Welcome To Mrs. Donovan's Pre-School Webpage!
Frank T. Wheeler School Room 4

Pre-K Class Days & Times    
Monday through Friday  
8:50am - 3:00pm
Please arrive 5 minutes before pick up

December 18 - Mystery Reader
December 21 - Miss Ericka visits
December 22 - Holiday in the Round, Shortened Day  1:30 dismissal
December 25-January 1 - Winter Break
January 2  -Back for 2018!

** Reminder - cold weather is here. If your child's extra set of clothes for the classroom consists of shorts and a short sleeved shirt, feel free to send in items for colder weather and we will make an exchange.

December 11 The Gingerbread Man is our theme this week.  Children will have a chance to play in the dress up area working on organizing and sequencing play.  I took photos of some cookie baking that was happening at my house this weekend.  I'll share the photos with the kids and we will share a writing experience during which the children will tell me the steps to use when baking cookies.  Then we will practice following the steps in the dramatic play area.  
We will read a story about MAT MAN and add another self-portrait to our individual books.  Small groups will play shape bingo.  We will differentiate this game by describing the attributes of shapes and see if children can guess which shape they need to find on their bingo board.
Having children begin their letters from the top when writing is something we will begin focusing on this week.  The children will learn the song "Where Do You Start Your Letters?". A learning experience using salt on a tray is planned and the children will use their name tags to practice writing the letters of their names beginning at the top.
Our gross motor movement activity this week will concentrate on throwing and kicking toward a target.  The children will also practice hopping using hopscotch and hopping backwards using hula hoops.
We will continue our work with rhyming words using another Mother Goose rhyme - Humpty Dumpty.  Using the smart board, the children will help me read the rhyme, fill in the missing words when reading, and then work to match a rhyming pair by themselves.  The children will also work on their knowledge of print by reading their own copy of the Gingerbread Man.  We will glue the gingerbread man into the pages of the book and when it is complete, each child can take it home and read  it to you!
In addition, we are beginning to work on a special holiday surprise for families.  I'm hoping the kids don't spill the beans.  Act surprised!
Have a terrific week!

December 4 - This week we will read Bear Gives Thanks by Karma Wilson.  Bear wants to give thanks for his friends with a feast, but his cupboards are bare. Each of the characters arrive bearing yummy treats and "bear says thanks"  The repeated line in the text allows for the children to participate in the reading.  It may be time for some super readers to read to the class.  This book also has rhyming words. We will begin to listen for the commonalities of rhyming words.  We will work on distinguishing between which words rhyme and which words do not.  Creating rhyme is a more sophisticated phonemic skill.  Perhaps someone will be able to make a rhyming pair for us!  Remember when Mother Goose Rhymes were part of your child's first story experiences?  They are perfect for emphasizing rhyme.  So, break out those books again and reread them!
Our second step activities take a focused look at identifying feelings. While most children are good at identifying their own feelings, encouraging them to identify the feelings of others is incredibly important in developing empathy.  During the week we will look at pictures of people and identify their feelings.  I encourage the children to use their developing language skills to support their thinking.  Answering the "how" do you know and "why" do you think that types of questions demands more of them.  Generalizing these skills to peers and using the information to resolve conflicts is our goal for functioning in a cooperative classroom.
The shortened days and busy schedule will keep us racing through this week!  Hope yours is a good one.
I look forward to seeing all of you at conferences.  I'm excited to share information about your child!

 November 27 - I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  All the children returned looking rested and fresh.  We began sharing our Thanksgiving tradition papers. Each child is getting a turn to tell what they are thankful for and then we hear about different family traditions.  So many watch the parade, play football, and read favorite stories.  The kids love giving the list of everyone they saw at Thanksgiving.  This year, they really understand what happens.

This week, we welcome our new classmate, Maya.  We are happy to have you as part of our class. We all enjoyed showing Maya the different centers around the room.  Many children decided to paint a leaf at the easel today. Many liked our lacing, too.  The children could thread the yarn through the holes around the turkey feathers.  This takes some planning and problem solving as well as offering the chance to work the fine motor muscles.

Our Second Step social skills lesson this week is focusing on asking for what you need.  To ask for what you want or need a person needs to use a strong, respectful tone of voice and face the person you are asking.  We will practice this with teachers and with peers. We have some super friends in our class who know how to zip coats, open packages, and help with toys so I like to encourage the children to ask 2 friends before they ask a teacher.  We will work on this all year long.

Working hard 
on a fall puzzle.

Singing the MAT-man song helps us remember all the parts when drawing a person.

D.S. makes a beaded turkey! Nice work!

Team work to match up the faces!

November  20 - Between our Thanksgiving day project and visitors to Wheeler School, our leaf rubbing took a backseat.  We will work on that this week. We finally got out on our leaf hunt despite the rainy, windy weather.  The children worked on using simple adjectives to describe similarities.  The children recognized leaves that were the same based on color, size, and shape.  They used words such as pointy, brown, big and small. Identifying differences was a little harder.  It's interesting how the children get in one track of thought and have trouble bridging to another.  A mostly teacher-directed conversation about what made the leaves different ensued.  Keep talking to your child about similarities and differences - talk about foods at the store, cars that you see, houses and clothing.  This will support vocabulary development!
In addition to our leaf rubbing this week, we will continue our year-long project of self-portraits.  The children have a good understanding of all the parts to draw when drawing a person, especially when we sing the MAT-man song.  I'll watch this week to see if each can organize all the information to put together a whole picture of him/herself.
We will read a wonderful story called Feast for Ten by Cathryn Fallwell.  This is the story of a family preparing for a feast with a trip to the grocery store, cooking, setting the table and hosting family members.  We will act out this story in our dress up area this week.  We will try to recall the various items the family buys, too.  This is a counting book which gives us a chance to practice counting to 10, matching objects to a given number and thinking about concepts of more and fewer.  We will revisit this book when we return from the Thanksgiving holiday.  Once the children have had another year's experience with Thanksgiving, it deepens their understanding of this story.
I look forward to sharing the home-school connection sheet I sent home about Traditions.  The children love to share what they do with their families!  If you haven't sent yours in, please send it along! We'd love to hear what makes your holiday special!
I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Enjoy a restful and peaceful time with family and friends!

November 13 - Friday at Wheeler School was a wonderful celebration of Veteran's Day.  The older children read poems, sang songs, and honored our local Veterans with the celebration. We were happy to help family members of our preschool students enjoy this day and, most importantly, thank them for their service. 

This week we will go on a leaf hunt outside on the Wheeler School grounds.  Hoping the weather cooperates.  We will look for various shapes, sizes, and colors of leaves and then bring them in to compare them.  The children will make a leaf rubbing and use magnifying glasses to take a closer look.  We will start working on a Thanksgiving project too.  There is a lot in the works, as well as a visit from Miss Ericka.  
Our Second Step Social skills lesson this week is on "saying directions again".  We will practice this throughout our day. 
One friend couldn't wait to teach his pals how to play Candy Land!    
Strengthening fingers and small motor muscles at playdough.


The girls were pretending to drive cars all over the field.

All the children loved playing in the rice!

The kids put bead "leaves" on the trees.  Working on fine motor skills!

Apple picking in the dress up area was fun! Working on cooperative play, planning and organizing pretend play, language development and social skills.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

November 6 - Last week our dress up area took on two different play scenes.  We started with costume, a large box, pretend candy, and pumpkin buckets.  The children took turns being the person in the house passing out candy and others were the trick-or-treaters.  We named our street, decorated the box with a doorbell, windows, and a house number. During play, the children were supported in turn-taking, taking on roles, and maintaining self-control.  

As we progressed through the week, we tried to come up with other ideas for which our large box could be used.  Once I cut the box and put a steering wheel close by, the children came up with helicopter, truck, bicycle, bus, and wagon.  We then decided that we could pretend the box was a hay wagon headed out to the apple farm to pick apples.  The children had such fun writing on the tickets and passing them out.  Picking the apples off the tree and riding back to the farm stand was fun too, especially when we sang our hay ride songs. 
The organizational thinking that children develop in play sequences is important building block for reading, writing and comprehension.  As adults, we sequence activities, events, processes etc automatically.  Early sequencing skills in play during the appropriate developmental time set the stage for more complex skills.  Dive into that pretend play with your child - pretend to be a super hero who has to save the Barbie doll, pretend you're driving to Dairy Queen to get an ice cream! Have fun!

We read a wonderful book called Big Pumpkin.  We had two children who reread the story to us.  What good story tellers!  We will continue this and get more children reading to us!  

This week our class will begin to study leaves. We will gather, sort, examine, compare and discuss similarities and differences.  We will count, color, and use our fine motor skills to put beads on pipe cleaner trees.  One of our books this week is called Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.  This story is about a child's sugar maple tree and how it started as a winged seed.  The last question in the story asks if the reader can guess why he/she should visit the tree in the fall.  We will explore the answer to the question.

We continue to work on various learning skills.  We will practice "self-talk".  Children will learn how to repeat to themselves what they should be doing to help with following through with a task. 

October 29 - We've used our senses to describe the inside and outside of a pumpkin and now we focus on the life cycle of a pumpkins. Knowing these living things come from a seed and grow and change is our focus.  We will read the story Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman.  This fun tale is about a group of Halloween characters working together to pull a pumpkin off the vine in order to make pumpkin pie.  We will reread this story and work on simple retellings.  Using picture cards of the characters the children will help retell the story.  I love to invite students up to sit in the big chair and read the story to us.  Retelling a story is a way to help your child recall events, retain important information about a story, and demonstrate comprehension.  Ask your child what he/she remembers about the story. This story gives us a chance to work on words like "frustration" and "grateful". As always, we continue to develop a rich vocabulary.
We use a lot of feeling words to identify our own feelings and the feelings of others.  This large part of the preschool curriculum is supported by our Second Step program.  The children have worked hard to become active listeners and now we work on attention.  We will use our "attent-o-scopes" to focus our attention on the speaker or activity on which our attention should remain.  This is another one of the life long skills needed for all areas of life!
The centers this week are Halloween centers.  Gooey finger paints at the easel, purple moon sand in the sand table and spooky bats and spiders in the water table make for some Halloween fun and good conversation.  I'm closing the block center this week so children branch out from their standard play and stretch themselves in other ways.  The dress up area, with the help of your children, will become a fun street for trick or treating.  We will decorate some large boxes, use them as houses and pretend that we are trick or treating.  I'll take some photos of the children at work. 
I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween! 

October 23 - Miss Ericka was in this past week.  We enjoyed so many wonderful stories.  The children tried counting in Swahili after reading one of Miss Ericka's stories.  I can tell that some of the faces in our class are familiar to her which means you're headed to the library.  The joys of reading are such a wonderful gift to pass along to your child.  We've been enjoying some fabulous stories here at school too. Last week we read Fall Mixed Up and tried to correct some of the things that didn't make sense. For example, it said that pumpkins were red and apples were orange.  There's no tricking this group.  They helped fix all the autumn errors.
This week we will read Picking Apples and Pumpkins and begin discussing what we know about pumpkins and learn some new things.  We are loving scooping out the pumpkin pulp and looking closely with our magnifying glasses. The children are smelling it, feeling it and using descriptive language to tell about it. 
Thank you to all who created some beautiful apple pictures.  Your creations a great and the children love sharing what they did with it.  If you didn't send yours along, send it in any time!
We've had lots of fun in centers this week.  The dress up area has been fun as a farm stand and the easel is open with apple pictures and bingo markers.  The children still love the blocks of course!  Take a look!

October 16 -
We've been busy in room 4 at Wheeler School. Your children are working hard to master "whole-body listening". Ask your child to sing the listening song. It starts with the words "Eyes are watching".  I bet he/she can sing the whole song to you!  The kids practice this during group times when we are focused on a speaker. They're getting the hang of it!
Last week we learned about different community helpers and enjoyed several activities that focused on them. The children know who helps in our community and what they do! We have discussed how we can be helpers in our classroom community.  I have so many children who know how to put on their coats by themselves, use challenging toys, pick up around our classroom, and push in the chairs.  These are our helpers!  I encourage children who need help to ask a friend.  Asking for help is an important skill! We've been working on phrases such as: "I can help you", "I need help", and "help please".  
The middle of October brings with it conversations about Halloween. I'm already beginning to hear kids talking about their costumes and pumpkins. Although we do not dress up for Halloween or have food treats in preschool, we will enjoy Halloween stories and games.  But, there's so much to enjoy before that!  
Our class will learn about seasons this week.  We will learn that the seasons are a cycle and use the word autumn and fall to describe this season.  On Friday, we will take a nature walk and enjoy an autumn scavenger hunt. In between, we will open up the beautiful pumpkins that were donated by the Simches and Chaput families.  Thank you so much to all!
Thanks, too, to the parents who sent in zip lock bags and tissues for our class!  I'm so grateful.
If anyone has a stash of plastic grocery bags, I'll be glad to take some off your hands.  We use them for wet clothes, storing rest things, and several other uses.  Feel free to reduce your pile by sharing with us!  Thank you.
I hope you all have a great week!

October 2 - Thank you so much to all of you for sending in photos of your families.  This week we will read some stories about families. The children can share their pictures and tell us more about themselves and the special people in their family!  We love getting to know everyone.  

Last week we worked hard on understanding personal space.  I used hula-hoops with the children to concretely show their space which we have decided to call their "bubble".  We talked about staying inside your bubble as we walk down the hall, keeping your hands and feet inside your bubble when sitting on the carpet for group times, and also recognizing that people have a bubble around them when playing outside. 
I'm hoping this will help each child understand his or her own personal space and the space that others like to have,

In addition to personal space, our class learned about whole-body listening.  When you're listening to someone, your eyes are watching, ears are listening, voice is quiet, and body is calm.  Listening is an immensely important skill and one that needs to be explicitly taught. We practice this at school and demonstrate this to the children while we listen to what they have to say.  This week's chance to share family photos is about so much more than just getting to know you...it is a vehicle to learn active listening.  Practice this important life skill at home. 

We continue to develop listening skills and the understanding of personal space within the "work" of a preschooler known as play.  Check out the photos: I'm so sorry they are sideways on here...just can't figure out why that is...

For the 1:30 dismissal on Wednesday, please note the location of the no parking signs near the entrance to Wheeler School.  Because all of the big buses have to pull into the circle, our preschool bus needs to park just outside of the bus loop directly in from of our door.  Please park past the signs so as to keep our pre-k students safe.  Many thanks! Have a wonderful week!

September 25
 - Another busy week is behind us and I can hardly believe that September is coming to a close. We enjoyed the company of Miss Ericka from the Plainville Public Library this week.  She comes once per month with a bag full of wonderful stories, activities, and an ability to engage the children and teach them about the joy of reading.  We love having her in and from the photos, you can see how each child is participating, sitting appropriately, with their eyes on Miss Ericka.  These are the things we concentrate on in the beginning of the year during circle times.

Much of our preschool year will focus on appropriate school behaviors.  We've been working hard on using our words to request help, problem solve social interactions with peers, greet one another and express our feelings.  Phrases such as "I need help" are really important for the children to practice. All the adults in the classroom give the children plenty of time to work through a challenge, and wait until children make the request for help.  We try hard not to swoop in and solve the problem for the child.  This develops task persistence, problem solving, and tackles learned helplessness.  Exchanges between peers might require a child to say, "I was playing with that.  Can I have it back, please?" This language is critical to maturing social interactions.  Sometimes the adults in the classroom slow the conversation down and encourage kids to listen, sometimes we model the language, and sometimes the children just need the presence of an adult for these interactions to be successful. 

Just check out the nice friendship here that develops when kids use their words to connect! 
Way to go Preschool friends

This week our work continues on our class community. Next week we will take a closer look at our different families.  There is a family connection paper coming home this week which gives each child a chance to draw their family.  We hope you have fun working with your child on this and having a discussion about all the special people in your family!

Have a wonderful week everyone...stay cool!

September 18  - Our first full week was terrific.  We had a chance to practice a fire drill and your preschoolers were wonderful.  They walked quietly and were a shining example for the rest of the school.  Way to go Pre-K! In addition, preschoolers experienced their first all-school assembly.  We saw a wonderful show by a basketball player who did very impressive tricks.  Check out the photos of our class sitting waiting for the show to start and then one of the amazing tricks she performed. What a great audience our group was!
This week we will focus on understanding our classroom community. A community is a group of people who live, work and play together. We are getting to know each other as members of this community and we've started by learning each other's names, finding out what each person likes to do and discovering that everyone has feelings. We will graph our eye color and hair color and draw self-portraits in our Self-Portrait book (a year-long project). This gives each child a chance to see himself as a unique part of the class and begin to develop an understanding about his/her impact on others.  
Please join us for Open House on Wednesday night from 6:00-7:30.  Your child will be so excited for you to see our classroom and meet some new friends.  Come share an evening with us.  Until then, have a terrific week!

September 11 - By Friday of last week, we had lots of sleepers during rest time.  The children continue to adjust to the busy days and a full week of activity.  This, our first full week of school, will be a great chance for all of us to firm up our routine.  The children come into the classroom, unpack their folders and their lunch boxes, and settle in to some activities at the tables while the rest of the children arrive.  I put out some high- interest activities such as magnetic "sticks and balls", bristle blocks, play dough, puzzles, pegs, beading, etc.  Ask your child what table activity she did today and which one she likes the best.

Once everyone arrives, we have a circle time.  We sing songs and take care of jobs...this is always a favorite part of a preschooler's day.  Be sure to check in with your child about which job he/she had today.  I'm sure he will be able to tell you exactly what's involved.  He might even sing you the song that goes with some jobs.

We move from circle time to centers.  As you can see from last week's photos, this is a busy (and messy time).  It is also the time when so much learning is happening.  Children are learning to request things, how to tolerate others in their space, how to organize their thinking and plan their play.  They are practicing language skills, sustaining their attention, and handling frustration.  It is quite amazing.  Because so much is happening, sometimes a preschooler can't remember all that he or she has done.  By asking specific question, you may be able to get more information..."Did you play in dress up today?",  "Did you cook food there?",  "What did you cook?", "Tell me about your favorite toy in the block center."  

After centers, we get outside to play weather permitting and then eat lunch right after.  A story follows and then rest time. The children are working to manage all the materials that are involved in lunch and rest.  They are doing great!!!  After a slow wake-up, we have our snack and begin the packing up process.  Our main goal during these times (and throughout the day) is to encourage independence.  We want the children to problem solve. This requires a slow pace as they think things through.  All the teachers support that process by pointing the kids in the right direction through questions or simple cues.  We work hard to be sure we aren't doing things for them. So much growing will happen this year.  Enjoy every moment; it sure goes fast.

Please remember that if you have any questions, you can always reach me via e-mail at donovanm@plainvilleschools.org.  I will do my best to get back to you quickly.
Have a great week!

September 5  I hope you all had a fun and restful weekend.  Last week was a wonderful start to the school year.  Your children are delightful. Any first day tears and jitters were over very quickly and by day 2 I don't think I saw a single sad face!  Check out some photos of the kids.   I work pretty hard to get everyone's pictures so have no fear if your child isn't here this time.  The first week is a little crazy so I was happy I got as many photos as I did.  I'll keep them coming! 

The week ahead will entail much work on getting to know the routines of the classroom.  We will work on putting our belongings away with independence, learn how to rotate through centers, and practice taking care of our rest mats.  It's a lot of work!  
We are getting outside in the beautiful weather so please continue to send your child with shoes for running and climbing!

I'm excited about this school year and hope you are too.  Please feel free to reach out to me via email, donovanm@plainvilleschools.org if you have any questions.  Although it is difficult for me to check email during the school day, I will make my best effort to get back to you as soon as I'm able.  You can always send a note in your child's folder as well.  We try very hard to check the folders each day.  Please remind your child to take the folder out each morning and put it in the folder holder.  We're sure to see any notes then!
                                                    Have a wonderful week!

Welcome to the 2017-2018 Preschoolers!  What a great first day of school!  The children settled in quickly and enjoyed all the centers!  We had painters, tower builders, and chefs.  The sand and water tables were very popular.  We went out to play also.  Lunch and snacks went well!  I hope your child had a terrific day!  

I took some photos but am waiting until I get the "media release" from the office before I post any.  So, if you didn't get to complete the release through info-snap, please fill out the form and I'll share photos of the children's day.

You should have received notices in your child's folder today explaining needed items (yoga mat for rest time, extra clothes, snacks, etc.), and our weekly meal sign-up.  I'm hoping the information was helpful.  If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me at the following email address: donovanm@plainvilleschools.org.

I try to write and add photos here on my website once a week.  I use it to share things we've done and upcoming fun for the week.  So check back!  Have a great long weekend ahead!