Omaha Public Schools Title 1 News
Be our guest as we visit various Omaha Public Schools Title I
Schoolwide Pre-Kindergarten rooms throughout the school year. Today's
featured room is at King Elementary. Let's take a look
at what goes on inside. You are sure to be impressed with the
accomplishments of these young students. So come on aboard our tour.
This learning experience is one you should not miss!
Small Group-The groups may be small but the goals are lofty, i.e. implement a teaching plan that will allow all children to learn and improve. The class is divided into three sections; reading and writing, math/science, and independent play. Each group has children of different ability levels. All groups rotate so as to experience all three stations. Haynes likes this time because it allows for direct, individualized instruction.
The workbook, My Letters Book, has the attention of the reading and writing group. Slender fingers clutch pecils as students intently attempt to write lower and upper case letters. Words are then formed, followed by the ever-enjoyable endeavor of cutting and pasting accompanying pictures. There is some frustration but mainly determination as more word power is attained.
Parents: Writing is a very impotant component of the educational process. Have your child practice writing thank you notes, descriptions of drawings, or creative stories.
Small Group continued-Creativity meets math and science as paraprofessional Lenhardt helps illustrate the life-cycle of a frog. First the students describe the cycle on a four-panel paper. Next, the words come to life with the help of a sponge and green paint. This sequencing lesson almost seems to jump off the page. The individualized help all clasmates get here helps bring together many subject disciplines into a cohesive theme. And it's also a heck of a lot of fun.
The third group over at the block area is relatively quiet, but don't be fooled. A lot is being accomplished. Castles and houses are being erected, frog ponds are being constructed, and inventions not yet marketed are tinkered with in this creative zone.
Parents: Start your own creative zone. Check out a book from the library that has ideas for crafts to make at home.
Fine Motor- The proclamation goes out to all the inhabitants of this pre-kindergarten kingdom:"It is now time to engage in Playdough™ exercises". An immediate and enthusiastic "Yay!" arises from the throng...If you haven't guessed by now, these small folks love to work with Playdough. It provides great enjoyment to them to form colorful shapes and letters and then smoosh it all into a big ball and start over again.
You can bet money that they don't give a thought to the fact that the manipulation and effort they give their digits to form that moldable clay builds the same muscles and fine motor skills that are used in handling a writing utensil.
Parents: This class also plays with puzzles during this time. Start your child on puzzles with large pieces and gradually work up to puzzles with smaller and more numerous pieces.
Music and Movement-Frogs, frogs, and more frogs. The project for the month continues in an interactive way. The "Frog Song" is brought to life as one student becomes the "green and speckled log for the green and speckled frogs". He does a stellar job of role playing, which Haynes has all of her charges particpate in at this time slot throughout the year. Even the most shy and reserved classmate belts out the kid-friendly tune today and counts down the disappearing amphibians. This is probably one of the most fun ways these kids will learn concepts such as memorization, following directions. and counting.
Parents: Become your own Broadway musical producer and director at home. All it takes is a box full of old clothes and a little space. Encourage your child to dress up and act out a made-up scene. Don't worry if your child doesn't want to sing, as long as they create some fashion of dialog. You will help build language skills and creativity-two much needed attributes in this age of technology.
Lunch- It's the midpoint of the day of this all-day pre-kindergarten. Time for lunch. In a lesson on what it is like to be one of the "big boys" or "big girls" of the older grades, this group will march from their room at one end of the building to the cafeteria on the other end. Paraprofessional Lenhardt gives the command to "give yourself a hug and zip the lips" and the instructions are followed flawlessly. Hands are kept to selves and all is quiet as the straight line proceeds down the tiled pathway.
Once at the serving counter, yummy nourishment choices await. Most opt for the soft shell taco, beans, and jello. A few want the turkey sandwich. All are polite, with many saying "no, thank you" and "can you help me, please?" at the appropriate situation. "From day one, we have encouraged them to use good manners," said Lenhardt. It shows as all take their trash to the waste barrel, return to their seat and use "inside voices". They prove they fit in this "big kid" environment.
Parents: Before going out to eat, rehearse good manners at your own table. Role play being a sever and a patron. Show them what is the proper behavior for dining in a public establishment.
Gross Motor/Recess- The joint really gets jumping as it's time to burn off a little energy. Educators know this is an important way to refine gross motor skills through playful movement. This group in the four-year-old-range will take that concept and run with it-literally. The room is filed with jumping, running, laughter and merriment. The game "Hide the Tambourine" is a real hit. Excited youngsters scurry about hunting for the hidden instrument.Once found, the winner shakes it with a force of joy. "Freeze Dance" is as good as any aerobic class as they gyrate and groove to tunes and then have to freeze when prompted. You might also see junior square dancers doesy-doe to some mean fiddle playing if the song "Old Brass Wagon" is the current selection.
Parents: Building a healthy body goes hand in hand with building a healthy mind. Encourage some form of exercise or movement each day.
Reading-How do you calm down the revved-up motors of pre-kindergarteners? Reading. All in Haynes' class independently pick out a book and find a space to peruse some fine literature. Frog books are popular, but with so many choices available, all students find a book that will keep them interested. Adults look on with pride as the young students use their emerging literacy skills of sound and letter recognition to make sense of the reasdings. The love of literature is nurtured and developed during this section of the day. Children here know the pleasure of holding a world of pictures and words in the palm of their hands.
Parents: Students who love literature stand a good chance of attaining their highest potential in the classroom. Read to your child everday for at least fifteen minutes. Before bedtime might work well as it has a calming effect on many children.
Rest-All is quiet. Soft music mingles with the sounds of deep, slow breathing (and a few snores). It's hard work learning so many new ideas and now is the time for little learners to recharge energy supplies. Each child grabs a mat and finds a site to snooze. The styles of sleep are as unique as is each person. One puts personal belongings next to the mat as he would at the foot of the bed. Another is completely cocooned in a red blanket. Under a large Kids Are Special banner lies an angelic-looking boy snuggled in a bear print wrap.
The time for activity soon comes and slumber must end. With the cue line of "Hit it!", the Helper of the Day flips the llights on. To dulcet tones, the words "Rise and shine, welcome to school" help awaken everyone. Some pop right up, rubbing their eyes as they put away their mat. Others need a little more encouragement.
Parents: Form a consistent bedtime routine for your child. This will help ensure your child gets enough sleep. A well-rested child is better able to concentrate and learn in class.
Learning Centers- Those sitting quietly on their space on the rug are the first to be chosen for Centers. It's a "Free Choice" activity, meaning each student must "use your words" to select activity areas. Two choices are allowed for twenty-five minutes each. The room is a beehive of activity as each student excitedly engages in a learning station. The selection is impressive; computer, art, toys and games, blocks, dramtic play, discovery, sand and water, library. The benefits are impressive, too. Social skills, which are lilfe-long skills, are improved. Language is cultivated through extended conversations with playmates. Don't forget they also use logical thinking, imagination, fine motor skills...no wonder the previous rest break was important. There's an immense amount of brain power being exercised.
During Centers the adults are kept busy, too. Lenhardt observes students to chart the progress and assess skills. These findings are filed in an assessment portfolio which tracks different skill areas of each student. Haynes meets with students to help them in skill areas that need improvement.
Parents: Keep a variety of games and materials at hand to engage your child's mind. Non-electronic activities (writing, drawing, blocks, outside games) are the best to build fine and gross motor skills and stimulate the imagination. Don't forget board games to promote the good habits of folowing instructions and working with others. Keep TV usage to a minimum. Studies show it does not stimulate the brain as much as hands-on games and activities.
Snack-The manners learned at lunch carry over to snack time. Hands are folded on laps while the day's munchables are distributed. And, as the sounds from the mouths of these babes proves, the munchables are usually crunchable. Goldfish crackers, cereal, and graham crackers are some of the delicious treats from the grain family served up. The diners communicate with each other about what are healthy foods to eat. It ties in nicely with previous lessons on staying well and staying safe.
Parents: Healthy snacks are good sources of energy to keep children active and alert throughout the day. Stick with whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. Keep portions small so main meals can still be enjoyed.
Journal-The teacher asks, "What did you do in Pre-K today?" Observers might reply, "You got an hour?" The students have less time to respond. Each correspondent has a personalized spiral notebook to record their recollections of the events of the day. As each goes to their own space for a few moments of recollection, quiet envelopes the space. The solitude of the writing craft is exemplified in this disciplined routine.
Parents: Every ride home from school should include the question, "What did you learn in Pre-K today?" Memory and recall can be developed in the brain just as physical exercise helps develop the body. Check the parent information board for upcomoing events, lunch menus, and goals for the class.
Closing Circle-Journals are checked, a final story is read, and a goodbye song is sung. The day has been one full of discovery and adventure, a few tears and smiles, and enough love from caring adults to fill all the youngster's hearts.
Dismissal-The closing curtain is about to fall on the day's production. A veritable backpack brigade stands in line, ready to be escorted to designated rides. The all-day Pre-K at Kellom is concluded, but more adventures in learning are awaiting as sure as the day will dawn the next morn.
Parents: Please check your child's backpack every day for work they have done and announcements from the teacher. This is a good way to keep communication open between parents and school.