Austin ISD PK3 Newsletter

February 2016

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From the Director

Happy Fantastic February

Jacquie Porter, Director of Early Childhood

February is so much fun. There are so many special days in February that it is like a month long celebration. With the 100th day of school, Groundhogs Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, Conference Day, and President's Day - this month is pretty busy!

At this busy time of year we are talking to donors about funding for expanding the 3PK program. I have the wonderful privilege of telling Austin about how wonderful our 3PK program is and what it does for children. Several of your principals sent me quotes to use about 3Pk. I thought I would share a few here.

"Providing our 3 year old students with access to communication opportunities, dramatic play, and foundational skills such as colors, letters, and numbers has been a phenomenal experience at Galindo. Our community and staff have embraced this younger group of students. These students are better adjusted and more engaged in school than many of our 4 year old pre-k students that didn't have this opportunity last year. We can't wait to see how well they do in pre-k and beyond!" Kate Shaum Principal Galindo Elementary School

"PK3 opens up a world of possibilities for the children. The children at Dawson have made incredible gains socially, emotionally, and even academically. Each day the children have the opportunity to explore something new, their faces alight with the joy of discovery. And then every child wants to tell me about their discoveries... :)" Tania Jedele, Principal Dawson Elementary School

"The PK3 program here at Overton has been very beneficial for scholars and families. Our scholars are currently learning pre-reading, social and fine/ gross motor skills that will prepare them for PK in the fall. They have become a great part of our learning community and our parents are grateful for this program. We hope that funding for PK3 will continue and we look forward to working with families to build lifelong learners." Courtney Colvin-Crawford, Principal Overton Elementary School

"Pre-K 3 is a very valuable program for our students. It is preparing our students to be ready for Pre-kindergarten and school life in general. These students will be ahead of their classmates in socializing with other students, following rules, and academically. These little ones will already know some of their letters, numbers and sounds and be ready for school from the first day. Me and my community love that their children have this opportunity at their neighborhood school." Rafael Soriano, Principal Padron Elementary School

You are the most important element in our program for 3 year olds. Thank you for the work you do on a daily basis that makes the program so successful! Have a FUNTASTIC February!


Just a reminder, we have changed the MOY calendar to allow you more time for intervention with your students. Testing dates are February 26th-March 31. Testing dates for TLI campuses are May 2-May 13.
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News & Information

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Speech-Language Services

Julie L. Miller, M. Ed., CCC-SLP, ATP

Special Education Administrative Supervisor for Speech-Language Services, Occupational Therapy Services, Physical Therapy Services and Assistive Technology

Did you know.....

  • Your campus SLP can provide classroom strategies to encourage communication and language development in general?
  • Your campus SLP can provide information for parents on language development and developmental milestones?
  • Your campus SLP can answer questions about speech sounds and speech fluency related to 3 & 4 year olds?
  • Your campus SLP is open to conversations with you?

Feel free to contact your campus SLP if you have questions and concerns about speech and language development in your classroom.

Thanks for your dedication to our students!

The Thinkery

The Thinkery has asked us to tell you about their upcoming events.

These specially designed programs are developmentally appropriate for pre- K, ages 2-5 years.

· Thinkery’s Early Learners staff will travel offsite to a pre-k site to deliver these interactive programs.

· Format: 1 hour program for up to 20 children OR Two, 30 minutes sessions for up to 20 children (10 each session); includes 1-2 Thinkery Early Learner Educators; activities and materials for hands-on exploration; one topic option per program/session.

· Registration: contact Heather Singh, Gallery Education Manager (registration & more information) to reserve a program today.

· *Restrictions: Must be located within 30 miles of Thinkery (1830 Simond Ave, 78723).

· Program Offerings:

o Little Thinkers: Blast Off! (Ages 2-5 years)

§ Children will clap, whack and stomp their way to the sky with an interactive exploration of rockets! Thinkery STEAM Educators will provide materials for children to build and launch their own models, while guiding them through an investigation of the forces that put them into motion.

o Little Thinkers: Make it Go! (Ages 2-5 years)

§ Children will build a mega track to put to the test! Together, they’ll tinker and make a LEGO® car to explore ideas about energy. Thinkery STEAM Educators will guide them through a hands-on investigation about ramps, angles, friction and more!

o Little Thinkers: Storytelling wit Dash and Dot! (Ages 4-5 years)

§ Dash and Dot love going on adventures! Children will collaborate to retell a familiar story using robots to share their favorite parts! Thinkery STEAM Educators will guide children through steps to bring these characters to life.

· Pricing:

o $350 (up to 20 students for 60 minutes)

o $100 (each consecutive 60 minute session)

· Dates & Times:

o Tuesdays and Thursdays.

o 9:30a, 11:30a or 1:30p start times

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Gail's Gardening Gazette

Properties of Matter in the Garden

Gail Laubenthal, Early Childhood Consultant

Is it rough? Is it smooth? or Is it hard? Is it soft? I will never forget the moment in my PreK classroom when I realized that my young children were using the terms, smooth and soft interchangeably. We had been learning about the properties of matter throughout the year, but hearing them use the word "soft" when rubbing there fingers over a smooth rock really shocked me. Think about all of the smooth things around your classroom and outside in the garden. What about things that might be soft? The purpose of this article is to encourage you to begin using these 4 words (any other descriptive words) everyday. Instead of telling the child to go get a brown block; ask them to bring you a smooth, brown, long block, unless you are wanting him/her to bring you a rough, red, small block (bristle block).

In the garden or on your playscape, you can find rough textures, such as tree bark. Of course, if you have trees with smooth bark, you might ask them to compare the textures. I have been doing this with my young grandchildren, and now when we go outside, they run to the trees in the yard, proclaiming, "Rough!" or "Smooth!" Of course, you could encourage them to use more descriptive words like, "The tall, brown tree has hard, rough bark...Wow - 4 descriptive words! Don't miss these teachable moments. What about how the herbs smell? What does the dirt feel like...what does it look like...what does it smell like? How does the worm feel?

To see what you can be planting and doing in your February garden, go to :

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Valentine PB and J

I found this adorable game at

It was inspired by a haiku by Betsy Snyder:

you be my jelly,

i’ll be your peanut butter –

let’s stick together!

To make the game, cut out 4 sets of bread, peanut butter and jelly from felt. Then use the same colors of felt to cover a wooden cube or dice. Then you are all set to play. The child rolls the dice and if it lands on purple, selects jelly. If it lands on brown, peanut butter, and if it lands on white, selects bread. The first child to build a sandwich wins the game. However, play can continue until everyone has built a sandwich! The game teaches turn taking, which is a big skill for our 3 year olds. If you want to make the game more difficult, simply require that the sandwich be put together in order of a real PB and J sandwich. (First you must get a slice of bread, etc.) The children will love the felt dice and it is great for another sensory experience.

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Sensory Play!

Irene Campos, EC TLI Specialist

The Sensory Table is a great place for young children to participate in hands on exploration. It is an area that allows children to become calm, focused and engaged and use the senses to experiment and learn. Allow your students to explore new textures and materials in your sensory bin. February is the perfect month to add bright colors and valentine themed items. Add items to your sensory bin that students can use to fill, scoop and pour. Red, pink or purple colored rice or other filler can add color to your sensory tub and tongs can be added to strengthen fine motor skills. Another option is to add student pictures to your bin. Students will have fun finding and sorting pictures of their friends. Adding two copies of each picture will allow them to play a matching game.

Water is always a welcomed addition to the sensory table. Use red food coloring to convert your sensory table into valentine water play. Add foam hearts and other water safe valentine objects and watch the fun begin.

Try adding some oobleck to your sensory table and watch as your students have fun exploring this new texture. The recipe can be found at the link below. You may want to make the oobleck with your students as a class activity then place it in your sensory bin for sensory play as a small group teacher facilitated activity.

Take it with a Grain of Sand: Speech and Language Development

Crystal Young, Pre-K Teacher, Sunset Valley Elementary

Sensory play with kinetic sand appeals to children of all ages and provides many opportunities for language acquisition and enrichment. Of course, the sand doesn’t do this by itself, YOU will need to stop by occasionally during play and interact with the children.

Expanding and extending student’s language should be your goal during these conversations. Expansions are when you repeat what the student is saying but adding in missing words or correcting grammar. For example, a student might say “It fall.” You could then say, “Yes, it’s falling.” Extensions are similar to expansions, but go one step further. In the above example you could extend the sentence by saying, “Yes, it’s falling in slow motion.”

These conversations should also include asking such open ended questions as “What do you think about…”, What do you think will happen if…”, “How do we make…”, or “Why does this…” These types of questions encourage children to use critical thinking skills while requiring them to use more language to explain themselves.

Here are some examples of the vocabulary you might use or hear your students use as they play with the sand; slow motion, stretchy, flowing, sticks together, fluid, sticky, mold-able, crumbles, crumbly, crumbling and cracking.

Following these tips, along with slowing down, being present, getting down to the child’s level and making eye contact while following their lead will help your students’ language develop as you engage with them.

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Classroom Management Ideas


Robbie Polan, EC Childcare Liason


  1. GoNoodle is easy to set up and most importantly, fun for children! Go to
  2. GoNoodle gets kids moving with short interactive activities.
  3. GoNoodle activities can improve moods.
  4. You can connect GoNoodle with your curriculum through Gonoodle plus, which has content-aligned activities.
  5. AISD teachers have free access to GoNoodle Plus.
  6. GoNoodle activities are differentiated based on grade level.
  7. Teachers can make GoNoodle classes and save favorite activities.
  8. GoNoodle has brain breaks for any and every part of the day.
  9. Some of the GoNoodle brain break activities energize while other activities calm, focus, or even instruct students.
  10. GoNoodle has blog support with ideas and articles written by classroom teachers.

Meet Maximo

Maximo is a blue monkey in a tux who leads children in yoga poses and breathing.

The Maximo GoNoodle Channel is filled with stretches and calming activity break breaks within the instructional day to reenergize and refocus students.

A favorite Maximo activity is The Tight Rope. Your PK3 students will enjoy this calming activity while they build their core and self-regulation!

Try the TightRope activity lead by Maximo!

SEL: Scripted Stories for Social Situations- TIP for Teachers

Becky Flynn, AISD SEL Specialist

The rules or expectations of social interactions are typically learned by example. Children with communication difficulties and /or behavior challenges often do not learn these interactions incidentally, but may need more explicit instructions through a scripted description of the social interaction.

Scripted stories for social situations help children understand social interactions, situations, expectations, and social cues. Scripted stories provide information regarding a social situation. When children are given information that helps them understand expectations of a situation, their problem behavior within that situation is reduced or minimized. Teachers can use these simple stories as a tool to prepare the child for a new situation, or to teach new skills. The following is an example of a scripted story explaining when it’s appropriate to run.

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There are 3 types of sentences used in writing a Scripted Story:

  1. Descriptive sentences: objectively defined anticipated events where a situation occurs, who is involved, what they are doing and why. (e.g., When people are inside, they walk.)
  2. Prescriptive sentences: describe the internal status of the person or persons involved, their thoughts, feelings, or moods. (e.g., Running inside could hurt me or other people.)
  3. Directive sentences: are individualized statements of desired responses stated in a positive manner. They may begin “I can try…” or “I will work on…” Try to avoid sentences starting with “Do not” or definitive statements.

A Scripted Story should have 3 to 5 descriptive and perspective sentences for each directive sentence. Avoid using too many directive sentences. (e.g., I will try to walk inside.)

Write in first person and on the child’s developmental skill. Also remember to use pictures that fit within the child’s developmental skill level to supplement text.

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Professional Development Offerings

PK3 Professional Learning Community: Center Activities (Section #80242)

Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, 3:30-5:30pm

73 San Marcos Street

Austin, TX

Location: Sanchez Elementary, Portable 5/6

Register on HCP- Section #80242

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About Us

Jacquie Porter, Director

Debra Caldwell, Administrative Assistant

Diane Smith, Data Processing Assistant

Marlene Beldin, Clerk

Irene Campos, EC TLI Specialist

Brian Mowry, EC Specialist

Robbie Polan, Childcare Liaison

Melinda Servantez, EC Specialist

Sylina Valdez, Administrative Supervisor

Liana Young, EC TLI Specialist