Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's been an exciting past couple of months! We wanted to share with you a couple of the fun things we have been doing in class recently:

Steamed Pumpkin Cake
The week before Thanksgiving the children made a delicious steamed pumpkin cake! The children had been talking a lot about pumpkins after we had made pumpkin soup earlier in the month so we decided to test out a new recipe the teachers had discovered. Making the steamed pumpkin cake was not only a delicious activity, but was an activity that helped build math skills (measurement and counting), social skills (turn taking and cooperation), and fine motor skills.

Here is the recipe if you would like to make the cake at home:

1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking soda
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 Cup butter, melted
2 Cups packed light brown sugar
3 Eggs, beaten
1 (15 ounce) cans solid-pack pumpkin

1. Grease 2- 1/2 quart souffle dish or baking pan that fits into slow cooker
2.Combine flour , baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in medium cloves; set aside
3. Beat butter, brown sugar and eggs in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture.
4. Spoon batter into prepared souffle dish.
5.Fill slow cooker with 1 inch hot water. Make foil handles by tearing off 3 (18X2 inch) strips of heavy foil, or use regular foil folded to double thickness. Crisscross foil strips in spoke design in bottom of slow cooker. Place souffle dish on center of strips. Pull foil strips up and over the dish. This allows for easy removal of souffle dish.
6. Place souffle dish  in slow cooker. Cover; cook on high 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until wooden toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
 (This recipe was found on http://www.food.com)

Rock Salt Art
The children made colored salt crystals! We used rock salt and small pipettes filled with liquid water color to create purple, pink, and blue salt crystals. We let the salt crystals dry and observed that they looked similar to other crystals that we have in our science area. After making observations about the salt crystals, we glued them on paper to create crystal art. This activity supports fine motor skill development, scientific observation skills and artistic creativity.

Preparing For Our Stone Soup

After listening to the story Stone Soup we decided to make our own Stone Soup! We asked the children which ingredients they would like to go in the soup and then the teachers put out a sign-up sheet for the parents. The day before our Stone Soup party we took the children in small groups to our "big kitchen" in the gym. It was very exciting for the children to discover this kitchen that they had never seen! Then each child took stood in front of their own cutting board and helped cut the vegetables. This is a great fine motor development activity.

Thank you to all the parents who contributed to our soup. The children, parents, and teachers all enjoyed the delicious soup! Thank you Jenny for cooking the soup!

Water Color Painting
An ongoing experience in the classroom has been using watercolor paints. We have watched as the children's drawings and writing has evolved. The children have now been showing an interest in drawing and painting their families so we will continue to talk to the children about their families and the details in the people they draw. Drawing and water color painting are great at developing the children's fine motor skills, creative expression, and language in conversation when describing their paintings.

Upcoming EventsDecember 13th: Christmas Performance at 7pmDecember 19th: Last Day of School Early Dismissal at 12pmJanuary 7: First Day Back to School 

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 2012

We are one month into the school year and things are moving already!

Utopia hosted our annual Welcome Party on October 4th.  New and returning families had an opportunity to meet and mingle amongst the staff and the children.  We had amazing food and a fabulous good time.
Thank you to all those who attended!

Enrollment is picking up and we are making use of our "Studio".

The teachers and children use this space as on extension of our classroom. It is important to us that  we can provide opportunity for children's development to take place with smaller groups.  Thus far, the children have been creating watercolor paintings and experimenting gravity through the use of Theraputty (similar to silly putty). The putty is great, not only for their scientific investigations, but the development of fine motors skills as well.  


Classroom experiences are taking shape through clay and literacy.

The children have been exploring clay for the past three weeks.  Discovering how to manipulate it and some of the basic techniques for clay.  3d creations are taking shape and the children are taking great pride in their work.

 The teachers have created "journals" for each of the children and we began introducing those last week. 
The journals are intended for the children to explore and express writing at their individual levels. The journals will show the children's progression in writing and highlight their interests and ideas.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

   This Summer has been very exciting with many new changes!
In July we welcomed a new teacher, Danielle Loughridge! She is working with us part-time in the Summer and will move to full-time in the fall. Danielle and Bridget have worked together at Presidio CDC and have been trained in the Reggio Approach. 
Our first task this Summer was to re-arrange the classroom. Teachers did this the week after Graduation and on July 9th opened our "new" classroom to the children! This was very new for the children and families and we have received great positive feedback from everyone! We are very excited to debut our classroom in September to our returning children and families that have been away this Summer!

  Thank you to all our families for making Graduation 2012 such an amazing event!!! Our Graduation Celebration was a big success and we will remember all of our Graduates always. The children gave a remarkable performance in singing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and all their teachers and families are very proud of all their hard work this year. We had a great turn out and we truly appreciate everyone that was able to attend. We look forward to our upcoming year with our new friends and our returning children and families!

Friday, March 30, 2012

March Madness!

Thank you to Michael, Anna's dad, for building us our own sandbox! Michael was generous enough to build it, bring it to our yard, and fill it with sand for us. The children have truly enjoyed playing, building, and exploring in the sand. Also, thank you to all the parents who have donated new sand toys!

A new addition to our Art Studio is a brand new light table! Many of the children have been able to go over to the art studio this week to explore this new table. In the pictures below I turned off the lights in the Art Studio and the children chose different materials to put on the light table. We have explained to the children that they have to be very careful with this table because it is fragile. Again, if you have not visited our Art Studio yet please feel free to ask a teacher to take you over!

At the art table the children have been creating with clay! The children have been learning how to manipulate the clay over several weeks. They have been using different tools to create something meaningful. After choosing what they wanted to make, they worked on it, and when satisfied with their creation they brushed water and glue on it 2-3 times so that it may stay together.

We have this art displayed on several shelves around the classroom. The children made signs so that you made read what they made and now they are starting to write stories about them.

A new and on-going project that the children have been working on are self-portraits. I have written a journal about this process. Please make sure to read our "Journal Wall" as it will inform you about things that the children are working on in class. The teachers take turns writing journals so you can read about each of our experiences with the kids. Here is part of the current journal:


After working with the children over several months, I noticed that many of the children were drawing pictures of themselves when working at the writing table. I took the opportunity to focus and discuss self-portraits with the children when I noticed Jr., Austin, and Rylan staring at themselves in the mirrors while in the Art Studio. I invited them to bring the mirrors to the writing table:

Teacher Michelle: “What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Rylan: “I see my eyes, nose, and my teeth.”

Austin: “My eyes, my teeth, and forehead.”

Jr: “Eyes, nose, my hair, eyebrows, and your teeth.”

Then I handed them each a piece of paper and pencil and they began to draw themselves. I saved their drawings and then shared it with the group the following day. Sharing their drawings with the group sparked interest in the other children to draw themselves.

Having the children work on their self-portraits over several days has given the children an opportunity to recognize and name facial features that they may not have known or noticed before:

Lillian: “I have freckles!” (Then the other children checked the mirror to see if they also had freckles.)

Keira: “I have a mole.”

Bianca: “I have a mole too.”


Thursday April 5 :Class dismisses at 12
Friday April 6: Spring Break Begins
Monday April 16: School Resumes

Friday, February 17, 2012

February Fun

For the past two weeks the children have been working on water color paintings! Ivette (Andres' mom), while putting together our Move Night Cioppino basket, had the great idea of auctioning off the children's artwork at the Cioppino dinner. So we talked to the children about drawing and then painting something special which many people will see and be able to buy. So the children made their first one...

Then the next day we revisited what they had made and then talked about what we could add or change. We did this over several days. Some children had 3,4, and even 5 drafts depending on how many days the child is at school a week.

This activity gave a great opportunity for the children to revisit what they had created and then plan their next step. It was also interesting to listen to them give each other peer feedback. We would sit at at a table with 6-8 kids and talk about each child's painting, then the children would comment on what they liked about the painting and what they could add to it.

Some Comments were:

Viva:"I think you should draw a unicorn...and a castle....and more unicorns!"
Bianca:"More flowers...yeah a lot of flowers!"
Keira:"Wings...like oval shaped."
Anna: "Do you have a dog?If you do you should draw him."

Art Studio

During our teacher in-service day earlier this month the Utopia teachers were busy setting up our new art studio in "Little Utopia". You may have heard your child mention this room before, but we took the time to completely transform it. We set up an art area, writing area, light and shadow area, and sensory area. We are using this room to work in small groups with the children. Each teacher has taken a group of 4-6 children to explore the room. If you would like to visit the art studio feel free to ask and we will gladly take you over there (Or if we are busy we'll unlock the door and let you explore)!

These Utopia classmates are exploring the new tools on the projector.

These Utopians are exploring the new paintbrushes and paint colors side by side in our art area.

This Utopian decided she would draw and then decorate Santa Clause after discovering the cotton balls, glue, and glitter in the art area!

These Utopians were also intrigued by all the glitter and glue!


With so many other things such as valentines and water color painting projects going on, the children have continued to work on their stories, which many of them started last month. The children have been very proud of their stories and their classmates love hearing them.

Telling and writing these stories have helped the teachers take note of the interests of each child and has helped develop the drawings and writing of many of the children.

Here are two children's drawings from their books,which are still works in progress:

Iron Man is waiting for coffee and he found a little butterfly and he chased it.

Then his coffee fell down and the little butterfly flew all the way to the sky and the sun and then Iron Man flew after him.

One day there was a rainy day, but it was raining and the superhero Jr. saved the rain away. He went up to the clouds in the big car wash with my dad.

And then the rain stopped and the kids can go play outside. Austin, Gabriella, Benny, Sasha, Alessandro.

Then they can play in the bikes and the toys and the basketball hoop.

Outdoor Adventures...
We have been enjoying the sunny days in our Utopia yard....

Teacher Michelle: "What are you guys doing?"
Utopia Artist: "I'm drawing her...(looks at child)...now don't move..."

The artist in action, drawing her classmate.

The girls playing an exciting game of basketball

Utopian: "Ok what does this say?"
Teacher Michelle: "It says...tttt-cccc...tc."
Utopian: "Ttttt-cccc...what's that"?
Teacher Michelle:"I don't know you wrote it. What does it mean?"
Utopian: "Nevermind...let me try something different."

Blue-eyed Utopian: "Grrr....monster!"
Brown-eyed Utopian: "Oh no! We gotta hide....there's a monster!"


Monday February 20: President's Day No School
Thursday February 23 at 6pm: Preschool and Kindergarten parent mandatory meeting
Monday February 27: Minimal Day 12pm Dismissal-Teacher Inservice