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!

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!


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).


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!


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


Our Naked Egg and Egg Drop Science Experiments

At Square Roots Preschool, we feel that science is an important part of our curriculum. Preschool-aged children have a natural curiosity about the world around them, and what better way to support that curiosity than by doing hands-on experiments that ask the children to make predictions, observations, and draw conclusions.

When we studied the letter “Ee,” we conducted our naked egg science experiment. The first part of our experiment required us to place an egg carefully in a glass and pour vinegar over the top. Some students predicted that the egg would float, and others predicted that the egg would sink. The students each got a chance to pour (with a little bit of help). They observed that the egg floated! The next part of our experiment required patience. We had to wait a few days to see what effect the vinegar would have on the egg.

After a few days, the shell of the egg became soft, and the yolk of the egg became rubbery, like a ball. Since young students learn best by doing, the students got to feel the egg and yolk and describe it. It was ooey-gooey scientific fun!


Later in the week, we conducted an Egg Drop experiment, which taught us about cause and effect and prediction. Each student chose a material to protect his or her egg, and then everyone predicted what would happen to each egg. With no protection, the students predicted that

The yolk will go all over the ground!


I don’t know.

Drop it down!

I think it will break.

We then protected the egg with a paper napkin, bubble wrap, absorbent pad, plastic baggie, and a towel, in turn. Each student had the opportunity to drop their own egg and make observations about the results. We concluded that bubble wrap was the most protective material because the egg didn’t break at all!


Too often, science is considered something “extra” for young students. Science lessons help develop so many skills, so we feel it is important to make the subject an integral part of our school day. For more information about the importance of science (and math) for young learners, check out Math and Science in Preschool: Policies and Practice.

Keeping Things Moving Helps Us Sit Still

Square Roots Preschool employs a play-based curriculum, where we are always playing, but always learning. Although we move around quite a lot, we do ask that our students spend some time sitting. Being able to sit still is a big challenge for children between the ages of three and five, but it’s a necessary one. And children should be challenged in order to grow.

ImageSo when it’s time to sit down and listen during circle time, our students plant their pockets on their own fun, colored mats. The mats help them focus their physical presence, saying “this is where I belong right now.” Although they are asked to sit still and listen for a few minutes at a time, these periods are punctuated with a lot of movement in different forms. Most things we teach during circle time are accompanied by song. Music is both a tool to help with learning (like that commercial jingle you can’t get out of your head) and a good excuse to get up and move. As we’re learning the months of the year or the color of the week, the children have the opportunity to participate by singing and acting out specific movements that go with each song.

And then they plop back down for a few minutes to sit still and listen.

And then we’re back up singing the “jump up and down” song.

So even though we’re asking the students to sit at brief intervals throughout their day, we make sure they get their wiggles out. We keep things moving. When young students are given opportunities to move throughout the day, their “sitting still” time is much more successful, which not only helps them build this skill so necessary for life, but helps them build self confidence.

Balloon Ice Art

ImageOur students had a fantastic time making balloon ice art last week! It was a perfect activity to reinforce learning about the letter “B” and the color “orange” (until we decided to go wild with the colors). We loved this project so much because it was artistic, scientific, showed cause and effect, allowed the students to use patience and follow step-by-step directions, gave us an opportunity to work on fine motor skills, and make predictions, observations, and conclusions. WHEW! Oh, and it was also really fun. So fun, the students wanted to do it twice–so we did!

To make your own balloon ice art:

1. fill water balloons with water and measure around the balloon

2. freeze overnight

3. retrieve frozen balloons and predict if they will have expanded or contracted, then measure to see for sure

4. put frozen balloons on a tray and peel the balloon off of the ice (safely use scissors to get the balloon started)

5. rub salt onto the ice balloon to create craters and talk about what is happening

6. drip food coloring onto the ice balloon and watch it flow into and around the craters

7. set it aside and watch how it changes over the next few hours (just make sure your pan/tray is large enough to hold the ice melt!)

Thanks to Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas for the great idea!