March 2016 SFF Newsletter

Director’s Report

EXPANSION/CONSTRUCTION UPDATE – On February the 18th, we met with the construction to discuss details of phasing the work.  On March 8, we held a scope verification walk through.  The new schedule has us moving the classrooms to our swing space – the Fellowship Hall (Gross Motor Room) the week-end of April 23-24.

Our Building and Grounds committee has gotten bids from moving companies for us to determine costs on moving all our equipment, furniture, and supplies into the Fellowship Hall during construction in our wing of the building..



  • Unfortunately Christina Sherwood, parttime teacher in the Green Room has left for a fulltime job.  We have hired Imaan Esse to replace her.  Imaan has had experience working with children in the past in her native Memphis.
  • On February 20, LaJuan Celey attended a training on “Oral Health Education and Awareness.”



To all the parents who worked during the clean-up day on February 6 – Jennifer Adams, Emilie Cassou, Justin Connor, Debra Gaeta, Kari Jorgenson, Ulas Karasu, Yvonne Onyike, Jean-Louis Racine (chair), Lauren Sun, Louisa Treskon, Christhy Vidal, & Mary Hilari.


Quaker House Newsletter

Hello Quaker House families.  This year we have been using an Anti-Bias Education approach in connection with The Quaker Testimony of Equality.

At this age, it is normal for children to categorize the world around them and one of the most recognizable ways that they can categorize people is by gender. As we continue to observe the QH children use sex-based stereotypes to guide their play especially to exclude the opposite sex (girls can’t run as fast, or boys don’t know how to take care of baby dolls), we have taken more intentional steps that challenge the children’s gender role stereotypes.

  • At circle, we are aware of which books have the typical girl in pink princess and ninja boys in black themes and if requested we will read them, but we explain how the characters could dress in any color and really be whoever they wanted to be. We continue to read books that promote gender equality as well as challenge the gender stereotypes such as;

William’s doll by Charlette Zolotow

The princess knight by Cornelia Funke

My princess boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Not all princesses dress in pink by Jane Yolen

  • At circle, we also have deep discussions about not having a choice being born as a boy or a girl so it’s not fair to be excluded because of something out of our control.
  • We have been practicing scripts whether the exclusion or unfairness is happening to you or someone else. The scripts allow the child to stand up for themselves and for others. Simple scripts such as “That’s not fair, you can’t say I can’t play!” “Everyone can play!” or, “Think about how you would feel if someone said you couldn’t play.”
  • We engage in Buddy play and Buddy lunch- pairing boys with girls for teacher directed activities, free choice play and at lunch so that the conversations can be extended. We often do interviews while the buddies are engaging in their play. We ask the children to learn one thing about their buddy by asking questions. Oftentimes, the children find out they have many similarities (as well as differences which we explained are ok as well).
  • We have been showing the children more nontraditional careers for women and men such as male nurses, men who sing in the opera (some believe that men don’t sing at all) and perform ballet and women who play sports and are in construction/engineering.
  • We also have been talking about, reading about and showing pictures of the different dynamics of families including single mother families and families that have two mommies. We have started our “family of the week” which also shows that there are mothers who work in different professions and provide for their family.
  • When we order supplies, new toys and materials we make a conscious decision to use only natural or neutral colors avoiding “boy” and “girl” colors that the children strongly believe in. Also, whenever we play a game or sport, we never indicate that this specific sport is for one gender. We always use positive words to describe the strengths of both the boys and girls no matter what the activity is.
  • Finally, we are practicing how to turn a statement into a question. The QH children often assume that a person won’t like an activity or toy because they are a boy or girl. We are practicing to simply ask, “Do you like this toy?” “Would you like to play superheroes?”

In all, this is a continuing goal that we address in our everyday activities and we hope that the QH children will be able to successfully use our strategies to address inequalities when they are not in the classroom.

Thank you,

The QH Teachers


Rainbow Room 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 


-Rainy season is here, so please make sure there is a rain coat and rain boots at school for outdoor play 

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

Thanks, Rainbow Room Teamhr-gr

Green Room Newsletter


In the last two weeks we have seen a consistent interest in large construction play in the block area. We been watching and listening to their conversational play. For example: “Look at my road, “My building can reach the sky” “Don’t knock my house down” …etc.

Ten Things Children Learn From Block Play

Derry writes, many early childhood educators, myself included, believe that every classroom should have a full set of unit blocks, assorted props tied to children’s current interests and experiences, open storage shelves, and plenty of space and time to build and rebuild invented and familiar structures. I canvassed NAEYC staff and Young Children consulting editors to ask, “What do you think children learn through block play?” Here are some responses:

  1. Problem solving. Sometimes it is intentional: “I want to build X. How do I do that?” Other times it is in-the-moment: “To go higher and add to one side, what can I use?”
  2. Imagination. Children can follow their own plan, or they can share a friend’s vision and work together to create something they never dreamed of.
  3. Self-expression. Blocks offer many ways for young dual language learners to explore, express themselves, and demonstrate what they are learning across languages.
  4. Mathematics. Important concepts and skills are practiced and strengthened through block play, including length, measurement, comparison, number, estimation, symmetry, balance.
  5. Continuity and permanence. Block play engages spatial sense and motor abilities; it can be a solo or a group effort; block creations can stand for an indefinite period of time.
  6. Creativity. Blocks and other loose parts can be moved freely by children, to be combined and recombined in countless ways. 
  7. Science. Blocks offer opportunities to test hypotheses and build scientific reasoning.
  8. Self-esteem. Children discover that they have ideas and that they can bring their ideas to life by creating, transforming, demolishing, and re-creating something unique.
  9. Social and emotional growth. Blocks help children learn to take turns and share materials, develop new friendships, become self-reliant, increase attention span, cooperate with others, and develop self-esteem.
  10. Development in all areas. Block play requires fine and gross motor skills. Blocks enhance children’s problem-solving abilities, mathematics skills, and language and literacy abilities. And constructing “creations” builds self-esteem and feelings of success. 

—Derry Koralek, former Chief Publishing Officer and Editor in Chief of NAEYC


Blue Room Newsletter

It finally seems like winter is almost over and the weather will soon be one that is acceptable and enjoyable. To get everyone prepared and as excited about Spring as me, I decided to focus this newsletter on nature. I found an article in young children titled, “learning to love the earth… And each other” This article focused on the need for children to have direct hands on experience with nature. Reading books to children about nature (bugs flowers, etc) is always great but that alone is not enough to grasp the child’s full interest or understanding of nature. Digging in the dirt for worm or helping plant flowers and watching them grow over time will leave much more of an impression on the child. The article states “when children have daily opportunities to care for plants and trees, animals and insects, they practice nurturing behaviors that help them interact in kind and gentle ways with people as well.”

Depending on the generation one was born in, going outside and exploring nature was a part of your daily life. However now, it seems with all the different forms of technology available, children have become disconnected from the outside world, the natural world. Instead of spending time running around outside, collecting rocks, splashing in puddles, children now spend so most of their free time indoors. “The lack of outdoor contact had shown to effect children in many different ways such childhood obesity, dislike and fear of outdoors.” The fact is, children need nature. It helps them grow, develop, and it increases their curiosity about the world they live. At SFF we are aware of this which is why we try hard to implement nature throughout the year. As the weather gets warmer, we will begin to put water in the mud pit and allow the children to explore with it. In previous years parents have helped plant flowers and vegetables on the playground and this year will be no different.

It’s always inspiring to read these type of articles but the hard part is deciding what to do next with the information. We as adults and child care providers must go the extra step and figure out how to incorporate nature in children’s lives and we must look beyond the playground and the local park. Author Ruth Wilson states “…it seems in Western cultures children are encouraged to focus their learning on cognitive models rather than on firsthand investigation of the natural environment.” As an early childhood educator I believe with the appropriate outdoor environment children will grow in all different areas of learning. They will begin to ask more questions and even seek finding the answers themselves. There’s no right or wrong way to explore nature (as long as you’re being safe and taking care of it), so children have total freedom to express themselves how the want.

Lastly, the article suggests tips for parents and teachers to try in order to help bring nature back into the daily life of children:

-grow flowers or vegetables in  wooden planter boxes (which we do)
-think differently about weather ( we are one of few schools who go out in a wide range of weather conditions and this is great for the children to experience them. Rainy days are for jumping in puddles with rain boots, snowy days are great as the children explore with the snow and see what they can create).
-go on an I spy walk around the neighborhood (use the senses and talk about what you see, hear, and smell outdoor
-create a worm bin (This by far is one of my favorite things to do outside with the children. The amazement in their eyes after digging in the dirt for a worm and then finding one is priceless).
“If a child is to keep alive his unborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in” environmentalist Rachel Carson.


Important Dates:

March 11th – Staci’s Birthday

March 28th – Staff Development Day