Welcome to the May edition of the Downey upBeat and our final one for the 2015-16 school year. We hope you and your family have had a great experience at Downey Co-op. Enjoy the many photos in this newsletter, and have a great summer!
The month of May is here. Only a few short weeks of preschool remain. As we wrap up the preschool year, here are a few notes and reminders.
Please return Family Job Folders to the preschool. We pass out job folders each year so returning them saves us time and resources. You can place them in Erin’s or my mailbox or place them on the heat register under the yellow mailboxes (just outside of Century Hall).
Soon a survey will come to you through email. The survey helps the Downey Board members and teachers know how to grow and improve the preschool for all members. Please take the time to fill out the survey.
Be sure to mark your calendar for Thursday, May 26, the end-of-the-year picnic and 50th Anniversary gathering. More details will be coming soon about this fun and exciting event.
The last day of preschool for the T/TH Tadpoles and Polliwogs is Thursday, May 26, and the last day for W/F Tadpoles and Frogs is Friday, May 27.
The Downey Co-op Farmer’s Market booth needs you! This is a great way for Downey to share preschool information with the community. We set up a welcoming and playful booth where children and parents can stop in for a break. We have information about Downey for families to take, and we answer questions about our preschool. The market is a fun time to socialize with members of the community and shop the market, too. Please sign up to help with our booth. (Shifts are short.) http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0c4daea622a3f94-2016
And last but not least, the Downey fun, play, and learning doesn’t stop at the end of May! Over the summer, we will have a weekly Downey Play Date at Ellenberger Park. Invite family, friends, and neighbors to join in the fun. Look for a schedule in the weeks to come.
Editor’s Note: On behalf of everyone at Downey, we want to give a very special THANK YOU to Mindy for her outstanding service as president for the past two years. All of her time, hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated, and the foundation of the school is strengthened as a result of her tenure. Job well done, Mindy!
The Frogs explored more of their artistic sides during the month of April. We read books about different artists and their techniques and then tried some of those techniques out for ourselves.
We took a trip to the Indiana Museum of Art and were introduced to different pieces in the museum while on our tour. While at the museum, the question of how paint is made came up so we tried creating a couple of different types of paint when we were back in class…crushing chalk to make our own “chalk paint” ended up being a huge hit!
The Polliwogs spent the month of April enjoying the signs of spring. The children explored rain clouds, created our own flowers and sorted and patterned different colors of insects.
Ms. Jen brought in some of her families chickens for us to meet and touch.
We finished the month with a fun trip to the Central Library to hear and act out the story The Big Note while listening to members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra play their instruments.
I really don’t know where April went. We definitely had the “April showers”, so hopefully we’ll have the “May flowers” to follow.
Tadpoles are continuing with spring exploration. I hope to throw in some insects and dinosaurs, too. We will soon go on our first field trip. Tadpoles will take a trek to the Irvington Library on May 10 and 13 for a private story time. (I will need two extra helpers on each day.) We’ll have our story time, then head back to school for snack, and that will be our day.
We’ll also have an inside/outside day with the Polliwogs and Frogs. This gives the Tadpoles a chance to visit the big classroom, and the Polliwogs and Frogs a chance to relive the good ole days.
Thank you to all my families for your patience, time, talent, and support…all the meals, rides, and subbing for me when I wasn’t feeling well. I couldn’t have managed it without you. Downey families are one of a kind, and I am so grateful to be a part of our school.
Thanks for letting me teach your children, and thanks for choosing Downey.
Thank you, Downey Church!
This past weekend, we were able to host a coffee for the Downey Christian Church members immediately following their Sunday service. We had a great morning and were able to take a moment to thank the members for allowing us to be their partners at Downey. We remain fortunate to be affiliated with an organization so committed to service and to caring for the community.
We completed our parent education workshops for this year with a Pediatric First Aid course on April 25. If you participated in the course, you will receive a certification card. They are in the mail to Downey as our newsletter goes to press, so look for them soon in your school mailbox.
Early Literacy: What does “writing” look like in preschool?
Earlier this spring, we shared some highlights about reading from our early literacy parent education workshop. As promised, here are some insights from the second half of our discussion: What does “writing” look like at this age, and how can we support our child’s development as a young writer?
Perhaps the most surprising thing about teaching writing in preschool is that it doesn’t actually look anything like what most of us imagine when we hear the word writing. It isn’t about putting letters on a piece of paper to form words and sentences. On the contrary, to raise an effective communicator who can use words and sentences to persuade, inform and entertain, what we need to focus on in these early years is more about the art of storytelling. We want to embed the qualities of good storytelling in our children — understanding that a story has characters and settings, that something happens to those characters in those places, that there’s a consistent focused topic that we can follow through the length of the story, etc.
You can practice the art of storytelling at home, inviting your preschooler to retell the true stories of his life as well as inventing fictional ones.
I like to look for organic and authentic ways to practice this, so perhaps after reading a book about a trip to the zoo, I might say, “Hey, we went to the zoo on spring break. Let’s imagine what a book about our trip to the zoo might sound like. Can you help me think about that?”
I might then use an unofficial “5 finger strategy” to help us organize and focus our thinking, helping a child recall (roughly) 5 things about that trip.
“What did we do to get ready for that trip to the zoo? We packed the wagon into our car and loaded it with our water bottles and sunscreen (1). Then what did we do? We drove to the zoo — oh yeah, and you insisted on singing “Animal Action” the whole way there (2)!”
I continue in this way, prompting the next part of the story (or keeping it on topic) with questions as needed, and sometimes helping think of a detail or two to elaborate on a step and make the story more interesting. All the while, I’m counting out each of the five steps on the fingers of one hand, sort of demonstrating a strategy my preschooler can use on her own, too.
It is also helpful to have materials around that encourage children to “make books.” You can take 2-3 sheets of plain paper and fold them in half to make a booklet and staple it in the center—Voila, a blank book to be filled with her story! We read books in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so we make blank books in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, too: a small stack of index cards stapled or taped together on one side, full 8.5″x11″ pages stapled on one side, etc. You can encourage your child to “pick the size that feels right for the story you want to tell.” As our young writers develop, it is fun to watch how the shape and size of the blank books they choose affect the content of their stories!
In the earliest years, children may fill these “blank books” with mostly scribbles, but you can still ask them to “read” you the story they created and take the opportunity to introduce or reinforce the concepts that make a story. As children become more sophisticated writers, they will learn to use pictures as the symbols for what they want to express, making their books start to look more like wordless picture books. And in due time, they will begin to write words and sentences, too, and this will add yet another level of sophistication to their storytelling.
50th Anniversary for Downey Co-0p Preschool!
Later this month, we will celebrate this very special milestone for our preschool. Please contact Mindy or Erin to see how you can help.