Milestones Preschool

Milestones Preschool

Building a Thriving Community, One Child at a Time!

Community Helpers – Summer Camp at Milestones

Posted on: July 31st, 2016 by Milena
Building a Fire Engine

Building a Fire Engine

Learning about community helpers—police officers, doctors, etc.—and pretending to be them was an amazing experience for the children. By participating in dramatic play with costumes, and acting out behaviors of community helpers, children develop important social/emotional skills and are more comfortable with the actual community helpers. It is important for children to learn and understand their role in a community and to understand that there are safe, friendly people to help them if they get sick or have emergencies. We had a blast pretending to be fire fighters.  Jennifer made a fire truck with the children that we used to put out fires around the school.

Also, as you know, our beloved guinea pig Polly died during this week. So, we wrote letters during our post office day to help cope with our loss. It was a great way for the children to let out their emotion on paper and speak to their peers about their feelings.

About Summer Camp

It’s summer at Milestones, and that means camp! Each week we have tons of fun activities based on a single theme, such as the Ocean, Dinosaurs, and Cooking. Each theme will integrate, math, science, art, literature, and dramatic play, with each activity will emphasizing one of these topics in order to develop the whole child. View a calendar of the themes and activities for this month.

Polly the Guinea Pig Teaches Us about the Cycle of Life

Posted on: July 31st, 2016 by Milena

This week our pet guinea pig Polly died.

We expected this would happen because of his age and behavior—he was not acting like himself, was lethargic, and found it difficult to walk. So, we had a special circle time for the friends Wednesday morning with Polly as our guest, while he was still alive. We explained that as his body aged, some parts are not working as well as before. He’s having a hard time walking and needs his own cage to relax away from our other guinea pig, Brownie, who wanted to be playful.

Milena talks to the children about Polly, and models how to share feelings about Polly's death.

Here I am modeling how to share my feelings and express my gratitude for the memories Polly helped me create. I drew a picture of me saying goodbye to my mommy after she drops me off at Milestones in the morning, and snuggling Polly for comfort. I also introduced a thought bubble, which reads, “I miss mommy and I love Polly.”

A few hours later, Polly passed. We told the children on the next day about Polly’s death.

We keep pets at Milestones for so many reasons. One of the most important is to help children process the concept of death. (They say you will get more questions about sex and death from your preschooler than at any other age in their development!)

We offer an opportunity for children to feel the loss on a small scale, because at some point they will feel the loss on a larger scale with their own family pets and even family members, such as grandparents. Preschool is all about planting the seeds of experience in a safe controlled setting where children are free to ask questions and process.

Here is an article that goes into detail on how to handle the death of a pet with children: Helping a Child Cope with Pet Loss. I chose this one because it clearly states dos and don’ts, and emphasizes the importance of discussing death and dying honestly. Please read it and refrain from saying “Polly was sick, Polly is sleeping but will never wake up.”

A ceremony will be held to remember Polly on Monday, August 1. Just as we did for the death of Molly (our guinea pig who died last fall), the children will be part of EVERYTHING in planning the ceremony and building the altar.

Some of the objects the friends have added to the altar.

Some of the objects the friends have added to the altar.

The teachers want to take every opportunity to bridge home and school, teach the children collaboration, community, and delayed gratification. We also asked the children to draw/write representations of their memories with Polly to place on the altar. We want to embed academic concepts as much as possible in all our projects. Isabella said, “I have a sea shell. It reminds me of Polly.” Identifying  a seashell as a symbol of something else is a pre-literacy concept, a skill that evolves to understanding that letters are symbols that represent sound. When children grasp this concept they generalize it when learning to read. Teaching children pre-academic concepts through projects that are linked to emotional experiences makes the child acquire the concept far easier and faster, and to retain it more readily.

Over the next few days, the children will add to a collection of objects on the altar for Polly. We will encourage them to explain how each object represents their thoughts, feelings, or memories.

The altar we are building for Polly.

The altar we are building for Polly.

We have also encouraged parents to share what their children are experiencing and feeling, and to ask questions, on our secret Facebook Group, so we can all support one another through this difficult transition. All questions are good questions and chances are other families may have similar questions.

 

Science Week – Summer Camp at Milestones

Posted on: July 24th, 2016 by Milena
Slime!

Slime!

Children are naturally curious and passionate about learning. In their pursuit of knowledge, they are prone to poking, pulling, pounding, shaking, and experimenting. When children experiment with their environment, they are engaging in scientific thinking through active involvement.

We experimented this week with various elements to create amazing reactions. We made an erupting volcano with baking soda and vinegar. We made oozing slime with borax and glue. It is fun to pull, poke, and pound. We created clouds with shaving cream, and made rain drops with food coloring. The children even made rock candy—they will have to wait a week for their candy to develop. The children loved to experiment independently by using their hands to explore the materials. We had so much fun being scientists.

 

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Slime!

About Summer Camp

It’s summer at Milestones, and that means camp! Each week we have tons of fun activities based on a single theme, such as the Ocean, Dinosaurs, and Cooking. Each theme will integrate, math, science, art, literature, and dramatic play, with each activity will emphasizing one of these topics in order to develop the whole child. View a calendar of the themes and activities for this month.