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If your child is taking a class at apple seeds, you want to read this...

Hello apple seeds families,

We are now in our last month of the winter semester, we hope that you and your little ones enjoyed spending the cold winter months with us. We would like to share with you all of the exciting things your children are learning about at apple seeds. Please read below for a recap of the month of March. We also would like to invite you all to come to class with your child during family week, April 21st – April 26th 2014. This allows you the opportunity to see firsthand all the fun they are having in class.

Read on to see what is happening in all our amazing apple seeds classes.

my Chelsea art opening:
We started out the month with a super hero theme. We had a blast creating arm bands, headbands and masks (every super hero has to have a disguise) for the kids’ alter egos. Continuing on with our imagination series, we did prince and princesses, explored the world of pirates and even went on a journey to the Wild West! We used foam bricks to “build” castles, aluminum foil to decorate crowns, model magic to create treasures and designed a “campfire” out of craft sticks, cellophane and newspaper. Some of the materials we used were familiar – while others were first time experiences for our artists. In our group work during Wild West week we used textured brushes. What type of print did these brushes leave? How did the brush look and feel different then our normal brushes? When decorating our crowns we discovered what happens when you mix colors - a new color appears! This was a wonderful surprise for almost all of our kids. Maybe our kids are just seeing how much of their arm they can cover in green paint or maybe a light bulb is going off about something they enjoy or notice. Either way is perfect - we just want all our art students to feel free to experiment, explore and have fun with art. They will build on these experiences for years to come.

COOKing monsters:
This past month we explored cuisines from around the world. Mexico, Japan, Italy and France are the countries we took our inspiration from. The kids chopped, cut, squeezed, mixed and tasted their way through our recipes. Quesadillas were a favorite by far; with some parents even questioning why they haven’t tried such an easy and nutritious menu item at home (don’t worry, that is what the take home recipe cards are for). Another kids’ favorite was the pizza (of course!). Anything laden with cheese seems to please this group. The kids enjoyed kneading the dough and using a rolling pin to flatten it out to their desired depth. During our visit to Japan, our students made vegetable sushi. They worked very hard with knives (plastic and child safe, of course). The fine motor skills they are working on and improving upon while having fun and exploring with food is so important for their growth and development. Watching the kids fill their Nori with rice and fresh veggies…and then trying it (some eating everything in sight!) was amazing. This month some kids realized that they really enjoy beans and cucumbers -- what a wonderful and exciting discovery. Some yelled out, “I don’t like it”, which is ok too. Join us this month in COOKing monsters as we continue to introduce your children (and maybe even you) to new foods, as well as work with well-loved favorites in new and exciting ways.

little adventures:
Adventure called and we answered this month! We explored the ocean, dug in the garden, studied nocturnal animals and learned about clouds. As soon as our kids enter the class, everyone (adults included) gets excited to find out what adventure awaits them. During our garden theme, the kids planted seeds in a traditional, as well as a nontraditional way. We placed lima beans in a plastic bag with a wet cotton ball and then planted another lima bean in a pot with soil and water. This showed the kids that you don’t need soil for a seed to grow. The kids brought home their beans to watch their day by day transformation – so that they could witness how seeds develop and what is most important for growth (hint; water and sun). During the nocturnal animal study, we learned a lot about the sleep patterns of the kids in class. Most were happy to share what they think of bed time. We were even told that some of them that they must stay in bed at night (even if they are not tired)! We learned, that unlike kids, nocturnal animals are allowed “out of bed” at night and they sleep during the day. We created and ate a delicious owl snack. We added cream cheese to an English muffin, used cucumber slices and raisins as eyes, a red pepper beak and shredded carrots as feathers. Our book that day was about an owl that loved the night and met other nocturnal friends along the way; a raccoon, a snake, some bats and a skunk (we were informed that they smell really, really bad). Our other books this month included…
  • The Secret Seahorse – by Stella Blackstone
  • Planting a Rainbow – by Lois Ehlert 
  • Little Owl’s Night – by Divya Srinivasan
  • Little Cloud – by Eric Carle 
See you on our next adventure!

apple CORE training
This month in CORE, we played tennis, golf, track & field and started our 2 week series on baseball. Kids run (literally) into core and don’t stop until they drop (hopefully for a nice long nap). Watching and observing all the kids during the warm up/stretches portion of class is incredible. There has been quite a transition from the first class until now. The kids know what to expect and look forward to all the fun stretches -- like jumping like a frog and flapping our butterfly wings. The highlight of the class is our running relays; this is where they show off their speed and determination. On the word “go!” the kids run or jump (fill in any other silly move here) across the room. The children know the routine so well that when their teacher tries to trick them by saying “one, two, three, potato!” most don’t fall for it anymore. In class, kids are working on balance, coordination, control and spatial awareness. They all got a kick out of the gigantic inflatable tennis rackets. Holding it and trying to hit a balloon takes a lot of strength and coordination. During our golf lessons, we learned the correct way to hold a club (keeping the club touching the floor not waving it above their heads!). Some got it and some didn’t, but we all stayed safe and had fun.

This coming month we continue with baseball, throw in a little gymnastics and review our favorite sports towards the end of the semester.

move baby, move
In our baby movement classes (6-12 months and 12 – 18 months) we have been having a blast crawling, moving, jumping, running and learning about the world around us. The favorite class activity this month (and always) was parachute play. The kids love the colors and motion; while the adults love the calm songs and watching their child's face light up. We traveled many miles around the room this month during our circle dances and transitioning songs. What a wonderful opportunity for child and caregiver to bond and connect. Children are learning to use their bodies in ways to get around, or support themselves during an activity. We encourage them to build core strength. During the obstacle course section of class we have seen some friendships develop. Some of the children are starting to recognize and remember their friends from class and want to be close to them during activities. We wouldn’t go as far to say that they want to share the equipment or toys with them just yet… but that comes with time. Giving children a large space that is safe for them to explore and encouraging them to move around builds confidence and we can see them growing right before our eyes.

Twinkle twinkle little toes
In our dance classes this month, we started rehearsing our moves for our recital. The kids look great and most importantly, they are having fun. Most of the older children are excited to show their loved ones all their fancy moves. The little ones don’t really grasp what a recital is all about, but they are having so much fun with the music and moves, that I am sure this semester’s recital will rock the house. This month we practiced moving like a horse, snake and a butterfly (the butterfly being the clear favorite.) The kids flapped their wings and flew around the room – just beautiful. Another favorite section of the 18-24 month class is the obstacle course. This is such an important part of class, as it allows the kids to move freely around the room; discovering how to balance, crawl, tip toe and jump around the equipment. In the 2’s and older classes, they are tapping their way into our hearts. The kids love this section of class. What child wouldn’t jump at the chance to make as much noise as possible, all the while wearing the coolest shoes, ever? We hope you can join us towards the end of the month for our dance recital and see all their hard work showcased.

songs for seeds (music)
As always, we are rockin’ and rollin’ in our songs for seeds class. Kids and adults jammed to Can't Buy Me Love by the Beatles and Some Kind of Wonderful by Grand Funk Railroad, just to name a few. We travelled to many different countries this month; America, India, Switzerland and Scotland (and boy are our arms tired). We learned to say hello and goodbye in the native languages of these regions (honestly, nothing is cuter then a child saying ‘Namaste’). We were able to learn about, touch and play many different instruments. The mandolin, the tasseled tambourine shaker (made in India), stirring xylophone and a budhram drum. How exciting to watch the self discovery as each child touched, listened to and played these new instruments. Music is important for all of us, especially children. This is a non verbal outlet for them to get in touch with their emotions and express themselves. Being able to be a part of that discovery, and hopefully playing a part in building lifelong learners and appreciators of music (no matter what it looks or sounds like) is why the band plays on.

build it! break it! fix it!
In this class, kids get the opportunity to have fun with hands-on activities. This month we touched on many themes, including brick work , wheels and axels. During the brick laying class, we discussed why certain building materials are stronger than others. We emphasized the story of the Three Little Pigs. Each child was given straw (crinkled paper), wood (craft stick) and a brick (real mini bricks). We huffed and puffed and blew over all the materials, except for…you guessed it – the brick. Then we were able to build brick walls using a special mortar and created our own super strong building (that can’t be blown down by anything, not even a wolf). Another favorite theme this month was wheels and axels. Everyone enjoyed building their own car out of bristle blocks. We put our creations to the test by racing them down an incline. Some didn’t make it and other finished intact (but as we told the kids – this is build it, break it, fix it -- the fun is in building it again and creating something new). As always we finish each class with an introduction of the safety item of the day. This could be anything from an exit sign to a fire extinguisher. This section of class always starts good discussions about safety and how to use these items to remain safe while working.

This month in science, we touched on estimation, astronomy, chemical reactions and clouds. During the estimation theme, we learned that estimating is just guessing. You use all the items and knowledge available to you and taking your best guess. During this class we estimated volume, height and weight using fun materials (like cotton balls and packing peanuts) and worked together as a team (most were shocked to find out exactly how many yoga blocks high the teachers were). All the kids had a blast during the chemical reaction unit (no pun, intended). The baking soda and vinegar reaction (or volcano, as most of us remember from 6th grade science class) was a hit! They discovered that when certain chemicals are mixed with other chemicals, they cause a reaction, in this case the “volcano” bubbling up and over. Kids are all about discovery and what better way to peak their curiosity and allow them to test and ask questions than in science class.

This month our focus was on science (April will start our build it! break it! fix it! segment). We learned about electricity, magnets and the solar system. We learned new terms like attract and repel, electrical currents and outer and inner planets. During electricity class, our teacher demonstrated how a lemon can be used as a battery to power a clock. By placing zinc and copper wires (which are connected to a clock), into a lemon, we made use of the electrolytes present in the fruit. The electricity traveled from the lemon, through the wires and powered the clock – amazing! This was an unbelievably exciting experiment for the class (and I think some of the adults too). During our class on magnets, each child was given their own magnetic tower and donut. Most noticed right away that sometimes the magnet stuck right to another magnet, but sometimes it appeared to want nothing to do with it. All the force in the world, won’t get magnets to attract if they are on opposite poles. We discussed why this is happening and how to “fix” the magnets so they would attract to each other. Science is so much fun and the kids love exploring, asking questions, and trying to discover how and why something works.

This month in soccer, we worked on kicking (no hands), scoring a goal, waiting our turn and cheering for our friends. We also touched on speed and agility. To help us teach these concepts, we used a new piece of equipment (that the kids loved!) called an agility ladder. We all took turns running through the ladder. Despite temptation, everyone waited their turn very well. A large part of soccer is learning to work as a team, as well as an individual. We worked on activities that allowed for the individual to shine, as well as activities that require teamwork. This past month, children were asked to run through cones to make a goal, while their friends cheered them on. They were also asked to work together to find all soccer balls a “home” on a cone. The kids run, jump, kick and stretch all the while having fun and learning too.

seedlings toddler
This month our focus was on spring. Our art projects included a spring wreath made from flower petals, a Daffodil the kids painted yellow -- with tissue paper as the center and a butterfly, to name a few. Our favorite part of this class is the group music section. Each class, a couple of kids get the opportunity to come up to the song board and choose what they wish to sing. The kids get very excited about this part and love that they get a say in the song choice. We have a small group this semester, but everyone is really enjoying each other’s company. During the free play section, most of our kids head right over to the kitchen and start to make a midday day snack for their caregivers. When not in the kitchen, this group bounces back and forth between carpet toys and table toys such as puzzles and other manipulatives. It is great to see the kids transitioning from clean up to the carpet almost flawlessly; this is a big step towards understanding classroom routine and structure, which will help them when they are in preschool (and beyond).

Music Together

Just wrapped up its winter semester, and what a fun semester it was! This month the kids’ favorite songs were "I'm Freezing (achoo!)" and "Don Alfredo Baila", complete with the Spanish lyrics. Although it seemed as if the winter weather would never end, we managed to stay warm by moving, dancing, singing and playing together. The last few classes of the semester are always the most rewarding for the teachers. At this point the kids know a lot of the songs and techniques we do in class. Little voices start sounding at different points throughout class, especially at the end of songs. The little ones have found their favorite ways to move and more readily jump into their own personal dances. We said "good-bye, so long, farewell" to the "Sticks" collection at our semester-ending sing-a-long, and this week we moved forward with spring and the "Maracas" collection!

Jennifer Strausser
Director of Programming

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