March 2015 News

Dear Families,
Wow, the month of February was busy and fast. We had several special events and days and then we had snow days and delays that added to the busy-ness. From our Valentine’s Day Party to our Bear Snores On performance, we hardly had a chance to catch our breath.
Some of February Highlights….
Silly Socks Field Trip to Millibo Art Theatre
Wacky Hair Aaaargh! Pirate Day
Special Guests
The children finished up the Authors Theme with a focus on Robert Munsch and David Wiesner. During the week of Munsch the children enjoyed reading stories with humor. This was supported by including creating costumes out of paper bags, wearing specific colors to school, sporting wacky hair and showing off crazy socks. While studying David Wiesner, the students were able to use their imagination and “read” stories through pictures. They then wrote their own story using only the pictures they drew.
We then moved on to our Performing Arts Theme. The students presented their own play on February 27nd. Mrs. Ruth worked hard, but not as hard as the children as they retold the story of Bear Snores On and presented their own talents. Even teachers got in on the act…although the word “talent” is really pushing it! The children learned that the Performing Arts are anything that entertains other people. They discovered this can be juggling, dancing, singing, making people laugh and so much more. We enjoyed learning about different types of dance and watched Gene Kelly dance with Jerry the Mouse in Anchor’s Aweigh and watched hula dances, hip hop, tap, break dancing and so many more. The children were also exposed to musical instruments and musical scores that tell a story.
Our March themes are very science-based. We will be learning about Magnets and Static Electricity and then launching into Space. Experiments and hands on learning will be the focus to make these concepts real for the children. Please be sure to ask your kids a lot of questions!

Language Arts:
As mentioned above, we finished up our Author Theme with Robert Munsch and David Wiesner. We enjoyed the silliness of Munsch and followed his lead with wearing specific colors, having Wacky Hair Day, making clothes out of paper bags and wearing crazy socks for Crazy Sock Day. We drew self- portraits of ourselves with wacky hair and followed directions when we made cookies. We then learned about wordless stories with David Wiesner. The children authored their own wordless books and sequenced the story The Three Little Pigs. Once in the Performing Arts Theme, the students wrote about things that were loud and quiet and focused their attention on beginning, middle and end parts of telling stories aloud. The phonetic emphasis was on reviewing Q, U, S, B, P and then the Letter R. We also emphasized rhyming words and listened for the rhymes to -ice, -ance and -ink.
In March, we will be writing stories based on the science themes of Magnets, Static Electricity and Space. The children will tell tales about their own imaginary machines after reading Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel and learn how to gather facts from books. We will be listening for the sounds and writing the letters Nn, Mm and Hh. Our Rhyme of the Week Program will emphasize the rhymes –art, -ock and –ar.
Just a note about Emergent Reading and Writing: We have children here at Discovery Trails in various places in the reading continuum that lasts a lifetime. From children reading and writing at a 2nd grade level to those just discovering print, we take each child where he or she is in this process and create individual lessons to meet their specific needs.
Emergent Reading and Writing
Print plays an integral role in society and serves many purposes. So does it in an early childhood
environment. Children learn that print has meaning when they see their name on their cubby and listen to wonderful stories. Literacy builds language knowledge that research has shown will lead to better reading outcomes later in life (Campbell, Ramey, Pungello, Sparling and Miller-Johnson, 2002). Because of this, emergent writing is a priority for our classroom at Discovery Trails.
There are several stages in the journey of a writer that begins at birth. There is no age when children are “ready to read and write” but they do go through particular phases in their development to writing. Rushing through a stage or skipping a stage has detrimental long lasting effects and each stage needs guidance and support.
1. Scribbling: This stage of writing begins somewhere between 2-4 years of age as a child begins using writing utensils to make marks and circles on paper. As children begin to leave this stage, the marks become more purposeful and the child can tell others what their picture is all about.
2. Preschematic: When scribbling begins to be more representational children are in this stage. Children begin to draw pictures that have characteristics of what they are trying to draw. They begin to show a connection between their thinking and what they are illustrating and can see the relationships between objects like drawing the daddy bigger than the baby.
3. Writing through Drawing: The author begins to put thoughts and ideas onto paper. The pictures often tell a story or reflect an experience. This stage is important in the development of reading because “emergent readers believe that adults and teachers read pictures, not words” (Sulzby, 1985).
4. WritingthroughLetter-likeForms:Childrenbegintounderstandthatwritingisdifferentfrom drawing pictures and they start to create letter-like forms on paper to convey ideas. Random strings of letters are often seen at this time along with “pretend” cursive.
5. Writing through Inventive Spelling: At this stage, young children begin using their knowledge of the alphabet to write. They start matching sounds to letters they write testing different ways a word can be spelled. At this stage it is important for children to explore and hypothesize as they
make this transition. Over time, and this era varies, children begin to gravitate to more conventional spelling.
a. Duringthisphaseonecanexpectchildrento:
• String a list of letters together to form a “word”
• Depend on letter names for sounds like writing “MT” for empty.
• Vowel sounds are either non-existent, like when a child writes “KT” for cat, or there is some
effort to add vowels, when a child writes “fet” for feet.
• Children start to understand that sometimes a combination of letters make a sound like sh
and th. Children may write “chie” for try.
6. Conventional Spelling: As children begin to read more they begin to understand that certain
letters in a certain order make the same word every time. Children start learning how to spell words for spelling tests and they will often ask how to spell a word correctly.
Each stage of emergent writing is important and has meaning for the development of writing and reading skills. As teachers, we actually “read” a child’s drawing because to the child it is very intentional. When we can’t “read” it, we ask the child to read it to us. Emergent writing activities are the best way to connect thinking with writing capturing a child’s thoughts on paper.
Here are some ways you can encourage your child to “write” at home.
• Create a designated space for your child to write
• Offer a display area for your child to show off his or her work
• Offer lots of writing materials to encourage experimentation:
o Pencils and Colored Pencils o Crayons
o Thick and Thin Markers
o Pens
o Rubber Stamps and Ink Pads o Special Paper
o Tape
o Child-appropriate Scissors
o Envelopes
o Leftover Holiday/Birthday Cards o Chalk and Chalk Board
o Dry Erase Board and Markers
o Magazines for Cutting
Have Fun!!
Campbell, F.A., Ramey, C.T., Pungello, E.P., Sparling, J., & Miller-Johnson, S. (2002). Early childhood education: Young adult outcomes from the Abecedarian project. Applied Developmental Science, 6Sulzby, E. (1985a). Children’s emergent reading of favorite storybooks: A developmental study.
Reading Research Quarterly, 20
Math and Science
Our math and science studies in February were integrated into the themes. During our Author Study, students patterned the animals from the book Tuesday and added with warts. For science, the kids were introduced to the dynamics of sound, sound waves and hearing during the Performing Arts. They learned that sound waves go through the air until they are “caught” by the ear. From there, the waves vibrate the ear bones that send signals to the brain. The children learned about vibration and did many sound experiments like testing our brain memory for certain voices and sounds.
March will be overrun with science. The children will learn about magnets, static electricity and space. Learning centers to support these ideas will be available as we experiment with these concepts and “play” with magnetic properties and static. As we move into the Space Theme at the end of the month, we will
discover our place in space, play with gravity, make star tubes and space helmets and create glow-in-the dark pictures.
In February, our music program revolved around Instruments and Musical Stories. We listened to different types of instruments and stories told in music like The Carnival of the Animals and Peter and the Wolf. We also listened to Zin! Zin! Zin the Violin! That helped us learn about specific instruments. In March, the focus will be “Keeping the Beat.” We will use our rhythm sticks to tap to favorite songs, pass balls to each other during In the Hall of the Mountain King and march to the Turtle Rap.
In PE this month we have concentrated on body control. We played games that encouraged crossing the midline like doing the scissor walk and we practiced walking on our heels and our toes to encourage balance. On the few occasions we were able to do PE outside…curse you snow….we played with scooters and played bean bag hide and seek. In March we will be working on tumbling and finding our center of balance.~Ms. Freeland
Update coming in March…Mrs. Ruth has been busy herding cats…
Sign Language
In sign language we finished animals and learned how to sign emotions. We played games on how to express emotions and listened to the song Happy by Pharrell Williams. In March we will continue emotions and move into weather, plants and flowers. ~Ms. Smith
Lego Club
We have been building different animals in Legos. The kids have made their own plans and used Lego knowledge to build their favorite animals. We also made flowers in our effort to stop the snow. In March we will follow plans to build race cars and bikes. ~ Ms. Smith
Dates to Remember
March 8: Daylight Savings Time Begins…SPRING Forward!
April 2: Field Trip to the Space Foundation
April 17: PreK Conferences for those children going off to Kindergarten next year-No School May 4: May Day-No School
May 13:
May 22:
May 25:
May 26:
May 27:
Field Trip to the Cave of the Winds
Last Day of School Noon Dismissal and Luau! **Report Cards will be available**
Memorial Day-School Closed
Preschool Conferences
Memorial Day No School
Summer Dates:
June 10: Wednesday Skill Builder June 17: Wednesday Skill Builder June 24: Wednesday Skill Builder July 1: Wednesday Skill Builder
July 8: Wednesday Skill Builder July 13-17: SPACE CAMP!!!
Back to School Dates: (tentative)
August 10-12: Home Visits for New Students
August 13: Back to School Night-Adults only 6:30-7:30 August 15: Back to School Social-Families 10AM-12PM August 17: First Day of School