rice Cake,” which as you can imagine, is similar to the story of the “Gingerbread Man” which the children read earlier this year. If you can bring in some rice cakes this Thursday that would be a wonderful addition to our celebration.

Other things we have done to celebrate over the years: one year a Korean family dressed their children in tradition Korean outfits. One year a Chinese father brought in pen and ink to help our students make some Chinese characters. One year some families made Chinese dumplings with the students. Do you have other ideas? Let me know.

YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST TEACHER

Math Games for Home

Some of you came to our parent-child activity last week and learned about some math activities you can do at home with your children. There are so many! It just takes a little imagination and understanding of what math is. It doesn’t have to be that scary thing that comes in a giant indecipherable textbook. For young children, we can break it down into some simple ideas.

Numbers: there are numbers all around us. Our phones, our addresses, the sizes of our clothes, recipes we follow when making food. Help your child see the numbers around them and talk about what they mean.

You may have noticed that I do not have a traditional calendar on the wall. The reason for this is that time is an abstract idea to children and when they are just learning that numbers represent quantities, calendars can be very confusing. So we focus on two meanings of numbers. First, they are quantities. Our younger children have a hard time with this idea. The first step to understanding this is “One-to-one correspondence” which simply means that when we are counting things, we count each thing without leaving any out, and we count them only once. In other words, each object is given a number. Look at our number line in the classroom with the attendance cards. Each card is over one number and only one number, and we never skip any numbers.

The next big idea about counting is the idea of quantity. That is, the last number we say when we’re counting is how many there are. This may seem very easy to you but believe me, it’s a huge leap when young children get this idea. It takes a lot of practice to finally get this. Be patient with your child and keep counting with them. They’ll get it.

Once they get the idea of how to count, we can do many things with numbers. We can learn about the pattern of numbers; we can split quantities into parts and then combine them again (addition and subtraction); we can count how many of something and compare whether there are more or less than something else.

While we are learning about counting and quantities, we also learn about ordinal numbers, or how we use numbers to order things. First, second, third are ordinals. It’s just a way for us to keep things in order. We have breakfast first, lunch second, dinner third. We live on the third floor. We read stories that have three parts (beginning, middle and end). What comes first? What comes second?

Keep it simple! Stay with small numbers and play with them until your child really understands how numbers work. Do lots of “rote counting” – counting to 10, to 20, to 30. And remember, just because they can count to 50 doesn’t mean they understand what 50 means. For that we work with small numbers.

Please share with us your experiences teaching your children about math. That will help us a lot in the classroom.

WISH LIST

Labels in non-English languages (Chinese, Korean, Hungarian, Urdu, etc.) – we need them large enough to put up so the children can see them. Suggested words:  bathroom, fish, door, music, books, library, house, family, school; please be sure to put the English word on the back so Ms. Green and I will know what they are.

Volunteers to cut out animal shapes (by Wednesday)

 

 

 

 

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February 9, 2015

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed our brief foray into spring. I’ve been hearing some spring birds, mostly Song Sparrows. A really great way to help your child mark the changing seasons is to see what nature is doing, and listening to birds in spring is a great start. You can also notice how the days are getting longer, it’s still light later in the day, and the sun is higher in the sky.

Please remember to check the weather reports each day so you’ll know how to dress your child. We go outside to play if it’s above 15 degrees, including wind chill, and not raining.

REMINDERS:

BLACK HISTORY NIGHT is this Wednesday from 6-8 pm! This event is going to be lots of fun, starting with a jazz combo RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR in the school atrium! Ms. Jane’s son and former Ray student, Michael Panelas, will be performing with some of the most outstanding student jazz musicians in the city, including Isaiah Collier, who recently performed with Herbie Hancock! Since the preschoolers have been learning about jazz, this is their one opportunity to see a real jazz band so Don’t miss it!

Black History Night will also include: food, a poetry slam, a performance by the Chicago Children’s Choir, and a tour of the great projects Ray students have put together.

OPEN HOUSE FOR PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN Wednesday at 9:00-10:00 in the atrium. Here is your opportunity to find out what’s been going on in our classroom, ask questions and find out what the rest of the year looks like.

This week we’ll be learning about books, counting, writing, and how light works.

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February 1, 2015

snowmanHi Everyone!

I really hope you all got out in the snow today with your children! What great snow for making snowpeople! Sadly it is supposed to freeze tomorrow so we’ll probably be inside playing with snow in the water table.

Note: I will be out Tuesday morning for a professional development meeting. There will be a substitute.

SNOW CELEBRATION WITH PARENTS IN ROOM 413, WEDNESDAY, FEB. 4

Come join us on Wednesday to celebrate our snow study! You can stay for the first 30-45 minutes of the class and help your child look at the bulletin board, read books about snow, and have some hot chocolate! What a great way to share your child’s new school world – and take some of the pain out of winter. Morning class, 8:45-9:15; afternoon class, 1:10-1:40.

 BLACK HISTORY MONTH GALLERY WALK WITH LIVE JAZZ!

 Come join us Wednesday, February 11 at 6-8 PM to see the amazing projects students have done for Black History Month! And best of all, come see the LIVE JAZZ COMBO right outside our classroom!!! The preschoolers have been learning about jazz so this is our contribution to the event. The combo is made up of talented high school students. Help your child really understand what jazz is all about by bringing them to the event. There will be food, a poetry slam and lots and lots of fun!

 NO SCHOOL FEBRUARY 16 (Presidents’ Day)

Other announcements:

ARTSONIA – Be sure to register for ARTSONIA! You should have gotten your child’s special code in an email. If you haven’t, it will be in your mailbox. I also have a copy of each child’s code. If you sign up (it’s free), you’ll get copies of your child’s artwork online and you can make comments, send it to relatives and friends, and even get a tshirt or a mug with the artwork printed on it! But you have to sign up. See Jane if you need some help with this.

VOLUNTEERS – If you would like to be a regular volunteer in the classroom you’ll need to fill out a volunteer form and go through a background check. This is for frequent volunteers. See Jane for more information.

OUTSIDE PLAY – We will go outside to play if the temperature is 15 degrees or more with the windchill. We are outside for a shorter time when it’s colder, about 10-15 minutes, and we’ll be out longer when it’s nice out. Be sure to dress your child for outside play. This week we’ll have a lot of snow on the ground, so make sure your child has snow pants, mittens/gloves, and boots!

YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST TEACHER

(I’ll be writing this column in the newsletter to help you understand what we do in preschool and why so you can be active partners in your child’s education)

 

LANGUAGE

One of the most important things we do in preschool is build language. You can, and should, help at home. At school we read books with rich language and use big words, then explain what they mean. We also provide a variety of experiences and develop language to help explain them.

Why is language development important? Your child is at a key age for learning language. A rich vocabulary is important for learning how to read. When your child decodes a word she recognizes the meaning of, there is a better chance she will remember that word. When she is trying to get a concept from her reading, if she has a rich vocabulary it will make more sense to her. In preschool we are laying the basis for that process by building up their word knowledge.

You can do the same things at home. Here are a few things you can do to help:

1) Read to your child EVERY NIGHT! Even if it’s the same book over and over, your child is getting a lot out of it. Look on the right side of this blog under Pages for a list of my favorite authors and illustrators.  We send home books on Wednesdays (thank you parent volunteers!) and we also send home Scholastic Book catalogs for inexpensive books you can purchase. The Blackstone Library has a wonderful children’s book collection, as does 57th Street Books right across the street from Ray School!

2) Talk to your child and encourage your child to talk to you. One way to encourage your child to talk is to ask them open-ended questions. For example, if he says, “I made a picture.” You can answer with, “What kind of picture?” “What did you make a picture of?” “What did you use to make it?” “What colors did you use?” “How did you think of that?”

A closed-ended question is one with a definite answer, like “Yes” or “No,” or with a single answer. If you ask, “What color is that car?” your child will answer “red” or “blue.” But if you say, “Can you tell me about that car?” you might get any answer and it forces your child to dig a little deeper into their language.

3) Allow your child to explore the world freely. If you are in the playground and they notice bugs or worms, encourage them to explore and help them describe what they are seeing. “Look at that slithering worm! I wonder why it looks wet and slimy.” You don’t have to go to museums to have cool experiences, though in Chicago we have wonderful museums that provide an enormous opportunity for language development. But even in your home, backyard, playground, walking to school, there are so many opportunities for you to help your child notice things. Do you notice there is more day time now than there was before? Do you notice that some of the trees we see have thick bark on them? Do you notice that there are a lot of cars with snow on them? What kind of words can you use to talk about these things?

 

TALKING ABOUT ART

Most adults look at children’s artwork and say, “Wow! That’s beautiful!” wanting to be positive and encouraging. Then they are surprised when the child stops producing art. If you say, “I notice that you made a lot of circles here. Can you tell me about it?” Or “Look at all that purple over here. I wonder what you were thinking about when you painted that…”, you will be encouraging your child to be thoughtful about their work and do even more artwork.  “I notice” and “I wonder” are very powerful phrases for helping children talk about their thinking. I also advise against any judgement of your child’s work. Instead of saying “I love it” (which, I grant, is VERY hard to not say), you can say, “It doesn’t matter what I think. What do you think? Do you like it?” Let them learn to be the judge of their own creations.

 

 

 

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January 16, 2015

 

Afternoon class

Afternoon class

Snow angels

Snow angels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Everyone!

We’ve been having a great time getting to know each other after winter break.  For those of you who were asking, Ms. Terri is working in a first grade classroom right now as a substitute. She was a substitute for me while I was on medical leave since last spring. She is planning to come and visit us because as much as the children miss her, she misses them.

If you need to contact the classroom, please call us directly:  773-535-0954. You can leave a message if we don’t answer (I don’t interrupt teaching for the phone). You can also call the office at 773-535-0970. You can also email me at javerill@cps.edu.

I will be posting a weekly letter to you on my blog and in email. Some of you have asked for printed copies which I’ll leave in your mail files. Please be sure to check your mail files daily! I will only print out letters for people who requested them. Photos will only be on the blog so don’t miss it!

http://javerill.cuipblogs.net

WHAT WE’VE BEEN DOING:

These last two weeks we’ve been getting to know each other.  Teachers are by nature persnickety and I’m no exception so I’ve been rearranging the classroom, reorganizing materials, assessing the children’s skills and carrying on our regular activities.  And while we were so busy doing all these things, IT SNOWED! So the children have been learning to cut out snowflakes, we’ve been making snow people, and we’ve been learning about snow.  Did you know that each snowflake starts with a “speck” of dust or sand or even a bacteria? The crystal forms around it in a hexagon shape so that every snowflake has 6 points! We have been playing in the snow every chance we get.  The snow was “dry” and powdery today so we couldn’t build a snowman.  We’ll try again tomorrow.  The morning class was curious about what would happen if we poured water on the snow. So we did! It got hard, not slushy as we predicted. Can you think of experiments you can do with snow at home?

We have been learning about the number line and how to use it to tally up the number of children present and absent. We’re learning to match each name card with a number (one-to-one correspondence) and that the last number with a card is how many. We are even combining the children present with the children absent to know how many children are in the class all together. We’ll do lots of cool things with our number line.

We’ve been reading lots of snow books this week, including “The Snowy Day,” “The Jacket I Wore In the Snow,” “Over and Under the Snow,” and “Snow.” I started reading a chapter book to the older children in the afternoon class – “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. The children immediately related it to the queen in “Frozen.”

We’re starting to learn about Jazz music. This week we listened to Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas.”

NEXT WEEK:

We’ll be starting our exploration of light. We think about light from 3 places: fire, electricity and the sun. We’ll of course be playing with our shadows out on the playground.

JAZZ! We started this week and we’ll continue listening/dancing to different jazz songs. We also have some books about jazz musicians. Sonny Rollins, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Esperanza Spaulding — I don’t know who will be the favorites. We’ll keep you posted.  MARK FEBRUARY 11 ON YOUR CALENDARS! That the the evening of the Ray School Black History Gallery Walk-Through. And special for our preschool study, we will have a real jazz combo! This is the only opportunity we’ll have for our preschool children (and the rest of the school) to see jazz musicians perform up close. Help us make this study meaningful and bring your child! It starts at 5:00.

OUTSIDE PLAY: Check the weather report! If it’s 15 degrees or below, we will stay inside and go to the trike room. There the kids ride trikes, ride “the boat,” play on the balance beam, play with balls, jump ropes, etc. We’re always looking for more fun activity things to do inside so let us know if you have ideas. If we’re outside, WE DO PLAY IN SNOW! Please make sure your child has boots and snow pants and warm mittens or gloves. If it’s rainy we’ll be inside. Feel free to bring in a pair of slippers/crocks/inside shoes to leave in your child’s cubby. This helps a lot during snow season.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!

Library help! We have a library system set up. We need someone who could put in 30 minutes a week helping children check out books and check in returned books. Please see Jane if you can do this.

–Someone who can help me put up artwork in the classroom, especially in high places.

–Want to be with the kids in the classroom? We could use help with journals (taking dictations) and reading to the children on the rug.

NEEDED FOR THE CLASSROOM:

–Plants for the fish tank

–Items for our “Book Nook” like pillows, things to hang on the little house, etc.

–If you can, we would appreciate any donations for our classroom CD Player/Boombox. You can donate through “Donors Choose”:

http://www.donorschoose.org/jane.averill

Thanks for a great start to the new year!

Jane Averill

javerill@cps.edu

http://javerill.cuipblogs.net

773-535-0954

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January 6, 2015

NOTICE!!! CPS schools are closed tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan 7, because of the cold. There will be no preschool tomorrow!!

Also, International Night, scheduled for Thursday evening, has been postponed.

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January 2, 2015

Monday starts a new calendar year, hopefully free of flu virus, and with it the return of the old teacher, Ms. Jane.   My deepest thanks go to Ms. Terri and Ms. Green for keeping the classroom going this last year. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We will be starting the year by thinking about how we get to know each other. As I learn each child’s name, I will be finding ways to know who they are, what they like and don’t like, what their favorite activities are, what they like to do at home, etc. I would also like to get to know all the parents in our classroom so I hope you’ll all stop for a few minutes when picking up your child or dropping them off to say hi.

ABOUT MS. JANE:

This is my 15th year teaching preschool at Ray.  Both of my children went through Ray School so I know what it’s like to be a parent and I know a lot about Ray School. I also live in the neighborhood so I know Hyde Park very well. I received my MEd from the Erikson Institute which has a very child/family-centered slant. My philosophy of teaching preschool is that we need to start with a strong sense of child development so that we are challenging your children but not frustrating or discouraging them by going faster than they are able. I believe that every child learns by doing (as do most adults) rather than by being told, and doing with real things is far more valuable than plastic substitutes or pictures of things. You won’t find work sheets in my classroom. I do not give “homework.” I do expect you as parents to work with your child, talk to your child, listen to them talk, and read to them EVERY NIGHT. YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST TEACHER!!! I also believe that I am a good teacher, but I don’t know everything. I hope you will find ways to share your skills and interests with our class, whether it be cooking, sewing, carpentry, music, art, reading, gardening, dancing, etc. etc. etc. I also value parent volunteers helping with library, journals, cleaning (especially if there is illness in the room), and at the end of the year, packing up the classroom.  I encourage you all to be involved with the Ray School PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and LSC (Local School Council), as well as school activities such as Ray Festival, Art Fair, International Night, etc.

I am certified to teach English as a second language to non-English speakers, though to be perfectly honest, the best way to teach ESL students is also the best way to teach preschoolers. We do a lot with books, songs, dance, music and art, and these activities help all the children to be connected to each other. I have also taken several years of classes and workshops on teaching math and literacy to young children. We do a lot with literacy in our classroom, including reading and exploring books, writing, creating stories, learning about different uses of literacy, and understanding the alphabet. I love doing science with young children, including understanding season change, observing changes outside, physics activities, playing with water, exploring rocks and shells, etc. I know your child has been doing great activities last fall with Ms. Terri and Ms. Green and we’ll be building on these.

TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM AND AT HOME

We have 2 ipads for the classroom which we haven’t yet introduced but will soon. The ipads are not toys but tools, and we’ll be careful to use them as tools. Young children do not learn well by playing with apps – they learn by touching, manipulating, exploring real three dimensional objects. The ipads will be helpful to us for looking up information on the internet, practicing certain skills like writing letters, creating stories, and some math activities. As we come across really good apps, I’ll be sure to share them with you.  While I’ll be working to get 2 more ipads and possibly a projector, I want you to know that I have mixed feelings about electronics and young children. I have seen, as I’m sure you have, children “zone out” with a tablet or cellphone game. This is not deep learning. It is entertainment. I feel strongly that with such little time in preschool that the vast majority of play time should be spent with play activities that children actually learn from, such as dramatic play, blocks, art, etc. I also encourage you as parents to be mindful of how your child plays on electronic media. There are tons of studies coming out now about the problems we all face when we read on kindles or tablets before bed or the damage done to babies and toddlers who have too much “screen time.” So with this in mind, we’ll be introducing the ipads as tools for learning and limit ipad use. I’ll keep you posted on how this all works out.

ILLNESS:

I know our classroom has just been through the ringer with colds and flu! Wow! For some of you, it must have been pretty scary. I want you to know we will do what we can to keep our classroom as free of germs as we can, including making sure the children wash their hands correctly (water first, then soap – lather for 20 seconds and then rinse), that our classroom is wiped down with non-poisonous cleaner, and that children learn to cough into their elbows. Unfortunately, many illnesses are airborne and children are most contagious right before symptoms appear. I will tell you from what I have read that most childhood illnesses are better gotten during early childhood years rather than later. Please help us out by keeping your sick child at home until they are 24 hours fever-free and reasonably free of coughing/sneezing/runny nose. Also, please make sure we know if your child has an allergy or asthma so we can make sure we have emergency medication in the classroom if needed. Some asthma is virus-induced, some is cold air-induced. If your child cannot go outside while it’s cold because they have cold-induced asthma or is just coming off an episode, we’ll need a note from your child’s doctor and they can either stay in another classroom or in the school office. If your child shouldn’t go outside because they’ve got a lingering cold, they are still sick and should stay home. We are not outside for very long each day and the fresh air and gross motor play is very important for each child’s development.

CLOTHING:

Yes, we will try and go outside each day unless it is very cold. If it snows (oh please, let it snow!) we will go outside and play in it, explore it, do science experiments with it, etc. Please make sure your child has clothing to help them be in the snow! This means: snowpants and warm coat, hat, boots, waterproof and warm mittens or gloves (not the cotton ones – they are useless) with your child’s name on the tags. We have some extra snow pants from past years, but I don’t think we have extra mittens/gloves or boots.

Inside the classroom Mr. Chris does what he can to keep our heat right, but sometimes it gets a little cool or a little over-heated. You are welcome to bring a sweater and slippers to leave in the cubby for the season. Again, please put your child’s name on them, especially since they share cubbies between 4 students. We will be using paints and water at the water table so make sure your child has an extra set of clothing. We’ll keep extra clothes in ziplock bags with your child’s name.

PARENT MEETING:

I am going to set up a parent meeting sometime in the next few weeks so you can get to know me and each other. Details will follow.

 

There is so much more to share and I look forward to doing that with you over the next six months. Enjoy the end of the holiday weekend and know I so look forward to seeing you all on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015! Happy New Year!!!

Ms. Jane

 

 

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December 12, 2014- one more thing

Parents, many of our children have been sick.  Please be sensitive to the symptoms your child is displaying – cough, low-grade fever, low energy level, irritability may be signs of illness.  They should not come to school within 24 hours of a fever or vomiting.  Upon return, if you have not emailed me (tarobinson1@cps.edu), please provide a written note we can give to the office.

Please dress for the weather.  We go outside for recess!

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December 12, 2014

Hello!  The classes are really enjoying the activities with “The Gingerbread Man”, especially comparing different versions of the story.  Have you read  “The Gingerbread Cowboy”?  This is the first time I read it, and we all enjoyed it!

We also enjoy the festive atmosphere in the class, especially with lights up in the room.  We have talked about different holiday traditions, and how lights are a part of many traditions.

Students have been participating in different pattern- making activities, whether clapping out a pattern, adding a “cluck” sound,  snapping fingers, etc.  Patterning is an excellent way for children to experience success, but then move on to a more challenging pattern, either one they create, or extending a given pattern.  Look for ways to reinforce this at home.

I’m often asked what parents can do at home to reinforce concepts learned at school.  Something we do is letter recognition activities.  Ask your child can they find certain letters on cereal boxes, “draw” a letter in the air and see if they can identify it correctly.  And always, READ READ READ to them.  We have many wonderful books in the classroom library children are welcome to check out.

Take advantage of the fun activities around the city in the next few weeks.  We will be out December 22-January 2, which will give you time to enjoy each other with a less structured schedule.

Upcoming – reminder- Parent-Child Activity Friday, December 12 9:30-10:30.  All classes will meet in the cafeteria; students must have an adult accompanying them to participate.

Also, in the classroom we need:

kleenex

liquid handsoap

ziploc bags (quart size or gallon size)

Enjoy your day!

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