Greetings, Hobson families!
March this year at Hobson continued to be a blustery one! As much as we enjoyed sledding, we are ready to get back to sand play, and chasing friends on a playground free of ice! Before break, we noticed that the woods are waking up…the birds are singing, and there are even little peeks of green as the daffodils poke their heads cautiously through the leaves. We will be watching anxiously as our beautiful backyard slowly makes it’s transition back to a lush forest.
One of the highlights of the month in 3 day (fours & fives) was exploring what happens when you add vinegar to baking soda. The children simply cannot get enough of watching the combined mixture bubble and fizz as a result of them combining the two! We started by having the children predict what would happen if we combined the two materials. Then, in small group, we let them try for themselves. The next day they were let to explore as long as they wished, this time with colored vinegar. Some children did this five or six times, marveling at how they could control their “volcano” or “explosion”! We extended their interest by offering this chemical reaction as a group activity at the sensory table and again at small group by letting the gas fill up balloons when they emptied the balloon (filled with baking soda) into the water bottle (which held the vinegar). It might seem like this activity is just for fun, but doing activities like these help children explore cause & effect, apply knowledge and experience to new situations, and compare & measure materials to get different results- all skills that will serve them well in the future.
The 2 am class (3’s & 4’s) continued to explore their senses by finger painting, experiments with color mixing, and we enjoyed making and eating rainbow toast. The 2 pm class has been exploring lots of new art materials and methods—many inspired by the books they have been reading. 2 pm used droppers to splatter paint and then fold paper, exploring what different pictures they could “see” in our art. The children enjoyed coming up with names for their paintings! In addition, they explored pastels and noticed how vivid the colors can be and how they smudge. They continued exploring colors by noticing what happens to paint when you add black or white, or where colors might “hide” in our classroom. (by going on a color scavenger hunt). By far the most interesting addition, was that of the natural clay this month. The children explored the different texture and smell of this material as compared to playdough. They also added water to thin the clay and help mold it. The children added sticks and feathers creating nests for their birds and fences for their animals.
Our friends in the Parent-Child class (2’s with parents) worked on their fine motor skills by feeding toy animals some delicious pretend food using tweezers. Gathering times continue to get a little bit longer as the children’s attention spans grow longer. A favorite book from this month was “Pete The Cat’ and the children loved singing along with the repetitive verse by the end of the book! The 2’s also took a nature walk in our beautiful woods this month, dropping various found objects like twigs and leaves, and even snow, into the water and seeing which one traveled under the bridge faster!
The cold and frigid weather continued at our little red schoolhouse in February. The times we were able to play outside were cherished, as they were few and far between! All classes love sledding on our little “just-right” sled hill and exploring the deep snow in our beautiful wooded backyard! Even our littlest owls in the PC class are getting in on the sledding action! They become more and more brave every weekend. Some that were unsure at first are making it down the hill with a huge smile on their face.
This month, the three day classes (ages 4 & 5) were really showing off their emerging literacy! The classroom is abuzz with children at the desk writing cards and drawing messages and stuffing them in envelopes for friends and family! In our dramatic play pizza shop, the children were busy writing orders, emulating what they saw on our earlier field trip to Domino’s Pizza! Exploring magnetic letters in the sensory table is just one more way they explored piecing together the alphabet (literally!) to make words. What an exciting time in their development this is!
We are lucky enough to have our student teacher, Ms. Zhang, share some of her Chinese traditions with us! Some classes explored Chinese New Year by reading a story called “The Dancing Dragon” and then re-enacting the parade in the story. We made a dragon body using a plastic tablecloth, colored tape, tissue paper, and markers. Ms. Zhang supplied the dragon “head” and we worked together to move the dragon through the room. Ms. Zhang kept time on the drum and encouraged us to shout “hurray”! The following week we made potstickers, and there were very few children who did not try them and ask for seconds!
The 2 am class (3 & 4 year olds) were very excited to celebrate their first Valentine’s day at Hobson School! Children enjoyed delivering valentines to their friends and were all smiles as they took their turn dropping one card into each bag! 2 am children also played in the dramatic play pizza shop. It is fascinating to see how their play is shifting from parallel to cooperative!
Our 2 pm children (3 & 4 year olds) have been working a lot with story telling. It starts with a child dictating a story to the teacher. The teacher writes it down and then roles are assigned to those willing to help act the story out. “Story telling and story dramatization activities are powerful, important, and effective for developing young children’s thinking along with oral and written language skills in line with what the Common Core Standards seek.” (Gillian D. McNamee, Erikson Institute) This is one of many new and exciting ideas that the teachers brought home from a recent conference they attended!
2 pm also continued their exploration of scent, this time smelling various teas. The children were then able to make their own bags of tea, and sample them at snack time!
Not to be forgotten, our Parent-Child class (2 year olds) enjoyed their first cooking project. The children made edible ladybugs with half of an apple, cream cheese and raisins. The children used the cream cheese to hold the spots on. They enjoyed making their first snack. They washed our baby dolls in the water table. The boys and girls all enjoy this activity. By the end of the class, our dolls were squeaky clean. The PC class also danced to “The Freeze”, one of their favorite songs. The parents and children spin, dance, jump, sing, and more until they have to freeze.
They say that March comes in like a lion and leaves as a lamb….let’s hope this is true! Although the children seem content to explore all of the wonderful play opportunities we give them at Hobson, I hope to bring you some pictures next month with green living plants and children in the sunshine!
Happy New Year from Hobson School!
Our January was filled with play and meaningful learning and too many snowflakes to count!
With the exception of having FOUR weather related closures, our three day classes (4 and 5 year olds) had a busy month in our classroom! Highlights included taking a walk in the woods, using different sized circles to create paper snowmen, and using pumps in the water table. We built all kinds of creations with recycled materials and colorful masking tape. We raced cars down ramps and engineered interesting obstacle courses with blocks. We shared lots of great books this month including two versions of “The Mitten”. We talked about the similarities and differences between the two stories. Some other books we read are “Snowmen At Night”, and “Stranger in the Woods”. We also took a field trip to the Jurica Nature Museum at Benedictine University.
The teachers have decided to store away the play dough and begin using clay in the classroom. Clay is an important natural medium for children to explore. Unlike play dough which is made from cooking materials (flour, salt, oil, water), clay is from the earth, an art medium that has been used for centuries. Writer of Earth’s Magic Mud, Kathleen Bailer, shares that, “because clay is from the Earth, playing and working with clay centers, grounds and connects children to the Earth. This connection is especially important when so many children are leading such scheduled, busy, indoor lives and are surrounded by plastic toys and electronic equipment. Using clay allows children’s hands to come in contact with the elements and forces that make up Earth: water, rock, ice and erosion.”
We will be starting with simply having the clay out on our clay boards and letting the children explore with their hands. Tools will be added as well as natural materials for the children to explore the clay with. If you want to know more about the importance of clay in the classroom check out the k-play.com website, it does an excellent job of describing the benefits of using clay in the classroom. We can’t wait to see what the children do!
In our two day classes (3 and 4 year olds), the children have made leaps in their growth and development since the beginning of the year! Both classes easily slipped back into the routine after a long winter break!
The 2 am class made a collaborative book based on Jan Brett’s The Mitten. They love to read it again and again as much as they enjoyed making it! Some children are beginning to show an interest in wiring their names in this class. Materials are available to accommodate and encourage these children, but for the uninterested, there is no hurry. Some children develop this interest earlier than others, and one thing we know for sure is that you can’t rush meaningful learning!
The 2pm class has been busy doing book reviews! Because the children of this class connect their classroom experiences to the books they’re reading, and inspired by their love of stickers and desire to express more of their opinions during gathering time, the Book Reviews were introduced. Our 3-year old version includes listening to a book and using stickers to “rate” the book on a post-it. To assist them in this concept, we began by asking for a favorite part and/or favorite illustration. This concrete representation of their opinions on a book is enjoyable to them, but also enables the children to work on many other skills. These skills include math, literacy, critical thinking, fine motor, and social emotional.
Our two year old families had fun this January as well! Highlights from PC this month included making soft squishy play dough from scratch and exploring some oozy gooey shiny paint that Mrs. Diesman concocted from corn syrup! Children really do learn by using all of their senses!
The last of the leaves have finally fallen from the beautiful oaks that surround our school, and it’s safe to say that winter has arrived in our little woods! The first snowflakes have fallen and all classes are enjoying the sled hill as well as making tracks in the snow!
Our three day classes (4 & 5 year olds) have been busy celebrating the season. Both classes planned their own Thanksgiving “feasts”. They looked at recipes, made grocery lists, and walked to our local grocery store for ingredients. Miss Pat showed the children, teachers, and parents all around the store and they visited workers in each department. They even got to see the super-big refrigerators in the back room! They checked out using the self checkout and brought their purchases back to school. The next two days were spent baking cornbread, roasting green beans, and cooking cranberries. Finally, each class made one long table by pushing all of the tables together. They decorated the table with flowers and had (battery-operated) candles and placemats….it was very fancy and special. It was surely one of the highlights of the school year.
Our 2am class (3 & 4 year olds) also celebrated Thanksgiving with a holiday feast. This group cooked together making a “friendship fruit salad”. They coulnted eight different fruits in their salad! December finds them exploring their interest in snow globes and having some fun stemming from the favorite Jan Brett book, “Gingerbread Baby”. Our 2pm class (3 & 4 year olds) went on an exciting pretend journey to Africa! They built a boat out of hollow blocks, drew maps, and looked through binoculars to watch “animals”. This play scenario was 100% created by the childrens’ imaginations, without prompting from the teachers. 2 pm also explored with leaves, ramps, and apples. Isn’t it interesting how two different groups of children can have such different interests? We are so lucky to have the flexibility to follow these interests at Hobson.
Not to be forgotten, our Saturday Parent-Child (2 & 3 year olds) class enjoyed playing the “Little Mouse” game this November. In this game, one person, usually the teacher, hides a felt mouse behind one of many colored felt houses. Children then take turns guessing and checking which color house the mouse is behind. Preschoolers benefit from this game in the way that they practice turn taking and predicting, as well as learning to identify their colors in a fun and meaningful way. Our PC class also enjoyed “driving” toy cars through “mud” puddles of paint and then on paper to make tracks. Always popular are singing and dancing, and working those fine motor skills with playdough!
We at Hobson School warmly wish you a happy holiday season, and a new year filled with wonder and play!
Gifts for children should be things they will enjoy after the wrapping paper has hit the floor. Expensive, high tech toys may offer an initial thrill, but they don’t do much to spark children’s creativity.Listed below are some gift ideas that will provide hours of fun as children exercise their imagination.
- -A plain white t-shirt, banner or tote bag along with fabric paints and markers
- -A special book accompanied by a tape of you reading the book
- -A dress-up suitcase full of clothes, hats, jewelry, ties, vests, boas, face paint, costumes, etc.
- -A creative art kit consisting of a wide variety of (open ended) art supplies (plain papers, crayons, markers, paints, clay, rounded scissors, and a variety of tools to apply the paints and shape the clay)
- -A memory game made out of snapshots (double prints) of the child
- -A bucket-o-ingredients including recipes for playdough, bubble solution, face paint, etc.
- -A toolbox full of safe, miscellaneous tools, measuring devices, a child sized apron and a whole supply of wood pieces
- -A gardening kit made up of gardening tools, various seeds, flower pots, and a watering can in a handy gardener’s basket
- -A jewelery box kit consisting of a plain wood box to decorate, glue and a variety of decorative items like gemstones, glitter, lace, sparkles, beads, etc.
This list has been adapted from: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Early Childhood Education: The Book of Lists for Teachers and Parents by Judy Fujawea, published by Gryphon Books