Happy New Year to all of our Parkside Families!
With the excitement of the holidays over, our students have returned to school after our extended break eager to be with each other again and to sample and enjoy all the new activities that have been placed on our shelves. We are so glad to be back as well. They also are revisiting some of their favorite learning tasks that remain in their classrooms. January is usually a quiet month, and it can be dreary and unexciting. However, here at Parkside we do our best to keep things lively, productive, interesting and fun.
January is the month of the dinosaurs, and it is one of the most, if not the most, popular thematic unit of the year. The children are very fascinated by and drawn to these mysterious creatures, and they want to learn as much about them as possible. Our exploration of the dinosaurs includes many related materials including baskets of the most well-known and interesting dinosaurs placed in each classroom for the children to handle and explore. We will be looking at the unique characteristics of many different kinds of dinos, including Tyrannosaurus Rex (the most popular), Allosaurus, Dimetrodon, Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Pteranodon, Parasaurolophus, Apatosaurus, Velociraptor, etc.
We will learn how the scientists distinguish between the carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. We will talk about the meaning of fossils and how they were discovered using our many large and interactive books on the subject. We will also discuss the various theories as to what cause the extinction of these prehistoric creatures. There will be dinosaur digging of bones in Practical Life and dino sorting and puzzles in Sensorial. In Language we will be identifying and matching dinosaurs looking at our many dinosaur books, both fiction and non-fiction. Of course in Math we will be counting dinosaurs, large and small and perhaps create a dinosaur bingo game. The thematically related bingo games have recently been very popular in the older classes. Art projects will include dinosaur sponging, stencils, rubbing, dot art, pinching and pulling, and making footprints. Many children have become very familiar with the dinosaurs because of programs such as Dinosaur Dan and Dinosaur Train and other TV and computer programs. Some have visited local exhibits as well. Still, no matter how many circle discussions we have or how many dinosaur-related materials we have on the shelves, the children never seem to tire of these prehistoric creatures.
Other new and fun activities in Practical Life include whisking soap to make bubbles, mirror polishing, shaving cream, where the children use their fingers and hands to make random designs, shapes, letters or numbers, and an eyedropper exercise (as a follow up to last month’s basting.) In Sensorial we will continue our study of shapes when we will bring in the Triangle Box and the Rectangle Box, both made up of many smaller triangles which fit together to make larger triangles or rectangles. The Math shelves will include counting buttons to place on snowmen or snowflakes to put on a snow scene as well as stamping snowmen or snowflakes into number books.
At the art table along with the dinosaur projects, there will be winter-themed creations such as snowflakes, snowmen, icicle trees, snow scenes, etc. Winter activities in all classroom areas will be present alongside our dinosaur work.
On Monday, January 18th, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King will be celebrated. Leading up to that day, we will be spending some time talking about his message of non-violence, peace and respect for others. These ideas relate well to our ongoing peace curriculum and the meaning of peace today in our everyday lives both at home and at school.
At the end of January we will be talking about life underground. It seems like only yesterday that we planted our bulbs which re now resting in their “cozy beds” until spring. But there is much more to discover about life under the ground as we prepare to offer a dramatic rendition on the meaning of Groundhog Day on February 2. More about this next month.
As we enter a new calendar year, things continue to go well here at school despite some of the logistical challenges that we have faced and overcome. We look forward to continuing our successful year as we wish you all the best in 2021.
“ Hope smiles from the threshold
of the year to come, whispering
‘It will be happier.’ “
Alfred Lord Tennyson