January Newsletter

2015-2016 Academic Year

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Welcome Back & Happy New Year!

We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and enjoyed the extra time spent with your loved ones over winter break. All of the staff here at The Cottages took pleasure in having quality time with our family as well as a little extra time to relax and rejuvenate for the new year. We want to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of our families from the bottom of hearts for your continued support of our staff and your genuine appreciation for all of the work we do each and every day to ensure we are providing a high quality early education program for our children. The Cottages wouldn’t be the special little gem it is without the support of our families. May this new year continue to bless us all!!

Successful Community Service Projects for the Holidays!

Our community service projects for the holidays were a huge success! Thank you so much for helping to make the holidays a little brighter for others. Because of your generosity, the family we sponsored got some much needed extra joy during what was probably a very difficult first Christmas missing a loved one. The family was so grateful and appreciative of the many items that were collected for them to enjoy this holiday season.

The Sarasota Memorial Pediatric Unit enjoyed the donations from our families to help brighten the children’s spirits while they were in the hospital around the holidays. We are so lucky to have such a kindhearted group of families at The Cottages! We feel so grateful to have such wonderful families in our program. You all are truly the BEST! Thank you for being a blessing to others!

Winter Assessments - Teaching Strategies GOLD

During the month of January, the children at The Cottages will be assessed using the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment system. This will be the second assessment on your child for the 2015- 2016 academic year and will be marked down during the winter timeframe. Please note, the assessment will be kept in your child’s portfolio throughout the year as the assessments will be documented in each child’s personal assessment booklet. Parent/Teacher conferences will begin in February to review your child’s assessment.

January Birthdays!

Celebrate your being born on your birthday but celebrate happiness every single day of your life.

  • Ms. Gail- 1/8
  • Ms. Lesley- 1/8
  • CJ W.- 1/9
  • Arianna C- 1/16
  • Ania W.- 1/2
  • Emmaline B.- 1/20
  • Cole H.- 1/28

Happy Birthday to all of our friends born in January!

Cricket Cottage News

Stretch and Grow

The Topic for the month of January will be Stretch and Grow. We will be concentrating on our fine motor and gross motor skills. Our older friends will work on rolling over, sitting up, grabbing, and holding on to toys. Our younger friends will focus on grasping toys and reaching. The Crickets are growing on a daily basis and we want to continue to promote and encourage their independence.

Sign Language Review

This month we will be reviewing the sign language signs we have been learning since

August. We will be focusing on the signs “eat’ and “more”. Please try using these signs at home with your child as well. We have more sign language resources in the Cricket Cottage for reference if you’d like to learn more.


We will be talking and showing our friends the difference between happy and sad. We will be imitating happy and sad faces by incorporating it through stories and songs. One of the stories we will be reading is, Baby Happy-Baby Sad, by Leslie Patricelli and we will be singing the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It".

Welcome and Farewell

We would like to welcome our new friends Elle and Ryleigh to the Cricket Cottage! We are so excited and happy for you to join our Cricket family. It is with mixed emotions that we say farewell to our friends CJ, Layna, and Finnley. They have graduated to the Ladybug Cottage and we know they will have a blast learning and playing with their new friends.

Family Photos Needed

If you have not done so yet, please provide us with a family photo or pictures of family that we can make into a family collage. If you prefer, you can email them to liz@thecottagespreschool.com and we will print them out for you. The babies really enjoy looking at the pictures of their family members! Thank you!

Friendly Reminders

It is cold and flu season and we are asking families to please remember to remove your shoes and wash your hands upon entering the room. We try very hard to help keep the room as germ free as possible to ensure healthy and happy babies. Also, please remember to label all bottles and pacifiers with your child’s first and last names. Thank you for doing your part to make the Cricket Cottage a safe place for everyone!

Ladybug Cottage News

Month in Review

December was a very busy month for the Ladybugs. We painted pinecones for our light project, finger painted the Star of David, and worked very hard on our canvas art for our family present. The children also got to explore "cold" temperatures. We took toys that were wooden, fabric, metal, and plastic and put them in the freezer in the morning. After pm snack we took the children outside and put the toys on the towel along with some ice cubes in the little metal pots. The children freely explored the items as we talked about how they felt cold and some things felt wet. The children seemed to enjoy the metal pots and the ice cubes the most because they retained the temperature the longest and of course because the ice felt good in their mouths. Over all it was a very succesfull month of exploring and learning.

Hello, Goodbye

January will be a month of new beginnings as we say farewell to Abby, Ally, Abner, Christopher, and Brynn. We will certainly miss our friends but know they are excited and ready for their journey in the Caterpillar Cottage. As our friends move up we will welcome CJ, Finnley, and Layna from the Cricket Cottage as well as a new friend named Karina.

Happy New Year!!!

January is going to be full of investigation as we explore light and reflection. For art this month we will look for our reflection as we paint on mirrors, as well as color with white chalk on black paper. We will also bring out the light table with different materials and transparent and solid plastic toys so we can investigate how the light shines through them. Ms. Christina and Ms. Sami are looking forward to another great year in the Ladybugs!

Health and Safety

  • Please remember to take off your shoes and wash your hands upon entering the Cottage. We are entering the months of sicknesses and really appreciate your help in keeping everyone as healthy as possible.
  • All food items and cups/bottles must be labeled with the child's name, date, and contents. Dry foods should contain name and date as well. There is a sharpie located on the freezer door for labeling. Not only is this a licensing requirement, it is greatly helpful when we are preparing multiple meals at once.
  • Please remember that the gated area is for adults only, children should only be behind the gate when going to sleep.
  • Children should only have food and drinks while sitting at the table. This helps not only to keep the room clean but also due to any cross contamination of possible allergens. Being that our children are so young food allergies are not always known yet.
  • If you have not done so please bring in portfolio supplies for your child. We work on portfolios year round so it is very helpful to have everything we need to keep your child's work organized.

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

Brian Littrell

Caterpillar Cottage News

December ReCap

December was bright in the Caterpillar Cottage. We created lanterns for our light project using plastic caps and tissue paper. We looked at x-rays, colored blocks and colored paddles on the light table. We also created a glittery collage and other holiday projects.

January Topic

During the month of January the Caterpillars will be exploring music. We will be wiggling this month! Different types of music will be explored such as classical, jazz, reggae, opera, and Latin. We will practice dancing to both slow and fast paced music. The children will also be practicing different yoga positions to classical music. We will be creating homemade instruments and painting to different types of music (fast and slow). At the end of the month, we will be having a small parade around the school to show other cottages the instruments we made!


  • Paper towel rolls
  • Old pots and pans
  • Wooden spoons or sticks
  • Wax paper
  • Rubber bands
  • Water bottles

Parent Volunteers

Calling ALL musicians!!! Do you or someone you know play an instrument? We would love to invite you to share your talent with our little ones! Please see Ms. Jamie if you are able to stop by. This would be a great addition to our music theme.

Children and Music: Benefits of Music in Child Development-http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2010-music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development/#sthash.3eNYdQYc.dpuf

Singing and music play an important role in our culture. You'll find music present in many aspects of our lives: theater, television, movies, worship, holidays, celebrations, and government and military ceremonies. But none is as important as how we use music with our children.

From birth, parents instinctively use music to calm and soothe children, to express their love and joy, and to engage and interact. Parents can build on these natural instincts by learning how music can impact child development, improve social skills, and benefit kids of all ages.

The Benefits of Music

Music ignites all areas of child development: intellectual, social and emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression. For children and adults, music helps strengthen memory skills.

In addition to the other benefits of music, it also provides us with joy. Just think about listening to a good song on the car radio with the window down on a beautiful day. That's joy.

Children's Music and Social Learning

For toddlers and preschoolers, music making can be a dynamic social learning experience. Making music together, children learn to work as a team while they each contribute to the song in their own way. At the same time, music helps children learn that together they can make something larger than the sum of its parts.

More benefits of music for children include learning cooperation, sharing, compromise, creativity, and concentration - skills that become invaluable as they enter school, face new challenges, and begin to form new friendships and develop social skills.

Developmental Benefits of Music

Children of all ages express themselves through music. Playing music for infants proves that, even at an early age, children sway, bounce, or move their hands in response to music they hear. Many preschoolers make up songs and, with no self-consciousness, sing to themselves as they play. Kids in elementary school learn to sing together as a group and possibly learn to play a musical instrument. Older children dance to the music of their favorite rock bands and use music to form friendships and share feelings.

Infants and Music

Infants recognize the melody of a song long before they understand the words. They often try to mimic sounds and start moving to the music as soon as they are physically able. Quiet, background music can be soothing for infants, especially at sleep time. Loud background music may overstimulate an infant by raising the noise level of the room. Sing simple, short songs to infants in a high, soft voice. Try making up one or two lines about bathing, dressing, or eating to sing to them while you do these activities. Find musical learning activities for infants.

Toddlers and Music

Toddlers love to dance and move to music. The key to toddler music is the repetition of songs which encourages the use of words and memorization. Silly songs make them laugh. Try singing a familiar song and inserting a silly word in the place of the correct word, like “Mary had a little spider” instead of lamb. Let them reproduce rhythms by clapping or tapping objects.

Preschoolers and Music

Preschoolers enjoy singing just to be singing. They aren’t self-conscious about their ability and most are eager to let their voices roar. They like kids' songs that repeat words and melodies, rhythms with a definite beat, and words that ask them to do things. Preschool children enjoy nursery rhymes and songs about familiar things like toys, animals, play activities, and people. They also like finger plays and nonsense rhymes with or without musical accompaniment. Learn more about music-filled preschool programs from Bright Horizons.

School-Age Children and Music

Most school-age children are intrigued by songs that involve counting, spelling, or remembering a sequence of events. Songs and musical activities with other school subjects also are effective during this child developmental stage. School-age children begin expressing their likes and dislikes of different types of music. They may express an interest in taking musical lessons.

Teenagers and Music

Teenagers may use musical experiences to form friendships, and to set themselves apart from parents and younger kids. They often want to hang out and listen to music after school with a group of friends. Remember those days of basement and garage bands? They often have a strong interest in taking music lessons or playing in a band, the lure of becoming a rock idol. School-agers and teenagers might need a reminder to keep the volume down, particularly with headsets. If we can hear music through an MP3 player headset when it's not in our own ears, it’s probably too loud.

Final Thoughts

There is no downside to bringing children and music together. Although a good dose of Mozart is probably not increasing our brain power, it’s enjoyable and beautiful. From the pure pleasure of listening to soothing sounds and rhythmic harmonies, to gaining new language and social skills, whatever the setting - a quiet room at home with mom and dad, a large grassy field filled with people, or a busy classroom - music can enliven and enrich the lives of children and the people who care for them.

Welcome New Caterpillars!

We would like to welcome our new friends to the Caterpillar Cottage! We would like to say how happy and excited we are to have Brynn, Abner, Abby, Ally, and Christopher join our cottage. We are so glad you are here! Wishing happiness and fun to our friends who have moved up to the Butterfly Cottage. We will miss you Lucas, Harper, Darren, and Livia!

Butterfly Cottage News

December Recap

Last month was short but full of fun and crafts! We had snowball fights in our "Winter Wonderland" and made snowmen, snowflakes, and played with fake snow. We hope you all enjoyed your fingerprint reindeer ornaments.

New Year

It's the start of a new year! We have some new friends that moved up from the Caterpillars and we are very excited for our growing class. We would like to welcome Livia, Darren, Lucas, and Harper to our room! Easton and Kaiden have moved up to the Bumblebee class and although we will miss them, we know they are enjoying their new room.

Music and Dance

We will be joining Ms. Jamie's class with having the same topic this month of Music and Dance. We will be making our own musical instruments of string, shakers, and bells. The children will be having fun outside with loud music making and trying out their new musical instruments. We will be listening to music around the world such as classical, jazz, and salsa. We are asking families to bring in a musical CD or instrument from home to share with the class on Fridays. We are looking forward to rocking out on Fridays this month!


Our yoga positions this month will start with the waterfall the week of January 4th. The week of January 11th we will be focusing on the bird position and the week of January 18th we will be working on the candle.


  • Paper towel rolls
  • Old pots and pans
  • Wooden spoons or sticks
  • Wax paper
  • Rubber bands
  • Water bottles

Bumblebee Cottage News

December Re-cap

Last month flew by and we had so much fun singing and rocking out to the season's music. We made a large Peace sign for our light project to promote teaching peace in the classroom. We had many visit's from special friends like Granny Goose, Santa & Mrs. Claus, and the conductor from the Polar Express. We explored arctic animals through sensory tables, books and a hands on science experiment of blubber.

Happy New Year

We can't believe the year is halfway over. During our January unit we will be studying our five senses. Each week we will be doing hands on learning activities to match the sense of study. This unit is always a fun way to kick off the new year. Wishing all of our Bumblebee families a very happy 2016!

Portfolio Supplies Reminder

We have started to collect and fill portfolio binders with your child's work . Please turn in your child's binder and supplies as soon as possible. If you have turned in the materials we thank you. If you are not sure on what is needed please see a Bumblebee teacher for a list.

Shopping List

During our study of the fives senses we may need item's to be donated. Please look for a signup sheet near the sign in board. We will be making lots of sticky, ooey-gooey, messy hands on fun! Please dress your child in play clothes as we are bound to get dirty. Thanks again for all the love and donations throughout the first half of our year together. Bumblebee families rock!

Busy Bee Helper's

The bumblebee's have been showing a great deal of interest in helping around the classroom. We have noticed our friends like to set up snack, sweep and hold doors for friends. We are promoting lots of self help skills by allowing the children to help with various tasks around our classroom. These types of jobs also promote positive social skills. We hope to extend this interest to home. The bumblebees are exceptional helpers and we would like to start a weekly job chart to enhance these skills.

Math Kick-Off

During January we will be doing lots of math activities to reinforce one on one correspondence and number recognition. Children can learn about numeracy many different ways. We will be using various loose parts to count and learn numbers.

Easy No-Cook Playdough Recipe


2 cups of flour

1 cup of salt

3 tablespoons cream of tartar

2 tablespoons oil

2 cup boiling water

Food coloring (optional)

*** Mix everything together in a bowl and knead until smooth! ***

Dragonfly Cottage News

Winter Fun
We will be breezing through January this winter. The children will be learning about arctic animals and their habitat. We will also be learning about the animals that hibernate and why. Our fine motor skills will be worked on this month as well. Our focus will be on working on our writing skills as well as cutting with scissors.

Winter Science
We will be doing many activities with ice this month to incorporate the wintery aspect of the month of January. Ice will be melted using a variety of materials and we will be observing which method melts ice the fastest. We will also be making a snowstorm in a jar.

Florida Snowball Fight
It's snowball fight time! Since we can't have a real snowball fight here in Florida, we can still pretend. We are asking parents to bring in newspaper and/or tissue paper. We will ball it up and use that as a pretend snowball.

Winter Math Activities
The winter fun will continue with counting snowballs and using our one to one correspondence skills. We will graph snowmen and patterns and work on number recognition with numbers 12-30. Math Groups- All math groups will be reviewing concepts learned from the beginning of the year and to prior to our Holiday break.

Winter Literacy Activities
We will be reading the story, The Mitten, and use it as a jumping board to more literacy activities. We will work on winter beginning sounds, winter syllables, winter rhyming, and emergent reading. We will reinforce concepts of print such as words being separated by spaces, left to right, and top to bottom. The Dragonflies will be practicing writing both their first and last names learning about spacing in writing. We will also reinforce the written word matching spoken words. Reading Groups- All reading groups will review all of the concepts learned from the beginning of the school year and prior to our Holiday break.

VPK Assessment
During the month of January, we will assess the Dragonfly students once again using the Florida VPK assessment tool in addition to the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment. The purpose of the assessments is to provide teachers with information that can be used to guide instructional activities to promote children's development. All assessments are kept in your child's portfolio and are given to you at the end of the academic year. Assessments will be reviewed during your child's mid-conference. Parents are always welcome to review their child's assessment at anytime throughout the year, however they must remain on campus.