The first story Deb would like to share today is entitled, "Oh, Were They Ever Happy!" It makes US so happy to share this book with you.
Wendy would like to read a special story to you - it's called "A Girl and her Gator". Bart, Wendy's sweet dog, makes a special appearance!
A Letter from Science Teacher Wendy:
Now is a great time to start your gardens indoors! Personally, I find a lot of joy in watching things grow. Gardening doesn’t have to be a stressful undertaking. Really, it is just one big science experiment. The main thing you’ll have to do is make sure it gets plenty of water, and cover it if it is outside during a late spring snow storm. Some things will work, and some things won’t. But the process will be fun either way!
Our gardens at Paddington have thrived the past few years. My home garden in Stapleton doesn’t always have as much success, but I have found things that have worked over the years. (More on that later). You don’t need the amount of space we have at school to be successful at growing vegetables. You really just need a sunny window and a pot or two. If you do not have any soil on hand, check with a neighbor. Maybe they can spare a small amount. You can also find some on Amazon if you would rather not go out to the garden center right now.
Right now, I am especially interested in trying to regrow food from existing kitchen scraps. I have had some successes with this and some failures (honestly, I cannot get the whole avocado plant from pit technique to work for me, but hopefully you can!).
If you have a spare sweet potato, cut it in half. Stick three toothpicks in each half about 1/2 inch from the cut side in a triangle position. Place the cut side into a bowl of water. Keep it in contact with the water (so you’ll need to add water every couple of days - and discuss the idea of “evaporation” with your children!).
After a few weeks, it will sprout leaves and roots. Then you can plant the sprouted half in a large pot or a garden bed. Each plant will need about a one foot radius to grow, so don’t place them too closely. The leaves of a sweet potato plant are quite attractive. Apparently they are also edible, though it is not something I typically eat. Plan to harvest in late summer. Since you cannot watch the potatoes grow (i.e. they do grow under the dirt) it is super fun to dig the plant up and dig down to see how many potatoes have grown!!
If you are like me, there are times when you don’t eat the regular potatoes before they start to sprout. Once they sprout, they do start to produce a toxin in the skin that will cause stomach troubles, so you can’t eat them. But don’t throw them out! Place them in a sunny window to allow the sprouts to grow a little more. Then cut the potatoes into large chunks. These chunks can be planted. When planting, form the dirt into a large mound and place the seed potato in the middle about 2-3 inches down. These plants also need about 1 foot radius. In late summer, when the green leaves (not edible, by the way) start to turn brown, then you know the potatoes are ready to harvest. Have your child predict how many potatoes the plant has produced before you dig them up.
Celery: (This is my first time with this one, so fingers are crossed it works!)
Cut a few inches off the bottom of a whole stalk of celery. Rinse, and place upright in a jar or bowl. Fill halfway with warm water and set in a sunny window. Change water every other day, and mist the top of the plan so it stays somewhat damp. After a week or so, plant the base in soil (covered with soil, but leave the new leaves exposed). Keep soil well watered. New leaves and stalks should grow. Harvest when stalks are large (and keep re-planting the base).
There are quite a few other vegetables and fruits that you can re-grow like onions, garlic, herbs, lettuces,etc. Here is a link with more information.
Hope you all have fun trying to grow from kitchen scraps!
Science teacher Wendy
Thanks for reading - we look forward to seeing you soon!
Ms. Deb is here to read you the story, "The Button Box"!
A few of Deb's Favorite Resources:
Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube
Steve Spangler Science Educational Science Activities - www.stevespanglerscience.com
Daily emails filled with activities from Inside The Orchestra/Tiny Tots! Click Here
A way to excercise both mind and body - Enshin Online Karate Classes
More free stories for kids - Audible.com stories
The fun continues with the story "Huff and Puff" read by your favorite Librarian, Kelly! Kelly's adorable sidekick, Pink Pig, also stops by to say hello!
Kelly has provided your family with some fantastic activities you can do at home related to the story "Huff and Puff" by Claudia Rueda - we hope you enjoy!
1. Get the whole family in on acting out the “Three Little Pigs”
* make the houses fort style out of couch cushions and blankets
2. Grab the art supplies and create your own houses with toothpicks, popsicle sticks, scrap paper, junk mail, pom-poms, really anything you have on hand.
* ask your child to describe their house and explain why the big bad wolf may or may not be able to blow it down.
3. Retell the story of the “Three Little Pigs” and ask your child to tell you the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
* Retell favorite folktales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, etc.
Deb is here to read you a very special book entitled "Hands" by Lois Ehlert!
Introducing... Science Teacher Wendy!
Wendy begins each weekly lesson with a special song - please enjoy singing along with Ms. Wendy in the video below!
In the video below you will find Wendy reading the book "Imogene's Antlers" by David Small!
A Special Letter from Science Teacher Wendy
One thing I love about science is that it is all around us. There are so many things to discover with little effort on our parts. Sometimes we do need a little inspiration, so here are a few fun ideas/links to interesting things to try while you are home with your kids. I'm trying to only suggest items that won't require any trips to the store or waste any necessary food or consumable materials.
Color Mixing Fun:
This is always a favorite for all ages! Find clear bowls or jars, fill some halfway with water. Add a few drops of food coloring or watercolor paint (FYI food coloring does stain). Kids can use spoons or straws to transfer these colors into clean jars. They can create many new colors from just a few basic colors. Let them mix away!
Sink or Float Fun:
Find 10 items around the house, test if they sink or float.
Static Electricity Fun:
Your children are young scientists every day of their lives! I miss seeing all of their smiling faces.
Be well everyone,
Thank you for reading with us - stay tuned for the next edition of Virtual Story Time with the Paddington Station Staff!
The staff at Paddington would like to share some of the activities and ideas we have gathered from various educators around the county. So many teachers are coming together to share ideas of how families can continue to cultivate learning at home! Here are a few of our favorites (click on the gray title to access the resource link):
Scholastic Learn At Home- website with 20 online books and activities to try at home (User name: Learning20 Password: Clifford)
Mystery Science- a website with short mini-lessons
Brain Pop Jr- a website that has educational videos and content (User name: Padbear Password: Bear1301)
Learn at Home Parent Handout (English and Spanish) by Mrs. Rainbow Bright
Activities to Try at Home by Twinkl
Preschool Simple Activity Ideas by Kelly McFarland
Nature Scavenger Hunt by Trish Sutton
Mega Scavenger Hunt by Kate Fairlie
Nature Journal by Firefly Nature School (if your child is in the pre-writing stage, they can generate the thoughts and ideas and you can write the words for them)
There are so many amazing resources being shared right now!
Additional ideas: TeachersPayTeachers.com (there are lots of freebies), the local library's website, Instagram accounts of educators, Pinterest, ABC Mouse, Facebook groups, child yoga videos, and so many more!
We encourage you in the weeks to come to create a routine and/or schedule for both you and your children. Children thrive on routine—think about incorporating outside time, nature walks, doing something for someone else, quiet times, chore time, art time, and even cooking time.
Please stay tuned for upcoming blog posts featuring videos of the Paddington Staff reading some of their favorite books! Although we will miss the students and families dearly, we look forward to staying connected with each one of you.
As January comes to a close we're reflecting on the last few weeks of school and all the fun we've had! It has been a jam packed month with Teddy Bear Affairs, admissions tours and observations, visits in our classrooms from Delta Pilot, Rachael Burnside and El Vaquero, Mr. Angel Vigil, a deep-dive into the world of birds, a Developmental Milestones Panel for parents and meeting our new Johnny Townhouse teacher Morgan.
As we look toward February we're not sure how it's going to top the fun we had this month but we're sure going to try! We have Special Friends Day (schedule in All Aboard), re-enrollment and we will have our blue Valentine's Day mailbox in the foyer. We hope your kids (or you!) will share the love with our faculty. Your cards will be delivered by the Johnny T's on Valentine's Day!
Happy New Year! We enjoyed welcoming everyone back to school this week, and it was such fun to see so many smiling, happy faces coming through the doors at Paddington! We hope you enjoyed a restful and relaxing holiday break and had the opportunity to spend lots of time with family and friends. It is always nice to take some time to slow down and move at a different pace.
The faculty and staff at Paddington returned to school a day in advance of the children and spent some time cleaning and reorganizing classrooms, changing art on bulletin boards, setting up new and exciting dramatic play areas, and planning engaging curriculum units for the coming weeks.
We also gathered together as a staff for a presentation on social and emotional development from Anne Mairs, who in addition to teaching in the Benjamin Bunny classroom, serves as Paddington’s Social and Emotional Curriculum Writer. Anne has spent a great deal of time this year studying various theorists and reading the work of authors on early childhood social and emotional development. She has also attended many workshops and trainings in the Denver area on this important topic.
In addition, Anne has met with teachers in our monthly age level meetings to gather feedback, exchange ideas, and share classroom strategies for supporting the social and development of children at Paddington. Through Anne’s work and via staff collaboration, we plan to create our own social and emotional curriculum that will be implemented school-wide to support children in our classrooms. We greatly value the importance of providing strategies to help children identify feelings, regulate powerful emotions, problem solve, navigate a variety of social situations, and make friends.
Anne shared the following with us on Monday:
"What behaviors lead to friendship? Several discrete behaviors that young children engage in during play with each other are directly related to having friends (Tremblay, Strain, Hendrickson & Shores, 1981). That is, children who do more of these behaviors are more likely to have friends."
We look forward to observing the continued growth and development of your wonderful children over the next few months, and encouraging new friendships. We are grateful for the support of the Paddington community as we work together to instill a love of learning through play in children.
Opportunities for teacher leadership have been minimal at Paddington over the last few decades---the School has had a Head of School and a Director. In meeting with teachers over the past few years, we heard that our talented groups of educators wanted more opportunities to grow, learn and share their knowledge, in others words, to Cultivate, Collaborate and Inspire on a larger scale. Our teachers want to be viewed as professionals and are true advocates in the field of early childhood education and are tirelessly working to nudge the field forward.
To that end, this year we added three new positions for our gifted teachers to apply their talents in new ways. With the support of our Trustees, we further developed the Playground Ambassador position with the intention of building a scope and sequence for outdoor learning activities and a curriculum writer position to focus on a scope and sequence for social-emotional learning at Paddington.
Last year, Sheila Olson and Anne Mairs piloted the position of Playground Ambassador, paving the way for us to evaluate this need and to more fully expand and articulate this role.
In the spring of 2019, teachers were encouraged to apply for the specific position that might interest them, answer a variety of questions and then go through an interview process. Numerous teachers applied and the decision-making process was challenging as each applicant was passionate about the new opportunity.
Ashley G. and Megan Simmons collaborated and submitted a joint application for the Playground Ambassador position. Their proposal was so compelling that we decided to offer two positions for this important job. Both Ashley and Megan are passionate about outdoor education and play-based learning. They bring the theory of constructivism to their thinking, planning and implementation as they know first-hand that students are active participants in constructing their own learning by exploring the outdoor spaces. Ashley and Megan, along with Nea, attended a four-day workshop in Nebraska City, NE in July to learn more about outdoor education. Couple this training with a day-long workshop in October sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and these two have hit the ground running. Shortly after the October workshop, Ashley and Megan completed the paperwork to certify our outdoor spaces as wildlife habitats through the National Wildlife Federation.
They have met with age-level faculty (teachers of 2s, 3s, and 4s and 5s) and listened to their ideas, questions, and dreams. Together they have designed a format for an Outdoor Learning Opportunity, a template with key learning skills and objectives along with directions, helpful hints and extensions. Each Outdoor Learning Opportunity comes in a box with a book to extend vocabulary and provide a good story. In addition, the box holds all the materials needed for the learning opportunity. Megan and Ashley share the goal of creating 20 such boxes by June 1, 2020.
Here is an example of a box and a class using this specific box, “Scribble Stones:”
Spend a day at Paddington Station Preschool and you’ll see it is 95% in the realm of social-emotional development. What an opportunity for us to teach life-long skills and habits in promoting healthy relationships, encouraging children to express feelings and solve social problems. It’s imperative that we work on this to give children the skills to thrive in a constantly changing and unpredictable world.
To build our social-emotional curriculum we invited teachers to apply for the role of curriculum writer. We had many applicants for this position, and, again, the decision-making process was challenging as each applicant was passionate about the new opportunity.
Anne Mairs was chosen for this position and has spent countless hours in professional development opportunities and reading various books on the topic. She has also met with age-level groups to gather to gather their ideas, comments, questions and a list of developmental skills they see as important within their own age-level. Anne has the task of blending this work with evidence-based research on social-emotional growth into a Paddington scope-and-sequence.
Anne recently attended a summit on Social-Emotional Learning at the University of Denver on December 2. Teacher Leadership at Paddington is thriving!
Wagon Train: A Cherished Paddington Tradition that Reminds Us All of the Importance of Kindness, Thankfulness and Helping Others
This week we had the opportunity to celebrate a cherished Paddington Station tradition, Wagon Train. This is an event that we look forward to each year as it reminds us of the importance of giving, sharing and what it means to be a part of a larger community. It is always wonderful to see the foyer at Paddington filled with cans and boxes of non-perishable food items that have been donated by our amazing Paddington families and staff! On Wednesday and Thursday, the children participated in the Wagon Train by loading the line of red wagons with the food that had been donate. They then delivered it across the street to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to be later taken to the Aurora Interfaith Community Services.
In the classrooms at Paddington, Wagon Train provides an opportunity for teachers to have age appropriate conversations and discussions with children about important topics, like kindness, thankfulness, sharing, and helping others. It also provides opportunities for hands-on learning experiences in other areas. For example, the Peter Rabbit Kindergarten class took advantage of the opportunity to teach their children how to count and record data using tally marks as they counted the number of cans and boxes collected at Paddington for Wagon Train.
Supporting us with Wagon Train each year are members of our neighborhood community, including the staff and parishioners of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and our local fire and police stations who block off 13th Street so we can walk safely to the church and back. Thank you St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Denver Police and Fire Station #14 for supporting Wagon Train!
We are also incredibly grateful for the help and support of the Paddington Station community! From donating food items and wagons to helping children load wagons and walk to the church, the Paddington parent community is always ready and willing to lend a hand. Sharing in this tradition is a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season! We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and know that our hearts are filled with gratitude for all that you do to support our faculty, staff, and children. We are truly thankful!
Through play children make discoveries, experience joy, and exert independence. At Paddington, we are committed to continue this work.
Admissions tours have started for the 2020-2021 school year. Eager parents and grandparents are joining us on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings for about an hour. The tour starts with a Parent Ambassador who kicks off the meeting and shares the current parent perspective of Paddington. Gracious and talented Therese Aleinikoff our Admissions Coordinator, then guides prospective families through the halls, classrooms and outdoor spaces. Lastly, I join the group in the foyer to answer lingering questions.
I love admissions tours. I love the connections made during the tours and opportunity for prospective families to see our talented teachers at work and watch children joyfully exploring the wonders of the world. The question and answer time allow me the chance to reflect on why I do what I do.
Questions from prospective parents can be challenging and insightful, “Why do your teachers stay at Paddington?” “What’s the favorite part of your job?” “Why do you stay at Paddington?” “How can children learn through play? Don’t you need to teach math and literacy?” “Do you do anything besides play?”
The questions remind me of the power of community and the power of play. Paddington is a caring and warm community that is committed to creating and sustaining a playful environment. The work is evolving, creative and worth it---for all children.
As shared with you at Back-to-School Night in mid-September, at Paddington we believe that Play isn’t a Luxury. It’s a Necessity!
The research is there--- in 2018, the World Bank’s World Development Report declared that “children’s brains are most efficient at incorporating new information through exploration, play, and interactions with caring adults or peers.”
Again in 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics, champions for play in children’s lives, stated, “Play is fundamentally important for learning 21st century skills, such as problem solving, collaboration, and creativity, which require the executive functioning skills that are critical for adult success.”
Through play children make discoveries, experience joy, and exert independence. At Paddington, we are committed to continue this work. All faculty and staff are reading the newly released book, Let the Children Play by Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle. We will have a book club in early 2020 to talk about insights and the pedagogy behind play to enhance our daily work. If any of you are interested in joining us for a lively conversation, just let me know and we would welcome you. We purchased additional copies of the book and you can find them in the Parent Library located in our foyer.
On Tuesday October 8th, the faculty and staff gathered at Paddington for a day of professional development. We kicked off the day by sharing feedback, ideas, and successes related to the classroom blogs. Teachers have embraced this new method of sharing information with families about classroom events, sign-ups, wish lists and curriculum. In addition, families can find photographs and anecdotes describing what and how children are learning each day through a variety of engaging play-based experiences. We all agree the blogs are a wonderful way to communicate with families and to provide an answer to the question, “what did you do at school today?” Our hope is that families will read the blogs, perhaps even with your child, and use this as an opportunity to ask deeper questions and to find out more from your child about what is happening in the classroom on a daily basis and to discover what activities they most enjoy at school, what books they enjoyed reading as a class, and more! Library and science blogs are coming soon, so be on the lookout for these in the coming weeks.
Later in the morning, teachers participated in both an online and a remote training on another piece of technology, Kaymbu, which is our new family engagement and documentation tool. The Squirrel Nutkin classroom piloted this tool last year and it received positive reviews from teachers and parents! Kaymbu will provide a platform for teachers to document individual student growth and development throughout the school year as well as allow them to share their observations with parents. Shortly you will begin receiving digests from your child’s teachers containing photographs and anecdotes of your child that have been captured during the school day. This will provide you with yet another opportunity to discover more about how your child enjoys their time at Paddington. You will also learn more about the individual growth and development milestones and skills that your child is practicing and achieving through play. Kaymbu contains a messaging system, so you may receive important classroom announcements, updates, and reminders via Kaymbu. You will be learning more about this new tool from your child’s classroom teachers as we continue to integrate this new piece of technology into our daily routines. If you have any questions about Kaymbu, please feel free to reach out to me anytime!
We wrapped up our professional development day with an update from Ashley and Megan, our outdoor classroom ambassadors, a group clean-up of the toddler and preschool outdoor spaces and time in classrooms for curriculum planning and preparing for the week ahead. It was an action-packed day, and we all enjoyed the time together as a staff to continue our own journeys as joyful life-long learners!