The experiences go on
Every day is an adventure in The Experiential School, and every week brings new experiences and learning, some of it obvious and some more subtle. Our success lies in providing a comfortable environment where learning is a natural process that comes about through hands-on experiences that are relevant to the preschool-age children we have the privilege of guiding and teaching. Whether it is one child attempt a new skill for the first time, two start to build a friendship, or a group come together with a common goal, we never cease to be excited about or to celebrate every milestone.
Who is whom?
The children in Alpha are getting to know each other and how to be a member of a community, no small feat for three-year-olds. Since the first day of school, they have been learning each other’s names through their morning greeting, singing songs, and hearing the teachers use everyone’s name. To demonstrate how well they’ve done at this task this week, they created friend collages. Sitting individually with the teacher, they chose a photo, named the person, then glued it onto their paper. This reinforced their knowledge of their classmates’ names and also provided great practice for learning to control the flow of glue. The collages will go home so the parents can put faces to the friends their children mention as they talk about their days.
Collaborating with Fourth Grade
The fourth graders are involved in a composting project, and visited the Junior Kindergarten where they did a presentation asking the JK students to help them. The “big kids” explained what composting is, how it is done and what they need to do it. They asked the JK students and their teachers to help by putting their leftover fruits and vegetables in a special bucket after snack and lunch. The buckets will be collected by the 4th graders every day, added to their compostors, and then returned. We look forward to helping and also to visiting the 4th grade see composting in action.
An addition to the garden
How does the soil get nutrients and aerated for our plants to grow? Those fascinating squiggly worms! Of course, before they could move into their new home, our worms had to be gently observed and explored. As the students, handled the worms, some of them gingerly with craft sticks and others eagerly with their fingers, there were lots of oohs, ohs and squeals, and many observations were articulated. With the help of the students, these worms found their way to each of our garden beds where the children watched them burrow into the earth to begin their job! We’ll be learning more about worms and how else they can help our plants soon.
“Mystery Readers” bring an added element of excitement to our weekly visits to the Shorecrest library. Sometimes the guest is a faculty member from one of the older grades, but when it is a parent or grandparent the children are especially thrilled. The fun is enhanced by putting together the teacher’s clues to guess who the reader is.
Family is also involved when we send home family projects. The Junior Kindergartners are presently sharing their first “homework” with their class. These All About Me posters are helping the children (and teachers) get to know more about each other and also present an opportunity to begin to develop public speaking skills.
Math in Many Ways
Developing an understanding of mathematical concepts ins an authentic process when it is hands-on, enjoyable and meaningful. Lots of math was happening in Junior Kindergarten this week. Take a look!
Sorting is the first step towards categorization. We start by sorting according to a single attribute such as shape or color and then provide more complex activities according to each child’s level of understanding.
Learning to sort shapes by common attribute is a step towards categorization. We start with something simple, like color or shape but then add multiple attributes, such as color and shape, when they are ready.
Learning to recognize and extend patterns is a step towards understanding our numerical system. We start with simple patterns like AB but when many are up for a greater challenge, and the teachers differentiate according to readiness.
Another example is threading the corresponding number of beads on a chenille stem to match the numbers selected by the teacher. This not involves numeral recognition and counting with 1-1 correspondence , it is a great exercise in fine motor development and eye-hand coordination.
Calendar activities include counting, number recognition, patterning and even place value. as the children keep track of how many days they have been in school this year, straws are added to the pocket. When there are ten, they are banded together and moved to the tens pocket.
Critters contribute to learning
When the children in Mrs. Carson’s class discovered bits of shell in the hermit crab cage, it was time for a lesson about molting! The children can’t wait to share their new knowledge and identify the parts of shell (the knee and the claw!) for all the people who visit their classroom!
Literacy and letters
The manipulative aspect of the Handwriting without Tears program presents so many individually and developmentally appropriate opportunities for the children to extend their literacy skills and knowledge and understanding of letters and the letter-sound relationship. These activities are further enhanced by the experiential curriculum ideas developed by our creative teachers that integrate a variety of disciplines and skills. Punching letters with a giant push pin reinforces letter identification and fine motor control, while the finished project provides discovery about light. Creating letters with the Handwriting Without Tears lines also strengthens letter identification and teaches correct formation. Writing the letters they create as an extension of this activity and their morning message further reinforces both of these skills.
And that’s only some of what we did this week — Subscribe and stay tuned to more exciting days in The Experiential School of Tampa Bay!