Why Do We Do Assessments in Preschool?

assessments in preschool Assessments in preschool are always for the benefit of each child. They aren’t meant to be scary, dismal, or disheartening. Rather, they allow teachers to take a comprehensive look at what each child knows, how she is developing, and where she can continue to grow.

It’s important to note that, as teachers, we are not stressed about what each child can and can’t do. Rather, we are focused on seeing progress and development for each child. We don’t compare children to each other. At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe we teach a child, not a class. This means that while we teach classrooms of children, we are focused on getting each child to their next step.

We know it’s easy to fall into comparison mode as parents, but we strongly encourage you to focus on your child’s progress. Does your child know more now than he did at the beginning of the year? Have her fine motor skills improved compared to what she was capable of five months ago? This is what’s important — that your child is progressing.

Preschool assessments are not standardized tests; there are no right or wrong answers.

Why Perform Assessments in Preschool?

Preschool assessments are a valuable tool to teachers, parents, and children in many ways:

  • Assessments in preschool provide the teacher with data and details. This data helps teachers to see each child’s strengths, as well as areas that need continued focus.
  • Preschool assessments help to inform future instruction. With the information collected from assessments, teachers can adjust their methods and techniques to benefit each child.
  • Assessments identify special needs. During assessments, teachers can identify areas in which a child isn’t progressing. This can be critical information at a young age, and parents can use it to obtain necessary interventions and help.
  • Assessments provide a way to communicate to parents about their child’s progress and development. This not only gives parents a good idea of how their children are doing, it also gives them a baseline for continuing learning at home. For example, if the assessment shows that your child knows most of his letters, but only a few numbers, you can continue encouraging what your child knows while boosting number knowledge through letter and number identification throughout your day. If your child is great at sharing at preschool, you can continue to encourage that at home.
  • Preschool assessments help teachers with group teaching. When we are done with assessments, we have the data to show us how many children are mastering certain concepts. If we need to adjust teaching as a group, we can do so. Likewise, if we need to give one or two children extra attention, we can plan for that.
  • Assessments help parents see their children’s strengths. We love this part of assessments. Each of our children are advancing in unique ways, and we love to point out those special qualities to parents.

    assessments in preschool

What Do We Assess at UDA?

We aim to develop the whole child, so our preschool assessments focus on several areas of development:

  • Physical development
  • Motor skills
  • Identification of letters and their sounds, numbers, shapes, colors, etc.
  • Social development
  • Emotional development
  • Language development
  • General knowledge
  • And more

We don’t expect any child to be perfect in any area. Our goal is to always see progress.

assessments in preschool

How We Perform Assessments at UDA Creative Arts Preschool

The word assessment conjures up thoughts of sitting still at a desk, sweat dripping down cheeks, as the child frets about proving they know the “right answers.”

But assessment time at UDA is a fun time for your child (and our teachers!).

We conduct our assessments as games, not tests. This is important because our aim is to really see what your child knows. Putting pressure on a child by demanding answers won’t give us an accurate picture of your child’s development and knowledge.

Playing an enjoyable game in which the child is having fun and is encouraged to show their knowledge makes the experience exciting and special for your child. And when your child feels happy, he’s confident. We know we get a more accurate picture of your child’s knowledge in this way.

Each assessment period is individualized to the child. Some children may feel more comfortable jumping while they play a letter identifying game, and others may prefer to use a stuffed animal to “answer” for them. We all really put on our creativity hats when we assess to make the experience right for each child.

We’re very aware of short attention spans, and so we do our assessments in chunks of time over a month. That way, your child doesn’t get overly distracted or overtaxed. And we receive a better picture of what your child knows.

Ultimately, the children don’t ever realize they are being assessed. They simply know they get to have fun one-on-one time with their teacher, playing games. The teacher is able to glean important data to mark the child’s progress in this way.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we love to see our children progress and develop in their own unique ways. If you know someone with a child who would benefit from our unique approach, have them give us a call at (801) 523-5930 or contact us online to schedule a tour.

World Wide Wonder- Teaching Preschoolers Culture & Diversity

Wonder is inherent for all children, so it’s no wonder we wondered at our wide world wonder week.  (Say that five times fast!)  UDA Creative Arts Preschool believes in making connections and loves teaching preschoolers culture and diversity, and that certainly can’t stop at the edge of the classroom!

Children begin noticing differences in people around them as early as six months of age.  Parents can begin the dialogue of why and how people are different long before their child is enrolled in preschool.  We’d like to share some of the ways we are teaching preschoolers culture and diversity and encourage parents and caregivers to continue the conversation with your child.

Where Do I Fit?

Teach culture diversity

As children make connections, it’s important for them to figure out their place in this big wide world.  We do a patriotic theme week where children identify where they fit into their family and house, then on their street.  Next, we have them move to their city and community, followed by their state, and then country.  From our country, we move to the world, followed by the universe.  Wow.  That’s big!

Parents Can:

Help your child continue to see the connections.  As you drive down the street,  you can say, “Here is our street in our neighborhood.  Our neighborhood is in our city.” (For safety reasons, it’s important for your child to know their city, state, address and phone number as soon as they can memorize it! Make sure they also know their last name and parent’s names.)  “Look at that number on our house or apartment building, our address is…”.  Having a visual reference to their world will help them find their place in it.

Try Cultural Foods

Pretty obvious answer for cultural exposure, but is there really a yummier way?  We try a variety of foods, including…

teach culture diversity

noodles with chopsticks,

teach culture diversity

beans and rice, chips and salsa, and even seaweed and sushi.

Parents Can:

If you don’t already, eat cultural foods.  Exposing your child to a variety of foods can encourage adventurous taste buds and even decrease picky eating.  Modeling your willingness shows your child it’s okay to explore. And if you have to gag it down, well, it shows your kids you’re still willing to try!  If you need some ideas, this article shares what kids all over the world are eating for breakfast. 

Try cultural food nights!  Pick a culture and try a new recipe.  Spice it up for a holiday:  Irish food for St. Patricks Day,  Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo, Jewish food on Passover, Chinese food for New Year.  The world’s the limit!

Listen to Diverse and Cultural Music

teach culture diversity

Besides the myriad of benefits that come from learning any kind of music, learning cultural music can increase concentration as children listen to new sounds and language they are not familiar with.  Cultural music also further develops language skills.

teach culture diversity

Learning cultural dances increases physical development, emotional and social development, and love for diversity.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, for world week we are counting to ten in Spanish, learning Spanish songs, and making our own maracas.

Parents Can:

Music is the universal language.  Every culture loves music! Cultural music has evolved into diverse instrumentation and genres.  Try listening to different music stations in the car.  If you live in Salt Lake County, you can also download and stream free music from the SLC Library, which has a large selection of diverse and cultural music.

Dance!  Turn on diverse music and twist while you tidy up.  Cha cha while you change clothes.  Boogie while you brush your teeth.  Help children feel free to sway, stomp, and twirl the way the different styles move them.  Bonus:  the groaning just may turn into giggles!

Explore Cultural Art

teach culture diversity

Art is defined as the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, and every culture through time has expressed themselves through art.   Art is the perfect way to teach preschoolers culture and diversity!

teaching culture diversity

Children naturally have creative imaginations, so art is their language.  For world week we made Japanese fish kites.

teaching preschoolers culture and diversity

Allowing children open ended art activities builds confidence and continues the development of their imagination and creativity.  Adding the cultural element adds appreciation for other peoples and their expression.

Parents Can:

Inspiration for cultural art can be found in books, art museums, or for those of us on a time crunch, on Pinterest.  But to help you out, here are a few ideas we found online.  Help children pay attention to patterns, colors, and mediums other cultures like to use.  How can they use those same elements to create their own imaginative expressions?

Bring the Culture to You!

teaching preschoolers culture and diversity

As much as we’d love to, for most of us it’s not feasible to take our children around the world to experience cultures first hand.  Next best option: bring the culture to you!

teaching preschoolers culture and diversity

Miss Vicky shares keepsakes and the alphabet of her native Thailand.

teaching preschoolers culture and diversity

We also had guest speakers come share about their native Mexico and Australia.

Parents Can:

Watch community calendars for cultural events and celebrations.  Take your children to synagogues, mosques, temples, cathedrals and churches.  Local libraries and community centers will often have exhibits, and of course museums are always a great cultural experience.

Find the visitor center for your area and pop in to see what they recommend.  You never know what hidden gems you’ll find when it comes to small museums.

And even closer to home, read!  There are so many books about culture and diversity.  Ask your local librarian for his favorites.   Here is a list from Scholastic to get you started.

Teaching Preschoolers Culture and Diversity by Keeping the Conversation Going

Keep your children wondering at the beauty of all the people and cultures in this world by pointing them out when you see them in your community.  When you hear other languages spoken or music being played, when you see cultural dress, dance, or celebrations, talk about it.

Point out to your child how different people do things differently, but different is what keeps life interesting.  Most of all, your child will learn respect as they see you respecting other races, ethnicities, religions, political groups, and ideas.  If there is anything children know well, it’s the language of love.

Visit us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, and see how we’re teaching preschoolers culture and diversity and integrating wonder of this wide world in our learning activities.  Click here to register for a free open house or call us at (801) 523-5930.

Written By: Elsje Denison

 

 

 

 

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool- February!

Preschool themes

Love isn’t the only thing in the air this Valentine season. From snowflakes and bubbles to shadows and balloons, we’re lovin’ our learnin’! At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, our preschool theme weeks keep us learning and exploring our world.

preschool theme

Humpty Dumpty & Other Fun Nursery Rhymes

Science & Engineering

Our scientific studies on “Humpty Dumpty” led to many hypotheses and deductions.

preschool theme

It takes some serious skill to build a wall “Humpty” will stay on.  We also experimented with different insulators to protect our “Humpty Dumpty” from his fall.  We tried cotton balls, rocks, sand, tissue and dried beans.  Conclusion: dried beans are the only substance that protects “Humpty” from cracking.  Who knew?

Preschool Theme

Our engineers went to work building a variety of walls for our “Humpty Dumpty” to sit on.  We learned it’s hard for a round “Humpty” to sit on a flat surface.  But leave it to our scientific learners to create solutions!  A ledge is a perfect fix.

Preschool Theme

Math & Language

Hickory Dickory Doc…

Preschool Theme

…the mouse ran up the clock.  Learning to tell time can be a tricky concept.  Introducing your preschooler to analog and digital clocks at an early age can give them a jump start in math.

Hickory Dickory Doc.

You can change the time of your clock.

As you make a new time, you invent a new rhyme.

Hickory Dickory Doc.

Math and language development lesson in one. Cha-Ching!

Groundhog Day & Movement

For Ground Hog Day we learned about our shadows.  Here is a sneak peek at one of our classes experimenting with shadow sizes.

Playing with shadows isn’t just a fun scientific learning activity, it also develops your child’s small and large motor skills.  At home, you can set up a flashlight or bright light and have a dance party or do a puppet show.  And if your kiddo is concerned about those monsters under the bed, playing in the dark will also help your child feel more comfortable when it’s time for lights out.

Uu-Underwater Adventures!

Dramatic Play

After our fun nursery rhymes, we “row, row, rowed our boats” right into our Underwater Adventure theme week.

Preschool theme

In the discovery room we used our boats to fish for fishy letters, My Little Ponies…

preschool theme

preschool theme

…and even rescue babies.  Besides letter recognition with the fish, this dramatic play activity helped us discover our water world, as well as develop balance and small motor skills.

Math

theme weekA fun math activity this week was counting the right number of pearls to match the number in the shell.

preschool theme

Textures are great for sensory play!  As children touch different textures, ask how they feel.  Is it smooth, bumpy, rough, hard or soft?

Sensory Play

preschool theme

At the sensory table, the children play with different objects in the water beads.  This multisensory learning is developing brain synapses that will produce a better foundation for later learning.

preschool theme

Not to mention all the colorful fun that can be had under the sea!

preschool theme

Do you ever have those moments when your preschooler stumps you? Why do fish have scales?  Why don’t birds have eyebrows? Now there is one you can explore together!  Check out our post on integrated learning to find out more on how to explore with your child!

Alphabet Learning

preschool theme

Can alphabet learning get any more fun than Jaws? 

preschool theme

Just kidding.  But seriously, we love making alphabet learning a game.  By integrating our letters into our play, children are learning the alphabet and loving it!

Science

Preschool theme

Meanwhile, at the science table, our preschoolers explore real underwater life in our aquarium. Children are great at discovering the answers to questions when asked.  Don’t forget to ask lots of questions at home to help your preschooler’s brain make more connections!

Movement

preschool theme

“We’ve got no troubles, life is the bubbles, under the sea!”–Little Mermaid

preschool theme

Ah, to be as carefree as a child with bubbles!

Art

preschool theme

Our preschool theme followed us into art time as well.  We had so much fun creating our sea with water colors.

preschool theme

After we created our ocean background, we decorated our sea with a plethora of sea life.

preschool theme

Name Writing

preschool theme

Last, but not least, what better way to learn spacial relations for under than being under something?  Why not practice writing our names under the table?  We can’t wait to hear how dinner under the table goes at your house!

Vv is for Valentine

preschool theme

Discovery Room

Love was all around as we celebrated Valentine’s Day and the letter “V”.

preschool theme

And so was our yummy smelling play dough!  We used it to bake up a storm in our dramatic play kitchen.

preschool theme

Playing with scented play dough is a great multisensory activity.  Not only is it using several parts of the brain and creating more connections, it also develops stronger hand and pincer grip muscles, an important skill for kindergarten.

Preschool Theme

Roll playing builds confidence and independence, characteristics needed  for life skills.  Check our our recipes below for your own chocolate and strawberry scented play dough!

Math Centers

Preschool Theme

Our scented dough found it’s way to our math activities as well.  How can math not be fun when it smells like chocolate?

preschool theme

Kids love small objects and math becomes more concrete when they have something to hold.  Click here for 16 fun counting activities you can do at home with your preschooler.

Art

preschool theme

We also went to work making our own valentines and decorating our valentine boxes.  Process-focused art activities teach your child to be creative, independent, and induce a feeling of success.  Check out this great website to learn more about process-focused art.

Play Dough!

preschool theme

We had so much fun with our scented play dough, we’d love to share! You can (and should) try this at home.

Chocolate Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. cream of tartar 
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

First, pour all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over low heat while stirring and mixing.  When it starts to thicken and resemble dough, remove from the heat and let cool. When cool, knead the dough until it is smooth.

Strawberry Play Dough

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 pkgs unsweetened strawberry flavored Koolaid powder
  • 2 tbsp. cream of tartar 
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

First, pour all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over low heat while stirring and mixing.  When it starts to thicken and resemble dough, remove from the heat and let cool. When cool, knead the dough until it is smooth.

Suggested Supplies 

Come Visit Us!

As you can see, we have so much fun learning and adventuring at UDA Creative Arts Preschool!  Beyond the fun of our theme weeks is a network of learning experiences integrated throughout everything we do.  We invite you to come visit our Draper, Utah campus and join us for an open house.  Click here to make an appointment today!

Written by: Elsje Dension

4 Dr. Seuss Life Lessons We’re Glad We Have

 

This March 2 marks Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) 114th birthday! When we sat down to list all the many important lessons Dr. Seuss taught us through his books, we couldn’t stop! Through a creative writing style that nobody seems able to duplicate, Dr. Seuss’s books teach sophisticated life lessons in a way that just sticks — without us always even realizing it!

If you sat down with even just a handful of Dr. Seuss’s 60 books and looked for lessons, you’d end up with a list a mile long. (You could even read that mile-long list in a box with a fox if you like.)

We’re not sure a complete list could ever be compiled, but here are four of our favorite Dr. Seuss life lessons at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons — Reading Is Important

Dr. Seuss life lessons

Over and over, readers get the message from Dr. Seuss that reading is important. Often, he stated that message outright:

The more that you read, the more things that you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

I can read in red. I can read in blue.
I can read in pickle color too.”

-from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

 

But even when reading wasn’t the dedicated subject of Dr. Seuss’s books, nobody can deny how enjoyable it is to read the fun cadence of Dr. Seuss’s imaginative rhymes. His rhymes are so fun, in fact, that we use them to teach rhyme to our 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds at preschool. Children easily pick up on predicting the next rhyming sound when they are read to from Dr. Seuss books.

And did you know?: In 1954,  a Life magazine article criticized children’s reading levels, so Houghton Mifflin and Random House asked Dr. Seuss to write a children’s primer using 220 vocabulary words. The Cat in the Hat was the result, proving that children’s literature can be fun while introducing new words.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons: Compassion

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss teaches his readers that we have a responsibility to care for other people (and creatures and plants). He teaches us to look outside our own problems; to look beyond our own noses and actually see other people. This is something we care deeply about at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. We believe children can understand the concept that their actions affect others, and we emphasize important character traits like honesty, compassion, respect, and more every day.

In fact, our character trait we focus on during the month of March (the month of Dr. Seuss’s birthday) is compassion.

The children already have so much compassion for each other, and Dr. Seuss helps us to reinforce those important concepts. Hear his pleading to please, please consider the plights of others.

When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad… you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more… oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”

–  Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

Even plants deserve to be thought of:

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” 

 

– The Lorax

It’s such a simple concept — trees cannot speak. So we must speak for them.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 

The Lorax

Not only can we care about other people, we can also do something to help them. That’s a powerful message for every child (and adult) to internalize.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons — You’re Good Enough, and It’s Okay to Be Different

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss gave us the message that we have the power to transform our lives. We have responsibility over our own decisions, and we can change the outcome at any time.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact.
And remember that life’s a great balancing act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)
Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

It doesn’t matter what limitations you have. You are important and can do what you were made to do.

Don’t give up. I believe in you all.
A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Horton Hears a Who!

Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Happy Birthday to You!

 

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons – Live Life with Imagination

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss created illustrations, stories, and characters that were so different from anything that had ever been done before. He showed us that we aren’t limited by what is real. We can create our own worlds. He used words in new ways, and didn’t limit himself to established rules.

He showed us that creativity and imagination are valuable traits to develop.

Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Oh, the Things You Can Think

We subscribe heavily to this belief that creativity drives our learning. That’s why we incorporate art, music, creative movement, dance, science, math, and so much more into every single day of learning at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper. Each day we are amazed by how the children cement important life and academic concepts through the creative arts. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or send us a message  to arrange a tour to see how we enrich the lives of preschoolers every day!

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss

Individualized Learning- What It Is and Why Your Child Needs It

We’ve all heard that no two snowflakes are the same.  According to science, the likeliness of two snowflakes being identical is so minuscule, it could be called none.  Isn’t it amazing that billions of snowflakes, for ions of time, can be so unique, and so beautiful?  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we feel the same way about each one of our amazing preschoolers.  This is why we believe in and apply individualized learning methods for each of our children.

It may have come as a shock to you when your child first started to exhibit personality traits, physical features, and likes and dislikes completely different than your own.  What?!!  They don’t have your same love of U2? Baseball? Not even peanut butter?!

individualized learning

The individual personalities, life circumstances, learning styles, and developmental progress that make each child unique should also be considered when they’re learning.  Every child has different strengths and weaknesses, learned abilities, and various experiences which establish their knowledge base.   This is why we do not teach any two children exactly the same.

We Do Not Teach a Class.  We Teach a Child.

Individualized learning begins with coming to know and evaluate each child.  UDA Creative Arts Preschool evaluates our preschoolers at the beginning, as well as periodically throughout the school year.  From these evaluations we differentiate learning to meet that student’s needs.  This is accomplished in various ways and over a spectrum of curriculum.

speech and language development

One thing that is so important for parents and educators to remember is that each child reaches milestones at different speeds.  The nine-month walker is not necessarily the future gold medalist olympian.  The same is true for learning.  Your neighbor’s reading three-year-old is not the next generation J. R. R. Tolkien.  Obviously, effort needs to be put into learning, but children reach milestones at their own pace.  It’s important not to push them before they are ready.

What does Individualized Learning Look Like?

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we are able to accomplish individualized learning in several disciplines because of our low teacher-to-student ratio.

Individualized Mathematics

individualized learning

As children break into centers for mathematics, each activity is designed to be played differently, depending on the child’s level of understanding and capabilities.  Our teachers are able to sit with the group and play with several children at the same time, all doing the activity on their level.

Individualized Language Arts

Individualized Learning

As children divide into groups of similar language development skills, teachers work with each child within these small groups.  Children  are learning letter identification and phonics up to different reading levels, depending on what they are developmentally ready for.

Individualized Sciences

Individualized Learning

Most of our science activities are child-led, allowing children to explore and discover on their own.  Teachers engage students in questions that lead to further exploration while each child has hands-on experiences.   This not only allows children to discover science, but also fosters a love for learning.

Individualized Discovery Room

Individualized Learning

Besides the sciences, preschool children are also able to explore their interests in our Discovery Room.  For one hour, children are able to chose from blocks, theme-based dramatic play, the sensory table, the writing station, the science station, and many other rotating activities.  During this time, children pursue their own discovery and development in ways they love.  Don’t we all wish we had an hour in a discovery room?!

Individualized  Social Development

Individualized learning

Many times we only consider academics when assessing children’s learning; however, we know that children come with all different levels of social development as well.   That’s why we teach character traits and tools to be good friends and problem solvers.

Children learn to be effective in conflict resolution and in taking responsibility for their actions.  Perhaps this type of learning brings us the greatest joy as we watch our preschoolers progress throughout the year.

Individualized learning

Knowing your child is like no other, why would you want anything other than individualized learning?  Each child deserves to learn at their speed, applying their strengths and improving their weaknesses.  Every child should have the freedom to explore their interests and develop a love of learning through personal discovery.

individualized learning

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we see each child as the unique, intricate and delicate work of art they truly are.  Just like a snowflake, we see them as a beautiful individual, deserving to be taught as one.  We invite you to come see what we have to offer!  Click here to register for our upcoming open houses and see for yourself!

Written by: Elsje Denison

Finding a Quality Preschool

quality preschool

Cloth or disposable, to nurse or use formula, stay at home or daycare…seems like just yesterday you were embarking on those life decisions for your little one.  But just because you’re past picking paint for the nursery doesn’t mean decisions regarding your preschooler are any less exciting!  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe choosing a quality preschool is not only an exciting decision, it’s just as important!

Did you know that by the time a child heads for kindergarten, 85% of who they are, their personality, social-skills, and intellect, have already been developed?  These preschool years are critical for your child’s development.

quality preschool

It’s all about the brain!  As your child immerses in experiences, particularly hands-on, self-initiated learning experiences, highways of neural synapses form.  The more your child engages, the more synaptic connections are made, the more brain development occurs.

So how do you find this quality preschool that will provide synaptic connections for improved brain development, as well as assist your child to develop personality, social skills, and intellect?  That’s a pretty tall order!

What to Look For When Searching for a Quality Preschool-

 Not All Preschools are Created Equal-

There are currently no regulations on what defines a “preschool” in Utah, so there is a wide variety of schools with the preschool label.

Many schools tout having children “kindergarten ready.”  But what does that mean exactly?  Does that include social and personality development?  Did the children learn ABCs and 123s in a way that fostered a love of learning?

As a parent, you need to decide what your preschool standards are.  Here are some ideas of what you can look for:

1- Age-Appropriate Learning Environment-

A learning environment for you may look very different from what a learning environment looks like for a preschooler.  Adults like a desk and quiet place to study.  Preschoolers, however, are all about creating those synaptic connections.  Their learning looks very much like play.

speech and language development, quality preschool

Preschoolers are also just beginning to learn how to hold their bodies still for short periods of time.  Rug time and table times should be limited to 10-20 minutes, depending on the age and activity, and involve some small movement.  And let’s be honest, a lot of adults are the same way.  (Hence the the fidget spinner.)

2- Language Rich-

alphabet learning, quality preschool

There is something to be said for Mother Goose.  A quality preschool is immersed in language.  You will see books and labels, hear story telling, singing, and rhyming.  Children will have opportunities to practice writing their names, letters and numbers, as well as write during their play.  They should also have an abundance of opportunities to express themselves verbally, (some more exuberantly than others), especially during dramatic play.

3- Multisensory Learning-

Quality preschools will abound in multisensory learning activities, or opportunities to learn with multiple senses at once.  Children’s brains are going to expand and remember more effectively as their synapses are in rapid fire.  Multiple learning styles are reached with these activities.

Plus, it’s just fun!

quality preschool

Multisensory learning also encourages children to discover as they feel, taste, smell, hear and see the world around them.  This fosters a love of learning and a desire to pursue knowledge.  Look for water tables, movement activities, play-doh, singing, art, cooking, and basically all things messy.

4- Creativity-

Do you remember when you were a kid and you could play for hours with toys and friends and your brain just imagined things?  Too many of us have lost that ability!  Part of the problem is our culture and schools telling children the “right” way do it.

preschool theme ideas, quality preschool

Look for a preschool that encourages explorative, open-ended art.  Art should be about the process more than the product.  We all like to make choices, and children should feel confident in their choice of color and technique. Children should also have opportunities to express themselves through journaling and dramatic play.

5- Character Development-

quality preschool

Academics are of course important, but look for a quality preschool that also teaches social skills and character development.  Preschools should encourage development of skills in constructive conflict resolution, cooperation, and respect.  What does the school offer to teach your child confidence, problem solving, accountability, responsibility, gratitude and compassion?  You want a school that will reach the “whole child,” and provide guidance in the development of life skills, as well as personality growth.

6- Integrated Learning-

You want to ask about a preschool’s curriculum.  How are language, math and science taught?  How does the school teach reasoning and problem solving?  We recommend you look for integrated learning.

preschool themes, quality preschool

Integrated learning is making connections across multiple disciplines.  You could look at it as the “spoonful of sugar” for learning.  It looks like play, but inside the fun is a scrumptious morsel of delicious knowledge the children wouldn’t enjoy in the form of a worksheet.  UDA Creative Arts Preschool does this through our learning themes.  This article can give you more information on how it works.

7-Assessments-

speech and language development

Without a road map (or GPS in our day and age), how is one to get from point A to point B?  Quality preschools will asses your child to determine point A in order to  create a learning map to navigate them to point B.  Quality teachers will keep parents informed of their child’s growth and development.  No child is the same, so no learning map should be the same.  A quality preschool will work with your child to reach his or her full potential.   As you look at preschools, find out how teachers asses the children’s learning.

8- Safety & Love-

Above all, your child deserves to be in a safe and loving environment.  Is the establishment clean and sanitary?  How are bathroom trips and illness handled?  And in today’s world, it’s important to find out if employees have background checks.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)  lists some great ideas on standard things to look for, including the physical environment and management of a preschool. Check out this link to their article.

quality preschool

Make sure you observe teachers and staff and their interactions with the children, and most importantly, your child.  You want your child to feel welcomed, comfortable, and loved.

What You Can Do to Find a Quality Preschool-

1- Do Your Homework-

Again, you set the standards, so do some reading.  What is available?  What is most important to you?  Here are some articles to consider:

2- Take a Tour-

Once you have an idea of your standards, observe schools in action.  Allow your child to interact with the teachers.  Ask your questions.

3- Listen to Your Heart-

Weigh your pros and cons, but also listen to your parent’s intuition.  As long as you’re not Rapunzel, Mother (and Father) knows best.

We welcome parents to come visit our Draper, Utah campus at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.  As we open registration for the 2018-19 school year, we hold open houses and love to give tours.  Give us a call to schedule yours at (801) 523-5930.  We are confident you will love what you see!

Written By: Elsje Denison

Escape of the Gingerbread Man: The Power of Integrated Learning

Integrated learning

The age-old story of the gingerbread man is one that has been shared across generations.  But did you know that the gingerbread man teaches so much more than the speed of a cookie?  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we put this animated fairytale to work as a theme for our integrated learning curriculum, and we can’t wait to share the results!

Integrated learning is helping children make connections across the disciplines, or topics, for learning.  We cover math, science, culinary arts, engineering, reading, writing, art, music, and even a little drama.  Those preschool minds worked overtime finding clues to locate that notorious disappearing gingerbread man! (Sorry kiddo, I don’t think that bobby pin is a cookie clue.)

Integrated learning

Why is integrated learning important? Integrated learning allows children to learn in a holistic way, without creating boundaries between topics.  This helps them see how all learning is interconnected and provides them with tools to explore and discover.   We’d love to share some of the ways we do this and offer you some ideas for using integrated learning in your home as well!

The Power of Integrated Learning

Integrated Learning is Fun!

Integrated Learning

Call it frosting, call it art, or maybe even call it science and engineering.  Decorating a gingerbread house is more than gluing candy.  Children are learning about weight, gravity, and even balance.

Integrated Learning

And nothing can compare to the feeling of satisfaction that comes from mastering…that big peppermint on the ridge of the roof!  Putting science into action can be fun and tasty!

Teaches Children to Transfer Knowledge to Other Settings

Integrated Learning

For our “Nn” week, we learned about numbers.  We can learn math and numbers as we count and manipulate them in a puzzle.

Integrated Learning

Those numbers become more concrete as we attach them to objects that we can count.

Integrated Learning

Writing our numbers allows us to kinesthetically learn them.

Integrated Learning

And then, we can transfer that knowledge to our gingerbread man as we count how many raisins we use to create him.

Unfortunately, that’s where our trouble begins!  After we worked so hard to make our gingerbread man, Miss Vicky put him in the oven for us.  Why, oh why, didn’t someone watch him?

Integrated Learning

How could that infamous gingerbread man have escaped at our own preschool?  (Poor Miss Vicky may have lost some credibility with the preschoolers.  We all know he wants to escape!  How could she not have kept a closer eye on him? )

Integrated Learning

Fortunately, that tricky gingerbread man left us a paper trail of clues.  Time for some numerical application!  The children were able to transfer their knowledge of math as they sequenced the numbered clues to find…

Integrated Learning

…the little gingerbread men left behind.  Our big gingerbread man may have escaped, but at least he left some of his friends for us to consume.  Phew, Miss Vicky’s reputation is saved!

More Connections = Higher Level Learning

Integrated learning

Making gingerbread houses, cookies, and paint projects are fun, but they are also creating connections.  So many of our connections stem from language and literature!

Integrated Learning

We were able to read several versions of the gingerbread man story.  Each time the children heard it, they were able to repeat the lines spoken by the gingerbread man.

Run, run, as fast as you can.  You can’t catch me!  I’m the gingerbread man.

Repetition improves brain development, increases vocabulary, and reinforces memory and sequencing skills. Reading the same story to your preschooler over, and over, and over again may get old, but you are actually enhancing your child’s language development.

As we examine different versions of the gingerbread man story, the children are also able to make predictions, compare and contrast endings, and discuss emotions involved with the various conclusions of each story.  This enables them to create connections to their personal experiences.

Creating Positive Attitudes for Learning

integrated learning

When integrated learning is practiced, children enjoy the learning process and positive attitudes are developed.

integrated learning

Throughout our gingerbread unit, children applied their creativity in the discovery room and through their art projects, while making connections to the stories we read.  (You can connect at home with this pumpkin spice play dough recipe.)

integrated learning

When learning, be it math, science, or language, is fun, children can’t help but want to be a part of it.  It is stimulating and interesting.  Their brains are developing the way they were meant to.   Children develop a positive attitude that shapes their learning for the rest of their lives.

Integrated Learning At Home

If you’d like to implement integrated learning with your preschooler.  Here are a few suggestions to get you starated:

  • Pick a topic. (Ants)
  • Make a word web.  This website has other great templates.
  • Fill in the web with questions.
    • Where do ants live?
    • What do ants eat?
    • What are the different kinds of ants?
    • How do ants survive?
  • As you begin to explore the topics, you will find other learning disciplines emerge.  Help your preschooler make the connections.
    • Math- How many ant species are there?  How many ants in a colony?  How many worker ants?
    • Science- How do they make their homes?  What factors effect the type of home they live in?
    • Art- Your child can diagram or create ants and ant homes.
    • Language- What do species and colony mean? How do I find a book about ants at the library?  Read nonfiction books about ants.  Find fun fiction books about ants.

The exciting part of integrated learning is that one topic leads to another.  Ants can lead to insects.  Insects spark questions on habitats.  Habitats can begin a study on eco-systems.  Learning is adventurous and develops curiosity!

We thoroughly enjoy applying integrated learning at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.  If you would like to see what our theme of the week is, we encourage you to come in for a tour at our Draper, Utah facility by calling (801) 523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison

Santa’s Workshop: Our Top Picks for Books that Keep Giving

giving books

Our elves at UDA Creative Arts Preschool are busy getting ready for Christmas.  We are excited for the holidays and all the joy that comes with it.  We want to share with you the going-on’s around Santa’s workshop, as well our favorite giving books, for we believe the joy of the season is found in the presents we give away.

Santa’s Workshop

giving books

We’re working so hard on our program!  We can’t wait to share it with you.  Performing not only gives us the opportunity to share what we’ve been learning in our movement and music class, it helps us build confidence and courage!

giving books

It may not be snowing much around town, but we let it snow, let it snow, let it snow around the discovery room!  Adding props to our imaginative dramatic play encourages our play-based learning.

giving books

The snow works great for stuffing Santa too!  We love to see cooperation and team work as our friends help friends.

giving books

We’re making ornaments  for our “Oo” week and trimming the tree.

giving books

Our elves are working hard making toys,

giving books

and wrapping presents.  Cutting with scissors gives them great practice using their “pincher” grip, as well as developing fine motor skills.  Children love role playing what they see their parents and caregivers do.  It helps them develop life skills. 

giving books

And our team of reindeer…

giving books

…are the cutest in town.  Look out Rudolph, with these glowing noses, you just may be out of a job this Christmas Eve.

As you can see, our workshop has been hustling and bustling! We’re all ready for the holidays.  How about you?!

Giving Books

The holiday season offers wonderful literature experiences.  Your local library is a great place to start, but we’d like to share a few of our own favorites.  These giving books keep on giving as they provide occasion for discussion and application.  While reading them with your preschooler, ask about how the story makes them feel and how they can give too.

giving books

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry

This delightful story is about a Christmas tree that is just a little too tall.  Each time the top is chopped, it finds a new home as someone else’s tree.  How can you help someone by sharing what you don’t need anymore?

giving books

The Christmas Train, by Thomas S. Monson, illustrated by Dan Burr

This beautifully illustrated story is about a young boy during the Great Depression who finds joy in not only giving a gift, but sacrificing something of his own.  How does giving something that you love help you feel more joy?

giving books

Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood

This fun and colorful book shares the experience of our friend Little Mouse as he transforms his heart from hiding his gifts to sharing them with someone who may seem a little scary.  Who are people we overlook at Christmas time?

All of us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool wish you a happy holiday season.  We welcome visitors at Santa’s Workshop or whatever learning adventures we are engaging in.  Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to schedule a tour at our Draper, Utah campus today!

Written by: Elsje Denison

4 Ways to Teach Gratitude & The Joy of Giving

teaching gratitude

Often our holiday season is filled and busy, more busy, and very, very busy: parties, donations and charities, food prep, and finding the perfect gifts for family and friends.  At the heart of checking off the lists, we know what the season is suppose to be about.  But in all the craziness, what do our children see?

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe that the best part of Christmas time, and all of the holidays, are the presents we give away.  We feel the greatest joy comes to children as we teach gratitude and the joy of giving.

teaching gratitude

A song we like to teach our preschoolers, called “The Very Best Part of Christmas Time,” composed by Janeen Brady, starts like this:

The very best part of Christmas time, the very best part I know, it’s not the tree, it’s not the treats, it’s not the lights that glow. The very best part of Christmas time, I’ll tell you any day.  The very best, happiest, part I know are the presents you give away.

From what we’ve observed, children, by nature, have giving hearts.  But we know what it’s like to hear the “I wants” every time you walk through the store.  It’s easy for children to get “wrapped up” in the gifts.   However, the holidays are the perfect opportunity for children to learn how to give, how giving feels, and how to be grateful.

Here are four simple ways to help you teach gratitude and the joy of giving to your preschooler.

4 Ways to Teach Gratitude & The Joy of Giving

1- Ask What They are Going to Give

teaching gratitude

It’s so easy to ask, because we were all asked the same question: “What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?”.  And as fun (or scary) as it is to climb onto the big man’s bright red lap and relay to him the wish list, try to shift the focus to what your child is going to give for Christmas.  Gifts from young children don’t even need to cost money.  The best gifts they can give come from their hearts and artistic hands.

Instead of making a wish list, help them make a give list.  As they make a list of the people they love, help them think of acts of service they can do for those people.

2- Identify the Joy of Giving

Preschoolers are still identifying emotions that they feel.  You can help them identify that warm glowing feeling they get when they give something by naming it joy.  As they create or pick out gifts for family and friends, help them feel excited as they anticipate how the person will feel as they open the gift.

teaching gratitude

As parents, we can also model gratitude in daily conversation.  “Someone helped me put my cart away while I loaded the kids in the car today.  That made me feel so grateful.” Or, “Someone dropped these cookies off on our front steps.  How does that make you feel?”. Try spending a few minutes every dinner or tuck-in time discussing things you are grateful for that day.

teaching gratitude

And, as always, reading a book is a natural way to start up a conversation on the topic.  Here are a few links to book lists on gratitude you can check out:

When children can identify the happiness that comes from receiving, they can better identify the joy that comes from giving someone happiness.

3- Share What They Have

teaching gratitude

Sometimes it’s hard to provide our children with the opportunity to see those less fortunate than themselves.  As a parent, you need to be the judge of what is appropriate for them to see.  But for a child, seeing someone who has less than herself can be a game-changer for giving.

“In with the new and out with the old” can bless the lives of others.  As they receive new toys for the holidays, help them pick old ones they can donate.  Talk about where it is going.  If they’ve seen other children who have less, they will have a better idea of who will be playing with their toys, which can bring them joy.

teaching gratitude

During the holiday season, opportunities to give are all around us.   For example, you can find a Sub 4 Santa or Giving Tree.  Have your child help you do the shopping and wrapping.  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we do Project Sleep Tight in the winter.  Children will be able to donate a blanket, book, and stuffed animal for a child who is displaced from their home.

4- Thank You!

teaching gratitude

Having a gratitude attitude begins with saying “Thank you”.  As your child opens presents this season, help them remember those polite little words.  Some families choose to open presents one at a time so the giver and the receiver can enjoy the moment and thank you’s (and great big hugs) can be given.

teaching gratitude

You can also have your child write or draw thank you notes for the gifts they’ve received.   Even if they dictate, verbalizing their gratitude helps them recognize what they are given and how it makes them feel.

In November, we teach gratitude as our monthly character trait.  We hope you can also help them identify gratitude through the holiday season.  There is nothing that brings us more joy than seeing our preschoolers find the joy of sharing and giving.  Come see the joy we are having at UDA Creative Arts Preschool by scheduling a tour of our Draper, Utah facility by calling 801-523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool- November!

If you thought the kitchen was busy for Thanksgiving, you should see what our little chefs have been up to this month!  Besides baking up a storm, our November preschool themes develop skills in all aspects of the whole child.  That’s because at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe all our learning should be fun.  So it is!

Jets and Journey- Jj

preschool themes

In our movement class, we took turns being the “Stop” and “Go” sign.  The children used their large motor skills to push their cars (scooters) around, as well as practice inhibitory control when it’s time to stop…but their inner Lightning McQueen is saying, “I am speed”!

preschool themes

Our vehicles helped us learn our letters and numbers.  Children matched the number of car with the number on the garage.  Our cars also drove the roads on their letter sheets…or was that streets?

preschool theme

We took on roles of pilots and other community helpers that use so many special types of transportation.  Role playing provides our preschoolers with opportunities to develop language skills, as well as characteristics like kindness and empathy.

preschool themes

We put our engineering skills to work as we used tinker toys to build wheels for our ramps.  The children learned problem solving skills as they worked together to make vehicles that could go down the ramps.  They also discovered laws of physics as they compared the speeds of different inclines.

preschool themes

 

Kitchen- Kk

preschool theme

Our homemade lip paint (lipgloss) was a fun language arts activity.  Whoever said lipgloss had to be pink?  Whoever said it had to stay on your lips?  These kissing cuties had a fun time decorating the letter “K”…

preschool theme

…and themselves!

preschool theme

Did you know apple cider changes color?  We put science to work as we discovered that when you first make apple cider it’s an off white color, but the juice color changes as it’s in the air, just like an apple turns brown.  We also made some delicious apple sauce after we all took turns peeling the apples.

preschool theme

We continued our multisensory learning as we each made our own fruit salad.  Cutting up fruit helped our preschoolers develop small motor skills and confidence as they learn real life skills.

preschool theme

The results?

preschool theme

Most satisfying!

Preschool Bakery

preschool theme

The discovery room bakery was busy. Chocolate, vanilla, and spice-scented play dough inspired the creation of cupcakes, cookies, cakes–with sprinkles of course!  In the process of manipulating the dough, children are developing stronger hand muscles and coordination that will help them with scissors and writing.

preschool theme

Preschool Pizzaria!

preschool theme

If you think our baking skills are impressive, you should check out our pizzeria!  With the kind of helping hands we have going here, we could start our own business!

preschool theme

preschool theme

The children loved adding the toppings to their personal pizzas and we loved seeing so many healthy food choices, like peppers and onions.  One of our preschoolers even exclaimed, “This is the best pizza I’ve ever had!”  Look out Papa Murphy’s!  You have some competition.

preschool theme

preschool theme

Leaves-Ll

Preschool theme

Even though our Ll week was short, we spent some time discussing our character trait, gratitude.  We are so grateful for the beautiful fall leaves and nature outside that we enjoy.

Thanksgiving Feast

preschool theme

Our Thanksgiving feast was attended by Pilgrims and Native Americans alike.  We offered the children the choice of dressing as a Pilgrim or a Native American.  After hearing the Thanksgiving Feast story, many of the children chose to be Native Americans because they were so friendly to the Pilgrims.

preschool theme

But we think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone who partook enjoyed the feast!

preschool theme

preschool theme

Plus, it was a wonderful opportunity for us to practice our manners for our “Mm” week.

preschool theme

preschool theme

Continue Learning-

preschool theme

As we focus on whole child learning, we try to integrate different styles and types of learning in all our activities.  We also focus on having our preschoolers kindergarten ready.  You can help your child by encouraging them to practice with writing tools and scissors.

preschool theme

And of course, a life time of learning begins with a passion for learning.  By surrounding your child with books, and taking time to read to him, you will foster that passion.

preschool theme

Our preschool themes for November were both delicious and educational.  Feel free to stop by and see what learning adventures we have going on today by calling (801) 523-5930 for a free tour of our Draper, Utah UDA Creative Arts Preschool facility.

Written by: Elsje Denison