Farmington New Mexico

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Introduction to My Program And Methods of Teaching

The following blog posts include some information about my preschool and an example of the parent letters that I send out each week. I've been using the base of this curriculum for the last 14 years, tweaking and adding to it each time I go through it. Since I'm only teaching a 2 day a week program right now (Mon/Wed or Tues/Thurs), I get to pick and choose my favorite activities and worksheets each week. As you can imagine, there's so much to choose from, no two years will ever be exactly the same!

There are several methods of teaching the alphabet to young children, I prefer the one that introduces the letters randomly, not in alphabetical order. In the 1st year class they'll start learning the individual letter sounds, and the writing emphasis will be on learning to write their names, the uppercase letters and the numbers 1-10. Then the next year, when your child moves up to the 2nd year class, they'll start writing the lower case letters and also learning about letter/sound blends; ch, tr, sh, etc., and I'll begin introducing sight words and basic word families; cat, hat, sat, mat, through pocket charts and word walls.

Numbers are introduced in order, 1-9 then zero, then 10. I go over these numbers twice and then the rest of the year is spent reviewing multiple numbers each week (1-3, 4-6, etc.) and individually reviewing some of the more difficult to write numbers (3,5,8,and 9). The 2nd year class will continue past 10, into the teens and 20's and they'll start learning about skip counting; counting by 2's, 5's and 10's, as well as more advanced pre-K math concepts like basic addition and subtraction, breaking down word problems, etc.

As you can see in the following posts, we'll be doing some traditional preschool worksheets, math and phonics, art, and practicing cutting skills, etc. These papers will come home for you see each day, but we'll also be doing lots of hands on discovery through science experiments, sensory centers, kitchen cooking, fine motor skill builders, and large motor games, etc. These activities don't usually produce results that can be taken home at the end of the day. To keep you posted on your child's preschool experience, I'll e-mail you a short (sometimes long...) letter each week letting you know what activities we've done as well as the lyrics to any new songs we might be learning.

I like to schedule field trips for Friday mornings so that I don't have to cut out an entire day of curriculum each month. If this doesn't work with your schedule, please let me know and I'll coordinate with you to set up a carpool so that your child doesn't miss any field trips.

Thanks for your interest in my program! You can contact me at or by leaving a comment at the end of any post.

Preschool Information Packet

The Discovery Garden Preschool
Procedures and Policies


The Discovery Table will be set up for the children to explore as soon as they arrive. They are encouraged to examine and play with the items on the table as they discover what our theme for the week might be. These items will be different from week to week, and maybe even from day to day, depending on the scope of our theme. Sensory bins, sorting/sequencing cards, math and language activities as they relate to our theme, and many other hands on activities will be introduced during this time. The Discovery Table will also be set up and available during free play, and for a short time again at the end of the day, so there will be multiple opportunities for the children to interact with these items.
Circle Time begins with Calendar Time where I teach the days of the week, months of the year, and we discuss and add the daily forecast to our weather graph. Doing this, children learn how to identify concepts like most and least, and this also helps them to see that graphs and charts teach about the real world.  After Calendar Time I’ll introduce and discuss our weekly theme. In addition to these themes I’ll also introduce a letter, some words that begin with that letter, a number, a color, and a shape each week. Circle time is also when we’ll have singing time where I’ll introduce some new songs that tie into our thematic units, and where we’ll sing some of our old favorites too. I’ll e-mail you a weekly letter detailing our classroom activities and any important announcements; I’ll also include the lyrics and tunes to the new songs we’re learning so that you can sing them with your child too.
When circle time ends we’ll move on to Table Time to start the daily curriculum. There will be a math and phonics worksheet to reinforce the concepts introduced during circle time and this will also correspond to our weekly theme…. for example if our unit is “The Ocean” and the number is 6 the children would be asked to color or circle 6 Starfish and then they would be given the opportunity to practice writing the number 6 on their worksheet. If the letter is S, they may be asked to draw a line from the letter S to all the pictures that begin with the S sound and their choices would be things like starfish, seashells, salt, etc. Other skills will be covered at this time as well, such as cutting and pasting, rhyming, patterns, sequencing and conceptual worksheets (opposites, between, over/under, longest/shortest, etc.)
Following Table Time the children will participate in a Science Project or an Art Activity that ties into our weekly theme. If our unit is “Dinosaurs” then the science project would consist of making fossils…using plaster of Paris, sand and toy dinosaurs. Using hands-on learning techniques the children would discover how fossils were created as well as how scientists excavate and restore dinosaur bones today. The Art Activity might focus on sculpting and painting dinosaur eggs, or creating dinosaur footprint art. During Art, the main focus will always be on creativity and individual results, with the goal being to explore as many different mediums as possible. The end result is never as important as the process.
Snack Time each day will be provided by me, and will consist of a fruit or vegetable mixed with a whole grain snack or dairy. When possible our theme will be incorporated into our snack time…goldfish/whale crackers when discussing the ocean, celery with raisins (flies on a log) when learning about insects, etc. With water or milk to drink.
After snack time everyone will move on to Free Play, this will re-enforce sharing, patience, and cooperation, and it will also give your child the chance to interact with other children while they have the opportunity to develop their social skills in a familiar setting. Any one of the following is considered free play: access to all the toys, books and puzzles, specific centers and toys added to enhance our weekly thematic units, and outside play when the weather permits, also enriched with unit specific toys.
When Free Play is over, we will have Activity Time. Activity Time will include one of the following; Music and Movement, Cooking in the Kitchen, Creative Writing, Story Boards, Game Time, Play Acting as a group, Class Room Visitors like dentists, firemen, policemen, etc.
After Activity Time, we’ll conclude with Story Time. There should be time to read anywhere from 1 to 3 books depending on the length of our other activities. These books will be related to our theme, and will be repeated often during the month to increase familiarity.

Registration Fees are due the first week of May or at the time of enrollment if after May. This fee reserves your child’s spot and pays for their individual supplies as well as shared classroom supplies and fieldtrips.

Tuition is due on the first school day of each month. If your child misses a day, I’ll put together a folder which will include their daily work and any other activities they may have missed that day, but there will not be a credit for missed days. I don’t believe you should have to pay for a preschool day when it falls on a holiday; some months will have reduced rates because of this.

Field trip opportunities will be available almost monthly if a minimum of 3 parents can volunteer to carpool and help with supervision. Most fieldtrips are free, but if there is a cost, it will be covered by your monthly tuition and registration fee.
These are some of the fieldtrips that we’ve taken in the past.
Pumpkin Patch
Turkey farm and animal museum at Bolack’s
*Bolack’s requires that every child be accompanied by a parent in order to participate*
Animal Shelter to drop off donations and visiting a Nursing Home to donate a Christmas tree
Fire station
Park Picnic and Egg Hunt
Berg Park Nature Center

Birthdays will be celebrated with a birthday song, a crown and small gift for the birthday child. The Birthday Child will also be the classroom helper for the day. If your child would like to bring a birthday treat to share with their friends, please package it in such a way that it can be taken home and enjoyed after lunch.

Days Off: I’ll be following the Farmington Municipal School District Calendar, when the schools are not in session neither am I!

Holiday Celebrations:
October Halloween will be celebrated with a small party, treats and games. Costumes and props are welcome if they do not prevent your child from using the bathroom!
November Thanksgiving will be celebrated with a feast, and a small skit of the 1st Thanksgiving.
December Christmas will be celebrated with a small class party, a service project and a book gift exchange.
February Valentines Day will be celebrated with a class valentine exchange and a small party.
April  Easter will be celebrated with a class picnic and an Easter Egg hunt at the park.
May Last day of school party and hat signing with an evening Graduation/Presentation… Graduation for the 2nd year class who will be attending Kindergarten in the fall and a Presentation for the 1st year class to show off some of their newly acquired skills!

What We Discovered This Week!

This week we learned all about the letter X, the number 7 and the shape Octagon. We also talked about Community Helpers, with a special emphasis on Mail Carriers, Police Officers, Doctors, Dentists, and Firemen.
We played "Stop and Go" and "Red Light, Green Light" and snacked on graham cracker/frosting/M&M stoplights. We made X art and discovered how to make music with a water xylophone. Thanks to M's mom for supplying the jars!

The letter X is very tricky! The proper sound to teach to preschoolers is the "ks" sound made at the end of words like box and fox, but X also makes the X sound like in x-ray, and of course the number one picture in every children's book shows it making the Zzzz sound in Xylophone. So in preschool, while I point out all three sounds, my main focus is to teach them the "ks" sound. We've spent all year learning to listen to sounds at the beginning of words, learning how to listen for the sound at the end of a word takes some practice. It's been different, but everyone seemed to catch on really quickly this week.

We practiced writing letters, putting them into envelopes and stamping them. Then we pretended to be mail carriers, taking mail out of mailboxes, to the post office, and then bringing new mail back to the mailboxes. We talked about how the weather doesn't stop the mail; even when it's raining and snowing the mail carriers still bring us our mail. Hopefully everyone received their letters, (I sent them out on Monday) and got a chance to see their mailboxes in action!

We had a visit from Sheriff Dave this week. He showed us some of his special tools; handcuffs, radio, taser, pepper spray, and his police car with flashing lights and siren. Thanks so much to S's mom and dad for setting that up! We discovered our fingerprints, and examined them under the magnifying glasses and learned that everyone's fingerprints are different.

We talked about Doctors and Dentists, and we got to see some real X-rays. We made bone print art and played with the Dr. toys during playtime and even took turns dressing up as the Doctor when we acted out the song "3 Little Monkeys". We played with the "Dr. Office Shadow Matching", and "Band-aid Number Match" cards, and played Doctor to the stuffed animals in our classroom while learning that animal doctors are called Vets.

Our field trip on Friday to the fire station was so much fun and I'm glad so many of you were able to come with us!