January 2017 News

December in Review
It is hard to believe that it has been five months since the newsletter information included how to prepare your child for the first day of school. Here it is January and we are half way done with the 2016-2017 school year. As Alexander Pope said, “Swift fly the years.” It was once heard, “And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been.” Yes, the year of 2017 will be packed with fresh thoughts and ideas with reason and purpose. This is how we plan for days here at Discovery Trails. We know that each moment counts and should not be wasted. We can never get this time back with the children and we want their life to be complete with wonder, awe and amazement. Oh, and some education too!

In December, our themes included Math and Literacy and Holidays Around the World. Math was emphasized through literature and understanding the CONCEPT of numbers was exercised. The students added by one and subtracted by one as well as made equal groups of items and eventually skip counted by 10’s to 100. Sorting, measuring and
comparing were also included in this unit. We finished up the month by learning about a few celebrations from around the world. The children were introduced to Chanukah, St. Nicholas, Boxing Day, La Befana, Christmas in Russia, New Years in Japan and the Feast of Yule. We ended the month with our Wintersköl Party where the kids enjoyed a marshmallow snowball fight, ice skating on waxed paper, making snowmen and reindeer with donuts and exchanging books. Then the students entertained their adults with a sign language version of Frosty the Snowman.

Dates to Remember
January 4: Back to School!
January 16: Martin Luther King Day-No School
February 20: President’s Day- No School
February 21: Report Card Day/Discretionary Conferences Noon Release
February 22-Field Trip to Millibo Art Theater

Looking Ahead to January
The themes for January will be Winter and Snow with an emphasis on Antarctica and Penguins and we will also begin our Author Study Theme the second half of the month. The Winter and Snow unit will incorporate science into our curriculum. We will observe snow and ice and learn the scientific method. We will predict what will melt snow faster and estimate whether or not we are as big as an Emperor Penguin. Our Author Study will last for four weeks and this year we will examine the works of Leo Lionni, Ezra Jack Keats, Robert Munsch and David Wiesner. We know there are many, many wonderful children’s writers out there. We have chosen eight particular authors (four each year of our rotating curriculum) to emphasize different inspirations. This year the authors each have a specialty we want to share with the children. Leo Lionni was a four-time Caldecott Honor Winner for his illustrations and his books often depict opportunities for children to learn social skills. Ezra Jack Keats was one of the first children’s author to use children of color in his books. He felt that most children’s books did not portray the real life of children in inner cities. Humor is a wonderful avenue to get children interested in books so Robert Munsch is often a favorite. He uses silly situations to help children through average childhood dilemmas. David Wiesner is one of today’s authors who often uses pictures, instead of words, to tell a story. This helps the students to create the words themselves and use their imagination and not only understand that pictures can tell a tale but that tales can be different for each person.

With the new themes in January, the integrated subjects will permit children to enjoy:
 Participating in “snowman” math that will encourage one-to-one correlation, counting objects or solving addition or subtraction math sentences depending on ability
 Eliminating buttons while comprehending Frog and Toad and the Lost Button
 Discovering the sounds and penmanship of the letters Jj, Qq and Uu
 Listening for the rhymes -up, -ice, -ow
 Understanding the measurement of an inch
 Comparing their own size with that of an Emperor Penguin
 Predicting what will melt snow
 Observing the stages ice takes when going from a solid to a liquid
 Discussing fact versus fiction as it pertains to penguins
 Detailing life in Antarctica and the South Pole
 Rehearsing the scientific method as predicting, observing, comparing, journaling and 

Just a Note… As you all know Discovery Trails provides an individual plan for learning for each child. These look different depending on age, needs, ability and desire of each individual student. For the subject of language arts, emergent literacy refers to the development of skills that lead to reading and writing. From birth, children are on this progressive journey. Children develop at their own individual pace and do not learn the same thing, the same time or the same way. Hence, individual lessons are created to help each child develop in this area. Individualization of curriculum spans from understanding the alphabet to learning word families to reading Level Two Readers. This is done through individual expectations in large group activities, lessons in small ability groups and personalized private work. Because of individual needs at rest time, these opportunities vary by the student and by the day. If there are any questions as to what we are doing with your child, please feel free to set up a meeting or contact us via email.

Just another reminder about appropriate outdoor Winter wear. Please, please provide you children with a Winter coat, hat/hood and gloves/mittens. The temperature on our playground at 10 am is much lower than the high temperature at three in the afternoon. We spend about 40 minutes outdoors during recess daily and then on Thursdays and Fridays, there is an additional 30 minutes outdoors for PE. When the temperature is only 25-40 degrees, children’s ears and hands do get cold.

The Importance of Outdoor Play
The outdoors is the very best place for preschoolers to practice and master emerging physical skills. It is in the outdoors that children can fully and freely experience motor skills like running, leaping, and jumping. It is also the most appropriate area for the practice of ball-handling skills, like throwing, catching, and striking. And children can perform other such manipulative skills as pushing a swing, pulling a wagon, and lifting and carrying movable objects.

Additionally, it is in the outdoors that children are likely to burn the most calories, which helps prevent obesity, a heart disease risk factor that has doubled in the past decade. With studies showing that as many as half of American children are not getting enough exercise– and that risk factors like hypertension and arteriosclerosis are showing up at age 5– parents and teachers need to give serious consideration to ways in which to prevent such health problems. The outside is also important because the outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland, the part of the brain that regulates the “biological clock,” is vital to the immune system, and makes us feel happier.

Outdoor Play Contributes to Learning
The outdoors has something more to offer than just physical benefits. Cognitive and social/emotional development are impacted, too. Outside, children are more likely to invent games. As they do, they’re able to express themselves and learn about the world in their own way. They feel safe and in control, which promotes autonomy, decision-making, and organizational skills. Inventing rules for games (as preschoolers like to do) promotes an understanding of why rules are necessary. Although the children are only playing to have fun, they’re learning
 communication skills and vocabulary (as they invent, modify, and enforce rules).
 number relationships (as they keep score and count)
 social customs (as they learn to play together and cooperate). 
Learning to Appreciate the Outdoors 
We can’t underestimate the value of the aesthetic development promoted by being outside. Aesthetic awareness refers to a heightened sensitivity to the beauty around us. Because the natural world is filled with beautiful sights, sounds, and textures, it’s the perfect resource for the development of aesthetics in young children. 
Preschoolers learn much through their senses. Outside there are many different and wonderful things for them to see (animals, birds, and green leafy plants), to hear (the wind rustling through the leaves, a robin’s song), to smell fragrant flowers and the rain-soaked ground, to touch (a fuzzy caterpillar or the bark of a tree), and even to taste (newly fallen snow or a raindrop on the tongue). Children who spend a lot of time acquiring their experiences through television and computers are using only two senses (hearing and sight), which can seriously affect their perceptual abilities. ~Rae Pica-Early Childhood News
Specials News

PE: Welcome to January PE lessons! Helping your child understand the importance of life long physical exercise is one of the best gifts you can give them and it will last them a lifetime. The best way to teach them is to model this type of behavior. A quick game of inside hide and seek sparks their interest and helps them have some fun time with you. I usually hide something in the room and when they search for it I call out “colder” or “warmer”. Just a thought! During this month we will be exploring different movements and ways to bend and stretch our bodies (ask your child to show you the scissor leg lift). One such activity will be to incorporate some dance moves into the inside PE classes. Street dance is a very energetic style. Children get a workout without even realizing it and learn how to exercise safely and effectively whilst being kept focused learning new moves and routines to pop and dance music. They will learn how to think creatively, choreographing elements on their own. The benefits include helpings students to interact with each other (as a team as well as work on their own), be part of a structure, be disciplined and gain confidence in demonstrating moves in front of peers. ~Mr. Crofford

Sign Language: During the month of December, the students have been learning the signs for different types of weather. They did well signing sentences and songs using weather words. We had fun using those signs and others we know to sign the song, Frosty the Snowman. We also began learning about what opposites are and practiced some of those signs. Some of our favorite activities this month included: working with partners to learn and practice opposites signs, playing an opposites concentration game, and singing “Frosty” for our families! The students also reviewed number and color signs. Next month we will continue learning about opposites and talk about community helpers.~ Mrs. Draper

Art/Drama: Art and Drama students experimented with the elements of art using line, shape, and color this month. One of their favorite books, Mouse Paint, illustrated how to use primary colors and mix colors to create tempers paintings. After reading Bringing Down the Moon, they drew wonderful pastels of moons and trees on dark paper. We “drew with scissors” to make a winter scene and added Frosty the Snowman! We will be setting a date soon for their performance. Stay tuned! ~ Mrs. Ruth

Music: This month the students have been learning about math in music. Not only have we done a lot of counting and songs with numbers, but we have also learned that songs can contain patterns in words and music. One of our favorite songs is, Five Little Ducks and when one of the students suggested changing it to Ten Little Ducks, everyone enjoyed kind of making it their own song! They practiced listening to and repeating patterns with shakers and a drum. We also learned about shapes and had fun doing The Alligator Chomp, an action song with repeating patterns. Next month we will begin learning about elements in music such as: pitch, tone, and dynamics. ~Mrs. Draper

Crossing the Midline
During the month of January, we will be working on crossing the midline in the classroom. The midline is an imaginary line that runs down our bodies separating the left side from the right. Crossing the midline develops as children develop bilateral coordination. It is important as children grow to move from having each side work concurrently with the other to push, pull and crawl, to the preschool years where children need to be able to coordinate a strong hand while using the other to assist. This is evident in skills such as cutting while one hand maneuvers the scissors and the other holds and turns the paper. By crossing the midline, children encourage the hemispheres of the brain to communicate and coordinate learning and movement. Such activities as Miss Mary Mack. windmills, crazy eights and scissor steps will help support this important physical development. These activities, as well as others, will help the students develop strong fine motor skills.

November 2016

October in Review
October has come to a close and November and December are two very busy months. Please remember to check the school calendar for special days and holiday closings. Do not forget to provide your children with warm outdoor clothing and check your emails for weather updates when the snow eventually comes our way.
We have finished up our Harvest and Pumpkin Themes. We learned about the six parts of the plant and the life cycle of the pumpkin. The students dissected seeds, plants and pumpkins and wrote stories about this rounded squash. We also learned how animals prepare for Winter with migration, hibernation and adaption. Despite our longing to hibernate for the winter, we have learned that most people just
adapt to the shorter days and colder weather…bummer.

Dates to Remember
November 10-Field Trip to the Ghost Town Museum
November 11-Pioneer Day 10:00 AM-11:30AM
November 18: Thanksgiving

Family Feast 12:00PM

November 21-25: Thanksgiving Break-No School

Looking Ahead to November
In November, we will be doing our one “abstract” unit for the year, Pioneers. It is our philosophy that we teach what we can make “real” for children and discussing people who lived long ago and lived so different from what we do today is a hard concept for children. We will do many activities to support “real” learning and the children will discover how pioneers travelled, went to school, cooked, hunted and what life was like day to day. We will also learn the history of our beautiful state Colorado. We will culminate this unit with Pioneer Day on November 11th. We will be asking for parents to volunteer for this very active day so please be watching for ways you can help.
The week before our Thanksgiving Break, we will learn about pasta. The focus will be from Wheat to Pasta and there will be a lot of cooking during this unit. One day we will also be making our own homemade pasta and charting our favorite toppings. Jealous? You should be!
More specifics about what is coming up in November include:
Language Arts:
 Alliteration Review of Aa, Oo, Dd, Cc and Ee
 Introduce Ff and Gg
 Rhyme -ain, -op and -air
 Writing and illustrating what we would pack for a trip in the 
ol’ west
 Make hornbooks
 Write what we like to do when we are alone
 Gathering facts through literature 
 Practice numbers 7, 8 and 9 and match the quantity
 Work on tangrams
 Pattern pasta necklaces
 Order pasta by size
 Estimate how many pizzas it will take to cross the blue rug
 Make pasta, bake biscuits, make apple butter
 “Disappearing” water experiment \

Music: October has passed quickly as we have practiced listening and following directions given in songs. Some of the songs included: “The Magic Seed”, “Can you do it?” and “I’m a Good Listener”. We have also been reviewing the seasons with “It’s Fall Again” and “The Four Seasons” song. Our favorite direction song this month was “If You’re a Kid, Dance Around”. A fun listening/singing game we played was, “Doggie, Doggie, Where’s Your Bone?” Next month we will be learning about tempo and the ways it can change in songs. ~Mrs. Draper
PE: For PE, the month of October was full of eye-hand-foot coordination activities. The children practiced catching balls, beanbags and balloons and throwing these same objects in an intended direction. The students also practiced hitting a ball on a Tee and kicking a stationary and moving ball.
Hopping and jumping will be the focus in November for our motor skills program. We will encourage these two skills through games such as the Jump Bump, Jack Be Nimble, Jump Scotch, the Bubble Wrap Jump and Hoop Jump.
Art/Drama: The children have been developing a drama vocabulary with words such as props, costumes and makeup. We read Backstage with Claudio, a story about a theatre cat who lives behind the stage and assists the stage manager with the play Peter Pan. Students have been acting out familiar stories and performing for one another. Many of the plays were created by the actors themselves and have themes such as “Circus” and ” Rocket Ship!!” So many wonderful imaginations in the class!~Mrs. Ruth
Sign Language: This month we have been learning signs for different foods, animals, and some plants. It was fun talking about our favorite foods in sign language. We have been signing sentences as we talked about what we had for breakfast. The students enjoy trying to figure out what a friend has said with only their signs and no audible clues. We also learned signs for “Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate,” a flannel board poem we have had in one of our learning centers this month. The students also liked signing an animal name and then putting that animal in an appropriate habitat picture. Next month we will be learning family and manners signs while we continue reviewing food and animals. ~Mrs. Draper
Pioneer Day: On Friday, November 11th, we will be celebrating Pioneer Day. After learning about the life style and trials and triumphs of pioneers we will celebrate these brave men and women with a party of sorts. We will have stations set up with activities and we will move the children around in small groups. We will be making butter (to have on Johnny Cakes), bandanas, candles and racing homemade boats. We will need one parent volunteer for each station. If you are willing to help, please let us know.
Pioneer Day is open to ALL Discovery Trails students whether this is a scheduled day or not. The celebration will be from 10:00AM-11:30AM and the children that do not typically attend on Fridays, may attend from during this time.
Family Thanksgiving Feast: Our Family Thanksgiving lunch will be Friday November 18th at 12:00 PM. ALL families are invited to share a very kid-friendly meal at Discovery Trails. We will be creating a potluck lunch sign-up sheet soon. We ask that the food be kid-friendly. By no means do we need traditional Thanksgiving food but items like macaroni and cheese, fruit trays, cheese trays, etc. Discovery Trails will be furnishing the meat…turkey breast possibly… and the place settings. We are still open for school in the afternoon but please think about your child and if saying good-bye to you twice in a day is too hard for him or her. Please feel free to take your child home after the lunch if you think this will be too hard. Although we think everything we do is important, this particular afternoon will be rest and play before school is over at 3:30. No instructional time will be offered. Please stay tuned for more information.
Ghost Town Museum Field Trip: On Thursday, November 10th, we will be going on a field trip to the Ghost Town Museum. This museum is located at Colorado and 8th Street. To support our Pioneer Theme, this trip will give us a good idea of what life was like long ago. Each area of the museum is set up as it looked in the 1800’s with many real artifacts. If the weather is nice, we will be able to “pan for gold” before we return. We will leave school about 9:45 and return before lunch. More information and permission slips will go home shortly. We will need at least two parent helpers to ride along in the van to help. These chaperones will be given paid admission to the museum in exchange for helping provide supervision the children and assisting in getting all the students in their car seats safely. If your child does not attend school on Thursdays, you may choose to attend the field trip with your child and provide transportation and entrance fees. Please let us know if you will be joining us no later than Tuesday November 8th.

April News 2016

March in Review

March was a short but active month. We finished up the Visual Arts Theme with a memorable Art Show on March 4th. Thanks to all of you for attending. The children worked so hard and were very proud of their work and what they had learned. We then began our physics theme of Simple Machines. The students have thus far been introduced to wheels and axles, inclined planes and wedges. The children have learned that Simple Machines make life easier and that more complex machines are made up of more than one simple machine. While learning about wheels and axles, the students learned it was easier to move Ms. Baker when she was on wheels than without. They were presented with the idea that gears are wheels with teeth and made an invention using gears with a team. They discovered that the gear that turns the other gears is the “driver” and several gears put together is called a “train.” During inclined planes the children experimented with different materials to determine which would be faster on a slide. The children tried foil, paper plates, cardboard, waxed paper, tissue paper and bubble wrap. They also used an inclined plane (a ladder) to write their names on the ceiling. The idea of the inclined plane led to the presentation of the wedge. The children learned how a wedge has one fatter side and one side that is thinner to cut through things with tools like scissors, knives and axes and they realized they have their own set of wedges, their teeth. We finished up March learning about pulleys and levers and enjoyed using catapults to paint beautiful art!

In April…
In April we will be shifting from Simple Machines to Aeronautics to Animal Life Cycles. We will end the Simple Machine Unit with screws, levers and pulleys. We will finish the theme with creating egg protectors and dropping eggs off of our climber outside. In mid-April we will go into our Aeronautics Theme and learn about flight. We will learn how air has power and makes planes stay afloat and we will discuss speed, lift and thrust as we launch our own paper rockets. We will then go into our Life Cycle Theme with a study of snakes and frogs. We will then move into our study of the butterfly as we raise our own Painted Ladies from caterpillar to chrysalis to adult in May.

Also in April:

Language Arts:
• Handwriting and alliteration for Nn, Mm and Hh
• Rhyming sounds -oo (like school), -een and –ick
• Asking questions to gain information
• Writing: Where will you go and how will you get there?
• Journaling: One day my friend and I ____________.

Math, Social Studies and Science:
• Writing and Valuing: 15, 16, 17 and 18
• Observing: Geo shapes
• Sensing: Textures
• Discovering: Simple Machines
• Creating: A water wheel
• Problem Solving: How can you lift a teacher?
• Understanding: Balance

Specials News:
PE: Tumbling was the theme for PE in March. We concentrated on using tumbling to gain strength, agility, flexibility and endurance. The children rolled forwards ad backwards during a game of “Rock and Roll” and participated in a rolling obstacle courses. The students also practiced forwards and backward somersaults on a mat being spotted by Ms. Baker. In April we will concentrate on “Spatial Awareness.” We will use positional words such as over, under, above, next to, around and across using our bodies in certain directions. We will play directional games, games with hula- hoops, Lions and Bears and “I Spy” using our bodies. . ~Ms. Baker

Music: During the month of March, the students have been learning more about keeping the beat in music. Using percussion instruments such as: rhythm sticks, wood blocks, and maracas with songs and chants has been a fun way to practice different beats. We also practiced using hand bells and played, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, “Row, Row, Your, Boat”, and “London Bridge is Falling Down”. One of our favorite activities was echoing the beat the teacher made as she read aloud the book, ”Max Found Two Sticks”. Next month, we will be learning about feelings in music and dance. ~Mrs. Draper

Sign Language: This month, the students have been learning the signs for things around the home. Choosing an item and placing it in toy house was a fun way to practice. We reviewed some opposites signs such as: big-little, pretty-ugly, dirty-clean, etc. Reviewing food and manners signs was fun as we went grocery shopping with partners in our pretend store. The students also practiced counting 1-20 and by tens to 100. Using signs during singing time and rhyme time has been helpful practice too. Next month, we will continue reviewing and learn signs for feelings and emotions. ~Mrs. Draper

Art and Drama: Students met the impressionaists through books of James Mayhew and the adventures of Katie. We made dot paitings with q- tips in the style of impressionists. We reveiwed the color wheel and mixed white with all the colors to make pastel colors. In dance and movemet we have been learning Hawaiian dance and the grapevine step in circle dance. The children have been preparing for performance using theatre games and storytelling. ~Mrs. Ruth

March News 2016

February in Review
February was a very busy month…aren’t all the months? During the first two weeks of February we finished our Author Study Unit with Audrey Wood and Laura Numeroff. While studying about Audrey Wood we used our imaginations to explore what would happen next after the Napping House ended, create metaphors to go with I am as Quick as a Cricket and draw the never-shown bear in The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. Laura Numeroff books led us to experiment with cause and effect. The children wrote their own book, If you Give a _______ a _________ and we participated in an experiment with sharp pencils and a bag of water. The students predicted what would happen when the pencils were inserted into the bag of water. What happened surprised them all as no water leaked out. We then went into the Visual Arts Theme. The children have learned that art is not just painting and that we all get something different out of art. The students have been experimenting with different techniques and mediums and learning about different artists. So far they learned about Georgia O’Keeffe and Piet Mondrian.

In March they will be exposed to Jackson Pollack, Monet, Picasso and Michelangelo. The children also enjoyed a trip to The Concrete Couch in Manitou Springs. They were able to see the different studios and explore the distinctive artistic tools and materials. The children also made a tile out of clay that will help decorate a wall at the downtown library. They had a wonderful time visiting with artist Steve Wood.In March we will be ending our Visual Arts Theme in grand fashion. On March 4th the students will have an Art Show that will begin about 3:30 and end at 4:15. Please plan to come by and see what your student has been doing. Families are encouraged to admire the art that will be displayed and read about the children’s journey to the creation of that piece. It will be a wonderful
time. Cheese, fruit and juice will be provided.
After our Visual Arts Theme we will begin our physics theme of Simple Machines. The children will learn about wheels, axles, gears, levers, wedges, pulleys, inclined planes and screws. This theme will include a trip to Fire Station #9 on March 29th to see how simple machines make everyone’s life easier especially for the first responders.
Also coming up:
Language Arts:
 Handwriting and alliteration for Nn, Mm and Hh
 Rhyming sounds -oo (like school), -een and –ick
 Asking questions to gain information
 Writing: Where will you go and how
will you get there?
 Journaling: One day my friend and I ____________.
Math, Social Studies and Science:
 Writing and Valuing: 15, 16, 17 and 18
 Observing: Geo shapes
 Sensing: Textures
 Discovering: Simple Machines
 Creating: A water wheel
 Problem Solving: How can you lift a
 Understanding: Balance

Specials News:
PE: During the month of February we worked on Dexterity and Control in PE. These skills help students to draw and write with control and build with small blocks and use self- help skills like zippering jackets. The children enjoyed activities such as dropping clothes pins into a container, maneuvering a magnet on a “track” and stringing cereal.
In March, we will concentrate on tumbling to gain strength, agility, flexibility and endurance. The children will enjoy activities such as rolling forwards and backwards, crawling through tunnels, doing the camel and bear walks, dancing the bunny hop and going through obstacle courses. ~Ms. Baker

Music: This month the students have been learning about instruments, orchestras, and musical scores. We have learned about the four music families and made a chart showing that most of the instruments in our school belong to the percussion family. After listening to instruments playing alone and together in an orchestra, we listened to Peter and the Wolf. Everyone was in suspense waiting for the ending. It was fun using our school instruments and adapting them to our own version of Peter and the Wolf. Next month we will focus on keeping the beat and hopefully learn how to play a few songs with hand bells! ~Mrs. Draper

Sign Language: During the month of February, the students have been learning the signs for different types of transportation. They enjoyed working together as teams while playing a board game using the transportation signs. We also reviewed family and animal signs. The students have been learning question word signs that we hope to use during our Friday show and tell times. Signing songs is always fun and we began learning the signs to one of our favorites, “Four Seasons.” Next month we will be reviewing things around the home and learning machine and technology signs. ~Mrs. Draper

Art and Drama: Art and Drama students have been drawing and painting and using their imaginations to play theater games. Their favorite is “Wax Museum” where one player, the custodian, sets the theme (like rock stars or animals)
and they must be still like wax museum statues. The children then “melt” if the custodian sees them move. The last child standing gets to be the custodian the next time. Other games included storytelling, improv ad pantomime. We continued to read about Katie and her adventures in the museum as she visits the Mona Lisa and the Sunflowers. by Vincent Van Gogh. After reading Kapono and the Turtle, are students created ocean paintings using “cool colors” and blue, green and purple were added. by Vincent Van Gogh. After reading Kapano and the Turtle, are students created ocean paintings using “cool colors” and blue, green and purple were added. ~Mrs. Ruth

February News 2016

January in Review:
Wow, time really flies and as we plan for new adventures to come it is hard to believe we are already planning for end-of-the-year projects and field trips. January was a very busy month. We finished our Arctic Unit with many fun activities. We were able to use this theme to learn to sequence the events in a story, learn about hibernation, adaption and migration and understand more about polar bears. We enjoyed many opportunities to learn about camouflage. The children discovered how this is a survival mechanism for most animals. They enjoyed being given an animal to create a matching environment to help the animal camouflage. We then started our Author Theme and learned about the writings of Eric Carle and Kevin Henkes. Eric Carle uses children’s curiosity in animals to get them interested in reading. As a child he often took walks with his own father to observe nature. He then writes about these things to help young children discover the joy of Mother Nature. We supported Eric Carle’s works with specific art projects and animal-based math activities. The children enjoyed ladybug math and seahorse math that emphasized matching numbers or math sentences with dots and spaces. The children also had the opportunity to spend “dollars” to make decisions on what they were willing to buy for their hermit crab shell. Kevin Henkes introduced us to his characters who are primarily mice. He uses storytelling to talk about social situations children may encounter and he empowers his readers by giving them ideas and support. With his works, we were able to incorporate a lot of cooperative learning opportunities. The students also added pages to their journals with writings such as “I was brave when_____” and “I want to be _______.” Bicycle day was planned to support Henkes’ book Chester’s Way. In the book, Chester and his best friend, who ride bikes together, had to find a way to include a new girl who moved into their neighborhood.In February we will continue our Author Theme with the works of Audrey Wood and Laura Numeroff. The books by Wood will encourage abstract thinking such as creating the bear that is NOT seen in the book, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear and Numeroff will help us with the scientific idea of cause and effect as she is famous for writing If you Give a _____ a ______ stories.
After concluding the Author Unit, we will move into our Visual Arts Theme. We will be studying art forms and artists and learn that art is not just painting a picture. We will learn about the works of artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Mondrian, Jackson Pollack and Monet and create art based on books like Olivia, Why is Blue Dog Blue? and Lines. You will NOT see any of this art or the works of the children until the Art Show on March 4th. Then we will have a big reveal. There may be some pictures available on Facebook, but the specific art will be presented during the Art Show. We can be sneaky that way….
Also in February:
Language Arts:
 Journal writing “I am as quick as a _________”
 Drawing a Big Hungry Bear
 Thinking about “what happened
next” after a story ends
 Making a class book: “If you give a
_____ a ______”
 Writing a letter to Laura Numeroff
 Listening for rhymes for –ee, -art, –
ou and -ush
 Review letters Gg, Jj, Qq, Uu
 Handwriting and alliteration for Bb,
Pp, Rr
Math, Social Studies and Science:
 Estimate the number of chocolate chips in a cookie
 Muffins on a plate math activity
 Science experiment that involves a
bag of water and sharpened pencils
 Add and subtract piggies
 Color mixing
 Finish the shapes
 Spatial awareness
 Numbers 13, 14, 15

Specials News:
PE: For Physical Education in January, we have been focusing on crossing the midline. The midline is an imaginary line down the middle of the body. Bilateral integration (the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time) helps the two hemispheres in the brain to work together to perform tasks such as tying shoes, riding a bicycle, climbing stairs, writing and reading. Activities such as Miss Mary Mac, windmills, placing marbles in cups on opposite sides of the body and the scissor walk helped exercise this vital skill. In February, we will work on Dexterity and Control by playing with play dough, balancing pennies, cutting and sewing and threading. Soccer Buddies continues on Wednesday mornings with Coach Luke (**Coach Luke asks that children have tennis shoes on Wednesdays**). ~Ms. Baker
Music: January has gone by quickly as we have explored the musical elements of pitch, tone and dynamics. We have learned how to sing using high, medium and low voices as well as loud and soft voices. Our favorite activities involved using instruments to listen to different levels of pitch. The students especially liked using the triangle and hand bells. Next month we will learn about musical instruments and musical scores that tell a story. ~Mrs. Draper
Sign Language: This month we have learned signs for community helpers and talked about what we might want to be when we grow up. We have also been learning sport signs and had fun playing “What sport is in the box?” In February we will review opposites and learn signs for transportation and instruments. ~Mrs. Draper
Art and Drama: The book Katie and the Impressionists has been the guide for the students in art in January. Katie, the little girl in the book, wanted to give her grandmother flowers like the ones she has seen in paintings by Monet, Degas, and Renoir. As Katie did, the students explored mixing colors and even created their own “Starry Night.” ~Mrs. Ruth

January News 2016

December in Review

Wow, it seems so long ago that we had December! The children were very busy and the three weeks we were in school went by very
fast! The first two weeks the children were emerged in the Math and Numbers Theme. Although we do mathematics in some shape or form every day, this theme allowed us to submerge ourselves in arithmetic while using literature and songs. The children learned that math is about numbers and is a way to compare things. We emphasized number value by making groups of objects to see what 1 looked like, what 10 looked like and what 20 looked like. We compared how it takes fewer large objects to fill a space than it does for smaller objects. We looked at what zero means and played with negative space. We did addition activities while reading Counting Snails, subtraction activities with Splash! and played with division as we made equal sets while reading The Doorbell Rang. Using our feet, we practiced skip counting by two’s after enjoying the book Pairs of Socks. Numbers are fun. Numbers go on forever. Some said infinity was the biggest number. Some said googolplex was the largest number. Others felt 100 was the biggest number in the world. However, it was not until one little girl said 50 was the largest number when this 52- year-old classroom teacher terminated the discussion! We ended December with our wonderful Holidays Around the World Theme. Thank you so much to the families that shared their own traditions and beliefs. It was a very warm and inviting time.


PE: In Physical Education in December, the children worked on balance through play activities. They walked on balance beams, steadied themselves on a board with a fulcrum, walked between and outside of lines, followed obstacle courses and hopped on one foot. In January, the focus will be on crossing the midline. The midline is the imaginary line down the center of the body. This allows the two sides of the brain to ‘communicate’ with each other when performing a skill that requires them to work together. Crossing the midline helps children with everyday tasks such as writing and reading left to right, putting on socks and hitting a ball with a bat. The children will focus on this skill with games like “Miss Mary Mac,” hitting opposite knees to poems, playing Cross the Hand Drop and passing objects while switching hands. Soccer Buddies will continue to supplement our PE program and beginning in January will come every Wednesday. ~Ms. Baker

Music: The students have been learning about math in music during December. Not only have we done a lot of counting and songs with numbers, but we have also learned that songs can contain patterns in words and music. They enjoyed listening to and repeating patterns played on a drum. We had fun learning a song about animal comparisons and added sign language to it. Next month we will begin learning about elements in music such as: pitch, tone, and dynamics. ~Mrs. Draper

Sign Language: During the month of December, the students learned the signs for different types of weather. They did well signing sentences and songs using weather words. We had fun using those signs and others we know to sign the song, Frosty the Snowman. We also began learning about what opposites are and some of those signs. The students practiced counting to 20 with number signs and reviewed food signs as we played food bingo. Next month we will continue learning about opposites and talk about community helpers. ~Mrs. Draper

Art and Drama: Art students drew a picture that tells a story and added a few “behind-the -scenes” happenings in the sidebars. Using markers and watercolor wash, they illustrated their favorite story from a book or created an entirely new one. In Drama we played with story cards that sparked creativity and gave fresh ideas for acting and storytelling. Theater games, singing and dancing were incorporated and enjoyed as always. ~Mrs. Ruth


Looking Ahead to January-HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January Themes:  Arctic and Snow  and Begin  Authors Study (Eric Carle and Kevin Henkes)

   Language Arts:

  • Learning about authors and illustrators
  • Listening for word families for –ose, -ay, -ight,-ice
  • Handwriting and Alliteration of the letters Gg, Jj, Qq, Uu,
  •  Writing a polar bear comparison book
  •  Writing: “______ and the three _______.”
  • Sequencing the Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  •  Gathering information from non- fiction book

    Math, Science and Social Studies:

  • Expressing numbers and addition with Mitten math
  • Serrating snowmen
  • Problem Solving: “Where’s the


  • Using “money” to buy supplies for A House for Hermit Crab art project
  • Charting: “Are you as tall as a polar bear?” and “Have you thrown a snowball?”
  • Predicting what will melt the snow
  • Understanding how food source determines hibernating, migrating and adapting
  •  Observing ice and snow
  •  Studying polar bears
  •  Staying warm with blubber