Promote Fine Motor Skills in Room 1 

The more coordinated our preschoolers are, the more independent they become in their daily activities such as: tying their shoes, zipping their coats, brushing their teeth, and appropriately holding a pencil. Throughout the day, we encourage our students to use their hands in various activities to strengthen their fine motor abilities. The following materials are available for our students to manipulate throughout the classroom: small and large floor puzzles; numerous materials in the art center like stencils, hole punchers, scissors, rubbing plates, play dough, painting materials, and collage materials. There are also pencils and crayons available for drawing or writing, and we have blocks of various shapes and textures so that our students can build things.

One of our favorite activities is transferring things from one place to another using tongs. As we were exploring the theme “Insects”, we created a fun game for our children. Students were able to transfer nectar (yellow pom-poms) from flowers to honey combs (hexagons) using tongs.  Students had great fun while learning how bees make honey, all while refining their fine motor skills.

Welcome to Room Four!

Welcome To Room 4!

We are so excited to begin a new school year. We have so many new face and we love to work with our new students to expose them to different areas of the classroom and new routines. We are glad that many of our students are adjusting to each other and to the rules of the school. We know by the end of the school year they will be "big kids" capable of sitting for lessons, sharing with their friends and writing their name. Stay tuned for an action pack year here in room 4. 

Room 4: We are going to the Zoo

We’re going to the Zoo!

Recently, we were treated to a fabulous day at the Turtle Back Zoo. The weather was gorgeous and we had a great time exploring and talking with the kids about different kinds of animals. Room 4 loved every second of it, especially the stingray exhibit.  The children were able to put their hands into the tank to touch the stingray.

Another awesome highlight of our Turtle Back Zoo trip was our excursion on the Zoo’s famous train.  The children enjoyed an exciting ride on the train with their pals.  


The monkeys were also a favorite. The children enjoyed seeing them swing from rope to rope.

Overall the trip was a success and the children’s knowledge of the zoo broadened. School trips are so important to a child’s growing knowledge of the world. Hands on experience is key to successful learning.

In order to elaborate or extend learning about a trip to the zoo or even to the circus it’s great to incorporate high quality children’s literature.  For example, these colorful picture books allow children to gain prior knowledge and extend knowledge of their field trip.

Room 3 Trip to the Zoo!

The weather cooperated for our trip to the zoo at the beginning of November. We had a nice day and the children were excited to see everything. The train ride was a hit. Some of the children were telling us what they might see at the zoo.  When we got back the children were excited to tell us about all they saw at the zoo. They also told us what was their favorite animal.

    We’re in full speed going through the fall season with many different projects, stories, rhymes, and finger plays for the children to learn. We read the gingerbread man and created gingerbread cookies. We talked about the leaves changing color and created some different leaves of our own. We used our fine motor skills and eye hand coordination to pick up and place beans on a leaf and cover the whole leaf.  The children preserved leaves by ironing them onto wax paper. Then we created a place mat for the holiday season. We went outside and jumped in the leaves since they were all falling down. We covered everything from math, language, science, fine motor, and gross motor to learn about the season.

    As November continued we began to get ready for our multicultural week. We had two parents come and read stories to the children. Our music teacher came and let the children play instruments from around the world. We watched videos of the first Thanksgiving. We read stories; and learned finger plays about turkeys, and many different songs. The parent’s came on the day before Thanksgiving to enjoy lunch with their children. We read a book about the first Thanksgiving and some children asked if they could make hats so we did. Some of the boys picked the pilgrim hat and some picked the Indian hat. They girls liked the bonnets so we made them too. We were pretty busy right up to the break we had. Now December is in the air new level of learning will begin at a higher stage now that the children are accustomed to our classroom.


How to Have Fun with Play Dough in School and at Home

When preschoolers play with play dough it stimulates their senses, while offering an opportunity to use their imaginations. Furthermore, the possibilities for conversation and interaction are endless!

The goals of a play dough activity are to:

  1. Encourage free exploration of the materials, which encourages creativity

  2. Expand their ability to pretend and imagine

  3. Help them learn some interesting new words that label their interests and actions

  4. Have fun!

This is the way we made the play dough in the classroom:

  Our students helped us make the play dough and then we put the play dough in a ball in front of our children and had them choose their own color. We watched them mix in the food coloring and talked about the changes that occurred. We observed, asked questions, listen to their observations, and waited to see how they want to use it.  

Our goal was to give your our students an opportunity to see what they want to do FIRST.

Once our students have started to show some direction as to what they want to do with the play dough, we joined in and played, following their lead. Our preschoolers used play dough to create pretend events, so pretended along with them. We turned the play dough into a person, animal, food, vehicle, etc. Pretending by using one thing to represent another is an important part of language and cognitive development.

   Our students enjoyed our playfulness and the fact that we were playing with them, contributing to what they have started to create.

This activity was lots of fun for our students as they:

  • played for a long time (maybe longer than usual)

  • became quite creative both with the play dough and the pretend theme

  • communicated with us frequently

 In case you are looking for a fun activity to do with your child at home, below are the play dough ingredients. This quick and easy recipe is great as kids can help make it as well as play with it.




  • 2 cup plain flour

  • 1 cup salt

  • 2  tbs oil

  • 1 cup cold water

  • 2 drops liquid food coloring


  • STEP 1Combine plain flour and salt

  • STEP 2Add water, food coloring and oil. Mix until ingredients are combined.

  • STEP 3Knead well.

  • STEP 4If consistency is too wet add a little plain flour.


This was our happy October! from Room 5

This month in our classroom we learned how to classify objects from colors, sizes, shapes and patterns. Taking advantage that we are in Autumn season we talked about how leaves change colors. We went around the school and collected leaves of different colors, shapes, and sizes and classified them in small, medium, and large. Also, we used some of them to make patterns. For Fire Prevention Week we taught them how to be safe during a fire. Additionally, firemen came to the school to discuss the importance of safety and prevention of fires. One of the stories we read was The Three Little Pigs, we created the three houses in the story using different materials like straw, sticks, and foam. The children learned how to create structures using different materials.  Furthermore, to celebrate fall we made a Jack O’ Lantern and they explored what was inside and outside the pumpkin, additionally they weighed them and classified the pumpkins as light or heavy. We all enjoyed the animal parade together. 

The Importance of Pre-School Science

By Lisa Tabachnick Hotta

orginally posted on TVO parents


Why is it important to introduce early learners to science? There are a variety of reasons; but one of the most important is that science provides a context for learning about our world.

“Parents know that children’s favorite question is ‘why’,” says Bonnie Schmidt, president of Let’s Talk Science, "Science gives us a framework to understand the world and to answer those questions of ‘why?”

Other reasons why early exposure to science is useful:  

  • It helps children develop valuable literacy skills – in addition to developing scientific, environmental and math-related literacy, science may prompt children who don’t enjoy reading fiction to read non-fiction, linking the scientific process of exploring and discovery with reading.
  • Scientific inquiry and problem-solving builds confidence. Learning to ask questions and solve problems is an essential life skill and vital for school learning.
  • Early exposure to the many facets of science may help cement future interest. “Many young people turn away from the world of science because they think it’s isolating and that science works by itself,” says Schmidt. “If you can help children understand that science is actually about teamwork, about exploring their world and about communicating that information to other people, the essence of science will be better understood [and more youth may stick with it.

Bugs for Lunch, with room 4!

In the spirit of Spring and Earth Day room 4 decided to get their little hands dirty learning about different types of insects. We read an informative book entitled Bugs for Lunch by Margery Facklam. Room four learned all about different plants, animals and insects that feed on bugs. We then decided eat bugs for lunch. Not real ones of course, bugs made of some favorite fruits, veggies and even hot dogs. Finally for the special desert, the students made a fun treat using crushed Oreo cookies, chocolate pudding and gummy worms. The dirty worm cups were a hit. The children truly enjoyed the bugs for lunch. All of the fun bug treats can be found on 

Room 4 Update: Cat in the Hat Treat!

By: Towanda Simms-Yoakum

In honor of Dr Seuss birthday we celebrated Read Across America. During the week of March 10th we read classic Dr. Seuss's books to the children every day. Their favorite was the classic " The Cat in The Hat."  Expanding on their love for this tale we decided to make a tasty cat in the hat treat. ( we love treats). Try making this cat in the hat treat at home with your children. It will promote active dialogue, math, and even science. Here is what you need to get started at home,

  • cherry or strawberry jello
  • clear cups
  • 1 part cold water
  • 1 part hot water
  • whipped cream

note* if your child is allergic to milk products you can substitute marshmallows

Check out some pictures of the fun

Room 3: Preschoolers enjoying the Spring!

The children are very excited that spring is finally here. They get to go outside each day weather permitting, and use gross motor activities to learn spatial awareness, body awareness, taking turns, and socialization by; running, jumping, riding bikes, hula hoops, playing ball, writing with chalk, going up and down stairs, making friends, and playing in water and sand. All of these activities help the child to grow and learn how to accomplish areas in gross motor such as; alternating feet, jumping or standing on one foot for a period of time, skipping, and being social.  

The children use their fine motor skills each day in the classroom to strengthen the muscles in their hands so they can learn to hold writing objects, use scissors and put things together and take them apart the correct way. They use various tools each day such as; play dough, writing implements, small toys, puzzles, art materials, scissors, reading books, and sand and water. Each of these areas of play is very important to the child’s fine motor skills. The more practice the better the outcome for each child.

The children were patiently waiting for the arrival of our Larva. We received them and are looking forward to investigating them as they grow. The children learned new and exciting words that go along with the study of a butterfly. They now know the words, larva, caterpillar, chrysalis, metamorphosis, pupa, cocoon, and butterfly. The children learned the four stages of a butterfly and can’t wait to see our larva go through the stages. 

Room 2: Transforming the Block Area

By: Neva Lattanzio-Temple

The snow is gone and the end of the school year is fast approaching. Miss Gina and I often survey and evaluate how the children are learning and try to find ways we can tweek or modify an activity or section of the room. This past month we were concerned about the block area and we had many conversations about it. In Room 2, we take time to observe the children throughout the day, but especially at work time. We monitor where the children go during work time and watch to see if the different areas of the room are being utilized correctly.

For instance, we observed that during work time, they were only using the large hollow blocks and not building with the smaller unit blocks at all. Because of this we removed the large hollow blocks. Then we brought in pictures of structures, some temples, other buildings in cities and some pictures of unit block structures, laminated and put them in the block area. The next day we had a small group activity where we broke the class into groups of 3 or 4, gave them a picture of a unit block structure and some blocks.  We assisted them as they copied the structure on the paper, using the unit blocks.

This was a big success! We took pictures of the children at small group time and work time while they were engaged with the blocks. They were enthusiastic about using the pictures to give them ideas on structure building.

You may think that this is no big deal, but it is!

The block area (to me, as a teacher) is the most important area in the room. It encourages so much skill building and it is an area that is very flexible. This area scaffolds skill building in the following areas: social cooperation, spatial awareness, geometry, fine motor skills, eye hand coordination, problem solving, creative thinking, exploration, imagination and make believe play. They will eventually investigate balance, patterns, symmetry, sorting, comparing and contrasting. These are just some of the skills the children get practice in when they are engaged here. 

Room 1 Update: Reading & Measurements

By: Angela Luca Fischer, Teacher

This month we had many exiting events. We started the month celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday by reading each day a different story, by having fun with his silly rhymes, by acting out his characters (e.g. we pretended to be The Cat in the Hat, or Sam, or Thing One, or Thing Two), by acting out the stories we read, by making our own original famous hats, or by cooking green eggs and ham in the classroom. We started each day reminding our students Dr. Seuss’s famous quotation:” Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!Dr. Seuss.

  Then the annual reading motivation and awareness program Read Across America Day was very successful as we had a lot of guests who came into our classroom and brought reading excitement to our students. The community people who participated were: the parents, police officers, bus drivers, teachers from other classes, and our school employees.

   This month we started to explore measurement. We started this topic by using blocks to build towers that are smaller than their body, larger than their body, and the same size as their body. They also built two towers of the same size. Then, we used the measuring tape to find out how tall high they were. Then, we measured each child’s height that was recorded in a graph and then we compared who was the tallest child in the class, the medium height one, and who was the shortest in the class. Then we explored the volume concept and we used different sizes containers to compare which container holds more water. We also estimated how many cups of water it would take us to fill up a 1 gallon container, then we counted the actual cups and compared them our initial estimation. We talked about weight and using a balance scale, we compare which objects are light and which ones are heavy. In continuation to the weight concept we measured how many pounds we our students had and we compared the results making up a graph from the lightest to the heaviest in the classroom. Then, using the nonstandard measurement, we counted how many steps long was the tunnel, we measured how many unit blocks long were our block construction, how many steps it took us to get from the block center to the door, etc. We are looking forward to explore more measurement concepts next month like: distance, temperature, money, time.

Room 1 Update: Collaborative Play

One of the omnipresence themes throughout the activities was guiding children to work together. We grouped them and asked them about the plans they had and what they could accomplish together. We noticed how our students moved away from their parallel play to cooperative play. They created games in the housekeeping area; they had fun playing and interacting with their peers. 

The science projects were very successful (especially the games of our science kit) and the measurement activities (weight, distance, and height) solicited active participation and was well liked by our students.

We hope to get back to normal so that we get into our routine continuing with measurements and shopping experiences in various locations.

Room Three Update: Magnificent Hats & Growth

By Annalee Stanislawczyk

By Annalee Stanislawczyk

In February we started the story of “The Hat” by Jan Brett. The children took part in acting out the story and the animals. We drew pictures and talked about many different animals and where they live. The children learned a small lesson on inference in our story. The animals were laughing at Hedgie for wearing a hat he got stuck on his head. While they laughed they were also thinking how good a hat would be. Lisa got her stocking off of Hedgie just in time to find out the animals had taken all her clothes and made hats out of them. When she asked animals what they were doing they said,” Now we’re wearing a Magnificent Hat.” Throughout the day children will put various items on their head and say,” My magnificent hat.”

In the last week we are touching on some measuring, and rhyming. We compared our heights and everyone grew since the beginning of the year. We also compared time from when they were babies till now, and the things that they accomplished in a few years. We are using the book “Inch By Inch” which teaches measurement and about many birds. Rhyming comes through many times in the day and we try to focus on a lesson in large group time.

Art Show: Preschoolers do Van Gogh

On Thursday April 25th, Jefferson Park hosted its very own art show. The theme was "The city of Elizabeth through the eyes of a preschooler." Each class took on its own task of recreating the city. One of the classes focused on its rich cuisines, while another recreted the commerce of Jersey garden's mall, another classroom displayed facts surrounding the city's first submarine; while another classroom recreated the library and works by Vincent Van Gogh. 

It was quite spectacular to see the tremendous effort put fourth by all of the students. The mayor of Elizabeth stopped by and was thoroughly impressed by the young artist. "Who would have known, 3 year-old's can do Van Gogh!" said one of the Board's trustee members. 

Families and community members were also treated to the musical stylings of Micheal Williams an area instrumentalist who specializes in woodwinds. Williams played an array of different songs that ranged from saxophone to flue stylings.  

The evening was a huge success and showcased the true spirit of Jefferson Park. Finding ways to bring the community together around the children is a great way to build confidence. Have you ever thought of having your own art show at your home or school? Have you found your preschooler was enlightened by the experience? Share your thoughts and comments.   

Pottery Fun

Students in classroom two created their very own works of art using molding clay. Each student used plastic sculpting tools and small pizza rollers to create their very own masterpieces. Playing and engaging in art is very fun, the students were also learning about different textures and the process clay goes through in the heat. Exposing children to different textures and giving them the ability to use their hands is very crucial in their early development. We have seen tremendous strides in the children's dexterity growth from the beginning of the year to the end in te year. 

What has been your experience showing young children new methods of art? Do you think texture learning is important is a child's growth? Share your thoughts and comments.