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‘Snow’ Much Fun!

Children seek out new experiences and playing in the snow always presents so many new opportunities!  We LOVE taking the children outside in winter!  The playground turns into a new and exciting winter wonderland when it’s covered in snow.

Children enjoy rolling in the snow, making snow angels, stomping through the snow drifts, and packing and moving the snow into imaginative creations!  These activities are also wonderful gross motor opportunities. The weight of the snow makes children work a little harder to move themselves around and manipulating the snow itself works many of their muscles!

It is also very healthy for children to be outside in the fresh air. Pediatricians and health care professionals agree that getting outside during the colder months refreshes children’s lungs and the physical activity gets their hearts pumping!  As long as children have a warm coat, gloves, hat, and boots, we will take them outside to enjoy the snow everyday!

 

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Wind Art!

Wind is one of the most powerful forces on the planet.  It slowly erodes mountains, makes waves, and can push cars and planes around.  Preschool children understand the wind on a basic level but can appreciate the power of wind by creating fun wind art projects.

During Weather Week, the Dipper classroom of toddlers enjoyed making their own wind to design “wind art”.  They put a glob of paint on paper, took a straw, and blew the paint.  The children were so excited to see the paint move across the paper!  They experimented with how much the paint moved according to how hard they blew.

This hands-on activity demonstrates not only the power of wind, but also the relationship of cause and affect.  The children were clearly able to see that their “wind” was what made the paint move and spread across the paper.  This activity combined science and art all in one!

 

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Involving Parents!

Children love to have their parents come into the classroom and share time with them!  This can include reading a story, participating in an activity, talking about their profession, or simply providing extra materials.

There has been a significant amount of research on early brain development that has shown the significance of positive parental involvement.  When parents are involved, children achieve more regardless of their socioeconomic level, ethnic/racial background, or the parents’ educational level (Henderson & Berla, 1994).

According to Henderson and Berla, “the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is the extent to which that student’s family is able to:

–  Create a home environment that encourages learning

–  Express high (but not unrealistic) expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers, and

–  Become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community.

The same researchers also noted that the early years of a child’s life are critically important for healthy brain development, attachment formation, and language acquisition. Prime opportunities for learning exist during the first few years of life that may not be recovered at a later stage.  So, look for some time to get involved and join your child for some quality time of learning and fun!  You’re always welcome in the Care-a-lot classrooms!

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Kids Cooking!

Care-a-lot kids are getting involved in making their own lunch!  Here, each child was given an english muffin and containers of sauce and cheese.  Some of the children used all the cheese and sauce and others only used a little.  When the eating began, they were all very proud of and enjoyed what they had created!

Involving children in preparing their own food encourages their interest in what they are eating, how much they are eating, and what is going into their food.   Food preparation also includes learning areas of  science, math, language, culture, and healthy eating!

Cooking with young children may take a little flexibility and some simple prep work, but with the right expectations, time in the kitchen with preschoolers can be a fun learning adventure!  And the experience of creating meals with you can help build their self-confidence and lay the foundation for healthy eating habits.

Bringing kids into the kitchen can benefit them in a number of ways. Cooking can help:

  • Build basic skills. You can help your child hone basic math skills by doing something as simple as counting eggs or pouring water into a measuring cup. You can ask what comes first, second, and third or count together as you spoon dough onto a cookie sheet. When you read a recipe together, you’re introducing new words to your child’s vocabulary and promoting literacy. Following steps in the recipe can work on listening skills.
  • Encourage an adventurous palate. Preschoolers are notoriously picky eaters, and bringing them into the kitchen to cook can help get them to open up to new tastes. When your 3-year-old daughter plays chef she might sample dishes she wouldn’t try if you just served them to her. So encourage kids to taste new ingredients you’re working with and talk about what they like and how healthy foods make a body grow.
  • Help young kids explore with their senses. Kids learn by exploring with their senses and the kitchen is an ideal place to do that. Invite them to listen to the whir of the mixer, pound dough and watch it rise, smell it baking in the oven, and finally taste the warm bread fresh from the oven. If it smells good, looks appealing, and is easy to eat they may just be willing to try it!
  • Boost confidence. Preschoolers love to show what they can do and working in the kitchen provides opportunities to gain a sense of accomplishment. If they helped assemble the pizza, let them know that their help was important. You could name the pizza or another dish after your child. Serve “Will’s Pizza” or “Ella’s Salad” for dinner tonight. Even if the end results are not exactly what you expected, praise their efforts.

Be sure to take advantage of this learning opportunity and include young help in the kitchen this holiday season!

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Giving Thanks!

Our Universal Pre-Kindergarten Classroom invited parents to a “thankful feast”!  Each child brought in a treat and they all sat down for a feast of delicious goodies.  The children also engaged in a thoughtful discussion about being thankful.

Some children shared that they were thankful for their parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents.  Others shared that they were thankful for the character Olaf from the movie Frozen or chocolate milkshakes!  Whatever a child may mention, it’s part of  children learning to be thankful for what they have and the importance of family and friends.

Teaching children about gratitude can take many forms and can be practiced all year long!  Having children pick out items that you will donate or buy for the less fortunate, assisting  in volunteer activities, writing notes of thanks to someone for a gift or being special to them, thanking your child for his help, and pointing out things to appreciate in our world are all strategies to support children in learning to be grateful.

The holiday season is one of gratitude and an ideal time to talk to your child about identifying blessings.  One of the most practical ways to inspire gratitude is also the simplest.  Set aside time to name one or two things every person in the family is grateful for each day!

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