Rivendell Preschool

Goodbye Preschool!

May is a special time in the preschool classroom at Rivendell. We have so many exciting events as we head towards our summer vacation. But one of our favorites is a field trip! This year we decided to do a walking field trip to Edora Park. We got to walk there with our teachers, play on the playground for recess, have lunch with our friends, and even enjoy some time with our parents! This is a fun way to celebrate the end of the year and spend some quality time with the friends we have made. Here are some photos from our special day…

Before we even left the building, we got a wonderful surprise! Our star of the week brought their dog, Mario Lopez, to visit our class. This sweet dog really started our day off on a fun and furry foot.

The end of a school year is always bittersweet. We made wonderful memories this year and we wish everyone a fun and safe summer. See you next year!

Native American Unit in the Preschool Classroom

For the past month, the preschoolers have been learning about Indigenous Peoples or Native Americans in the classroom. It is very important that we teach this unit accurately and with respect to the culture of Native Peoples. The teachers started with their own research and found that the book Lessons from Turtle Island by Guy W. Jones and Sally Moomaw was an extremely valuable resource. This book is an Own Voices book and shared some important concepts to keep in mind. Namely, that the Native American culture should be taught within the context of other cultures and ideas and not totally in isolation; that students should learn about the current culture of Native Americans and not just the past; and that we should focus more on similarities than differences. With this in mind, take a look at some of the activities that the preschoolers did throughout this school wide unit.

We had a camping dramatic play area which was one of the ideas suggested in the Lessons from Turtle Island. Some other fun ideas were to have a shoe store or a pet clinic.

We watched videos of current day Native Americans showing dancing, drums, and other current day events. Then we got to play the drums in Music.

We read a lot of books that showed current day Native Americans both celebrating their culture and doing everyday things.

At the same time we also got to learn about Lunar New Year!

We finished our thematic unit by writing about what we had learned about Indigenous Peoples. It was a great chance to see what information our preschoolers had absorbed and the connections that they had made.

We hope that you enjoyed this look into how the preschoolers learned about this school wide theme. It is our hope to keep learning and putting into place best practices to teach about cultures in a thoughtful and respectful way.

Learning is All Around Us

No matter where you turn in the preschool classroom, you will find that learning is happening in every corner. We have different intentional learning areas including math, science, dramatic play, blocks, reading, literacy, music, technology, calm down, art, school wide thematic area, and fine motor. Every two weeks, the classroom materials are switched out to reflect a new theme that we are working on and to keep things new and exciting. We also incorporate our school wide and classroom themes into academic time and any work at the table.

Here are some photos showing the learning all around us:

Students are offered an invitation to create project each morning as a way to transition into the classroom.

Creativity is found everywhere! We build and explore with our engineering skills. We put on plays and dress up in wonderful costumes. We also use our imaginations to make materials come to life.

Hope you enjoyed a look into all of the learning that happens each day in our preschool classroom!

Falling into Preschool

Fall in Preschool not only brings changes to the weather and our trees outside but there are changes that happen in our classrooms! We have learned our classroom routines and rules and have found consistency in our schedule. We have built new friendships and continued old friendships from last year. We are also exploring our new theme of Leaves and our school wide thematic unit, Space.

Our classroom changes each time we have a new theme. Our sensory table is filled with fall colored rice and natural objects. Our dramatic play area is a woodland forest with a picnic basket and fishing pond. Our thematic play area is a Lunar Landing Zone. It is a place where we can challenge our large motor skills by crawling through a tunnel, jumping on a trampoline, and walking on stilted feet. In each of the other areas of our classroom such as literacy, math, science, blocks, fine motor, music, art, puzzles and the calm down area we have elements of space and leaves as well.

We are having so much fun exploring, creating, playing, and learning! Here are some photos of our experiences:

Look who has been walking in our hallways… Dinosaurs!!

The preschoolers are ending the thematic units on a big note…. Dinosaurs!

Dinosaur tracks and Alison’s and Rachel’s dramatic play areas.

We have learned that scientists who dig and study dinosaurs are called paleontologists and that dinosaur fossils are found on every continent of the planet.

The most interesting recent discovery is that all birds are ancestors of dinosaurs. (Not all dinosaurs are related to birds though.) Some dinosaurs had feathers, hollow bones, beaks, wings, laid eggs, and built nests  just like birds today.

Preschoolers created colorful paper for an Eric Carle style dinosaur bulletin board.

This week students will make dinosaur fossils with salt dough and design their own colorful dinosaurs. We will end the unit learning about a 10 year boy who made an exciting dinosaur discovery

Spread Your Wings!

The preschoolers have been learning all about BIRDS!

How can you tell it’s a bird in the sky and not a plane? How can you tell it’s a bird in the tree and not a squirrel? How can you tell it’s a bird in the pond and not a fish? Preschoolers are learning what makes a bird special: wings, feathers, hollow bones, beaks/bills, lays eggs, tail, and warm blooded.

We’ve studied bird nests and their function.

STEM: Preschoolers building nests and we had some Friday afternoon fun making some bird nests for jelly bean eggs!

Next, students learned about migration and flocks. The preschoolers got to spread their wings and pretend to be geese and fly in the V formation. We talked about why geese fly this way and also examined the unique way starlings fly in flocks to protect themselves from hawks.

Last, we will learn about the life cycle of the chicken from hen to egg to chick and back to hen again before writing our bird journal pages and moving on to dinosaurs.

“…that’s why we need diversity!”

This month we are learning about the industrial revolution. We have defined industrial as making something and revolution as change. Thus, the industrial revolution is the change of how we make things from creating by hand to producing products by machines in factories. Students will also learn how people moved from farmlands to cities to be near the factories.

These are the industrial revolution dramatic play areas in the classrooms.

Along with learning about the industrial revolution, our preschoolers also spent some time this year learning about diversity and inclusion. When the subject of slavery came up, one young girl shouted out, ” That’s why we need diversity!”

The preschoolers learned about Eli Whitney and the invention of the cotton gin. Next we will be learning about George Washington Carver, former slave, and his contribution to agriculture (crop rotation) and the cultivation of the peanut plant. We will end the unit with Mary Walton, inventor of two pollution reducing devices in 1880’s.

Cityscape scissor cutting project. Students practice cutting rectangles from ovals.

The preschoolers will explore these ideas by hand sewing a dress for a doll and creating a scissor cutting project of a truck through the process of working on an assembly line with each child having their own specific job.

Preschoolers sewing a doll dress.

Postcards, science, and holidays, Oh my…..

This month the preschoolers finished the unit on maps and the European continent.  We made passports and took a pretend flight to London. We had high tea and rode the double decker buses before heading off to France to see the Eiffel Tower.  Students also visited Greece, Iceland, and Romania. At the end of the trip, the students wrote postcards to their families.

Preschoolers also had fun ringing in the Lunar Year of the Ox with lion dances and eating noodles with chopsticks.

We are now studying physical science until spring break. Our first topic was light. The preschoolers learned that light travels in a straight line and why shadows appear. Next, we will be exploring sound and sound waves and making some of our own instruments. We’ll finish our unit with a look at magnets and a class science fair project.

Grab your bags…… We’re going to Europe!

Our current school-wide thematic unit is the continent of Europe. Before the preschoolers are able to jump into learning about Europe, they must first get a sense of our planet. In order to do that, the preschoolers have been learning about maps!

Students worked on their spatial awareness and abstract thinking skills by taking a bird’s eye view of their classroom.

There are many different types of maps: city, state, country, continent, and world maps. Next students learned how different maps relate to each other and where they are on the map. We did this exercise by using concentric circles starting with a self portrait on the smallest circle and ending with the Earth on the largest circle.

Just for fun, preschoolers used their newly required mapping skills to map out the sequence/ journey the family goes on from the book: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. We’re going on a Bear Hunt map. Students also made popsicle sticks people and will follow along on the map as we read the story to sharpen our map skills. It’s been so much fun learning about maps!

After getting our passports, students board a pretend flight to London for sight seeing, riding a double decker bus, and enjoying a tea party. Next we’re of to Paris!!

Celebration of Lights

December is such an exciting time and we’ve been having a lot of fun learning about holiday traditions and fairy tales! Students got to enjoy playing in and with castles and dressing up in courtly clothes.

Preschoolers learned about the winter solstice and the importance of the “evergreen” tree and the yule log.

Students learned about a relative of Santa Claus called a Tomten. Tomtens are small, little gnomes that live on the farms and take care of the animals. Farmers leave small bowls of porridge for them and if you forget, the Tomten may come into your cottage and eat all your Christmas pies!

Students learned the Turkish legend of Saint Nicholas and his generosity and we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day by leaving our shoes outside the classroom during naptime for a visit from Saint Nick.

The preschoolers learned about Hanukkah and the miracle of the oil lasting for eight nights. Preschoolers made menorahs and received chocolate coins.

We celebrated Santa Lucia Day and the feeling of giving to others. The oldest girl from each class wore a crown of candles and white dress and led a parade around the school bringing cookies to teachers.

The preschoolers loved learning about some of the different celebrations around the world.