HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF OUR PARKSIDE FAMILIES!
January is a quietly productive time in our classrooms, and the children seem happy to be back to the routine and familiarity of school. January is one of our longer months, and over the break we worked on replacing and enhancing classroom activities. We have many new materials to demonstrate and then place in each area.
The highlight of the month is the introduction of the dinosaurs, probably the most favorite of our monthly themes. The children never seem to tire of learning about these prehistoric creatures. They hold great fascination for them, and we will be discussing, in a fair amount of detail, characteristics of about 20 different kinds, as well as whether they are herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. Part of these discussions include the various theories as to why the dinosaurs disappeared. In recent years we have found that this unit is particularly successful because many of our students have fairly extensive knowledge of these interesting creatures, probably due to television shows, a few area dinosaur parks and museum exhibits, and beautiful books that help the dinosaurs come alive for them. In our classrooms we have many of these books ourselves, large and small, and, as always, puzzles, counting exercises and matching. We also have baskets in each classroom filled with the museum quality, very life-like representations of each kind of dinosaur. The children do enjoy working with a friend with the baskets, and not only do these interactions add to their knowledge of each individual dinosaur, but they foster imagination and positive interaction. Hopefully soon you will be hearing about Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Pteranodon, Velociraptor, Parasaurolophus, and, of course the favorite, Tyrannosaurus Rex. At the art table we will have both dinosaur and fossil rubbing as well as dino sponging and dot art.
Our Practical Life shelves hold a number of new and fun activities. We will bring in weaving and tapioca tweezing. But the two most popular are shaving cream and whisking. We will be using real whisks to make soap bubbles in a bowl. Shaving cream involves creating shapes, numbers, letters and free form designs on a table which the child covers with a thin layer of shaving cream. Dishwashing will also be brought in, and it involves two children working together cooperatively washing and drying real dishes, cups and utensils with enthusiasm and much conversation. We will introduce mirror polishing, celery cutting, straining, and working with an eyedropper, a natural follow-up to our basting exercise.
In Sensorial we will continue our work with shapes with the triangle and rectangle boxes. The triangle box contains equilateral, isosceles and scalene triangles which are put together and then can be formed into a larger triangle. The rectangle box also contains triangles which can be formed into a parallelogram, a trapezoid, rhombus and square. Also, we will introduce our large set of blocks in many different shapes including rectangular and triangular prisms, obelisks, and cylinders which are specifically used to construct a city skyline on the floor.
With winter beginning while we were on break, there will also be lots of winter art projects featuring snowmen, snow scenes, snowflakes and icicles. A favorite winter-themed practical life exercise is the reemergence of our little penguins. The children try to balance them on a small “iceberg”…real ice! In math we will be counting and placing buttons on a snowman and counting snowflakes.
The children are continuing to learn how to care for themselves and their environment and how to interact with each other is a positive manner. These goals are connected to our peace discussions. And so this month we will bring in “Snack for Two”. Your child will have the opportunity to invite someone to have snack with him or her at a specially prepared snack table in one corner of the room. The “host,” or child who does the inviting, will set the table and serve the snack, a pretzel and cup of water. When they are finished both children will clear and clean the table and return the materials to their proper place on the snack shelf. This activity offers the opportunity to develop new friendships, foster conversation, and practice table manners and courtesy.
At the very end of January we will be talking about life underground. It seems like yesterday that we planted out bulbs, still resting in their cozy underground beds, but there is much more to discover under the ground. We start these discussions in preparations for Groundhog Day (Feb. 2). Our students love the dramatic rendition of the legend of the groundhog as he awakens from his long winter sleep looking for his shadow. More about this next month.