The Annual Parent Survey

The annual parent survey gives our parents the opportunity to assess how we run our program.  It not only is a requirement of our continued accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), it offers CHP the opportunity for self-reflection and to examine whether our parent community understands:

  • Who we are
  • What we do
  • How your child’s learning experience will impact their education in the future
  • How, as a parent, you feel like a valued part of the school community

When the survey results come in, it is my hope that you and your children feel kindness here and see that every relationship in this program is valued. CHP is a rich place to learn, play and grow.

On your duty day, while you are in the classroom, it is my wish that you observe an abundance of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP). You will often hear me use this phrase as it is one of the primary tenets of NAEYC.

Here are effective DAP teaching strategies you should be observing in our classroom:

  1. Acknowledge what children say and do; give positive attention.
  2. Encourage persistence; it is not all about evaluating and praising.
  3. Give specific feedback. General comments to students should be minimal.
  4. Model problem-solving, attitudes, and kind behaviors toward others.
  5. Demonstrate things that are always done a certain way.
  6. Challenge and create so an activity goes beyond what a child can already do; observe and reduce the challenge if need be.
  7. Stimulate children’s thinking; ask questions!
  8. Offer hints or clues if a student needs a bit of assistance to reach their goal.
  9. Provide information and offer facts.
  10. Give directions for behavior or action.

Children enter our classroom with joy because they know CHP is a place where they are cared for. Because of this, there is strong sense of belonging.

Thank you for being part of our CHP family and for taking the time to complete this quick, but important survey.

The Love of Reading

Hello Families,

Get ready:  I think it is time I shared why I became such an avid reader and lover of children’s picture books. But this did not happen right away. I had fond memories of my mother reading to me. I knew that reading to children was important and I anxiously looked forward to a day when I could read to my own child. I imagined snuggling in my rocking chair with my child on my lap, immersed in a book and sharing the special moment. I had great expectations.

My first child devoured books…literally.  She found so much pleasure on chewing on a book, she showed no interest in listening to it.  I know now that she was just a baby but sadly, I took that experience to heart.  I was a new mom and I did not know that everything happens in time.

Lucky for me, shortly thereafter, an old friend gave my daughter a copy of Where’s Spot, by Eric Hill.  This was the key that unlocked the door.  I read that book many times, over and over, and each reading brought my daughter more delight.  This memory makes me smile as I write about it now.  On a side note, I never imagined that my children’s book eater would grow up to become a children’s librarian.  She still devours books but she does so by reading them now!

I have learned so many things about reading to children since those early days.  I learned that I need to love what I share, to be selective about the books I read, and to never ever share a book I pulled off the shelf without reading it to myself first.  I learned to always act out the story, and to talk about the book before and after I read it.

Now, I get the most pleasure in discovering amazing new books and adding them to our school library.  I adore read alouds in snack groups and at the library. I love to watch a book grab a child’s attention as they hang on every word, and when it does, you can hear a pin drop in the room. It is really magical.

Adrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears is my February Book of the Month, written by this year’s visiting author/illustrator Jessica Olien.  In case you are looking for more suggestions, please check out the list below. I recently purchased these books for CHP thanks to your generous Read-a-thon donations. This year’s Read-a-thon will begin on Saturday, March 18th at the Carroll Gardens Public Library. I hope to see everyone there.

Thank you for supporting our CHP library and for sharing the love of books with your children.

Kindest regards,
Carol

Some of the Newest Books in our CHP Library

My Dog Spot, Jack E. Levin
One Day on Our Blue Planet…in the Antarctic, by Ella Bailey
Before Morning, by Joyce Sidman
Wild Animals of the North, by Dieter Braun
Animals, by Ingela P. Arrhenius
School’s First Day of School, by Adam Rex
Smart about Sharks, by Owen Davey
The Night Gardener, by Terry Fan
Wolf in the Snow, by Matthew Cordell
Leave Me Alone!  by Vera Brosgol
That’s (Not) Mine, by Anna Kang
Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
The Reader, by Amy Hest
Goodnight Everyone, by Chris Haughton
A Greyhound, a Groundhog, by Emily Jenkins
Shark Detective, by Jessica Olien
The Blobfish Book, by Jessica Olien
Pug Meets Pig, by Sue Lowell Gallion
Nanette’s Baguette, by Mo Willems
Dining with…Monsters!  A Disgusting Way to Count to 10!  by Agnese Baruzzi
Billions of Bricks, by Kurt Cyrus
Best Frints in the Whole Universe, by Antoinette Portis
Penguin and Pinecone, by Salina Yoon
Penguin in Love, by Salina Yoon
If You Were a Penguin, by Florence Minor
Grumpy Pants, by Claire Messer
Egg, by Kevin Henkes
Wolves, by Seymour Simon
Plant the Tiny Seed, by Christie Matheson

Holiday Gift Ideas for 2016

Every year when the winter holiday is almost upon us and the gift giving about to begin, I recommend toys and books that are beloved here at CHP. We spent a lot of time this fall talking about and reading rhyming books so I posted a list of some of our favorites. Many parents told me how much they enjoyed my favorite toy and manipulatives list from last year so I am posting it again.
Happy Holidays to All!

Alphabet and Counting Rhyming Books:

Dining with…Monsters!:  A Disgusting Way to Count to 10 ! by Agnese Baruzzi
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
Dr. Seuss’s ABC, by Dr. Seuss

Classic Rhyming Books:

Green Eggs and Ham  and The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss (my favorites but there are many of the other gems from Dr. Seuss!)
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See,  by Bill Martin Jr.
Chicken Soup with Rice, by Maurice Sendak
A House is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman

Holiday Rhyming Books:

Five Little Pumpkins, by Dan Yaccarino
Stick Man and Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson (and many other rhyming gems from Judith Donaldson!)

Musical Rhyming Books:

Baby Beluga, by Raffi
Down by the Bay, by Raffi and Nadine Bernard Westcott

Fun Rhyming Books:

Dinosaur Roar! by Henrietta and Paul Stickland
Mrs. McNosh Hangs up the Wash, by Sarah Weeks and Nadine Bernard Westcott
Silly Sally, by Audrey Wood
Jamberry, by Bruce Degan
Subway, by Christoph Niemann
Trashy Town, by Andrew Zimmerman and Davie Clemesha

Pets and Animals:

The Pet Vet, by Marcia Leonard
The Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown
Favorite CHP Toys and Manipulatives:
BUILDING!
Magna Tiles are some of the more popular building toys at CHP, a favorite of girls and boys.  They are very easy to build with so this allows building with little frustration.  Warning:  These builders are not cheap but they are educational, fun, and extremely durable.
SCIENCE!

Binoculars and magnifying glasses are often in use at the science center. What is nice about these science tools is that they are light and portable so you can take them with you when you explore.
Classic Forest Animal Collection:

These little forest creatures are always SO popular!
LITERACY AND MATH!
These sequencing puzzles are well loved at CHP. They are not the standard jig saw puzzle. Each puzzle piece is the same size–long wooden strips.  These puzzles are completed both visually and with knowledge of numbers and ABC letter sequencing.

Measuring Tape:

Like binoculars and magnifying glasses, measuring tape can be another “take along” toy.  Measurement is such a great way to learn about numbers, estimation and comparison.

Alphabet Learning Locks:
What a fun way to recognize the alphabet and use your fine motor skills!

WRITING!
Faber-Castell Markers:
Faber-Castell GRIP Color Markers (Non-Toxic and Washable) are our most popular writing tools.  The colors are bright, they are easy to use and you can even revive them with a little bit of water if they dry out.

PRETEND PLAY!
These little people are great for pretend play.  They are used in so many ways like in block builds and are well loved at the playdough table too.

ART and CRAFTS!

Assorted Colored Masking Tape and Dispenser:
Children have LOVED working with this colored masking tape. They use it to make letters, pictures and to build things.  This set comes with a large wooden dispenser so it is a bit pricey but you can buy tape refills.  I predict your child will use their imagination with this item for years to come.

Talking Toys vs. The Sound of Your Voice

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/01/11/462264537/the-trouble-with-talking-toys

I was so happy to have someone put in writing what I recognized for a long time–the best way to stimulate language development in your toddler is to talk to them.  This article focuses on infants and toddlers but much of the same goes for three and four-year-olds.  Children need to look at your face, learn by watching your expressions and listen to the tone of your voice.  Did you know that children need to hear 30,000 words a day for optimum language development—your words not words from a Smart Phone or device.  We know there is limited vocabulary learned from a talking toy, but there is so much more to this.

I was lucky attend a lecture last week by Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair—the author of The Big Disconnect-Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, someone I have written about previously on Carol’s Wall.

What I learned at the lecture was compelling. I knew that babies and toddlers should not be exposed to devices under the age of two and some experts believe even longer than that. I also knew that babies need real life experiences and strong connections to humans and nature.

What I did not know (but what made so much sense) is that recent studies have shown a baby’s brain “lights up” when a known person reads to them. There is no lighting up the brain with a device reading or a talking toy.  If you want your children exposed to “books on tape” for the child to have the best learning experience, the tape should be the voice of a mom, dad or teacher.

Of note here too is that smart phones became part of our lives only seven years ago.  They were launched very quickly–before we knew what we were getting into. There was never any research done to assess the impact on the infant or toddler brain or the psychological fallout on young children. To make it worse, technology remains an unregulated industry.

The article did not discuss talking toys for the preschool age group but it is easy to understand that a talking toy or device does not serve this age group well. We know that preschoolers have vivid imaginations. Unfortunately, devices do not. When a toy “talks,” it does not think. You activate the toy and it says the same things over and over again. Once a child realizes this, if they want to interact with it, they need to stop using their imagination and change their play to accommodate the words of the toy.  Conversely, anything is possible when you play with a silent toy because you play without limitations. Just think of plain wooden blocks. They can be arranged into castles and harbors and spaceships. The sky’s the limit.

While writing this, I took a moment to Google talking toys and, immediately, up popped famous toy makers’ versions of a talking chair, dog, bear, and my least favorite, a play kitchen. The kitchen says, “Who wants pizza?” and “Mmmmm cookies!” In this offering, I found another toy connected to the play kitchen. At an additional cost, you can purchase an ice cream set that “sings” ice cream and clean-up songs.  How sad.

It is so wrong that big toy companies sell toys under the educational guise.  So, what can you do about this?

Parents need to be empowered to know that there is nothing a talking toy or screen can teach your child better than you can. Your children want moments of connection with you, with human touch and comfort. Know too that devices are hyper-stimulants. In the case of the smart phone, remember that children need non-talking toys and hugs, not a digital pacifier.

Studies have shown that the greatest educational gift you can give to your child is to read to them, for 20 minutes twice a day. Get rid of the talking toys and devices!

Last year, my assistant Kristin had the foresight to create a place for articles and videos on our website—the perfect place to share them with the CHP community.  Last month I posted an nprEd article — The Trouble with Talking Toys.

In the words of a CHP student, “Animals are the coolest!”

In a few weeks summer will end and a new school year will begin, so what better time for a sneak-peek of the curriculum unit for 2016-2017. For those of you who are unfamiliar with how we develop a curriculum unit, we do so by listening to our students.
Our program is tailored to the interests of the children; inquiry drives the learning process. We focus on a child-generated theme which allows as much student-centered inquiry as possible. We follow our students’ lead and within the context of their interests, infuse developmentally appropriate literacy, math, science, music, art and drama concepts related to the unit concept.
What I hope will happen during a school year is that we will get an idea of what is currently of interest to our students. We are always listening to the children to learn what they want to know more about.  Last year, our unit focused on teamwork and superheroes.  During the unit, many children mentioned that animals are part of a team too. We have never had a year-long unit on animals, so we were all excited at the prospect.  An animal unit brings so many opportunities for learning across the disciplines.

I can tell you that the unit will begin with animals that we know—do we have animals in our homes and in our neighborhood?  Even though we live in an urban area, we have wild animals in our backyards and parks.  I promise to do my best this year to photograph the possum who, on occasion, finds her way to my backyard tree!  Thank you to all for sending in your pet photos.  No worries here if you do not have a pet.  As in all things CHP, everyone will have a chance to take part in the pet portion of the unit.  You may not currently own a pet but might dream of owning one someday.  I, for one, do not currently own a tea cup pig, but I would love to have one—especially if I get a guarantee that it will not get bigger than a tea cup!  Dream pets will surely be part of the unit too.

A nice note here is that I spoke with one of our CHP families who is moving to Mexico this fall.  When she asked me about our upcoming unit, I told her about the animal unit and with great excitement, she offered to keep in touch via Skype to share with us the two pets that will join their family in Mexico: a sheep and a goat!  If you have friends and family who might want to share their animals with us, please reach out to them and let us know!

As the year unfolds, we will learn from the children about what animals they want to know more about.  I have also devoted a lot of time this summer to researching great children’s books on animals.  Thanks to our Read-a-thon financed book budget, I was able to make them a part of our school library.  All the most popular books will be shared with you on our website.

We will write, draw, count, sing and pretend to be different animals.

Oh the possibilities of a year of animal study!  It is going to be a great year!

Summer and the Great Outdoors

I was recently sent these two NAEYC articles and I just had to share. As summer is almost upon us, many of our CHP families will be leaving the Big City to explore the great outdoors.
I fondly remember summer vacations in the Northern Adirondacks. Some of my most treasured family memories are of time spent together exploring nature. We did many of the things listed in these articles.
So this summer, if you and your family find yourself on a hike, on a lake or anywhere Mother Nature is abundant, you might like to try some of these ideas and activities. Enjoy!

10 Ideas to Get You and Your Child Exploring Outdoors

by Donna Satterlee, Grace Cormons, and Matt Cormons

1. Go for a nature scavenger hunt.
Find something that:
•    Is a certain color
•    Is dry, wet, shiny, or pretty
•    Is tiny or huge
•    The wind blows
•    Crawls
•    Has no legs, four legs, or six legs
•    Or make up your own ideas!

2. Put a twist on your scavenger hunt:
•    Find three flowers that are different. Smell the flowers. Close your eyes and see if you can identify the flowers by smell.
•    Find a fuzzy leaf. Find a leaf that releases an aroma when crushed, such as sage.
•    Try finding things in categories, such as items with bark, items that are high, or items with branches.

3. Observe and sketch.
Examine items carefully and draw what you see. For example, find flowers of different colors and point out the petals and other parts. Or find a variety of leaves and observe the different shapes, colors, textures, and veins. You and your child can imagine you are scientists, observing and documenting what you see.

4. Follow an ant trail.

Look up and look down, look all around, and feel free to crawl on the ground. Place a small piece of food nearby and watch what happens.

5. Observe a tree throughout the seasons.
Watch for leaf and flower buds bursting in the spring, insects buzzing in the summer, and leaves changing colors in the fall. During all seasons, watch for visitors to the tree—birds and small animals looking for food or a resting place.

6. Find nature in surprising places.
Look for places to explore near where you live. Nature can hide in the cracks of a sidewalk, under the stairs, in abandoned lots, or on the edges of manicured lawns. Don’t worry if you don’t live near an open field, a forest, a desert, or a seashore.

7. Press flowers and leaves.
Find flowers and let them dry, pressed between the pages of a heavy book. Once they are dry, use them to make crafts. For example, put clear contact paper over the flowers to make a placemat. In the fall, try the same activity with leaves. Find orange, yellow, purple, red, or brown leaves. Find a dry leaf and crunch it!

8. Explore holes and mud.
In an out-of-the-way corner, dig a hole and pour water in it to see what happens. Ask your child where she thinks the water goes. Play with the mud, squish it between your toes, and jump over or in the hole. When you are done, fill the hole with dirt again, and check it later to see what’s growing there.

9. Explore seeds.
Find some weeds! How are their seeds dispersed? Do the seeds cling to your clothes, are they carried by the wind, or are they flung when the seedpods are touched? Ask your child what he discovered during this investigation.

10. Collect conservatively.
Discuss collecting with your child. If the ground is carpeted with acorns or flowers, it’s probably okay to take one unless it’s on a refuge where collecting is prohibited. Examine something for a few hours and then let it go again. Keep fireflies in a jar and release them the next morning. Transfer fish, turtles, or frogs to an aquarium for a night. Some fish will survive in an aquarium if you transfer them with the same water from where you found them.

Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Child

by Donna Satterlee, Grace Cormons, and Matt Cormons

Children are natural explorers. Set some basic boundaries, and let the child discover. The learning will come. Children use all of their senses to explore. They look and listen to observe what is happening around them, touch what they can reach, smell the fresh scents of nature, and occasionally taste when given permission. They run, jump, dig, and climb as they discover new places.
For a child, everything is new—even the tiniest things are interesting and exciting. In today’s entertainment-driven world, exploring the outdoors is an opportunity for children to actively engage in learning. Here are a few steps you can take to guide children’s exploration of the great outdoors.

Explore safely. Join your children in the fun if they want you to, and keep an eye on them. Before you begin, dress appropriately and teach your child the basic safety rules of the outdoors. Simplicity is often the key to establishing safety rules, and there is usually no need to restrict children. They rarely do something that makes them uncomfortable, unless someone is urging them on or daring them.

Let children choose what to explore. Let children explore, and see what they do on their own without offering suggestions. Do they run? Build? Climb? Even an activity as simple as digging leads to exploration. Children learn how to dig, the way soil feels, the angle of the slope before loose dirt slides back down, and the difference between dry and wet soil.

Ask open-ended questions. As children explore on their own, remain involved. Ask about their discoveries. Ask open-ended questions they can understand and answer with their observations. “What did you find? Oh, a bug? What does it look like? How does it move?” You do not have to know all the answers to children’s questions. Discuss what you see—the shape of leaves, the color of the soil, the movement of the grasses. The more your child observes, the more the world around him will make sense. Discovering how to learn through observation is important. Your child doesn’t have to know the names of all the plants and animals he finds. He will learn through his observations. You can even suggest he make up descriptive names of his own.

Touch, lift, look under. Children need to touch the natural world to more fully understand it. In some cases, gently touching an object with one finger may be helpful. For example, gently nudge a frog or a grasshopper to help a child learn how animals move. When possible, though, examine an object from all sides. Looking carefully at the underside of a log and then carefully replacing it, for example, helps children understand that creatures live under the log and that not disturbing the creatures’ habitat is important.

Guide children to draw conclusions from the observations they’ve made. The best learning occurs when children come to conclusions for themselves. It would be easy to draw on your own knowledge to say, “It’s fall now. See, the leaves are red. Remember that they used to be green?” Instead, try asking questions or describing what you see, feel, hear, and smell. “Do you remember what color the leaves were last time we took this walk? What do you see now?” This modeling will help your child learn to use her own senses when exploring. Remembering and sharing helps a child learn, and shared memories bring cohesiveness as a family.

Some Cautions
Although we want children to explore at will, there are certain precautions that you will need to take.

Teach children to:
•    Be aware of the environment and the creatures that live there.
•    Always watch where they put their hands and feet. If they left shoes outside, make sure they empty their shoes before putting them back on.
•    Use clear cups and look before they drink. No one wants to accidently drink an insect!
•    Be wary of brown recluse spiders (also known as violin or fiddleback, spiders), black widow spiders, scorpions, and poisonous snakes.
•   Be cautious when lifting boards or rocks to find animals and insects. Also be careful to observe what is living there without disturbing their environment.
•   Recognize poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. If you or your child comes into contact with any of these plants, scrub the exposed area with dish detergent or another strong soap.

Prepare yourself and your child to encounter insects and stains.
•    Wear old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
•    Wear light-colored clothing to keep insects at bay. Some insects are attracted to dark colors.
•    Wear a scarf or hat when walking through the woods.

Donna J. Satterlee, EdD, teaches child development in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  She has collaborated with Grace and Matt Cormons since 1999 to implement the successful nature-based family learning program Shore People Advancing Readiness for Knowledge (SPARK).

© 2013 National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education

The History of Our Playhouses

As another CHP Playhouse is completed, I harken back to the history of our amazing homemade classroom playhouses.  The creation of each structure is child-generated and completed with the help and guidance of our talented art teacher, Nancy Dean-Hunt.

 

A bit of history…
When I first started teaching at CHP, I soon became acquainted with our classroom “climber.”  This was a portable wooden structure, with slat-style benches within.  Daily, I watched the climber become a pirate ship, firehouse, grocery store and more. I think it was the most popular place to play and climb at school.

Soon after my arrival, I began to notice that the climber was aging.  It was a bit creaky and shaky.  In those days, we were a little school without an abundance of extra funds.  Kathy Crawford, my old director, was not ready to say goodbye to our wooden friend.  In true cooperative spirit and despite the cost, she hired a professional carpenter and parent to fabricate an exact copy the climber — a brand new strong and safe version.  All was well at CHP.

After Kathy moved on and I took over the reins at CHP, I noticed that as I aged, so did the new climber.  I began to see signs I had seen with the old one—it too became a bit shaky.  It was time to retire the new climber too…but I couldn’t.  I was attached to the memory of every child who loved that apparatus.

As I could not discard it, I found a way to keep it.  I thought if the climber was not climbed upon, it would make a great armature for a playhouse of sorts.  To the best of my recollection, I believe the first “play house” was a voting booth.  I covered the climber with paper and the children decorated it. The climber was happy again but it did not stop there. Here is where the magic began.

In the years following the transformation from climber to armature for our play structures, it became everything from a space ship, firehouse, subway station, pagoda, Jack-O-Lantern, gingerbread house, robot, ice castle and more!  This year’s structure is a superhero playhouse!  Every child who attended CHP has taken part in the design and fabrication of every playhouse which graced our classroom year after year.

Playhouses of the past…

          

               

From the top, left to right: The Superhero Station & Listening Booth, Space, The Spaceship, The Haunted House, The Firehouse, The CHP Subway Station, and The Frozen House.

Holiday Gift Ideas for 2015

Need a Holiday Gift?  How About Some Things We Love at CHP!

With the winter holiday almost upon us and the gift giving about to begin, I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we love to play with in school.   Last year, I shared a list of books which I shared again this year with a few additions.  Happy Holidays to all!

BUILDING!
Magna Tiles are one of the more popular building toys at CHP, a favorite of girls and boys.  They are very easy to build with so this allows building with little frustration.  Warning:  These builders are not cheap but they are educational, fun, and extremely durable.
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C925%2C033&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910026082

SCIENCE!
Binoculars and magnifying glasses are often in use at the science center. What is nice about these science tools is that they are light and portable so you can take them with you when you explore.
Binoculars:
http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Primary-Science-Binoculars/dp/B00TIC8KKS/ref=pd_sim_21_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=41MW4JtsbtL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1YFN4ZPV87C3H2VA0HVC
Magnifying Glasses:
http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Primary-Magnifier-Tweezers/dp/B004DJ367S/ref=sr_1_21?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1448908941&sr=1-21&keywords=magnifying+glass
Classic Forest Animal Collection:
These little forest creatures are always SO popular!
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C897%2C080&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448912747528
LITERACY AND MATH!
These sequencing puzzles are well loved at CHP.  They are not the standard jig saw puzzle.  Each puzzle piece is the same size–long wooden strips.  What you use to complete them is your ability to complete a picture and/or your knowledge of numbers and letters.  These puzzles are completed both visually and with knowledge of numbers and ABC letter sequencing.
Alpha and Number Sequencing Puzzles:
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C920%2C725&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448909186361
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C928%2C517&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448909423405
Measuring Tape:
Like binoculars and magnifying glasses, this can be another “take along” toy.  Measurement is such a great way to learn about numbers, estimation and comparison.
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C894%2C803&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910140976

Alphabet Learning Locks:
What a fun way to recognize the alphabet and use your fine motor skills!
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C929%2C365&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910057563

WRITING!

Faber-Castell Markers:

Faber-Castell GRIP Color Markers (Non-Toxic and Washable) are our most popular writing tools.  The colors are bright, they are easy to use and you can even revive them with a little bit of water if they dry out.
http://www.amazon.com/Faber-Castell-20ct-Washable-Marker-Wallet/dp/B000TR84AC/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1448909909&sr=1-1&keywords=Faber+castell+20+Grip+markers

PRETEND PLAY!

These little people are great for pretend play.  They are used in so many ways like in block builds and are well loved at the playdough table too.

Play People with Differing Abilities:
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C894%2C786&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910246557
Community Block Play People:
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C894%2C293&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910356474

ART and CRAFTS!

Assorted Colored Masking Tape and Dispenser:
Children have LOVED working with this colored masking tape.  They use it to make letters, make pictures and to build things.  This set comes with a large wooden dispenser so it is a bit pricey but you can buy tape refills.  I predict your child will use their imagination with this item for years to come.
http://www.amazon.com/ECR4Kids-Craft-Dispenser-Assorted-Color/dp/B000CBWWHG/ref=sr_1_3?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1448910730&sr=1-3&keywords=colored+masking+tape

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!
This is the book list I shared last year with a few additions. Originally, I thought I would share a little list of children’s books this year, but when it comes to children’s books, no list is a small one!

Fun:

  1. Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
  2. Froodle and Not a Box, by Amy Portis
  3. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
  4. Knuffle Bunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems
  5. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown
  6. Oh No George! and Shhh, We Have a Plan, by Chris Haughton
  7. Spoon and Chopsticks, by Amy Krouse RosenthalStuck
  8. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Oliver Jeffers

Interactive:

  1. Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse RosenthalHow Do You Feed a Hungry Giant? by Caitlin Friedman
  2. Press Here and Mix It Up, by Herve Tullet
  3. Tap the Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson
  4. The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin
  5. Warning, Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and Matthew Forsythe
  6. Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

New York, NY:

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
  2. Blackout, by John Rocco
  3. I Live In Brooklyn, by Mari Takabayashi
  4. Subway, by Christopher Neimann
  5. The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
  6. Little Elliot, Big City and Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato
  7. Nana in the City, by Lauren Castillo
  8. My New York, by Kathy Jacobson

Non-Fiction:

  1. Do You Know Which One Will Grow, by Susan A. Shea
  2. Maps, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska (for grow-ups and kids too!)
  3. Me, Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
  4. One Night, Far from Here, by Julia Wauters

Owls and Birds:

  1. Beautiful Birds, by Jean Rousseu
  2. Birds, by Kevin Henkes
  3. Little Owl Lost, by Chris Haughton
  4. Little Owl’s Night, by Divya Srinivasan
  5. Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell
  6. The Best Nest, by P.D. Eastman

So Sweet Stories:

  1. Cloudette, by Tom Lichtenheld
  2. Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio
  3. Kittens First Full Moon and My Garden, by Kevin Henkes
  4. Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  5. Maple, by Lori Nichols
  6. Sophie’s Squash, by Pat Zielow-Miller

Winter and Holiday:

  1. Snow, by Uri Shulevitz
  2. How the Grintch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
  3. Stick Man, by Judith Donaldson
  4. The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story, by Eric Kimmel
  5. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

Classics no Children’s Bookshelf Should be Without:

  1. A Fish Out of Water, by Helen Palmer
  2. A Chair for my Mother, by Vera B. Williams
  3. Are You My Mother, by P.D. Eastman
  4. Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
  5. Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
  6. Chicken Soup with Rice, by Maurice Sendak
  7. Corduroy, by Don Freeman
  8. Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
  9. Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
  10. Swimmy, by Lio Lionni
  11. The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf

Where are the Girls? Grace for President

Where are the Girls!

I had a nice little surprise last week when a found a Cobble Hill Playschool shout-out in TIME.com.

In a previous Carol’s Wall, I wrote about this book.   A lesson I taught many years ago allowed a real little girl to decide to right a wrong and become the first woman President.  This moment in time became the catalyst to create the children’s book, GRACE FOR PRESIDENT.

The first pages of the book portray the event that sparked it all as it really happened.  It was an election year and I was in the classroom at CHP talking about the President. I showed the children a poster of the presidents and asked them to count the girls.  The children counted every president in a white wig.  When I explained that they were not girls but boys, they were shocked.

Grace was a preschooler who was genuine about her path in life. Until the day she left CHP, she was determined to be our first woman President.  I read that as a young child, Frank Lloyd Wright planned to be an architect. Jane Goodall had big dreams too, dreams to work with apes in Africa. Little children can have big dreams and I remember that each day I walk into the classroom.

Now at age 16, Grace no longer wants to be the president.  But Grace has spunk and will surely follow her current dreams  — to be a forensic pathologist, book store owner, or if she changes her mind, maybe even the President.

It is amazing to think that over ten years after this teaching moment, this book was published. Nice to know that GRACE FOR PRESIDENT is still in the news. I am so glad for that!

We are all Alike. We are all Different. We are all Team CHP!

The school year begins and here is a sneak-peek of the curriculum unit:

We are all Alike. We are all Different. We are all Team CHP!

How did I arrive at this year’s unit? I spoke with our students. Our program is tailored to the interests of the children; inquiry drives the learning process. We focus on a child-generated theme which allows as much student-centered inquiry as possible. We follow our students’ lead and within the context of their interests, infuse developmentally appropriate literacy, math, science, music, art and drama concepts related to the unit concept.

This year’s unit selection began near the end of school year 2014-15 when I invited small groups of interested students into my office to chat. I asked them if there was anything more they could learn about at school. I listened carefully, keeping in mind that the suggestions not only needed to interest preschoolers but be broad enough to encompass a spectrum of learning in all the disciplines.
During my student meetings, there were many ideas. To my delight, teamwork was one of the suggestions. The actual suggestions were, “TEAMWORK!” and  “Yes, and superheroes…and the Caribbean!”

I was so delighted with these suggestions because during my first years at CHP, I became acquainted with “The Feel Better Team.” My first experience with the team was on the playground.  A classmate had tripped and was crying. It was then I heard another cry… “Feel Better Team, to the rescue!”  A group of five students made up the self-appointed team.  They ran to the classmate and asked if he was alright. The team of girls and boys gave him a big hug.  After experiencing this, the staff jumped right onto the “Feel Better Team” wagon and it generated many wonderful classroom activities. The “Feel Better Team” gained members daily who were always there to help a friend in need. When the team offered their support it was magic!

Everyone is part of our team at CHP and the beautiful thing about a team is that it is made up of individuals.

This year, we will talk about how we are alike and how we are different and we will celebrate it all. We will discover many things about our friends and families. What do you like to do? How do you spend time with your family? Who is on your team–friends, parents and grandparents, neighbors, teachers and pets?  Who are your heroes and superheroes?  So many questions, so many possibilities!

Just thinking about this unit, makes me break into a song I was taught by a child at CHP. It’s from the LEGO movie!
Everything is awesome, Everything is cool when you are part of a team.  Everything is awesome!

It is going to be a great year!