The theme this year is "The Amazing Alphabet" and each week a different letter is featured. Adorable. Last week was "Crazy C" and we went on a field trip to the circus on Thursday, which was awesome. Monday snack was celery, chips and carrots. Wednesday snack was chocolate chip cookies. I got assigned a very good day to cooperate because Friday it was carrot cake.
(Pictures from the Big Apple Circus last Thursday)
I do a babysitting switch with another mom for our co-op days, so I took Ginger over to their house early and picked up her son Bradley, who is in Hazel's class. Every day during snack they do show-and-tell and are encouraged to bring things starting with the letter of the week. Bradley had with him a baggy full of plastic food starting with "C" - cabbage, corn, cookie, etc. Hazel brought her food smock with cherries on it.
Bradley, Hazel and I got to school 1/2 hour early to help set up - put out toys, playdough, chairs in the reading area, the alphabet rug for circle time, etc. At 9:30 the kids started showing up and I was finally able to start getting their names straight. There are about 16 in the class but a few were absent, and I was amazed at how calm and empty it seemed after all the parents and baby siblings had disappeared.
The first hour or so is free play and crafts. There's a big toy and pretend play room, a couple of tables set up with things like coloring, playdough, toy phones or something, and a reading corner by the bookshelves. And a big table with one of the teachers making the craft of the day, of course always something starting with the letter of the week. On Friday it was yarn-lacing paper canoes. Every Monday the craft is decorating a large cardstock alphabet letter. "A" week they made "Aluminum A"; "B" was covered in buttons; "C" was cotton balls; and this week they made "Drip Drop D" using colored water and eye droppers. I always tape the letters up on Hazel's wall and by the end of the year we'll have the whole alphabet.
My job was to do whatever. Play with the kids. Help them go to the bathroom. Put smocks on and off at the easels. Read to them. I did all of the above. It was really a lot of fun to get to know them, interact with them, and watch Hazel with them as well. Of course Hazel was thrilled to have me there because whoever's parent is the "cooperator" gets to be the "special helper" and since I was the very last parent on the schedule she has been dying for this blessed privilege. It includes turning the light off for clean-up and back on for circle time, putting the numbers on the calendar, handing out napkins for snack, and being first in line going out and coming back in from the playground. She was positively beaming...and so was I, to be honest.
I think she's super clever and pretty close to perfect, so it was really a reality check when her teachers mentioned things to me throughout the day she needs to improve on. It was kind of like a parent-teacher conference spread out over 3 hours, and I understand now that I'm on the parent side why such suggestions usually come as a surprise to parents. But I admit it was helpful to have the feedback; since Hazel is my first and oldest I don't always know what she should be able to do at every developmental stage, and I don't always set my expectations as high as they could be. I was monumentally impressed with what they get a bunch of 3-to-5 year olds to do at school. Amazing what a set routine and some experienced teachers can make happen.
After free play is circle time. They put the next number on the calendar, count all the days in English and Spanish, sing a couple of days-of-the-week songs, name all the months, and sing a few songs by request. Hazel wanted to sing "The Taxi Song" and Ms. Love asked me to teach it to them all since Hazel always requests it and they don't know it. Then everyone went to the bathroom to wash their hands (I manned the boys' sink) and came back out for snack. Did I mention it was carrot cake? Yuuuumm. And oranges. And they all did show-and-tell. There were cranes, crowns, coins, a camel, and even a can of coconut milk (he got a high-5 for a double-C.) Then we all went out to the playground for a long play time - must have been 45 minutes out there, which is awesome. Besides the devil's own sand everywhere, that I pour by the bucketful out of Hazel's shoes every time she comes home, it's a lovely playground and it was a gorgeous day to be outside.
On the way back in they got an aloe wipe for their hands (pinworm is the current contagion) and then sat on the rug again for story time. We had brought "Corduroy" to share and Mrs. Peetz was thrilled because she loves that book. Then it was 12:30 and the rush of parents and siblings came and went. We helped clean up a little and went back to Bradley's house to pick up Ginger.
Simple and super fun. Can't wait to be cooperate again!