December is here!!

We are enjoying “The Gingerbread Boy”, comparing different versions, acting it out, completing patterns.  At home ask your child to retell the story – see what they can tell you!  This gives you a wonderful opportunity to reinforce the sequence of the story, repeating familiar lines (“Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me..”), and acting it out as well – all important components of literacy awareness.

Please remember to send your child properly dressed for the weather.  We do go outside; in inclement weather we do our gross motor activities inside.

Parents of 4-year-olds, don’t forget to do the proper paperwork for kindergarten.  The deadline is December 12.

Upcoming – On Friday, December 19 we will have our second Parent-Child activity in the school lunchroom, 9:30-10:30.  All pre-k classes will meet at that time, and students must have an adult with them.  At 10:30 all students will be dismissed (no classes will meet in the afternoon).

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Full of thanks

We have been talking about being thankful during this time, and I am thankful for you sharing your child with me!  It is so amazing to watch their development, and increased enjoyment of books.   The subject of families is discussed, and  students  share different traditions they experience with families, including special foods associated with meals with friends and families.  We have done some interesting projects, including creating turkeys and dictating stories after enjoying special books.

This weekend, Saturday, November 22, the Harold Washington Library at 400 S. State Street will host Bookmania, sponsored by Target.  This is a day filled with free activities beginning at 11:00 a.m., including a live presentation at 11:15 and again at 1:30 of “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs”.

In addition, Friday, November 28 beginning at 10:00 the Art Institute will have the annual Wreathing of the Lions, with hot chocolate and music adding to the festivities.

Just a reminder, our first Parent-Child activity will take place Tuesday, November 26 at 9:30-10:30 in our lunchroom.  Both morning and afternoon sessions are encouraged to attend (adult must be present), and younger siblings are welcome.  At the conclusion of the event students are dismissed.

Also, please make sure to dress your child appropriately for weather-related activities.  Feel free to leave a labeled pair of slippers in your child’s cubby.

Upcoming:  No school Wednesday, November 27-Friday, November 29.

Enjoy your time together!

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We had a wonderful visit to the Fire Station! Firefighters showed us their equipment, put on their special clothing, and talked to us about fire safety! We were able walk around the station, and some of us even got in the firetruck! Look for us in firefighter uniforms in a few years!

Volunteers needed: Parents, if you could donate some time by washing some of our dressup clothes every Friday for two-week intervals, or make play-dough for the class every two weeks please let Ms. Terri know. Also, we need someone to organize book orders.

Upcoming: No school November 26-28.

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57th Street Children’s Book Fair Sunday, Sept. 21

childrens book fairCome join us for the biggest and best children’s event of the year in Hyde Park! The Children’s Book Fair features storytellers, children’s music, performances, book characters, and of course, lots of books! It’s located in Nichols Park on the south end and runs from noon till 5pm.  Don’t miss the kickoff parade!

http://www.57cbf.org/home2012.htm

 

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March 1, 2014

Hi Everyone!

Phew! February is OVER! We can now start at least looking for signs of spring. This is a great opportunity for you to look with your child so they can begin to understand what season changes mean. Here’s some signs:

Birds appearing in larger numbers; spring songs from robins, cardinals, sparrows, etc. (they’re marking their territories); look for birds’ nests in the trees before the leaves come out.

Flowers: the earliest flowers are the snowdrops and crocuses, and then the cilla and daffodils. You might see some little bumps in the soil where they are getting ready to appear. Tulips come a little later. Look now for pussy willows and forsythia shrubs. You can cut pieces, put them in water and watch them blossom in your home!

Trees: you can see little sprouts ~Az1where leaves will appear. In flowering trees you’ll start to see the flower buds.

–Look for dirt as the snow melts. Notice how hard it is and how difficult it is to dig in it. Gradually the dirt will become muddier and softer as the ground thaws.

–You might see signs of other animals moving about more. Last week we saw a raccoon in our alley. The squirrels will be more active as they look for mates and rebuild their nests.

–There will be an equal amount of daylight and night time on March 20 (Vernal Equinox). Watch as shadows get shorter as the sun appears higher in the sky. Look for shadows at certain times of the day and notice how they are changing in size from day to day.

Do you have more signs of spring? Please share them with us. We’ll be looking forward to your spring collections (new leaves or flowers, robins’ eggs, photos, etc.).

Some places you might want to take your child for nature walks are:
Wooded Island (behind the Museum of Science and Industry) – there are millions of cilla growing there in the spring and it’s also a bird sanctuary.
Washington Park Lagoon (east of the field house and west of Cottage Grove)
Montrose Harbor Nature Preserve (get off of Lake Shore Drive on Montrose)
North Park Nature Center (5801 N. Pulaski) – last time I was there I got to see and hear thousands of frogs mating!
Little Red School House (Willow Springs – http://fpdcc.com/nature-centers/little-red-schoolhouse-nature-center/ ) – one of my favorite places to bring my kids for a day outing. It’s about a half hour drive. Bring friends and a picnic! There are picnic sites nearby.
Wolf Lake (Illinois/Indiana border – http://www.chicagowilderness.org/CW_Archives/issues/summer2007/wolflake.html ) – a popular fishing area and a wildlife sanctuary
WELCOME!
We have had three new students in our morning class. Abdui came over from room 405 a few weeks ago, and this week Randall (aka RJ) and Upamanyu joined our classroom. I hope you’ll all help our new families feel welcome. We have room for 1 more student in the afternoon session.

JAZZ STUDY
We had a great time learning about jazz this month. Many children came to the combo performance on Thursday evening. If you missed it, here’s their version of “Take Five,” one of our favorite jazz songs.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GElPkL2TYz4&list=PLBRmTyVF9jy7ZQHUczt6kWdu13fdegCy3&index=12

The children learned to listen to and dance to a number of jazz songs and artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis. We also played jazz on real records and so were able to tie our study into our study of circles. It was a lot of fun!

CAMPING DAY

We had a great time on Camping Day. What a great way to help us get through winter! Thank you to everyone who brought in tents and camping equipment and to those of you who stayed to help us really enjoy it. We pretended we were on a camping trip, with sleeping bags, a pretend campfire, songs and stories, and even a show of the northern lights (Aurora Borialis) with our overhead projector! The children went on a pretend hike where we climbed through tree limbs and under rocks and even went to a bear’s cave! With a little imagination you can do anything, even imagine a warm day! Photos are on the way, as soon as I understand how Dropbox works.
We are planning a trip to The Point (55th St) for a real picnic and campfire for all our families when it is really warm. We hope you can all come. Friday, June 13th we will be having a full moon. Shall we plan for that day? We can do it earlier in April and May also, though the full moons will be midweek.
AUTHOR STUDY
We’re finishing up our author study of Jan Brett. We will be starting to read books by Gerald McDermott who wrote and illustrated a number of folktales from American Indians, ancient Mexicans, Africa and Brazil. We’ll start with books about the sun, including “Arrow to the Sun” (southwest Indian), “Raven” (northwest Indian) and “Musicians of the Sun” (Mexican). You see a theme here? We do what we can. Hopefully we’ll read up some sunshine and warmer weather.
THREE PIGS
For the next few months we’ll be reading a number of versions of the Three Pigs. There are many, many versions. At the end of April, the Kohl Story Bus will be making an appearance at Ray all decked out with the Three Pigs story. While we’ll take this study in whatever direction the children prefer, I’m thinking that construction will be a part of this, including some carpentry. If you would like to help us with this, we would love the help. We’ll need wood. We have tools, safety glasses and a portable work bench. We will also need other kinds of building materials. Because of allergies, we won’t be able to bring real straw or hay into the class.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DR. SEUSS!
Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. He would have been 110 had he not died in 1991. We’ll celebrate by reading the “Cat in the Hat” tomorrow.
GEOMETRY
We have been learning about shapes for this last month, including triangles, rectangles and squares, circles, and some more complicated shapes like hexagons and octagons. We learned a little about parallel lines as well. The best way for children to learn about shapes, of course, is to play with blocks, something we do daily. As is usually the case with children, play becomes the best classroom.
IPADS
The children have been enjoying the ipads! They write stories on them and play a game that involves creating a 3 part pirate story (Toontastic Jr.). We have other apps that we’ll be teaching the children. I’m working on getting an efficient way to share their stories with you. Please bear with me. I was raised in the pencil and paper generation and sometimes this stuff is a little hard.
Announcements:
ISAT Testing
These next two weeks are ISAT testing weeks. We do not do any ISAT testing in preschool. We’ll continue with our regular program.

Scholastic Books – March Catalog due MARCH 14

If you would like to order books from the Scholastic Catalog, you can do so by either filling out the order form on the back of the catalog and pay for it with a check or cash, or you can order online.  To order online, go to www.scholastic.com  . You can set up an account there and place your order.  You will be asked for the CLASS ACTIVATION CODE which is H8RPD.  The books will be delivered to the classroom.  Thanks to Kristy Papczun for taking care of our orders.

Library

  Please return library books, in the canvas book bag, to the black milk crate in the cubby area. Thanks to Emma Bourgessa and Kara Scott, we are a lot more regular about sending books home with the children. Please make sure you return borrowed books. You can look at the library pocket with your child’s name to see if they have an unreturned book. If you’ve lost your bag and need another, they are $2.00 each. I’ll be ordering more bags for next year’s class and will order some extras.

Weather

   In general, if it’s 25 degrees including windchill we will not be going outside. This means we rely on you to get your children outside. We stay in if it’s raining, though if it’s warm enough we will go out and play in the snow. Please make sure your child has snowpants , waterproof mittens and boots! If the temperature is about 30 and there’s snow on the ground, we will go outside!

Supplies List

    If you haven’t sent in supplies this year, we need:

tissue paper

computer paper

low-order dry erase markers (thin)

cleaning wipes

liquid hand soap

hand wipes

ziplock bags (quart and gallon)

 

 

 

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January 28, 2014

Hi Everyone!

School is open tomorrow! Yay! This was an unexpected break, one that we’ll make up for at the end of the school year when it will be sunny and warm outside. Keep your eyes open for the calendar change.

Yesterday one of my heros passed away at the age of 94. I learned about Pete Seeger as a child and saw him perform a number of times over my life. I even met him once. He was in large part responsible for the major cleanup of the Hudson River near where I grew up. He was a major cultural voice during the civil rights movement and in the labor movement. And maybe most important to all of us, he is the author of our all time (and every year) favorite book, “Abiyoyo.” Here’s is a video clip of him reading the book. Maybe you can share it with your child:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovaRSnHfzQw

I think you will enjoy it, too.

iPads in the Classroom?

A number of you heard me lament about computers in a preschool room where children should be learning by physically interacting with their environment, not staring at a screen. I still feel that way. Friday I went to a workshop given by a colleague of mine who is also an Erikson Inst graduate. He believes, like I do, that a majority of computer games and “educational” software is not helpful to children, especially when it’s used as a babysitting tool or for rote learning. I read his book that he published two years ago about technology and young children and I was intrigued by the ways he used tech in his classroom. This is the first time I’ve had a workshop with him. I’m convinced. Your kids are using technology all the time. The best thing we can do in school is to teach them creative ways to use technology so that it is a tool, not an end in itself. To that end, I’m embarking on a campaign to buy two ipad minis (and covers) for the classroom for the children to use. With these tools, my hope it that together we will find ways to expand our learning and find new ways to show you what we’ve done. For example, there is a book making App that allows children to draw, dictate while they are drawing, add photographs or videos, and make a book that can be published. THat’s first on my list.

If you are interested in helping with this campaign, you can send out the Donor’s Choose site that holds the project’s fundraising information to family and friends who might want to contribute to your child’s classroom. Donors CHoose collects the money, makes the purchase and sends it to the school. Whatever is purchased through them stays in our classroom so your child will benefit from it. Thanks to those of you who responded already. ALL DONATIONS ARE MATCHED 100% UNTIL FEBRUARY 3!

MUSIC

We started music last week. We’ll have music for both AM and PM sessions this Friday with Julia and Meredith. Thanks to all of you who donated $20-30.00. If we collect enough, we’ll be able to have weekly music for all preschool children through the rest of the school year.

JAZZ

     Starting next week we’ll be learning about jazz in preschool as part of Black History Month. If you would like to help with this study, please let us know. I have the Ken Burns History of Jazz cds to help us get started, and if we’re lucky, we may be able to get my son’s jazz combo to come and perform for Black History Night at the end of February. If you play an instrument, this would be a great time to come in and play for us so we can hear what musical instruments sound like as we’re watching.
JAN BRETT and THREE LITTLE PIGS
     Next week we’ll also be starting our Jan Brett study. We’ve actually already started by reading a few of her holiday books. We’ll also be starting to read 3 Pig stories to get ready for our visit by the Kohl Children’s Museum Storybus in April (I believe). We’re collecting as many versions of the 3 Pigs as we can so we can compare them and have fun with them. We’re looking for any carpenters or builders out there who can come and help us do some building in the classroom.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this winter will finally let up and we can get back to school and outside again!
Stay Warm!
Jane

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

 

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December 16, 2013

Mid day shadows in winter

Mid day shadows in winter

Hi Everyone!
We’ll be making gingerbread cookies tomorrow and Tuesday. If you’d like to help, we could use extra hands. We hope the cookies don’t run away before we get to eat them. See the recipe on the Recipes page.
PARENT-CHILD ACTIVITY ON FRIDAY DEC 20, 9:00-10:15
     Please remember that ALL CHILDREN, morning and afternoon, need to be at school on Friday WITH A PARENT for parent/child activities. Part of our program is to help you be your child’s first and most important teacher. Parent child activities are designed to show you ways to help your child learn about reading, writing, math, science, etc. This week we’ll be doing language activities.

PARENT VISITING DAY

     Instead of a “holiday party,” we invite you all to come and spend a day with us on THURSDAY DEC 19. We will go through our regular routines and schedule, only you’ll be there to do them with us. Come prepared to read to your child, dance, do playdough or cut snowflakes, play in blocks, etc.
VACATION
    School is closed from Dec. 23 through Jan.  3. We’ll see you all back on Jan. 6th.
OUTSIDE PLAY
Well, the weather is playing games again. We’ll probably be inside tomorrow, though it is supposed to warm up the rest of the week. Please make sure your child has: SNOW PANTS, BOOTS, WATERPROOF MITTENS/GLOVES, HAT OR HOOD. We don’t spend much time outside each day but it is our one chance to see how the season changes work. Last week the morning class was able to see some strikingly long shadows. All the children benefited from playing in the snow and seeing how snow works. I hope you’ll help your child notice that warmer snow (closer to 32 degrees) is better for making snowmen while colder snow is fluffier. Can they tell you why?  We stay outside for 15 to 20 minutes. To help us conserve time for inside play, we are taking the children out as soon as they come in so that we don’t spend so much time taking snow clothes off and putting them back on again. This is true for morning as well as afternoon class. If you’re late we’ll leave a note to let you know if we’re in the back on the blacktop or at the playground.

If your child can not be outside in the cold for health reasons, usually this is true for some children with asthma where cold air can trigger an attack, please bring in a doctor’s note. If your child is sick and shouldn’t be outside, they shouldn’t be at school. Outside play is part of our curriculum – it is where we investigate season changes and learn about nature. If it is 25 degree or colder or if it’s raining, we don’t go out.

MUSIC

It looks good for having music for preschool starting in January. I’ll let you know when I hear what the parent donation will be, though it looks like $20.00 per family.

Have a great week! Stay warm tomorrow.

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December 1, 2013 – Science in Preschool

SCIENCE IN PRESCHOOL

How do we teach about science to preschoolers? The only way is through experience. In our classroom, we spent fall exploring the season change. The children met “Percy” the preschool tree (a purple cherry tree) and throughout the year we will visit him as he changes with the seasons. We watched the leaves change color and then fall. We played in the leaves, made leaf rubbings and window pictures, we let the wind swirl the leaves around us on the playground like a mini tornado. We watch the gardens change with the seasons, too. We planted daffodils, explored the butterfly garden in late fall (lots of seeds and berries, a few flowers), and we helped the 7th graders put dirt into the new raised gardens on the playground.

Season changes and nature outside the classroom is a great way to help young children begin to understand about time and cycles. We try to bring nature into the classroom as well. We learned about apples and how they develop. Of course we made apple sauce.  We also learned about pumpkins and how they develop. Our left over pumpkin seeds began to sprout so we planted them. Now we are watching to see which ones grow faster, the ones in the sun or the ones with less sun? We even planted some corn from our Indian corn bunch. The children enjoyed making pumpkin stands with pumpkins and gourds and corn all fall. Both classes developed elaborate stands with big blocks and fabrics and of course, the cash register. We are also continuing to learn more about those swirling leaves by using a “tornado tube” and watching vortexes form with water.

This winter we’ll be exploring temperature, snow (we hope) and ice. We’ll also be exploring light and shadow, including how colors work. We’ll be bringing in an overhead projector, a sheet, some crystals, and various objects to explore on our light table. Oh, and let’s not forget the flashlights. Later on we’ll be looking at how things move (physics). That should get us through until spring when we can go watch the world change again.

Science is part of the “meat” of learning, as is literature. We learn to read and do math so that we can get to the meat – science, literature and social studies. Literacy and math are the tools for learning, though some children take to them as hungrily as they do science and stories. In preschool we want to introduce these more meaty school subjects to entice children to read and learn math skills, and of course the more children learn about science and literature, the better they are able to read and do math. So remember, put down the flashcards and the worksheets and take your child outside. Give them the vocabulary to help them understand their experiences and let them explore! The learning they do through exploration and play will last their whole lives.

 

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October 16, 2013

Hi Everyone!
The bad news first. One child in the afternoon class had a head louse on his scalp. I would like to think that that is the only one, but we need to be a little proactive here. Please check your child’s scalp for any nits or lice. I will be sending home some information tomorrow that I received at the beginning of the school year (did they jinx us?)? Some highlights:

–Head lice are not dangerous. They are annoying. They do not transmit disease.

–Head lice can be treated with over-the-counter medications, including a fine comb.

–Head lice do not reflect poor hygiene – in fact, they prefer clean hair and scalps.

–Head lice do not fly – they are transferred head to head or by sharing hats, etc. Consequently, we will be removing all hats and sanitizing them, as well as bagging up all stuffies and puppets for at least a week. The kids will hate this, but they would hate lice worse.

If your child has lice, please let us know and keep your child at home until they are completely free of all lice and eggs! FYI – head lice is a huge issue at U of C Lab School. Status?

The good news

Harvest Festival
Next week we’ll be celebrating harvest season! Yay! Ray School is organizing a harvest on Friday, Oct. 25. Andy Carter, our volunteer gardener, came to our classroom today with his guitar and sang songs with the children, including our goodbye song, “The Garden Song” (Inch by Inch). He sang it the right way – I somehow got the tune a little wrong 13 years ago when I started singing it. Andy has invited us to come to the Ray Harvest Festival on Friday the 25th after school (3:45) and help him sing it. I hope you can all come.
Gardening
This Saturday, the garden volunteers will be putting the butterfly garden to bed. They are looking for volunteers to come and shovel woodchips, etc. etc. from 9:30 to 11:00 am. It is usually a festive event with lots of fun for the children (they love shoveling!).
Entering/Exiting Ray School
Please use the south glass doors to come and leave Ray School, but with care for the security of the building. NEVER LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN! One of the prek staff will be there for 5 minutes from the time school starts. If you are late you have to go to the main door. If someone offers to let you in early, please do not come in. We are trying to keep the lobby clear as much as possible. When you leave, do not let anyone else in. They will have to go to the main door. Your cooperation with this allows us to use this door (including the awning which protects you from rain) and still keep the students at Ray safe from intruders.
LIBRARY
We sent home library books in new book bags today. Please do not lose the bags (or the books). The children can use these to transport books to and from school for the whole year. It is up to you to teach your child how to take care of their library books at home. We have taught them to read books on their laps or at a table, not on the floor. We are teaching them how to turn pages without ripping them and to be gentle with them. I do not choose the books. They do. Books we are using and my own books (with red dots on the spines) do not go home. Please return books by Tuesday. We’ll be sending new books home on Wednesdays if your child has returned their book. If the book gets lost or damaged, please let us know. We’ll have a basket for returned books.

NEXT WEEK IN PRESCHOOL

Next week we will be doing our own Harvest Festival along with Ray’s. We’ll be investigating pumpkins, gourds, making applesauce, etc. We would love to have your help. We need apples, gourds, pumpkins, harvest corn. We also need volunteers on Thursday and Friday (Oct. 24 and 25) to help make applesauce. Ms Green will be out on the 25th so we could especially use one or two volunteers for that day. Maggie Swanson will be helping with the cooking in the morning. Let me know if you are available.

Other Fall Projects:

We will also be planting bulbs on Nov 4. I have a bag of daffodils from Costco. We could use some other bulbs as well (tulips, crocuses, etc.) and well as some volunteers to help us dig. We’ll let you know when we have a date.

Halloween

We will not be having a Halloween party or costumes for Halloween. We will be sharing Halloween stories and making jack-o-lanterns, however. If you are interested in hosting a Halloween party, please let Maggie Swanson (AM class parent) or Kara Scott (PM class parent) know.

Homework

I have been giving the children 5 things to do for homework each day. This week they are:

1. Read with a grownup or big person

2. Count a lot of things

3. Look at the trees to see the leaves turning

4. Play outside as much as possible

5. Be kind to others

Big Kid Buddies

We will be having big kid buddies this year! Yay! 7th graders from the Student Council have set up to come and hang out with us on Wednesdays and Fridays, two at a time. We’re looking forward to getting to know our new friends.

Ray ENews

Please sign up for Ray eNews at http://www.ray.cps.k12.il.us/ for all the latest goings-on at Ray School and in the community.

Enjoy the fall! The trees are putting on quite a show right now!

Ms. Jane and Ms. Green

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Playground Fun at 31st St and Lake Shore Drive

rock-climbing

Come join us for some playtime and together time! Bring swimsuits!

Title: Playground Fun
Location: 31st St and Lake Shore Dr. playground/beach
Description: Come meet us at the playground and then we can wander over to the beach if you feel like it. Don’t forget swimsuits and sunscreen!  Bring a picnic if you’re planning to stay a while.
Start Time: 10:00
Date: 2013-08-03
End Time: 12:00

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Ready to Learn Preschool at Ray Elementary School

wild-things3

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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Farm Trip

 

IMG_2754

Check out our photos of our trip to The Childrens Farm at the Center in Palos Hills.

https://plus.google.com/photos/100598854786140297164/albums/5877944488546553217?partnerid=gplp0

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