February 2017 Newsletter

Director’s Report

ACCREDITATION – The teachers and I are working hard on our classroom and program portfolios that will be part of the assessors visit in March.  Our curriculum consultant Jacky Howell has also been working with teachers on observable criteria.  Teacher Makai Kellogg has been doing an admirable job of supporting teachers and attending with me the bi-weekly conference calls with NAEYC.  We are participating in a streamlined pilot version.


  • To all the parents who post our openings and open houses on listserv. We still have three openings in the Tiger classroom!
  • To Gregg Molander & Patrick Sheldon for continuing to support our Building needs.

GOOD-BYE – To a few of our children:  Cyrus Diener and his family will be moving to Amman, Jordan in early February.  Cyrus Neman Campbell and his family moved to California.  And Cassenia Hider has left to attend Lowell School.


  • Consultant Amy Friedman gave a naptime training to all the teachers on speech and language challenges.
  • Teacher Aide DeDe Shepperd left in early February. Welcome Jazmin Wright to the Eagles classroom.  She is a student at Trinity Washington University and has worked with young children at Kipp DC.
  • Yasmine Brooks attended a day long training and observation at St. John’s Preschool, a Reggio Emilia inspired program in Georgetown.


Tiger Classroom Newsletter

During the month of February, the Tiger children have gained much maturity and independence.

In the block area we have seen a big change as the majority of the children are building with considerable independence. They have gone from solitary to collaborative building, having developed the necessary flexibility and negotiation skills to work in groups. They have developed their ability to focus for longer periods of time, and utilize the saving shelf, in order to return to their constructions over a period of days.

Blocks are a great learning tool from a very young age to the primary grades. They promote problem solving, imagination, self-expression, mathematics, continuity and permanence, creativity, science, self- esteem, social and emotion growth, fine motor skills and much more.

“The children’s engagement, persistence, and creativity in building remarkable structures often surprise the adults. Through the year, the children move from placing one block at a time using trial and error to choosing specific materials to meet their own building plans, envisioning alternative orientations of the blocks (mental rotation), and planning for the placement of units of blocks (composition and decomposition).
By now most children are creating complex symmetries and patterning in their buildings.”
(“Developmental Look at a Rigorous Block Play Program”, by Diane Hobenshield Tepylo, Joan Moss, Carol Stephenson)

As children transition to Elementary school, the time they spend building with blocks, Lego, or other construction materials is more and more limited. Providing the opportunity for your child to engage with these kinds of educationally rich materials can enhance and balance the academic work they are doing at school.

Here are the trajectories for children age 4-8 in one glance. They might help you to foster your child’s play at home. Keeping these trajectories in mind can make play more purposeful and productive.

Patterning and Symmetry:

  • Children build with balance, symmetry, and attention to decorative elements
  • Early representational: Children decide what the building represents during or after building
  • Late representational: Children decide their building plan in advance for dramatic play

Symbolism and Spatial Relations:

  • Children begin to symbolically represent objects and spatial relationship
  •  Children begin to represent interior space and separate objects within a construction

Architectural Features:

  • * Children create interior space blocks in a third dimension
  • * Children build one layer with (partial) enclosure and ceiling
  • * Children create 3-D enclosures with two or more layers

Composition and Decomposition’s:

  • Shape composer Children build with anticipation, using multiple 3-D shapes, including arches, corners, enclosures, and crosses
  • Children repeat simple structures as units, such as multiple arches with ramps or stairs
  • Units of units Children build complex structures (towers, buildings, with multiple levels and ceilings)

Happy Building!
The Tiger Classroom teachers


Eagles Newsletter

During this month of February, the Eagles explored Dinosaurs. The Eagles enjoyed learning the names of dinosaurs, how they ate, survived, and evolved over time. The activities such as drawing dinosaurs, creating fossils, fossil search, and making their own dinosaur with shoeboxes were a great way for the Eagles to understand how dinosaurs existed.

Now, the Eagles will learn about space. Space is a quite endless and vast subject. To help navigate this subject, the Eagles will focus their studies on stars, moons, planets, space stations, and space shuttles. The Eagles have demonstrated a deep desire to learn about space through their play during constructive free time. The Eagles spent a lot of time building space stations with blocks and spaceships with connectors. We will assist the Eagles with investigating why planets exist, how the moon impacts earth, gravity, the differences between planets, and the reason for space exploration.

Also during this month, families were able to visit the Eagle classroom for Family of the Week and shared their family traditions as well as family history. Thank you to all the families for participating in assisting the Eagles with becoming enriched in your traditions and gaining more knowledge about your family!

Thank you for your continued support,

Eagles Team


Butterfly Room Newsletter

Winter brings exciting changes to the outdoors and wonderful opportunities for children to explore. Children are all about figuring things out. They want to understand how the world works. Materials like snow, puddles, ice, frozen leaves, sand and soil are temporary and intriguing to investigate. These free, educational materials require no teacher planning. They come with lessons already in place, just waiting for children to discover them as they play. The outdoors supports all aspects of children’s learning. It engages their bodies, their minds and their imaginations. The natural world invites curiosity and supports problem- solving skills.

When we went out in the snow, the kids got buckets and shovels and started filling their buckets with snow. Not only were they having fun, but they were putting their fine and gross motor skills to work. We built the base to a house with the crates. The children enjoyed jumping or stomping their feet to make room for more snow in the crates. They were using their imagination and enhancing their problem solving skills. One kid started taking snow and filling up the spaces between the blocks of ice.

The winter season can be unpredictable, however. The weather can range from mild to bitterly cold, bright and sunny to rain, sleet or snow. Children need to have the right clothes for the weather conditions: layers in the cold weather, boots, and rain coats for the rain. In cold weather young children usually need one more layer of clothing than an adult needs to stay warm.

A common myth is that exposure to cold and wind make children more likely to catch a cold or flu virus. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cold weather is not the cause of either the flu or colds. Both cold and flu viruses are more common in the winter and children in child care are in close contact with each other and can spread the germs. Washing hands frequently and teaching children to sneeze or cough into their elbows help reduce the spread of colds and flu. Active play helps build the immune system and increases a child’s ability to fight off a cold or the flu. So let’s bundle up and enjoy the outdoors – especially in the winter!


Just a few reminders:

  • In general, we don’t go outside if the temperature or wind chill is 20 degrees or below.
  • Ensure that your kids have snow gear i.e. snow pants, snow boots, mittens (waterproof), hats, jackets.
  • Ensure that they have extra clothing in their clothes cubbies and that they are weather appropriate.


Turtle Room February 2017 Newsletter

Hello, everyone! It’s hard to believe the year is going by so fast! That being said, 2017 is off to great start in the turtle room. In the past month, we explored many different ways to take good care of our bodies. We repeatedly practiced effective hand-washing, stretched from head to toe while doing yoga, and tasted various fruits and vegetables. Though the turtles ate the veggies with little to no fuss, I’m guessing that is not always the case at home. In fact, I’m sure most (if not all) of you have encountered a temper tantrum at least once. Dr. Becky Bailey of the “Conscious Discipline” school of thought has some tips to handle toddler temper tantrums: most importantly, the adults must keep their cool. We want to model the behavior we hope to see. Try to follow these suggestions:

  1. After taking three deep breaths, say this to yourself, “I’m safe. Keep breathing. I can handle this.” Now you’re ready to address the child.
  2. Come to eye level with him or her and say, “You can handle this. Breathe with me. You’re safe.” If it helps, hold them in your arms and take some deep breaths. Once their body has calmed down a bit, affirm them by saying something like, “There you go, you’re calming down.” Then tell them to make a choice. For instance, if you’re at the grocery store, try, “You can sit in the cart and hold the list or you can sit in the cart and hold your toy.”
  3. Once they’ve made a choice, celebrate with them! “You did it! You calmed your body and that’s hard to do.”

For more information on this and other related topics, visit www.consciousdiscipline.com

 Important Dates:

February 20th– school closed for President’s Day


Red Panda Newsletter

January has come and gone and the school year is quickly progressing. The children have become more acclimated to the school environment. They are growing and learning physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. They are becoming more independent and are encouraging each other to help one another, often without teacher support.

 This month we will be starting Family of the Week in our class! It is an important part of our curriculum. This allows one or more family members to visit during their assigned week to talk about their family, bring photos, share family history or traditions, and read books or stories to the class that are special to your child. Having family involvement is important for the parent and child and contributes to greater academic success for the child. Children enjoy showing their classroom and favorite play areas to family members. Family Week also provides an opportunity for the other children in the class to learn about different family traditions and to understand that each family is unique. This is important because not all families are alike. There is diversity in family structures.  

If you have any questions about which activity to do, feel free to let us know how we can be supportive. We can assist you in evaluating if the activities are developmentally appropriate. Some suggestions are: bring in books that your child enjoys to read, have snack or lunch with us, lead an activity such as art or a gross motor activity, bring in music from your heritage to play, and have a dance party to music that your family enjoys. Other activities that are not suggested here are welcomed as well. As always, feel free to email us with any questions or concerns.

Thanks for all your support!

Red Panda Teachers


Sea Lion February 2017 Newsletter

The playground and classroom can start out as areas of calm and play and turn quickly into a boisterous physical space. At times it can be alarming and we want to stop it since it is our job as caring adults to keep children safe. First, though, we have to distinguish whether the physical interactions are just rough play or fighting. The biggest difference between fighting and rough play are the feelings, intentions, and facial expressions of the children. When children are engaged in rough play their faces are laughing and smiling, there is open hand touch, they are wrestling, chasing and running, and the child returns for more. Fighting involves a fixation on the other child, frowning, hitting, pushing, take and grab, and the child flees and cries. The main difference is doing something together versus doing something to someone. When wrestling, you take turns leading and following but when fighting, there is only domination. 

Social benefits of rough play: requires children to detect signals (nonverbal cues), alternate and change roles, bonding, confidence, self-control, positive interactions with peers, learn your own limits which allows one to be assertive and stand up for oneself. 

Physical benefits: supports cardiovascular health, children get vital touch needs (of all senses, touch is the only one you need to survive). 

Cognitive benefits: verbal and nonverbal language development, problem solving skills, negotiating, paying attention, estimation, spatial skills, and organization. 

How parents can support big body play

• Supervise play closely. If your child needs help telling a playmate to stop or to do something in a different way, you’ll be there to help. 

• Talk with your child and set some ground rules for big body play. For example, if your child likes to wrestle, you might set up a “Wrestling Zone” in your home. Choose an area with enough space to wrestle without bumping into furniture. Make a rule about how long each wrestling bout can last before time is called. You might also have a rule about all wrestling moves being between shoulders and waists, and not around necks or heads. 

Five things you should know about big body play

1. Big body play looks like fighting, but it isn’t fighting. 

2. Big body play is rowdy, physical, and usually loud. It rarely turns into real fighting. 

3. Big body play is a vital component of children’s growth and development. Children all over the world play this way. 

4. Big body play gives children sustained moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise. With our current obesity epidemic such a growing concern, it can help children stay fit and healthy. 

5. The quickest way to distinguish big body play from real fighting is by looking at the expressions on children’s faces. Their big smiles let us know the play is okay. 



-Please check the extra clothes cubby and make sure there are two sets of seasonal clothing 


-The sign-up sheet for fruits and veggies to supplement snack is on the classroom door 

Thanks, Sea Lion Team