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Cognitive Development: May 21

Pre-K Class Explores Bee-hive
Hello Parents:
This week at Peacock all the rooms have been working on and finishing up their fabulous bug and insect themes. In every age group, exciting things have been happening related to this theme. Long gone is the notion that bugs are on this planet to be stepped on and destroyed. We at Peacock have entered into a respectful relationship with these tiny, multi-faceted, and fascinating creatures that inhabit our world.
Before I describe the actual happenings in the classrooms, I wanted to continue my discussion of how certain aspects of child development theory connects with curriculum planning. I hope these discussions have been interesting to you as you see your child and how they grow and develop and approach learning here at Peacock and at home with you.
I find very interesting the work of Lev Vygotsky who focused his studies of children on the social aspect of cognitive development. According to his thorough observations of young children, he saw that children grow cognitively not only by interacting with objects, but also by interacting with adults and older and more knowledgeable peers. The probing questions that teacher’s use with children help them improve their skills and acquire knowledge. Older peers who have mastered important skills also help children grow and learn by modeling and by providing verbal guidance. I’m sure you notice this with older siblings, family friends, and cousins. Vygotsky looked at what a child can learn when working independently and what they can learn by watching and talking to peers and  teachers. With the support of others, they can perform skills at a higher level than they can when working on their own. I see the teachers at Peacock as expert observers of the children, which is highly important in this aspect of learning and curriculum development.  In all the classrooms, particularly in the Green and Blue Rooms,  the teachers are continually asking the children questions and talking with the children. This give and take creates helps stimulate children’s awareness of what they are doing which encourages their growth by opening up new and different possibilities for approaching tasks.  The teachers are daily providing learning experiences for the children that are challenging enough to move them to a higher level of learning, but not so challenging that it frustrates them.  I love to walk in the classrooms and watch how the teachers are establishing a community for the children, creating a place where the children can create positive relationships with each other every day. Our children are taught daily the skills they need to make friends, solve social problems, and share with one another.  In positive ways, every member of each classroom is a learner and a teacher.  When new children come to observe the classrooms and the school, the Peacock children are immediately warm and accepting, showing them how materials are used, teaching them using kindness and compassion as their guide.
So, what has been happening at Peacock this week in  each of the classrooms?
 In the infant room Jan has been wheeling babies to and from  Peacock each day. She thoroughly believes that the outside classroom is what helps create a healthy inside world for a baby, and you can see from the faces of the infants a silent contentment when she wheels them back to their Peacock home away from home. Sometimes she takes a toddler with her on these sojourns, reinforcing what I just talked about regarding older peers who teach the younger ones about life and interesting concepts they have already acquired.
 In the Toddler Room Petra and Haleigh have let orange be their guide this week. All the different shades of orange became highlighted in  a group mural the children painted with brushes, sponges, and hands. On the windows you might notice as you come in some beautiful “stained glass” orange art in work that  could be entered into any children’s art contest. For gross motor development that combined with artistic, toddler expression, the children painted their “car”, a cardboard box, with rollers and brushes and sponges. The children have been introduced to the triangle as an interesting shape to get to know. And in the singing and music world, they have been learning about body parts and singing “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.” When they can, they too examine bugs and watch their interesting behaviors.
In the Green Room, bugs and bugs have titillated the children’s imagination. Egg cartons have turned into colorful, lively caterpillars, as Heather and Betsy have been talking about this interesting animal and how it moves. Spiders that the children have made have been hanging  from the walls, woven into the intricate webs that were a part of this project. For snack, bugs took the back burner as home made popsicles became the cooking project of the week. The children crushed their own berries and bananas to make this delectable creation that they served for the entire school. In language arts, the children are drawing their own pictures and dictating to the teachers the stories that go with these pictures. In conjunction with this emphasis on stories and storytelling that we are having in our classrooms , on walking Wednesday all the preschoolers went to the public library to hear their lively preschool story time. The children were mesmerized by the children’s librarian who captivated the room with her richly themed stories and accents of the characters from the books she had chosen to read. Back in the classroom, Heather and Betsy have been providing the children with a revolving library of great books for preschoolers.
In the Blue Room, bugs and insects have had star roles in the learning that has evolved over the week. So how do caterpillars  turn into butterflies or moths? So how many legs do they have anyway, these caterpillars? So, what is a chyrsalis? What does it do? A actual butterfly was brought in (dead) that the children got to touch gently, and look at closely through a magnifying glass. They got to look at the sheer  genius and artistry of the wings of a butterfly and examine closely all the parts of the body of this animal that they had been studying about. With intricate designing the children got to make spider webs and spiders that are now part of the window display. In addition, honeycombs were talked about as the children got to incorporate their knowledge of this part of a bee’s life with an art project that used honey comb cereal pieces. Shari has incorporated a great deal of mathematics in her bug lessons as the children got to count out the number of honey combs in a hive as they discover how many wings are in a pair, as they count their friends around the table as they are  working on an interesting project together. As they have been talking about butterfly gardens and painting flowers that butterflies are attracted to, they got to make their own flower garden of their imagination, beautiful creations filled with rivers and ponds and trails, and grassy meadows filled with flowers.
Come into the classroom someday, maybe every day if you can, to observe what is happening. When you are there, look around you and don’t forget to look at the abstract painting on the walls and the watercolors the children have created. The concentration that is so much part of what goes on at this stage of development produces amazing results, masterpieces perhaps that will never be replicated like this during their entire lives.
Christine’s fabulous lunch menu of the week was as follows:
Monday:  turkey taco  salad with rice chips and kiwi
Tuesday:  zucchini lasagne with oranges
Wednesday: grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup
Thursday:  salmon with rice and broccoli
Friday:  miso soup with noodles and tofu

Here is a poem that the Green Room wish to share with you:
“Socks and Sneakers”
Those flip-flops are adorable.
Your sandals are so cute.
And you look so stylish.
In your clogs and cowboy boots.
But when you’re on the playground,
Where there’s dirt and mulch and rocks,
The safest thing for you to wear
Are sneakers and some socks!
The mulch can scratch your ankles.
The rocks can stub your toes.
You might take a tumble
And bop your little nose!
Your teachers want to keep you safe.
We think you’re very sweet.
So please wear socks and sneakers
To protect your little feet!
So, thank you for having your children have sneakers in their black bags, if they don’t already come to school in them. We will be taking some exciting field trips this summer, and we want to make sure your child’s feet are comfortable!
with kindest and warmest regards,,
Heidi
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