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

June 7 - Preschool Field Day - 1:45-2:45 (1:45-2:15 field day, 2:15-2:45 picnic)
June 11 - Raindate for Preschool field day
June 14, 15, 18, 19, 20 - Shortened Days of school 1:30 dismissal
June 20 - Last day of school

June 4 - Here are some photos of the ladybugs as we set them on their way!

And a few more photos from this past week:  Mrs. Jesudowich donated her kids' out-grown work bench.  The kids love it! M.W. is having fun hammering.  J.C. made a bird house.
S.S. made a computer out of magnetic blocks. And M.B. was excited to show her peg towers.
This week we will read the classic Eric Carle story about
The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We will focus on retelling this story using the repeated language, thinking of beginning, middle and end, and concentrating on concepts of print.  We will graph our favorite Eric Carle bug book and also our favorite kind of bug. The children will paint a butterfly and create a setting for bugs using scissors, glue, and bug stickers. Our field day is this week as well.  Fingers crossed for good weather! We are all excited to have a fun day!

We used pipe cleaners and beads to make some playdough spiders. C.C. had fun this week at this center. 


May 29 - Our spiders looks awesome creeping outside our classroom door. 
We learned a lot about spiders. And now we turn our attention to insects by discussing the similarities and differences between spiders and insects. We will learn that insects have 3 body parts, head, thorax and abdomen.  They have 6 legs and may have wings.  As an introduction, over the past few weeks we've watched our ladybugs grow from larvae to ladybugs and then let them go. The children had all kids of predictions early on about what the larvae would turn into. It was very exciting when they saw what they'd become!  We are adding one more creature to our experiences this week...earthworms.  The kids will have a chance to look at, touch, and examine earthworms.  We will, again, talk about caring for living things. 
      Last week there were a group of workers cutting limbs from the tree tops. The children loved watching the people raising the bucket, cutting the limbs and watching them fall to the ground.  It made for some good discussion between the children.
I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend!  Looking forward to good week ahead! 

May 21 - Our visit from Hungerford was so wonderful.  The children learned about animals with feathers, those with scales, and others with hard shells.  They got a close look, as well as a chance to touch different creatures. Take a look at the photos!

Miss Ericka came last week and read If You're Happy and You Know It. In this version, each verse is sung by an animal. In this photo, the dog tells them if they're happy and they know it, they should wag their tails.  The other photo is the kids following directions to "pat your head".  

This week we continue our study of spiders.  We learned that spiders have 8 legs and many eyes. We sorted various bugs into "spider" and "non-spider" groups by counting legs.  

We will read 2 non-fiction pieces of text about spiders.  One is called All About Spiders and the other is The Spider's Web. We will make a list of new things were learned from each of these texts.  

We made spiders out of black construction paper last week and this week we will make a spider's web by doing a marble painting.  Should be fun!  The sand table will be filled with bugs, tweezer and covered with a yarn "web".  The children will have fun honing their fine motor muscles while catching bugs with the tweezers. 
Using pipe cleaners and beads at the play dough table, children can make their own creative bugs.  One of our literacy lessons this week includes reading an individual take home reader called "Bugs".  I always remind the children that they can read the book to their teddy bear, brother or sister, or their pet.  They'd probably like it best if they read it to a mom or a dad! 
We have a lot packed into this week. We hope yours is wonderful, too! 

May 7 - We had such fun last week looking closely at bulbs and bean seeds, making predictions, and planting each. 
The children worked together to draw what the plant might grow to look like.  We worked on using the scientific vocabulary to describe each plant part as we drew. 
We watched several time lapsed videos of seeds growing.  With a lot of TLC and some luck, our bulbs and bean seeds will grow successfully.  They've both been planted in clear containers with the hopes that we will be able to see the roots growing down and the plant growing up!  We have some remaining bulbs and we have permission from Mr. B to plant them in the school yard...we will have to choose a spot wisely knowing the construction is coming.  

We had left over soil from last year and the kids enjoyed spreading it out in the field and around the school. 

This week we will expand our knowledge of plants and learn about how food comes from plants. The books Plants on a Farm and Grow! Raise! Catch! will help us understand where our food comes from.  We will also read A Day in the Life of a Farmer and learn that farming is a challenging and rewarding profession. 
Counting and cardinality is on the schedule for the week as well.  We will have fun counting some plastic dinosaurs that another teacher found during our packing day.  This will be something different and fun. Outside we will work on self-regulation by playing Red Light, Green Light.  Demonstrating and reinforcing self-control will be the big push!
On a more personal note, I will be out Friday and Monday as I travel with my family to my daughter's college graduation.  I can't help but reflect on how my world is lived at both ends of the school years. Graduation is the culmination of growth, change, challenges, and joy for our whole family. Childhood is not a race, but a journey and I certainly hope you all enjoy the journey through the school years as much as I have!

April 30 - Our Mother's Day surprises are almost finished.  We need to complete one more step and then we are on to wrapping.  We hope you love it.  
Our classroom looks like a lovely spring garden with the painted flowers the children made hanging for all to see.  We discussed the roots, stem, leaves and blossom while completing this activity.  We also read a story called From Seed to Plant.  The simple text and beautiful photos of different seeds gave the children a first look at how things grow.  I didn't get to read Growing Vegetable Soup.  That will be added to this week's literature.  Seeds Go, Seeds Grow is a look at various seeds and how they travel and find their way to new places to grow.  The photos are terrific.  The children love the non-fiction text and it helps us think of ourselves as scientists!  The children will have a chance to observe bulbs, predict what they will grow into, then plant the bulbs.  We will do the same with bean seeds when we plants several seeds in a cup.  Each child will be able to take his/her bean plant home after some close observation.
Please take note of the additional shortened days which will be used for packing up Wheeler School.  Very exciting!
Have a wonderful week everyone!

April 23 - I spent Friday at Linden Street School working with incoming preschoolers.  While I had a delightful day meeting some new students, I missed the fabulous animal assembly and from the looks of the photos, it was a terrific time.  I'm going to have to ask the children what animals these were that crawled and sat on them.  It must have been so much fun to touch the furry animals and hard-shelled ones too. Our Super Hero day was a big success.  Wheeler School was in excellent hands!
Again with the photos going sideway! Uugghh!  So sorry.

This week we finish our hand painted symmetrical flower by adding leaves, a stem, and roots that the children will cut and glue.  We are working on a special something for moms too.  We will read Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed and Lois Ehlert's Growing Vegetable Soup. Two of my favorite authors create visually beautiful books that help us learn about seeds.  We didn't get out to do our scavenger hunt last week, so we will add that to our to-do list for this week.  Hopefully the weather will be perfect!  Our gross motor activity this week takes the children outside for some relay races. The kids will pass the flower and put it into the flower pot with an emphasis on team work!  At the end of the day, we will revisit nursery rhymes.  These are a great way to work on phonemic awareness.
Wishing you all some fabulous weather and a super

April 16
 - I hope everyone had a wonderful break from school.  Perhaps it gave all of you a chance to slow down a bit, change your routine for a while and get some well-needed rest. Being away is great but there comes a moment when we all begin to crave structure and routine.  It is good to be back at Wheeler for the last leg of this year! 
Before the break, there were some wonderful moments that I caught on camera.  It has taken a considerable amount of time to get to a place where the children play cooperatively, plan and organize their play activities, and use language effectively to make all this happen.  Despite my greatest efforts, I can't seem to get the pictures to turn the right way, but I don't want to leave the photos out.  Please take a look:
L.P. and J.R. couldn't wait to show me their pathways. 
Four friends held hands as they talked about what they'd play next  

L.P. and A.S. were making snakes, hiding them under playdough rocks, and hatching baby snakes from eggs

H.B. is now making her way to the writing center. 

Friends at the sand table told of a traffic jam occurring because a car was hanging on the edge of a cliff.  Several other cars came to help!

The dramatic play area has changed from a science lab to a hair salon.  D.S. got this going and several customers were waiting for a turn.

L.M. created an elaborate castle!

M.B. and L.P. created some fantastic pathways on the magnetic board.

I.C. created a fabulous race car using wheels and axles.

For the next several weeks we will learn about how things grow. From plants to bugs, our class will explore life cycles, plant and animal needs, seasonal changes.  Our class will take a nature walk, plant our own bean plants, create an original piece of artwork.  Our dramatic play area will be a flower shop where the children can buy, sell, arrange, and plant flowers.  The sand table is filled with organic soil, fake flowers, shovels and pots.  Small plastic eggs in the water table contain items for sorting. The children will learn a finger play called Plant a Little Seed and hear stories of spring. Looking forward to a terrific week back!

A special thank you to Austin's grandmother who came in to read to us before the break.  We loved all your stories! 

April 2 - It was wonderful to speak with parents at conferences these past few weeks.  I was so glad that so many of you could come! It seems that spring may actually have arrived and our chances to get outside have been increasing.  What a treat.  Please dress your child for running and climbing. 

We will not be starting our How Things Grow unit quite yet.  We have one more week of How Things Move with our focus on wheels and axles.  The children will be sorting items into different groups - wheels/no wheels, wheels with axles/wheels without axles.  This activity will give us a chance to label our groups accurately, discover other ways to sort the materials, and discuss more and fewer.  

The class will read the books Wheels and Axles, Ramps and Wedges, and The Wheels on the Bus. The simply written science books will support the introduction of the vocabulary and give another opportunity to listen to non-fiction text.  We will point out labels on photographs, table of contents, and glossary as parts of non-fiction books.  In addition, we always review the front and back of a book, words and pictures on the pages and review which way pages turn. 

They will create their own set of wheels with an axle.  We will try rolling these down ramps and on pathways. We will take out the tape measure and see how far our wheels will roll.  The children will be encouraged to use non-standard units of measure such as arms, hands, edges of the carpet.  It gives them a chance to use explicit language to describe distance.  Perhaps someone will use positional words or maybe a child will count their steps...we shall see. They will also create their own car using paints, scissors and glue. These two creative opportunities give each child the chance to listen to and understand directions, demonstrate impulse control, problem solve, and bring a task to completion.

On the other end of the week, the children will get a well-deserved break.  I hope everyone has a safe, healthy and fun April vacation!

March 26 - We've been focused on Pathways.  We've learned that a pathway is a space on which you can move that takes you from place to place.  We found pathways around Wheeler School.  Take a look at our pictures.

We also worked as teams to create pathways such as roads, sidewalks, and train tracks around our toy houses, trees and signs.  The children had to watch what others were creating, use words to work together to connect their materials, and see if they could have toy people walk around their whole town. Check out the creations. 
We have also read several stories that use the pathway idea to help with retelling a story.  Rosie's Walk, Going on a Bear Hunt, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Donna O'Neeshuck was Chased by Some Cows are the stories we've read.  The children have been helping draw the pathway that the characters have traveled while retelling the story.  We've focused on position words such as around, next to, between, under, beside.  
The children had a chance to move in different ways down a ramp too.  They loved rolling, sliding and crawling down the big slice of cheese! 

We will finish up our How Things Move unit of study this week and upon returning from the Easter weekend, we will begin How Things Grow. Enjoy a snow-free week...I hope I didn't just jinx us!

March 11 - Despite a short week last week, we managed to get in an I Spy walk looking for ramps.  The children found many around Wheeler School. 
The radiator in the hall has a slope and we could roll a ball down it to test whether or not it is an inclined plane.

We found slides, parts of playscapes and entrances to our school.  

We also created our own ramps out of various materials and tested them by rolling small vehicles down the gentle or                                                                                                                                                          steep slope.

This week we will complete some of the things we missed last week such as our ramp rainbow painting and continuing assessment in preparation for conferences.  We will also begin our focus on pathways. We will examine roads, hallways, sidewalks, and paths. 
Hoping the weather cooperates this week!

March 5
 - Reader Across America Day at Wheeler was terrific!  Many thanks to our 3 guest readers, Mrs. Thibault, Mrs. Chaput, and Mrs. Brown.  We loved all the stories and it's always a treat to have parents in. Also, a thank you to Mr. Shores for coming in this week as a guest reader!

The children had a blast in the gym enjoying various activities!  Check out the pictures:

You can see in the background of this last pictures the decorations the pre-k classes made. Each class was asked to design decorations with a Dr. Seuss book as the theme. Pre-K was given Dr. Seuss ABCs.  The pre-k students chose a letter or a number and were asked to glue it into the appropriate category.  Our decorations looked great! If you take a close look, there are numbers on the letter side and letters on the number side.  This is very appropriate for preschoolers as they learn which is which. We keep using the language during all of our classroom experiences to help solidify their understanding.

This week we continue our study of how things move. We've planned an I Spy walk during which the children will look for ramps around Wheeler School.  We will talk about how ramps help us.  Using a ramp and some matchbox cars that have been dipped in paint, we will make a rainbow painting.  We will discuss how the cars go faster on a steep slope and go slower on a gentle slope. We will also use some geometric shapes on various slopes to see if they roll, slide, or stay put.  During our gross motor movement activity, we will hop, walk, skip, and side step on straight, zig zag, and curved lines.
We continue to work on social skills especially conflict resolution.  We've learned about strong feelings and calming down. The children are beginning to implement some of these skills with adult support.  During a conflict, many children are now demonstrating a willingness to work through problems. They stay present in the area where the conflict has occurred, use a quieter voice to request adult support, and with adult help are willing to follow through with a solution. 
We've come a long way!  We're helping each other and have learned some basic school behaviors:

February 26 - Thank you to Ms. McCain and Ms. Delaney for coming in as guest readers.  We were so happy to have you! 

We've wrapped up our winter theme by working with the whole of Wheeler pre-k to create a blizzard together.  Both classes practiced using scissors correctly to cut a variety of materials: paper towels, straws, napkins, plates, cotton batting.  Then, each child was able to work with glue sticks in close proximity to other students to create a beautiful collage we are calling a blizzard. 

Hopefully, this is the only blizzard we see for a long while!

Last week the students from Tunxis Dental Hygiene Program came to teach the kids about healthy teeth.  The children loved her visit!

This week we are beginning our study of how things move.  Our first focus in on the concepts of push and pull.  We will measure the distance we can push a pom pom using our breath; we will create boats in the water table and pull and push them across the water. The book How Things Move by Robin Nelson and Push and Pull by Hollie Endres will help us understand these concepts. We will sort objects based on push and pull, too.  
This is also Read Across America Week and preschoolers will be sorting and then gluing letters and numbers into their respective categories. Each grade is creating a backdrop for the whole school activities taking place in the gym this week.   Another busy week ahead!
A few more photos:
Two friends were very happy about completing the number puzzle.    The boys are sorting the fruit by variety and two others have created sections for the different types of "garbage". Great work!                                                                                                

February 12
 - Preschoolers begin their reading careers by embracing and understanding sound.  The children need to recognizes differences in sounds, identify their sources, break whole sounds into parts.  Playing with rhyme, singing silly songs, and listening for different sounds in your environment helps your child develop his/her phonemic awareness.  We will play a sound bingo game this week to work on these skills in a structured but fun way. 
Another small group activity this week will include working with shapes and identifying their attributes, similarities and differences.  The children will use pattern blocks to create a given picture.  This will require some reasoning skills, problem solving, and perseverance. During the small group, I'll ask questions such as "What two shapes could you use to fit in that space?", "Is there another way to cover that space?", "The space has 3 sides.  Which shape has three sides that will fit there?".  Having the children verbalize their thinking and use mathematical vocabulary makes this a challenging activity.
We are also preparing for Valentine's Day.  We finished a mosaic for you as a special gift for Valentine's Day. Each child will also decorate a Valentine bag and have a chance to make deliveries to his/her friends on Wednesday morning. We will read What is Valentine's Day? a story in which Little Mouse makes Valentine's for all her friends. 
Our social skills this week will focus on calm-down strategies.  Part of this includes identifying and naming feelings and taking deep breaths. 
Check out the photos from this past week:
Our MAT-Man song which teaches the parts needed to draw a person is carrying over to other places. L.P. made a snowman out of play dough and L.P. made a creation using magnetic shapes.

  D.S. made a huge train of unifix cubes. 

J.C. made a garbage dump with a ramp.

Kids are working hard on their mosaics.

We enjoyed a concert put on by the fifth grade band.  The children loved the beat!

February 5 - What a terrific week!  The children enjoyed all of the centers and it seems that all they are getting better and better at cooperative play, conflict resolution, and sustaining attention. Great work boys and girls!
This week we will read Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan.  Sadie makes and remakes her snowman all through the winter. But, Spring is coming and the snowman doesn't last very long.  Ask your preschooler what Sadie does to save the snowman for next winter.
This story will be a starting point for a discussion about what fun things families like to do in the snow.  We will make a graph of favorite activities and compare the different categories using math vocabulary such as more, less, fewest, most. 
In small groups, we will begin to learn about mosaics.  I'll share some examples of mosaics and then each child will get a chance to make a mosaic.  It will make it's way home to you for Valentine's Day!  We hope you love it.
Our gross motor activity will focus on using large muscles to move with coordination.  Animal movements will inspire us to bear crawl, penguin waddle, and frog jump. I hope we get a chance to get outside to do this activity! Last week the children loved the parachute.  We will revisit it soon.
The kids loved the fake snow in the water table.  We will play with it another week.  The sand table will include various white items from pillow fluff to paper, yarn and cotton balls, ribbon and paper towel.  The children will use scissors to cut the materials and then we will make a class collage.
The easel has had white paint available and the kids have made fabulous pictures.  This week I'll add structure to the project there by asking each child to make a snowman using process art. This means our focus will be on the steps or process rather than the end product.  We will concentrate on the vocabulary needed to create a snowman, the force that is needed to paint, and the sequence.
Our play dough table will have the addition of beads and sticks so the children can create snowmen.  Play dough helps to strengthen fingers and hand muscles needed for fine motor tasks such as writing.
I hope you have a terrific week!

January 29 - The tent in the dress up area has been a big hit.  We've pretended to be the animals in the story and had each animal climb into the mitten until someone sneezes! Then, all the children tumble out.  I saw children pretend to be Santa and elves and climb down the chimney and leave gifts.  Someone always pretends to be sleeping, enjoying hot cocoa or making food and enjoying it with friends. They are practicing zipping coats, putting on scarves and mittens and understanding what earmuffs are.  The pretend play has matured and I'm beginning to see more purpose in the children's play.  This week we will practice the language that goes with asking to come in, retelling a story using character hats, and learning that you can tell a new version that is your own.
The woodland animals in the sand table were lots of fun.  We added a large mitten so children could retell the story.  So many new stories were being created using the animals! 

The water table was lots of fun with water wheels and letters floating. 
This week I'll change from water to fake snow.  This is a "just add water" tub of material that I haven't tried yet...we shall see how that goes. I'm sure the kids will love it but I'm not sure how long it will last.

In the block center last week, I had drawn a chalk mitten on the carpet and asked the children to go around the outside with train tracks or fill in the shape with various blocks.  This week I'll make two different size chalk mittens and we will compare quantities.

Our small group activity will include individual copies of The Mitten which we will use to talk about the front and back of a book, pictures, words, how to turn pages and recognize that we read the words on the page and use pictures to help. I also want to finish working with children to play "Feed the Snowman".  We are using air to blow pom-poms into the mouth of the snowman.  First we will make predictions and then test our thinking about which squirt bottle works best and which techniques make feeding the snowman successful. 
The scooter boards were a big hit last week. 

This week's gross motor activity is parachute play.  The children will enjoy this for sure. 

We will read 2 more versions of The Mitten, enjoy a new Scholastic Magazine, and learn more about how animals and people stay warm and fed through the winter.

Have a wonderful week!

January 22 - We will enjoy Jan Brett's retelling of the Ukrainian folktale The Mitten.  Our dramatic play area has gone from a kitchen to an outdoor scene which includes winter clothing to put on, character hats from the story to wear, and pillow-stuffing snow. We will take a close look at photos of animals that are in the story and work to complete a simple retelling.
Our math concepts focus on counting objects in various arrangements.  Using buttons on a snowman, children will begin to understand that no matter how 5 buttons are arranged, there are always 5 buttons.  The set doesn't change if the buttons are closer together or further apart. Seems simple, but children need to be  developmentally ready to understand conservation of number as a prerequisite for many other math skills.
This week we will work on comparing sets of items by filling a leather mitten and a knitted mitten and determining which one could hold more. In the story of The Mitten, the knitted mitten stretches to accommodate animals snuggles in for warmth. 
The block center will have a chalk outline of a mitten on the floor and the kids will work to fill the mitten with various materials.  We will make estimates, fill the mitten, then count how many of the item it took to fill it.  We will be writing numbers to label "how many".  The sand table will have woodland creatures to play with and talk about. Developing language happens in this natural setting! The easel has a white mitten traced onto black paper for students to paint.  This requires hand strength and control of tools. It also requires attention to task to paint within the lines.  
We finally have the last few photos for our class book called Mr. B Wore his Blue Shirt. I'll be sending it home to each family.  We sure hope you enjoy seeing all the children in our class!
Hopefully a healthy and full week!  We need the continuity of being here each day. I hope you all have a great week!

January 8 Last week was a bit of a false start. While we didn't get to everything, we did accomplish some things before the frigid weather settled in.  Our class book called Mr. B Wore His Blue Shirt is almost ready for publication.  We have a few more pictures to take and then we will send our book home for a night with each child.  We hope you enjoy it!
This week we will begin a concentration on shapes.  Not only will we name them, we will also talk about the attributes of shapes by introducing basic geometric vocabulary - sides and corners. We will read Brown Rabbit's Shape Book and Wednesday. In the first book, Brown Rabbit receives a gift of balloons and discovers shapes as he blows them up.  The latter book is about combining different geometric shapes to make a new creation.  We will paint using geometric sponges, build towers at the block center using precise vocabulary to describe creations.  The writing center will have a variety of shapes to use to create shape collages.  
Our class has been going out to the cafeteria or another classroom in small groups to do motor activities during these cold days.  The children have used scooter boards, completed obstacle courses, and practiced kicking and throwing in small groups.  They love these activities while we are inside while the temperature feels like it is below 20 degrees.  Let's give a big hooray for the forecasted 50 degrees this week! 
Hope you've all fared well during this cold days!  Have a good week.

January 2 - Welcome back.  I hope this newsletter finds everyone well rested and in good health.  Before the holidays we had several visitors to our classroom.  Many thanks to Mr. Chaput, Mrs. Martinez and Mr. Batchelder who came in to read to us.  We enjoyed all the stories. 

Even the people in the technology department can't figure out why these photos are sideway...I'm so sorry.  

We used our sense of smell to learn about different spices.  The children smelled nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger and decided which one they liked the best.  We talked about how we use many of these spices in baking. 

During centers each group of children was asked to work collaboratively to make a house for the snowman and penguin using a specific type of block.  Their creations were all different and each group was able to describe their building.  

After reading each version of the Gingerbread Man, the children helped to create a graph about which story they liked the best.  Check it out.  
This week our focus is on learning more about colors.  We will read several color books. The first is called White Rabbit's Color Book.  This well loved story is about a rabbit who dips himself into paint and changes his colors.  The children love to watch him change.  Ask your child what color the rabbit decides to be.  This new colored rabbit is the title character of the book we will use next week which focuses on shapes.  
We will do a color mixing science activity using both paints and food coloring.  Another story we will read this week is called Paint Me a Picture by Emily Bannister.  The children will make a plan for painting, complete a painting, and then describe their painting.  As a class, we will begin a class book based on the story Mary Wore Her Red Dress. Once it is complete, we will send it home with each child for all our families to enjoy. 
There is much more planned around sorting, counting and recalling color names.  Returning to school also requires recalling rules and behavioral expectations.  The children will work on these things and continue to work on understanding feeling of self and others.  Lots to do!  
Happy New Year to all!

December 18
 - What a busy week last week.  The Gingerbread Man was loose at Wheeler School.  We spent our story times reading different versions of the story and repeating the choral parts of the book.  The children made their own books about the gingerbread man and had to glue him into various spots according to the text.  Position words were the focus here and the vocabulary "beside, under, between, above" were all part of the listening skills necessary to complete the task. 
The children loved our dissolving gingerbread man experiment.  They did a great job documenting what was happening at each stage of his swim.  Their predictions were terrific.  Some thought he would swim, some thought he would ooze chocolate and others thought his sprinkles would come off after we put him in the water. 

The children fished for gingerbread men in the water table, completed puzzles of gingerbread men and baked some gingerbread man cookies.  It's been quite festive! 
Most children have had a chance to paint a gingerbread man too!

This week we will read some other versions of the classic tale, build houses using various materials, experience different smells using our senses and complete some lovely gifts.  Another busy week and off to a well deserved break!  Stay healthy.  We've had many children out because of nasty coughs. Hoping everyone feels well again!

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!