Monday, March 31

THE FAIRMONT FIVE preschool readiness

How do you know your child is ready for preschool?  The answer really depends upon your child. In my case, I noticed that my children were becoming more independent and enjoyed spending time at grandmas without having me close at hand.  They talked about school and were curious about colors, shapes and learning their ABCs. And (here's the biggie) they were confident about going to the potty.

Preschool paves the way for a lifetime of learning.  Here are five questions to ask yourself to determine if your child is ready for those first, important baby steps:
  1. Is your child potty-trained? While not all preschool programs require that children be potty-trained, at Fairmont we believe that giving up diapers is one clue that your tot is ready for the big kid world of preschool.
  2. Can your child separate from you without melting down? Every child has moments when leaving mom, dad or another caregiver can be particularly tough.  If your child is ready for preschool, you'll notice a burgeoning independence as your little one looks forward to striking out on his or her own.
  3. Can your child properly feed him/herself with utensils and remain seated in a chair while eating?  Preschool-aged children are notoriously "wiggly" in their seats, and that's okay.  But he or she should be able to feed him/herself without needing adult help.
  4. Can your child play with other children or independently without requiring constant adult intervention?  Playing well independently and with others is a skill that builds as preschoolers mature; however, they'll need to start moving in this direction before it's appropriate to enroll them in preschool.
  5. Can your child follow other adult’s directions?  If you're the only one who can get your child's attention, he or she may not be ready for preschool.  Make sure your child has the opportunity to experience other caregivers--family members, friends, etc.--before starting preschool.
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, March 26

BOOK REPORT vintage i can read books

Sometimes it's a familiar smell or taste that brings back a treasured memory.  Sometimes it's a photograph, note or drawing.  Yesterday it was a book. 

I came across a stack of books I remember from my childhood. Books like Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff and Little Bear by Else Minarik, with illustrations from the late, great Maurice Sendak.  The memories came rushing back!  

The ability to read, to read well, and, ultimately, to read for pleasure is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.  It will help them succeed in school and in any chosen profession. And it will open worlds of thought and feeling to them as they mature into grown-up human beings.

What I loved about my "I Can Read" book find is that these little gems of literacy are accessible to children just learning to read.  The stories go well beyond those boring basal readers we all remember from kindergarten and the vintage illustrations are delightful.

Maybe you have some old childhood books stashed away in your closet, garage or attic. If not, hit up your local thrift store or log-on to Etsy and search for vintage children's books. Sharing your favorite books from childhood reminds your children that you were little once. You had to memorize your sight words and "sound-out" just like them. You struggled along sometimes, but, over time, you got better and better.

It's gratifying to reminisce and it helps us connect with our kids...who are growing up faster than spring weeds!  Hopefully this post inspires you to make time to share your childhood learning-to-read memories with your own children.

Image credit: Annie's Book Corner
Contributed by: Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, March 24

SNACK TIME salads for kids

Going Beyond Green - Salads for Kids
Mention the word "salad" and most of us imagine a bowl of leafy greens. But salads go way beyond green, venturing into a carnival of colors, textures and flavors. Think fruit salad, veggie-salad, pasta salad, tuna macaroni salad, and three-bean salad just to name a few.
Getting children to eat salad requires a bit of strategic planning and preparation. Salads for kids need some basic elements to entice children to eat them.  When planning a salad think about color, flavor, fun, familiar foods and bite-size pieces. For example, children are attracted to bright colors, especially red.  Try tomatoes, watermelon, red peppers, grapes, strawberries and carrots.
Familiar flavors will also enhance success. Kids prefer plain foods so too many ingredients might be a turn off, especially if none of the ingredients are recognizable. Keep it simple by limiting the number of ingredients to a familiar few and slowly increase from there.
Creative, enticing shapes are a draw as well as easy-to-eat, bite-size pieces. Alphabet, elbow macaroni and wagon wheel pastas create visual interest and help make a fun salad.  Combine with edamame or diced cheddar cheese to add color, nutrition and flavor.
Color plus creative shapes equals fun! Use a melon baller or cookie cutters to create interesting shapes in bite-size pieces.
Remember that children enjoy preparing meals as well as eating them. Have them participate in selecting the ingredients from the grocery store, farmers market or garden. Encouraging children to mix in their favorite colors and shapes will increase the likelihood of a successful salad experience! 

Submitted by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD

Wednesday, March 19

FAIRMONT FIVE orange county spring break stay-cation ideas

What is your family doing for spring break?  If you don't have plans to travel, consider a staycation right here in the OC.  Here are 5 places nearby that you can visit that are both fun and educational.

Discover 15 native California plant communities, habitats, and walking trails through hands-on learning at the Environmental Nature Center.  The Butterfly House, home to several butterfly species native to the county, opens on May 4th.  Admission is free.

Head to the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana to really get your "hands on" some science! Have a blast with more than 100 science exhibits that you can actually touch. Don't miss the laser bubble show running March 29-April 20. Hours are 9am-6pm. Children (ages 3-14) are $12.95 and adults (ages 15+) are $15.95. There is also a yearly family membership for $99.

Located in a historic 1923 Train Depot, the hands-on children’s museum features seven galleries and 14 exhibits. Unique to the museum is its outdoor dinosaur topiary and 1942 caboose. Children can ride an authentic Dentzel Carousel, take a walk in T-Rex’s footprints, pet an Arctic fox, and dig for fossils. Kids under two are free. Tickets for older kids and adults are $8.

The Fullerton Arboretum is the largest botanical garden in Orange County. It boasts 26 acres with 4,000 unique and unusual plant species from around the world. Enjoy its ponds, streams, and wildlife as you enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful oasis in the city. Visit 7 days a week 8am-4:30pm.

It's always fun to go to the zoo. And we have one right in our backyard. The Santa Ana Zoo focuses on the animals and plants of Central and South America and is known for its extensive primate collection with over a dozen species from around the world. It is open daily from 10am-4pm and costs $10 for adults and $7 for kids.

Contributed by Darcy, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, March 17

HOW TO write a limerick

Rainbows, pots of gold, leprechauns and limericks--it's all in good fun this St. Patrick's Day. Here are a few tips for writing the the perfect St. Patrick's Day poem from Poetry4Kids:

Limericks are one of the most fun and well-known poetic forms. No one knows for sure where the name “limerick” comes from, but most people assume it is related to the county of Limerick, in Ireland. The reason limericks are so much fun is because they are short, rhyming, funny, and have a bouncy rhythm that makes them easy to memorize. In this lesson, I’ll show you how you can write your own limericks in just a few easy steps.

Limericks, like all poetic forms, have a set of rules that you need to follow. The rules for a limerick are fairly simple:
  1. They are five lines long.
  2. Lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme with one another.
  3. Lines 3 and 4 rhyme with each other.
  4. They have a distinctive rhythm.
  5. They are usually funny.
The rhyme scheme of a limerick is known as “AABBA.” This is because the last words in lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme. Those are the “A’s” in the rhyme scheme. The “B’s” are the last words of lines 3 and 4. Let me give you an example:

There was a young fellow named Hall

Who fell in the spring in the fall.
‘Twould have been a sad thing
Had he died in the spring,
But he didn’t—he died in the fall.

– Anonymous

Notice that the words, “Hall,” “fall,” and “fall” all rhyme. Those are the “A” words in the “AABBA” rhyme scheme. Also notice that “thing” and “spring” rhyme. Those are the “B” words in the rhyme scheme.

Now let’s take a look at the rhythm of the limerick. It goes by the complicated name “anapaestic,” but you don’t need to worry about that. What I want you to notice when you read or recite a limerick is that the first two lines and the last line have three “beats” in them, while the third and fourth lines have two “beats.” In other words, the rhythm of a limerick looks like this:

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

The rhythm doesn’t have to exactly match this, but it needs to be close enough that it sounds the same when you read it. For example, using the limerick above about the fellow from Hall, if we emphasize the beats, it reads like this:

There WAS a young FELLow named HALL

Who FELL in the SPRING in the FALL.
'Twould have BEEN a sad THING
Had he DIED in the SPRING,
But he DIDn’t—he DIED in the FALL.

Now it’s your turn to see if you can write a limerick of your own. Remember to follow these steps:
  1. Choose the name of a person or place and write the first line.
  2. Look in a rhyming dictionary for words that rhyme with your person or place name.
  3. Write line 2 and 5 to rhyme with the first line.
  4. Now write lines 3 and 4 with a different rhyme.
  5. When you are done writing, read your limerick out loud to see if it has the right rhythm; three “beats” on lines 1, 2, and 5, and two “beats” on lines 3 and 4, as shown above. If not, see if you can rewrite some words to get the rhythm right.
Have fun writing your limerick!

Image credit: YouTube
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, March 12

ARTS + CRAFTS fruity o's rainbow

It's time for St. Patrick's Day, so bring on the rainbows! Our family doesn't go all out for St. Patrick's Day but we will wear green and celebrate with a simple craft. Here is a fun Fruity-O's Rainbow from Hands On As We Grow that's perfect for helping toddlers and preschoolers learn their colors and work on fine motor skills. Older kids love it too--you can challenge them to create something other than a rainbow with their O's.

Image from: Hands On As We Grow
Contributed by Darcy, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, March 10

SCHOOL NEWS fairmont eagles win at nationals

Fairmont's North Tustin cheer team competed in the Novice Junior High Division of the USA Nationals on March 2nd at Disney's California Adventure. They placed 8th out of 12 teams. Most of the girls on our team are 4th and 5th graders, and they held their own against teams that consisted of only 7th and 8th graders. The stunt group made up of Tyler P., Samantha C., Sydney R., and Kiana H. placed First in Junior High Novice Stunt group division!  Way to go, girls!

The team will be attending the last competition of the season, Best of the West, this Sunday at the Long Beach Pyramid. Good luck girls, and three cheers to you and Coach Joanna Yujuico for an amazing season so far!

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools