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