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  • Marisa Ramsey

Smart Start Week 14

Monday morning puzzling and painting!

With Christmas right around the corner, Smart Start is filled with excitement and anticipation. Of course there is lots of talk about gifts and giving. On Monday morning, we worked puzzles while taking turns visiting Mrs. Debbie's paint station. We are working on something special! Each child is creating a unique gift to give their parents. They are very excited knowing that they will have a gift to give this Christmas.

During Circle Time, we read If You Take Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff and our sharing question was, "Have you ever had a mouse about your house?" We heard some terrific mouse tales and very much enjoyed reading about a sweet little Christmas mouse who loves the movies, decorating the tree, and playing in the snow.

In Creative Movement, we danced with "Milton the Dancing Christmas Mouse". This kooky song had us moving and grooving around the studio! You can find Milton here:

Our group craft on Monday was a glittery, Christmas bell. Mrs. Debbie shared a video of a bell choir and we enjoyed creating these sparkly ornaments while we listening to Christmas carols played by a hand bell choir.

In Atelier, our students visited four stations. The Sensory Table was full of Christmas sprinkles (actually dyed rice 😉). The Sensory Table is always a favorite. Children love to pretend to cook, bake, etc. They love scooping, measuring, pouring, and stirring.

There was a table for gluing ornaments on a Christmas tree. At this station, Mrs. Debbie talked with students about colors, patterns, and shapes all while counting and sorting.

At the Sketching Station, students followed the steps to create different styles of Christmas trees. These step-by-step sketches challenge students to think critically and logically.

Our fourth station was the Writing Table. As we move into the middle of the year, we are working more intentionally and personally with students on letter recognition, writing, and phonics. Monday's focus was on writing. We are working to help our students move from a palmar supinate grasp, or fisted grasp, to a tripod grasp or quadrupod grasp. These important developmental steps are achieved, not only through writing, but through almost every activity in Atelier! All of our sensory exploration, beading, painting, sculpting, and coloring servers to strengthen little hands. We were pleased to see so many of our students handling their pencils with confidence!

We wrapped up Monday, with a Smart Start favorite, Hide & Seek. Since we spent so much of the day talking about Christmas mice, we pretended to be quiet little creatures as we hid throughout the building. It's wonderful to hear almost all of our students counting to 30 without assistance!

We jumped right in to a project on Wednesday morning. Without knowing exactly what they were creating, Mrs. Debbie asked our students to cut out circles during our morning play time. Hhhhmmm. What could these circles be?

During Circle Time, we recalled our story from Monday and asked, "If you had a little Christmas mouse, where would you take it?"

After discussing all the wonderful places we could take a mouse, we talked about another Christmas classic that features mice....The Nutcracker. Using a beautiful pop-up books, we listened to The Nutcracker story. We talked about enchanted forests, dancing sugarplums, and toy soldiers who battle the Mouse King and his army of mice!

We could not talk about The Nutcracker with out exploring ballet! During Creative Movement, we got out the ballet barre and learned about foot positions. We learned to Plié [plee-AY] which means “bent, bending”. One of the most famous moves in Ballet. It refers to the bending of the knee or knees with strong turn out from feet, knees and hips. We also learned to Relevé [ruhl-VAY] which means “rising”. It is the rising on the toes or the balls of feet.

After warming up at the barre, we listened to selections from Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, The Nutcracker. We talked about how sometimes the music and movement are smooth. We tried moving through the space smoothly, like snowflakes drifting lightly to the ground.

Next, we listened to the part of the ballet where the Nutcracker battles the Mouse King. This music sounded sharp, so we made our movements sharp like soldiers.

We divided up and played the parts of toy soldiers and mice. We marched, pranced, spun, and leapt! Ballet battles are terrific fun!

In Atelier, we continued our Nutcracker theme. Students put their scissor skills to work creating beautiful snowflake ballerinas.

Those circles from earlier in the morning became ears for the sweet, Christmas mice that our students painted. Before picking up their brushes, Mrs. Debbie asked the students what two colors they thought we would need to mix to make gray. One said yellow and pink, another thought perhaps red and green, however, most thought that black and white would be best. They were each given a cup filled with black and white paint and asked to mix. They found that their prediction was correct!

We spent the rest of the day visiting stations and having lots of holiday fun!

On Friday, we spent some time talking about reindeer. These fascinating creatures, that we hear so much about at Christmastime, are truly remarkable!

We got out the globe and talked about the North Pole, where reindeer live. We demonstrated how the earth is tilted on it's axis and how it orbits the sun resulting in the change of seasons. (Chance was the leader on Friday so he got to be the sun.) The North Pole is always colder than what we are used to. We read about how the people who live in the far north bundle up and how they ride on dog sleds. We learned that reindeer have wide hooves so they can walk on slippery surfaces and that they dig down in the snow with their snouts to find mosses to nibble. We saw pictures of their antlers that are velvety soft in the spring and learned that they rub off the velvet and by late fall and winter their antlers are hard and smooth.

In Atelier, we made some reindeer of our own!

These little guys got lots of laughs! They kept falling over, nose first. We decided that they were just sticking their snouts in the snow to find some moss to munch.

More Friday fun...

Just a little bit more...

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