Back to School 2017!

We are well into our second week of the 2017/2018 school year and we couldn't be more excited to spend another fun-filled year with a class full of curious, eager learners! On the first day of school the children were greeted by a mama dino and her nest full of eggs up on the bulletin board! While dinosaurs are a cool topic to explore, this particular topic has some significance for the year ahead. PSP is kicking off a year full of learning beginning with the "beginning of time." The curriculum will work its way through the years as the school year progresses. Dinos to the prehistoric caveman era (think primitive tools and cave paintings) to ancient Egypt (simple machines and pyramids) to early explores and native americans (just in time for Thanksgiving!) to the wild wild west (trains and locomotives) to inventors, phew! We are so excited to see where this school year takes us! 

Lastly, we want to give our little preschool a quick shout out! PSP was the proud recipient of Wicked Local's Reader's Choice Awards as #1 Preschool in Andover! PSP also received the bronze award in the favorite preschool regional category! Thank you for voting us #1, we are so grateful for our supportive families and school community! 

Springtime at PSP!

This spring went by in the blink of an eye! We studied weather in March, with a focus on the science of clouds and rainbows.  We studied the solar system in April and learned all about the planet we live on as well as what stars are made up of and how gravity works. Our artist of the month was Georgia O'Keefe. The children studies her work titled, "Ladder to the Moon" (1958) and recreated her work using vibrant watercolors. After painting the beautiful sky, the children practiced their scissor skills to carefully cut the shadowy landscape and the ladder out of black card stock. The final masterpieces were breathtaking! 

We all had a relaxing spring break and jumped right back into learning at the end of April. It was the perfect time to begin talking about seeds and planting as our new veggie gardens were installed in our playground, ready for seeds! The children studied the parts of a seed and how a seed transforms into a seedling and finally into a plant. The children planted grass seeds in the classroom that took on a life of their own that any lawn-growing dad (or mom!) would be envious of! Jackson Pollock was our artist of the month and the children had a blast splatter painting the mural size paper that proudly hung on our bulletin board. Since our Jackson Pollock recreation was created outside, it was so much fun to spot wood chips stuck in the paint, along with a foot print or two from a running child and, my favorite, one of our boys took a spill and landed, bottom first, on the wet paint! He thought is was hilarious to have a print of his bottom on our mural for all to see! 

This brought us right to the start of play practice in preparation for our end of the year performance! With lots of excitement from the children and the story, "The Hungry Thing" by Jan Slepian and Ann Seidler as our inspiration, the teachers wrote a script based on "The Hungry Thing" and the children quickly took to the silly script and play preparations began at the beginning of May. After weeks of scenery design, costume creating and practice, practice, practice, the children were ready to perform their interpretation of the story to their families.  The children participated in not one but two brilliant performances. Everyone worked so hard to make the show a success! I am always so delighted to see the children shine on "stage" and that is what it is all about, a celebration of each an every child! We also had a blast at our cast party with lots of yummy treats that the families of our school donated (thank you!!).

And just like that our very first school year in Andover came to an end. It has been a wonderful year full of learning, friendships, explorations and discoveries! We feel so lucky to have spent the last year with an amazing group of kiddos. We are also thankful for the amazing team of teachers who are nothing less than incredible. I call them all super heroes because that is in fact what they should really be called! These teachers created a school year full of curiosity, wonder and excitement for learning. I know for a fact that that is no small feat. It takes a special person to be able to create wonder out of the simplest things in life. I feel truly blessed to have these teachers in my life. Have a wonderful summer!

Mondrian: An Exploration of the Arts

Our artist of the month for March was Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter from the Netherlands who was best known for his distant paintings of sharp, exact lines and bold primary colors. Although Mondrian's line's were very exact, the preschoolers were able to recreate his piece, "Tableau 2" (1922) using colored squares of paper. The children were quite focused as they carefully chose shapes to fit on there black rectangular piece of paper. It was such a pleasure to watch the children take their time and carefully place the shapes on their paper to create such beautiful artwork. The Mondrian recreations are proudly hanging on the bulletin board and will be there for a little longer before our next artist is displayed.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

We love Dr. Seuss! And there isn't a better time to celebrate his accomplishments than on his birthday! Dr. Seuss' birthday is March 2nd and the preschoolers and teachers celebrated for an entire week! The week was filled with his silly stories, themed projects and games.  Each day the children eagerly came to school in search of the Cat in the Hat's hiding spot. The children found him is some pretty funny places like high up in the family tree, down low in the recycle bin and balancing on top of our classroom snowman's top hat! 

Dr. Seuss' books are such great inspiration for projects. The children read, "The Foot Book" and worked on sorting left and right feet on the science table.  "The Cat in the Hat" inspired the children to make silly striped hats. They practiced their cutting skills to make the stripes as well as their patterning skills as they glued the stripes to the hat. The hats were worn during a balancing activity and, just like the Cat in the Hat, the children wore their hats while participating in the activity. The children carefully balanced a book, a fish and a bottle on a plate while walking across the classroom. The children were mightly focused yet laughed out loud when something fell to the ground!

The projects continued and the children made a "Wocket" for their pocket by first creating a pocket using yarn to thread through the sides of the fabric pocket. Later, a "Fox in Socks" was created using our fine motor skills to create an origami fox to fit inside a tiny sock. Finally, the story, "And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" inspired a very silly neighborhood recreation. The children made lots of funny things to add to PSP's Mulberry Street including a silly garbage truck, a few monsters and a boat because boats don't belong on the street! 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss and thank you for all of your wonderfully silly stories that light up the classroom every time they are read!


Valentines and Friendship!

When is there a better time to celebrate friendship then during the Valentine season?! The preschoolers spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be a good friend.  We came up with friendship rules and all of the children agreed that friends are respectful and kind! To encourage the children to be kind to all of their friends, the friendship train was created. Each kiddo created a small paper version of themselves to "ride" on the train. When the teachers saw a friend being kind or helping others they were invited to hop aboard the friendship train! 

We celebrated Valentine's day twice (February 14th and 15th) to make sure everyone was celebrated! The children each made a card for a friend and added it to the Valentine's Day mailbox.  When it was time to pass around the cards, the children took turns crawling through the "tunnel of love" to open the mailbox and discover their valentine's day card.  The children were very excited to see who made a special card for them! 

We read some wonderful friendship books as well! One of our favorites was, "My Friends" by Taro Gomi. The book is about a little girl who learns different skills from her friends. The children took turns telling us what their friends have thought them.  One of the children shared that they learned how to do a cartwheel from their mommy and another child shared that they learned how to speak spanish from a friend.  This activity helped the children to appreciate the friends they have!

It's the year of the Rooster! Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Chinese New Year began on January 28th and continued for 15 days. We love celebrating this holiday because it is full of so much symbolism, happiness and good luck! The children began the holiday by sweeping up the classroom to get rid of the old and welcome the new! The children also learned about the traditional Lion Dance and took turns being the lion.  In a traditional lion dance, you will hear a lot of loud drums, gongs and cymbals during the lion dance because the loud music scares away bad luck.  The lion costume is very intricate with lots of colors and a big head because just like the music, the lion is scaring away bad luck.  To continue our studies, the children practiced their scissor skills and made lanterns to decorate the classroom to prepare for the lantern festival.  

We also love to cook whenever we can, the teachers whipped up a batch of noodles for the children to eat with chopsticks! The children enjoyed the challenge of using chopsticks to eat!  We also talked about the Chinese Zodiac and the year of the Rooster.  Many of the children in our classroom were born during the year of the rabbit (2011), dragon (2012), snake (2013) and horse (2014).  

To continue the new year celebrations, our artist of the month was Qi Baishi (Last name = Qi, pronounced "Chi"), and we called him Mr. Chi for short! Mr. Chi had a very traditional painting style using a simple brush and ink.  He was know for his whimsical and playful style also using watercolors. The children were introduced to his painting, "Fleurs de Prunier" (year unknown) and recreated his work using a "blow painting" technique using ink, a pipette and a straw. The children first used the pipette to drip paint onto their paper (we used Chinese newsprint as our paper!), then a straw was used to blow the paint to create the cherry blossom branches.  After the branches were created, the children used either a Q-tip or their pinky finger to make small cherry blossom flowers.  The results were nothing short of beautiful! 


It's been a busy winter so far!

We have all been busy learners since our last blog post! We have so much to catch you up on! We all came back to school after the holidays very excited to begin snowflake studies.  We didn't have much snow of our own but that didn't stop us from exploring the science of snowflakes.  Did you know that all snowflakes begin as a teeny tiny hexagon? As the snowflake falls from the sky, it begins to grow 6 symmetrical "arms" before it lands on the ground.  The children were introduced to Wilson Bentley aka "Snowflake Bentley." He was the first person to successfully photograph snowflakes.  He wanted to share the beauty of each individual snowflake with the world.  It wasn't until many, many years after his discoveries that he was celebrated for his work. Inspired by the beauty of Snowflake Bentley's photographs, he became our Artist of the Month! Starting with the hexagon shape, the children designed their own snowflakes which included 6 symmetrical arms, just like real snowflakes have! The children's work proudly hung on the hallway bulletin board for all to see!

Following snowflakes studies, the children dove right in to a unit on penguins! The little guys are not sonly cute, they are also quite fascinating! We began by talking about the body parts of a penguin and the uniqueness of their body "features."  The children learned to label several of the penguin's body part including the beak, webbed feet, claws, wedge-shaped tail and flipper.  The children also measured themselves and discovered that they are taller than 16 of the 17 varieties of penguins in the world. The tallest penguin, the emperor penguin, stands at a whopping 4 feet tall! It was hard for all of us to imagine what it would feel like to stand face to face with a penguin! Fun fact: did you know that penguins in the wild can only be found in the southern hemisphere? This includes Antarctica, Australia, South Africa and the Galapagos Islands! Mostly in place with few predators since penguins do not fly.


A Ride to the North Pole

Happy Holidays! The children had an exciting week before break exploring and experiencing Hanukkah and Christmas traditions. There was plenty of gelt to be won during the Dreidel game, and the children loved learning the Dreidel song. We also took a wild ride to the North Pole for a visit with Santa. The children gave the conductor their golden ticket and jumped aboard. We also learned about the Menorah and its 9 candles including the Shamash candle.

On Thursday and Friday we wore our pajamas and had a special holiday snack of pancakes with butter and syrup. Yum! We played holiday games including pin the nose on Rudolph! The children created a variety of Christmas crafts such as our very own handprint Balsam Fir. We took turns guessing what type of Christmas tree we had in our house based on its smell, texture and color. We hope everyone had a wonderful break and Happy New Year!

Cookies and Cupcakes Galore!

Our baking theme continued this week, and we focused our learning on delicious cupcakes and cookies.  The week started by using what we know about cupcakes and cookies to compare similarities and differences using a Venn diagram on our easel.  We also decorated our own cupcakes by coloring the wrapper and painting on our "frosting" we made ourselves by mixing shaving cream, glue, and food coloring. It looked delicious but wasn't for eating! Stay tuned for pictures of our oatmeal cookie sculptures that we will send home after we dry them out and paint them.

We have also been reading some favorite books like, If You Give A Cat A Cupcake, Gingerbread Friends, and Who Took The Cookies From The Cookie Jar.  We also tweaked some of our favorite games at circle time to relate to the theme of our books.  "Doggie Doggie Where's Your Bone" transformed into "Baker Baker Where's Your Cupcake," and "Hot Potato" turned into "Hot Muffin." We also had a blast singing, "Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?"  and compared the song to our book.  We will be finishing the week with a gingerbread man hunt, and determining which cookie is best by graphing the children's preferences. Are you now inspired to go bake cookies? :)