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.