Preschool Valentine’s Day Celebration

ImageWe like to celebrate special holidays and events at Square Roots Preschool, but we don’t want to cast learning aside. This week for Valentine’s Day, we planned a variety of festive activities that kept us on track with our lesson plan. Check out some of the things we did:

Our sensory bin held a Valentine’s Day theme. Inside, the students found metallic streamers, heart-shaped jewels, pinto beans, glitter, sparkly foam hearts, folded paper, feathers, and cupcake liners. The students scooped, poured, and picked through the bin, discovering shapes and textures.

Our sensory bin was full of love.

Our sensory bin was full of love.

We reviewed letters Qq, Rr, Ss, and Tt this week, and part of that review was to “trace” those letters, both capital and lower case, in candy conversation hearts. With the promise of receiving a couple of candies to eat if they resisted temptation and focused on the activity, the students (mostly) kept on task.

Letter review.

Letter review.

Our Valentine’s Day projects included heart-shaped name puzzles. Each student received the pieces to his or her name to place in the correct order and glue onto paper.

Heart-shaped name puzzles

Heart-shaped name puzzles

The students made Valentine pockets to help collect Valentines from their classmates.

Valentine pockets.

Valentine pockets.

Though we had a fun Valentine’s Day party, we didn’t trade our healthy snack for junk food. We dined on fresh, organic produce in shades of red.

Our healthy snack.

Our healthy snack.

Other activities included matching cards in the suit of hearts, heart writing practice, bubble print hearts, and heart hopscotch. We learned how to say “Quieres ser mi valentin?” during our Spanish lesson, and how to say “I love you” in Sign Language.

Our students had a fabulous time this week learning and celebrating, and we even had time to move and groove to love songs during our Valentine’s Day party. Happy Valentine’s Day from Square Roots Preschool!

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It’s the Journey, Not the Destination: Learning to Write Your Name

When a child learns to write his or her name, it is a huge milestone. This achievement often happens during the preschool years. We often focus singularly on the end product without realizing all that is involved. Learning to write your name takes a lot of developmental skills working together, all at the same time–skills, for a preschooler, that have only just been learned or may still be in process.

In order to write his name, a preschooler has to have the fine motor skills and hand muscle strength to hold the pencil, have hand-eye coordination to put pencil to paper, make a brain-to-hand connection, and be able to recognize and write the individual letters in his name in the correct order. Whew! That’s a lot of work!

In order for all of this to happen together, each individual skill must be introduced, practiced, and developed. Various activities throughout our day at Square Roots Preschool help us develop these skills. For example:

• An art project that requires students to glue small objects onto paper works helps develop the pincher grasp, a fine motor skill important to holding a pencil.

• Practicing with scissors builds hand-eye coordination and also hand muscle strength, both essential to the writing process.

• Working on letter recognition in a variety of ways, including art projects, songs, and sound repetition all leads to letter recognition and, thus, execution.

• Before a child can form letters, he forms pictures, and before he forms pictures, he forms scribbles. Scribbling is important, and young preschoolers in our class do a lot of it!

• Playing catch during outside exploration time helps develop hand-eye coordination, a skill critical to writing.

• Crawling, for both babies and preschoolers, helps build upper body strength and wrist strength, which is essential to writing.

So there are many activities that seem completely unrelated to writing but are critical to developing writing skills. By encouraging our preschoolers to build writing skills in a variety of pre-writing activities, we keep them engaged and interested so that they come to the table with a solid foundation, ready to write their names for the first time.

Our Happy Thanksgiving

We celebrated Thanksgiving early at school by making the classic hand turkey! Ms. Taryn traced each student’s hand, and they embellished them with googly eyes, feathers, and crayon as a special decoration to take home for their families. These hand turkeys will be treasured for years to come, and if laminated, can be used as place mats, or just better-preserved. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Square Roots Preschool!

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Healthy Halloween!

At Square Roots Preschool, we strive to educate our students about wellness and making healthy choices. Snacks are organic whenever possible and always healthy, and each snack time is accompanied by a nutrition discussion. But what about Halloween? Did we make an exception?

No way! But we didn’t miss out on the fun, either. We opted against candy and punch and, instead, had some healthy snacks at our class Halloween party.

ImageWhat was on the menu?

• Ghostly Eggs–hard boiled eggs with spooky faces

• Monster Mouths–apples, peanut butter, raw sunflower seeds

• Spooky Spiders–bananas, pretzels, raisins

The children absolutely loved the fun party food, and it helped to fuel them for the rest of their exciting day.

“I” is for Ice Cream (in a bag)

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of the letter “I?” ICE CREAM, of course! We thought the same thing. Since our preschoolers learn by doing, we not only ate ice cream in school today, we made ice cream! We’re usually all about being healthy, but we couldn’t pass up this opportunity for fun and learning (we used organic ingredients, of course).

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Here’s what we used for each student:

• Ice cubes (enough to halfway fill a gallon Ziploc)

• 1 cup of half and half

• 1/2 cup of salt (kosher or rock is best)

• 2 T. sugar

• 1/2 t. vanilla extract

• 1 pint-sized Ziploc

• 1 gallon-sized Ziploc

Here’s what we did:

We first combined the sugar, vanilla, and half and half in the pint-sized Ziploc bag and sealed it tightly.

We then put the ice in the gallon-sized Ziploc bag (about half full) and added the salt. Then we placed the small bag into the larger one with the ice.

Then…shake, shake, shake! We shook until our mixture turned solid(ish).

Most importantly, we ate our creations right out of the bag! The students were very excited to taste the ice cream and were very proud to tell their parents that they made ice cream all by themselves. They practiced patience, followed directions, and achieved a spectacular result for their efforts.

The Importance of Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is an important part of our school day. Preschool-aged children learn through acting-out and get to try on different roles, which is important part of development. By participating in our dramatic play areas, our students use their imaginations, participate in symbolic play, develop language, and have the opportunity to practice social interaction skills.

Each month, we rotate our dramatic play area. This year we have had a kitchen, a transportation area, and just this week, we rolled out the campground, which our students were excited about. The students had a pretend cookout, “slept” in our tent, “roasted marshmallows” over our pretend camp fire, and told ghost stories. What fun we had camping at school!

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Letter Learning

At Square Roots Preschool, we focus on one letter each week. We fully immerse ourselves in learning about that letter, and almost all activities center around the letter and the sound of the letter so that the learning is reinforced throughout the week. Sure, we practice writing the letter, but most of our work is play, so we spend most of our time interacting with and applying the sound of our featured letter. We recently learned all about the letter “Hh.” Some of the week’s H-centered activities included:

• Letter “Hh” Song

• Handprints

• Matching Halves/Measuring Height

• Hair Gel Sensory Bin

• Hula Hooping

• Learning “Help” in Sign Language

• Listing Words That Begin with “Hh”

• Hammering

• Watching a Video about Hurricanes

• Making Hurricanes

• Halloween Hs

• Hearts of Palm for Snack

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