Omaha Public Schools Title 1 News
Welcome. Be our guest as we visit various Omaha Public School Title 1
Schoolwide Pre-Kindergarten rooms throughout the school year. Today's
special room is at Castelar Elementary.
Let's take a look at what goes on inside. All of us at Title I are
proud to show you what we have done and the wonderful things the
children have accomplished. So come on aboard our tour. This learning
experience is one you shouldn't miss!
Breakfast-It is 8:30 a.m. at Castelar
Elementary and the multi-purpose room is already packed. Students sit
at long white tables, partaking in what is arguably one of the most
important activities in which to start the day - Breakfast. The
pre-kindergarten students in Nicole Buchholz's class like to sit with an
older sibling as they munch on a wide variety of morsels. Some choose
cinnamon rolls and milk. Others are partial to cereal and milk, with a
juice box or graham cracker topping off their entree. The noise level
among this large gathering is moderate as most work on finishing their
Parents: Studies have proven that
children who eat breakfast are better prepared to participate to their
full potential at school than those who skip the meal. Whole grains
from cereals or graham crackers supply carbohydrates needed to provide
energy throughout the day. A serving of milk contains the proteins
necessary to fuel muscles and brain function. Make breakfast an
integral part of your child's morning.
Arrival-You might say this is the
warm-up time before the official opening of the school day. As they
filter into the room, the little students find their chairs. Waiting
for them are crayons and a worksheet featuring the letter of the week,
'Z', starring Mr. Zachary the Zebra. His color makeover is part of the
classroom curriculum called Animated Literacy. The concept, according
to Buchholz, teaches letter sounds with gestures that incorporates songs
and alphabet characters. Specific gestures performed with each sound
activates memory for that letter. For the letter 'Z', pretending to use
a zipper while singing fun songs is pure play to the four-year-olds.
However, their savvy teacher knows it's an effective way to build
Parents: Hand/arm motions combined
with songs help children learn and retain information. Make up your
own song about an alphabet letter, or ask your child's teacher for some
Small Group-Three small groups, hands-on
tasks, more individualized time with a caring adult..."How sweet!" as
one participant aptly put it. Two of the rotations each group will visit
tie into the farm unit they have been studying.
One of the stations is for independent activities that
bolsters fine motor skills and promotes sharing. On this morning, the
group pitched in to create a course of tunnels and trails with special
blocks. Wide-eyed faces followed marbles racing through the course they
Over on the brightly adorned carpet, Buchholz commences an
activity capturing everyone's attention. Now, from a child's viewpoint,
it's a pretty cool event to read about Old MacDonald's farm from a huge
book. Cooler still is getting to wear animal cut outs, sing the song
"Old MacDonald", and make farm animal sounds. Buchholz thinks it's cool,
too, that her charges were able to write a story about farm animals
using appropriate names, chart the correct critters that belong there,
and sound out the letters. This follow-up to previous lessons was a
rousing success for all in this imaginary barnyard
Small Group continued- Paraprofessional
Gabby Ramirez leads a third group in a memory game. The youngsters had
no problem becoming totally engrossed in studying the face down cards as
they tried to match a mother farm animal to her correct baby. Ramirez
built vocabulary skills in her students by gently insisting on the
proper names for both mother and baby. "Pony" was acceptable, not
"horsey", for a baby horse. After all the reenforcement to the farm unit
theme, these promising ranch hands had no trouble rustling up the
animal cards, correctly grouping them by similar characteristics.
Start your own creative zone. Check out a book from the library that has
ideas for crafts to make at home. Keep a variety a games and materials
at hand to engage your child's mind. Nonelectronic activities (writing,
drawing, blocks, toy animals) are the best to build fine & gross
motor skills and stimulate the imagination. Don't forget board games to
promote the good habits of following 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-It takes a lot of energy to run
the young mind as it constantly absorbs and processes a barrage of new
information. Now's the perfect time in the day for a pit stop to
recharge the fuel stores of this Pre-K group. A big "Thank you!" goes to
the parents for donating the snacks that make this break possible.
Their support gives a constant supply of apples, graham crackers,
cookies, juice and other treats that enable the kids to keep up their
high energy levels.
Offering healthy snacks is good way to teach your child about proper
nutrition. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables promote good health.
Keep foods high in sugar and fat to a minimum.
successful Pre-K venture into the "great outdoors" requires some
important rules. First is "Lips and Hips", that is, keep a finger to the
lips to be quiet in the halls and place a hand on the hips to keep
hands to ones self. The next rule is to try to put on coats and hats
independently. Those that do are rewarded by Buchholz cheering, "You did
it by yourself! Give me a High Five!"
Once outside, the playground is abuzz with nonstop motion;
climbing, running, swinging, throwing, sliding. A trip through the
multilevel play set develops gross motor skills, especially balance and
coordination. "Plays well with others" is not just some trite saying at
this locale. It is an attribute formed, refined, and practiced here. You
hear it in the laughter and camaraderie. You see it as playmates help
one another across swinging obstacles or wait a turn down the slide.
Parents:Building a healthy body goes hand in hand with
building a healthy mind. Encourage some form of exercise or movement
my friend, it's time to go. It was nice to be with you. Goodbye." The
joyful noise of young voices in songs such as this one rings throughout
the room. Phonemic awareness is the goal here, but an exuberant
demonstration of language and memory skills comes through loud and
clear. (Note: Phonemic awareness is the ability to distinguish small
units of language-the m of mat from the b of bat, for example.)
Parents: Dollar stores and
discount bins at some retail chains offer children's musical tapes and
CDs at reasonable prices. Singing along to them is fun way for a
youngster to practice language