Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oral Language and Beginning Reading Skills

Oral Language: Expanding Your Child's Vocabulary
By: West Bloomfield Township Public Library (2006)
Talking to your child helps expand vocabulary, develop background knowledge, and inspire a curiosity about the world – all of which help with learning to read! Here are some simple activities you can do at home to get your child ready to read.

What reading experts say

Reading and talking with children plays an important role in developing their vocabulary. Typically, more words are used in written language than in spoken language. The more you read to children, the larger vocabulary they will develop. Research has shown children learn new words by:
Hearing a word over and over.
Hearing words spoken by the important people in their lives: Mom, Dad, siblings, grandparents.
Hearing words in a meaningful context – during conversation at dinner, in the car, while playing and while reading.
"Rephrase and extend your child's words, ask a clarifying question (tell me more about the man you saw), model more complex vocabulary or sentence structure (yes, I see the tall skyscraper you built with lots of windows), and ask open-ended questions," says Susan Hall and Louisa Moats of Straight Talk About Reading.

What good readers know

Good readers have a diverse vocabulary. They ask questions when they are unclear about what a word means, they use the context of a conversation or the happenings in a book to decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words and they use varied vocabulary in referring to familiar objects (this bird is big, but this elephant is gigantic).

What parents can do to help children Grow Up Reading™

Create or learn songs to expand your child's vocabulary. Use songs to describe your daily routines, periodically adding new verses that include new vocabulary words.
Read stories such as The Three Bears or Three Billy Goats Gruff. Act out the stories using small, medium and large stuffed animals. Find other items in your home that are large, medium and small. Ask your child to classify the items according to size.
Play "I Spy" with your child using words that describe an object's position. ("I spy something on the carpet, in front of the couch, next to the dog.") Expand this activity by playing "Simon Says" using directional words. ("Simon says put your hand above your head.")
Keep a journal. Spend some time every night discussing your activities from the day. Introduce new vocabulary words by elaborating on the day's activities. Write down your child's impressions of the day.
Bonus Activities

"The Picky Puppet"
Using a favorite puppet, explain that the puppet is picky – he only likes things that start with a certain letter. For example, "he only likes things that start with the letter T." Give your child some examples of things that begin with the letter. Then have your child look around the house (or around the neighborhood during a walk) and tell you things that begin with that letter. Introduce a new letter for the puppet to be picky about each day.
When learning about writing letters of the alphabet, give your child many opportunities to write or trace letters in a variety of media. Use a sand table to trace letters, write letters in shaving cream or finger paint, make letters out of play dough and pipe cleaners.
Create a "spinning wheel" using two cardboard circles of different sizes and a brass fastener. On the outer wheel write uppercase letters; on the inner wheel write lower case letters. Punch holes in the center of each circle and fasten them together. Have your child spin the wheel to practice matching upper and lower case letters.
Make an alphabet caterpillar by writing each letter of the alphabet on a circle and having your child put the caterpillar together in alphabetical order. Attach two pipe cleaners to the "A" circle to make the caterpillar's head.
Great Books to Read

Alphabet books are useful because they:
Support oral language development
Help children learn letter sequence
Help children associate a sound with a letter
Can help children build vocabulary
(from Phonics from A to Z: a practical guide, Blevins, 1998)

The links below to are provided for your convenience. A portion of your purchase helps support Reading Rockets. Thank you!
Matthew ABC by Peter Catalanotto
Cowboy ABC by Chris L. Demarest
Dog's ABC: A Silly Story About the Alphabet by Emma Dodd
Alphabears: An ABC Book by Kathleen Hague
Toot & Puddle: Puddle's ABC by Holly Hobbie
Kipper's A to Z: An Alphabet Adventure by Mick Inkpen
What Pete Ate from A to Z by Maira Kalman
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.
ABC T-Rex by Bernard Most
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
So Many Bunnies: A Bedtime ABC and Counting Book by Rick Walter

This article came from Reading Rockets. Reading Rockets is an excellent resource for parents and teachers on reading skills. and past the following link for more information:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is a developmentally appropriate classroom

It is the time of year when many preschool teachers answer the question what exactly is a developmentally appropriate classroom and what will my child learn in your program? I think this video does a nice job explaining what a developmentally appropriate program is and what it should look like. I'm very proud to say this is what happens in the Burlington Integrated Preschool.

As part of our unit Wind and Water the children listened to the story "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keates. Here is a video of the story to enjoy with your children.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beautiful Junk

We will soon begin unit 4 of our new curriculum "Opening our World to Learning." The following is a list of beautiful junk that will help the teachers provide the students with hands on developmentally appropriate lessons that go hand and hand with unit 4 "The World of Color". If you can provide any of the following supplies please send them to school with your child. Anything that you want returned at the end of the unit make sure you label the supplies you want returned.

Fruit and vegetable juice bottles (empy and washed out)
seed/bulb catalogs

airmail envelopes

plastic tubing

wire whisks

plastic ice cream scooper

drawstring laundry bags

paper doilies

heart shaped stickers

Books: ( we will return at the end of the unit)
information books about fruits and vegetables. flowers, animals and flags of different countries
Alphabet picutre books.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What is an integrated preschool

The Burlington Integrated Preschool held it’s open house this past Thursday and we had a great turn out. It was wonderful to meet new prospective students and parents and to answer questions about the program. One question that came up over and over again is: How will my typically developing student benefit from an integrated setting and how can we assure that his/her needs will be met? This is a great question and I always enjoy answering it. I think if we start by explaining what an integrated preschool is it will assist in providing an answer .
An integrated preschool classroom is comprised of 7 students with identified special needs and 8 students that are developing along a normal continuum. The classrooms are capped at 15 and can’t exceed that number at any time. Each classroom is staffed with a master’s level teacher certified in early childhood special needs, a teaching assistant that has a bachelor’s degree and an additional teacher’s assistant. Many of the assistants also have college degrees. Incorporated into the program are additional specialist staff members, including a speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. The teaching staff is highly trained with a specialization in early childhood development.

Children without disabilities, although developing along a normal development continuum, still possess strengths and weakness and need to continue to work on mastery of fine and gross development and language development. However, one of the biggest benefits is that they acquire a broader understanding of accepting differences. Children learn at a very young age that there is something special about each and every one of us and that those qualities need to be celebrated. The child whose language that might not be developing the way it should be could be a rock star in the motor room. The child whose language is developing normally may be apprehensive with motor skills and may need guidance and support in that area. Each child has unique abilities that are shared and celebrat ed. All the research shows us that children without disabilities benefit just as much as children with special needs.

One wonderful quality about children is their ability to take things at face value and not harbor predjudices or preconceived ideas. The child that needs the walker to help him walk is just as special and important to the classroom as the child that is agile on his/her feet. When you look around the integrated classrooms, it’s difficult to distinguish the children with special needs from the typically developing children. All children are special to us and are treated equally. All children not only acquire and master the skills that will make them successful in kindergarten but they also acquire the social skills that will help them be accepting of all people and be more well rounded adults. I have included our program overview for people to review. Take a minute to read it and then ask yourself the following questions: What are the skills that are important to me for my preschooler to learn; What are the life lessons that I want my child to learn as he/she goes out into the world? Remember childhood is a journey not a race. There is no need to rush our children through it. Time goes fast enough as it is!

The program’s curriculum is designed to promote children’s cognitive, language, social emotional, fine and gross motor skills. Program staff is committed to helping each child reach his/her full potential and offering children a range of enriching experiences to promote a lifelong love of learning.
The teachers in the program are highly trained and skilled and serve as facilitators. Each classroom is staffed with a head teacher, a teacher assistant and teacher’s aide. The head teacher has a masters or bachelor level degree in Special Education. Teaching assistants have bachelor’s degrees and many are working towards their master’s degree in education. The educational aides in the program have significant experience in working with young children.
The program offers a developmentally appropriate curriculum with readiness skills embedded into the daily routine. During different times of the day, children are exposed to letters, word recognition, number patterns, sorting, and categorizing, shape and color recognition. During choice time activities, children work on developing cognitive, fine, gross motor and play and social skills. The adults in the classroom help to facilitate and model for the children

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thank You

The staff of the Burlington Integrated Preschool would like to thank you for you patience and support during pick up and drop off today. I don't think any of us could have predicted the large voter turn out and the impact it had on the traffic. Thanks to everyone's kindness, patience and support we had a very successful day with no problems at all.

We would like to send a big thank you out to Dr. Conti, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Estep, Director of Pupil Services, Mr. Robinson, Director of Finance and Operations, and most importantly Dennis, our favorite custodian, for helping to keep us all safe. We would also like to thank the bus drivers for their patience and flexibility as we shuffled pick up and drop off to help keep things running as smooth as possible.

Thank You,
Staff of the Burlington Integrated Preschool

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Code Blue

January 13, 2010

Dear Preschool Parents:

Today the morning session of the preschool program participated in a code blue drill. We are pleased to report that everything went well and all safety protocols are in place. As you know, fire, police and medical personnel regularly prepare for emergencies by conducting practice drills. These drills help to teach us to react in a calm and rational manner during an emergency. They also allow safety planners the opportunity to work out the details of an emergency response. Practice drills should become automatic for us and should not create any undue anxiety.

Please take a minute to review all of the safety protocols that are in place. As always, any questions please feel free to give us a call or send an email.

The Burlington Public Schools’ has developed three different safety protocols; Fire Drills, Code Red and Code Blue.

A Fire Drill is when the local fire department comes in and schedules the drill. The alarm is pulled and all children and staff are expected to evacuate the building in a timely fashion. Fire drills are supervised by the Burlington Fire Department. The teachers have evacuation procedures that are posted in the classroom that are followed during these drills.

Code Red is when the safety of the building has been compromised in some way and everyone is expected to evacuate. The school staff will follow the procedures that have been established for this purpose. The preschool will evacuate down Sunset Drive and will be met by members of the Burlington Response Team. In an emergency situation, parents will be contacted and will be told where they can meet and pick up their children.

Code Blue is when all students must remain in their classroom. They are required to sit quietly on the rug, all shades are pulled down and the lights are turned off. The students are told that they are to wait quietly.

It is important to note, that all Preschool staff have been trained in these safety protocols and will follow them to ensure the safety of all children. The Burlington Emergency Response Team includes members of the fire, police and school departments have established these protocols.

Louise D’Amato

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Open House

Parents of preschool aged children looking to register their child for September, 2010, the Burlington Early Childhood Program will be having its annual Open House on Thursday, January 21st from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at the Burlington High School, 123 Cambridge Street (rear of the high school). Stop by and visit with our preschool staff, have your questions answered and pick up a Registration Packet (Children must be three years old by August 31, 2010). Any questions contact Louise D’Amato or Laura Caprio at 781-270-1808 or check our website at, click on schools, then Integrated Preschool

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kindergarten Registration

Registration for children entering Kindergarten in September 2010 will be held at Fox Hill, Memorial, Pine Glen, and Francis Wyman Schools on Monday February 1, 2010 through Friday, February 5, 2010 from 9:00 a.m - 11:00 a.m. each day. Children must be the age of 5 by August 31, 2010.

Please use the link below for additional information including paperwork that will be needed for registration.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Play dough Recipe (indoor fun)

Although we have given some great suggestion for outdoor play we understand that this time of year children spend a lot of time indoors and that you are looking for an activity to keep them entertained. Here is the recipe for play dough as well as some suggestions on how to make it not only fun but an opportunity for learning.

Basic ingredient ratios:

2 cups flour

2 cups warm water

1 cup salt

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon cream of tartar

food coloring

If you want your play dough to have a scent you can use cinnamon, jello packets, kool aid or other fun scented powdered materials.

Mix and heat

Mix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes. (important to take your time and do this over low heat. If not you will burn and ruin your pan)

When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if your play dough is still sticky, you simply need to cook it longer!

Keep stirring and cooking until the dough is dry and feels like play dough.

Knead & color

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or silicone mat, and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth.

Make a divot in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring in. Fold the dough over, working the food color through the body of the play dough, trying to keep the raw dye away from your hands and the counter. You could use gloves or plastic wrap at this stage to keep your hands clean- only the concentrated dye will color your skin, so as soon as it's worked in bare hands are fine.

Work the dye through, adding more as necessary to achieve your chosen color.

If you use unsweetened drink mix for color, test on a small ball first- it won't go as far as the "real" food coloring.

Play and store

Play with your play dough It's entirely edible, a bit salty, but safe to eat.

When you're done store it in an air-tight container. If it begins to dry out, you can knead a bit of water in again to soften the dough back to use ability. Once it's dried past a certain point, however, you'll just have to start over; thankfully it's not terribly difficult.

Play dough is a great indoor activity. Here are some ideas to extend play and make it more successful:

Have a designated area on the table for the children to use play dough. A plastic place mat is an easy inexpensive way to provide boundaries when using play dough at home. Make a rule that play dough can only be used at the table and on a place mat. This will eliminate the problem of having it stuck to a rug or finding it on the couch.

Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. You can use alphabet cookie cutters and begin learning and sequencing the letters in your child’s first name. If they are beyond this move to the last or you could get fancy and do first, middle and last.

Use fun kitchen utensils such as garlic press, pizza cutter, spatula or other things that you can use to cut and press. While supervising your child let them use scissors to cut play dough into pieces. These are all great activities that will help strengthen hand muscles and develop fine motor skills.

The possibilities are endless when using play dough. The children love creating with the dough and it is a fun activity on a cold day when you can’t get outside.

Have fun!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Safari Scouts had a great time sledding today. I don't know who had more fun the students or the teachers. Thanks to the Safari Scouts teachers for providing the students with such great winter exercise.

Remember to send it appropriate clothes for the weather so the children can enjoy outdoor fun.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter Fun

Here are some ideas to make the snow and ice fun. Outside time is very important for preschoolers. We know that it is a lot of work this time of year, so we have included some suggestions on how to make it a fun learning experience for everyone.

First, make a game out of finding appropriate winter clothes. Make a list of things that you need to stay warm on a cold day, and then find the appropriate items. For example, your list could look like this:
Snow pants
Winter jacket

If you want to be really creative you can go into google images and cut and paste appropriate pictures to go along with the list. Put your child on your lap while you do this and have them help you find pictures that best represent the items that they wear.

After you have gathered all of the items, have your child dress themselves for the weather. They will require some instruction on how to do this. Use positional words such as first put your snow pants on, put one leg in at a time, etc. Having your child dress themselves will not only promote independence, but all of the pulling, tugging, zipping and buttoning will help to foster fine motor development and body awareness. Wait your child out a little bit and have them try to do this as independently as possible. Some of the things will be a struggle and you will have to help them out, but see what they can do on their own.

Once everyone is dressed for the weather it’s time to go outside and play! Here are some fun winter and snow activities that you can participate in with your child.

Experiment with Snow
1. Do various experiments with snow, simply to see what happens.
2. Watch snow melt when table salt is added.
3. See how long it takes for different sized snowballs to melt in the sun.
4. Put snow inside different sized plastic pails and metal pots to see which container holds more.
5. Find surfaces that snow will stick to.
6. Discover which toys sit on top of the snow and which ones are heavy enough to sink down.

Paint the Snow and Ice
Using food coloring added to water let children paint the snow and ice with brushes or spray bottles. Let them see what happens when two different colors are mixed on the snow’s surface and how the color blends when ice melts. Teach them to paint their name on the snow bank in front of the house.

Look for Animal Tracks
While on a walk in the woods, show children how to spot animal tracks and talk about what the animals might be doing. Ask the children to make their own tracks in the snow using their footprints, sticks or their fingers. Let them look at the tracks with a magnifying glass.

Create Snow Drawings
Using sticks, pine cones, or even their fingers, have children draw pictures on a canvas of freshly fallen snow. Look for tree stumps, railings, fences, and benches as ready surfaces for children to show their creativity. Take pictures of their drawings to be used for the front of next year’s homemade greeting cards.

Make Slush Sculptures
On a relatively warm day, add water to the snow to create slush. Let the kids get wet and make slush creations, much like ice sculptures. Encourage them to use sticks, stones and other materials to add details to their artwork. Challenge the kids to co-operate on creating a slush wall, which can be used as part of an outside obstacle course
Snow is the perfect learning tool for science and creativity. Show preschoolers how to explore the wonders of winter and let their imaginations do the rest.

Snow ideas from:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reading at Home

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some ideas and techniques when reading at home to your child. Children whose families read to them when they are young do better in school. They know about books and words and letters and sounds. They have experiences following a story and they enjoy reading. Early experience with books makes it easier for children to learn to read themselves.

Plan to read to your child the same time each day. Make it part of your family’s routine. Many families read a book at bedtime. If that is not a good time for you, find another time that works.

Sit side-by-side on your child’s bed, a couch, or the floor. Look at the pictures together and let your child help turn the pages. Pack a book for reading on car rides, trips to Grandma’s or in the doctor’s waiting office.

There are so many great books for children. The local library has a great selection and a wonderful children’s department. Try different kinds of books. Read stories, rhymes and information books. Notice which kinds of books your child enjoys most and ask your librarian to help you find more.

What to do During a Read-Aloud

As you read, talk to your child about the book. Answer questions and ask question of your own. This is how your child will learn.

* Name anything your child points to in the pictures.

• Point to pictures yourself and explain things as your read.

• Run your finger under some words as you read them, especially if the are in big, bold print or fun to say.

• Explain any words your child may not understand.

• Encourage questions and comments-get a conversation going!

The most important thing when reading aloud to your child is to have a good time. Make it a special time with your child and take the time to enjoy each other’s company.