Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Preschool 2 ~ 2nd Quarter Reflections

Keefe's Preschool 2 class started their "Community Helpers" Unit of Inquiry on 22nd October 2013.

Keefe had his portfolio sharing session today where he shared the activities they had learnt for the past six weeks.  This is Keefe's favourite Unit of Inquiry and he often comes home role-playing fireman, policeman (and robber!), mechanic... 

Here's a peek at some of the photos inside his portfolio:
(Dressing up as a nurse during a visit from Miss Cheryl - a teaching assistant who is also a pediatric nurse on 4th November 2013; riding in a police car during a visit from the Aesch police officers on 14th November 2013; dressing up as a fireman during a surprise visit to the Aesch fire station on 18th November 2013; dressing up as a fireman during the Preschool 2 Community Helpers Parade on 29th November 2013)

He has been picking up a number of German words from his German class, although he can't hold a conversation in German.  He likes singing the German songs: Räbeliechtli Umzug (a song sang where Swiss children carries lanterns during a parade) and Schnell, Schnell, Fahr das Feuerwehrauto.  
(Some of the German vocabulary cards inside his portfolio - words relating to community helpers roles and tools)

Keefe's class performed a "fire ballet" during music class.  The "fire ballet" is a movement activity depicting the outbreak of a fire and its extinguishing, with some children portraying the fire and some the fire fighters.

Jolly Phonics
The international school adopts Jolly Phonics for preschool and kindergarten.  Keefe already knows all his letter sounds even before moving to Basel so Jolly Phonics was a good review for him.  They have so far only covered 8 letter sounds (s, a, t, i, p, n, e, ck) since the beginning of the year!  What is new to Keefe is learning how to form and write cursive letters (following the Read Write Inc program).

Each child maintains a sound book where they learn how to write their cursive letters, and for them to draw objects that begin with the letter sound taught for the week.  Each letter sound has an action and a corresponding handwriting rhyme to help the child with writing letters. Here's a look at Keefe's sound book:
S - Scoop up and over the head, then slide back down the snake.
A - Scoop up and over a bit, back on the apple and down the leaf.
T - Scoop up to the top, then down the tower and across the tower.

I - Scoop up, down the insect's body, dot for the head.
P - Scoop up, down the plait, up and over the pirate's face.
N - Scoop up, down Nobby and over the net.
(Love the /n/ is for nothing!)

E - Scoop up, slice through the egg, go over the top, then under the egg.
(Love the /e/ is for explosion!)
C - Scoop up, curl back around the caterpillar.

K - Scoop up, down the kangaroo's body to the toe, loop around the tail and down the leg.
(I am amazed that Keefe can come up with ketchup, kettle, kennel... and even Miss Katy (a preschool teacher), Kaili, Karen (Maximiliano's mom)!)

Monday, 9 December 2013

St. Nicholas Day

On the sixth day of Christmas,
we celebrated St. Nicholas' Day, which to the Swiss, is more important than Christmas Day itself.

We had a simple dinner of cheese sausages and pizzas for the kids, and Chinese cabbage rice for the adults.  Keefe had the grattimaa beside him because he insisted it's for St. Nicholas.  On this day, each child in the international school receives a grattimaa, which is basically the Swiss version of the gingerbread man!

Dinner wouldn't be complete without dessert, which consisted of winter ice cream (Advent star ~ banana flavour, St. Nicholas ~ strawberry & vanilla flavour, and a Christmas tree ~ almond flavour).

In Switzerland, parents book St. Nicholas (months in advance!) to come to their houses to personally give the presents.  On the evening of December 5th, Swiss kids leave their shoes/boots in front of the chimney with a carrot (for St. Nicholas' donkey!) so that St. Nicholas can put small presents in the shoes/boots.  I told the kids that St. Nicholas already came the night before and had placed their presents in their Christmas stockings.  Excitement grew as they run to their stockings to find presents supposedly left by St. Nicholas. :)  The kids had a late night from playing with their presents...

...and a little boy who couldn't get enough of his St. Nicholas chocolate.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Letters to Santa

On the fifth day of Christmas,
the kids wrote their letter to Santa.  I read that the Swiss Post responds to kids' letters to Santa with a story and present.  How true that is, I'm not sure, but surely there is no harm trying! 

So on the seventh day of Christmas,
the kids dropped off their letters to Santa in the mailbox, with the postal address of "North Pole".  Belle asked for a fleece jacket and a My Melody notebook; Keefe asked for a Disney planes; and Kai asked for a Smurf.

Here's hoping that the Swiss Post delivers letters from Santa soon!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

TpT Cyber Shopping!

So...I am not a teacher by profession but I do teach my own kids.  TpT is my go-to place for finding resources, especially for my 4-year old.  I actually had two rounds of cyber shopping and kept putting things in and out of my cart!  Here's what I bought:

Marsha's word families packs have been on my wish list for the longest time ever since I saw her blog post back in June!  We will be working on the short "i" word families next year so this looks like the perfect pack (not to mention adorbs graphics!).

This was a last-minute purchase while looking for a CVC pack for my 4-year old.  Truly a MEGA pack with over 500 pages at a wonderful price (bought it at 50% off)!  Amazing range of activities and I love that it covers all the short vowels.  

This pack was from the same TpT seller and again, a last-minute purchase while searching for an ending sounds pack.  My 4-year old struggles with ending sounds so hopefully, this pack would be fun (and educational!) for him at this time of the year!  The pack has again, over 500 pages that covers literacy, math and writing with adorable graphics!

And lastly, I snagged up these doodle borders to be used on my own "creative" creations! :)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Les Marchés de Noël de Colmar

On the first day of Christmas,
we visited the charming village of Colmar,
where the facades of the houses were all decked out in red, gold, white and lovely decors.  (Surely they must hire professional designers for this!)
The kids had fun riding the merry-go-round (ladder truck) in Grand Rue and the "galloping" mechanical horse in La Petite Venise.
 We skipped dinner as we had a 3pm lunch at the popular Brasserie Schwendi Bier und Winstub.  We had Alsatian pizza (tarte flambee), chicken pie with salad (supposedly a house specialty!), rosti (grated potatoes served in a hot skillet with sliced roasted pork and hollandaise sauce) and a junior place consisting of pork sausage and fries for the boys.  My cappuccino came with a huge whopping of whipped cream which the boys devoured, thinking it was ice cream!
Hooray for a fun-filled day!  See you next year, Colmar!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Mommy School ~ Mouse Paint

12.11.2013: We read "Mouse Paint" today.  I didn't know how long Kai's attention span was but he sat through the whole reading.

Before we started reading the book, I pointed to a colour in the book and asked him, "What colour is this?".  When we got to yellow, he asked me to stop asking him questions and pointed the colour on his own, while saying out the colour name.  He got stuck with the colour red for a while but eventually got it correct!

Kai coloured the Mouse Paint colour book, but doesn't understand the concept of colour mixing yet.  I told him that if he mix the colours yellow and blue, "magic" will appear!  I don't think he even noticed the colour change (2nd picture from left).  14.11.2013: We did the roll & graph worksheet but he wasn't interested in rolling the die and saying out the mouse's colour.  He gave up after graphing the first row.  We will give this one another try when he is bigger.      

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Mommy School ~ Colours

Kai is 31 months old.

5.11.2013: Matching the colours of the unifix cubes to the colours flashcards (red/blue/green).  Kai started building a tower and later on sorted the colours of the Uno cards.  He still needs more practice with the colour red.

6.11.2013: Matching the colours of the unifix cubes to the colours flashcards (orange/black/yellow).  Later that night, Kai wanted to do-a-dot so I handed him a Letter A dot marker page and a red dot marker.  Keefe saw what he was doing and encouraged him to dot properly.

8.11.2013: I introduced Kai to the colour gray.  He coloured the apples with the corresponding colour marker I handed to him.  He wanted to colour in 'white' but I told him he can just leave it.  He also matched the colour markers to the colours flashcards (red/blue/green/orange/black/yellow/pink/purple/brown/white/gray).

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Der Burgruine Schlossberg

At the foot of the castle ruins in Staufen

Hiking up the castle ruins, which we reached in 15 minutes! 

A view of the vineyards from the castle ruins where Chardonnay, Riesling and Gutedel grapes could be found

Outer walls of the castle

Friday, 8 November 2013

Gymboree Preschool 1 {Letter Ii}

Zoo-Phonics Animal: Inny Inchworm
Motion: Using your index finger, bend it up and down, and then move your hand forward like an inchworm. Say the short /i/ letter sound.

Ii is for iguana, inchworm, igloo

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Preschool 2 & Grade 1 ~ 1st Quarter Reflections

Preschool 2

Keefe started Preschool 2 in August 2013 as a somewhat quiet boy, with a tendency of not warming up easily to new environment and new people.  When we left Singapore, his Nursery 1 teacher advised us to enrol him at the international school as soon as we settled down in Basel so that he has enough time to adapt to the new school.  We didn't. 

We received a formal Quarter 1 written report of Keefe's progress in the areas of Mathematics, Language, Unit of Inquiry (Families) and Social Integration.  He was given a rating of "Independent" in all areas, which meant that Keefe could apply a concept consistently and use it in everyday situations.  During the conference, his Preschool 2 teacher commented that he was ahead of his peers in Math (e.g. ability to write the numbers 1-10 although some numbers are written as a 'mirror image' which the teacher said is normal for his age) and in Language (e.g. ability to observe details in a story and retell it - '2 ducks' instead of 'some ducks').  His teacher shared with me the final assessment she did with Keefe on the Families unit where Keefe answered some questions regarding the unit through oral responses and drawings.  I've shared with his teacher that I would like her to challenge/ stretch him more in Math since Keefe can easily recognise numbers up to 20.  As agreed with his teacher, she will be working with Keefe on his number writing (in terms of proper formation) and blending simple words.  The teacher felt that only Keefe is ready for these activities compared to other students.  She commented that although Keefe is shy/ quiet in class, he responds to questions when asked.  She will be working with Keefe in the coming quarters for him to speak up more in class so that he could contribute more in discussions.  

Grade 1

We didn't receive a formal written report of Belle's progress for the first quarter.  Her teacher commented that Belle is reading at a high level compared to her peers.  She started the year at Level L for reading and her teacher recently moved her up to Level M in http://www.raz-kids.com after she was assessed on her reading fluency, retelling and comprehension skills.  Belle is also doing well in Math and are given more challenging task cards for her to explain her thinking, as opposed to developing automaticity/ fluency in math facts (which her teacher commented is attainable).  Belle has been working on her writing to make sure that her stories have endings.  I commented about misspelt words, to which her teacher commented that spelling is not important at this stage.  Her teacher added that Belle is able to spell the high frequency words and other phoenetic words correctly so she thinks Belle is doing great in spelling! 

My Thoughts

Belle and Keefe are happy to be in school and although the international school's curriculum is not as rigorous as Singapore's, they are not stressed and are taught more holistically.  They learn more in the areas of Social Studies and Science, the ability to communicate/ present well and to think creatively.  Hopefully these non-academic skills will help them when we go back to the dreaded local education system in a few years' time!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Gymboree Preschool 1 {Letter Ff}

Zoo-Phonics Animal: Francy Fish
Motion: With your hands in front of your chest, place the palm of one hand on the back of the other hand to form a fish. Wiggle your thumbs and say the letter sound /f/.

Ff is for fish, fire, fun (in preschool!)

Friday, 27 September 2013

Gymboree Preschool 1 {Letter Dd}

Zoo-Phonics Animal: Deedee Deer
Motion: Use two fingers of each hand to form deer ears on head and say the letter sound /d/.

Dd is for digger, dolphin, dinosaur, dandelion

Friday, 20 September 2013

Gymboree Preschool 1 {Letter Cc}

Zoo-Phonics Animal: Catina Cat
Motion: Pretend you are a cat washing your face with your paw, and say the letter sound /c/. Kai loves doing this!

Cc is for clown, corn, cowboy hat