April News 2015

April News 2015

Dear Parents,

Spring has finally sprung, or so the calendar says, and we are all looking forward to warmer weather. Spring also means we will be enjoying some great themes and activities for the month of April. After we finish up our Space Theme, we will head into our life cycle themes of Bats and then Arachnids. These creatures are sometimes thought of as creepy, but after we are done, we will all know the benefits of these wonderful beings in our lives.

 

March was a short month with the inclusion of Spring Break albeit it was a busy one. We finished up our physics study with Magnets and Static Electricity. During Magnets and Static Electricity, the children were able to really play with the subject as centers were the focal point of learning. The students were able to explore, experiment and examine magnets and static to understand attracting and repelling. During the Space Theme, the children were introduced to the idea that we all live in space, and, in a sense, we are all aliens. We played with the concept of gravity and learned what it is like to live out of our atmosphere.

 

In April, we will finish our Space Study by investigating stars and the moon. We will learn how each of these affects our daily lives. We will then move on to the study of Bats and then Arachnids. In these units we will learn the life cycle of each of these critters and understand how they help our environment. We will look at things like echolocation, web spinning and the eating habits of both the bat and the spider.

 

 

Discovery Trails’ Educational Philosophy

 

Discovery Trails develops curriculum based on state standards in Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Skills for young learners. Within the fundamentals of these guidelines we modify instruction to meet the needs of the students basing this on skill, motivation and learning style. Our goal is an environment that is established on a combination of a few educational philosophies, but the majority of it is progressivism.

 

Progressivism is an educational philosophy that emphasizes developing personal meaning through hands-on, activity-based, experiential teaching and learning. Traditional learning, or essentialism, is an authoritarian approach to learning. In contrast, what we do at Discovery Trails is a process that involves students not just repeating newly presented material, but internalizing and understanding the emergence of new information.

 

We encourage students to think. Rather than leading children to a particular answer, we allow students to develop their own ideas and pathways. Our day begins with a lesson in which all activities during the course of the day support. We integrate all subjects on the ideas that are presented during our morning group time. The lesson is presented and then activities are designed to support the concept through play, assignments and other endeavors. Children do not always remember what has been said, but they do remember what they did. Our themes are created to bring excitement into learning and to be a vehicle for the concepts needed to be learned for success in elementary school.

 

Because of this, Discovery Trails’ goal is for students to love school and learning. We take students from where they are emotionally, socially and academically and help them grow with fun, interesting and dynamic activities with support of their individual learning plans. We hope that the love of learning is the motivation for students to try new things, to learn innovated concepts and to enjoy the quest for knowledge.

 

Language Arts

In March the heavy emphasis of science dominated all subjects. In Language Arts, the students journaled, “If I had a machine it would______” and wrote where they would go if they rode a cable car. The children also did a comprehension activity in which they were read a description of a made-up character called a Rumpump and drew a picture it according to what they heard. The letters we worked on were Nn, Mm and Hh and we listened for the rhyming sounds –art and –ar.

 

In April the children will be learning about non-fiction writing. They will be writing facts about bats and creating a life cycle book about arachnids. The rhymes we will be working on will include -air, –ash,

-et and –ine and the letters Vv, Yy, Ww and Xx will be included in handwriting exercises.

 

Math and Science

Instead of March Madness, we had March Mad Scientist-ness. We had fun with both physics and space. With Magnets and Static Electricity we learned about opposing poles. With magnets, the poles are north and south and either they like each other and attract or don’t and repel. We even did an exercise in orienteering after we learned that the needle of a compass is pulled toward the magnetic North Pole.   With static, it works very much the same way as opposites attract and like energy pulls away. We began our space unit with concepts that are out of this world! We live in space! Really, we do! We discussed gravity and how it works and we became the solar system and revolved and rotated around the sun.

 

In April, we will continue with our space theme and focus on the sun as our closest star and the moon as our only satellite. We will talk about the phases of the moon and how it got all those craters! We will then move on into our life cycle themes of Bats and Arachnids. Among so much more, we will learn about the anatomy and eating habits of these incredible organisms.

 

For math, we integrated the science themes into activities that stressed estimation. We had the opportunity to estimate the number of stars on a piece of paper and the number of paper clips a magnet would pick up. With the latter, we discussed how the outcome could be different with each try and how other variables, like the size and shape of the magnet, could change the outcome of this estimation. We also practiced writing the numbers 16, 17 and 18 and worked on recognizing their value.

 

The math program in April will once again integrate theme. The children will enjoy a group “connect the dots” bat and draw the number of members in each one of our families linking the activity to the story Stellaluna. We will also chart whether or not we are afraid of bats and if we would allow a spider to crawl on us at the beginning of each theme. We will work on the writing of and the number value of 19 and 20 then review the numbers 0-20.

 

PE

For PE, we worked on balance and control of our bodies. We made shapes with our bodies and practiced rolling forward and backwards on a mat. We crawled on the floor and balanced paper and beanbags on our backs. On one PE day we enjoyed walking like certain animals such as camels, bears, rabbits and crabs.

 

In April, we will be doing PE activities that emphasize Spatial Awareness. We will be trying to control our entire body by doing the “line run.” Children will run and walk fast having to stop quickly at each line.   We will play directional games using words as above, under, next to, below, over and on top of. Playing with hula-hoops and enjoying the game Bears and Lions will also support these concepts.

 

 

Music

Our music program focused on “Keeping the Beat” in March. The children used instruments and rhythm sticks to keep the beat to stories and songs such as The Hall of the Mountain King. We also used animal masks and danced to Animal Action by Greg and Steve.

 

This month we will listen to Feelings in Music and Dance. We will begin with playing Feelings Charades and dance to the Mood Song by Stephanie Burton. We will read Today I Feel… and listen to such musical scores as The Swan and The Nutcracker.

 

Art/Drama

Mrs. Ruth worked on lines and using lines to create towns and cities. The children have also enjoyed learning about improvisational acting. With such games as the Wax Museum and Who Started the Motion, the children have a good understanding of the art of improv.

 

Sign Language

This month we have been playing fun games to review our animal, color, and feelings signs. We read Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar and learned some of the repetitive phrases in the story. We are now learning signs for manners and different types of clothing. We are also working hard to use our signs during other parts of our day such as singing and story time. It has been fun signing and singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Next month we will be learning more family and food signs that we can try using at home.

 

Legos

Measuring with legos has been interesting this month. We measured objects and also figured out distances by making stacks of 10 with Duplo legos. In case you were wondering…it takes 160 of those to measure between our classroom wall and the science table! (that is roughly the same as 160 inches).   We also worked on patterning by coloring a pattern plan and then making the pattern. Patterns were also created using increasing numbers of stacked legos. Making letters and numbers with big legos has also been fun. To go along with our space theme this month, we made cool rockets and robots. Now we are learning about symmetry and making symmetrical shapes, rainbows, and hearts. Next month we are going to use problem-solving skills and make different kinds of mazes.

 

 

Dates to Remember

 

April 2: Field Trip to the Space Foundation

April 17: PreK Conferences (Schedule below)

May 4: May Break-No School

May 13: Field Trip to Cave of the Winds

May 22: Last Day of School and Luau (School ends at noon. We have Hula dances and entertainment by the students and lunch before departure.)

 

Reminders:

Eating Utensils: Please remember to pack eating utensils in your child’s lunch for food that needs a spoon and/or fork

 

Jackets: As we all know, Colorado weather W-E-I-R-D! During Spring we can have beautiful weather one day and snow the next. We can also have a forecast of 75 degrees yet it only gets up to 55. Please, please be sure your child has a jacket each day. If it is warm, we will not use it, but oftentimes when the forecast calls for a nice warm day, it is still chilly at our 10AM recess time.

 

Sunscreen: It is that time of year again…please remember to apply sunscreen on your child everyday before school. Please check your child’s sunscreen for amount, expiration date and that the sunscreen has your child’s first AND last name labeled.

 

 

Prekindergarten Conferences:

 

On Friday April 17th we will be holding conferences for the families of children going to Kindergarten or First Grade next year. By doing these before the end of the school year, parents will have information they may need to know for placement of their children for the next school year.

 

Each conference will last approximately 25 minutes and we will be exhibiting your child’s work, discussing strengths and mentioning any concerns we may have. If you have particular questions you would like to have answered at the conference, please email them to us ahead of time to be sure we have all the information you will need available. However, spontaneous questions are welcomed as well! Report cards WILL NOT be available as they will still be presented on the last day of school.

 

We have made a list of conference time below. If you cannot make your time, please let us know.

 

Conference Schedule

8:00-8:25 Bayne
8:30-8:55 L. Braley
9:00-9:25 Capek
9:30-9:55 Capps
10:00-10:25 Ellington
10:30-10:55 Donze
11:00-11:25 Fridman
1:00-1:25 Graybeal
1:30-1:55 Hamilton
2:00-2:25 Hosmer
2:30-2:55 Lee
3:00-3:25 Lobato
3:30-3:55 McAfee

 

**We will hold Preschool conferences on Monday May 26**

 

 

Here’s to a wonderful, warm, rainy, sunny, rainbowy April.

 

Jen and Lisa