preschool in new jersey

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.

Room Three: Love & Developing Social Skills


In the spirit of Valentine's Day we celebrated love and friendship. The students participated in several group activities while learning about how to be a good friend and follow polite expectations. Room 3 was encouraged to get outside and take breaks from the classroom setting and work on their social skills. Students were able to have dialogue with their friends and engage in some great wintertime fun outside. Thanks to our energetic and spirited friends, we were able to see a great deal of fun take place.  


We focused this February on being polite. Students focused on keeping their emotions in check so that they can respond in a polite manner while being effective and appropriate. Staff has been handing out stickers and encouragement to all the students who have shown great attitudes and actions around their friends for the month of February.  In addition we will be ongoing with our yearlong theme of kindness and the different ways that students can show kindness to their peers.  Please be on the lookout for our hearts that the children worked very hard on since they will be going home soon and make sure you stop by our classroom to check out the pictures of your children being great friends to each other.

Room Two: Marine Life In Preschool

Besides it being the month of love and giving the past two weeks in room two have also been about the oceanic world. During this time the children have learned about some marine life, like the jellyfish, whose numbered tentacles had to be matched with circles, starfish, sharks, dolphins and angelfish. The children reviewed sink or float by placing certain fishes in a jar that resembled the ocean. In addition, the children will also be creating and learning about the different zones of the oceans and what kind of animals reside in each. During this time the children have been read literature that includes Rainbow FishCommotion In The Ocean, as well as Pout Pout Fish. 

Room One: Teaching Kindness in Preschool


It is of great importance that we teach kindness to our children as early as preschool. Our students mirror very well the way the adults around them talk or talk. Therefore we hope to try our best to be great role models for them so that they copy our manners and pleasant way of talking and acting.

To teach kindness, we initiated the following activities:

Wishing kind thoughts to the ones we love

Around holidays, when we were singing the songs” We Wish You a Merry Christmas/ And a Happy New Year,” we talked about sending someone kind thoughts on certain occasions: like holidays, or birthdays. E.g., we wish Mia on her birthday to be happy and healthy.

When someone was sick, we talked about sending kind thoughts:” May Margelie feel better so that she comes back soon to school.”

Read books with stories of kindness


We read the story “The Rainbow Fish,” and we discussed the importance of sharing with our friends. We read the book “Oops! Excuse Me Please!” and talked about kind manners.

Bring a smile to the classroom

When we talked about our rules, we discussed how we feel every day, and we talked about how our smile can be contagious to others, and how our happy face can generate a state of well being for the ones around us.

During small group time activities, we practiced manners, talking kindly to others, making compliments to our friends, practicing fairways of playing with our friends (e.g., playing together and sharing our toys; trading our toys and waiting for our turn).

Imaginative games

I offered various scenarios, and I asked the children to be kind in their response. For example, my puppet Jane is upset, because she was not included in any of the games children were playing. I asked our students to invite her to join them in their games kindly.


Each time we talked about manners, gratitude, we were singing specific songs like: ”Please and Thank You”; “Gracias,” “Don’t Forget to Be Thankful, Don’t Forget to be Nice.”

Being Helpful


We praise our students each time they are helpful. Helping us clean up or doing different jobs is another way of being kind.

We hope that these themes are helping our students be kind, and nice to each other every day.

Room One: February "The Rainbow Fish"


It is of a great importance that we teach kindness to our children as early as preschool. Our students mirror very well the way the adults around them talk or talk. Therefore our hope is to try our best to be great role models for them so that they copy our manners, and pleasant way of talking and acting.  

In order to teach kindness in our classroom, there are a few activities we initiated. Here are a few examples: 

·      Wishing kind thoughts to the ones we love

Around holidays, when we were singing the songs” We wish You a Merry Christmas/ And a Happy New Year”, we talked about sending someone kind thoughts on certain occasions: like holidays, or birthdays. E.g. we wish Mia on her birthday to be happy and healthy.

When someone was sick, we talked about sending kind thoughts:” May Margelie feel better so that she comes back soon  to school”. 

·      Read books with stories of kindness 

We read the story “The Rainbow Fish” and we discussed the importance of sharing with our friends. We read the book “Oops! Excuse Me Please!” and talked about kind manners. 


·      Bring a smile to the classroom 

When we talked about our rules, we discussed largely about how we feel every day, and we talked about how our smile can be contagious to others, and how our happy face can generate a state of well being for the ones around us. 

·      During small group time activities we practiced manners, talking kindly to others, making compliments to our friends, practicing fair ways of playing with our friends (e.g. playing together and sharing our toys; trading our toys; and waiting for our turn). 

·      Imaginative gamesin which I offered various scenarios, and I asked the children to be king in their response. For example, my puppet Jane is really upset, as she was not included in any of the games children were playing. I asked our students to kindly ask her to join them in their games. 

·      Music 

Each time we talked about manners, gratitude, we were singing specific songs like: ”Please and Thank You”; “Gracias”, “Don’t Forget to Be Thankful, Don’t Forget to be Nice”. 


·      Being Helpful 

We praise our students each time they are helpful. Helping us clean up or doing different jobs is another way of being kind. 

Our hope is that these themes are helping our students be kind, and nice to each other every day.

Room 5: Love and Friendship

In February, we celebrate the month of love and friendship, for that reason we chose to start learning about community helpers. This theme can cover many groups of people who help in our neighborhoods. The people in the community help each other by offering goods and services.  To introduce this theme we read the books, “A letter to Amy” and “The Post Office Book”. We discussed the role of the post office workers in the community. We set up the House Area as a Post Office with letters, envelopes, stamps, different mailing boxes, and different types of forms that we can use at the Post Office. We created a mail box and a mail truck where the children can make deliveries as a mail carrier. During their work time they enjoyed playing the role of the clerks, mail sorters, mail carriers, and other workers at the Post Office. The children had fun during our journey exploring and learning about community helper.

By: Arelys Menendez

Room 3: Winter time in Preschool

As December rolled in we began to roll out some items in the block area o we can turn it into the block center. The difference is we want the children to utilize the blocks and use some block enhancements to create and use their imagination. Block play uses learning concepts such as sorting, ordering, counting, one to one correspondence, size and shape. Before doing this we noticed the children only played with the barn, train, and Legos. Now they’re creating barn, zoos, roadways, and castles. At one time the children were working next to each other now they’re starting to work together

    We also started to look at other items in the small toy area. I noticed that some of the small toys are never played with because they are only good for one or two children. We are weeding through our stock and putting items out that promotes the children’s fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. I bought magnetic blocks and the children have been developing many cubes, pyramids, triangle structures, tall structures, long structures, and many other things. They’re using all their skills to create these items.

    As the holidays approached we talked a lot about family and visiting relatives. We also talked about the New Year approaching and how we will celebrate it when we get back in school. On our last day of music our music teacher brought in knitted hats for the children and they got to pick out which one they wanted. Her mother knitted 75 for all the children in our center.

    In the New Year we want to finish our room and create learning centers so the children will have a better understanding of the materials and what they’re used for. I’m looking forward to the children learning more about what they’re able to do as they create, invent, and use their imagination.

Room 5: Bringing multiculural education to preschoolers

By: Arelys Menendez & Suzette Dort

The teachers and students in our classroom come from different cultural backgrounds, such as: Cuba, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Egypt, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the United States. During this month, we are learning about different cultures. To introduce the theme we read the book "We are all alike...We are all different." Through this book we taught children that even though they come from different cultures, they are different sizes, different texture of hair, skin color, they like different kinds of food, but we are still the same because we are all people. 

To instill the lessons of this theme, we have:

  • We read different multicultural books.
  • We talked and discussed about the different kinds of cultures.
  • We made a chart comparing the different sizes.
  • Parents and children dressed the doll with their native or typical dress.
  • We played the musical instruments from different cultures.
  • We made rain shakers that are musical instrument that use the Africans, Chileans and Indigenous cultures for their rituals.
  • We traced our bodies and covered them with beans.
  • We made pizza.

In addition, to complete our monthly lesson:

  • Parents come to the classroom to read multicultural books; also, they can share some stories from their countries.

  • We are having a buffet with our typical dishes.

  • Children and teachers can dress in their native clothes.



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.


November Room 2 Update

In the month of November, Room 2 has expanded the scope of our projects. At this time of the year, after all the children have acclimated to our daily routine, our school rules, and they can begin to work together as a community, we begin doing larger projects or activities. By this I mean projects or activities that last for more than one or two days. These projects are often something that has many parts or layers to it and some of those parts have to be prepared by the children before they can be added.  For instance, in November, we began this change by introducing the children to the concept of their bodies and its real life size. The children’s bodies were traced on full length paper. Next they had to cut it out (with assistance) - lots of hard work! After this, using scraps of material that have already been cut, the children use glue to put on their “clothes”. Next, they work on their facial features using yarn, fiber-like hair, glue, sticky eyes, and markers. At the end, they may choose to work on their shoes. This is all their choice. The children really like this activity, become very involved and focused. In December our longer projects will involve monitoring our classroom weather station where we observe and document, temperature, snow or rain levels, wind, and other interesting concepts. All of these bigger projects involve the development of math, science, language, literacy, self-confidence and social skills that are so important to the growth of the young child.

    Another highlight of our month here in Room 2 was the successful and different way of recognizing and defining what Thanksgiving is all about. Taking into account that everything had to be in words that the children could identify with and understand.  The children themselves helped solve this puzzle by repeatedly asking about the globe in our classroom. To assist in this concept of the world, a small deck of laminated cards was made. Each card had a country listed at the top with three pictures of things this country is famous for. This was done in a small group setting. Each child got to choose a card. In the middle of the table was a set of letters that matched the first letter of each country. The children took turns going around the table and with assistance talked about the country name, letters, sounds of letters, and the photos. At the end they had to find the letter in the middle of the table and match it to the first letter of the country on their card.

     In conjunction with this, at large group time, the children were formally introduced to the globe and what it represented, while also showing a picture of the solar system and our position there. What earth looks like from space- all blue and green- the blue is all our water, was also discussed. Then each child was called up to put a small sticky star on one of the countries in our game. Next, we read a book called the Peace Book. It is a very colorful, simple, yet bold kind of book and the children really sat still for this large group activity. The book talks about the definition of peace in terms that a young child can understand (also an adult). According to this book it is many things, such as, learning different languages, helping your friends, giving someone a hug, making sure the ocean stays blue, respecting the different clothes people wear, taking a nap, and listening to different kinds of instruments (this tied into Miss Betsy. That same day she came to school with a big assortment of instruments from around the world. These instruments were shared with the children). This is my favorite new book! This book offered many instances of peace that we are currently practicing in Room 2 which we will be exploring in the following month. This was such an exciting month!


Practicing Fine Motor Skills in Preschool

By Neva Lattanzio Temple 

During the month of October, Room # 2 has focused on strengthening our fine motor muscles. These skills are so important for developing cutting and writing skills. By being able to use the pincer grip when picking up small items, such as beans for counting and sorting, or pulling apart cotton balls to make baby owls, the children are adding muscle strength to their fingers. The children take part in many different things that require the use of their fingers.

 It may seem as a small thing but it is very important that the children learn to do things for themselves and become more independent. Such as, pulling up their own pants, brushing their own teeth (with a parental check after), washing their own hands and drying, putting on their own coat. All of these small things require a lot of finger work and add to independence and fine motor strength.

There are many activities and strategies that Room #2 has used, you can do at home, these include: sorting three different kinds of beans into three different bowls- sort by size or color, cutting practice with size appropriate scissors and paper, ripping and picking up construction paper and tissue paper, pulling apart cotton balls, playdough- rolling it out, then cutting with scissors, squeezing, shaping, also, cutting out animal pictures form magazines, picking up cotton balls with clothespins- using fingertips to press- put correct number of cotton balls on numbered plate, or do something with the alphabet.All these activities are simple, economical, and easily carried out. It has been my experience that most child are engaged with these simple yet effective exercises. Try one on a rainy day at home and see how focused they can be!

Autumn, Pumpkins & Fire safety in room 3

            When October began we started talking about Fire Safety since it was Fire Safety week. The children practiced how to Stop, Drop and Roll in case their clothes were on fire. They crawled under smoke to get outside in case there’s a fire in the home. We talked about what not to touch in their home such as; stove, iron, matches, lighters, and portable heaters. The children got to meet real Fire fighters and listen to the stories they told about being safe and going to the fire fighter even though he may look scary with all his protection on. It was great week of learning fire precautions in our classroom.

            As the weeks went on we focused on the fall season. The children learned many math and science concepts as we explored pumpkins. We held them to see how heavy they were, we arranged the in graduated order, we measured them, we cut them in half and explored the inside, we roasted the pumpkin, and then we made pumpkin soup. The children also learned a rhyme about Five Little Pumpkins that involves counting and rhyming.

            Then we turned our focus to the outdoors and what was changing as Fall proceeded. The children went on a leaf hunt in front of our school and in the playground each day. They collected acorns to be counted. We made wreathes out of leaves and paper plates. We used this activity during back to school night to show parents that you don’t have to spend money to create beautiful art.  We ironed leaves between wax paper to preserve them. We used leaves for color, size, and pattern. The children are also learning new rhymes about Autumn Leaves that includes motions, and Five Little Leaves that incudes counting backwards from five. We are patiently waiting for all the leaves to fall off the tree in our playground so we can jump in them. 

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. 

Room 5: "Dali Art in Preschool Class"

 This month for Our Annual Art Show presentation, our classroom presented three different projects about Salvador Dali (A Surreal Famous Painter from Spain). After reading the book Dali and the Path of Dreams by: Anna Obiols. Our children were inspired and created their projects. First, they made The Long Ledge Elephants; we made an elephant stencil and had each child trace it. After that they painted the elephant and colored the background with colors of their choice and finally they decorated it using different art materials such as: Stickers, pieces of fabric, rhinestones and jewelry. Secondly, The Flying Clocks; they cut their tree and glued it on the card board also; they chose colors for the background and created the nature scenery. In addition, they made the clocks in different shapes and painted with watercolors they also wrote the numbers and the clocks’ hands on it, after the clocks were dry they glued them on their projects. The last project was title Butterflies Sailing on a Ship (3- Dimensional), we used a real piece of a tree log in the shape of a ship. Furthermore, they used different colors to paint the butterflies and create symmetry. Ms Suzette and I set up the sails and helped them to glue the butterflies on it. While our students were working on these projects they enjoyed being creative, interactive, inspired, spontaneous, and being Salvador Dali’s Imitators.  

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.

Room 3 Update: Spring in full Swing

By: Annalee Stanislawczyk

Wow! Spring is in full bloom in Room 3. March was a very busy month. We started of with Dr. Seuss week and read many stories that he created. We made Cat in the Hat hats, and also edible ones using cool whip and Jell-O.  A policeman came in to read to the children. They also did a silly sock day, and a silly hat day. The children enjoyed all the activities throughout the week.

Then we planted peas outside with a group from Elizabeth’s Groundwork Planting. Each child got to plant a pea in the planters and now we will wait to see them grow. We also planted grass, mustard seeds and polka dot plants, in our classroom. We made a prediction chart and a growth chart to go along with planting. Mustard seeds sprouted first then the grass came in second, but it’s growing fast.

We read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar during this the children learned about life stages of a butterfly, we made caterpillars, then we created symmetry butterflies, finally we took the fruits from the story and made a healthy fruit salad. We also talked about junk food verses healthy food. The children acted out the stages by forming an egg with their bodies, then they squirmed like larva, next they went into their cocoon and came out as beautiful butterflies, flying around our room with scarves as wings.

We are moving on to learn about more insects as we read The Very Quiet Cricket also by Eric Carle. I have live crickets for the children to study while we explore insects. The children will learn about the body parts of insects, their habits and homes, with lessons that will include math, language, and science activities. Spring is in the air and we’re ready to learn about everything that it has to offer.

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 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 4 update: Snow for Sensory

After reading Mouse Paint by Ellen Stohl Walsh, the students became intrigued by mixing colors. Ms. Towanda and Ms. Ruby decided to use an easily accessible natural resource....SNOW! That's right; the cold weather couldn't keep Room 4 from getting in on the action. The children enjoyed mixing primary colors to make, green, purple, and orange in the fresh snow. Using the snow instead of water provided the students with more than one science experiment. They were also able to predict what would happen to the snow once it sat in the bowl over a period of time. We suggest doing experiments with snow at home when your child is having cabin fever. We simply placed a bucket outside of our door. Once the snow had fallen, we collected the bucket and let the children explore with food coloring.  It made for a great sensory experiment.

Read Across America: Dr. Suess Week

 Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2—Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participate by bringing together kids, teachers and parents. This year Jefferson Park Preschool participated in the celebration by have our very own Dr. Seuss Week, where the children participated in a different activity each day. Parents and friends from Elizabeth came in and read to the children in their classrooms. The children loved having the mayor of Elizabeth, a firefighter, and a police officer come to read to them. The children had a BLAST during Dr. Seuss Week!!