Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chilly February

We hope that all of you are keeping warm during these last few nippy days. The teachers and students of Utopia are certainly feeling snug because our days are just packed!

We have spent a lot of time at the gym this week. To get us warmed up, we exercised by sitting on rollers and bouncing on exercise balls. We also played the all-to--familiar games of duck-duck-goose and freeze dance. It is great that our school has such a nice facility for physical interaction.

Our science focus this week dealt with the parts of the face. We got the children to notice the mouth and expressions of anger, happiness, and sadness. So the next time your kids are observing your lips, tongue, and teeth, it's because our curious little Utopians have been taking our classroom exercises back home.

For Art, we used medicine droppers and paint to create colorful projects. The children practiced their fine motor skills by squeezing and releasing the doppers and medicine droppers. Visit our classroom to take a look at their marvelous works of art.

Stay warm and we hope to see you at the Cioppino Night.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Brainstorm, Plan, Create!

The days leading to Valentine week was filled with excitement. Parents, teachers and children were focused on getting the valentine treats (all 36!) sorted, taped, glued, and distributed. Aside from sharing sweet treats, the primary objective of the activity was to help the children practice writing their names multiple times.

Thank you to Kari G, Charlie, Maria, Julia for celebrating the valentine week engaging the students with different activities. If you have not signed up to be our featured reader or Chef of the Week, please consider volunteering. It makes a lasting impression on your child when you come in and be the "teacher".

This week the Utopians learned the process behind creating a piece of art. The objective was for the children to notice the eye and its different parts. Most of the time, we see dots or circles as eyes in children's art. We hope to move past that and make them come up with a realistic representation.

The fist step was a brainstorming session. The children talked about the different parts (eyelashes, eyeballs, eyelids, and eyebrows). Once they were aware that there is more to an eye than a ball, the next step was to plan. They were asked to create a picture in their head on how to draw it on paper. When they were ready, they got a pencil and drew. Some chose to work with a partner drawing his/her eyes, while others chose to look at a mirror and draw their own eyes. This step is called creation.

We value positive feedback so we asked our friends what they noticed about the drawing. We focused on the actual drawing and not on whether they liked it or not. After the feedback, it was back to the table to improve on the drawing by including the suggestions of friends.

Come visit our classroom to see our art. We will eventually do a self-portrait.

More Sensory Learning Technique:

"Pretend Hotdog: Have the child lie between two cushions (pretend bread). Ask the child what goes on the hotdog (mustard, ketchup, onions, pickles). Use your hands to put condiments. Pretend to eat.
(Copyright 1988 by Alana Freeman)

Pete's a Pizza by William Steig is also a good book to read and act out.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sensory Learning

Last Friday when the school was closed, the teachers had a fruitful seminar with an educational therapist, Julia Harris, OTR. According to her teaching philosophy, "learning takes place as a result of all your senses working together."

Here are two strategies that you can use to enhance your child's learning at home:
1) To improve your child's visual perception, encourage your child to build with blocks.

2) For touch and movement, encourage finger painting, shaping play dough, and fiddling with clay.

This week we read the famous book by Eric Carle, Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? Check the bulletin board for Utopia's very own version of the book.

This is our third week into the Monday Journal, whose objective is to reinforce the students' sense of recall. The kids drew and attempted phonetic writing when remembering last weekend's activities.

We engaged in a fun game of Shape Hunt in the classroom. Some children were extremely engaged in the activity that they initiated their very own creation - a shape reference book. Ask the teachers to take a peek at it.

Have a happy Valentine's weekend. Cioppino is two weeks away!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

The Utopians had such an excellent treat for Chinese New Year. This week was all about celebrating the new cycle in our lunar calendar.

First of all, we'd like to say a heartfelt xie xie to the Collier family (Scarlett's family) for preparing sumptuous noodles and bringing lucky round oranges to our classroom. They also arranged for the kids to experience a one-of-a-kind kinetic activity: The Lion Dance! Some of our students were able to get into vivid dragon costumes while Owen and Fiona took turns pounding the drums. The children had such an (educational) blast!

Continuing our exploration of crystals, we actually saw our sugar crystals materialize! We discovered that boiling water and sugar simultaneously make crystals grow faster than simply dumping sugar into water that was already bubbling.

To reinforce our math skills, we integrated our science lessons (crystals) with our number concepts (counting). Aside from counting and recording how many teaspoons of crystals could fit in a measuring cup, we also counted various items in the classroom.

Some of the children had so much fun tallying the furniture of our classroom.

We hope to see you in this Sunday's Family Mass and Open House. Once again, Happy Chinese New Year to all!