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.

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