Wendi Rowland

Sarah Duvall

Sassafras Room is a Children’s House classroom on the Toledo Campus. Sarah Duvall and Wendi Rowland are the classroom’s co-teachers.


2015-16 Toledo Children’s House
Dates to Know [PDF]

We have recently begun our study of the continent of Asia.  We began with a general overview of the continent, first locating it on our painted globe and then our world puzzle map.  Asia is the yellow one!  We read a book with some simple facts about the people, their food, the climate, animals and famous landmarks that can be found throughout Asia.

Some of the children challenged themselves and worked on the puzzle map of Asia.  Others enjoyed matching certain countries and their flags. They also choose a matching work which depicts some of Asia’s more famous animals.

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring more in depth certain countries of Asia.  We would like to extend an invitation to everyone; if you would like to come into the classroom and share your knowledge of Asia, we would love to have you!

This last week we began talking about two types of invertebrates: arachnids and insects.  These animals do not have a back bone like vertebrates, instead, they have an exoskeleton.

Arachnids, like spiders and scorpions, have 8 legs, while insects have 6!

Arachnid bodies are divided into two parts and insects have three parts: head, thorax, abdomen.

The children have been working on matching spiders and insects, sorting arachnids and insects, and playing butterfly bingo!

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I want to thank all the families that came to First Thursday today. I also want to share with you the handout (below).

Structure of the Music/Literacy Lessons

CH_MusicI start with a Music and Movement lesson for the whole class. We warm up our voices and bodies and have a lot of fun. After a couple of songs at circle I spread the children around the room so that we have space to hop, jump, and wiggle without bumping into our friends while we sing action songs. During this time, I also sing songs related to content areas that children are studying in the classroom and seasonal songs.

After singing our hearts out and shaking our sillies out we come back to the circle for the Shared Reading lesson. At this time I refer to the song I have written on chart paper, and point to each word as the students and I read the text together. Even the youngest students can be successful in this reading environment because they have already sung the song and they have the support of their classmates and me.

During work time I work with the students in small groups reading their folders. All of the students have their own folders that contain copies of the songs we have used as Shared Reading texts. This gives students the chance to read the songs independently, allowing them to make one more mental imprint of the song. Songs are illustrated to provide picture support so that even the youngest readers can be successful through recognition and recitation. They see the picture of the water, and they know it is the song, “Listen to the Water,” so they begin reciting it from memory. Emergent readers use their fingers to practice left-to-right directionality and begin tracking print. Developing readers use one-to-one correspondence, touching each word as they say it, and self-correcting when they notice that the word their finger is pointing to does not match the word they are saying. The differentiation of instruction is inherent in the activity because all of the children can approach it at their own levels and be successful.

When we work in small groups, in addition to reading our folders for independent reading, there are many other literacy extension activities that we do. For example, we did a lot of work on our names with the song “What’s Your Name” including comparing names and “letter hunting.” I sometimes ask students to illustrate a song as a comprehension activity. Other times I use “zipper songs,” asking children to fill in a blank, and “zipping” their ideas into the song. When we fill in gaps in a printed song, my expectations are different for students depending on their individual levels. I might model the writing and fill in the blanks myself, stretching out a word to listen for every sound in it. I might ask children for the initial sound of a word, or to write the word independently, depending on their abilities.

The best way for you to understand the curriculum and appreciate the incredible work the children are doing would be to come in and observe on a day when your child has Music. I am in Sassafras on Mondays, Black Cherry on Tuesdays, Perrysburg on Wednesdays, Poplar and Sycamore on Thursdays, and Maple on Fridays. Please join us. I would love to see you there!

Keep singing!

Please join Amy Wagner and me this Thursday, February 4, 8:30- 9:30 a.m. Amy will talk about the Montessori materials that support language, and I will talk about how the Music/Literacy program works. We will do a quick demonstration with some of the Children’s House students, and be available to answer questions. Hope to see you there!

The children have really enjoyed learning about penguins over the past few weeks.  We have learned about what penguins eat and what may eat a penguin.  In our sensory bin, the children can place the penguins in a group, or a rookery, on the ice. (This is one way penguins can stay warm.)  If they want to have the penguins swim, they need to be sure to keep them far away from the orca or it may try to eat the penguins!IMG_0509[1]

Huddling isn’t the only way penguins stay warm, they have blubber and feathers to help keep them warm.  To demonstrate how blubber works, the children could place their hand in a basin of icy cold water.  Everyone agreed it would be too cold to swim in water with ice!  Next, they placed their hand in a *blubber glove which was submerged in the icy water.  They were able to experience how blubber helps keep the cold out and the warmth in.

*blubber glove-One large zip lock bag filled with Crisco shortening, smoosh the Crisco to create a space for a smaller zip lock bag to fit inside.  Child then places his/her hand in the smaller zip lock which is surrounded by the Crisco.

They have also enjoyed trying to keep their “egg” and “chick” safe on their feet.  We learned this is what the emperor penguins must do so their eggs and chicks don’t freeze.  We watch a short clip about this.  If your child would like to watch it again, or was absent the day we viewed it in class click on the following link to watch it at home.  Click here to see the video.










Another activity the children enjoyed was comparing themselves to an emperor penguin and a little blue penguin.  These are the largest and smallest penguins, respectively.  Everyone was taller than the little blue penguin, but only one friend in our room was taller than the emperor penguin!