|Welcome to the YCC West classroom!
The Young Children's Community supports both the development of independence and social cohesion within our community. Our environment provides opportunities for caring for oneself, others, and the physical space as well as developing language and refining motor abilities. Please check back on this page for updates about what we are doing in our classroom!
It is a privilege to get to work with your children; thank you for sharing them with us!
|Jeanette Kania, YCC Guide
Emily Palmer, classroom support
Kaitlynne Brow, classroom support
June 6, 2019
It's so hard to believe that we've already reached summer! We are so grateful to have had the chance to get to know your children this year. We are excited to continue to watch them grow whether it be over the summer or when they return to school this fall. Thank you for sharing your children with us this year! It has been such a joy to get to know each and every one of them. No matter what you're doing, we wish you a lovely summer!
May 22, 2019
What an interesting few weeks of weather we’ve been having! The children have been doing really well with all of the changes that we’ve been facing every day in terms of what we have to wear outside. This week, we all got to stand on the patio outside of our classroom and watch the rain. It was just warm enough for us to stand outside for a few minutes without coats and enjoy listening to, smelling, and watching the rain. A few of our friends were even brave enough to reach a hand out from under our roof the feel some of the raindrops. It’s always so wonderful to watch the children experience simple things like a rainstorm with such awe and joy.
This week we’ve been talking a lot about grandparents and families. Nearly all of our friends will be seeing their grandparents this weekend, and it seems like most of the children are excited to show their school space to these special people in their lives. We’ve also heard a lot about some of the fun things that the children have been doing at home recently. I’ve heard about getting ready for a dance recital, adventures to go see water, trips to the park, and visits with other friends on the weekend. Even our littlest friends have so much to share with us about what they do when they are not all together.
All of our friends who will be here this summer will be joining Kaitlynn and me in Jenny’s classroom. For the past month, we’ve been having visits over there to get used to the space and get to know Jenny. The children seem to be enjoying these visits and the new experiences that they bring. It’s been fun to watch the children make the discovery that the playground is right outside Jenny’s classroom and see them work with very similar materials in new ways in this new space.
I hope you all have a lovely Memorial Day weekend! Hopefully the weather allows us all to spend some of it outside!
April 25, 2019
I hope you have all been enjoying the sunshine; we definitely have been at school. The children are enjoying the freedoms and experiencing the responsibilities that come with nicer weather. They seem to like not having to wear coats (sometimes) and are learning to be patient while waiting for sunscreen.
We also have begun the season of digging and carrying sand! Young children like to explore their environment and test the limits of their bodies in many ways. Our littlest friends who were maybe not quite walking last summer are exploring what it is like to walk in the sand and to run across the grass. Now that they do not need to use their hands for moving around, they also can explore how to carry different objects. Young children really enjoy using their maximum effort to carry and move things. Many times we as adults feel like we need to stop them from lifting heavy things, but it is also important for us to provide children with opportunities to exert themselves so they can learn the limits of their bodies and continue to grow and acquire new abilities. Even very small children like to carry heavy objects from place to place. Spring cleaning can be an excellent time to invite your child to help you with tasks that can be exciting for them (even if they are mundane for us adults!).
Our older children have also been exerting themselves in different ways. Many of them have been working on refining movements such as balancing and swinging. They are learning how to control their bodies and further developing their coordination. They are also refining their spatial awareness by playing with each other and creating obstacles for themselves. All of the children who are over the age of two have been enjoying playing on the smaller climber on the Primary playground, which provides them with more challenging ways to explore how they can move.
I hope you have many opportunities to enjoy this lovely weather outside with your children!
“The potential for human movement is immense. Each individual can develop some of this potential. Each can construct his own unique type of movement that distinguishes him from others. In this way, every individual constructs himself by the way he moves in the environment” (Dr. Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures, p. 167, para. 3).
April 11, 2019
Welcome to April! Every spring I love watching the transition as the children learn that we don’t have to always wear our winter gear outside. It is a very dramatic reminder of how important order and routine are to toddlers. It has been interesting to watch the children question why they might not need mittens and wonder about why they don't need to wear boots to carline. As we continue into spring, we will be ready for rain jackets and galoshes instead of parkas and snow boots. These coming weeks will be a great period of adaptation for the children as they learn about how we in Northern Michigan dress ourselves for spring. As the weather continues to warm (and we have more exposed skin) I would also like to remind everyone that we will soon begin reapplying sunscreen throughout the day. If you have a preferred brand, please send a clearly labeled bottle of sunscreen. Otherwise, we will be using the sunscreen provided by the school.
Spring is also providing us with the opportunity to talk about the soon-to-be blooming flowers, and all the animals that we haven't seen all winter. We've already seen many insects and the starts of some plants that have been hidden under the snow. Many of the children have rediscovered their love for the sandbox since the snow has melted, and they have been digging and filling buckets while we are outside.
I hope that you and your children get to enjoy some time outdoors in this beautiful (if ever-changing) weather!
March 21, 2019
Happy Spring! Although it might not quite seem like it, warmer weather is definitely coming soon. The children have been enjoying having more access to the playground because so much snow has melted. This has allowed us to spend more of our morning outside and less of it in the gym. It has been fun to watch some of the younger children forming friendships with the older children while we play outside. They enjoy chasing each other and going on expeditions to the other side of the hill. Next week we will have most of our friends at school during Spring Break. Maybe we will have even less snow and more mud puddles to explore when all of our friends are back in April!
We have been talking a lot about being responsible and helping in our environment lately. This week, a few children have had the opportunity to make juice for us to enjoy together at lunch as well as the other food preparation activities that we already do weekly. As the children get older, they are becoming more interested in tidying up after themselves (and more often, after other children!). Many of the children are now to the point where they are restoring order in the environment and putting work away even if it was not originally their work.
Over the next few weeks, I will begin to introduce the children to more self-care activities such as hair-brushing, tooth-brushing, and nail polishing. I’m excited to see how the children do with these activities, and I’m sure they will come home and tell you all about their new work!
March 7, 2019
Thank you so much to everyone for making time to meet with me at conferences. It’s so great to get to spend time with you all one-on-one to get to talk about what your child has been up to and what’s coming up next!
As we get further along in the year, the children in our classroom keep showing us how much they have changed since the fall. Most of our mornings are now spent with the children who were the youngest in the fall trying to show the newer children materials in the classroom. Also, our oldest children have begun to enjoy socializing with one another and with all of the adults in the room. This has led to us having discussions about a great many things. For the past month, we have consistently seemed to come back to talking about our families. We’ve learned that almost everyone has a brother or a sister (or both!), that we all have parents and that those parents each have their own names. We’ve also been talking about who has a pet that lives at their house. If you have a photograph of your family (and don’t mind your child sharing it), please email me a copy and then the children can have the opportunity to show their friends as well as tell us all about the special people at home.
February 21, 2019
Thank you to those of you who have signed up for conferences! I’m looking forward to meeting with you.
We’ve recently welcomed another new friend from the Nido into our classroom. The older children have been very curious about getting to know him, and we keep talking about the difference between being a toddler and being a baby. Babies have been a popular subject in our classroom this year because we have so many wonderful new siblings! We’ve been reading books about being a sister or a brother and talking about our families. It’s so much fun to see brothers and sisters in the hallways and on the playground.
Another recent topic of conversation in our classroom is about personal space. Many of the children are so excited to see each other every day, which has led to a lot of enthusiastic hugging and touching of our friends. We’ve been practicing asking others before we touch them and respecting them if they say “No.” Most of the time, everyone is happy to receive a hug from another child, but stopping to ask for permission allows both children to be ready (and prevents the surprise of being knocked over with a well-intentioned hug!). Although it takes a lot of practice and reminders, the children have been doing well with respecting the bodies and space of each other.
February 7, 2019
It’s hard to believe that it is already February! We’ve begun talking about both Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day in our classroom. We have a basket of language cards for each holiday, and the children are enjoying looking at the pictures and learning about some of the things that we see this time of year. This is the extent of our celebration of Valentine’s Day at the toddler level. When the children are a little older and in Primary, they will be ready to celebrate in other ways at school.
Many of the children are becoming more interested in having conversations with each other, and it’s fun to watch them going down this new path. Several of our most recent conversations have been about babies because we have so many new siblings that have been born or will soon be born into the families of our classroom. The children are also becoming more interested in the older children we sometimes see in the hallway and are developing relationships with some new friends. It is delightful to get to experience the children’s developing personalities and get to see them interact with each other in new ways.
"All that we ourselves are has been made by the child, by the child we were in the first two years of our lives." (Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)
January 17, 2019
Welcome to 2019! Thank you all for your kind words and congratulations after my announcement this week! I’m so thankful to be part of such a supportive community.
We have all settled back into the routine of our classroom. It’s always surprising to see how much the children all change over the two weeks of winter break. Some of the children have developed interest in new areas of the classroom, which has provided the opportunity for new lessons. We have many new language materials available, and the children have been particularly interested in insects and animals of North America. Most of our materials are replicas or images on cards, so the children are still developing a relationship with how big and small these things are.
We’ve begun singing more songs that feature the children’s names (by request), so if you’re hearing a lot of the “Choo-Choo” song, here are all the words:
Going down the track,
Then we come right back.
First we go to [child’s name]'s house,
And then we go to [child’s name]’s house,
And then we go to [child’s name]’s house,
And then we go to [child’s name]’s house,
Going down the track,
Then we come right back.
December 13, 2018
I’m so excited to be back in the classroom after the 0-3 trip to Houston. I was very inspired and have been enjoying finding ways to implement new ideas in our classroom.
It’s hard to believe that fall is nearly over and that winter will soon upon us! We have had such a wonderful time transitioning into the snowy season in our classroom. We have been working on the language around winter and all that it brings to us. We have been reading about Hanukkah and Christmas and practicing some songs that we hear this time of year. Everyone is practicing putting on snow gear independently. Many of the children can do most of the work themselves if we are patient and give consistent directions about what comes next.
It has been lovely watching the children experience snowfall and snow accumulation for one of the first times in their lives. As with all of these changes and holiday celebrations, it is a joy to watch your children absorb all of the information about how we do things in our cultures. Many of the children have been particularly drawn to the seasonal songs we have been singing, so I imagine that many of you may be hearing those in the days, weeks, and probably months to come!
November 29, 2018
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for your contributions to our Harvest Feast! The children had so much fun talking about what they were going to do for the holiday, and this week we’ve talk about who the saw and what they ate.
I also wanted to say a huge thank you to those of you who purchased books for our classroom on Horizon Book Day. We read Over the River and Through the Woods several times before Thanksgiving, and we’ve been talking a lot about what we all call different members of our families. We sometimes talk about how our mommies and daddies have their own names. We’ve also been discussing brothers and sisters in anticipation of so many of our friends becoming older siblings.
If you have something unique that your child calls a grandparent or other family member, please let me know so we can further our discussions about families.
November 8, 2018
Now that we are into November, we’ve been enjoying seeing the various types of precipitation that our climate has to offer. Many of the children are delighted to see snow flying, and it seems like the cold is here to stay. It’s time to break out the snow pants and other winter gear! As with all clothing, please clearly label each item with your child’s name.
Every day we get ready in the same order. This provides the children the opportunity to sequence and fulfills their need for order. Many of the children do most of these steps independently, and we will be working through the winter to further this independence in dressing for outside. The order of getting ready is:
1. Snow pants
We use the “up-and-over” method to put on our coats. It may seem a bit odd at first, but it allows even very young children to put on their coats independently. Here is a quick video demonstrating how we put on sweaters, jackets, and coats.
Finally, thank you to everyone who came to conferences! It was great to get to have some time to talk about all of things your children have been doing in the classroom so far this year.
October 25, 2018
Over the past couple of weeks, our classroom has been experiencing various aspects of fall. This week, we’ve been talking about Halloween quite a bit. We continue to sing “Five Little Pumpkins” and “Way Up High in the Apple Tree” almost every day, and now we have begun looking at pictures of some things that we see around Halloween. The children have been enjoying discussing jack-o’-lanterns and some of the other decorations that we see this time of year.
We have brought some seasonal produce into our rotation of food preparation. Last week, we finally cut open our butternut squash to see what was inside. A few children helped to scoop out the seeds. Other children helped to spread olive oil with salt and pepper inside the cavity of the squash. We then roasted each half in the oven and enjoyed eating the squash for snack. Although we only did this once, some of the children still talk about “the butternut” when we discuss the other two squashes we haven’t roasted yet.
October 11, 2018
Happy Fall! We have been having a wonderful time talking about all of the changes we see in fall. The children have adapted to going to the coatroom to put on coats before we go outside, and we are working on independence in this area every day. We currently have a basket of squashes in our language area that we all hold and talk about. A few fall songs have made it into our daily singing rotation as well. One of the children’s favorites is Five Little Pumpkins. There are hand motions that go with each line that we practice every day.
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said "Oh my, it's getting late!"
The second one said "There are bats in the air,"
The third one said "...but we don't care!"
The fourth one said "Let's run and run and run."
The fifth one said "I'm ready for some fun!"
Oooo oooo went the wind, and out went the lights,
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
Singing songs, reading poetry, and sharing books are a key tools in enriching language development for the young child. We read books throughout the day and we frequently talk about how to care for and respect books. Over the past two weeks, we have had half-a-dozen books from the public library to practice being respectful with. Some of our favorites are Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, Miss Lina's Ballerinas by Grace Maccarone, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and occasionally The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. As some of these books are longer, we have had the opportunity to practice patience with turning pages and waiting to see what happens next. It's wonderful to watch the children love reading!
September 27, 2018
Thank you to everyone who came to our classroom picnic! It was so much fun to see everyone enjoying themselves on such a beautiful day.
We have been enjoying many opportunities for independence in our classroom during this first month of school. Several of the children have been assisting with preparing baked goods, and everyone is adjusting to serving themselves independently at the snack and at the lunch table. In the morning, all of the children have been practicing hanging up their backpacks and coats by the “loop.” If your child’s coat doesn’t have a loop, it’s typically easy to add a length of ribbon through their tag so they have something to hang their jacket from. Because we go outside every day, this dip in temperatures has provided us with the opportunity to practice hanging and removing our jackets and sweaters from the hooks in the coatroom a couple of times a day.
We also celebrated our first birthday of the school year this week. The children were interested in looking at the photos of the birthday child as an infant and again as a one-year-old. Two of our older friends baked banana muffins so we could have a special birthday dessert after lunch on Tuesday. We have so many other birthdays coming up in the late fall and early winter. It's lovely to see the children take such an interested in the special days of their friends.
September 13, 2018
Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe that we are already in our second week of school. I want to say a quick thank you to everyone for being so welcoming to me throughout the summer and into the fall. It’s been so wonderful to begin to get to know your children better.
We have had a few friends rejoin us after spending their summer at home, and we have two new friends from the Nido. I also want to welcome Kaitlynn who has joined our classroom in a support position along with Emily, who is returning this year.
We have been so busy during these first days of school! One new addition to our classroom has been daily bread baking. We have begun baking every morning so we have something to eat in the afternoon. Three of our friends have already had an opportunity to bake the bread for our community. This involves scooping the flour, pouring the water and oil, adding the yeast, and mixing all of the ingredients together with a spoon. The final step is to knead the dough. Until Wednesday morning, all of the children were a little apprehensive about this step. Finally, our oldest friend made the brave choice to touch the dough, and then many other friends became interested in the kneading step.
It is wonderful to see the children take to this process of baking for our community. Many friends check on the dough while it is rising during our morning work period; this has allowed us to discuss the scientific aspects of baking. We also get to talk about what will happen eventually (eating the bread) and then allow them to make the connection with the memory of the dough rising and the mixing process.
I hope you all are enjoying these lovely final days of summer!