Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread Homes

What a great way to end the week—we were up to our neck this morning with assorted candies, marshmallows, pretzels and royal icing decorating our gingerbread houses. It was really interesting to see the children create the roof, windows, and even the landscape of their edible homes. Come visit our classroom to see the colorful gingerbread houses. Thanks, Denise for supplying all the materials!

We have a week to go and we are off for the next two weeks for the Christmas holiday. But before then, here are some important dates and events to remember:

Dec 15th, Wednesday at 7pm—Christmas program at the gym

Dec 16th, Thursday—Utopia closes at 5pm

Dec 17th, Friday—Christmas potluck, everyone is invited (even those who don’t come on Fridays!) School closes at 12:15.

There have been several students who have been out sick. Let’s spread love and not germs; so don’t forget to always wash hands. Stay healthy!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Countdown starts!

It’s beginning to look and smell a lot like Christmas in Utopia. Cinnamon is in the air and sparkles and glitters are everywhere. We have been working like little elves doing holiday decorations decking the tree in and out of the classroom. The bulletin board is filled with eye-popping trees all hand-made by the children.

We are truly grateful for the parent participation. Thank you to everyone who signed up to make crafts.

On Dec 15th at 7pm, our very own Utopia children will be with the rest of the STM students singing Christmas carols in the gym. Hopefully, this website will help your children learn the song faster and sing with more gusto!

See you all on Sunday for the STM Winter Faire. Skip breakfast at home and fill-up with free pancakes before or after the 10AM Family Mass. Join us for this special STM Christmas tradition.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stone Soup

The Thanksgiving preparation in Utopia is in full swing. The crockpots are waiting and the children are excited. We have most of the ingredients we need for our stone soup. Thank you to everyone who brought them in. We are planning to make three different kinds of soup—chicken, tomato, and butternut squash. Please plan to come on Wednesday at 10:30. Remember Utopia closes at 12:15 that day.

Last weekend, the teachers attended a conference that focused, among other things, on the advantages of Self Talk. This strategy is found to be effective for children who need help developing expressive language. Self-Talk is when the adult describes what he or she is doing without expecting the child to answer. This is especially helpful in building vocabulary.

For example:

Let’s make hot chocolate for breakfast. I am getting milk from the fridge. I am pouring it in your favorite cup. Here is our powdered cocoa from the pantry. I’ll get 2 scoops of powdered cocoa from the jar. I’ll stir it and then put it in the microwave. To make it really fancy, I’ll put a dollop of whipped cream. Cheers!

Watch out for more strategies in the future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What are you thankful for today?

Do you want to know what your children are thankful for? Check the Utopia bulletin board to the left of our classroom door in the first floor hallway. Our students jotted down the specific things that they are thankful for. Their written thoughts will be very timely for our long-awaited family get-togethers during Thanksgiving week.

Earlier in the week, our young marine biologists played with crab and mussel shells along with fresh seaweed in our water table. They also explored miniature sea anemone and hermit crab toys with their curious little fingers. This is to prepare them for next week’s activity of constructing our very own tide pools.

For Language Arts, we have already begun activities that deal with phonemic awareness, which is “the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds (or phonemes) in spoken words.” For example, the kids have to identify the beginning sound of the words “chair” (ch) and “table” (t). The emphasis is on the sounds of the letters of the alphabet.

We hope to see you in Saturday’s Polynesian Night!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Salty Ocean Water

Our young Utopians remain fascinated by our lessons on tide pools. Our ongoing discussion this week focused on using different senses to identify different types of water. We separated one gallon of ocean water from another gallon of tap water and asked the kids to perform a simple experiment. They looked, smelled, and tasted both types of water and identified each of their sensory characteristics. We certainly had fun taking that mini plunge with them in the classroom.

Another highlight this week was the dental screening. A dental hygienist / nurse visited our classroom and talked to the children about the proper way to brush their teeth, emphasizing brushing frequency (3 times a day), toothbrush texture (soft bristles), and brush size (children’s size). The representative also discussed the importance of eating healthy and exercising frequently. At the end of the day, our kids had a healthy goodie bag that they took home – complete with a kids’ toothbrush and a tube of travel toothpaste.

What a euphoric month it has been for the San Francisco Giants! Last Wednesday, the entire school shared in the citywide celebration of the Giants’ victory parade. Along with most Bronco teachers and students (a lottery-picked contingent was lucky enough to actually go to the parade), we sat in the gym and watched a live broadcast of the Market Street celebration. Thanks to Timothy’s parents for contributing some goldfish crackers for the children to munch on while watching the big screen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Because of the excellent turnout and cooperative weather, this year’s Halloween parade was a huge success. There were so many superstars that graced the Utopia contingent – Princess Tiana, Iron Man, Bumblebee, Yoshi, Snow White, Spider-man, Thomas the Train, Jango Fett, Batgirl, Daphne, and so many more! We had fun walking around the playground, out to the sidewalk, and into Alma Via, where we visited our dear friends. Thanks to all the residents for filling our homemade goodie bags. The parade ended with thirty happy Utopians returning to the playground and back into the classroom.

Piggybacking on last week’s science lessons, we continued our exploration of tide pools. Our scientific inquiry focused on the students’ ability to notice details and wonder about future outcomes. Once again, if you happen to visit any Bay Area beaches (although this might be tricky due to the unpredictable weather), please take home any shells and bring them to school. Also, if you have any books that feature tide pools in your child’s home library, please bring them to class as well.

Let’s go Giants! Two more wins to go. We love seeing the kids in orange and black.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkins Everywhere!

Come one, come all. Everyone is invited, in costume or not (preferably in), to join the school wide Halloween parade on Friday, Oct. 29. All Broncos, from Pre-K to 8th grade, will be garbed in spooky and funny outfits, and our parade should be a hilarious spookfest! Remember, this will be a regular school day for Utopia. The parade will begin at 1:05.

Last week’s lessons on birds have provided us with memorable teachable moments. We have now left the skies and turned out attention to the seas. Our focus this coming week will be on tide pools and the creatures that inhabit them. The children will learn about these bodies of water that are quite common in the numerous beaches of the Bay Area. If you have the opportunity, please visit our beautiful beaches and observe the tide pools with your children. Collect seashells and seaweeds, and have your kids bring them to class.

The trip to the pumpkin patch was a success. We went on a hayride and took the train around Postorino. We had a lot of fun with our decorative pumpkins in school---we rolled them on the floor, built a ramp and rolled them down the ramp, threw them like a ball, traced them on paper, arranged them according to size, arranged them according to beauty…It was a great experience on listening, talking, convincing, and even building ramps using blocks.

The STM Carnival is today! Please come and join us in this community event. Entrance is free, and food is plentiful. Some of the older students plan on coming in their Halloween costumes. In preparation for Friday’s parade, you can have your kids dress up as well. We don’t have a booth but we contributed to the event by having the children’s pumpkin artwork be put on display in Carrol Hall.

Individual parent conferences are coming up. Please return the conference forms. We look forward to discussing our fun-filled first quarter with all of you.

Have a great weekend. Stay dry, and go Giants!

Friday, October 15, 2010


We began the week by learning a new skill – syllable counting. The students had fun clapping and chanting the syllables of their respective names:

“Ti – mo – thy”

“Scar –lett”

“Ni – cho – las”

By playing this syllable counting game with them, the children recognized that a word is composed of different sounds that are put together. These sounds are called phonemes. You can certainly play the same game with your kids at home. Just chant and clap to the different syllables of your favorite words.

As an art project, we asked each children to decorate the first letter of their names. Taking it a step further, we asked them to think of other words that began with the same letter. Though we talked about these related words, we focused on the sound each letter makes. Expect cute little works of Ms or Ys in your child’s compilation of work.

What would our week be like without food? This Friday morning, Charlie Maranon, Gabriella’s dad, graciously shared his culinary talents with us. He whipped up an awesome quesadilla buffet that the kids, and yes, the teachers too, gobbled up in a matter of minutes. We hope that everyone will have the same appetite for Saturday’s Utopia Potluck.

Thanks, Ivonne (Elisa's mom) for being our Mystery Reader (for the second time!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Birds and Nests

During the week, teachers Tina and Michelle took their Pre-K students and worked in their respective small groups. The children are becoming accustomed to their little families in school.

Birds! With help from the California Academy of Sciences, we were introduced to a brand new curriculum focusing on our avian friends. The activity in which the kids were engrossed was focused on nest building. They collected dried grass, twigs, and dried leaves from the yard. Then they combined these natural materials and constructed bird homes as part of our arts and crafts session. We also discussed different characteristics of birds while doing this hands-on activity.

Mud! Also part of our science curriculum, we experimented with mud. Our curious apprentices gathered soil and mixed it with water. They hoped to use that mud to make sure that their natural materials – grass, twigs, and leaves – would stick together and solidify their aforementioned nests. The smiling faces and enthusiastic responses from the students were extremely encouraging.

Pasta! We had a culinary treat this Friday. Lillian and Victoria’s mom (Keri) shared her culinary expertise with us and treated the children to a fettuccini feast. Armed with a pasta maker, she made a batch of fresh pasta for our kids to enjoy. The children enjoyed kneading the fresh dough. After boiling the fettuccini, she served the noodles, which was with butter and Parmesan cheese, to the hungry children. The students loved it so much that they did not even touch their packed lunches. What a wonderful way to end our (Giant) week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Junior Scientists

Junior Scientists

Utopia and California Academy of Sciences

A consultant from the California Academy of Sciences is working closely with Utopia in building the basic skill of scientific inquiry among the students. For the next few weeks, we have on loan from the Academy of Sciences materials that would inspire the children to make observations, ask questions, make and test predictions, and share the learning with other people. Out first unit is Busy Birds.

Here is an excerpt of a big group discussion conducted by Lee, the consultant from the Academy of Sciences:

Teacher: How do birds move?

Children flapping wings, “I’m a carnivore”

T: Where do birds live?

Children: nest (as they are still flapping wings)

T: What do birds do in their nests?

Children: sit on the eggs

T: Why?

Children: to keep warm to hatch

T: What do you know about nests?

Children: made of sticks, wood
Children: birds eat worms
Children: little nest
Children: Where are the eggs?

T: What do they do in the nest?

Children: they eat in the nest

T: What do you do in your house?
Children: I cook, play in the house
Children: I think baby birds like to play

T: how do birds make their nests?

Children: they use their feet;
use sticks;
they work together;
use wings to carry the sticks;
put in the hole in their butt (to bring the sticks)

Children: some birds live under rocks

If you have materials (books, CD, DVD, etc) that you think would help our inquiry process, we would like to borrow them. Any taxidermists in the house? We would love to have you visit. We would really be grateful if you can bring in a real nest that the children can actually touch and see.

Pumpkin Patch, October 18, Monday

Utopia is going on a field trip to Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay with the Kindergartners. Parents are welcome to meet us there. The scheduled activities begin at 10 AM and end at around noon after we eat lunch. If you are interested to carpool with other parents, please let us know. Bring packed lunch on that day.

Parent Socials: October 16, 10-12

Dora (Nicholas' mom) will get in touch with you regarding this event. Although we are hosting it, the main objective of this event is for families to get to know each other.

Bring Baby Pictures

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What am I Feeling Today?

We talked about the different kinds of emotions. Students shared what makes them happy, sad, mad, and excited. Being happy, sad, excited, and mad are emotions that are normal. It was interesting to note that the children thought that being mad was not okay. We talked about it in class, and we concluded that being mad is normal and is okay. Hurting someone because you are mad, however, is not acceptable. As we continue to explore our feelings, we will continue to talk about different emotions and behavior.

Play Dough

We made our very own play dough in school this week. The children measured, poured, and mixed the ingredients, and the teachers cooked the dough until it was soft and pliable. We enjoyed kneading and shaping the dough into different shapes.

Garden Harvest

We harvested several ears of corn from our vegetable garden. They were cooked and served for lunch last week. The children are eagerly anticipating the harvest of the other garden vegetables.

Parent Socials: October 16, Saturday 10-12

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the other families in the program. Potluck sign up sheet is posted in the classroom.

Great Helpers

Thank you to Matt Cahill and Nathan Lay for helping out in school this week. Matt assembled extra tables for our garden out in the yard. He and Nathan also read to the class.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fun at School!

The play structure was finally ready to use this week. The Pre-k students had the opportunity to use it and they loved it! It was challenging for most to swing on the monkey bars, but that didn’t stop them from trying. For safety, I check if the child knows how to fall on both feet with knees bent, before I let them try the bars.

Chef of the Week was a success. Yvonne (Elisa’s mom) helped the children prepare Elmo pizzas using English muffin, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Olives, cherry tomatoes, and cheddar cheese were used to make Elmo’s eyes, nose, and mouth. If you are wondering why your child’s lunch seems untouched today, the pizza was prepared right before lunch and some children ate their very own creation. With the cooking success today, we are looking forward to our regular parent cooking activities. YUM!

For the first few weeks of school, we will talk about how to be a good friend and how to be safe in school. This week we talked about the importance of having rules and following the rules. The children had a very good understanding of what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior that they were able to “write” their own rules. A rule that I thought was very interesting that they came up with was, “no potty talk”.

The children are slowly getting the routine down.

Enjoy the weekend!

Welcome Back!

We apologize for the delayed posting. We tried posting this last week and we thought we were successful. We only found out later that it didn't make it to our pre-k blog. Hopefully, the second try is a charm.


Happy first week of school!

Going back to school can be both exciting and overwhelming for young children. It will take some time for them to adjust to their teachers, their classmates, and the new environment. Please help them with the transition by dropping them in school on time and picking them up on time.

Making Good Choices
Independence is one of our goals in Utopia. Please consider this when helping your child choose the clothes to wear and food to bring for lunch. The teachers will always be there to assist but we want to empower your child by allowing him to choose what food to eat and how much food to eat. Small portions of a variety of food from the different food groups work best.

We use emergent curriculum in class. Emergent curriculum ideas come from observation and careful planning of the environment. As themes emerge from play themes and interests of the students, they will be incorporated in the curriculum planning process. We will do a lot of observation and assessment for the first few weeks to help us understand their interests and preferences. We are excited with this process. We will let you know when our very first curriculum emerges!

It was wonderful to meet all of you this week. We are looking forward to a great partnership with you this school year.

New Staff:

Tina Baluyut is one of our new lead preschool teachers. Prior to joining Utopia, she was a Pre-K teacher at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City. She was a first grade teacher at Convent of the Sacred Heart before deciding to return to preschool teaching. She has a daughter in the program and a first grade son in STM.

Dates to Remember:

Picture Taking _September 17, Friday
Parent Socials--October 16, Saturday, 10-12 Noon

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th!Last week of school!

End of the Year Potluck Luau

Our end of the year potluck is only days away! Our party will start early so feel free to join us as early as you would like! We will eat around 11:30. We would love more people to join our decorating committee so sign up if you can help out! See you June 30th!

*Summer session begins July 6th*

Spirit week was so much fun! We were all so comfy on pajama day! On backwards day we had a special surprise! Alex’s dad Ted is a police officer and he and his partner came in a police car and motorcycle! We sat in the police car and on the motorcycle! We had so much fun!

Alex and Austin on the motorcycle

Our new friend Logan

Our special snack on pajama day

Watch the road Talia!

Our Group Police Shot

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 4th, 2010

- This week we started putting together a classroom cookbook. Each student told a teacher about a recipe that they love to eat and know how to make. The titles of each student’s dish is posted on the parent board. Every family should have received a recipe form. We are asking all families to return the form with either the recipe for the dish your student told us OR a family-favorite recipe. PLEASE RETURN YOUR RECIPE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE – NO LATER THAN TUESDAY 6/8. We only have a few weeks left and we need to put the book together and ensure that all families receive one.

- We made a classroom quilt this week! Each student decorated a piece of felt with fabric markers and puffy paint. All students were asked to draw something that made them happy – many chose to draw their families. We are planning on putting the quilt together and hanging it by the end of the year potluck.

- Starting Wednesday June 9th drop off and pick up will be through our side gates. One of the teachers will open the gates right before the designated times. Please call us if you need us to open the gate for you. The elementary grades will start their summer vacation June 9th so the front door will be locked.

June 14th –18th we will have spirit week! That Monday it will be pajama day so send your child to school in their favorite pjs! Tuesday will be backwards day so they can wear their clothes backwards! Wednesday will be crazy hair and/or hat day! Thursday will be dress up clothes/costume day!(Please no play weapons). For the final day we will have beach day! You can dress your child in shorts and a tank top or t-shirt and if the weather permits they can wear a bathing suit!

June 30th is our final day of school before summer! We are having a potluck so a sign-up sheet will go out very soon so that everyone can participate. The potluck will begin at 11:30. We will have an early dismissal of 12:30.

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28

We hope everyone enjoys their 3 day weekend! Memorial day is Monday May 31st!Only one month left of school for Utopia Preschool!

Thursday June 3rd we will have a special breakfast for those kids who will not be here for our end of the school year potluck!

Our end of the school year potluck will be on Wednesday June 30th at 11:30 am! Everyone is invited to join us this day even if it is not your child's regular school day. We hope that everyone will be able to bring in something to share with the class! This day will be a minimal day. School will dismiss at 12:30!

Summer session begins Tuesday July 6th! Please make sure to fill out the summer registration form if you plan on having your child attend any of the sessions.

Please remember to return your book swap bag!If you lose a book please notify us right away.

Have a fun-filled weekend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

* This week we started our Utopia book swap. The book bags were sent out on Thursday and need to be returned by TUESDAY. Each bag has three books in it – please ensure that the bags are returned on time with all three books inside. Also, when returning the bags, please write the bag # on your students checkout card.

*Our Dance Festival was a success! Thank you for joining us! All the children were so excited to perform in front of their parents and the “Big Kids” of St. Thomas More. Everyone couldn’t wait to wear their special shirts that we made ourselves and worked so hard on all week!

* This week we began drawing family pictures. We took down the family pictures that were hanging on the branches and put them on the table so the children could look at the pictures while drawing! We are going to continue working on this art project next week. We have posted the completed ones in our dramatic play area.

* Thursday June 17th we are going to have an end of the school year art auction! This will be an after school event in which “special” artwork by your child will be auctioned! If anyone would like to help organize this event we would truly appreciate the help!

* Garden update: This week we planted asparagus seeds next to our sunflowers. The sunflowers are only a few inches tall right now but hopefully they start growing quickly! Our apple trees transplanted successfully and already a few tiny apples are growing on each tree.

* The students have shown a lot of interest in making books. Several students began making their own books. Many drew the story, wrote the title, wrote their names, and wrote the date. We will continue making books next week.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday May 20th at 7 pm we will be performing at the Dance Festival! We have decorated special shirts that we will wear the night of the performance! We are hoping that every student will be able to participate in the performance! During our performance we will be lying on the floor and rolling around so keep that in mind when choosing what bottoms your child will wear. If you plan on your child wearing a skirt make sure that you put leggings or short underneath.

We are starting a new program: Utopia’s Book Swap!
* Here’s the deal: We made 26 bags with three books inside each bag. Every Thursday each student will choose one bag. The student, with the help of the parent, will find his or her checkout card. He/she will then write the number of the bag next to the corresponding date when he/she checks the bag out.
* The bags need to be returned on the following Tuesday. When they are returned, the students need to find their checkout cards and write the number of the bag they are returning next to the corresponding date.
* If your child comes to school only comes to school Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, you will check a bag out on Wednesdays and return them on Mondays.

New Reading Area:
Utopia has added a new reading area to its classroom! We placed a soft mat on the floor, and on top we placed a couch complete with pillows, a large squishy chair, and a small bench to create a comfortable atmosphere that is perfect for reading. There is a basket full of books in the reading area, along with new extra large books that can be placed on a stand so the children can read them to their friends. Our new area has only been set up for one day, and the children are already utilizing the area and have made it the go-to spot in the classroom.

Play Dough Project:
Over the course of the week, the children have been taking part in an on-going Play Dough project. At the beginning of the week we made many batches of Play Dough in an array of colors, including green, blue, purple, and yellow. Over the next couple of days, they mixed all of the different Play Doughs together to create a colorful mix. The children then used cookie-cutters to cut out their own shapes, which include hearts, bells, angels and trucks. Next week, we are going to finish up the project by having the children paint their shapes to individualize their play dough cut outs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 07

* HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Have a fabulous Sunday!

* On Thursday, May 6th, Olivia Jimenez and Liane Louie-Badua (Ryan and Kai’s mommies) cooked us a fabulous lunch. The Jimenez family is from the island of Guam so they cooked us traditional Chamorro (the indigenous people of Guam) food. It included red rice, BBQ chicken, potato salad, and finedene sauce. Everyone had the opportunity to taste each item and several of our students especially enjoyed the red rice. Our class loves learning about different cultures! THANK YOU OLIVIA and LIANE!

* We added two apple trees to our garden this week! One is a Fuji apple tree and the other is a Gala apple tree. They are about 5ft. tall, with lots of buds, and one tiny apple already growing on the Gala. We also transplanted our sunflowers into our biggest flowerbed. These sunflowers were originally planted in tiny containers as seeds. They are about 2-3 in. tall and growing strong.

* Today, Friday May 7th, our class went to see a special opera performance! The 7th graders performed The Pirates of Penzance! Our class watched attentively! It was an exciting performance with pirates, police officers, and women in beautiful clothing singing on stage! Many of the children in our class were amazed that the people on stage were kids from our very own school. We can’t wait to be on stage just like them!

* Don’t forget that on May 20th we will be dancing at the Dance Festival! We have been practicing our special dance for the whole school and our families to watch and enjoy! The Dance Festival begins at 7pm in our gym.

* Also, remember to check the new parent board (above the cubbies) for special reminders! We only have two more months of school left and we want to make sure that everyone is informed about special events and dates!

* Thank you to all the families who enjoyed a night out at Chevy’s and helped raise money for our school!

Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30, 2010

* This week we have had so much fun making the best gifts a mother could ever want! But we can’t tell you what we made….it’s a surprise! We have also been practicing a lot on our dance festival performance! The performance will be on May 20th at 7:00pm.

* On Thursday we read a story about Anansi the Spider. In the story Anansi weaves a web to catch a warrior’s good dreams! We began making our own dream catchers by painting the cut out rim of a paper plate. Next week we will continue the project by weaving yarn through holes punched in the plate and adding feathers and leaves to the bottom. They will eventually either hang from our ceiling in the classroom or, if your child does not stay for nap, be sent home to hang in your house. These dream catchers will ward off bad dreams and only send us good dreams. We will be a room full of happy nappers!

* Exciting news! Another new addition to our beautiful garden will be a new mural that students from the elementary school will be painting for us! Right now the primer is up and they will start painting soon. Also, Ezequiel Sanchez, our school’s custodian and horticulturalist, has been volunteering his extra time to build us planters for our garden! Thank you Ezequiel!

* Over the past few weeks the children have been bringing their favorite books to school to share with their fellow classmates. The children become very excited and proud when their books are read aloud during circle time and many times choose to sit in front of the class and read it aloud themselves. They sit in the teacher’s chair and instantly insert themselves into the role of the teacher, saying things like, “Please sit down so everyone can see,” and, “I cannot start reading until everyone is quiet.” The children like to show off their books to anyone who will listen and love to see their friends enjoying their book as much as they do. We encourage all children to bring in their favorite books to school; it gets the children excited about reading and exposes them to all different types of literature.

Joeeta reading a book to our students during group time!

Alex enjoying our new reading area!

Lauren and Gabe interested in a banana slug, one of the many creatures found in our garden. This slug captivated all of the children for quite a while!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Please remember to return your re-registration forms if your child is returning to Utopia preschool next school year. Forms are due back April 30th.

We have a new parent board in the cubby area to make sure we are keeping parents informed. Take a look at it when dropping off or picking up!

May 20th we will be performing at the school Dance Festival! The Festival will be at 7pm. We hope that everyone will be able to join us! We will be the first to perform so we will all walk in together. When our performance is over all children will go back and sit with their parents to enjoy the rest of the show.

May 17th we have no school. It is a student holiday. May 31st we are also closed in observance of Memorial Day.

Things we did this week:

In celebration of Earth day during morning circle on Thursday April 22nd the children answered the question, “What can we do to help on Earth day?” Every response was different and unique! In our “bounce area” we have a display of each child’s answer and the words to the Earth day song we learned. As a fun Earth day activity we made our own Earths by coloring coffee filters with blue and green markers and then using eye droppers to carefully put water on them to spread the colors.

Today, Friday, we experimented with citric acid, baking soda, vegetable oil, and different food colors. First we filled a cup half way full with water. Then we added citric acid and mixed it until it was dissolved. Then we added baking soda to the cup and watched the volcano fizzle! For our next experiment, we filled a cup half way full with vegetable oil then added warm water. We watched the large, sluggish bubbles move around the cup then we added blue food coloring, citric acid, and baking soda and watched it bubble over the cup. We did this experiment several times with different colors and the excitement around the table grew each time. Everyone had lots of fun doing this experiment!

An exciting addition to our garden this week was our new barrel compost! We learned about things we can put in it and can’t put in it. On Thursday we each took a turn putting leaves in and taking a look inside the cool barrel! We were very excited at lunch that day to put organic materials aside so we could later toss them in our compost!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Summer school brochure went out last week. If you have not received one, they are next to the parent sign in sheet. Please let us know if you are interested (sooner the better).

The re-registration form for Fall 2010 will be going out this week. There is a $200.00 fee that will be applied towards your child’s first semester tuition fee. There will be a payment box on top of the sign in area for dropping off registration forms and fees, both of which are due by Friday, April 30th 2010. Rather than giving the forms and fees to Sister Patricia, I would like to collect them myself and turn them in together to her.

Earth Day: some of the children (one in particular) are excited about planting an apple tree, so we were hoping that you the parents would be interested in donating any amount to fund the project.

On Friday, April 16th, we visited Alma Via. We walked across the street making sure that we looked both ways and used the crosswalks. We entered into a large room where many of the residents were waiting for us. All of the students were very excited to share our songs and stories with the residents and staff of Alma Via. We read and sang “Abiyoyo” (a classroom favorite) and “We All Sing with the Same Voice”. We also sang and danced to “The Chicken Dance” and our classroom name song “Bumble bee, bumble bee, won’t you say your name for me?”. The name song was particularly fun because the residents in the room participated and shared their names with us. We are planning to visit Alma Via on the second Friday of each month.

We focused on our garden last week and will continue to do so this week. The springtime weather is great for our plants and they are quickly growing. Everyday several new flowers open and develop. The children are very excited about and interested in watering the garden daily. Our tomatoes, artichoke, mint, and beans are growing particularly well.

To go along with our garden theme, we started to make individual mini potted plants. Each child either decorated, or is in the process of decorating, a small terra cotta pot. Then the children took the small, round soil pellets and placed them on a tray. The teachers placed small containers of water and eye-droppers on the table. Then the children dropped water on the soil and watched it expand and grow! This week we will continue filling pots with soil and planting seeds.

Last week we also made rose designs out of a celery stamp. The celery was cut down to the base and placed in different color paints. Then the children stamped their paper. When these paintings dried they looked so beautiful. Perhaps this week we will draw stems and leaves on these roses.

Friday, March 26, 2010

* This week was our last full week before our spring break. Next school week is only four days. Thursday, April 1st, is an early dismissal at 12:30. All students and parents are welcome to attend school on Thursday for a special Easter egg hunt that will begin at 11am. We will not have a blog update next week. Therefore, we wish all of our families a wonderful Easter break. Enjoy the time off and, hopefully, the good weather! Heidi will not be at school next week. She will be visiting her sister in Hawaii until April 12th (when school resumes). She wishes everyone the best!

* Our garden is looking better and better everyday! We would love for everyone to bring in a plant from their garden to add to ours! We also still have our giving tree up right next to the sign-in area if you would like to donate anything else to our garden! We would really appreciate it if families could donate things for our dramatic play area also!

* Kool-Aid Play Dough:
This week we experimented making play dough with a new recipe. We started with the usual ingredients (flour, salt, oil, etc.), but instead of adding food coloring to add color, we added cherry flavored Kool-Aid to add color and scent. Each student contributed to the mix by measuring out the ingredients, dumping them into the bowl, and mixing them all together. The mixture remained a plain white color until the hot water was poured (by a teacher) into the mix. When the water touched the ingredients the children were excited to see that the mixture instantly turned bright red and continued to get redder the more we mixed the ingredients together. Once the play dough cooled, the students were given a chunk of play dough to knead but they were too distracted by the yummy smell of the dough to actually play with it. They could not stop smelling the cherry scented dough and told everyone that they just had to smell the new play dough.

The recipe is fun and easy!
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbls. Cr. Of Tartar
3 tbls. Oil
2 cups boiling water
2 packs unsweetened Kool-Aid
∑ Combine dry ingredients, add oil, then water
Mix, then knead. Add flour if sticky.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easter egg hunt: on April 1st we would like to invite all parents and children to join us and participate in an Easter Egg Hunt! We are inviting everyone to join us at 11:00 am to hide the eggs in our garden. Then all the children will go on an egg hunt with our hand-made baskets (if you haven’t yet please bring in a milk / juice carton or strawberry basket). After the egg hunt we will have an early dismissal at 12:30 and start spring break! School resumes on April 12th.

Donations for interest area: in order to enhance our dramatic play area we would like all our parents to donate items! These items do not need to be store bought – we would more than love old clothes as well as items from parents who work in the medical, dental, fire, safety, postal, and science fields! We really appreciate all donations!

Student volunteers: over the past few months Utopia has been fortunate enough to benefit from the assistance of two students from the upper grades, Elliott, an eighth grader, and Jonathan, a seventh grader. These students come to our classroom about three times a week for a couple of hours and help around the classroom and work with the students. Elliott and Jonathan help the teachers with the classroom, including washing dishes, cleaning the art area, and organizing the outside play area. The boys also interact with the children. Jonathan has helped the students put together many puzzles and form the plastic marble tubes into a structure that the students had never seen before! Elliott reads multiple books a day to the students and everyday is asked to read the book “Bright Stanley and the Dark Cave Monster” by request of the students. Both boys have been extremely kind and helpful and the students look forward to their daily visits.

Prekindergarten: we have started to divide the children into two smaller groups based on their ages and stages, allowing the teachers to enhance our program by working in smaller groups which allows us to provide more challenging activities and projects.

Our garden: our garden is starting to really come together. The weather this week has been excellent and many of our plants have started to bloom and flower. The children had many opportunities this week to help plant new vegetables, water the plants, and watch the new flowers emerge. So far, our garden consists of: tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peas, zucchini, squash, purple and yellow pansies, marigolds, strawberries, garlic, carrots, blueberries, jasmine, tulips, potatoes, nemesia deep blue imp., cauliflower, lemon balm, chervil, oregano, two baby avocado trees, rosemary, hydrangea, blue wild flowers, mint, spearmint, cucumber, watermelon, corn, artichoke, and dwarf periwinkles.

Many of our plants started from seed so they are just beginning to emerge. Don’t forget about our garden-giving tree! We placed it next to the sign-in area. Our garden wish list consists of: planter boxes (preferably wooden), fruit trees, any kind of vegetables or fruit, soil, lavender, and hardy colorful flowers. We strongly encourage donating something that you already have but may not need. An easy and inexpensive idea is to donate a transplant of something you already have growing in your garden. We want to represent the different family backgrounds in our class – bringing a plant from your home is a lovely way to represent your culture.

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12th, 2010

Updates about the past week

Fish Tank Project: after adding four new fish to our two fish tanks, the kids were very excited, and all seemed to express a strong interest in sea life. So: a good number of the children worked with Teacher Michelle to create the classroom’s very own “fish tank” that is now up in the dramatic play area.
We used yellow, green, purple and red paint on blue turquoise butcher paper as the water background. After painting the water, we worked very hard on making a fish stencil. After this, we used scissors to cut them out and presto, our fish were here! After we colored them in – using paint, dobbers, markers, crayons, and / or stickers – we cut tape and taped the fish up on our “fish tank.” Then we thought the fish tank needed more than just fish after reading Ten Friendly Fish, so we made starfish as well as more fish, this time with sponges, and added them with the others.
Making their own fish tank was a great way for the kids to discuss their new fish, express their new interests, and to enhance their fine motor skills.

Rolly polly project: during the past several weeks, many of our students have been very interested in bugs. The bug that has caught the attention of the majority of our students is the Rolly Polly. Our garden, as well as underneath our pots and rugs outside, provides an ample supply of several different kinds of insects and bugs for the students to observe and study. At first, the rolly pollys made our children a little nervous because they did not know what to expect. Now, our students have come to love these animals because of their gentle nature and ability to turn into a ball when picked up. Last week one of our students suggested we build a rolly polly house with an ice cream shop attached. This was a great suggestion and when presented to the rest of the children, the idea came to life.
Students made individual houses with foil as the background, popsicle sticks as the house frame, and paint for added color and texture. Everyone took lots of time and care in preparing their house so the animals would have a happy home. On March 10th, the students continued with the project and made rolly pollys out of foil, pipe cleaners, and googly-eyes. We then placed all of the houses together in the shape of a giant house in the block area, and added the foil rolly pollys to the d├ęcor.
This project is still ongoing. Daily discoveries of these animals create a lot of joy and excitement for most of our students. Everyday new rustic temporary houses are made outside for the found rolly pollys to live in.

Upcoming projects and events: after the children read an Easter book with one of the teachers as well having an Easter egg conversation with another teacher, it became very apparent that the children are already very excited about Easter.
Over the next few weeks, will focus some of our activities and projects on this topic as well as see where it leads us. Since Easter is a time of rebirth we would also like to focus on spring and the many signs of rebirth that are all around us. The children have enjoyed working in the garden and everyone seems very interested in continuing to develop this space. In keeping with the spirit of family and community we are asking for your help and support. We will have a Giving Tree in the sign in area with different items we are hoping you would be interested and willing to contribute to our “Community garden”. Another idea we had is for parents to bring in plants from their home. Last year one of the boys brought in a small branch from a rosemary plant from their home that we still have in our garden outside.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

MARCH 4TH, 2009

This week we welcomed two brothers to our classroom, Bradley and Zachary. The boys adjusted quickly to our program and have already made friends. Our kids are awesome at welcoming new people into their lives.


* We will be closed on Friday, March 12th for a school holiday.

* Thursday, April 1st will be a minimal day for the start of the Easter vacation.


* Thursday, March 4th: The children really enjoyed making bread and eating our cauliflower pasta. We also visited the Skylab (a planetarium presentation in our school gym) which was scary for some at first but turned out to be exciting and educational!

* Throughout the past month, several of our students expressed concerns for our solitary black and orange fish. So we purchased two more black and orange fish, an algae eater, and a beta fish. To keep harmony in the tanks, we keep our lovely blue beta fish in a separate tank on the other side of our room. The children have become very interested in marine life and this will be our topic of focus (and possibly long-term project) during the following week. If there are any parents with interests or resources regarding marine life that they would like to share with the classroom – such as books, pictures, posters, stories, etcetera – please let us know!

* Easter break is from April 1st - April 12th: Until the 1st, we will be working on an Easter projects - specifically easter baskets. We need half gallon milk or juice cartons. So if you would like to save and bring some in, that would be awesome.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Welcome to our blog!


- Thursday (March 4th) ALL children are invited to attend school to take part in the Skylab (planetarium) presentation from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. In addition, we will harvest our cauliflower plant and make roasted cauliflower pasta with the children and fresh baked bread. This will be offered at lunchtime but feel free to send a small snack or a regular lunch with your child in case the pasta doesn’t suit his or her taste. All parents are welcome and encouraged to join us for lunch at 11:30 - please let us know if you plan on coming!

- Some of the staff attended a training workshop at the Presidio this past weekend at a school that follows the Reggio Emilia approach. As the director, I am very interested in most (if not all) of the approach, and am very excited to learn more and begin to implement it within the classroom. More information to follow. However, in the meantime, if you would like to look into this on your own, you can go to

Some of the projects and activities the children enjoyed experimenting with these past few weeks were:

- Overhead projector: Free exploration with colors and shapes. Some children placed transparent color shapes on top of one another to create new colors. One even placed a plastic lizard on the projector to see what shadow it created.

- World of Insects: The children have been very interested in gathering and inspecting all of the insects that we find throughout our garden. The insect that is the most captivating is the rolly polly. Everyday new insect houses are made from various objects and materials. Each new bug creates lots of giggles, squeals, and curiosity. The children want to create a rolly polly permanent house with an ice cream parlor attached.

- Creating patterns with fruit – this was a big hit that we will re-visit soon. We cut strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and Cutie oranges into small pieces. Children used wooden skewers to make patterns of their choice and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. A few students created detailed patterns and one student explored the idea of making a pattern out of only one fruit.

- Valentine projects: we made Valentines for each other as well as for the residents of Alma Via. When we delivered the Valentines we also sang a few songs. The residences all seemed to enjoy having the children’s visit very much. We will continue to make this a monthly visit on the 2nd Friday of each month.