Jeffers Pond Nature Preschool

January 2016 Update

Big image

Happy New Year!

Dear Families,

Happy New Year! I hope you have had a wonderful winter break and were able to spend time with family & friends.

I personally enjoyed time with my family - it’s not always easy getting my 3 siblings and I together under one roof between everyone’s work schedules and my sister and brother-in-law living in London. This year it worked out and we all enjoyed being able to spend the holidays together. I also made it up my family’s cabin for a few days and was about to start figuring out a way to bring some snow back to the cities before Mother Nature finally decided to cooperate! I am sure many of the students were excited to see the snow and have had fun playing in it. I can't wait to see what fun winter adventures await us next week as we explore Jeffers Pond in the snow!

Winter Gear Reminders

Please ensure your child is dressed for the weather. We’ll continue to remain outside for at least 45 minutes each day. In order to ensure this is a meaningful experience for your child, they must be dressed to stay warm during our time outside. Every piece of clothing makes a difference and can be a crucial factor in whether your child is able to stay warm & enjoy our time outside.

Pieces of clothing to consider: (If you wonder if your child will be warm enough, dress him/her as you do for school and head outside for at least 45 minutes.)

  • Socks: Please always check and make sure your child has socks on! It's wonderful to have children being independent in dressing themselves, but we have noticed several students not wearing socks. This is dangerous as their feet will become cold without us knowing it and they are at risk for getting frostbite.
  • Face protection (neck warmers, face masks) is especially important on cold days and when there is wind. Also, please send your child with a hat even if his/her jacket has a hood. Hoods rarely stay on when children are running and climbing.
  • Waterproof mittens/gloves: Fleece or knit mittens/gloves get wet quickly in the snow, causing children's hands to become cold quickly. Also make sure the gloves/mittens they wear are warm enough for our long duration outside.
  • Boots: Only send your child in boots that are designed for cold weather and snow. Rubber rain boots won’t keep your child’s feet warm.
  • Dress your child in layers – I wear a base layer (not cotton), long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, and then my winter coat. I also wear a base layer under my jeans and then snow pants. It's easier to help a child who is overheated, than one who is under dressed.

Always check your child's gear (please continue to send reusable bags to hold their wet gear) to ensure it is dry for the next day. Don't forget to have extra dry clothes (including socks!) in your child's backpack in case he/she needs to change after our time outside.

Some Websites with Winter Gear Tips

What do we do in nature preschool?

Schoology: Opportunity to share stories and pictures

It's great to hear about how many of you are using our daily Schoology updates & photo uploads to guide discussions with your child about what happened at school each day. Talking about what your child learned and did at school each day is something that will continue to be important as your child progresses through school. Hopefully by using the daily updates & photos to establish a routine your child is familiar with, it will be easier to encourage your child to share about his/her day in elementary school when you might not receive as many updates.

While we have done well with connecting you with what is going on at school, now we want to also encourage you to share experiences that are happening at home. Students will have the opportunity to share these postings/experiences with the rest of the class.

To do this, we will be utilizing the Discussion feature on Schoology as a way for families to share pictures and stories from home. The discussions topics can be found under the Materials tab and then in the Discussions Folder. To learn how to use this feature, please see this link:

Try it Out! Check out the following 3 discussion topics and participate when you get a chance. I'll add additional discussion topics at least 1x a month.

  • Favorite December Traditions - Share your own and/or your child's favorite December tradition
  • E-STEM Challenge: Snow & Ice - Families are encourage to create something using snow & ice and share your creation(s) with the rest of us by posting pictures (feel free to include your child's description of what your family created).
  • Winter Discoveries - share pictures/stories of your winter discoveries. Could be anything from a picture of an animal track or cool icicle to a story about an Eagle your child spotted during a car ride.

If you have difficulty posting and/or uploading photos onto the discussion pages, please let me know!

Donations for the Classroom

Milk Cartons During the month of January, the Jeffers Pond students will all participate in some form of E-STEM activity related to snow and ice. One activity the nature preschoolers will be doing is building with ice blocks. To make this happen, we need lots of milk cartons to freeze water in. If you send milk cartons - please make sure to rinse them out as we'll store them until mid to end of January when we are ready to build. The more we have the better, so feel free to collect them from relatives & neighbors! :)

Wood trays/boxes & wicker baskets: If you received gifts in these during the holidays but don't have use for the container itself, we'll take them to use in our classroom.

Nature Preschools in the News!

In the past several months there seems to be an increasing number of articles and news stories on Nature Preschools/Forest Kindergartens throughout North America. One thing I have noticed as I learn more about programs throughout the United States particularly, is Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools continues to be unique in that our program is part of the school district and not affiliated with a nature center. This is possible due to the district-wide E-STEM (Environmental Education, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) initiative, as well as accessibility to outdoor learning spaces at all of the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools.

While we are especially lucky to have our amazing outdoor spaces at Jeffers Pond, my students last year taught me that "Nature is Everywhere!" All you have to do is be willing to see it. As a result, while our experiences this year have been different due to the difference in outdoor learning spaces, the quality of the program hasn't changed. This proves it is a type of program that can be available to students everywhere. Here are two recent stories:

The New York Times Article: Preschool Without Walls

Forest Kindergarten: Into the woods with preschool explorers

Prior Lake Savage Area Schools Family Nature Club

Save the Date! January 23rd 10-11:00

Location: To Be Determined

If you want to "host" a gathering (which involves picking the date, time, and location, as well as attending with your family) - email me with the details & I'll take care of getting the word out to others.