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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.


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.


 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!


(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)



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?



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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