Tag Archives: preschool

Everyday Play with Sleds and Snow at Ruth Washburn

Several children try sledding for the first time!

Many children sled which involves serious negotiating at the top of the hill about who gets which sled, decision-making about whether or not to ride in the front or the back, taking turns and the thrill of pushing off the hill to slide down.

So much experimenting happens as children’s sleds veer to the side, turn over or slide faster or slower. Some children discover that they can spin in the “flying saucer” sled.

And who needs sleds? Given cardboard pieces of various sizes, plastic sheets and metal trays children have great fun sliding on the Prairie paths using these recycled materials.

Children exercise their bodies carrying sleds up the hill to come down again and again.

We read the book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Inspired by this book, children make tracks, knock snow off the trees with a stick, make snow angels, and discover the fun of climbing up the Prairie path and tumbling/sliding down in the snow and ice.

One child discovers that she can draw circles in the snow with a stick. Another child squeezes snow with her mitten to make ice. Several children squeeze snow in their hand to make snowballs. The outdoor easel makes a good target and they practice their throws.

One child lifts large chunks of snow from piles that have been shoveled. He enjoys watching these chunks break up when they crash to the ground.

Children come down the slides and wonder why the slides are faster on such a cold day.

Reflecting on our busy day of experiencing the snow with all of our senses (several children couldn’t resist tasting the fresh snow!) the only thing the children didn’t notice was the cold temperature.

Special thanks to our student teacher Colby Adams and teacher Britnni Caldwell for helping facilitate such fun outdoors.



Sukie Jackson, Teacher




Everyday Play with Painting

by Sukie Jackson

Painting Under the trees

I have always loved Georgia O’Keefe’s painting,  the D H Lawrence Pine Tree. Our Ruth Washburn Summer Farm Camp for five year olds provided the perfect opportunity to share this favorite painting with children in an outdoor setting . Sitting under a grand pine tree at Redstone Castle, children commented on the painting:  “it’s an octopus in space!”, “a spider!”   a “tree!”  When we lay back and looked up from underneath our pine tree, Georgia O’Keefe’s Lawrence Pine Tree  became clear to all. Children recognized the trunk, branches and a night sky. Letting children respond to the painting and then setting them loose to draw, paint and observe outdoors was the plan and this is what we did. Each child eagerly embraced the chance to create their own piece of art representing their unique and individual perspective.  It was glorious time spent!

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A simple outdoor easel/clipboard can be made with sturdy cardboard back, paper, hole punch, rubber band and pencil-size stick. Lay under a tree and look up. Provide him/her with paint, pencil, watercolors, pastels,  crayons—any tool for creating art. Let me know what happens!

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The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is presenting an exhibition featuring Georgia O’Keefe paintings through September 13th. Consider a family field trip.

Special thanks to Dan and Gail Stuart who offered their lovely property, Redstone Castle in Manitou Springs,  to our school for the week-long Farm Camp.


Sukie Jackson  Older 4s teacher

*What outdoor art projects have you done with children?



Everyday Play with Fish

by Sukie Jackson

Our Classroom Pet Is A Fish

Max nose-to-nose with the hall fish tank

Max nose-to-nose with the hall fish tank

Our classroom pet is a fish. A Double Funnel Male Beta to be more specific.  In preparation for teaching children about our classroom pet, I learned about a beta fish’s upturned mouth (all the better for eating off the water’s surface!). I read the description of the “veil tail” and thought that children would appreciate this rhyming name.  I discovered that these territorial fish that originated in Thailand eat bloodworms and brine shrimp. I couldn’t wait to introduce our pet fish to the class.

And then I read Pulitzer Prize winning author Annie Dillard’s description of a twenty-five cent goldfish “Ellery” in the book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Dillard’s description beautifully illustrates  what can be learned by careful observation. If only I had paid careful attention to the actual fish, rather than study about it!

“This Ellery cost me twenty-five cents. He is a deep red-orange, darker than most gold fish. He steers short distances mainly with his slender, red lateral fins; they seem to provide impetus for going backward, up, or down. It took me a few days to discover his ventral fins; they are completely transparent and all but invisible–dream fins. He also has a short anal fin, and a tail that is deeply notched and perfectly transparent at the two tapered tips. He can extend his mouth, so that it looks like length of pipe; he can shift the angle of his eyes in his head so he can look before and behind himself, instead of simply out to his side. His belly, what there is of it, is white ventrally, and a patch of this white extends up his sides–the variegated Ellery. When he opens his gill slits, he shows a thin crescent of silver where the flap overlapped–as though all his brightness were sunburn.”

Children are natural scientists. Making observations, describing the natural world  in terms of observable characteristics and properties, recording observations by drawing and asking questions are all age appropriate activities that contribute to a young child’s development. Teachers and parents both can support a child’s curiosities about the natural world in the following ways.

  • Encourage and provide time for observation. (A former Ruth Washburn parent told me about the very “Ruth Washburn thing” she did with her elementary age daughter Grace. She let her stay home from school the day that a doe was born in the family’s backyard to simply observe. Later they created a homemade book about the experience.).
  • Listen and/or take notes as children verbalize their observations and questions.
  • Provide drawing materials (clipboard, paper, crayons, pencil).
  • Enhance observations by providing vocabulary as needed (words like “gill,” “ fin” or “transparent”).
  • Make available tools such as a ruler, magnifying glass and camera.
  • Provide non-fiction books and make available technology for research and investigations.
  • Encourage children to share observations.

I’m sure our four and five-year-old children’s observations of our classroom beta fish won’t be quite like Annie Dillard’s account but they will be original and observation-based. And much more appropriate than being “taught” anything from me, their teacher.How do you support your child’s natural curiosities? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you Annie Dillard!

Sincerely, Sukie Jackson  Older 4s teacher.

Doggy Summer Preschool Activities from Ruth Washburn

It isn’t quite the Dog Days of Summer yet, but when it is too hot to be outside in the middle of the day, why not try some of these doggy themed summer preschool activities?

Toshi in the covered wagon

Toshi enjoying some time in the covered wagon. He loves summer preschool activities.



This is puppy’s doghouse, (hands form peak over head)

This is puppy’s bed; (hands out in front, palms up)

This is puppy’s pan of milk, (cup hands together like a bowl)

Where he can be fed. (make licking motion)

This is puppy’s collar. (encircle neck with fingers)

His name is on it, too. (nod)

Take a stick and throw it! (throwing motion) He’ll bring it back to you. (rapidly pat leg with hand)


Wouldn’t it be fun to eat like a puppy?

Put a favorite dry cereal in one bowl, milk in another and lap up breakfast!

Use bone-shaped cookie cutter to make favorite cookies, biscuits or to cut toast into “doggy snacks.”


(a snack for people to eat!)

Create your own fun kibble snack.

Put one cup of any of the following ingredients into a bowl with a large spoon for stirring and scooping.

Give each child his or her own zip-lock sandwich bag and let them scoop themselves a snack.

  • Pretzels
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dried apples
  • Almonds
  • Banana chips
  • Cheerios
  • Raisins
  • Graham cracker pieces
  • Coconut
  • Crispix cereal
  • Chex cereal

Looking for more fun doggy themed summer preschool activities?

Check out the Pikes Peak Library’s Grow-a-Reader literacy kits with tons of ideas. Doggone Fun