Preschool Pals

Learning at Home: Alphabet Wall Game

Learning at Home: Alphabet Wall Game 150 150 Maren Nelson

This activity comes from one of our Preschool Pals teachers and is a great game for you and your preschooler to play at home together.


What You Need:

  • Cards with all the letters of the alphabet (uppercase AND lowercase)
  • A wall you can put tape on in a room with lots of space to run
  • A helper! (that’s you, caregiver, family member, or friend!)

Game Set-up:

If you do not have letter cards, here’s how you can make your own:

Cut paper into small squares. On each square, write the upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet. Then tape these squares on the wall in a random order. (Make sure you tape them at a height your child can reach.)


How to Play:

Level 1: Letter Names

The helper calls out a letter from the wall. The child then runs to the wall, finds the letter, and tags it with their hand.

Level 2: Letter Sounds

The helper calls out a letter sound. The child then runs to tag the correct letter.

Level 3: Word Sounds

Option 1: The helper puts an object in front of them and the child must run and tag the first letter in the name of the object. (Example: the helper sets a cup in front of them, so the child should tag the letter “C.”)

Option 2: The helper calls out a word and the child runs to tag the first letter of that word.

New Underwater Friends

New Underwater Friends 756 506 Maren Nelson

Our Preschool Pals teacher, Mr. Eka, is always looking for ways to engage his students in new ways. Sometimes that involves painting with interesting materials and other times it means sharing opportunities that the kids otherwise may not be able to experience.

Last week, our preschoolers took a field trip to SeaQuest in Roseville for their first field trip of 2020! The kids were instructed on how to safely engage with the animals, taught about the different species, and had a ton of fun along the way. “The place really let the children touch, feed, and play with the animals. I think both children and parents had a really fun time and some had already planned for return visits,” said Mr. Eka.

Check out the photos below!

Book-O-Ween

Book-O-Ween 1008 756 Angelique McDonald

This October, our Preschool Pals celebrated Book-O-Ween! This special holiday is when our very special friends get to dress up as one of their favorite book characters and have a party in the classroom. This year, they feasted upon spooky snacks like ghost & bat chips, monster strawberries and bananas, and washed it all down with spider milk.

Naturally, no event could ever be complete without a dance party! Our friends got to enjoy music followed by some spectacular spider art, and they wrapped the day up with a monster movie. It was a mighty adventure!

Preschool Pals Has Begun!

Preschool Pals Has Begun! 756 549 Angelique McDonald

This September, our preschool in North Minneapolis, Preschool Pals, held their first Parent-Child class for the school year. Preschool Pals hosts Parent-Child classes throughout the year, with near-perfect attendance by families. Each class centers around a theme that impacts families every day. This class focused on nutrition.

Lead by our preschool staff, the class was facilitated with the help of University of Minnesota Health & Nutrition Program Educator, Ms. Selah Michele. She spoke to parents about helping children try new foods and keeping them engaged with their food choices by including them in snack prep. She also gave parents tips for providing healthy snack options and answered personal questions from the families. 

The class concluded the session by making their own snack: fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. Parents then went home with a few recipes that they could try with their children. Yum! 

Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!

Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! 1200 798 Ivy Marsnik

Last fall, Waabomiimii began attending Way to Grow Preschool P.A.L.S. after her mom met Miriam, one of our Family Educators, at a recruitment event. At four years old, Waabomiimii did not know her ABCs or how to count, but over the last year she has grown tremendously. Making leaps and bounds, Waabomiimii now knows all letter sounds, is counting up to 20, and has passed the nationally recognized IGDI early literacy assessments indicating that she is ready for kindergarten!

Itzel, Waabomiimii’s mom, is very happy with Waabomiimii’s progress and has enjoyed watching her daughter grow. “In just one year,” Itzel tells us, “Waabomiimii has learned the alphabet, how to write numbers, and count. She has learned rhyming words and is now learning how to read!”

Combined with our preschool parent-child classes and home visiting program, Itzel’s engagement has been instrumental in Waabomiimii’s success. “Mom always works very hard between home visits,” Miriam says. “She has done a great job with Waabomiimii over the past year on everything from counting and reading, to following through on rules. When she gets home from work, she now sets aside time each night to practice learning with Waabomiimii.”

During home visits, Miriam continues to work with Waabomiimii and Itzel on reading. “Waabomiimii is working on continuing to build her sight-word recognition – a critical first-step in early literacy,” Miriam says. “When I visit, we do a lot of shared reading, a technique we commonly use in our curriculum.” Shared reading, a strategy where students and adults read aloud together, provides guidance and support to the child as they learn new words. “I usually start by reading a sentence, then engage mom by having her read next. Mom then reads while pausing on the sight-words Waabomiimii knows to allow her to read the sight-words aloud,” Miriam describes. “Now they like it so much that mom is reading with Waabomiimii 10-20 minutes each day! They also visit the library regularly so they can continue to enjoy new books together.”

This month, Waabomiimii walked across the stage at the Way to Grow Early Learner Graduation and in a few short weeks, she will begin her next journey as she starts kindergarten. Thanks to mom’s hard work, and the help of Miriam and the Way to Grow preschool teachers, we are happy to report she is ready to succeed!

Meet Mr. Barry

Meet Mr. Barry 2055 1566 Ivy Marsnik

Every Wednesday for the past year, 12-15 Way to Grow preschool children cannot wait to see Mr. Barry’s friendly smile when they arrive at school.

Mr. Barry volunteers as a Preschool Literacy Tutor at the Way to Grow Preschool in South Minneapolis. “I love reading to the kids,” he says, “I get to the preschool before class starts, and before you know it” Barry cheerfully explains, “I’ll have several children crowding around me; excited to read, to learn and to enjoy a story!”

To say Mr. Barry has a passion for teaching would be an understatement. “I always wanted to be a teacher,” Mr. Barry goes on. “But, one thing led to another, and I wound up with a successful career in retail; but I never stopped thinking I would have liked to be a teacher.” So, even while working full time, Mr. Barry started his equally successful volunteer career as K-3 tutor at Emerson Public School where he served for over ten years. Though Mr. Barry enjoyed the one-on-one time, this school enjoyed a large number of volunteers. He credits this experience with inspiring him, and looked for more opportunities where he could make an impact.

“That’s when I saw a call to volunteer with Way to Grow in the newspaper,” Mr. Barry says. “I looked into the program and was very drawn to the idea of working with a population of students [where a large percentage are] assimilating to America, while simultaneously learning to navigate the school system. It’s hard not to tie this work to the achievement gaps everyone is talking about in Minneapolis, and, well, you can’t keep complaining that kids are undereducated, if you’re not going to do anything about it!” And so, Mr. Barry did, and has been with our Preschool P.A.L.S. ever since.

“I know that the families at the preschool are getting a head start, and that’s very profound throughout Way to Grow,” Mr. Barry concludes. “I, myself have learned a lot by watching these children and families progress and learn new skills. We are getting these kids ready to be successful and well educated. Seeing these results – let me tell you, I am so proud of how advanced these children are. It is what keeps me involved and inspired.”

Mr. Barry thinks about the impact his involvement may have in the future, “Someday one of these children might be our mayor, a successful CEO, a noted teacher or anything else they can dream of – even representing us in the White House!”  And Mr. Barry likes to think he is helping them get there; “Even if just a little bit!”

Now Recruiting Minnesota Reading Corps Literacy Tutors

Now Recruiting Minnesota Reading Corps Literacy Tutors 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Would you love to help children grow their reading skills, succeed in school and get extra support? If your answer is yes, you can be trained to serve as a tutor with Minnesota Reading Corps at Way to Grow. Whether you want to explore an educational career, reenter the workforce, or give back to your community, you can succeed as a tutor. Last year, Minnesota Reading Corps provided direct services to over 30,000 children in more than 700 schools across the state.

As a Literacy Tutor, you’ll use strategies that help students believe in themselves and succeed. Positions available include preschool tutors at Way to Grow Preschool Pals and P.A.L.S. Offered four days per week, Preschool Pals is our NAEYC accredited and MN Parent Aware 4-star rated center-based preschool program designed to complement home visits for Way to Grow families. Preschool P.A.L.S. invites the parent into the preschool classroom for parent-child learning time. Both locations offer part time options, and tutors typically serve most of their hours during the regular school day.

In addition to extensive training, tutors will receive on-site support from specially trained school mentors. Tutors come from many backgrounds and include recent high school and college grads, career changers, stay-at-home parents, and retirees. Tutors may earn a living allowance, educational award, federal student loan forbearance, and other benefits, and have the chance to make a real difference in the life of a child.

To apply or learn more about the research based programs, position qualifications, and benefits, visit MinnesotaReadingCorps.org. Questions? Contact recruitment@servemnaction.org or 866-859-2825.

Invest in Us

Invest in Us 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Building a Strong Community

Building a Strong Community 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

This month, our Preschool Pals focused on building a strong community.  Each area of the classroom was transformed to represent a place in the community.  The snack area served as a restaurant, the manipulative center was a construction site,  the science center became a hospital, the group area was the city hall, and the writing center was the local post office.  As students visited different pillars in their community, they participated in a variety of activities enhancing our curriculum.  “We did two cooking activities the kids really enjoyed,” Lead Teacher, Mr. Eka tells us. “After the children practiced identifying the different fruits and vegetables at our grocery store, we read The Ugly Vegetables and made a vegetable stew. Following suit, after reading The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, we made personal pizzas.”  I’m sure you can guess which recipe was the classroom favorite!

20141212_150332The preschoolers also took part in a science experiment, dissecting eggs!  Going along with Humpty Dumpty, some of the preschool friends suggested gluing the eggs back together. “For art this week, in addition to our letter of the week, we made community signs such as stop signs and traffic lights that we posted around the room. We also drew fire fighters in action, extinguishing realistic fire paintings.” 20141217_142838

Each student played in the sensory table which was filled with packing peanuts. After searching for community helpers, the children played a matching game, pairing them with where they work. At our writing center, children traced words for our community helpers and completed a tricky maze connecting their community workers with their vehicles. Wrapping up this week’s activity, the class made posters of what they want to be when they grow up.  To Mr. Eka’s delight, “teacher” was the most popular career choice!

 

 

 

Preschool Pals Teacher Lights the Way

Preschool Pals Teacher Lights the Way 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Those of us at Way to Grow have always seen Mr. Eka, our Preschool Pals lead teacher, as an excellent educator; but this week, the word is out!  As this week’s recipient of WCCO’s Excellent Educator Award, it is no secret that Mr. Eka radiates a very special light from within, a gift positively impacting his students’ lives day in and day out.  We are honored to have Mr. Eka on our team and could not be more excited to see all of his talents, hard work and dedication being recognized!  Thank you, Eka for all you do to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and life.

Take a step into Eka’s classroom and catch a glimpse of him in action by watching the video below!

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