March 2017 Newsletter

Director’s Report


Thank you for completing the Equity and Diversity Survey! One third of SFF families participated by providing honest and thoughtful feedback that will assist in planning curriculum and programming for the students and families. – Makai

If you would still like to provide input, please click:


Our successful Small School, Big Future capital campaign enabled us to expand our program, renovate our space, and secure our location at Church of the Pilgrims. Let’s celebrate this wonderful accomplishment on Saturday, April 8. An open house will be held from 4:00-6:00pm, with a dedication ceremony from 4:30-5:00pm. Refreshments will be served, children are welcome.


  • DeRochelle Shepperd has left as aide in the Eagles classroom and we welcome Jasmin Wright in her place. She is a student at Trinity Washington University and has worked with young children at Kipp DC.
  • Danyel Pearson has been working as a temporary substitute/floater almost fulltime since early fall. Once we have completed the classroom portfolios in preparation for the accreditation, we will no longer need her on a daily basis.  So we thank her for her assistance.  In the meantime, Erika Martinez has joined the staff as a part-time aide in the Sea Lion classroom to take Danyel’s place.  She has had experience working at other early childhood programs including Department of Energy Bright Horizons.
  • On February 23, Jemmie Joseph attended a day-long training at St. John’s Preschool, a Reggio Emilia inspired nursery school in Georgetown. The focus was art, and Jemmie will do a teaching for all teachers on the use of clay.

THANKS – to all the parents who worked during out Saturday clean-up day on February 4:  Thor Alden, Joe Franklin, Julia Gallu, Tom Hershenson, Mary Hilari, Tom Jennings, Joel Millar (chair), Jenny Murphy, Will Philpot, Michael Stirrat, & Zaid Zaid.

SIMPLE MEAL WITH FRIENDS MEETING OF WASHINGTON – By now you have gotten an invitation to attend Meeting for Worship on Sunday the 19th at FMW at 10:30.  If you have never been to meeting for worship at a Quaker meeting, now is your time.  Learn a little about the spiritual community our school is connected to.  Children are welcome; Makai helps provide the child care, and children may join the meeting at the end.

MAKAI – LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE – Makai Kellogg has been selected to join the 2017-2019 cohort of the Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends schools sponsored by the Friends Council on Education.  We know she will learn a lot and contribute a lot to the rest of her cohort.  Go, Makai – make us proud!

FRIENDS SCHOOLS IN UNCERTAIN TIMES – It is important for us to remember, at this time and all times, the values of the Religious Society of Friends.  Friends have a long-standing traditions promoting certain habits of heart and mind.  In the not-too-distant future, you will be hearing from our Religious Life Committee on how we are trying to have these values live in School for Friends.



Tiger Newsletter

 Children are naturally curious about all kinds of human differences from a very early age on. To make meaning of their world they learn to categorize. Pre-school children especially are developmentally beginning to sort and categorize things in their environment. This is also true about people’s visible traits.

Noticing differences is part of their normal development; our work is to help them avoid stereotypes and bias.

 Pre-school children quickly assume that people who look like them also enjoy the same things they do, while people who look different are different in many ways.

 “Children are very sensitive to adults’ actions and emotions and they sense our discomfort with differences. Meanwhile, they are constantly exposed to biased messages from the media and the conversations and behaviors of the adults around them. Young children are constantly taking in our society’s powerful messages about diversity: what group holds power, and wealth- and where they fit in. Children need us to talk to them about these differences directly, explicitly, and in language they can understand. Instead of giving abstract confusing messages like “everybody is equal” or “we are all the same”, we can teach from the perspective that everyone is important and every person experiences the world in different ways which gives each of us different ideas and viewpoints.”

 There is nothing more important in the lives of children than their families. What better way to see, understand and celebrate diversity first hand as by learning more about each family in the Tiger-classroom at our Friday morning circle times.

 Over the next couple of weeks, we would like to invite each Tiger–family to be part of one of these circle times (11am).

 Our Friday circle time is meant to help your child learn to value themselves, their families culture/heritage, develop an in-depth understanding of “you and me”, and very importantly to know that their own families are respected and supported, but also learn to understand and respect the families of others.

 The following suggestions may help you to initiate a conversation with your child when planning your circle time.

Who is in your family? (Siblings, grandparents, and other family    members are welcome to participate in this circle time!)

What makes a family a family? What are things that define your family?

Where does your family (also extended family) live (heritage)?

Does everyone in your family like the same things?

How has/does your family change (moving, new baby…)?

What does you family enjoy doing together? Is there a way to enjoy that in the classroom? (Activities, foods, books, photographs…)

Think together; tell children briefly about celebrations or special events your family does together…

Share your own childhood stories with your child, or talk to them about their experiences so far.


 From the past years we know how much the children look forward to this day and take pride in having their family be part of our school day.

 So make sure to sign-up early on and please feel free to come to us with any questions you have.

 We are looking forward to this special “Family-time” in the Tiger classroom.



Eagles Newsletter

Over the past two months, we’ve been following the Eagles’ interests as we develop our topics of study. We spent the beginning of February learning about dinosaurs and now we have ventured into a study of space. Following the children’s lead, in terms of their interests, is essential to their learning because it makes the information relevant to them. When information is relevant, learning becomes meaningful.

As we learn about different topics, we plan to provide enriching art experiences that are process focused (versus product focused). With process art, you focus on the experience as you are creating. There is no model to follow, there is no right or wrong way to create your art. When we completed our “gravity paintings,” the children focused on the process. They mixed the water and paint, they dropped paint onto their paper, and they watched the paint drip as they held their paper up. The paint moved in different ways depending on how they held it, how much paint they used, etc. Everyone’s painting was unique. Every child was excited to show us the masterpieces they created.

We thought it would be helpful to understand the importance process focused art. The following information is what children do and learn through process-focused art:


Social and emotional: Children relax, focus, feel successful, and can express their feelings

Language and literacy: Children may choose to discuss their art and add print to it (on their own or by dictating to a teacher)

Cognitive: Children compare, predict, plan, and problem solve

Physical: Children use small motor skills to paint, write, glue, use clay, and make collages

You can find more information at: and


Monarch Butterfly Newsletter

March 2017

10 Important Skills Children Learn from LEGOs

In the Butterfly Room the children have shown interest in building with LEGOs (Duplos). Throughout the classroom, children can be seen crawling around with Legos attached together, building towers, a zoo and house for their Lego animals.  

One of the most educational toys available also happens to be one of the most inviting! The skills children learn from LEGOs are important and incredible! If you never really thought of them as super educational, you will soon see the benefits to letting children play with LEGOs. July 8, 2016 by Katie

Skills Children Learn from LEGOs

1. Fine Motor Skills: Using LEGO bricks is the perfect opportunity for building fine motor skills! LEGO bricks are a great manipulative to work the fingers as children build and even pick up LEGO pieces. Children love the thrill of building and they can do this for hours, building up strong little muscles in their hands that will help them do other skills, such as learn to write.

2. Cooperative Play: It’s so easy for LEGO building to turn to a time of imaginary bliss with adventures, heros, villains, animals, and even family members. Using LEGO mini figures and bricks with other peers gives children the same skills they would learn in dramatic play.

3. A Sense of Accomplishment: When my children have finished their amazing work of art, they are beaming to show me their creations. They have made something they are incredibly proud of, which is good for their hands as well as good for their heart! Most of the time they come up with an idea in their heads, and then they begin to piece it together. As they develop self-confidence, their excitement leads to making items with more and more complex purposes!

4. Persistence: Building with LEGO bricks sometimes leads to heartbreak. A beautiful tower comes crumbling down with one wrong move. Initially, this is frustrating. I’ve learned though that children who use LEGO bricks regularly are not defeated by this. Instead, they make it again. I’ve even accidentally wrecked a masterpiece. And I am always surprised when I hear “It’s OK, I can build it again!”

5. Solving a puzzle: It doesn’t matter whether a child uses an instruction booklet or builds completely from their own imagination. They are solving a puzzle!   When children are picking up little pieces around them to form a building, plane, or creature that putting puzzles together. 

6. Science: Cause and effect is one of the first science lessons a child learns! It is so fun to watch the thrill that a child has to build a tower as tall as possible. It gets higher and higher, soon over their heads. Then they all hold their breath as the super tall tower falls over.
Science is the driving component behind all creations that a child has. The foundation of science is to come up with an idea and to prove it practically. LEGOs do this naturally through imagination. A child simply comes up with an idea then develops it.

7. Technology: Put simply, technology is using new techniques to accomplish a task. LEGOs teach children to use basic materials to complete a task.

8. Engineering: This is all over LEGOs! Want to build a bridge? Then you must figure out what it takes to stand up. Children quickly learn that a tower made of a single column quickly falls. By creating a stable base, they open up a new world of possibilities! Soon they will have pyramids or maybe even the Eiffel Tower!

9. Creativity: Every LEGO creation is a form of art. A child’s imagination is the only limit! Children become creators with the hundreds of tiny pieces. They can use wheels, shapes, and even “people” figures to build the ideas in their minds. It can be useful, entertaining, or even therapeutic.

10. Math: Volume, quantity, one to one correspondence, symmetry, patterns, and more all can show up when a child plays with LEGOs or Duplos.  Let’s not forget addition and subtraction! When you give a child a limited number of Legos to complete their entire project, they learn that each one counts. They begin to understand that each and every brick, mini figure, and piece has a value! Children can even begin the complex task of rationing their supply to complete their masterpiece.


Turtle Room Newsletter

Children learn best through play. It could be by touching, smelling, seeing, stacking, hearing, splashing, and more – the list can go on and on. Past newsletters have highlighted the benefits of sensory materials in the classroom and stated how we constantly provide at least one sensory material for use throughout the day. As we embark on a long theme exploring the 5 senses I (Elizabeth) researched some ways that we could expand our use of the sensory table. An archived article from NAEYC’s Teaching Young Children titled “10 Ways to Use the Sensory Table” gave some great ideas. Here are some key points I took from the article and will be implementing as we continue to explore and learn.

–          Button, button, who’s got the button? Filling the table with buttons, scoops, containers, ice trays, tweezers. Familiar items but in a new environment can allow creative thinking and a hands on approach to exploring tools and materials in a new way. These materials create an opportunity for pouring, sorting, categorizing, stringing, comparing.

–          Bottle tops and egg cartons. Create a layer on the bottom of the table with egg cartons and add bottle tops of various colors and sizes. Using fingers or tools like tongs or tweezers can invite children to move, separate, stack, sort and more!

–          Squeeze and squeeze some more. Our sensory table often has water and bubbles but adding sponges creates a new element. The sponges can be different sizes, shapes, and materials. Adding the sponges allows for more investigating to happen, with open ended questions starting with how, why, and more.

–          Glorious indoor mud. Why not bring some the outdoors inside? It is clear many Turtles like to get messy so exploring dirt and water together can be a great combination. We can also provide sticks, leaves, and other natural items. In addition, some digging and scooping tools that are always popular on the playground (i.e. mud put, sandbox and on truck days).

The sensory table in our classroom is always very popular, so it is important that we continue to add materials and tools in order to create new learning experiences. Creating sensory bins, boxes and areas for play at home is always an option as well! Feel free to reach out if you have questions or need ideas. The TYC article has ten tips in total and can be found via the following link:

Let the fun begin!


Important Dates:

March 19 – Simple Meal



March 2017 Red Panda Newsletter

During the month of February, the Red Pandas started our “family of the week”. We have been learning about family diversity, family structure, and all the things different families are bringing from home. We have been excited to have each family visit and share things that are special to their family. It is important to show children that all families are not the same. We are learning new ways to explore family diversity and share the experience as a room family.

 According to Barbra Biles in an article “We Are Different We Are the Same”, acknowledging diversity teaches young children to respect and celebrate the differences in all people. Biles articulates that, “At Two is when children begin to notice racial and gender differences. At 2 ½ is when they learn gender labels (boy/girl) and the name of colors which they may begin to apply to skin color”. We have been talking with the children about how it is ok to be different and why it is important to celebrate one another.

In the Red Panda Room, we have been beginning to know each family with more depth. The children have been so involved and excited to have each family member come to visit. They have also enjoyed trying new foods, dances, art activities and traditions that each family has brought in. They have been very excited while learning about different cultures, family traditions and having the parents in the room visiting. The children love listening to the books that have been brought in by parents and having lunch with them.

We have also been talking to the children about how people aren’t the only ones who have families. We have been talking about red pandas and their families. We have built a habitat as a class for the red pandas which is now displayed in our classroom. We discovered what red pandas eat and the children have made pictures of it. During this month we will continue with our family of the week and learning about different families!

  • Reminders: Please provide two sets of seasonal extra clothes
  • As the weather changes, snow pants can come in and be hung up on the hooks until needed
  • Please label all items

 Thanks for your support and input!

Red Panda Teachers


Sea Lion March 2017 Newsletter

I [Makai] attended the NAEYC Annual Conference this past November.  One of the most interesting and worthwhile workshops I went to was on a topic not discussed much in the early childhood field: death. The workshop titled “Addressing Loss in the Classroom: Helping Young Children and Ourselves through Trauma, Death, and National Tragedies” was facilitated by Dr. Sharon Katz and Terry Lawson.  Dr. Katz opened with the statement “as a society, we pretend that people don’t die.” How is this idea perpetuated based on what we tell children when a relative, pet, public figure or friend dies?

 Children grieve differently than adults:

-Grief response is different at different stages of development

-Regressive behaviors are to be expected

-Every child is different

-Children hear more and see more than we think they do

-Children take their cues from the adults around them

As adults, it is important to recognize that we are not going to fix it.  What we can do is have an awareness of developmental understanding of death in order to support the children we love during a loss.

Birth- 2 years old: no concept of death, aware of absence, notices change in routine, and picks up on emotions of family.

3-5 years old: death is temporary, death is reversible, death is not personal, and children have fantasies that are different from reality. Some noticeable behaviors may be aggression, nightmares, withdrawal, crying, and pretend games on death.

Over 5 years old: death is permanent, may think they caused it, fears about other people dying, and wonders what happens to the body. Some behaviors may be denial, acting out, shifts in mood, clingy and protective, and asking for details.

Some ways to give children what they need during this time are to be patient, lower expectations, increase physical contact, maintain routines, use age appropriate language, provide many opportunities to have fun and play, and repetition. 

Important guidelines to remember: Provide genuine responses, create opportunities for expression, acknowledge sadness/anger, do not give explanations that can be misinterpreted, allow children to take the lead in expression, be approachable and available, and be patient with difficult behaviors.

There are children’s books available that address life cycles and death such as: “Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs,” “The Tenth Best Thing about Barney,” “Lifetimes,” and “Saying Goodbye to Lulu.”


-Please check cubbies for extra clothing and provide at least two sets of seasonal clothing

-Sign up to bring in fruits and vegetables to supplement snack

Thank you,

Sea Lion Team