Friday, February 26, 2016

The Importance of Play in our Children's Lives

Image result for play
One of the things that we notice during the school day is the importance of recess and the imaginative play that occurs during recess. We have recently read this blog post asking the question, "Is Childhood Endangered?" This post is controversial because it talks about students being pushed in school so that students are college and career ready.

Although we feel it is of the utmost importance for our students to work very hard in school each day, we also value the importance of play to develop creativity, social skills and problem solving.  To this end, we love that our students have the opportunity to be outside and enjoy the fresh air. Being outside allows our children to have some time to regroup and spend time socializing with their friends.  We enjoy the days where the sun is out so that the students can get some of that all important vitamin D!

Other benefits of play involve negotiation skills, cooperation, self-expression, creativity, release of energy and of course, development of fine and gross motor skills!  You would be surprised how much language development occurs during those recess/play times as well. As the winter weather leaves us into the beauty of spring, we hope that our children will be able to be outside as much as possible to play. Have them turn off the televisions and the XBOX's, put their computers/IPADS to sleep and have them take in all that being outside and playing has to offer!  If the weather is not cooperative, then all the same benefits of indoor play apply!

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Picture of Kindness #KindnessCampaign

February 17th was National Random Acts of Kindness Day and Windsor certainly did our part to support this awesome movement!

All month long, students and staff have been doing random acts of kindness, surprising friends, teachers, colleagues, and family members with kind deeds, compliments, and support. We have been thrilled to receive so many updates from our families sharing these acts of kindness that Windsor students have been doing at home and in the community. When we get notice of these acts, we invite students to paint their name on our kindness wall on the glass doors just inside our entry. This has been a big hit with students!

We have been sharing some students' random acts of kindness on morning announcements and that has inspired others to do something themselves. We have also had special guest readers each Friday in February sharing books that remind students to be kind to one another.

What have our Wildcats been up to?
-Helping younger siblings be potty trained!
-Doing the dishes at home without being asked!
-Donating all money earned from doing chores to charity!
-Asking new friends to sit with them at lunch or play at recess!
-Showing kindness to younger siblings!
-Helping buddies during special events like the Valentine's party!
-Remembering to say thank you!

What has our staff been up to?
-Giving each other paper hearts with anonymous compliments!
-Surprising others with Starbucks cards!
-Leaving extra coins taped to the Coke machine!
-Enjoying a fun Lou Malnati's lunch together!
-Surprising colleagues with little sweets and treats!
-Paying for strangers' coffees, lunches, etc. without them knowing!

We hope to continue our Kindness Campaign at Windsor throughout the last week of February and beyone. PLEASE continue to email Ms. Hiltz ( or Mrs. Fabrizio ( to share random acts of kindness that you may see your child, or other children from Windsor, doing at home or in the community.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hip, Hip Hooray - it is 100 days and #WeLoveScience at Windsor!

Image result for science class

Wow. The last several weeks have been so busy. Kindergarten and First Grades were super excited to celebrate the 100th day of school on Wednesday and how our students are 100 days smarter!  It was wonderful to see students dressed up like 100 year old people and bring in 100 items of their choice. It was a day filled with 100 moments of fun!   First grade has been making videos of extreme weather and we can't wait for you to see their "forecasts."

Second grade has focused on their science unit of motion -culminating in the take apart day, in-school field trip and the egg drop, it has been so engaging and exciting! Students learn how science makes us so inquisitive as we ask the question with every unit, "I Wonder....".

Our third graders have been exploring the solar system in a variety of ways. We cannot wait to see how they demonstrate their knowledge via the Planetary awards and presentations!

Fourth graders are exploring the science unit of matter. They will study the states of matter as they change from one state to another. They will investigate the differences between the physical and chemical changes.

Continuing their science unit of the body systems, students have been working on public service announcements, plays and videos to demonstrate their learning!  One class even was able to hold small animal brains as part of a neuroscientist coming to their classroom.  What an adventure that was and a day students will not soon forget!   #welovescience

The Kindness Campaign continues and the enthusiasm is catching!  Keep us posted on your observations of your children as they choose to be kind, just to be kind!
Image result for kindness campaign

Friday, February 5, 2016

February Worthy Wildcats

Congratulations to the following students who received Worthy Wildcats Certificates today from the Caught Being Good Committee. These children were selected by their peers. They demonstrated the Wildcat Way by being safe, kind and responsible. They were seen as being focused, ready to do their best work, being a good friend and inclusive of all. They were also observed to play with a friend who was lonely, helping someone get up off the ground and then playing with them ,and for  cleaning up without being asked. We are so proud of these students: Ben B. in Kindergarten, Victoria K. in First Grade, Alex V. in Second Grade, Veronica K. in Third Grade, Ben W. in Fourth Grade and Maria K. in Fifth grade. Keep up the Great Work!
Alex V. 

Ben B, 

Ben W. 

Maria K. 

Veronica K. 

Victoria K. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

It's Time to Read!

With the annual Windsor Book Fair happening this week, it reminds us of the importance of having literacy-rich environments for our students at school and at home! Mrs. Fabrizio and I love to see the excitement in the eyes of children looking for new books at the Book Fair or our library. Whether purchasing books or borrowing them from the library or a friend, parents are always asking for recommendations of quality books that their children will enjoy.

As a former elementary school librarian, I had a few "go to" places to identify new books for our school and to read reviews and find reading levels for both vocabulary and content appropriateness. I've shared some of these resources below, with suggestions for how to make kids happy readers at home!


#1: Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children (curated by the National Education Association)

#2: The IL Monarch Award Book List: The IL School Library Media Association nominates several titles each year and students across the state vote on their favorites. Winners are listed going back many years and sometimes you can find an old title that is new to your child!

#3: School Library Journal: This journal publishes the most relevant and trusted reviews of new literature for children. This is a great place to start when developing book lists for kids who love to read new titles.

#4: Common Sense Media: This is a great site for all things related to the Internet. They, of course, also have a book review portion that allows you to sort by age. They also have a "best of" section that helps highlight a few titles you may want to look into.

#1--Reading can take many forms. Does your child like non-fiction? Maybe subscribe to National Geographic Kids magazine, or Ranger Rick. Magazines are a great way to make kids look forward to reading each month when a new issue arises. American Girl Magazine and Sports Illustrated Kids are also great choices, as is Cricket. Better yet, encourage your child to submit their own writing or reviews to the magazines! On a whim, when I taught second grade, we had students submit and had many published in magazines like Highlights! Talk about motivation to continue reading and writing!

#2--We've all heard of the Kid President whose videos have been inspiring kids for a few years now. He, and other kids, are publishing new content daily in the blogosphere and they can be a great example for our kids. Obviously, safety is key when allowing students online, but subscribing to a few chosen kid blogs might be a great way to get your child reading, and maybe writing too! Here's a list of some top blogs written by kids.

#3--Embrace eReaders! Students can check out eReaders from the Windsor library, or use the Kindle app on any mobile device. Audible is also a great app/site for audio books read by human voices and they have a robust children's section (and a 30-day free trial!). Sometimes listening to a book can be more relaxing for children and it still "counts" as reading!

Whatever your resource or strategy, we hope that you will continue to encourage your children to read at home, in the car, waiting for their sibling at an appointment, or wherever/whenever possible!