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.

Investing Time and Energy

Investing Time and Energy 2560 2154 Ken Story

Barry Lee always thought his calling was to be a teacher, but life has a way of working in surprising ways. It wasn’t until after a successful 40-year career in the private sector that he finally found himself sitting in a tiny chair, surrounded by children in a classroom.

For the past 10 years since retiring, Barry has volunteered in his community in various ways. Dedicated to education, Barry has spent the last three years as a weekly volunteer in our Preschool P.A.L.S. classroom. When asked why he chooses to spend his free time in the busy environment of a classroom, he replies, “When I retired I asked myself, ‘Who am I to think that I can take the rest of my life off?’”

“Mr. Barry” as he is known in the classroom, dove headfirst into his work with the children. Working off verbal cues from the teachers and incorporating learning opportunities into playtime, he really feels like he is making a difference. “I’ve heard people think that volunteering with children at this age is babysitting. That is definitely not the case. It didn’t take me long to discover that they are really bright young individuals,” Barry explains.

His favorite moments at Way to Grow are the ones when the children have a “big-eyed” moment. “They have that epiphany, that moment of discovery and connection of what they learned and that they can actually use it. That feeling leaves me flying high for four to five days,” he notes.

“Muhammad Ali once said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,’” Barry reflects. “These children count on me. If I can fulfill my soul and improve the future of a child at the same time, I know I will have done my part.”

A Snapshot of our Preschools this Year

A Snapshot of our Preschools this Year 2560 1707 Ken Story

From a pajama- piñata party to food bazaars, from balloon parties to buildings, our preschoolers have expanded their minds and horizons all while exploring their imaginations. While these moments are now memories, and some of these children are graduates, we wanted to take a trip down memory lane and share with you a few wonderful moments from our two preschools this past school year.

Music with Ms. Nora from MacPhail (North Preschool)

Making up a session that was missed because of weather, Ms. Nora came in with a purpose. Our teachers had informed her that the class was going to the zoo later in the week, so she came prepared with songs about animals and going to the zoo. The children played with different animal toys that she brought, sang different animal songs, and moved around the classroom pretending to be animals. To round out their last session with her for the school year, they played with sand blocks, drums, and maracas.

Music is an important and wonderful part of education and we are so grateful for Ms. Nora and our friends at MacPhail Center for Music!

Advocacy Day at the Minnesota State Capitol

Turning momentum into action, our preschool children accompanied their parents and Way to Grow staff to the Minnesota State Capitol to rally for early education. After boarding the bus and singing songs, a flood of yellow Way to Grow t-shirts entered the rotunda, where parents heard from education professionals and advocates while the children got to sing songs and were read to by legislators. Way to Grow Parent Champion Mina Thao even took the stage to share her story on how access to early education programs like Way to Grow have positively impacted her and her children’s lives.

“Witnessing their parents being active on any front leaves a positive impression on a child,” said Way to Grow Program Director Megan McLaughlin. “It was a great opportunity for the families to learn and experience the State Capitol in very different ways.”

Our families were then taken downstairs, where they were able to enjoy a snack, do some activities, and experience one-on-one time with legislators. We knew it was a long day because on the bus ride back to the preschools, a few of the children fell asleep. Who knew advocacy could be so tiring!

“Building” a Foundation of Learning (South Preschool)

It is always amazing to see the learning epiphany in children when they discover that just about everything they learn can be a career. For example, something as simple as building blocks can lead into a conversation about buildings and structures.

The South Preschool classroom was transformed into a cardboard workshop with boxes and supplies, and our children went from curious to becoming hands-on engineers! They were able to focus their skills individually and also cooperatively working with others to create some incredible structures.

This is a great reminder to always look for opportunities to learn in places you wouldn’t expect them and take action on them!

THE Trip to the Como Zoo

Even though the first zoo in the world was established in 1500 B.C. in Egypt, zoos remain wildly popular in the world and a driving force behind that are children’s interest, curiosity, and love for animals. Our Way to Grow children are no different, and after weeks of learning, singing, and pretending to be animals, there was no better way to finish the school year than a trip to the Como Zoo. We also invited their parents because you are never too old to go to the zoo!

Even though some parts of the zoo were under construction, the children were able to see all the animals they wanted to see on a list they made prior to their visit. From reptiles to mammals, the children got to experience and learn about the animal kingdom first hand. They also got to snack on animal crackers, which was intentionally planned by the teachers.

A huge thank you to our friends at the Como Zoo for hosting our families – and for everything they do for the Twin Cities community!

Sharing and reflecting on all these wonderful memories already has us looking forward to the next school year, we cannot wait to share with you what is to come!

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