We're Off to a Smart Start! Weeks 1 & 2
Welcome to Smart Start 2020-2021!
This year is teaching us all how to adapt, get creative, and thrive despite the challenges. Our adaptation means not one, but two sweet little preschool pods. While things look and feel much different this year, we are so happy to be back in our Smart Start home!
If you are new to Smart Start, welcome to the blog! This is where we will periodically post pictures, videos, stories, and updates on what we're learning and what's happening in our early arts center. We love giving parents and grandparents a peek inside the classroom. There is so much joy in these early years of exploration and discovery. We do our best to capture those moments and share them with you.
Now, be prepared. Today's post is going to be LOADED, but there were just so many great moments to share. Today, I'll give a fairly detailed account of our day. If you are new to Smart Start, this will give you a better idea of our flow and what your child is experiencing day-to-day. If you've been here before, enjoy the photos!
We begin each day with "Play Invitations". The play environment is itself a teacher and an invitation to learning. This time of imaginative play is so important for setting the tone and welcoming each child. As we play, read, or create we talk, connect, and begin introducing our theme for the week. These times almost always lead to some sort of spontaneous learning and discovery. For example, last week, reading a book about reptiles led to marking out the length of the longest alligator ever documented. This week, disinfecting the tables and toys led to weighing the wipes and then helping to wash the dishes!
After Morning Play, we head to the Discovery Center. We begin this time with calendar and weather followed by our Letter of the Week and Alphabet Movers. This week we introduced the letter "A".
Once we wrap up our daily Calendar & Weather routine, we really get into the theme for the week. This week's theme was "Sounds Around". We talked about the sounds we hear outside in nature, inside in our classroom, outside when we're in a city and so many other sounds that are all around. We explored how sounds are made and even made some sounds of our own.
After our time of exploration, we wrap up our time in the Discovery Center gathered around the Story Stump.
Each day we ask our students a question. Each day's question is connected to our theme or the letter of the week and it gives our students an opportunity to express what they think or feel about things. The questions are invitations to exploration and are often the jumping-off point for our journals or a way to graph or chart the answers. During Journal Time, the students are given a prompt and then they draw, sketch, paint, color, etc. their ideas. Once their art is complete, they share their words with us and we write them on the page. This is so important! They are learning to connect ideas with art, spoken words, writing, and story-telling. These moments of self-expression build confidence and release so much joy! They love to tell their stories and are learning how wonderful it is to listen to others.
Snack time is so much fun! We all eat together, family-style. We encourage lots of talking and story-telling. So many things that forge friendship, active-listening, and sharing are learned around the table.
We finish the day with Center Time. During Center Time, our Imaginative Play and Building Centers are open as well as the Art Center. Center Time also features additional activities or discovery tables connected with the week's theme. This week, students really got into painting! We also did a guided chalk pastel bird's nest with Ms. Deb and enjoyed homemade playdough! (Ms. Debbie made everyone their own special playdough because, well, COVID. Thanks, Ms. Deb!)
We try to seize opportunities when they present themselves. This week, since our theme was "Sounds Around" we could not pass up the opportunity to check out some BIG machines that were making BIG sounds right in front of our building!
We want to make sure our students see themselves as artists because THEY ARE! We keep a running classroom gallery going all year. Our little artists see their work displayed right alongside Picasso and Kandinsky and we hope the result is that they grow in their confidence as artists and never stop creating.
Those chalk pastel bird nests are kind of a big deal! Ms. Debbie led our young artists through the process (that's an important concept!) of creating these works of art. We were so pleased with their ability to listen and follow along step-by-step. Our students are already off to a smashing start and we cannot wait to see how they will grow and develop throughout the year.