Category Archives: Preschool

Day Nursery Friday Faces: Making a fruit pizza

The students in Ms. Laura and Ms. Katrina’s preschool class at Day Nursery Northwest on W. 73rd Street in Pike Township, have been trying new fruits this week to see what they like. To wrap up the week, the class made a fruit pizza as a special treat. The bright colors in the fruit bowl reminded them of a rainbow. Eating a full rainbow of foods regularly helps give your body the nutrients it needs. In addition to fiber, vitamins and minerals, naturally colored foods contain powerful nutrients called phytochemicals. While the three-year-olds aren’t likely to remember that term, they will remember their favorite fruits and the beautiful colorful snack they helped make today.Day Nursery preschoolers prepare base of fruit pizzaDay Nursery preschoolers mix the ingredients for their fruit pizzaDay Nursery preschoolers adding blueberries to the fruit bowlDay Nursery students spread the mixed fruit across the cream cheese base of their fruit pizza

Day Nursery Outdoor Classroom provides meaningful experiences for preschoolers

Matt Miller

Matt Miller

Today we feature a guest post by Day Nursery Preschool Specialist Matt Miller who is the lead teacher in the Preschool 2 room at our Day Nursery Hendricks County Early Learning Center in Avon. 

Our Outdoor Classroom is a space on the playground dedicated to meeting the same development areas and core standards expected in a traditional classroom. Think back to where you played as a child. Many of us spent our free time outside! The Outdoor Classroom is our way of taking advantage of the beautiful weather and providing meaningful experiences and activities centered on natural materials, outdoor spaces and the environment.Day Nursery children painting with flyswatters

Why is outdoor play important? There are so many reasons!
Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Learning, believed we should focus on reconnecting children with nature and their environments. Connecting children to the environment teaches children compassion and respect for the environment and for each other. Outdoor learning centers such as the mud kitchen, the gardens and the water exploration tables all provide children with the chance to experience natural elements of our environment within a context with which they are already familiar.

Children playing in water spray on outdoor classroom at Day Nursery in Avon IndianaLenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids, states many people believe playing indoors is “safer” for children, but children without access to natural play areas are at a greater risk for depression, diabetes and obesity while being less educated about the environment and the natural world around them.

According to a study published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well Being by University of Illinois professors Frances Ming Kuo and Andrea Faber Taylor, children with regular access to green spaces (i.e., outdoor classrooms, open grass fields, etc.) are less likely to develop ADHD symptoms and tendencies. Their research also shows a substantial and dramatic decrease in symptoms of children previously with ADHD.

Preschool 2 and Preschool 3 using the Kid Wash and a giant inflatable bowling set donated by Jen Rivera

Preschool 2 and Preschool 3 using the Kid Wash and a giant inflatable bowling set donated by Jen Rivera

Lisa Murphy, Author of Play… and What to Say When the Wolves Come Knocking, discusses the importance of outdoor play in her workshop “Let’s Go Outside!” The Vestibular System (controlling movement and balance) is the first sensorial system to develop (in utero). The Vestibular System is greatly influenced by the inner ear and the position of the head. The RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a nerve system located in the brain stem that, in essence, wakes up the neocortex. It says “Wake up! Something’s coming in!” Now, Proprioception is the body’s sense of itself in space. Proprioceptive Receptors (located in all your muscles) allow us to move, explore our environment and maintain our balance. The Proprioceptive System and the RAS are linked to the Vestibular System. When we do not move and activate the Vestibular System we are NOT taking in information from the environment. Meaning – we will not be ready to learn!
So, when you are playing on the swings, hanging upside down, spinning, walking backwards, skipping, jumping rope, doing somersaults, cartwheels, spinning the swings, flying on a tire swing, jumping off a rock, you are not “just playing outside” you are activating the vestibular system (Murphy, 2008)Day Nursery preschoolers playing in outdoor water table

Whom is the Outdoor Classroom for? We created the Outdoor Classroom for all preschool aged children at Day Nursery Hendricks County with the hopes of adding it as a permanent part of our program.

The teachers and administrators of Day Nursery Hendricks County strive to provide the highest quality Early Care and Education experiences possible for our students. The construction, execution and facilitation of the Outdoor Classroom is just the latest example of this goal.

Now, in the words of the great Lisa Murphy, “Let’s Go Outside!”

See ya in the backyard,


Indy 500 Winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest

2008 Indianapolis 500 Winner Scott Dixon visited the Day Nursery Northwest Center yesterday thanks to our friends at PNC’s Grow Up Great program. Dixon read a story about counting with race cars followed by a question and answer session with the preschool and kindergarten classes. The students wanted to know how old Dixon is and why there was smoke coming from one of the race cars in the story. Dixon presented the center with a mini race car which the students will be able to take apart and learn more about how it works. The racing related activities are part of PNC’s initiative to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities to preschoolers across the country. The same group of students will get to tour the Target Chip Ganassi Racing facility on May 10.

Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest preschoolersIndy 500 winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest preschoolersIndy 500 winner Scott Dixon visits Day Nursery Northwest preschoolers

Light center gives Day Nursery preschoolers a new outlet for learning

Preschoolers in Matt Miller‘s classroom at the Day Nursery Hendricks County Early Learning Center in Avon are eagerly waiting for their turn to play at the light table in their classroom’s new “Light Studio.” Mr. Matt created a small learning center where children can experiment with light and shadow using light tables, overhead projectors, mirrors, flashlights and any other materials that catches their eye! Thanks to Matt for sharing this picture of Shannon and Brayden enjoying the classroom’s new learning center.

Day Nursery preschoolers experimenting with a light table

Day Nursery preschoolers sew a classroom quilt


Recently the students in the Preschool 3 classroom at the Day Nursery IU Health Early Care and Education Center made a masterpiece! Each child drew on a white square and then using a real sewing machine, with a little help from their teacher, Ms. Tomi Lessaris, sewed their square onto the other squares to create their classroom quilt. Thanks to Assistant Center Director Amy Cavin for sharing these pictures.IMG_0087a IMG_0072a IMG_0084


Day Nursery IU Health Center Preschool 3 teachers Jannel Holmquist (left) and   Tomi Lassaris (right) and their students.

Day Nursery IU Health students host successful MDA Hop A Thon

Hop A thonThanks to Day Nursery IU Health Center parent volunteers as well as Day Nursery Auxiliary members for their help Friday with the MDA Hop A Thon.  All of the 3 to 5-year-old children participated and received a certificate made by Ms. Jannel for their participation and the number of hops that they completed.  It was a great lesson of accepting those with disabilities as well as doing something to help others.  The event collected $488.00 to donate to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  Hop A thon (1) 100_0650 100_0645

Igloo is cozy space for Day Nursery preschoolers

The thermometer outside the classroom reads 32 degrees, but inside Sara McHenry’s and Caroline  King’s classroom at the Day Nursery Ruth A. Lilly Center, it is toasty warm inside their igloo constructed out of empty milk jugs.  The igloo sits next to a large window facing the playground so it gets lots of soft light which makes it a perfect place for snuggling up with a good book.  It is also a place that is designated for “me” time, so if a student wants to get away from the preschool crowd for a while, they can move to the igloo and read quietly, knowing that the space is their own. Ms. Sara and Ms. Caroline have plans to work their igloo into a preschool math lesson, challenging the children to count the number of milk containers it took to build it as well as observe how many colors make up the caps on the bottles and count how many there are of each color.

Day Nursery preschool student in igloo made of milk jugs Day Nursery preschool student in igloo made of milk jugsDay Nursery preschool student in igloo made of milk jugs