April 2017 Newsletter

Director’s Report

ACCREDITATION – Thanks for all the hard work that teachers put into preparation for our accreditation visit on 3/30.  Lead teachers and their teams worked since November to prepare their classrooms and create a portfolio illustrating what they do.  Makai Kellogg provided incredible support to the whole team.

THANKS –  To Lauren Sun & Sam Buffone and all the other parents who helped make the Simple Meal at Friends Meeting of Washington such a success on March 19.  It was a good opportunity for us to interact with our Meeting community.

STAFF NEWS – We welcomed former student Lucy Geffen here at SfF for three days in mid-March.  She was doing an apprenticeship here at the school.

WELCOME – To our new student in the Tiger Classroom – Oscar Mazmanian and his parents Madeleine Konig & Aram Mazmanian.


Tiger Newsletter

Making math fun and relevant to young children can be as easy as making time for play.  As young children explore their environment and interact through play, they are beginning to notice relationships that are the foundations for mathematics.  From counting, to making spatial connections, to understanding sequences, we can build upon the children’s natural ability to play while introducing them to the basics of mathematics.

As teachers, we see math being used as part of play every day. While in playhouse, children use the pretend pancakes to feed their friends. In order to distribute a handful of pancakes evenly among three friends the “pancake maker” has to use one to one correspondence (pointing to actual objects and counting aloud one by one).  This is not just an example of one to one correspondence but also rote counting (counting aloud without pen and paper). These techniques are learned naturally through everyday play as well as familiarity with their environment.  Young children also explore patterns and shapes, and compare sizes.

While sorting and matching things that are the same or different; children can also arrange things in simple patterns, based on their characteristics; they are beginning to understand the meaning of words and phrases like “more,” “less,” “a lot,” and “the same as.”  Everyday at choice time Tiger kids have the opportunity to use the various manipulatives in the classroom.  Manipulatives are a great tool to make simple and complex patterns from colors, shapes, purpose, size, etc.  The primary colored bears are a popular manipulative that the Tiger kids like to sort with. We have seen several patterns such as “blue, blue, red, yellow, green, blue, blue”, “small, large, small, large, small, small”, and “three, three, three, two”.

Children use measurement to describe, compare, and order things, using unconventional tools (like pieces of blocks, sticks, and even their footsteps).  No rulers required.  You can find our Tiger poster, which shows “How Many Blocks Am I High?” In this activity blocks, teamwork, and rote counting were all that was needed to introduce basic understanding of measurement.  

During outdoor play the children can find lots of exploration of spatial relationships.  For example outdoor play furniture gets moved around a lot.  As friends play with each other one can hear phrases such as, “we should move the couch closer, the table is too far, move your chair next to mine”.  

Free play offers a rich foundation on which to build interesting mathematics. These everyday experiences form the foundation for later mathematics. Later, children elaborate on these ideas, and we recognize that children need both these foundational experiences, as well as specific math activities.  Preschool isn’t just about 1, 2, 3’s and A, B, C’s. It’s about teaching your child to take joy in learning, and to recognize that the world is full of fun lessons waiting to happen!


Eagles Newsletter: April 2017

The Eagles would like to begin the newsletter by thanking all of the families for sharing their traditions, foods, and time. The Eagles have grown due to the wonderful activities that the families provided throughout the weeks. As we enter into April 2017, the Eagles will transition from investigating outer space and astronauts to investigating eagles and other birds. The Eagles enjoyed their learning experience in regards to studying outer space and astronauts. It was great to observe how much fun and excitement they had while engaging in various activities throughout the month of March.

In April, we will be watching a live cam of the bald eagles who are at the National Arboretum.  The children will be able to watch the bald eagles, Mr. President and the First Lady, as they take care of their young. The Eagles will take this opportunity to not only learn about the bald eagles but also the Philippine Eagle which our classroom is named after. As the weeks’ progress, we will investigate birds that are located in our community such as sparrows, pigeons and cardinals.

On the playground and in the classroom, the Eagles continue to understand the benefits of sharing, being patient with others, and being mindful of themselves and others. As the children become older, experience emotional cycles, and gain additional social skills, it is beneficial for adults to remain mindful and patient as well. To assist with gaining some additional information, useful tips, and to reflect, there is a link to an article about the stresses of parenting and how to increase patience with young children.



Monarch Butterfly Newsletter

Since getting new hermit crabs in the classroom, the children have been really excited to see what they are doing. Every morning, they go right to the tank. Throughout the day, they look through the tanks at least ten times. Thus, Jackie and I decided to do a theme on hermit crabs so that the children can better understand our classroom pet. We discussed the different parts of a hermit crab and the foods that they eat. We have also discussed in what climate they live in and where they can be found. We have created mazes for the hermit crab and observed them. The children exclaimed about their discoveries and observations. Pets are a wonderful source of happiness and inspiration. Educators have used animals in the classroom for decades. From a goldfish filled aquarium to the hamster who roams the classroom floor in his roller ball, there is no doubt that critters are a great educational tool especially when including or involving children in the care of the animals. “Tending to the needs of animals requires children to give thought and attention to something outside of themselves and supports the practice of caring (Wilson, 2001). The professional literature suggests that as children care for animals, they become more caring towards people as well (Rud & Beck, 2000; Wilson, 2001). Related research also indicates that as children learn to treat animals with care and respect, they become less likely to treat humans in a violent, disrespectful way (Lockwood & Ascione, 1998; Wilson, 2001). Thus, while bringing animals into the classroom requires careful thought, planning and commitment, the benefits to children suggest that the effort is indeed worthwhile (Dickstein, 2000; Wilson, 2001).”

Below are other benefits of having a pet in the classroom.

  • An animal in the classroom creates improved learning experiences for your students as all areas of the curriculum are enhanced. For example: Math (how much does a hamster weigh?) Science (what does a turtle eat?) Geography (where does a hermit crab come from?) Social Studies (different cultures – different pets) and Language Arts (how can I describe the hermit crab?)
  • Students can easily see, feel, touch and make connections to the wide world of animals. For instance, the children get to visit Cupcake (bunny) in the panda room and feel the fur. They visit Spikey (bearded dragon) in the tiger room and feel the scales. The children can then make connections, for example, Cupcake’s fur feels like my stuffed animal.
  • Observing and caring for an animal instills a sense of responsibility and respect for life.
  • Enthusiastic participation on the part of your students.
  • Increased sensitivity and awareness of the feelings and needs of others — both animals and humans.
  • There will be an understanding that all living things need more than just food and water for survival.
  • Students will see how their behavior and actions affect others.
  • Less tension in the classroom.
  • Other classrooms can visit the classroom pets, and students can create presentations for them. There have been a few instances when a child from the Panda room has come in to give the hermit crabs cheerios. It also teaches other children in the center knowledge about different animals.


Earlychildhood NEWS – Article Reading Center. (n.d.). Retrieved April 03, 2017, from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleId=565

Pets in the Classroom: KinderArt – K12 (For Teachers & Homeschoolers). (n.d.). Retrieved April 03, 2017, from http://www.kinderart.com/teachers/pets.shtml



Turtle Room Newsletter

Hello turtle room families. Over the past month we have been guiding the children on discovering 5 senses; touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste. We have also enjoyed getting to know each family in more depth by “having family of the week”. It has been extremely important for the children to see each family, and recognize the similarities and the differences. For example, during circle time families shared different pictures, languages, and history. The children have been learning to celebrate each family for their individuality.

In the article, “Engaging Diverse Families”, Janet Gonzalez-Mena emphasizes the influence of diversity, including “race, ethnicity, language, spiritual practice, abilities/disabilities, social class, and sexual orientation “The children interacted positively with the various activities that each family shared. The children engaged with each family and was opened to learn about what they may have in common and what might be different. Gonzalez-Mena also explains knowing “about their students’ lives, families, and communities, and integrates this information into their curriculum and instructional practices.” The Turtles have been excited to try different foods, explore where the families come from, reading different books, and listening to music from different parts of the world.

Finally, Gonzalez-Mena focuses on the importance of “an ongoing and comprehensive system for promoting family engagement by ensuring that program leadership and teachers are dedicated, trained, and receive the supports they need to fully engage families”. We continue to practice celebrating diversity by integrating each of the families input. Since children naturally start to compare their differences, it is important to continue guiding them in how to appreciate and acknowledge each other’s values and avoid stereotypes. We are continuing to learn that although each family may have different backgrounds, we all share the value of family and its diversity.

 This is the link for more information on “Engaging Diverse Families.”



Panda Newsletter

Last month the Red Panda room learned more about families. Mostly all the children have had their Family of the Week. We have enjoyed every minute of it! The children anticipated each week with excitement of whose family of the week it was.

 We have also been learning about other families such as; Red Pandas, and Horses. We discovered more information  (through visuals) about each animal. The children were able to go in more depth about what types of food each animal eats, where they live, and how they have families just like us! Each child had input on creating the Red Panda’s habitat and visit the habitat often. We even tried some of the foods they ate and created a taste test to see who liked or disliked the different fruit the Red Pandas and Horses eat.

 The children have also been engaging in play with the different animals in the block area. They have been creating more with blocks to make homes for the animals. In the article, “10 Things Every Parent Should Know about Play”, Laurel Bongiorno expands on the importance of play with practical ways to engage in play. Bongiorno explains how “children learn through play”. Each child has their preference of where to start and practice more “ cognitive skills, physical abilities, new vocabulary, social skills, and literacy.” She also explains how play can improve children’s health and increase their trust and happiness.

Bongiorno emphasizes that “play and learning are intertwined”, play allows the children to experience what they see in their environments hands on. For example, some of the children in the Red Panda room are able to engage in play with their friends. They practice problem-solving daily. With some teacher scaffolding, the children are able to initiate play with a friend and build on one another’s creativity.  Bongiorno states, “play provides rich learning opportunities and leads to children’s success and self-esteem.” We learn more about each of the children’s values and ideas through play. They feel trusting to approach each experience knowing they will be heard and that we can work it out together.

Thanks to all of the Red Panda families for making time to come in for their Family of The Week. Your input and support is greatly appreciated!! We hope each family takes advantage of this warm weather and enjoys their playtime!


Sea Lion Classroom April 2017 Newsletter

One of the most exciting aspects of curriculum planning and experiences for the children are field trips.  Field trips are essential to learning. Firsthand experience provides children with information that adds to their play, enriches vocabulary and enhances their overall learning.  Facilitating field trips involves considering safety, interests of the children, parental involvement and access to the community at large.  Salvatore Vascellaro, author of Out of the Classroom and into the World, states “we must continually ask ourselves not what is the shortest route to knowing, but what is the richest route.”  When children engage all of their senses, they are better equipped to remember information, make connections, and reflect.  Field trips offer children a chance to communicate with experts, touch objects, listen to their environment, and observe the world around them.

Before venturing out, the children review safety rules that they have decided on as a group.  We practice taking walks in the neighborhood before taking longer and more strenuous trips that require public transportation.  When walking, a teacher leads the group and is also in the rear while the chaperones walk in the middle.  The experience during the walk or bus ride tends to be the most stimulating since it is the time the children are making great observations, asking questions, and enjoying nature.  To assist the children in maintaining focus during a walk, sometimes we provide a picture to each child of a place or thing in the area for them to look for like a scavenger hunt.  After the trip, the children are able to reflect on their experience by looking at photos and drawing what they saw or did.  Vascellaro says that “through the externalizing of one’s experience, it is made public, shared with others, and enlarges everyone’s concept of the experience conveyed.”

The Sea Lion children show great enthusiasm for learning new things and engaging in teacher directed activities.  They also continually ask questions to further their understanding of topics they have already been exposed to.  We are very excited to plan many outings both in our school community and throughout D.C. LaJuan and I hope to see you on these trips as chaperones!


-Check your child’s cubby for two sets of seasonal clothing (underwear, pants, shirt, socks)

-Clearly label all items!

-Sign up to bring in fruits and veggies for snack



Sea Lion Team