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Betsy & Jeanette's YCC Class

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 & Betsy
jeanette@traversechildrenshouse.org
Betsy@traversechildrenshouse.org

Jeanette Kania

Jeanette Kania, YCC Guide 
Betsy Bloomquist, YCC Guide
Kate Maas, classroom support
Bridget Bernhard, classroom support

Room Parent
Phoebe Hopps

 Back to School Parent Letter

Family Information Questionnaire 

Classroom Schedule

Car Seat Safety Checks in Grand Traverse County

Betsy Flitton

 

Classroom Highlights

5/13/33

Good evening YCC West families,

I hope you have enjoyed the sunshine we’ve been getting lately. We have taken advantage of the warm mornings and are now taking walks to the greenhouse. In the summer, this becomes an almost daily occurrence so we can check on the progress of the vegetables and other plants. 

We had a few friends go to the zoo recently, so we have been singing Going to the Zoo frequently as a group. We add verses about “penguins diving in the water” (Harper’s favorite), and “bears lying in the grass” (Ella’s request). There are many other animals that make an appearance at our zoo, and it’s easy to insert animals and activities into the meter of the song if you want to sing it at home!

An important part of Montessori education is teaching consent to the children in our classroom. As our learners grow, we continue to deepen their understanding of consent. It begins in the Nido, where we ask a child’s permission before picking them up and explain the steps of cleaning and dressing them. Through observation, we learn the individual gestures and responses of the babies. As children grow more independent and move into the YCC, we continue to seek consent before picking up a child and always ask before giving a hug.

During our day, consent is vital to the interactions between children. We expect our learners to check with their peers before hugging, chasing, or holding their hand. We view consent as a major work-in-progress in the YCC, as the children learn to be independent individuals and move from a place of parallel play to a place of cooperative play. Sometimes the children interact with each other physically as a means to play together. The adults in our environment help interpret  the children's questions and responses to each other to help model how these conversations can go. Some of the children are very interested in their peers and want to hold their hands and hug them several times a day. Lately, we have been modeling “Let’s ask if they want a hug” or “You can say, ‘May I hold your hand?’” and waiting for a reply. Sometimes the reply is clear but nonverbal, and we help to translate that "it looks like they don’t want a hug right now."

The YCC is a great place for children to practice these important social skills in order to create an awareness of how our society functions with respect for others.

3/15/22

Happy “Spring”
I’m sure you have noticed all the wet and muddy outdoor gear and footwear that have been coming home. Thanks for the extra help with providing extra clothes and such during this winter-to-spring transition. As we head into warmer weather (hopefully) the children are growing accustomed to not having to wear all the things. We have had to convince several children that they do not indeed need a hat and mittens. Often they insist on wearing them anyway, until they get outside and realize it’s a whole new world out there. It’s glorious wet, muddy, sandy  wonderland of fun to be exact! The children have a blast jumping in muddy puddles ( Harper’s favorite), mud facials (John’s fave) and all around sandbox activities. As a heads up, boots and pockets are again hiding treasures of rocks and sand… so much sand. 

Speaking of spring, that brings me to our next topic…. 

Wiping the Nose
Find a tissue! In our classroom we have a designated area that is just for wiping one's nose. We have a box of tissues on a low table, a mirror at their level and a small garbage can. We model on ourselves by pointing at our nose and saying, ”Oh, I need to wipe my nose.” We then have the child walk with us to the tissues and model how we pull out one tissue, look in the mirror, and wipe. We then show them how to discard the used tissue in the garbage. We end the lesson by asking, “Would you like to try?” So simple! By the end of the year we are hardly wiping any noses, the children take such pride in caring for themselves.  If the idea of pulling every single tissue out of the box is too great of a temptation, feel free to pull out a few tissues and place them in a small basket. 

A new friend
We welcomed a new friend last week, her name is Lucille Stone. She is adored by all; many of the children believe she is a baby as she is now our youngest. Lucy has nestled right into our little community, learning her way with big smiles and sweet babbles. She has many helpers, whether it be a helping hand when she falls down or a tissue for her nose. Welcome sweet Lu!

3/17/22

It was so wonderful to sit down with all of you and chat about your children’s days here at The Children’s House. We always love hearing about your children's lives at home and the parallels between here and there is fun to hear about. Thank you for sharing your sweet kiddos with us. 

This week in honor of Purim, Jeanette made hamantaschen, which is a cookie filled with jam. The children took turns rolling out the dough, using a cookie cutter to cut out a circle, then filling the center with a dollop of jam. They then pinch in the edges of the dough circle to create a triangle shape to hug in all the sweet goodness. The children read a book with Jeanette that explained Purim in a simple way; the book is called Is it Purim Yet? by Chris Barash. We also have a language activity on the shelf with various cards depicting traditional ways people celebrate Purim, such as costumes, goodie baskets, noisemakers, and of course hamantaschen. 

The spring weather this week has been a joy! The children are having a blast jumping in puddles and playing in the mud. A taste of what’s to come has been refreshing, even though we all know winter is still holding on.

2/23/22

It has been a busy couple of weeks in our classroom. Our youngest friends have really begun showing ownership of taking care of our environment. They have been washing placemats, watering plants, and even preparing snack for the group. We continue to prepare a similar rotation of foods in the morning, and it’s been exciting to watch new children take turns scooping, pouring, and stirring our oats, bread, muffins, and waffle batter.

We reintroduced metal and wood polishing this week after a brief pause. Many of the children have already jumped back into polishing the knick-knacks that decorate our shelves. Caring for these classroom decorations is another way that our learners take responsibility for their environment. The classroom is their space, and our goal is to help guide them through the day but allow them to really own their special environment; as we move through this school year, we work toward fostering the children’s abilities to take care of our environment more independently. 

We frequently talk about “practical life” in the Montessori environment. The activities of practical life include all of those things that you or I do on a daily basis to care for ourselves and our various environments. We do many of these things without thinking much about them (e.g. brushing our teeth, wiping up spills from the floor, sweeping, etc.) Children between twelve and thirty-six months are very interested in helping to do all of these activities that they see done around them. The children are most interested in the work that they see us doing, and that is the work that they will be most interested in taking up themselves.

There are many ways that these exercises can be incorporated into the home environment. This does not have to mean investing in many new items for the home. A simple example of allowing a child to be involved in the maintenance of his or her home is to offer the child the opportunity to mop the floor using the same dry mop that we as adults use, but with the extensions for the handle removed. You can give them the task of setting the table every night for their family. Younger toddlers may just bring plates to the edge of the table or place them all in one, and older toddlers will be able to put forks and spoons as well as plates at each individual place setting.

We work on food preparation skills throughout the week. Currently, the children are working on peeling oranges, slicing cheese, and spreading soy butter on crackers. If you have an extra moment during a weekend breakfast, try giving them the opportunity to spread their cream cheese on a bagel or jam on their toast; they may surprise you.

 

2/12/22

My daughter’s pet rats spent a day in our classroom last week. The children had a blast watching them climb the structures in their cage. Rats are very inquisitive, gentle creatures. The children learned how to handle them gently and to be calm and quiet so as not to frighten them. It offered a great lesson in self-regulation and empathy. Some of the children were very eager to pet them and others stood back to watch. We offered them treats and talked about how we need to take care of them and their environment-- they need food, water and a clean cage in order to have a happy, healthy life. 

It’s that time of year for vacations.  We have had several children visiting other places and they come back so eager to talk about their adventures. It’s a great way to engage in meaningful conversation with each other. Jeanette and I are pretty good at figuring out what is being said, but if you have some insight about what they would be chatting about we would love a heads up. We can also prepare language materials that would be fun to explore regarding their trip, for example, if your family went to the ocean, we could put beach objects on the shelf or marine wildlife. One of our favorite parts of our day is having conversations with the children, it’s wonderful for language development and also quite entertaining. We never know what we are going to find out.

1/27/22

Hello YCC West families!

We have had an excellent past few weeks. We’ve been quite busy in the classroom. If you’ve had a chance to observe, there has been a lot of interest in taking care of our environment by our youngest community members. 

Each day, one (or more) of our friends washes all of our placemats and many of our dishes.  This work involves several steps and is great practice for sequencing. First, the child puts on an apron to protect their clothing. Then they retrieve water from the sink with a pitcher. Filling the basins for washing dishes or scrubbing placemats takes several trips to and from the sink. Any spilled water provides other children with the opportunity to wipe or mop up the water on the floor. After the basins are filled, the child pours soap into the left basin and uses a scrub brush or a sponge to make bubbles. They then add dishes or placemats one at a time, scrub until the item is clean, and then rinse in the right basin. The final step is finding a place on the drying rack for the item and beginning with the next dish or placemat. When all the items are clean, the child pours the water from the basin to a dump bucket underneath the stand. They carry the heavy bucket to the sink and pour the soapy water away. After returning the empty bucket, the child uses a mitt to dry the wood of the stand. Once all the sites are complete, the child places the wet apron, mitt, and hand towel into the laundry basket and resets with dry linens for the next child. 

Many of the children have also enjoyed sledding almost every day. Even when we only go outside for just a few minutes, almost everyone will take a turn on the sleds. The sledding season began with much hesitation, but Astraea paved the way and taught most of the others about how fun it can be to fly down the hill. Some of our younger friends are mostly pulled around on flat ground by Bennett, who tends to enjoy pulling two children at a time or helping push sleds down the hill rather than riding himself. In the early days of our sledding adventures, I would pull the children to the top of the hill; however, now that they are more used to how the process works, we are working on walking up the hill and then getting situated in the sled at the top. I know that many of you have already signed up for the school-wide sledding party next weekend, but please check the Compass for more information if you are interested in attending. 

I hope you have a lovely close to your week!

1/13/22

Jumping back into classroom life sure felt nice after the Winter Break! It seemed everyone was happy to be back and fell into the usual routine as if no time had passed. Welcome 2022, here we go!! 

Our first week back we welcomed two new friends to our community, Asher and Fiona. It’s been a delight watching our YCC West community welcome them with open arms. The older children are keen on showing them the way in which we do our daily routines. If you check out the new roster you will find Asher and Fiona’s pictures, the children continue to bring the roster around to their friends and point out who everyone is. 

One language activity that the children adore is pictures of their pets from home. Last year some of the children could tell us who each and every pet belonged to. That being said, we would love for pictures sent via email of your pets, dogs, cats, fish whatever you have.  If you sent one last year we still have it, and thanks if you have already sent one our way. The time we sit and talk about pets is perfect for a group activity and engages the children for great lengths of time. I can’t wait to see and hear about all the pets in the Children’s lives. 

I had a request for Lyrics… All-time favorite song!! 

Trot, Old Joe

Trot, Old Joe
Trot, Old Joe
You ride better than any horse I know
Trot, Old Joe
Trot, Old Joe
You’re the best horse in the country-oh
Wooooooah, Joe

Gallop, Old Joe
Gallop, Old Joe
You ride better than any horse I know
Gallop, Old Joe
Gallop, Old Joe
You’re the best horse in the country-oh
Wooooooah, Joe

Walk, Old Joe
Walk, Old Joe
You ride better than any horse I know
Walk, Old Joe
Walk, Old Joe
You’re the best horse in the country-oh
Wooooooah, Joe

12/16/21

It’s hard to believe that the fall semester is nearly over and that winter break is about to begin. The weather has kept us on our toes, and we also have been working with language cards about outdoor gear; we have been discussing the difference between mittens and gloves while getting ready to go outside, and (as always) everyone is practicing putting on snow gear independently. 

Our friend Hattie moved up to Primary this week. She is across the hallway, and we still see her on the playground. We were also joined by a new friend from Nido— welcome to our classroom, Linden! Everyone has been very interested in their littlest classmate, and he has a great many helpers throughout the day. 

We enjoyed reading books and experiencing language activities about Hanukkah earlier this month, and this week, we’ve enjoyed singing a few Christmas carols and talking about symbols we see at Christmastime. We have some Christmas and Yule-themed stickers on our art shelf, and we all worked on a project that will hopefully be coming home with your child tomorrow. 

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 community. Many of the children have been particularly drawn to the seasonal songs (Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls) we have been singing, so I imagine that many of you may be hearing those in the days, weeks, and probably months to come. 

We hope that you all have a wonderful two weeks of winter break! I’m sure that the children will be excited to share all of their experiences around the snack table when we come back in January! Have a happy and healthy new year!

11/11/21

Now that we are into November, we’ve been enjoying seeing the various types of precipitation that our place in the world has to offer. The children have mixed emotions about the snow flying, but it is always exciting to see them experience snow. As the temperatures dip, 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 to go outside in the same order, which provides the children the opportunity to sequence and also fulfills their need for order. Some 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 (or snowsuit)
  2. Boots
  3. Coat
  4. Hat
  5. Mittens

We use the “up-and-over” method to put on our coats and sweaters. 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. 

We have also begun to discuss the next big holiday we will celebrate as a community: Harvest Feast. This is our way of bringing a big festive holiday meal into our classroom. For children who celebrate Thanksgiving at home, it also serves as a preparation for that experience as well. We set the table and have many festive holiday foods. Here is a link to a document with a little more information about Harvest Feasts and the signup to bring a dish to share. 

Finally, thank you to everyone who came to conferences! It was great to get to have some time to talk about all of the things your children have been doing in the classroom so far this year.

10/27/21

Hello YCC West Families!

Somehow October is at its end, and with that comes several celebrations in our classroom. We are having our second birthday celebration of the year, and we have another one next week. The children have been talking about the baby in the newborn photo of our friend Bennett, and we keep reminding them that that is a photo from when he was a baby. It’s always fun to see what the children notice as the same about our growing friends and what they claim is different. 

We are celebrating Pumpkin Fun Day on Friday, and we have been talking about Halloween for the past couple weeks. We have a set of language cards on the shelf that feature common Halloween images; we begin talking about holidays in advance to prepare the children for what they might see out and about in their neighborhoods or on other outings. This week, I brought a large pumpkin into our classroom, and we have been discussing what to carve on it. It was a little bit dirty, so some of our friends have been doing the big work of scrubbing the pumpkin to prepare it for carving into a jack-o'-lantern. 

Next week, we are hoping to talk about Día de los Muertos and Diwali as well as hopefully make some new recipes for our community to try during snack. If you haven’t yet filled out the family information questionnaire, please do so so we can include any celebrations that are special to your family on our celebration calendar. Here is the link.

We continue to bake or prepare the next days’ snack nearly every day, and adding new recipes centered around various holidays has been a fun introduction to different kinds of celebrations for our community.

We hope you have a great end to your week.

9/30/21

Happy Thursday!

We hope that this message finds you well. We’ve been very busy the last two weeks. Welcome to Sylvan and his family! Sylvan has been doing an excellent job of caring for our plants and occasionally preparing our snack. The other children have been very welcoming and kind as he has gotten to know the classroom.

Several of our friends have recently begun wearing underwear at school, and we have many potty parties in the bathroom where the children read books together and sometimes sing songs. If you are in this stage and haven’t read Toilet Awareness by Sarah Moudry, please let us know and we will get you a copy. Also, Jenny and I did a thirty minute education opportunity on this topic last year. Here is the link. 

We have also been enjoying talking about who lives at our houses. Nearly every day one of our oldest friends asks to sing the song about our families. It has a verse for every child and they go like this:

Everybody, everybody, everybody has a family
Everybody, everybody, everybody has a family
James has a mommy named Jennifer and
James has a daddy named Jamie and 
James has a sister named Maya and
James has a dog named Moose

Last year, we had a set of language cards that had photos of all of the children’s pets (or other family member's pets that they had a relationship with). If you sent us a photo last year, we still have it, but if you did not, we would love to update our stack of dogs, cats, rats, and fish. The children love sharing stories about the special animals in their lives with their friends. With younger children, this can be a good exercise in how to share something that is incredibly precious (photos of a member of their family) with their peers. We frequently talk about how we don’t expect toddlers to be able to share, but we model it as a grace and courtesy lesson. Sharing something that is so important (but as an object that is actually replaceable) is a great way to practice this. Thank you in advance for taking the time to send a few photos! We will let you know how the sharing and showing goes.

9/16/21

Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe that we are already in our second week of school. We want to say a quick thank you to those of you who joined us for our back-to-school night. It’s always nice to have that time to talk about what is going on in the classroom. Here is the link to our classroom page that has all of the handouts from back-to-school night, information about car seat safety in our area, and (possibly most importantly!) the link to the Family Information Questionnaire that we briefly talked about. We are looking forward to continuing to deepen our conversations with the children and having dance parties with some of their favorite songs. 

We have had a busy first two weeks of school. We welcomed Bennett and John and welcomed Liesel back. Everyone has been so welcoming, and it seems like they have been with us all summer.

We have been preparing a lot of food both independently and for the group. This week, we had cheese slicing and egg peeling available. Both start with a tray, a bowl, and a plate. For Cheese slicing, we also have a nylon knife, a cutting board. The children remove the long pieces of cheese from the bowl, slice the cheese on the cutting board, and place the cheese cubes on the plate. For egg peeling, the children remove the egg from the bowl, gently crack it, peel all of the brown shell off, and place the shells back in the bowl; when the egg is fully peeled, they use a wire egg slicer to slice the egg and place the slices on the plate. When they are finished with these individual activities, they are welcome to enjoy the snack that they prepared for themselves. The children have also been preparing group snack in pairs or individually. We have made challah, overnight oats that are heated in the morning, overnight yeasted waffle batter, and apple muffins. All of the ingredients are premeasured and lined up on the baking board. The first step is always scooping the grains into the mixing bowl. This can take several minutes and is a good exercise for practicing problem solving and wrist rotation. After the flour or oats are scooped into the big mixing bowl, the child adds all of the other ingredients one at a time. They typically take the time to smell most of them (there is usually vanilla involved) and watch them drop into the bowl. When the child has added all of the ingredients and mixed them, they cover or “tuck in” the oatmeal, batter, or dough to allow it to rest. It has been lovely to talk about who prepared what the next morning while we eat our snack.