Since early October, we have been involved with lessons regarding the change of seasons and what autumn brings. Animals migrate, food gets harvested, and we celebrate Thanksgiving. Our annual Thanksgiving bake off brought back the yummy pumpkin scones. Quite the production for all the first year students, but the second year children were very confident in the baking process. Part of the Practical Life lessons for the pre-K class is learning how to set a table, which ties in with family gatherings. We introduced this lesson before Thanksgiving and hope the children had an opportunity to use this new knowledge. First year students are learning about setting the table with a Practical Life tray on the shelves. We also learned about the cornucopia, and practiced making a horn of plenty with our classroom cornucopias. Oddly enough, we have several. The harvest season is also about planning for the winter food stores. Food drying was a method used by early settlers and First Nations people in preparation for winter. Learning through concrete experience, we used a dehydrator to dry apple slices with every child participating. The slices of apples were placed onto the dehydrator trays using tongs (which is a lot harder than it sounds). After a few days the apple chips were ready and then consumed at snack time. We have a wide variety of First Nations items and artifacts that we present at Circle. Our collection has fur pelts, small totems, musical instruments, buffalo teeth, bear paw imprints, dolls, dream catchers, pottery, blankets, jewelry and clothing. We use picture files as visuals. Continent studies are highlighted through lessons and games with indigenous animals. The pre-K class also make animal books for every continent. We will continue examining how seasonal changes affect the planet, plant and animal life throughout the year. We will journey across the North American continent until the end of November, and begin our travels in Europe starting January.
Mini cultural celebration studies that we call a ‘Celebration of Light’ occur throughout the school year. These celebrations come from different cultures, and countries, but all have many things in common which is where our focus lies; on family, food and of course, light. We celebrated Diwali in October with every child twisting and winding clay around a tea light to make a diya candle. A candle lit classroom made for a magical day where every child blew out their own diya before bringing it home
Practical Life lessons not only teach self-help and independence skills, but also help develop motor skills, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, strengthen muscles, and so much more. All these skills will support capability. We add and change materials throughout the year for seasons (pumpkins and bats in October), to inspire interest, and to challenge these young minds. Math and language components are daily parts of classroom life, and introduced through a variety of materials and games. The alphabet is introduced through sand paper letters and the sounds each letter makes. Printing is first done using a dot-to-dot method, and working towards a freehand approach. We teach printing using all lower case letters and only use capitals for the first letter of names and the beginning of sentences. Using all upper case letters is confusing for early readers, so please use lower case at home. Sewing wood buttons onto cloth, lacing with card shapes, transferring, and pouring are all life skills, and part of our year round Practical Life exercises. Window cleaning and table washing are also exercises requiring different muscle skills and control. Ring and bracelet making with glass and crystal seed beads are very popular activities with all ages. Like most activities, beading is multi-leveled for skill development. This includes fine motor skills, pincer finger development, focus, follow through and concentration. Through exercises like beading and table washing, your child’s ability to concentrate, follow through and finish tasks, and overall capability will strengthen. It’s not all about abc’s and 123’s. More skills are needed in life, and the reason behind all those rings that come home. Besides, they are really fun to make.
The temperature has made a sudden drop, so please ensure your child is dressed appropriately for changing weather conditions. We go outside to the playground every day (rain or shine) unless it is too cold or wet. Please phone (not email) to let us know if your child is ill or late. We do not always answer the phone during class time, but we do check messages regularly. September lessons included how to sneeze and cough into the elbow, and washing hands. Reinforcement continues throughout the year.
Circle includes the calendar, classroom rules and safety, the introduction of new materials and their applications, or reinforcements of previous demonstrations. Books, stories and games are also a part of Circle, as well as songs. The children are still settling into the classroom and adapting to the routines and rules. Consistency helps to maintain the delicate balance. Safety and health is a big part of preschool as well. This not only includes learning how to cough into your elbow, but also about fire drills and earthquakes. Fire drills are carried out every month for all classes, and earthquake drills are once a year in the spring. We also do the Big Shake Out with the afternoon K-Prep children every October 17th. Yoga will be a regular indoor activity during the winter. Short ‘Dance Parties’ occur upon occasion and really get the heart pumping. That’s a good thing.
A clarification on snack has been requested. How much and what is allowable? A good rule is enough to fill two small bowls for one class to share. Three bananas or two large oranges or apples. As everyone shares what they bring in, there is always plenty to go around and a variety of choices each day. Teachers also bring in food items as well. We always have plenty. Parents do not have to prepare the food, as it is prepared fresh daily at the preschool. Other favourite items aside from fruit and vegetables are cheese, crackers, yogurt (in a tub – less plastic please), seaweed, popcorn, rice cakes, etc. Use your imagination. Extra produce does not get wasted. The children love peeling apples with the crank apple peeler (from Lee Valley), and carrots with the monkey peeler. This is all part of the Montessori Practical Life curriculum. We have a slow cooker to make sauces and jams when we have extra apples or plums. We peel, we stir, we measure and we bake. Please remember that we do not allow any nuts or anything made with peanut oil, meat or fish in the classroom. Thank you Walter for bringing in spinach muffins for your birthday treat. Those muffins got a classmate to try veggies where all others had failed. Mum and Dad were thrilled. We need that recipe!
A huge thank you to the many families that donated gently used clothing for our friend Alice. Alice was very grateful by your kindness and generosity, and surprised by the amount of new clothing items. Every piece of clothing will be cherished by their new owners. Alice has since left to volunteer at a daycare in Tibet, and brought the clothing with her. She will be travelling back to visit schools and childcare centres in east Africa and the Philippines next year. We’ll keep you posted.
Halloween is a fun time with books, stories, songs and lots and lots of different classroom materials. We had autumn colours day on Wednesday and then costumes for Halloween Day only. We gave the children a Halloween pencil and eraser, but all other goodies were from classmates. Thank you friends for your wonderful gifts. We did a little classroom trick or treating with all the goodies. We carved a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern, and had a Halloween dance party. So much fun!
Date reminders are repeated. There always seems to be one or two or three (maybe more) of you very, very busy parents that miss the first notice. School will be closed on Friday, November 8th for school district closure, and also on Monday, November 11th, for the Remembrance Day observance. School will reopen at the usual time on Tuesday, November 12th.
Goodbye October. Welcome November!