Dear Little Stars Families,
Can you believe we are completing our fifth week of school? Your dear Little Stars have so seamlessly acclimated to their new classroom and teachers – you might think they had been attending for months! I love to visit and see how easily they follow the day’s routines and move through their transitions. For example, when they are finished with their snack, the children know to pick up their placemats, carry them to the trashcan to scrape off any leftovers, place the mats in the yellow basket on the sand table, and then go sit on the carpet and look at books. And these Little Stars are doing it! (Some with reminders, of course.)
The establishment of consistent routines and structures in the classroom foster a sense of security in our children, which in turn frees up their creativity and play. In other words, when a child doesn’t have to think/worry about what is coming next or negotiate an erratic environment, she/he can play freely and comfortably. And the Little Stars are having such a great time playing – building train tracks and block structures, scooping and pouring sand in the sand table, pounding and rolling play dough, and drawing with crayons and markers. It is a very joyful room, and I savor every moment when I can visit.
The teachers have begun the year with a strong emphasis on building classroom community by helping the children get to know each other. The teachers sing a number of “name” songs throughout the day – at circle times (“Who Came to School Today” is a big favorite as each child acts out an animal or object of her/his choosing – bunnies, buses, and trains are favorites), at snack time, and at good-bye. The Little Stars are also getting to know each other’s symbols through games and associations. And the teachers constantly speak to the children about one another, pointing out to them who else is playing with them in an area or eating with them at snack or lunch. All these songs, games, and discussions help a child see herself/himself as a member of a group, which is a foundational piece of creating community.
Another emphasis in the school day has been colors. The teachers started with yellow the first two weeks, then red, and now blue. The Little Stars have made play dough of these colors, finger-painted, made collages, hand-printed cloths (which will be used to cover shelves when they are “closed”), painted at the easel, cooked colorful foods, and even painted yellow “little stars.”
With the arrival of fall (at least on the calendar), the teachers have recently begun an autumn curriculum. They have talked about fall at circle time, sung autumn-related songs (“Acorn Brown” and a special fall lyric for “Open, Shut Them”), and read fall books, including “Autumn’s First Leaf”). It will be exciting to witness their observations of this season as well, as more and more leaves change color and fall to the ground, etc.
Another exciting development in the Little Stars room is the use of the side yard for late morning play. Weather permitting, the Little Stars teachers hope to use the side yard every day before lunch as an outdoor time for large motor activities – running, throwing balls, scootering on ride-on cars and tricycles, climbing, and sliding. It is a sight to behold, watching the Little Stars walk carefully up and down the steps singing “We’re walking down/up the stairs” to the tune of “Heigh Ho The Dairy-o” as the teachers vigilantly make sure each child is safe.
And finally, Monday’s music class – Stomp and Clap with Greg – went beautifully. The children enjoyed Greg very much and responded well to his directions – even willingly handing in their enticing egg shakers (no mean feat) at the end. A fun time for all!
That’s it for now. Please be sure to check the white board just outside the classroom door each day to get details of the Little Stars day. And I will be sending out these longer updates each month to delve more deeply into the curriculum.
P.S. Some quick notes:
1) Toys from home – if children bring in a toy from home, they may play with it for 5 minutes in the classroom before it is returned to their cubby. Otherwise, toys from home can distract from the classroom materials and activities. Also, please be sure that any toy from home be small and unobtrusive. Thanks!
2) Curriculum Night – Curriculum Night will be held Wednesday, October 23, at 6:00 PM. There will be no childcare that night as the teachers attend and present in all three rooms simultaneously. I’m sorry if this is inconvenient, but hope you can make arrangements to attend this informative event. Curriculum Night lasts about 1 hour or so.
3) The Collective will be closed on Monday, October 14, for Columbus Day.