Sunday, October 30, 2011

No School

School will be closed on Monday October 31, 2011 due to power outages from the storm.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trick-or Treating Safety Tips

This is a fun poem/song that many of the classrooms have worked on this past week. The staff of the Burlington Early Childhood Center wishes you all a safe and happy Halloween.

Halloween safety: Tips for trick-or-treaters

Make Halloween safety part of your holiday fun. Start with these practical Halloween safety tips.

By Mayo Clinic staff

It's the time of year for costumes, sweets, and tricks and treats. Put Halloween safety first with these common-sense tips.

Carve safely

Are your children begging to carve pumpkins? Make Halloween safety a family affair.

  • Decorate with markers or paint. Let young children draw faces on pumpkins with washable markers or child-friendly paint. Leave any carving to an adult.
  • Use candles with care. Place candlelit pumpkins on a sturdy surface away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave candlelit pumpkins unattended. Better yet, light pumpkins with flashlights or battery-operated flameless candles instead.

Get clever with costumes

From furry animals to princesses and superheroes, choosing costumes wisely is an important part of Halloween safety.

  • The brighter the better. Whether you buy a costume or make one yourself, choose bright colors and flame-retardant materials. If your child will be trick-or-treating outdoors after dark, attach reflective tape to his or her costume.
  • Size it right. In case it's chilly outdoors, make sure your child's costume is loose enough for warm clothing to be worn underneath — but not long enough to cause tripping. Avoid oversized shoes and high heels.
  • Skip the masks. A mask can obstruct your child's vision, especially if it slips out of place. Use kid-friendly makeup instead.
  • Limit accessories. Pointed props — such as wands, swords and knives — may pose safety hazards.
  • The promise of Halloween candy may leave stars in your child's eyes, but Halloween safety still rules.

    • Get in on the fun. Accompany trick-or-treaters younger than age 12. Pin a piece of paper with your child's name, address and phone number inside your child's pocket in case you get separated. Encourage older kids to trick-or-treat with a group of friends, parents or older siblings. Make sure someone in the group carries a flashlight with fresh batteries.
    • Stay close to home. Don't allow your child to go door to door in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
    • Set ground rules. If your child will be trick-or-treating without you, establish a route and set a curfew. Review safety rules, including staying with the group, walking only on the sidewalk, approaching only clearly lit homes and never going inside a home. You may want to give your child a cell phone for the evening should he or she need to contact you.
    • Inspect the treats carefully. Don't let your child snack while he or she is trick-or-treating. Feed your child a healthy snack before heading out, and inspect the treats before allowing your child to dive in. Discard anything that's not sealed, has torn packaging or looks questionable. If you have young children, weed out gum, peanuts, hard candies and other choking hazards.
    • Ration the loot. If your child collects gobs of goodies, dole out a few pieces at a time and save the rest. You may even ask your child if he or she would like to swap some — or all — of the candy for something else, such as a special toy, book or outing. You might also suggest donating excess candy to a food shelf or other charity.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything

This week many of the classes are reading the book "The Little Old Lady That Was Not Afraid Of Anything" It is a favorite of many of the children. Ask your child about the books and see if they can recall any of the details from the story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Tribute to Dr. Allen C. Crocker

Dr. Allan Crocker was an exceptional human being that dedicated himself to children and families with Down Sydrome. He will be greatly missed by the members of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. For more information on Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress visit them at

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fine Motor Development

On Friday, the staff of the Burlington Early Childhood Center participated in professional development on the development of fine motor skills. We talked about the beginning stages of writing and the skills children need to develop before we can expect them to sit at a table and write. I found this blog post that speaks to how to develop hand strength and visual motor skills. Two very important skills that young children need to develop before we can expect them to sit and write letters. One of the things that I liked about this post is that it gave great ideas for developmentally appropriate toys that will develop these skills. All of the toys shared in this post are great tools to help develop fine motor skills.

Keeping Little Fingers Busy (and Learning too!)

When we think of a child’s physical development, it is the large motor skills that usually first come to mind – running, jumping, and kicking.

The physical development of a child’s fine motor skills are just as, if not more important, as the development of the larger muscles. This group of skills includes finger speed, arm steadiness, arm and hand precision, and finger and hand dexterity. They are closely linked to the development of eye-hand co-ordination and are essential for eventual control over pencils for learning to form letters as a beginning writer. As well, mastery of fine motor skills requires the child to apply increasing levels of self control (patience, perseverance) and to concentrate closely on what they are doing.

Children learn to control their large muscles before they do their small, therefore are more likely to walk before able to construct a tower with tiny blocks. Maybe it is because mastering these small muscles is less obvious than that of their large muscle counterparts, that the celebrations we have when a baby first crawls or a toddler first walks are more likely to be recorded for prosperity than the date they were first able to stack blocks one on top of another without them instantly toppling over.

There are many activities that encourage the development of these skills. Here are just a few, all wooden I must admit as I have a weak spot for wooden toys!

Clockwise from top right: 1. Threading Beads: 2. Car beads: The Toy Bug 3. Sequence Beads: The Toy Bug 4. House Shape Sorter: The Toy Bug

For children not yet ready to thread on string try a set like the one Immy is using in the first picture, it is one we borrowed from our local toy library. I like toys that are multi functional like the car beads and the house shape sorter with beads. The sequence beads are great for older children (generally over preschool age).

Clockwise from top right:1. Craggy Arches and Crooked Houses: Etsy 2. Clock Puzzle: Ecotoys 3. Melissa & Doug Beginners Pattern Blocks: Amazon 4. Natural Wooden Turtle Puzzle: Etsy

There are a myriad of puzzles available now. The craggy arches double as a construction and dramatic play toy and the clock puzzle can be used for different learning purposes over a number of years. I really like the learning potential of the pattern blocks.

Clockwise from top right: 1. Rainbow Nesting Blocks: Ecotoys 2. Golden Castle Blocks: Etsy 3. Wooden Tree Block (Barkless): Honeybee Toys 4. Baby Sound Blocks: Ecotoys

Think outside the square when choosing blocks and construction toys for your child. I love the nesting blocks for the potential of the negative space, the castle blocks for their randomness and the sound blocks for their uniqueness.

A couple more
L:Hape Bamboo Pickup Game: My Wooden Toys R: Melissa & Doug Latches Board: Amazon

Loving the idea of the pick up game for older children and what child doesn’t go through a stage of loving to open doors, flick switches and play with keys and locks!

When choosing manipulative activities for your child it is important to consider their current level of fine muscle control, their ability to concentrate, and their emotional control in terms of how they deal with frustration. Very young children (prior to preschool age) will most definitely need an adult’s guidance, encouragement, and support as they first learn to manipulate these types of toys. Adults should not expect young children to spend long periods of time playing with these materials as they require significant amounts of self control and should balance such play with periods of more active play.

These materials lend themselves to opportunities for talking with your child about colour, shape, similarities and differences, patterns and counting but remember, don’t overdo it andencouragement, not praise, is the way to go!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Handwriting Without Tears

On Friday the staff of the Burlington Early Childhood Center participated in a workshop provided by Peggy Morris, OTR, on Handwritting Without Tears. This fun interactive workshop focused on the precursor skills young students need to have before they are able to sit at a table and begin writing. We focused on spatial concepts, body awareness, pencil grasp and finally how to begin to teach students how to form upper case letters. The first steps of teaching pre-writing skills is for students to gain body and spatial awareness, Handwriting Without Tears does this through a fun interactive character called "Mat Man." Please see the post below on exactly who "Mat Man" is and how he will be created. I have attached a parent link if you would like to learn more about Handwriting Without Tears.

Meet Mat Man

Mat Man is a character that will be introduced in all of the preschool classrooms. The students in the Lucky Duck class have already met him and enjoy creating him. In the next few weeks he will be introduced in all of the classrooms. I hope this video helps to introduce "Mat Man" and the reasons why we he has become part of the preschool curriculum. The goal of "Mat Man" is to teach body awareness, drawing and pre-writing skills, counting, building, socializing and sharing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Field trip

Dear preschool families,
Thank you all for your patience and understanding today. We were all very disappointed that we couldn't attend Parlee Farm. This morning,I was hopeful that we could reschedule for next week, but after talking to the farm and staff this will not be option. Your $10.00 fee will be returned at the beginning of next week. Please make sure you check your child's backpack for your trip reimbursement.

Thank you again for your understanding


Field trip update.

The field trip to Parlee Farm has been postponed due to weather. I will talk to them today and see if we can reschedule for next week. If we can't all money will be returned ASAP. Today will be a regular scheduled day.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Field Trip Information

Dear Preschool Families,

On Thursday we will go on a field trip to Parlee Farm in Tyngsboro. As of today it appears as though the weather is going to be partly cloudy and the temperature is due to be in the low 60’s. If this is the case we will participate in the field trip as scheduled. Please use the following guideline to prepare for the trip:

All children are to bring a snack and a drink. Please place this in a bag and label it. We will have limited space and we will not to be able to accommodate lots of lunch boxes.

Dress your child appropriately for the weather. It is going to be cool so dress your child in layers. It is supposed to rain all day on Wednesday so the farm will be muddy. Please make sure your child has on appropriate shoes.

Have your child at school promptly at 8:30. The plan is to be on the buses and heading towards the farm by 8:45.

We will arrive back at the preschool at 11:30. All children will be brought back into their classroom and then dismissed by teachers. This can be a very confusing time and we understand that you are excited to see your child but we want to ensure everyone is safe and with the proper parent. Please be patient with us.

Remember if your child is transported to and from school by bus there is NO transportation the day of the field trip. You will be responsible for dropping your child off at school and picking them up promptly at 11:30.

The following is the rain policy from the farm:

Parlee Farms will make a decision no later than 7am on the day of the trip to cancel and reschedule. We

review multiple weather sources and if it appears that there will be rain here between 9-1, we will cancel.

This is an outdoor trip and we do not have anywhere indoors for large numbers of people to wait out a storm.

We will inform you Thursday morning if the field trip will be postponed. Please check the preschool blog that morning to see if the farm cancels our trip. The preschool blog is:

We are excited about our trip and looking forward to a fun day.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Classroom

Burlington Early Childhood Center

The Burlington Public Schools is opening a new preschool classroom.

Where: The program is located around the back of Burlington High School

When: The classroom will open on Tuesday November 9th 2011.

Days: The program will run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Time: 8:30 to 11:30

Cost: The cost is $232.00 per month.

For more information please feel free to contact Louise D’Amato, program director, at 781-273-7632 or d’

For more information visit us our web site at: scroll down to integrated preschool and read our FAQ’s or frequently asked questions,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Field Trip

Parlee Farm Tyngsboro, MA

We are going on a field trip to Parlee Farm

When: Thursday October 20, 2011

Where: Parlee Farm, Tyngsboro, MA

Who: All of the students that attend preschool are invited to join us. On Thursday October 20, 2011.

Time: We will leave the preschool at 8:45am and return at 11:30pm.

How: We will travel on several large yellow school buses.

Cost: the cost of the trip is $10.00 per student and $6.00 per chaperone. The price of the trip covers the cost of buses and the entrance to the farm.

Chaperones: We will need 3 to 4 chaperones per classroom. If we have more than 3 or 4 volunteers per classroom we will hold a lottery. If you are interested in attending the field trip you need to have a Cori on file. (If you have filled out a Cori form within the past 3 years, you don’t need to be Cori’d) Cori forms can be filled out in the preschool office. We will need to photocopy your license when you fill out the form, make sure you have it with you. All Cori forms need to be completed by no later than Friday October 7th. Please fill out and return the attached permission slip to school as soon as possible. When returning your permission slips please submit the $10.00 in cash to pay for the trip.

If your child will be attending the field trip on Thursday October 20th, please return the permission slip and money by Wednesday October 12th. If we don’t receive money and a signed permission slip we will assume your child will not be attending the trip on Thursday the 20th.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Boston Globe Magazine to Feature FWS

This post is from Francis Wyman Schools blog.

The Boston Globe Magazine to Feature FWS

On October 9, 2011, Francis Wyman School will be featured in an article in the Boston Globe Magazine. This magazine is found in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe. The article focuses on issues related to special education and the increased incidence of children with disabilities. The author, John Marcus, begins his story in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Brigham and Women’s hospital as he researches the increased incidence of children with disabilities. He follows the issue through to the impact on schools and the struggles schools face trying to meet the learning needs of all children. John had contacted the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education to obtain his recommendation of model school districts who implement successful programs. The Commissioner suggested he contact Dr. Eric Conti to learn about the Response to Intervention (RtI) program in Burlington. Dr. Conti suggested to John that he visit FWS to see the program in action. John visited several classrooms and interviewed teachers. Later, a photographer was sent to capture the program in action. It was exciting to share our enthusiasm for the positive impact our RtI program has had on meeting the needs of all our students. It will be interesting to read this article and see how FWS fits into the story!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A thank you to Steve Jobs from a special needs mom

In Burlington we are very fortunate to have iPad's in the integrated preschool. They are an amazing device especially for our friends that have delays in their ability to communicate. I'm amazed every day when I watch our young students interact with the devices and how easily they are able to navigate them. The apps that they have for young learners with special needs are simply amazing and we are so fortunate to be able to use this technology with our students. I think this blog post speaks volumes to what a wonderful tool an iPad is and how lucky we are to be able to use them daily in the integrated preschool.\

Dear Steve,

I am hoping you will read this on your iPad in The Great Beyond, assuming there is a good Internet connection there (and hopefully a Starbucks, too).

My son, Max, has cerebral palsy. Doctors told us he might never talk, and so we are very grateful for the words that he has. He has a lot more going on in his mind than his mouth can speak, however, and we knew early on in his life he would need a communication device. He was 4 when I first asked the speech therapist at his school about it. "He's not ready for one," she said.

I challenged her. We had an augmentative communication evaluation, paid for by our school district, in which a team of therapists determined that Max was, indeed, ready for a speech device. We got one. Only it was a total clunker, and I mean that in every which way. It was heavy to lift; my son, who has challenges using his hands, wasn't able to carry it himself. Programming it was a pain, and my husband and I detested the task. We rarely used it at home, preferring instead to guess what Max was trying to say or nodding even when we weren't quite sure we understood him. Sometimes, we all got frustrated.

Cut to the spring of 2010 and the iPad's debut. Around that time I heard about a speech app, the Proloquo2Go. I asked Max's speech therapist at his current school, an enthusiastic and dedicated woman open to trying new technology, about them. Turns out the school was buying four iPads with speech apps, and would we like to trial one with Max? YES YES YES, please, WE WOULD.

Max took to the iPad from the start. He was fascinated. Who wouldn't be? Here he is, the first weekend he had it:

I hadn't ever seen Max use his pointer finger like that, no small feat for a child with cerebral palsy whose hands and fingers tend to be stiff. The iPad motivated Max to isolate his finger and maneuver it. Soon enough, he'd learned to use a lighter touch on the screen and he'd zoom around the iPad. He also discovered YouTube and Lightning McQueen videos, another life-changing event for him.

We had somewhat of a challenge in our house when Max's little sister, insanely jealous of his iPad, started hiding it in her room. But then my husband got an iPad and now she hides my husband's in her room.

The iPad has enabled Max to share what's in his mind with the people around him. Some parents worry that a speech app will discourage verbal communication, but Max's has motivated him to communicate more. His current favorite button is the one that announces "That stinks." He enjoys telling people how much he loves spaghetti and the color purple. There is no button yet that says "Mom, leave me alone!" but I am sure he'll request one soon.

Max uses the iPad to draw, read stories, and play educational games, along with silly ones kids love. Apps made for fun, such as Talking Ben the Dog and Songify, motivate him to articulate sounds and words; ones likeCut the Rope help develop fine motor skills. He continues to watch too many Lightning McQueen videos and I hear "I. Am. Speed" in my dreams.

Other kids in our neighborhood consider Max's iPad and speech app cool—not something they would have ever thought with the previous communication clunker. It helps him fit in. I can't even imagine how many more social and educational doors it will open for him in the coming years.

Steve, you have been an inventor and innovator beyond compare, known for the Apple, Mac, iPod, iPad, even Pixar. Yet many are unaware of how much the iPad has been a game-changer for kids and adults with special needs. When I tell people that Max uses an iPad for speech communication, they are often surprised to hear that technology exists.

But this community knows.

This child knows.

This mom knows.

And I am eternally grateful to you for opening up my son's world.

So I'll say R.I.P., and by that I mean Refresh In Peace. Because I can only imagine that you will keep going, wherever you may be.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Making Inferences and Drawing Conclusions

The following article from Reading Rockets is a great resource on how to begin to teach young children inferential skills.

By: Reading Rockets

Observations occur when we can see something happening. In contrast, inferences are what we figure out based on an experience. Helping your child understand when information is implied, or not directly stated, will improve her skill in drawing conclusions and making inferences. These skills will be needed for all sorts of school assignments, including reading, science and social studies. Inferential thinking is a complex skill that will develop over time and with experience.

Families can create opportunities to practice inferential thinking. Below are a few ways to help familiarize your child with this way of thinking and learning:

  • Explain to your child that we make conclusions about things and draw inferences all the time. Draw a conclusion together and then talk about what clues were used to come to that conclusion. For example, Erin played outside today. How can we tell? Muddy shoes, jump rope on front porch, water bottle out. Dad seems tired tonight. How can we tell? He's rubbing his eyes, he's on the couch, he was yawning at the dinner table.
  • Paper bag mystery person: Put a few items into a brown paper bag. Tell your child the bag belongs to a certain type of person. Their job is to tell you something about the person. Then, take out each item one by one and talk about it.
    • Example #1: goggles, a swim cap, a swim ribbon, a stop watch
    • Example #2: a bookmark, a library card, a stuffed animal, a book
  • Wordless picture books provide your child with practice using clues to create meaning. There are no wrong stories with wordless picture books, only variations based on what the "reader" sees and puts together. Rosie's Walk(Hutchins), Good Dog, Carl (Day), and Beaver Is Lost (Cooper) are all interesting and fun wordless picture books to explore.
  • Play twenty questions! This familiar word game helps build inference skills. As your child develops skill with the game, encourage him to avoid asking direct questions like, "Is it a dog?" Rather, encourage him to ask broader questions, "Does it walk on four feet?" Then, when your child figures it out, ask him to tell you the clues that lead to the right answer.
  • Create scenarios in which your child must use what they already know to predict an outcome. For example, growing seeds. Present your child with various scenarios (a seed will be given water and sunlight, a seed will get no water, a seed will be in a dark room). Ask your child to predict whether the seed will grow. Help your child become aware that she used information she knew about growing seeds, combined with new information, to fill in information about the seeds.

Learning to draw conclusions and inferences is a skill that develops over time. The skill requires children to put together various pieces of information, and relies on good word knowledge. Help your child develop skill by providing experience with inferential information, making implied information more clear, and helping your child draw conclusions based on the evidence.

Recommended children's books

Archaeologists Dig for Clues

Archaeologists Dig for Clues

Archaeologists on a dig work very much like detectives at a crime scene. Every chipped rock, charred seed, or fossilized bone could be a clue to how people lived in the past. In this information-packed Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book, Kate Duke explains what scientists are looking for, how they find it, and what their finds reveal. (Age level: 6-9)

Beaver Is Lost

Beaver Is Lost

A beaver's adventure begins on a log that floats away from his home and into the city. Before finding his way back, the beaver has many plausible adventures. The action is depicted in well-placed, realistic illustrations in a nearly wordless book. (Age level: 3-6)



This wordless picture book with Baker's characteristically beautifully detailed collage illustrations conveys a subtle message about how we can bring positive change to our communities. Every double-page spread is a view through the same window, a view that changes over a generation. Children can share what they think is happening to the neighborhood based on the illustrations. (Age level: 5-8)

If Not for the Cat

If Not for the Cat

"If not for the cat/And the scarcity of cheese,/I could be content." The essence of animals is evoked in rich language and the short form of haiku poems in this engaging book. The brief but rich language can prompt children to think about what creature is being described. (Age level: 6-9)

In the Woods: Who's Been Here?

In the Woods: Who's Been Here?

A girl and a boy and their dog explore the woods on an autumn afternoon and begin to notice all kinds of things around them — an empty nest, a gnawed branch, feathers, and bones. Each observation prompts the question, "Who's been here?" Turning the page reveals the answer. Others in the series include In the Garden: Who's Been Here? (Age level: 3-6