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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Howdy from Ms. Nicole's Ranch Room

Howdy Ya’ll! 

 Down here on the Ranch we’ve been having a hootin’ hollerin’ time!  I’m Mrs. Nicole and I teach Pre-K in the afternoons in the Ranch Room.  We’ve had a great first month of school here at TotSpot and so many fun things are happening every day in our classroom….but often as parents when we ask our kids what they did at school you get the dreaded, “I don’t know”.  I’m sure you see the papers and projects coming home, but what were they doing?  And what did it have to do with macaroni glued to this paper?  So I decided to give parents a “look inside” a day in our class. 
The students have really enjoyed exploring the room-finding so many new activities, toys, games, manipulatives, science kits, our pet rabbit Storm, computers, iPads, music and books that are at their disposal.  We’ve practiced cutting, pasting, gluing, painting, molding, building, drawing, writing, singing, sorting, listening, role playing, imagining and so much more!
SO…when my bright eyed kiddos come into class they’re already learning by being responsible for their own backpacks, water bottles and attendance at our job chart.  Each child gets to choose a fun “job” to perform each day-like “snack helper,” “table washer” or “supplies helper”.  Everyone plays an important role as a group and has individual responsibilities.  The first 20 minutes is their time to explore and “free play” around the room.  We love to chat and catch up-I love to hear all the funny things they share during this opening time. 

Then the cowbell rings and it’s time to clean up!  You would all be pleasantly amazed how quickly a room covered with children’s playthings can go back into place!  They are a great group of helpful and cooperative kiddos!

Circle Time is next.  We always start with the Pledge of Allegiance and then go into our routine.  We talk about the calendar- what day, month and date is it?  We sing our “Days of the Week” and “Months of the Year” songs, and a few others too, like “Mat Man” and “Tap, Tap, Tap”.  I love that the songs give them a chance to be vocal, creative and move around.  We look at the daily schedule and talk about the different parts of our upcoming day.  This is also the time we use our Zoophonics Program that teaches the sounds of the alphabet.  We flip through the Zoophonics pictures together and make the sound and movement associated with each letter “friend”.  The children love the animals and stories associated with each letter.  We will continue building on this throughout the year-with great pre-reading and reading results!

Next up is Handwriting Without Tears (HWT).  This is the greatest program!  HWT focuses on teaching children to write the letters using proper formation and foundational skills.  In the circle we start by using the “wood pieces” to make a letter.  Each child makes the letter, we trace it with our finger, we talk about how to write it and we compare and contrast the shapes and design.  Then they get to practice it on their own worksheet, taking care to follow the proper steps.  And it’s FUN!

“Centers” are the 4 activities we do each day-Language Arts, Art, Science and Math, correlating to the “Letter of the Week.”  I introduce each center by demonstrating the activity and talking about the experience.  Then, they get to go to the 4 tables and complete each “center”.  It’s very neat to see them gaining confidence and creativity in just a few short weeks of school.  They truly shine while expressing themselves differently and creating their own version of each activity.  Once they’ve done all four centers they can “free play” again until it’s time to start our small group activities.

Small Group is broken up into three sections, iPads, Book of the Day, and Everyday Math.  On the iPads students get to practice their letter writing skills on the Handwriting Without Tears App or the Agnitus App were students play knowledge based games to practice foundational skills like shapes, colors, patterns, problem solving and sounds.  We read a book together and students can express themselves in their journals-either with printing or drawing.  Lastly is our daily math curriculum, Everyday Math that gives us another chance to work on foundational math skills. 

At the end of the day we wrap things up and discuss the fun activities of the day.  Thursdays and Fridays are particularly fun with Show & Tell and Treasure box.  The students are always excited to see their parents at pick-up time and share the fun things they have done…even if they sometimes have a hard time articulating it all!  Thank you for sharing your AMAZING children with me each day!!

Mrs. Nicole



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