You’re invited to our Spring Soiree

Please join us for our Spring Soiree fundraiser on April 28!  This annual get together is a chance for Lab School staff, University employees, and current and alumni families to mingle as we celebrate another wonderful year at the Lab School and raise money for our Alex P. Galle Scholarship Fund.

Snacks, drinks, and a variety of games will be available, as well as a DJ and a beer tasting hosted by Rush River Brewery.

The evening also features a silent and live auction- come bid on a custom mural, nature hike, or more! We are currently collecting items to auction off.  We accept items of all shapes and sizes, from coffee gift cards, to baseball tickets, to custom works of art. If you have items to donate, please bring them to the Lab School. The scholarship fund makes it possible for more families to join our school community and we are thankful for your support. We hope to see you on the 28!

Upcoming events and spring calendar

Naomi Chase Lecture, Kevin Henkes, April 24, reception 5:30 p.m., program 6:15 p.m., 125 Willey Hall (new location), RSVP

Gym Jam 2018 was a big success! Held on February 17 at Bierman Field, the turnout was great and we raised a cool $4,100 towards the purchase of a new loft for classroom 12 (Ross and Pam’s room) and some new equipment for our playgrounds. We appreciate that so many families attended and donated. A big thank you also to the many parent volunteers who took shifts at the tables and worked on set-up and clean-up. We are privileged to have so many dedicated and generous people in our community!

Spring Calendar

April 28Spring Soiree, 7 – 10 p.m. at Dodge Nature Center, St. Paul

May 8: End of Year Celebration featuring the Teddy Bear Band, 6 – 8 p.m. (Rain date is May 9)

May 10: Last Day of School for 3-AM and 3-PM classes

May 11: Last Day of School for 2-AM and 5-AM classes

May 12 –May 13: Family Camping Trip, 3 p.m. – 11 a.m.

May 29 –June 21: Summer Session 1

June 25 –July 19: Summer Session 2

Spring research studies at the Lab School

Beginning in April, the Mazzocco Math and Numeracy Lab will be launching two studies focusing on children’s emerging math skills. Long before children are able to count objects and perform addition and subtraction, they are developing math and numeracy skills. For example, babies learn the foundations for the concept of one-to-one correspondence when they discover that they can only hold two objects at time, because they only have two hands.

The first study focuses on children developing a number sense when numbers and quantity words are presented in pictures and stories. The sessions conducted at the Lab School are part of a larger study that looks at children affected with Turner Syndrome and children at risk for developing mathematical learning difficulties or disabilities.

The second study also uses stories and shared reading to learn more about the development of early math concepts. In this study, researchers read a storybook to a small group of children and ask questions to determine if the layout of the book affects how children are able to focus on and comprehend the number of objects on a certain page.

 Though these two studies focus on early math skills, integrating literacy and early reading concepts is beneficial for early childhood education, including what we do at the Lab School. Finding and supporting links between these two foundational academic skills will further the philosophy of integrating pre-academic learning and development into a variety of contexts.

Pam Miller HeadshotBy Pam Miller

End of the year transitions

Hard to believe the end of the school year is creeping up on us already, but somehow we’re 75 percent of the way through our year! Looking back, we can all see the amazing growth and learning that has taken place thanks to the amazing classroom and family communities formed during the beginning and middle of the school year, and looking forward, that might feel rather bittersweet for many of us.

For some, it’s just hard to say goodbye to the families and friends you’ve connected with on an almost everyday basis. However, playdates over the summer, and knowing you’ll get the chance to reconnect when Lab School starts again in the fall, brings a sense of comfort. For others, those nervous feelings of, “What’s next?” might be amplified because next year means establishing all new relationships at “Big Kid’s School.”

We want to help your child(ren) learn about and make sense of “What’s next?”, or any new piece of information, by having conversations with them. Some children will speak directly about how they feel about having to leave their friends, some will avoid the conversation altogether, and then there are those that have a lot of feelings and aren’t sure how to put those feelings into words…and I think we all know adults that fall into these categories, as well.

That’s where we, the adults, can help model the language used when having big feelings – especially when it comes to end of the year transitions. I’ve had a number of parents say at our ‘Good Bye’ party, “Oh, I almost started crying…but I didn’t,” or “I’m not going to cry,” and I often wonder, “Why not?” It’s natural and appropriate to feel those feelings of sadness from saying goodbye, mixed with love/gratitude that you feel from your experience at the Lab School.

In these cases, I invite you to model the expression of those feelings for your children – as it will likely lead to a rich and important conversation with your child(ren) about how/why we share our feelings with others. This is emotional modeling – the same as you do with learning colors, shapes, ABCs, 123s – in a real and meaningful context.

Every class does their own version of an “End of the Year” celebration – with the hope of helping children feel, as well as express, those feelings that come with the end of the year. It’s a time to say thank you, we care about you, and we’re so thankful for the time we got to spend together.

Here are a few additional resources that go far deeper into this topic:

Ross Thompson HeadshotBy Ross Thompson

Health and safety for spring and summer

We are so ready for spring to arrive and happily await warmer days, but as Charles Dickens once said, “Nature gives to every time and season some beauty of its own.”

For winter, that beauty is in the snow-covered grounds, the absence of biting insects, and the ability to put on many layers to warm ourselves.

Spring and summer both hold their own beauty and their own challenges. As you have no doubt experienced already this year, learning about spring can be a messy business. The mud and grass stains, the wet boots, coats, mittens, hats, etc. create loads of laundry and wet car seats. With summer, there may be stains and stings, but also immense joy and learning.

Here are a few helpful suggestions for the spring and summer at the Lab School.

  • label everything
  • rain pants are a great investment
  • send in labeled sunscreen and insect repellant to be applied before we head outside
  • lightweight and lightly colored pants help deter insects and provide a sun barrier

Visit NAEYC to learn more about the benefits of time outdoors.

Kids corner: Songs for spring

Parts of Plants

(To the tune of Muffin Man)

Do you know the parts of plants, parts of plants, parts of plants?
Do you know the parts of plants?
That help them grow and grow.

The roots they hold the plant in place, plant in place, plant in place.
The roots they hold the plant in place

And soak up water too.

The stem moves water up the plant, up the plant, up the plant?
The stem moves water up the plant.
Brings water to the leaves.

The leaves they soak up the sunlight, the sunlight, the sunlight.
The leaves they soak up the sunlight.

And help the plant make food.

The flower grows into a fruit, into a fruit, into a fruit
The flower grows into a fruit.
Inside it are the seeds.

Fuzzy Caterpillar

(Tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider)

The fuzzy caterpillar

Curled up on a leaf.

Spun her little chrysalis

And then fell fast asleep.

While she was sleeping

She dreamed that she could fly.

And later when she woke up

She was a butterfly.

Umbrella Song

Down come the rain drops SPLASH, SPLASH, SPLASH! (stamp feet on the splashes)

Let’s run for cover, DASH, DASH, DASH!  (run on the spot)

Pitter patter, pitter patter, DRIP, DRIP, DROP! (clap hands in rhythm)

I’m under my umbrella till the raindrops STOP! (put up pretend umbrella)

Sexual harassment information

The University of Minnesota has issued an updated Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence Policy. In addition to Lab School staff and student teachers, this policy applies to all Lab School parents, guardians, and caregivers.

A copy of the full policy can be viewed online here.

This policy applies to University members, which includes:

  • University students, whether enrolled full time or part time, for credit or non-credit courses;
  • University employees as defined in this policy; and
  • third parties who are engaged in any University activity or program, or who are otherwise interacting with the University, including, but not limited to, volunteers, contractors, vendors, visitors, and guests.

This policy applies to acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence, and related retaliation committed by or against students, employees, and third parties when:

  • the conduct occurs on University property;
  • the conduct occurs in the context of a University employment or education program or activity, including, but not limited to, University-sponsored academic, athletic, extracurricular, study abroad, research, on-line or internship programs or activities;
  • the conduct occurs off University property and outside the context of a University employment or education program or activity, but has a continuing adverse effect on or creates a hostile environment for students, employees, or third parties while on University property or in any University employment or education program or activity; or
  • the conduct indicates that the respondent may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of University members.

If you have questions or concerns about this policy, please contact Lab School Director Sheila Williams Ridge at

Take our survey: Parent education opportunities for next year

Hello families,

We hope you enjoyed Erin Walsh’s Parent Education presentation on “Is There an App For That? Developmentally Appropriate Uses of Technology in Early Childhood.” We are very lucky to have Erin as an amazing resource as a parent educator and family member to our community! Thank you Erin!

We are always in search of suggestions and feedback on the opportunities for parent education. Here is a simple survey to get an idea of what you may be seeking for next year. The survey should only take a few minutes for you to fill out. Thank you in advance for your participation!

Ayuko Boomer Headshot


Ayuko Boomer (2- and 3-morning teacher and parent educator)

Parent education: Developmentally appropriate uses of technology in early childhood

By Ayuko Boomer

There will be a Parent Education session coming up on Tuesday, March 27 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Our special guest presenter will be Erin Walsh! Not only is she is Lab School parent, she is a renowned speaker and parent educator from Mind Positive Parenting. Erin will be giving a presentation titled: Is There An App For That? Developmentally Appropriate Uses of Technology in Early Childhood.

The youngest among us are no strangers to digital technology. One-third of children under three years of age go online daily and 28 percent of children under two have televisions in their bedrooms. Families are getting conflicting advice about the impact of these technologies– on one hand companies promise that media can boost their children’s intelligence while on the other America’s pediatricians urge parents to limit screen time in the early years.

In this presentation, Erin Walsh explores the latest research on the power and impact of screen time in early childhood and shares the ingredients that young children need to thrive in a world dominated by screens. Using stories and warm humor, she helps parents identify ways to use technology and media to support children’s learning and development.

Child care will be provided during the meeting. So mark your calendars – you will enjoy this!

New website

By Amy Vavricka

We are thrilled about the launch of our new updated website:!

Children dancing in a circle

It has a refreshed look and a new layout that we hope will feel more user friendly. The new Research section provides information about procedures as well as current studies being conducted in the school. The new Parent Center section will provide you with a range of information from handbooks to classroom pages. At this point when you select Classroom Pages you will be re-routed to our old site to see weekly updates for your child’s classroom. The classroom pages will be the last phase of the transition to a fully updated site for the school. Many thanks to the Institute of Child Development’s Cassandra Francisco for her useful and vibrant design!

Protocol for observation booths

By Pam Miller

We are fortunate at the Lab School to have observation booths in each classroom, very few other schools have this feature. They meet many needs without having to disturb and disrupt the daily activities in the classrooms.

Researchers and university students use the booths to observe the children in a natural setting, which helps further child development knowledge and understanding. Another group that benefits is you, the parents. Sometimes children behave differently at school and at home, so it can be insightful to observe your child without him/her being aware that you are there. Also, some interactions that occur at school are difficult to describe fully without being present in the situation, so if some behavior or social interaction seems unclear, it can be helpful to observe your child’s class.

When using the booths, remember to either refrain from talking or use a very quiet whisper. All of the booths have only a screen separating the observers from the children and teachers. Any excessive movement or talking can be heard in the classroom. Even opening and closing the doors can be heard, so adults and children are usually aware that there are people in the booth. If children or adults happen to notice you observing, it is fine to acknowledge them with a wave or smile, but try to keep these gestures to a minimum so as not to draw more attention. Please also remember that anything you observe from the booth should be kept confidential.

If you observe anything that is confusing or you don’t understand what was happening, feel free to talk to the classroom teacher (after class is over) or Sheila Williams Ridge, the Lab School director. The Lab School staff values partnership with families and we want to keep communication open so that everyone can grow and learn together as children, teachers, and parents.