Austin ISD PK3 Newsletter

October 2015

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Welcome to October!

Welcome to October! We owe a big THANK YOU to Sylina Valdez for our new format. We hope you like it as much as we do!

From the Director!

Jacquie Porter, Director of Early Childhood

Happy October!

I am a list maker. I have an ongoing to-do list at work. I also have an ongoing list at home. It is a 4 block list. One block contains to-do tasks. These are the things that must be done when I get home. Another block contains a to-go list. These are the places I need to go before I go home or this weekend. A to-buy list, this is the place I jot down the items that need to be purchased for next week and the last box is one I learned from Gail Boushey. It is the to-be list. Gail describes her to-be list by asking the question, “What do I want to be today?” Do I want to be happy, loving, peaceful, grateful, balanced, kind or strong? Gail says, “Put on a mind-set of seeing things through the lens of what you want to be, and practice."

Last week, I decided to work on being more joyful. I was in a meeting that lasted way longer than it should, but I reminded myself that the decisions that were made in that meeting were making the lives of teachers and children easier in AISD. That made me joyful. I was in another classroom this week where I saw a teacher working on testing for CPALLS+. The children were so excited to get to work one on one with the teacher. Their joy was pretty contagious and I felt myself being joyful even in this difficult task.

This month is a pretty hectic one. Parent conferences, report cards, and student assessment windows take time in our busy schedules this month. The to-be list is helpful in reminding us how to positively look at the events in our lives. This month we want to-be a big support to you. The newsletter is packed with items to help you in your classroom, which will help you nurture your class, without having to search for resources. I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter.

Important Dates

  • Monday, October 12th- Parent Conferences
  • Friday, October 16th- End of 1st 9 weeks
  • Thursday, October 22nd- Read for the Record
  • Friday, October 30th- BOY CIRCLE Assessment Closes
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Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences

1. Approach Parents with Positive Assumptions

2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

3. Be Solution Oriented

4. Take the Opportunity to Learn

5. Show that You Care

(Taken from the article below)

Schedule Updates

Now that the year is underway, everyone has finished finalizing daily schedules. Please resend your schedules, entire day including lunch times, to, in the Early Childhood office. Thanks so much for your help!

Instructional Tips

Oral Language Development

Oral language development is one of the major goals for prekindergarten 3. We work hard to engage the students in dialogue throughout the day as well as modeling discourse for them so that they have great models and opportunities to practice language for the entire time they are with us.

Looking for an inexpensive method for encouraging oral language development this Fall?

Try this dollar store inspired fun activity.

1. Purchase 3 vines of "leaves" from the dollar store. Try to find three different types of leaves in multiple colors. You will also need a "child's rake" from the dollar store.

2. Cut or pull off all of the leaves from the vine. Scatter them on the floor in the area you have designated for this activity.

3. Provide basket, pails, or paper bags for the children to put the leaves in once they are raked.

4. Demonstrate how to rake leaves and put the piles in the bags. Be sure to use words like rake, scoop, pull, push, lift, fill, red, green, yellow, brown, pile, leaf, leaves, etc.

5. One variation after everyone has had a turn: Ask the children to sort the leaves as they rake them into piles or put them in the bags. They can sort by color one day and by leaf shape/type the next day.

Seriously Science!

It is important to give our youngest learners many opportunities to engage with and explore materials on their own. The science center provides the perfect backdrop for children to use exploration and inquiry skills. The beginning of the year is a time to introduce and teach children how to explore with the tools of a scientist. Hand lenses, tweezers, and droppers are three basic tools that can be used for a wide variety of activities. Science activities and investigations also give children the experiences that are the foundations for learning new vocabulary.

The following pictures show simple investigations that are appropriate for the PK3 science center. Don't forget to teach procedures and expectations before placing these activities in the center.

Thank you Dolores McDonald from Pleasant Hill for sharing your idea of using your students' pictures for exploration with the hand lenses!

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Gail's Garden Gazette

October Gardening Ideas:

  • Planting in a garden or containers
  • Go on a seed and leaf hunt
  • Begin noticing changes in the environment: weather, color of leaves, animal activity
  • Plant bluebonnet seeds outside
  • October Planting options

Science Activities:

  • Comparing real and pretend (not-real) things: real leaves/ plastic leaves, etc.
  • Learning to care for classroom plants (water and light)
  • Exploring the characteristics of pumpkins
  • Pumpkins: sensorial exploration
  • Sorting, spooning, pouring, and planting seeds

Literacy Activities:

  • Reading books about fall and pumpkins
  • Fall poems and songs

Purposeful Play -Indoors and Outdoors

We know that purposeful play is crucial for the development of young children. It contributes positively to their cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. When teachers take time to plan an environment where purposeful play is facilitated, children benefit greatly. The month of October offers many wonderful opportunities to facilitate purposeful play both indoors and outdoors.

The pretend and learn center can be transformed into a number of different environments that fit with your October themes of fall and exercise. You can create a pumpkin patch or a fall vegetable market. For the exercise theme, you could create a gym or set up exercise stations where the students could try different movement activities. At your sensory table, you can add items such as leaves and pumpkins to get your students into the spirit of fall.

To facilitate outdoor play introduce items to your outdoor environment that are inviting and engaging. You might add balls and hula hoops to help build gross motor skills. You can also add digging and constructing items and throw in a leaf pile to to set the tone of fall.

The Secret to My Success

Marisol Perez, from Galindo Elementary, says that "positivity, having high expectations for students, and believing that children can achieve" are the characteristics that make her classroom a happy and successful environment for her PK3 children.

Wonderful Writing!

This is a great time to illustrate to parents that we are working on beginning writing skills. One way we do this for 3 year olds is to allow them to work with items that strengthen young fingers to be able to write.

Finger painting is an excellent way to strengthen fingers and Fall is a great time of year to put fall colors on paper and allow them to create their own designs in Fall colors. Also, it allows them the opportunity to make designs within the page and see how colors mix together. These are fun to share with parents at the fall conference as an opener to talk about writing with young children.

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Sensationally SEL

In My Heart by Jo Witek is our newly found book about feelings for October. This wonderful book provides vocabulary beyond "happy" and "sad" for feelings that children experience. The easy to understand format is appropriate for 3 year olds and certainly sill relevant for kindergarteners. The die cut heart that continues throughout the book makes it a fun book to explore again and again.

Starting Write!

Click on the link below for tips on invented spelling and writing with preschoolers.

Follow me to the internal Website. Out with the Old and in with the new!

We have a new logo! Now, we are all part of the Austin ISD Teaching and Learning Community. Instead of looking for the Office of Academics tile, you will look for the Teaching and Learning Community tile.

Steps to find the Early Childhood Internal Website:

  1. Sign in to the AISD Cloud
  2. Click on Department Websites (white writing on the bottom of the page) OR
  3. Search for "Teaching and Learning Community
  4. Click on the Teaching and Learning Community tile
  5. Scroll down to the Early Childhood Tile

Visual Discrimination - Letter Matching

Everything is pre-cut and the letters are pre-written by the teacher, on both the circles and and the caterpillar. The children match the letters to spell their name. The children who can match the letters do it independently. Those who can not receive help. (No pressure!) The children do the gluing. (From: Cynthia Grijalva, Zavala Elementary)
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October Professional Development

Nature Calls!

Tuesday, Oct. 6th, 3:30-5:30pm

4900 Gonzales Street

Austin, TX

Allan Elementary, Room 108

Register on HCP Section # 77940

Scientist of the Week Webinar

Wednesday, Oct. 7th, 3:30-5:30pm

This is an online event.

Register on HCP Section #78108

Using Rituals & Routines to Develop Self-Regulation

Tuesday, Oct. 20th, 3:30-5:30pm

5005 Caswell Avenue

Austin, TX

Ridgetop Elementary

Register on HCP Section #78966

About Us

Jacquie Porter, Director

Debra Caldwell, Administrative Assistant

Diane Smith, Data Processing Assistant

Irene Campos, EC TLI Specialist

Brian Mowry, EC Specialist

Robbie Polan, Childcare Liason

Melinda Servantez, EC Specialist

Sylina Valdez, Administrative Supervisor

Amber McDaniel, Special Education Instructional Coordinator