Blocks and Life

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You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti

Welcome back! The kids were excited to be at school which warmed my heart. They were especially excited about playing together. Especially in our building area. As I was observing I started thinking about how children learn through play. I think it goes without saying that we all value play and the small magical window of childhood, but in a society of increasing pressure for academia, I think it's important as an early childhood professional to point out that play IS how children learn academic subjects. For instance, while observing block play I saw early math skills such as sorting, classification, and measuring. I witnessed motor skills and cognitive thinking as they built higher. I saw creative expression and dramatic play with people and animals and cars. ‎They worked their social/emotional muscles by playing together and problem solving, not to mention impulse control! 

Children's brains are hard wired to learn... when given the opportunity. When encouraged to explore‎ and think, to play and experience, and to feel joy, there is really no limit to the human experience.

Speaking of, we continue to delve into what it means to be human. Our discussions at morning meeting have become more thoughtful. While some have come around to saying they are human, others are steadfast that they are not! So, we continued to read "Where the Wild Things Are," casually noting differences between Max and the wild things. Both have faces, but Max does not have hair or horns and his nose is different, for instance.

I don't know, maybe some of us aren't ready to be human yet. Maybe we want to be a fairy or a unicorn or even a wild thing! That's not the point. We've got time. For now, I'm just enjoying the discussion and hearing their ideas of what human is. 

It's wonderful to be back!

-Ms. Amy

Bones Bones Bones!

 “I didn’t know rabbits had bones!”

“I didn’t know rabbits had bones!”

For the past two weeks in the Summit room we have been exploring bones. It all started with the ritual of Halloween! The children were sooo excited about Halloween they were telling me weeks in advance what they were going to be!

We read Skelly’s Halloween by David Martin. It’s about a skeleton who takes a tumble that leaves him in pieces. All the different critters try to put him back together again but it just wasn’t him! Until a girl dressed like a skeleton said, “We can make you look like me!” And that’s exactly what they did!

After reading the story, the children enjoyed the loose parts Q-tip skeleton provocation. Their skeletons were quite unique! They now call our skeleton Skelly!

We have also read Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler and Our Bones by Charlotte Guillain. This led to discussions about:

What do bones look like?

What do bones do?

How do we keep our bones healthy?

We felt some of our bones and could see the shape of some of our bones! The children looked at x-rays of animal bones on the light table. On Friday our friend Bryn brought in x-rays of her brother’s leg. That was really cool! Thanks for sharing!

I wish you all a joyous thanksgiving with your family and friends! See you all in a week!

-Ms. Barb

Pre-Thanksgiving Snow Play

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This week was all about more sensory activities as well as the children’s own continued self exploration.

The children took it upon themselves to mimic one another by scooting across the floor on their bottoms and playing follow the leader by going up and down the steps in turn, one at a time (which doesn’t happen often because they are all so excited to go!)

We were able to suit up and get outside to enjoy the snow earlier this week. Outside time is always welcomed by the children- no matter whether only 5 minutes or much more.

The children were able to make and decorate their handprint turkeys using glue- which confused them. Sticky fingers made for lots of raised eyebrows. It doesn’t make sense! Why is it still on my finger?!

We will miss them next week and hope you all have a splendid week away and a more wonderful Thanksgiving Day. See you all again on Monday!

-Ms. Shanla and Ms. Margita

Gazing at the Moon in Wonder

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"Good evening it's the mooon!"

We are continuing to dig deeper into our interest in space, and the moon in particular. ‎Today we made moons (sorta). :D The way the children have expressed interest in some sensory "pre-writing work" on the light cube gave me an idea for some more fine motor work with this project as well. Squeezing the glue/paint mixture and then using sticks to "draw" in it. And I think they turned out quite majestic! I can't wait until they dry and I can hang them. 

As I reflect back onto our over-arching inquiry (what does it mean to be human) in the context of building our community, I think this interest in something so much a part of our existence, yet distant and unfamiliar‎, is a safe place to explore for them. Exploration, gaining understanding of things about life and who we are in it, is everything to children, but wow! I bet it is overwhelming. So, why not start in the outer reaches of our experience like space? Also, the moon is just super intriguing! 

I hope you take a moment over the coming weeks for some moon gazing with your child. Don't have answers ready, just experience it through their eyes. I'd love to hear how it goes!

-Ms. Amy

Sensory Exploration: Natural and Artificial

We have had a very fun week inside and outside the classroom with so many opportunities for sensory exploration! This week we focused on the natural wind outside, as well as the artificial wind we created inside with the fan. The children enjoy watching the wind pick up the dry autumn leaves and blow them around the playground, as if inviting them to play. We enjoy watching the children express their excitement and delight at this natural wonder.

-Ms. Margita and Ms. Shanla

The Importance of Dramatic Play

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“In play a child is always above his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form; in play it is as though the child were trying to jump above the level of his normal behavior”. -Vygotsky

Dramatic play is a big hit in the Summit room!! Dramatic play provides opportunity for children to experiment with different roles and materials to explore what is familiar to them and also the unknown through pretend play. They use their imagination and creativity. They exercise social and emotional skills to make sense of the world and so much more. When they are playing grocery store, I observe and listen to the children as they negotiate roles. Who is going to be the store clerks (sellers), shoppers and baker. They are using math to determine how much something is going to cost. They use language skills to communicate what items they would like from the shelf. They are also practicing listening skills, getting the items that were asked for. Dramatic play is very important in a child's life.

-Ms. Barb


Fall Festival Preparations

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It has been a busy and exciting week up in the Summit room. We made bread and shook heavy cream in a jar and turned it into butter. We practiced and listened to the songs for the fall Festival. I can see the children's excitement as they explore new materials and their new space! Talking about our new space… I asked the children what they would like to see in their new room? It was unanimous, they all wanted more room for dancing! We will have to do a little shuffling of furniture to make that happen. Then we started talking about the rug that we don't have yet, which led to choosing what color we would like!

The children said:

"I think it should be red!"

"Pink!"

"Purple!"

"Green."

It's still up in the air! More on this later! We now have two curtains for the door entrance. The curtains now form a V in the middle of the doorway, making it easier for our taller parents. One child said, "my dad is tall!" They are all super excited about designing our loft area into a quiet and relaxing space. This is a work in progress.

The children like playing the musical hand bells. We have just started using this new instrument. There are a few rules and directions they have to follow when using them. Like not to touch the bell, when I point to them, they ring their bell and when I am not pointing at them they stop ringing their bell. They like it when I point to them really really fast! They giggle and think it is hilarious! It's all fun and games to them, but what they are working on is critical learning skills. They are learning to self-regulate, sustain attention and follow directions, which are very important skills to develop. On a side note, if anyone has access to some color coded hand bell sheet music, it would be greatly appreciated!

We are also exploring pattern blocks. We are hearing new words like hexagon, trapezoid and rhombus. They are enjoying making designs with them, as well as making 3D structures!

We have been reading a lot of books about Fall. My favorite is Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. We have been looking at leaves and talking about how they are the same and how the are different. Some of the children noticed the lines in the leaves. We are going to explore that further. If your child would like to bring in leaves, that would be awesome!

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Fall Festival!

-Ms. Barb

July, 2018 Plum Hill Preschool e-Newsletter: Issue 2

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e-Newsletter
July 2018, Issue 2
 



An Introduction from our Director!
 
My name is Elyse Yurth Adlen and I am very excited to be a part of Plum Hill Preschool! I have been working with children in various capacities since high school, but formally as a preschool and third grade teacher before moving from Los Angeles to Denver in 2001. Since being in Denver, I have been fortunate to have inspiring mentors who helped me combine my love of education and social work. I spent my first five years in Denver at the University of Denver’s Bridge Project as the Education Coordinator, supporting preschoolers through college students. When my own daughter was two years old, I was offered the Preschool Director position at Temple Sinai where I was fortunate to be a part of an incredible learning community and tour Reggio inspired schools throughout the country. From there I moved to Florence Crittenton Services, directing and growing the Early Childhood Education program within a teen parent program. 
 
In my spare time, I consult with families, schools, and the Denver Early Childhood Council as a licensed trainer for the state of Colorado. I am looking forward to offering these resources to the staff and families at Plum Hill Preschool. I have earned a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, a Level Five Early Childhood Credential and am deemed an “Infant and Toddler Specialist” by the State of Colorado.

As a resident of University Hills, I have watched the transformation of the Plum Hill Preschool building with great interest. Although I enjoy working with all children, my passion for early childhood is easy to see, as I become a true geek reading about the latest findings in brain development. I feel grateful for the privilege to join this community. I believe that children learn best when provided a safe, loving, and respectful environment and all will find that at Plum Hill Preschool.

 
Sincerely,

Elyse Yurth Adlen 
Mark Your Calendars for the Plum Hill Preschool Open House(s)!

Plum Hill will be hosting an open house on Saturday July 14th and Sunday July 22nd from 9 am to 1 pm. 
Introducing Ms. Amy! 
 
We are excited to welcome Ms. Amy to the Plum Hill Preschool team! Amy will be the lead teacher of our Forest room. She is a Colorado native who has been involved in early childhood education since her first job as a teacher's assistant in high school. After leaving the field for several years to support her family, she returned to college to complete her BA in Contemplative Education which allowed the study of education through the lens of psychology and child development, sociology and the ecological system, and holistic philosophy and practice. She has worked with mentor teachers within the Reggio Approach while continuing her research of educational philosophy before taking a mentoring and leadership role herself. During summer breaks, Amy has worked with children and families struggling with hardships including low SES, special right of children on the developmental spectrum, and mental illness. This work has reinforced in her the desire to provide loving early childhood care and support for children and families, as well as recognizing the importance of a child led approach to learning. She is passionate about her work and looks forward to working at Plum Hill. 

Back to School Booklist

Help your child prepare for their first day of school with this wonderful back to school reading list curated by Gigi Pagliarulo, Plum Hill Preschool parent and librarian for Denver Public Library. 

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

 

Lily’s Cat Mask by Julie Fortenberry

 

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

 

Tool School by Joan Holub, illustrations by James Dean

 

Rosie Goes to Preschool by Karen Katz
 

Maple & Willow Apart by Lori Nichols

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrations by Christian Robinson

 

Dinosaur vs. School by Bob Shea

 

The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing, illustrations by Amy Wummer

 
Dad’s First Day by Mike Wohnoutka
Buy Mabel's Labels to support our fundraiser!  
Labels for clothes, shoes, containers, and more.

Upcoming Events

July 14, 2018- Plum Hill Preschool Open House 9am-1pm

July 15, 2018- Enrollment Form and Tuition Deposit Deadline

July 22, 2018- Plum Hill Preschool Open House 9am-1pm 

August 6, 2018- First day of school! 

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Newsletter Launch, May 2018, Issue 1

Plum Hill Preschool Newsletter Launch






e-Newsletter
May 2018, Issue 1
 
Hi, <<Email Address>>

Welcome to the first issue of the Plum Hill Preschool e-newsletter! We hope you will enjoy this new way to keep you informed about school news and events. In addition to important school information and staff-related news, each issue will feature educational topics, seasonal recipes, and relevant community happenings. Typically, issues will be released monthly. However, you can expect to hear from us more frequently during the particularly busy and exciting months (such as June and July, leading up to the 2018-19 school year!) We want this newsletter to be valuable to you, so please share your feedback and suggestions to help us improve!

Your privacy is important to us and we want you to know that we will not give your contact information to anyone. You can unsubscribe by clicking the link at the bottom of any newsletter. However, if you have a child enrolled at Plum Hill Preschool and want to learn more about how to best support them on their journey through their first years of school, we think you will enjoy these monthly newsletters!

Sincerely,

Rhianna Kirk

A Spring Update

It has certainly been a busy spring! The preschool is abuzz with excitement and preparations to welcome our new students and families in the fall! Our construction team has been working overtime. We are enjoying watching (and lending a hand where we can!) as the beautiful space we envisioned for the children transforms into reality. 

 
Meanwhile, administrative efforts have been focused on another type of building (team building!) as we strive to bring together a nurturing and supportive community of early childhood professionals who are passionate about play and discovery. We can't wait for you to meet them!

Enrollment Information: Important Next Steps

Enrollment forms for the 2018-19 school year are available at plumhillpreschool.com/forms. Please complete the Child Enrollment Form at your earliest convenience.
Once we have received your completed Child Enrollment Form we will send a Brightwheel invitation to the email address(es) that you provided. Brighwheel is our family communication platform where you can sign up to receive real-time updates about your child's day, view and update your emergency contact information, communicate with your child's teacher, and receive paperless tuition statements. It will also provide you with the code that you will use to check your child in and out of school each day. All families are required to create a Brightwheel account. For more information please see Brightwheel's Parent Overview PDF.
When Life Gives You Dandelions...
We all know that Denver experiences no shortage of dandelions in the warmer months! And, when life gives you dandelions.... fry up some savory dandelion fritters?
Find the recipe HERE
Palate not feeling quite so adventurous? Try out this recipe for dandelion play dough. Let us know how they turn out!

Upcoming events

July 6, 2018- Enrollment form and tuition deposit deadline

August 6, 2018- First day of school! 

*Stay tuned for more information regarding open house dates and how you can become involved this summer!

Copyright © 2018 Plum Hill Preschool, All rights reserved.


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Prioritizing Play, Honoring Childhood

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It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.
— Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder

Over the past few decades, American early childhood education has experienced a major pedagogical division between academic and play-based learning. As public kindergartens have increasingly become the new first grade, parents and teachers have grown understandably concerned about about the role and importance of preschool in “school-readiness”. The resulting trend has created a push for earlier academics.

Education reforms beginning in the 1980s and memorialized in programs like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core State Standards, have led to increased academic requirements for kindergarteners. The resulting ripple effects have dramatically impacted the early childhood education landscape. As preschool classrooms are becoming more academic, time spent on “seatwork” and direct academic instruction comes at the expense of limited opportunities for unstructured free play.

Why does this matter? 

Teachers and pediatric occupational therapists are reporting a rise in the number of school-age children exhibiting sensory, motor, and cognitive deficits- a phenomena that has been attributed to the decline in early childhood play. Research has shown that children who have not been given adequate opportunities to move and play at an early age are more likely to have poor coordination, difficulty paying attention, trouble regulating their emotions, impaired problem-solving abilities, and difficulties in social interactions. Studies have also found that too many structured activities (and not enough time for free-play) may hinder the development of children’s executive functioning. Ironically, academic skills taught using direct instructional methods are often used as a measure of “school readiness,” despite evidence that these instructional methods are developmentally inappropriate in early childhood settings since they favor shallow mimicry and recall behaviors rather than development of deeper-level cognitive thinking skills. Direct instruction has been found to limit young children’s learning in more ways than one. An MIT study linked direct instruction to reduced curiosity and creativity. Researchers observed that children who received direct instruction were less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw new conclusions.    

While children can be taught to read before the age of 7, we know that earlier isn’t always better. The first 7 years of life, traditionally referred to as the “pre-academic period,” is a crucial period of development for young children. During this time, children require a multitude of whole-body sensory experiences on a daily basis for optimal development. A recent evaluation of Tennessee's publicly funded preschool system found that while children who attended preschool demonstrated higher levels of academic “school readiness” skills upon entry into kindergarten as compared to their non-preschool-attending peers, these same children had deteriorating attitudes about school by the time they had entered first grade, and lowered academic performance by the time they had entered second grade. Another study with similar findings compared two groups of children in New Zealand, who began formal literacy instruction at the ages of five and seven, respectively. Researchers found no significant difference in reading ability among the two groups by the time the children were eleven years old, however, the children who started literacy instruction earlier had developed a less positive attitude toward reading and had worse text comprehension than the children who had started literacy instruction later.

So, how do we best prepare young children for school, and for life? The answer is simple.

Let them play.

Play is the universal language of childhood. It crosses all cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. It is essential to children’s development and is the foundation for all later learning. Evolutionary psychologists have traced the play impulse to a deep and primitive part of the brain, suggesting it may have been vital to the survival of our species and many others. Play is suspected to be the mechanism that allowed animals to learn to live in social groups and to navigate complex hierarchies of social situations. Play also represents full mind/body integration and has been described as the thread that stitches individuals into the social fabric that is the staging ground for their lives. Play is the means through which children take in new information about their world and gain an understanding of what it means to be human. 

Parents can be rest assured knowing that their preschooler’s ability or inability to recite their ABC’s will not determine their future academic success- but opportunities to engage in free and unstructured play will. Feed your child’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity. Allow them be bored. Let them play with sticks and stomp through the mud. Set them up for a lifelong love of learning and foundation for future academic success by allowing them to develop naturally and on their own timeline. The next time you feel tempted to pull out those flashcards, consider a walk to the park instead.

Sources

Christakis, E. (2015, December 28). The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids. Retrieved April 09, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/the-new-preschool-is-crushing-kids/419139/

Gopnik, A. (2011, March 16). New Research Shows That Teaching Preschoolers More and More, at Ever-Younger Ages, May Backfire. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/03/why_preschool_shouldnt_be_like_school.html  

Hannaford, C., & Hannaford, C. (2005). Smart moves: Why learning is not all in your head (pp. 72-73). Salt Lake City, UT: Great River Books. 

Hanscom, A. J., & Louv, R. (2016). Balanced and barefoot: How unrestricted outdoor play makes for strong, confident, and capable children. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

McGurk, L. A., & McGurk, L. A. (2017). Theres no such thing as bad weather: A Scandinavian moms secrets for raising healthy, resilient, and confident kids (from friluftsliv to hygge) (pp.87-90). New York: Touchstone.  

Murphy, L. (2016). Lisa Murphy on play: The foundation of childrens learning. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

N. (2014, August 04). Brains At Play | NPR Ed. Retrieved April 09, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z_hMYGAQ6k

Strauss, V. (2015, September 01). The decline of play in preschoolers - and the rise in sensory issues. Retrieved April 09, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/09/01/the-decline-of-play-in-preschoolers-and-the-rise-in-sensory-issues/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.52858eb221e9

Wexler, E. (2018, March 08). Study: Too Many Structured Activities May Hinder Children's Executive Functioning. Retrieved April 09, 2018, from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2014/07/study_too_many_structured_activities_hinder_childrens_executive_functioning.html?cmp=soc-fb-shr

If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused — a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love — then we wish for knowledge about the subject of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning.
— Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder