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Infants and Toddlers: Happy Spring!

April 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Happy April I/T Families! It seems as though spring has finally arrived. We have been enjoying some time outside. The children have been excited to see the daffodils and tulips coming up on our playground. Outside time has been preceded with choruses of, “We don’t need our snow pants!” The birds and squirrels have been very active and busy around our playground, which the children love to see!

We have been celebrating Month of the Young Child. We enjoyed a popsicle snack. We have been doing a lot of art for a special project and for our Art Show that is located in the upper level of the barn (the larger building behind the main building). On Thursday, April 23, we will be having a “showing” in the barn from 4-5. Parents and other family members are welcome to join us for a snack and to check out the art from all the classrooms. You are also welcome to view the the art at any other time that the center is open if this time does not work for you. Just let us know, so that we can give you the code to the barn door.

Finally, we still have many days available for mystery readers. The only time of the day that doesn’t work is from 1-3 when the toddlers are resting. We would love to have some parents sign up and come in to read. Feel free to bring your own books!


April in the Cottage Preschool

March 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Cottage Preschool welcomes April, Month of the Young Child, and the warmer weather with open arms! We have many fun activities planned this month to celebrate children and everyone involved in the lives of children. Please view our calendar here.


The entire Traver center is participating in a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor. Please view the wish list here for the most needed items.

Ronald McDonald House Wishlist

We will also continue to welcome Mystery Readers into our classroom through the end of the year. Please sign up for a day & time in the parent hot spot.

Thanks for all that you do!

Ashley & Emily

We’re Enjoying Going Outside!

March 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Bitter cold February has finally left us and we’re able to go outside! We were really excited to get outside more than we have been able to recently. While we still managed to get active, large muscle play into each day, nothing beats some fresh air and plenty of room to run!

Children immediately asked for the shovels, big and small, and they began to dig into the mounds of snow that line our sidewalk.  We shoveled the path to our climber, allowing children who are still getting used to moving around in snow pants and boots to access the snowy parts of our playground.  Saeko and Alexandra climbed up and down the climber and went down the slide.  Nick and Rehan trudged through the snow to get to hidden items like the tunnel and glider.

With it being warmer, we were able to dig out toys that were previously frozen.  Caroline and Yazan explored the cars, problem solving getting in and out of them with their bulky winter gear on. Ryan, Nick, and Caroline pushed lawnmowers, strollers, and shopping carts across the sidewalk, maneuvering around ice chunks that they smashed on the ground. We’ve even tried sledding. The icy snow made the sled go super fast!

Now that spring has officially arrived we are so happy to explore the playground! Enjoy the photos!



Cottage Preschool’s Trip to the Hands On Museum!

March 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Cottage Preschool visited the Hands On Museum this March. The children enjoy experimenting in the classroom, so the Hands On Museum was the perfect place to go to learn, extend their interests, and have fun! Enjoy these photographs of our visit!


Praise vs. Encouragement in the Infant/Toddler Room

February 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Happy February everyone! I would like to share some ideas from one of the most valuable trainings that I have had here at Gretchen’s House. It was about praise versus encouragement.

How many times have you overheard a parent say,  “Good job!”? How often might this be something that you say to your child? Not that often? I would have answered the same way before the training.  It can often be a “go to” phrase when we want children to feel proud and validated. However, I learned that there are better ways to make our words meaningful and validating in a more concrete way.

Imagine you have been asked to write a really important report for work. You work really hard on the report. You put in overtime and really do your research. You are extremely proud of your work.  How would you feel if your boss only said, “Good job”? How would you feel if your boss said, “That was a great report. It was well researched and thorough. You worked really hard on it, and I can tell you put in some extra hours”? The first comment is praise, and the latter is encouragement. The encouragement feels a lot better, doesn’t it?

According to an article by John F. Taylor (1979), the differences in outcomes for children between praise and encouragement are as follows:

Praise Encouragement
stimulates rivalry and competition stimulates cooperation and contribution for the good of all
focuses on quality of performance focuses on amount of effort and joy
evaluative and judgmental; person feels “judged” little or no evaluation of person or act; person feels “accepted”
emphasis on global evaluation of the person-“You are better than others” emphasis on specific contributions-“You have helped this way”
creates quitters creates ‘triers’ and persistence
 fosters fear of failure and dependence fosters acceptance of being imperfect; fosters self sufficiency and independence

Children who are often praised can come to depend on it. They are often less willing to take risks. If they are already doing a good job, they don’t want to try something different and fail, thus losing their “good job” status. Children who are encouraged may be open to trying new and different things because the focus is on their effort not the outcome. Picture two toddlers of similar age and ability. One child finds their shoes and takes them to their parent. They hear, “Good job,” and the parent puts their shoes on for them. The other child finds their shoes and takes them to their parent. They hear, “You found your shoes.” The child then unsuccessfully attempts to put their shoes on and hears, “You worked really hard to put your shoes on.” The parent then helps with the shoes. The second child is much more likely to continue to try to put their shoes on by themselves because their effort is being acknowledged.

One of the best examples I’ve heard came from a mom when we did this training at Curriculum Night a few years ago. Her older daughter was drawing a picture. The mom told her, “Good job.” The daughter responded with, “But mom, I’m not even done yet!” The compliment was not meaningful to the child. Perhaps she thought, “I just got a good job for something that isn’t even done yet. Do they even mean it when they tell me good job?” A comment such as, “You’re working really hard on your picture,” would have meant a lot more to her.

I never realized how much I said, “Good Job,” until I had this training. It takes some time to break the habit. Think about how you can rephrase your “Good Job” statements. Be specific and acknowledge effort. Some examples: “You put your coat on all by yourself.” “You used a lot of different colors on your marker drawing.” “You tried your green beans.” “Snow pants are really hard to put on. You’ve been trying so hard to get yours on. Are you ready for some help?”

A “Good job” every now and then is completely fine, but a little encouragement goes a long way!


Cottage Preschool Visits the Post Office!

February 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently the Cottage Preschoolers have been interested in writing letters, spelling words, and sending mail. Emily and I added materials such as envelopes, paper, and stickers to the house area for the children to explore.  We’ve also started a word wall, which the children have been using to write frequently used words, as well as new vocabulary they are learning.

During our trip to the Post Office, the Post Master Diane gave us a tour of the entire office! The children learned how to buy stamps, where to put mail to be sent out, where to pick up mail, and they even had the opportunity to meet some mail men and women that were busy sorting mail. Some children also chose to dress up and pretend to deliver a package.


Ashley & Emily

Markers, paints, and play dough, oh my!

February 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The art area of our classroom has been very busy in the last couple weeks! From drawing with crayons and markers, to painting, to molding play dough, the children have been busy making creations of their own.

When working with markers, crayons and pens, the children use both individual pieces of paper to make works of their own, along with paper that covers the entire table that supports collaboration with others.  Our younger toddlers who are working on developing their small muscle skills, enjoy the large paper. It allows them to draw with both their large and small muscles.  We encourage them to talk about what they are writing or drawing. We also talk to them about what we write.  The skills they develop when using crayons and markers at this age are skills that are important foundation skills for future formal learning. They develop their pencil grip, move from scribbling to making discrete marks with their writing tool.

When we encourage them to describe what they are drawing, they learn to associate oral language with writing. They often watch us writing our daily notes and want to participate.  At home, you can give them an opportunity to write alongside you, whether you make shopping lists together or give them paper to work on while you do work. We encourage their art-making and writing by placing value on them. We hang their art around the classroom, both up high on our bulletin boards and down at their level.  At home, you could place drawings on the refrigerator next to important family materials.

They enjoy more hands-on manipulating materials, such as play dough and moon sand, as well.  They squish, mold, and flatten with their hands along with learning to use tools.  Kitchen tools are a fun addition to typical play dough tools, like cookie cutters, rolling pins, plates and forks.  They explore with the tools to figure out what different things they can do and different marks they can make. You could offer these materials, or any other tools you have available, with the play dough you received as your holiday gift.

These activities really keep our children engaged. They learn so much while exploring tools and materials and problem solving different ways to use them.

KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still Camera

School-Age Sledding Trip 2015

January 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


Recently our school age children had the opportunity to enjoy the snow with a sledding trip!  I hope you enjoy the pictures! Jasmine


Preschool Calendar Notes Week of January 26th

January 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Welcome to Preschool the Smith family (Ava) and the Florek family (Nolan)!

Friday 1/30- Molly at Head Teacher training from 9:00-1:15 (Diana covering)


Large Muscle Activities for the Preschool!

January 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The children in our preschool class have had so much energy these past few weeks and the teachers have been working hard to support them. As you know, the weather hasn’t always been in our favor. So, we really needed to get creative.
This morning for large group we brought the children to the gym and got out the big blue tumbling mats. We invited the children to participate in an activity that would work out all their large muscles.
We asked the children to “tow” each other across the gym on the big blue mats. The teachers offered their helping hands with the “towing” but the children were very independent and wanted to do it on their own.
They started with just one child on top, then two, and they even towed their teachers! It was such a fun way to get there muscles moving and blood pumping! As we know all this moving is good for the children’s brain development.  Here’s a link to an article that talks about research showing the importance of movement to brain development:

“Why Your Classroom Needs More Dance Parties”

Stay warm out there!


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