Children’s House January Newsletter

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Happy New Year with good health, good spirits and peace!

We trust the twelve days of winter vacation brought each of us what we wished for: time with the family, time to cook, to rest, to read, to listen, to count the blessings, time to dream and think of better times.

December went swirling like the first snow of the season. From all of the new activities and lessons we added, I will mention bellow some of the favorites: grinding anise and cloves, matching scents, wrapping a present, and playing the dreidel.

Evergreen trees came to our classroom in stories and in small branches (Spruce, Balsam Fir, Hemlock, White Pine, Holly). Following a brief description on their characteristics, the children visited the display table touching, observing with the magnifying glass, and learning to match the labels with the trees.

With so many beautiful stories to choose from we spent more time than before for reading and discussing. Among the most favorite books: “The Mitten”, by Jan Brett, “The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde, “Frog in Winter” by Max Velthuijs, “Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect” by Richard Schneider, “The Nut Cracker” by A. Hoffman,  “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, “The Night Before Christmas” or “The Story of Hanukkah”.

With the “The Snow Tree” by Caroline Repchuck we learned about symbols and similes. After recreating the story in which animals decorate a pine tree to bring the colors back, we took turns in choosing a new decoration and finding a meaning for the objects we picked. What a delight to listen to the reasoning: “I put the little mouse because it reminds me of cheese”, “the bed is for when I am sick”, “if you have faith, you’ll be alright”!

Birds and their characteristics were studied through books, charade-games, and crafts (we recycled the feathers from Albuquerque Turkey and toilet paper rolls to make one kind of a bird). We learned that some animals migrate, some stay active and are adapted for cold temperatures (thicker fur, feathers, and fat), and some hide and sleep. From the last group some have a deep sleep (hibernate) and some have a light sleep and once in a while munch on the food they stored in fall.

With the continent of the month being South America we also touched on the rain forest with books and floor puzzles. Discussions about life in the tropical climate will continue as we move through Africa, Asia and Australia.

Besides singing, we listened to parts from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Ballet, to Vivaldi’s Winter, to music from South America, and we danced on Carnavalito from Bolivia.

Thank you:

- For coming to our sing along into the holidays. These children do love to sing. Their joy to  see you there was worth all your efforts.

- For all the wonderful presents you showered us with.

- To Mei Ling’s mom for donating a real stuffed owl and for putting together feather displays  and activities kits to expand our studies of birds.

We welcome three new students Aidan Doyle, Rachel Cassily and Amal Krishna who will join us beginning January 3rd, and we extend our best wishes to Zachary Elmer who has moved to a new school.

In January we will talk about planets, earth’s shape, rotation (day/night), revolution (seasons), maps, and compasses. As usual, we will move from stories to the scientific facts through experiments and games. Animals: amphibians. Cultural: Africa

We will start sending a raccoon (not a real one:) to spend a weekend at home with a child, and to be brought back to school the following Monday. The host child will have a chance to be in the spotlight while sharing with us some moments from the raccoon’s visit. A journal will be provided for children to draw pictures, write or tell about their care for the raccoon.

Kindergartners and Junior Kindergartners

In December we introduced the exchange game. The children familiar with the decimal system learned to exchange ten units for a ten, ten tens for a hundred and ten hundreds for a thousand in order to solve problems with dynamic addition, multiplication, and division.

A daily routine is working with numbers that add up to teens. After using the counters repeatedly, some children begin to discover with great joy and excitement they no longer need the props: they can add the numbers in their heads. Memory work is also fostered by using addition charts.

Before we sent the birds home we used them in a short puppet show; a fun way to practice verbal skills, clear communication, roll playing, to wait for turns, to show and enjoy appreciation.

Reading is becoming more challenging as new phonograms and sight words are found in longer texts or in science books. With patience, repetition and encouragement we are building up the basics of written vocabulary.

 It is important to establish a routine in reading every day; be an example and have yourself a good time with a book. Keep in mind that “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them” – James Baldwin

 Dorina Nimigean