Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Parents:

Well, hold on to your hats……..this is your final Preschool Friday Note. Good grief—how did that happen?  

A BIG thank you to everyone who came to the End-of-Year Breakfast this morning. It’s always great to hang out in the Garden on a beautiful morning. Many thanks for all the food you brought and for helping with the set-up and clean-up. We really appreciate it. 

The Honeysuckles and Peppermints are finishing up their study of insects—we released our butterflies on Wednesday. We are reading the final chapters of James and the Giant Peach. We completed two wall murals from the book, which we’ll explain for those of you who are not up-to-date on your Roald Dahl. The first mural is of the peach with all of the characters flying high above hungry sharks. It is being carried by hundreds of seagulls. In the second mural, the peach has fallen through a rainbow and cracked it in half. The rainbow is being held up by cloud-men. (See photos.) We also acted out two buggy stories, "The Grouchy Ladybug" and "Anansi the Spider." Ask your child to tell you what character they played. We performed for each other, and we may do it again next week for Preschool A.  

Ready, set, race! This week the Milkweeds and Lavenders were treated to a gripping finish to the popular television show “American Ninja Warrior” when the beloved Kacy Catanzaro became the first woman to sail through a finalist round on the show. We sat in silence (we’re not sure that anyone took a breath during the viewing!) as we watched Kacy traverse a warped wall, climb a log grip, and finish a spider climb with weaving poles that did not disappoint! In awe of her performance, we kept track of Kacy’s time as she worked her way across the course. We now have our own timer and discussed the ways in which you can improve speed and practice getting faster. Parents, we think this could help with clean-up time at home! With fresh inspiration and endorphins still running through our own bodies over Kacy’s win, we worked in small groups to design an obstacle course that we plan to reveal to kindergarten next week when we share what we’ve learned in this study with our neighboring class. In order to be prepared for weather elements that we cannot control, we’ve designed an indoor AND outdoor course for next week’s share out. Fingers crossed for good weather. We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to ask questions of the newly regarded kindergarten thespians as they wrap up their own study of plays and acting, too! 

Next week is the final week of preschool! Yikes! Monday is Move-Up Day. Most of the day is a regular Monday; however, at 11:25 we’ll leave the Garden and bring our lunches to Kindergarten for a visit. The teachers will chat with the kids about what is the same about their rooms and what is different. Then they will have lunch in the Kindergarten. Where the children visit has no bearing on what group they will be in next year. After lunch they will return to the preschool to finish their day.

And who is in the preschool during Move-Up Day? Well, the 8th grade, of course!  We pull out all the photos and videos of them when they were preschoolers, and we all have lunch together. Friday is Graduation Day for our 8th grade students. Graduation takes up much of the morning, and most of the students at TPS will attend. Preschool and Kindergarten go in at the end to sing and present flowers to the graduates. Dismissal for the whole school is at 11:30, and the preschool will be dismissed from the Garden as they always are.   

It’s So Hard to Say Good-bye!  

It’s so hard to believe that this is our final week. We want to thank you all so much for all the love and support you’ve provided for all of us this year. You were always there when we needed helpers or food or just excitement — like when a bag of earthworms arrived! It’s been an amazing year. And most of all, thank you for the most delightful, funny, smart, energetic, and remarkable children! What a wonderful year it’s been, and it’s gone by way too quickly. Luckily, you won’t be far away! Have a spectacular summer, and we’ll see you in the Garden in September!

With lots of love,

Maureen, Pam, Emily, Lisa, Mary Beth and Madeline 

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Families,

This week the Garage was transformed into an open air market (Mercado) complete with tables of food, juices, and festive decorations to celebrate the Spanish we have been learning. The Mercado was filled with your Spanish-speaking children, who used Spanish phrases to ask for their treats and convey politeness—por favor and gracias!  Children danced (baila, baila, baila), sang, and spoke Spanish. They experienced first-hand the relevance of conversational Spanish as a way to meet needs and showcase all they’ve learned this year in our integrated Spanish program. You can surprise your child with some Spanish at home: mercado/market, manzana/apple, pera/pear, plàtano/banana, melón/melon, uvas/grapes, fresas/strawberries, limón/lemon, jugo/juice and galletas/cookies. Thank you to our Spanish-speaking parent volunteers and to early childhood teachers Madeline Leonard, Brian Jordan, Melissa Roldan-Stills, and Ramsey Reyes who helped make the Mercado a great success!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! After 17 years of caring for our beloved turtle, Myrtle, she laid not only one egg but three! Before you get too excited, we don’t have any baby turtles running around. At first, we could not believe our eyes, but after doing some research, we learned that this is not unusual. We studied the egg shells and the albumen under magnifying glasses and then took turns holding Myrtle in our laps. We love her more than ever!

The Honeysuckles and Peppermints are deep into our reading of James and the Giant Peach. The book fits perfectly into our study of insects. We have created a giant mural that features the peach, all of the characters, sharks, and seagulls. We’ve made peach crisp for snack and have even done a small side study of sharks. The five caterpillars in our classroom have formed their chrysalises, but nothing has emerged as yet. Will there be butterflies in our room when we return on Tuesday? Just wait and see.

Speaking of caterpillars, the Milkweeds and Lavenders have welcomed some silkworm caterpillars into their classroom. These tiny creatures eat nothing but mulberry leaves and will hopefully spin cocoons before the end of school. Your children have been marveling at how gentle they are, and on Thursday morning the students created a table-top obstacle course for them! We also learned a little bit about the legend of the silkworm, and how the “secret of silk” was discovered. In addition to our tiny silkworm obstacle course, we were invited to a GREAT BIG obstacle course in the Lombard Building gym. We spent our project time on Tuesday challenging ourself with a new course — this one complete with hoppity balls (new to us), and a trampoline pit! Ask your child to tell you all about it!

We’re looking forward to our End-of-Year “Bug” Breakfast next Friday. Please check the sign-up sheet posted in our entry way — you’ll see that it’s similar to the sheet for the Valentine Breakfast.

Friday, June 2 - The Preschool Annual Bug Breakfast will be held in the Garage from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. Our Garage/Garden party will include delicious breakfast foods and a springtime sing-along, including plenty of songs about bugs! Stay for the full hour or as long as you can. Everyone is invited.

Enjoy a wonderful, extra long weekend!

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Preschool Families,

Next week, our serene garden will be transformed from the magical venue of EATS (we hope to see you all tonight!) into an open air market (Mercado), complete with tables of food, juices, and festive decorations to celebrate the Spanish we have been learning. We are excited about this event! Should you want a peek at the ingredients in the snacks being provided, you are welcome to check them out in the kitchen area of the Early Childhood Building beginning on Tuesday next week. 

If the names Fefe and Roxy have become household names, it is because they won the hearts of our obstacle course enthusiasts in Preschool A. With rapt attention, we watched a video clip of a dog agility course where Fefe the poodle and Roxy the Jack Russell earnestly maneuvered through elements of an obstacle course specifically built for dogs. We were introduced to new obstacle concepts like weaving poles, an A-frame structure, and a collapsable tunnel. The handlers cheered their companions on and encouraged them to finish each element with speed and precision. At the close of each course, we noticed that the events were timed. We will be looking more closely at timers and the use of them to improve speed and confidence with coursework next week. Inspired by the performances we watched, we decided to have our beloved classroom gerbil “Goldie” try out elements of an obstacle course in our very own classroom! Securing Goldie in a yellow ball, we reveled in his antics and excitement. The Lavenders and Milkweeds demonstrated impressive teamwork as they shared obstacle ideas that included luring Goldie with edible treats. One child suggested the audience should play the role of judge, while another suggested we provide “Goldie with a drink at the end, and then do it all over again so he’s not tired.” Ask your child to share a highlight about the exciting agility coursework we created for Goldie!

The Peppermints and Honeysuckles are knee-deep in James and the Giant Peach, and it’s all we can talk about. We have a set of characters from the story so we are constantly acting it out during play time. The peach’s trip in the ocean gave us an opportunity to do some sinking and floating experiments.  We collected a number of items from our closet and tested them out in the Garden in a large bin of water.  Then the children found items all around the Garden and predicted whether they would sink or float.  Ask your child if they can remember which items sank and which ones floated.  In Bug News, we have watched our caterpillars eat and eat and eat, and they have now begun their metamorphoses.  There are already four chrysalises in our container, and there will be one more by the end of the day.  We watched a National Geographic video about the life cycle of a butterfly and were fascinated to learn that all resemblance to a caterpillar inside that chrysalis melts away and turns to goo.  The swirling liquid re-forms in the shape of a butterfly.  The children keep referring to it as a kind of magic!  During project time we have been creating caterpillars and chrysalises — next week, we’ll work on butterfly wings so we can recreate the life cycle at home.  We’re going to skip the goo-part!   

Upcoming events:

Friday, June 2 - Preschool Annual Bug Breakfast in the Garage from 8:15 to 9:15. Our Garage/Garden party will include delicious breakfast foods and a springtime sing-along, including plenty of songs about bugs! Stay for the full hour or as long as you can. Everyone is invited.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Parents,

THE CATERPILLARS ARE HERE!  And if that wasn’t enough……THE BABY PRAYING MANTISES HATCHED!  Our mail carrier is happy to report that this is the final arrival of wildlife for the year. It certainly has been exciting watching all of our garden critters up close and personal before we release them to do their jobs in the garden beds.  This week the Peppermints and Honeysuckles have been learning about the life-cycle of many insects.  They begin as eggs, then larva, then pupae, then adult insect.  During Project Time, one group got to act out this cycle, first emerging from a pillow case, slithering across the floor to get wrapped in toilet paper, and finally bursting forth with a flashlight to become an adult lightning bug. 

We also spent some time being grasshoppers jumping in the Garden and then measuring how far our jump was.  At the moment, the record is 30 inches, but if you ask your child they’ll tell you it was MUCH further!  Our students are becoming junior entomologists crawling on the ground looking for insect eggs and larvae.  Our kindergarten friends have kindly lent us several sets of insect wings that we can use to fly around. (See photos!) For snack this morning, we used grapes, celery, raisins, and pretzels to make edible caterpillars — Yum!  

Obstacles in the night? Art teacher Kait visited Preschool A on Tuesday and shared some black paper and her collection of gold and silver Sharpies. We took those same materials back to the Art Studio to create portfolio-worthy “night-time obstacle course” drawings which are now on display in our classroom. Come have a look at our work! We also enjoyed a wonderful story, The Yes by Sarah Bee and Satoshi Kitamura, in which a determined orange creature, the “Yes,” is pursued by a swarming group of “Nos” who continually discourage him as he ventures out into the world. The Yes ultimately prevails, overcoming obstacle after obstacle to reach his destination. Your children were mesmerized by this wonderful tale and enthusiastically pointed out each obstacle the Yes encountered.

And speaking of tales, we’ve recently introduced a new chapter book to the Milkweeds and Lavenders, Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins. In the story, we meet several stuffed animals: a one-eared sheep, a sting ray, and a fuzzy buffalo named Lumphy, all of whom vie for the attention of their owner, the Little Girl. Your children have embraced this whimsical cast of characters who share some of their same early childhood struggles! To make the characters come to life we have replicas of each character in our stuffed animal collection that have been "obstacle coursing" alongside your children!  Next week we’ll challenge ourselves with creating obstacle courses for some “real” animals — stay tuned!

As we prepare for our upcoming Mercado, Madeline has introduced us to the wonderful rhythms of the Mexican Hat Dance. Your children have learned to dance the steps alongside a partner and thoroughly enjoy their new moves! Ask your child to show you a few steps at home. 

We know that Sunday is Mother’s Day, but in the preschool we prefer to celebrate Family Day.  Why not celebrate everybody!  The children have worked hard with Kait in the art studio to finish their first glazed and fired pinch pot, which they are bringing home to share with their family.  We hope that Sunday is a fun day for everyone in your family!

Preschool B would love any cardboard paper towel and/or toilet paper rolls for a project.  Thanks!

Important Upcoming Events:

Thursday, May 25 - Mercado in the Garden. This is a student-only event.
Friday, June 2 - Preschool Garden Breakfast (8:15 - 9:15 a.m.). Everyone is invited.

Have a great weekend!

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Families,

Grab the reins and hold on tight as you read about the many adventures the preschoolers had this week!

Adventure #1: We spent a warm, sunny Monday at The Schuylkill Center. Highlights of our trip included hiking, building forts, climbing trees, and riding on a big yellow school bus. The children are thrilled to know they go every week when they are in kindergarten. We were happy so many families were able to join us this week. Be sure to check the Preschool Photo Gallery for great pictures.

Adventure #2: Since the Peppermints and Honeysuckles are studying gardens, we took a trip to visit Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden on South Street. We hopped on the SEPTA bus right outside our door and landed at Seger Park on 11th Street. We explored the playground and had a snack before walking over to The Magic Garden. Olivia, our personal tour guide, explained how Isaiah makes his beautiful art. Then, off we went on a scavenger hunt, searching for mosaic animals throughout the garden. The children used adjectives such as “beautiful,” “amazing,” and “shiny” to describe the garden. They are newly inspired to continue work on our own magic garden on the loft.

Adventure #3: A shipment of 350 ladybugs arrived in the mail. We created a habitat for them in a tank, complete with dirt, sticks, and a flower. As we gathered around to observe them, we were horrified to discover that many of the ladybugs were getting stuck to the duct tape we used to hold the mesh screen on. The children chanted “Save the ladybugs” as everyone worked together to pull the tape away. Mary Beth and Madeline valiantly saved some of the bugs by scraping them from the tape. Children scrambled everywhere, capturing any others that had escaped. We quickly found an old butterfly container and moved the ladybugs one by one into a safer space. Whew! The power of team work! 

The Lavenders and Milkweeds were replete with ideas this week when we transformed a large game cube (die) into a vehicle for our obstacle course work. Using photos of cones, hula hoops, lily pads, pom-pom balls, a noodle, and paddle with beanbag, your children rolled the die and organized an element of an obstacle course based on what they “rolled.” Ask your child how they set up their work! During outdoor time in Fitler Square this week, the children found many elements of nature and art to climb over, through, on, under, and through. Be sure to notice with your child that any path you take around our wonderful city can be made into an obstacle course with a creative mind! We are looking forward to doing more research next week when we collate our remaining questions and set out for answers as we learn more about challenging ourselves through obstacle course work!

Important Upcoming Events:

  • Thursday, May 25 - Mercado in the Garden. This is a student-only event.
  • Friday, June 2 - Preschool Garden Breakfast (8:15 - 9:15 a.m.). Everyone is invited.

Have a wonderful weekend.

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Preschool Families,

This morning’s Encuentro gathering was a riveting performance by master percussionist Hafez Kotain, a member of Al-Bustan: Seeds of Change. Hafez grew up in Syria and began playing the doumbek at age seven. He wowed us with his fast-flying fingers as we clapped along to the beat of several classic Middle Eastern percussion instruments. We enjoyed learning the names of the instruments along with some lively opportunities for a “call and response” session with Hafez. Your children were an amazing audience -- and, of course, the drumming continued once back in the classroom!

The Milkweeds and Lavenders bid farewell to our lovely practicum student Amanda this week, but not before she inspired our obstacle course studies with a reading of Bob Barner’s Bug Safari. In the story we met a family of ants who navigate their way through many, many obstacles as they explore the world around them. Several children decided they’d like to see what it might feel like to be an insect, too. On hands and knees they crawled their way through our TPS Garden. This exercise became a wonderful exploration, first-hand, of the obstacles that real insects encounter each and every day as they traverse the garden paths. In addition, we were lucky enough to discover some ready-to-harvest radishes. Yum! Inside the classroom, we created smaller obstacle courses using clay, craft sticks, small building materials and recyclables. This work in course-design has been a wonderful way for us to explore our collection of plastic garden insects. (It’s easy to take an insect through an obstacle course when the insect is made of plastic!)

During project time, Riley’s mom Tracy, a former competitive gymnast and longtime obstacle course enthusiast, visited our classroom for a preschool-perfect presentation on the history of obstacle courses. We learned that people have been using obstacle courses for over 1,000 years to strengthen both body and mind. Tracy borrowed some equipment from the Movement Room to create a challenging obstacle course for your children, complete with tests of strength, eye-hand coordination, balance, and even letter-recognition! Ask your child which part of the course they liked best.

Also this week, we enjoyed Candace Fleming’s wonderful tale, Muncha, Muncha, Muncha. In the story we meet Mr. McGreeley, whose farm is overrun by some hungry bunnies. Your children were delighted to point out the “obstacles” Mr. McGreeley created in his attempt to ward off the rabbits. The bunnies, however, were quite persistent. We turned the story into a “show” with both indoor and outdoor performances. Your children were inspiring performers!

The Peppermints and Honeysuckles were excited to complete their poetry books and take them home.  We hope you had a chance to read the beautiful garden poems our kids created.  We continue to do lots of planting in our garden, learning about the parts of plants and how they absorb nutrients. Also, the worms arrived, and they are happily adjusting to life in their new home on the porch.  What fun to hold dozens of worms in your hands!  Our student teacher Jason will complete his time with us on Monday at The Schuylkill Center. This week he did a science experiment using baking soda and vinegar to blow up balloons.  The children were wildly excited to try it.  We send our thanks to Jason for all the fun activities he brought to us this spring.  

Sunscreen Reminder! Sunshine is aplenty in our gorgeous garden, and we are asking you to remember to apply sunblock in the mornings before school. Your child is also welcome to bring a sunshade hat to further protect their skin and help them stay cool. We will be reminding children to seek shade and hydrate on warmer days of outside play, and we appreciate your assistance with sunblock application prior to school’s opening. Thank you SO MUCH!

Important Upcoming Events

  • This coming Monday, May 1 - Schuylkill Center Trip. Buses will leave at 9:30 a.m. and return to TPS at approximately 2:00 p.m. There will be plenty of space on our buses, and everyone is invited to join us.
  • Thursday, May 25 - Mercado in the Garden. This is a students only event.
  • Friday, June 2 - Preschool Garden Breakfast (8:15 - 9:15 am). Everyone is invited.

Because your children are growing fast and the weather is warming up, please check your child’s extra clothes bin and restock as needed.

Have a wonderful weekend,

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Preschool Families,

This week the Milkweeds and Lavenders ventured over to the Lombard Building where we were greeted by Bart Jeannette (a member of our stellar physical education team) and an obstacle course designed specifically for our preschoolers. Your children eagerly lined up to weave through the initial part of the course and excitement mounted as they neared the main attraction—“the wedge!” The wedge is a soft and sloped mat that often appears in obstacle courses. Your children had the opportunity to practice climbing onto a step platform and executing forward rolls through the incline. “Stutter stepping” through hula hoops and finishing with a crawl through the big blue tunnel were also obstacle highlights. Using a growth mindset, our preschoolers wanted to try it again (and again!) to become more confident and skilled in maneuvering through the course.

Following our memorable visit to the gym, we created a thank you poster for Bart where children included three-dimensional elements of the obstacle course we enjoyed during our project time on Tuesday. Bart was delighted to find the poster of appreciation on his desk upon his return to the P.E. office. We can’t wait to visit the gym again and try a different configuration of the course with new equipment to boot! As we learn about elements of obstacle courses and their capacity, your children are becoming expert course designers. Ask them to share with you some of the obstacle course vocabulary we introduced this week! A special thanks to Jackson and his family for sharing the obstacle course he designed in their home by way of video—the class loved it and plans were underway shortly after the viewing of courses abound. We look forward to our study making its way into your homes and gardens!   

We have some new residents in Preschool B.  At the sign-in table we now have an ant farm and two praying mantis egg cases.  (Each one of the egg cases should produce around 100 praying mantises!)  As we continue our study of gardens, we’ll now begin to talk about some of the critters that live there.  We are awaiting the arrival of 500 worms (who will live in the texture table on the porch) some caterpillars and a few hundred ladybugs.  Get ready for an explosion of insect news and songs coming your way!  Before sending our bean plants home this week, each child used a ruler to measure how tall their plant was and completed an observational drawing.  They also carefully observed the blossoms on a cherry tree branch and created a painting using q-tips and fingers.  Check out some of the drawings and paintings in the front hallway.  We’re planning a trip to the REAL Magic Garden on South Street in early May.  It couldn't possibly be as beautiful as our loft, could it?

In music we are doing all things "garden" with a little "obstacle course action" thrown in for the Milkweeds and Lavenders.  We have been singing about planting seeds, growing plants, birds calling and creatures crawling!  We played instruments and danced with scarves to tell the story of ladybugs going out to play and then flying away because of the rain, (triangles and finger cymbals,) wind (shakers) and thunder (drums). We also pretended to be creatures in the garden, (the bug of their choice) hiding in the sandbox and then running, jumping, and going around things in the garden to hide from the kids.  We had lots of fun making music today!

Important Upcoming Events

Monday, May 1 - Schuylkill Center Trip (buses will leave at 9:30 am and return to TPS at approximately 2:00 pm) - There will be plenty of space on our buses and everyone is invited to join us.

Thursday, May 25 - Mercado in the Garden - This is a students only event.

Friday, June 2 - Preschool Garden Breakfast (8:15 - 9:15 am). Everyone is invited.

Because your children are growing fast and the weather is warming up, please check your child’s extra clothes bin and restock as needed.

Have a wonderful weekend,

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

It’s been quite a week for the Peppermints and Honeysuckles. Believe it or not, there is a tiny sprout growing in one of the pots planted with jelly beans. The children are beside themselves with excitement, predicting huge bushes weighed down with sweet treats. Stay tuned for breaking news! On a more scientific note, the preschoolers opened the ziplock bags they prepared last week and found that their lima beans had all sprouted. One bean even grew a stem and several leaves! We planted each bean in soil and now begin the work of caring for the seedlings. Later, they will be moved outside to the Garden, perhaps to provide us with shade in our new mud kitchen. At story time, we are reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. We ordered several abridged versions, and this will be the literacy piece to compliment our nature study of the Garden. We also learned about Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden on South Street. Just watch as we transform the top of our loft into our own magic garden. We already worked on mosaics made with gem jewels, mirrors, buttons, and sea shells. These will adorn the walls. The children have many other “lofty” ideas for making a gate with a secret lock and key, as well as flowers and steps.

Rafa’s mom, Taije, visited Preschool B this week to lead a lesson in poetry. She introduced the word “synesthesia” and described it as mixing up all five of your senses. The children wrote the most amazing poetry about magical gardens where you can smell the sunshine and hear the plants growing. Each poem was accompanied by a beautiful illustration of some magical part of a garden. We’re hoping to put them all together into a poetry collection with a copy for everyone. We are so grateful to Taije for her guidance and inspiration.  

What do you do when there’s an obstacle to an obstacle course? You think of another way “around” the problem! This was a lesson learned by the Milkweeds and Lavenders during this week’s project time. While the Lavenders were in the classroom sketching individual ideas for an obstacle course, the Milkweeds headed outside to use the climbing wall, bicycles, and paths in a course designed by our very own Madeline. When the groups switched places, the Lavenders were surprised to find many kindergarten friends outside during their scheduled Garden time. Modeling great flexibility in thinking, they quickly designed a smaller obstacle course that could be completed in the preschool porch area. The next day, the Milkweeds were kind enough to once again set up the obstacle course for the Lavenders the “real” way. Ask your child to tell you which “obstacle” was his or her favorite! We also viewed a “Homemade Backyard Obstacle Course” YouTube video this week, which took us through a course using two different vantage points. Inspired by what they saw, your children have begun creating obstacle courses for each other, as well as for our collection of classroom animals!

Some Important Upcoming Events

  • Friday, April 21 -  Teacher In-Service Day - There will be a special ASEP program that day.
  • Monday, May 1 - Schuylkill Center Trip (9:30 am - 1:30 pm) - Everyone is invited to join us.
  • Thursday, May 25 - Mercado in the Garden - This one is for students only.
  • Friday, June 2 - Preschool Garden Breakfast (8:15 - 9:15 am). Everyone is invited.

Have a great weekend, 

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Parents,

Welcome back!  We hope you all had an enjoyable and maybe even a little relaxing spring vacation.  The children seemed eager to be back in their classrooms with their friends.  

We are preparing to launch our final projects for the year.  Most of Preschool B’s parents have seen the long list of suggested topics generated by the children.  We attempted to do some sort of fair vote, but in the end it was decided that we would study the Garden with all of the various plants and critters in it.  We read a few books this week about magical gardens where you can grow jelly bean bushes and seashell trees.  During project time on Thursday, the children were each given two pots, some soil, and five options of things to plant: jelly beans, buttons, flower seeds, sea shells, and beans. Ask your child what two things they planted. We will be providing water, sunshine, and careful observation. This is an exciting experiment, and we have several hypotheses. Some children are already predicting candy galore! We will be sure to let you know what happens.  We’ve also read some books about where seeds come from, and we’re attempting to sprout some beans. So off we go on our final study—Gardens: Real and Magical. 

The Lavenders and Milkweeds were thrilled to reunite with classmates this week and share news of their spring break adventures. Speaking of adventures, now that we have officially entered into the realm of spring, we are beyond excited to announce our next study—obstacle courses. We read a twist on the classic, “Going on a Bear Hunt,” swapping out bears and woods for lions in the savanna (We’re Going on a Lion Hunt by Margery Cuyler). Along with her class, a teacher uses her imagination to travel with the group to the savanna where they encounter several natural obstacles like mud, sticks, trees, and water. We learned through their tale that there are many different ways to reach a destination—over, under, around, and through, to name a few! Following the book, your children forged a new path to Fitler Square where we heard non-stop chatter about the plants, tree beds, trucks, and many more environmental elements we traversed to reach our own destination—albeit without wild animals! Ask your child about our obstacle encounters and how we moved through both urban and natural elements. Stay tuned for much more on obstacle courses! 

Summer-like weather is on its way.  Sunshine is aplenty in our gorgeous Garden, and we are asking you to remember to apply sunblock in the mornings before school. Your child is also welcome to bring a sunshade hat to further protect their skin and help them stay cool. We will be reminding children to seek shade and hydrate on warmer days of outside play, and we appreciate your assistance with sunblock application prior to school’s opening.

Some Important Upcoming Events

Friday, April 21 -  Teacher In-Service Day - There will be a special ASEP program that day.
Monday, May 1 - Spring visit to The Schuylkill Center - Everyone is invited to join us.
Thursday, May 25 - Mercado in the Garden - This one is for students only.
Friday, June 2 - Preschool End-of-Year Breakfast (8:15 to 9:15 a.m.) -  Everyone is invited.

Have a great weekend.

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Families,

March Madness? Your preschoolers have certainly embraced a winter like no other this year! They happily went from short sleeves last week to full-on snow gear as we headed out to the Garden to romp alongside our kindergarten friends this week. We’re all learning to embrace whatever Mother Nature sends our way — children and teachers alike!

As we near the end of our music project, the Milkweeds and Lavenders are eagerly filling their “band-in-a-boxes” with homemade instruments galore! Using spoons, straws, rubber bands, and more, they continually amaze us with their ingenuity and their ability to incorporate all that they’re learning about string, wind, and percussion. To add to the fun, we’ve installed two music stands and some sample sheet music under the loft, transforming our dramatic play area into a “recording studio” of sorts. We have had some memorable performances, particularly with the addition of “Rock Star guitar” to our growing list of classroom instruments. At closing meeting yesterday, we pulled "number cards" from a pile, and children volunteered to share their instruments as members of a duet, trio, or quartet.

This morning the Milkweeds and Lavenders visited the Art Studio to do observational drawings of a glockenspiel; each child also made his or her own set of pan pipes with Madeline. Also accompanying our music study this week was a Spanish lesson about the seasons (estaciones), in which Madeline introduced us to some instruments traditionally used in Latin American music. Your children had the chance to play maracas, palitos, y la campana de vaca and handled each new instrument with care. On Tuesday morning, we will share our musical learning with our friends in Kindergarten B. Be sure to ask your child about it next week!

This week the Peppermints and Honeysuckles finished their final rotation.  Bears got to eat berries in the cave, adapters foraged for food in the garden, and butterflies appeared in abundance in our classroom.  Some of the children are creating stories about winter animal adventures.  Thank you to Mother Nature for that last blast of winter to finish our study, but now we’re finished so let’s go back to spring! The children have started wondering what we will study next.  We told them it will have something to do with the Garden and the things that live and grow there.  They will be able to vote on the next big topic. Stay tuned!  

Enjoy a wonderful weekend. We are looking forward to visiting with all of you next week during parent conferences!

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Preschool families,

Have Maureen and Lisa gone skiiing?! No, but they did board an airplane to Utah on Tuesday to visit former TPS Head of School Sandy Dean at her home near Salt Lake City this week. Maureen and Lisa visited several schools that Sandy is involved with and met with preschool teachers to talk about the wonderful work we do here using “The Project Approach” philosophy. We can’t wait to hear all about the children they met and learn more about the similarities and differences between Utah and Pennsylvania! They’ll be eager to rejoin us on Monday. While our teacher duo enjoy the snowy mountains out West, the whole preschool walked to Fitler Square on Thursday and joyfully witnessed so many signs of spring—flowers blooming, grubs emerging, and birds returning.

You may have heard from your preschooler that they now have school journals to practice their drawing and writing in. Journal writing gives preschoolers an opportunity to build confidence and skills in representational drawing, as well as letter formation and sound/symbol correspondence. Teachers work with small groups and give children an opportunity to challenge themselves and be inspired by peer work as they share their efforts. Ask your child what they drew and/or wrote about this week in their journal! These precious keepsakes will go home with end-of-year portfolios, and we look forward to sharing work-in-progress with you at parent/teacher conferences. 

This week the Lavenders and Milkweeds decorated boxes originally designed for cakes. Why, you ask? Using oil pastels, your children wrote their names and decorated their own “band-in-a-box” for the creative instruments that they have been making at home and in school. We can’t wait to show them to you in a couple of weeks! On Wednesday, we were treated to a lesson on restringing and tuning a guitar by Hugo Gillman’s dad, Mike. Hugo’s family left a child-sized electric guitar with us to add to our growing collection of instruments in the classroom, and we were so grateful for this cherry red gift. After a choice between naming the new instrument “Strawberry” or “Rock Star,” the children overwhelmingly voted for “Rock Star.” Ask your child how many votes “Rock Star” garnered.

The Honeysuckles and Peppermints started the third and final rotation in their study of animals in winter. By the end of next week, everyone will be experts in hibernation, migration, and adaptation. We keep getting new books from the library and learning ever more facts. For example, did you know the pronghorn deer can outrun a cheetah? How about the fact that some fish can suck oxygen from tiny air bubbles when water is frozen? The fox is such an amazing adapter, it can detect the movement of tiny mice several feet below the snow. We continuously marvel at the wonders of nature, including in our own backyard. 

In Spanish this week both classes were introduced to “el guiro,” a musical instrument that originated in Puerto Rico. Your children heard the guiro first in a new song that will teach us more about the seasons—in Spanish! The guiro’s long, metal, prong-like tool (a pick) made the majority of listeners think the guiro sounds just like a cricket.  Ask your child what this beautiful instrument is made from. In the coming weeks we will explore other musical instruments such as maracas, palitos, and campanas de vaca. These instruments are integral to traditional Puerto Rican music, as well as to similar multicultural rhythms in Cuban and African music. In the Art Studio, Kait worked with preschoolers to create their own wire sculptures using recycled objects like beads, coiled wire, wood, washers, and screws. You’ll be able to soon enjoy them at home!

Have a wonderful weekend,

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Families,

Our preschoolers are embracing the unusual “winter” weather, spending a lot of time outside and asking many questions about the change in seasons. We alternate between heavy winter coats and short-sleeved shirts. However, we can always count on spring parent-teacher conferences. Please use the Doodle poll email link sent earlier in the week to sign up for a conference time with your child’s teachers. If you have any questions about scheduling a conference, please let your child’s teachers know.

Cling, clang, cling -- these were the sounds we heard this week as we created “Toolbox Glockenspiels.” Using socket wrenches, small pieces of pipe, screws, and nails, the Milkweeds and Lavenders explored the science of sound during Tuesday’s project time. Nesting the tools on a large block of styrofoam, we wondered about how sound could “bounce around” (vibrate) — or not — depending on how the striking tool (mallet) was used. We talked about the movement of air that could account for the sound we heard, but mostly we enjoyed making beautiful “toolbox” music. In the words of your children: “It sounds like the wake-up chime.” “It sounds like church bells.” “It sounds beautiful!” We also spent time in the art studio using oil pastels to do portfolio-worthy "observational drawings." Your children were given artist drawing paper and could choose to draw the djembe drum or a small guitar. Ask your child to tell you what he or she chose. Their drawings are now on display in the classroom, too!

The highlight of the week for children in Preschool B (and our friends in Preschool A) was a visit from the Academy of Natural Sciences. Knowing that we are studying animals in winter, Kaitlin (the museum presenter), brought three live animals that tie into our project work. The furry chinchilla has to adapt to the harsh conditions of the South American Andes and search for food all winter. This rodent survives on grass and tree bark. The American box turtle hibernates in the winter, burrowing into rocky crevices or muddy holes. If the winter gets cold enough, the turtle might even freeze solid and then thaw later in the spring. The screech owl migrates south, from the cold weather of Canada to the milder winter of New York. The owl has to follow the warmth and find its favorite food (mice). Our preschoolers asked many questions, showing both their knowledge and curiosity. Here is a sampling:

  • Do chinchillas turn white in the winter to match the snow?
  • Do frogs freeze in the winter like turtles do?
  • Does an owl’s head turn all the way around in a circle?

Ask your child about their favorite animal from the museum visit. 

For our cooking project on Friday, the Honeysuckles and Peppermints designed a snack that migrating birds and butterflies might enjoy. Using rice cakes, sun butter, jam, and fruit, they created flowers that were so beautiful that they had to be eaten immediately!

From music teacher Chris Gignac: In music, the preschool started by playing drums, “testing out” the drums while playing piano, forte, pianissimo, and fortissimo (soft, loud, very soft, and very loud). We also played rhythm patterns for each other and played them back after hearing them. If you have a drum at home, ask your child to show you how we played our drums in music class. The children also pretended to be migrating birds who flew south for the winter to find food and water. We began in Philadelphia, and when we heard the musical cue, we flew south to places like Miami, Mexico, and even Africa for the very strong birds! We finished reading The Cat’s Midsummer Jamboree, and as we sang goodbye, we pretended to be a cat playing mandolin, a fox playing flute, a skunk playing violin, a badger playing the drum, a goose playing a bassoon, or a frog playing the harmonica. Ask your child to demonstrate each one of these for you.  

Have a great weekend.

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Parents,

IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN OR READ YOUR CHILD’S MID-YEAR REPORT AND YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO ACCESS IT, PLEASE SEE YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER TO LEARN HOW TO FIND IT.

It was a pleasure to meet so many lovely Bear Friends who came to school today.  You’ll be happy to know that with few exceptions, they were well behaved and polite.  They visited the Hibernating Cave (nicely appointed by a group of hibernating bears yesterday for their arrival) and we had Bear Crunch with berries for snack.  It was a beary lovely day!

On Thursday we were invited to see three different scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed (just for us) by 8th grade actors.  Our children were a wonderful audience.  They were quite taken with the sword fight and asked many questions about swords during our Q & A at the end.  Many of the actors were former preschool students—this makes the performance particularly exciting for their preschool teachers!

“Music every day . . . Music every night . . . Music from my heart because it makes me feel right!” So go the lyrics to a brand new song, written with love by the Milkweeds and Lavenders! During project time this week, kindergarten assistant Brian Jordan visited our classroom to share both his guitar and his song-writing expertise. Brian introduced the guitar as a string instrument and demonstrated how he uses his fingers to play its steel strings. Then, he surprised us by demonstrating that the guitar can also be a percussion instrument as he struck its sides with an open palm!  We loved moving to the beat as we accompanied Brian with some homemade instruments. After our introductory guitar lesson, Brian worked with our students on writing lyrics to our catchy song. (Ask your child to sing you a few lines.)

Also this week, Madeline worked with our budding musicians to create their own individual kazoos using cardboard tubes, wax paper, tissue paper and a rubber band. Last but not least, we have been delighted by your children’s sharing of instruments from home. This week we were treated to a harmonica recital, several guitar and ukulele solos, and drumming on a Sri Lankan drum. It has been a joy to make music and dance together each afternoon for closing meeting.

Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up on Thursday and Friday, March 23rd and 24th.  Very shortly you will receive a Doodle poll to sign up for a conference time.  We look forward to having some time to sit and chat without interruption.  

It has certainly been wonderful to have this taste of spring—we’ve been spending huge chunks of time outside, which is not always possible in regular Februarys.  We know it won’t last, but enjoy the bits of spring that remain this weekend.

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Parents,

A heart-felt thank you to all of our families who took the time to share a Valentine’s breakfast with us on Tuesday. We appreciate the delicious fruit and pastries (pancakes and bacon, too) and hope you enjoyed our mini concert. An extra special thank you to the clean-up crew, who continued to spread the love as we returned to the classrooms with your children. (Thanks also to Hugo’s mom, Silvie, who joined us Monday morning to help in the design of some Valentine necklaces.)

After the breakfast, the entire preschool ventured over to the Lombard building to take in the not-to-be-missed performances that comprise the annual TPS Talent Show. Your children were a wonderful audience, enjoying everything from lip-synching to jump-roping, hula-hooping, and more. Ask your child to tell you about his or her favorite act!

Our project work continues in earnest. The Milkweeds and Lavenders further expanded their multicultural music lexicon when Aaron’s dad Josh visited our classroom. Josh shared photos from his long ago travels to Bali and Australia where he acquired a djembe drum and an authentic didgeridoo. We enjoyed Josh’s demonstration of the didgeridoo -- a most intriguing instrument. As Josh played, your observant children astutely compared playing the didgeridoo to playing the trumpet or shofar! On Wednesday afternoon, Parker’s sister Taylor joined us to share the way she makes music -- using her beautiful voice. Accompanied by voice teacher Tatiana, Taylor showed us how she warms up to the delightful lyrics, “Mommy makes me mash my M&Ms!” Taylor also performed a lovely rendition of the classic, Favorite Things.” 

The next morning, Movement teacher Ramsey showed us how he warms up his fingers as he shared his piano-playing expertise. Ramsey answered our questions about piano keys and pedals, performed a "Twinkle, Twinkle" improv piece and then banged out some notes as we took turns peering beneath the top of the grand piano to see how sound is made. From Ramsey’s piano concerto we ventured over to the Lombard building for the second time this week, this time to tour the “Proyecto la Casita.” This is the annual third grade Spanish project in which students design and create their own “casitas” (little houses). We admired both the creativity and Spanish vocabulary on display in these amazing shoe box houses!

In Peppermint and Honeysuckle Land we began our second rotation.  The children cheered when they found out where they were going as if they’ve been waiting all their lives to study Hibernation!   Ask your child what their group is studying now.  In the next two weeks we will have a visit from the Academy of Natural Sciences to add to our knowledge of animal survival.  NEXT FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, will be Teddy Bear Visiting Day in Preschool B.  Anyone who has a stuffed bear that he/she would like to bring in to visit the Hibernating Cave is encouraged to do so. Please make sure that your child’s bear is labeled.  (We will have extra loaner bears for those children who do not have one to bring in.)

As if this week wasn’t exciting enough, on Thursday we had a visit from Primary A (first and second grade).  Students shared the “information articles” that they had researched and written.  We heard fascinating facts about gymnastics, football, rocks, and Jewish holidays, among other things.  

 Enjoy a wonderful, extra long weekend!

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Preschool Families,

“Claves,” “Djembe,” “Tablah” -- the Milkweeds and Lavenders enjoyed an international music tour this week thanks to some wonderful visits by a TPS parent, teacher, and a local “guest expert.” TPS parent Chris Jones introduced the Lavenders and Milkweeds to the “son clave” this week, a rhythmic pattern used as a tool for temporal organization in Afro-Cuban music. Chris was accompanied by two of his robust Conga drums, a speaker to amplify "Guantanamera" (a classic Cuban anthem highlighting the use of son clave), and wooden dowels tailored to fit easily into your child’s hands. Each of us had an opportunity to dance using our own claves and to practice the “son clave,” which Chris described as the backbone of a song’s composition. Your children happily chatted and sang while they used beautiful watercolor paints to decorate their new percussion instruments. Each of your children will receive their own set to enjoy at home soon! 

To continue our studies in the percussion family, local drum expert Joe Tayoun joined us on Wednesday for a drumming workshop. Joe brought his international drum collection along with him, and we enjoyed a mini drum circle while children took turns "performing" and being an audience for one another. From African bongos to Egyptian steel tablah to a “talking drum” that answered questions from us (!!), we all delighted in Joe’s visit to TPS and hope he returns again for another stellar drumming and dancing workshop! 

On Friday we were brought into the wondrous world of opera with our very own Shannon Coulter from the TPS Music department. Shannon shared her experience as an opera singer with us, and we enjoyed watching a short clip from the famed opera The Magic Flute as Papagena and Papageno joined together in an entertaining duet. Shannon closed by singing two arias for us as we watched in awe at the strength of her voice and operatic presence. Ask your child about these three experiences as we happily groove along in our study of music!

This week the Peppermints and Honeysuckles were delighted to welcome a special guest.  Joanne Peck, Ethan P.’s grandma, came from her home in Maryland to help us with a planting project. Joanne brought with her some terra-cotta pots (which the children decorated) and tulip bulbs, and everyone got to plant their bulb and take it home. Joanne’s advice is to keep the plant in a sunny, cool area (outside on a porch or deck is fine, even if it’s really cold). She told the children to touch the soil and, if it’s wet, don’t give it any water. However, if it feels really dry, they can water it a little. In a few weeks, you should have a beautiful yellow tulip. Many thanks to Joanne for this special project. We also started a brand new series of chapter books. We talked to the children about a number of choices, and they voted for My Father’s Dragon. We just started the first book on Wednesday (there are 3 in all). This morning we also baked some bunny bread (carrot bread) in honor of one of our favorite adapters!  

On Friday afternoon, we had a playdate with kindergarten. The Peppermints and Lavenders went to visit a kindergarten classroom, and the Honeysuckles and Milkweeds welcomed a kindergarten group to their classroom. We hope to continue having joint playtimes in the spring so we can get to know some of our next door neighbors.

Each preschool classroom will host a Community College of Philadelphia practicum student this semester. Amanda Cintron will be working in Preschool A on Mondays, and Jason Roe will be with us on Tuesdays in Preschool B. Welcome, Amanda and Jason!

Valentine’s Day is upon us! Please join us next Tuesday, February 14, 8:15-9:15 a.m., when we celebrate our community in the Garage at our annual Preschool Valentine Breakfast. On the 14th, please sign your child in as usual, dropping off coats and backpacks in the classroom before proceeding to the Garage. From 8:15 to 9:00 a.m., we will eat, drink, and be merry. At 9:00 a.m. the children will sing Valentine's Day songs and then send their grown-ups off with a wave and a goodbye.

On the morning of the 14th, grown-ups can also help their child stash their valentine cards in their cubby. The children will exchange valentines later in the day. To ensure a smooth and easy distribution, PLEASE DO NOT ADDRESS CARDS TO INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN. This will allow your children to share their cards with a minimum of teacher support. On the other hand, signing their names to each card is great practice.  To keep this meaningful yet fun, you may want to do a few cards at a time.  Please remember the NO CANDY rule when preparing valentines.

Enjoy a wonderful weekend!

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Families,

No one would ever guess that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this week, predicting six more weeks of winter. The preschoolers were out and about as always, enjoying the warmish temperatures and spending as much time as possible outside. We had a blast during Crazy Hat, Hair, and Pajama Day. Ask your child what they most remember, and take a look at the photos in the Preschool Photo Gallery.

We also planted seeds indoors in small containers in order to transfer the plants to the Garden in the spring. We planted mesclun and romain lettuce, kale, broccoli, celery, and cilantro. We will take care of them under a grow-light and provide plenty of water until they are ready to be planted outside.

The Peppermints and Honeysuckles finished their first rotation studying animals in winter. The “hibernators" learned about snakes and frogs, who dig tunnels for themselves in rocks and mud. Using dirt, cardboard, pipe cleaners, and tape, the children created their own representation of this hibernation. They also made many bats that are now hovering at the entrance to the cave. The “adapters” donned the costumes they made last week and scavenged outside, searching for the food packets they made previously (and skillfully hidden by Emily). It was an amazing sight to see a rabbit, fox, squirrel, wolf, pica, and coyote in our Garden. The “migrators” read a book about the butterflies that travel to California, Florida, and Mexico to find food and warmth. We each created our own perfectly symmetrical butterfly, using paint and printing rollers. Our classroom bulletin board shows off these beautiful travelers.

This week the Lavenders and Milkweeds were invited to sit in on a concert rehearsal by our very own Junior Unit students (4th and 5th grade). Delving into a year-long study on China, the students, in partnership with the talented Aaron Picht (music teacher), assembled a percussion ensemble known as the Luogu. A Luogu ensemble consists of at least one drum, a large gong, and a pair of cymbals. The kids were treated to a beautiful piece performed by these talented students and their instruments. In addition, metal and wood idiophones complimented one another as bass/alto melodies and harmonies reigned supreme! Ask your child about this wonderful music experience. On Friday, middle school teacher Ethan Tannen treated us to a solo performance with his trumpet and talked about his former experience as a member of a jazz band. Ask your child which instrument family the trumpet falls under.

In other news, our doll story series was back for a visit this week. Andreas, Luke, Kate, and Takeisha are preschoolers who mostly like to play together. Ask your child what happened in this week’s story when a ship was mistakenly knocked over in the block area and strong emotions escalated. You can also ask your child which role each character “tried on” in this particular scenario (a teaser, target, upstander, and bystander). Your children were incredibly articulate about what they saw happening in our scenario and enjoyed watching their teachers “perform” a story! 

Keep your calendar open for Tuesday, February 14, for our annual Preschool Valentine Breakfast. From 8:15 - 9:15 a.m., we will celebrate our community in the Garage. Sign-up sheets for food and drink will be posted in the preschool vestibule. On the 14th, please sign your child in as usual, dropping off coats and backpacks in the classroom before proceeding to the Garage. From 8:15-9:00 a.m., we will eat, drink and be merry. At 9:00 a.m. the children will sing Valentine songs and then send their grown-ups off with a wave and a goodbye.

On the morning of the 14th, grown-ups can also help their child stash their valentine cards in their cubby. The children will exchange valentines later in the day, collecting cards in their own decorated bags. Please remember not to write individual names on the cards and to observe the TPS “no candy” rule.

From the school's Safety Committee: Please do not park in NO PARKING areas, especially near the intersection of South and 25th Streets. School buses are unable to make the turn if your car is there.

Have a wonderful weekend.

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Families,

Enthralled with the magic of storytelling, we clapped and sang to the beat of professional storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston this morning. Using a Djembe drum, an African “Kora” ( a 21-stringed instrument), and many call and response activities, Charlotte welcomed us to her world of storytelling! She regaled us with tales from Africa: Anansi the Spider, When Dog and Cat Were Friends, and How Tortoise Cracked Her Shell. We also chanted rhythmically to the tale of a woman who went too close to “the hole in the sea.” Your children were a wonderful audience; ask your child to tell you about his or her favorite story! 

This week in the Peppermint and Honeysuckle room we continued our rotations.  If you look at the loft, you’ll see that the top is beginning to look like a beautiful place to migrate to—-sunny skies and colorful flowers.  Soon there will be birds and butterflies all around enjoying the warmth.  But underneath there is a cold, dark cave for the hibernating bears.  Please be quiet when you pass by—there are furry critters sleeping inside.  There are a host of other creatures who are foraging for food in the cold and snow. In Music Class the Peppermints and Honeysuckles described what they are studying in their classroom.  They identified their groups as being adaptors, migrators, and hibernators.  When asked about each group, they were able to explain what it meant and give examples of an animal's behavior in each group.  Next week we will be thinking of ways we can act out each of these groups and add music for a story dance.   

“It’s all percussion!” noted an enthusiastic participant as he took in the performance of an impromptu Milkweed/Lavender “show” yesterday! We’ve been learning to make amazing sounds with boxes, cans, rice, beans, rubber bands, and string. We’re even beginning to classify our homemade instruments as “strings” or “percussion” following an extra visit to the music room this week. Your children learned that instruments have “families”: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. They also listened to the sound of five "mystery" instruments: flute, trumpet, harp, violin, and cymbals. After we identified each instrument, we pointed to its picture in the music room.  Using rhythm sticks, we sang "Willem He Had Seven Sons," and imitated the way we play each of the above instruments. We took turns having fun exploring some “real” percussion instruments on our own: shaker eggs and hand drums. Next week we will be listening to more instruments and reading a book with riddles about instruments. We’ll also have the opportunity to watch some "big kids" rehearse using real instruments, as well! Stay tuned for more about our musical adventures.

Looking for a wonderful place to explore nature with your preschooler on a wintry Saturday morning? The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (TPS’s “country classroom’) offers a story time followed by guided exploration of their trails on Saturday mornings through February 25. Click on this link http://www.metrokids.com/MetroKids/Attractions-and-Events/Calendar/index.php/name/Weekly-Nature-Exporation/event/41477/  for more details.

Dates to Remember:

  • Friday, February 3, is Crazy Hat, Hair, and Pajama Day at TPS.  Children are invited to wear any one or all three of these things. If your child hates to get dressed in the morning, then on this day, it won’t matter. He/she can wear pajamas to school!  (NO slippers, please.)  So find your silliest hat or put four pony-tails in your hair and get ready to celebrate!
  • Tuesday, February 14, is Valentine’s Day, and we will be having our annual Valentine’s Breakfast in the Garage. It will start at 8:15 a.m. and will end at 9:15 a.m., and everyone is invited. We will post a sign-up sheet next week with suggestions of things to bring. 

Enjoy a wonderful weekend,

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Parents,

It’s hard to talk about hibernation when it feels like spring outside, but that’s exactly what we did. 

In Preschool B we watched a wonderful National Geographic movie about animals in the winter.  On Project Day we divided the class into three sections, with each small group studying either migration, hibernation, or adaptation.  Ask your child which group s/he was in and what they did.  Every group of children will make it to all three rotations, so by spring vacation everyone will know EVERYTHING!  This week we played a game where we had to guess which animals fit into which category.  Ask your child if s/he can remember someone who hibernates, migrates, or adapts.  

This week in the Lavender and Milkweed room we read a book entitled The Little Band by James Sage. The book opens with the sound of "faraway music" that eventually reveals itself in the form of a marching band. This throng with song includes children playing a diverse array of instruments that the townsfolk revel in. We pondered the closing sentiment of the book – “And the people in the town were never the same again” – and decided it meant that they had been touched by all the music and dancing. Your brave children even demonstrated some of their own go-to dance moves for the class!  We shared some thoughts about our understanding of music, and your children had insightful comments. One child offered, “It makes people happy; if they hear it a lot it makes people very, very, very happy.” Another child mused aloud, “The less you put in maracas, the louder it gets.” We tested this theory as each child created homemade maracas using compostable spoons, masking tape, a plastic egg, and some semblance of rice, beans, and corn. We tested our homemade instruments in the Garden at the close of our busy week. A band ensued and dancers joined in. They seemed “very, very, very happy!”  

Over the next few weeks, the Milkweeds and Lavenders will be learning lots about music, and we’ll also try to make some homemade instruments to accompany our talented singers! We’re collecting empty oatmeal boxes, coffee cans, old spoons, juice containers, lids, shoe boxes, and any other “headed for recycling” items you’d like to donate. Thanks so much!

What’s coming up?

On Wednesday, January 25, there will be a Parent Coffee in the Garage from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m.  The topic will be "Reading to Learn and Learning to Read."  Everyone is invited.

Friday, February 3, is Crazy Hat, Hair, and Pajama Day.  Children are invited to wear any one or all three of these things.  If your child hates to get dressed in the morning, then on this day, it won’t matter.  He/she can wear pajamas to school!  (NO slippers, please.)  So find your silliest hat or put four pony-tails in your hair and get ready to celebrate!

Tuesday, February 14, is Valentine’s Day, and we will be having our annual Valentine’s Breakfast in the Garage.  It will start at 8:15 a.m. and will end at 9:15 a.m., and everyone is invited.  We will post a sign-up sheet in the next week or two with suggestions of things to bring. 

Have a great weekend.

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Families,

Winter brings talk of snowflakes, bright stars on dark nights, and sometimes warm weather,, too! We celebrated all of these this week by making beautiful snowflakes with Kait, learning a new “star song” with Chris, and “test-driving” some brand-new tricycles that were purchased for our outdoor Garden play space. (We waited until the ice melted before pulling out our new additions!) Madeline read us a wonderful story in Spanish class called “The Three Wise Men,” a holiday celebrated in many Spanish-speaking countries. The children are learning more new vocabulary this winter as they talk about “la ropa” (clothing). Ask your child to teach you some Spanish at home!

The Milkweeds and Lavenders enjoyed the sweet sounds of the orchestra this week when we listened to a recording of Sergei Prokofiev’s musical fairy tale Peter and the Wolf. The story, beloved by our preschoolers, is wonderful in and of itself and provides a lovely introduction to the delightful music of seven orchestral instruments: violin, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn and kettledrums (boom!). Your children were rapt! We also enjoyed listening to Lloyd Moss’s Zin! Zin! Zin - A Violin, a lyrical rhyming book which introduced us to the words solo, duo, trio, and quartet. Stay “tuned” as we embrace our wintertime study of “Surviving and Thriving in the World of Music!” And please let us know of your musical talents and interests in any way shape or form. We always enjoy tapping the resources of our parent community when we begin a new study, and our preschoolers eagerly anticipate the arrival of “guest experts” to our classroom!

The Peppermints and Honeysuckles introduced our winter theme: Animals Surviving in Winter. We went to the Garage and pretended to be mice outside in the winter who had to look for the things we need to survive. We decided that the most important things are shelter, food, water and protection from predators. At project time on Thursday, we discussed how animals either migrate, hibernate, or adapt in winter. We then played a game where the children acted out a variety of animals, such as a migrating bird, hibernating bear, and a squirrel foraging for food. Using wire, dried fruits, popcorn, and Cheerios, we made animal feeders for any creatures in the Garden who have to find food in the winter. We also introduced a sewing project this week. Those children interested in coming to the art table could choose to either make a pillow or a tote bag. 

Enjoy the long weekend!

The Preschool Team

Preschool Weekly Note

Dear Preschool Families,

Happy New Year!  

We want to thank you again for the generous gift certificates we received from TPSA.  We loved picking out and reading new books. Upon our return to school, we were filled to our brims with holiday news and so happy to see one another again! If you’ve noticed your child has been particularly tired after school this week, it is typical for there to be a “back-to-school” adjustment. Hang in there!  

The new year brought in the COLD! Please be sure and check your child’s extra bin of clothing and replenish with clothing in appropriate sizes, as needed. Also, please send your child to school in warm gear that includes hats, mittens, and scarves. (We prefer mittens, but if your child is able to put his or her gloves on independently, gloves are fine, too!) When we don’t find ourselves in a polar vortex, we try and embrace the outdoor weather every day (if only for a wee bit on the colder days)! Thanks in advance for your help with this. Speaking of snow, we ventured out to the garden and had first dibs on playtime in the fresh snowfall!

You may have heard the exciting news from your child this week—the climbing wall on the north-facing side of the Garage is now open! Climbing walls require strength, flexibility, and coordination to successfully maneuver. Practicing the skills to ascend a rock climbing wall naturally builds a functional, core-driven skill set. We liken the holds on a climbing wall to a giant puzzle that begs to be solved. This low impact, endurance-style workout keeps children happily moving and burning energy while they rise to the challenge—pulling, lifting, twisting, and stretching their own persistence. Ask your child if they climbed the wall this week.

You may recall the preschool teachers talking about the all-school theme of survival on Back-to-School Night (all the way back in October!). Next week, both preschool classrooms will delve into a study involving two aspects of survival. We look forward to sharing more with you about our upcoming project work as we burrow down in our classrooms for the winter (hint, hint) and catch some beats (hint, hint)! 

Have a wintry, wonderful weekend,

The Preschool Team