Fall 2020 Welcome!

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year at the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School! We are excited to get the year started and look forward to meeting all of you. 

Staff met this week to assign children to classrooms and your child’s teacher will contact you soon to arrange a time for a beginning-year visit via Zoom or on the playground. This individual visit greatly helps children make a good initial adjustment to school. In the meantime, if you have any questions about starting school please contact Lab School Director, Sheila Williams Ridge at will0342@umn.edu or Program Specialist Amy Pieren at piere001@umn.edu.

School opens on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Please see the Lab School Family Calendar for additional dates. 

Lead teachers will staff the classrooms as follows: 

  • Multi-age morning classes: Amy Betz and Alyssa Wilt
  • Multi-age afternoon class: Marie Lister 
  • Two-year old 2- & 3-mornings classes: Ayuko Boomer

Our website also has much helpful information. If you have not had a chance to check it out, please do so at http://lab-school.umn.edu/parent-center. Each teacher also has a classroom blog where they post lesson plans, announcements, updates, and small group news. These pages are updated weekly after school begins. You can access the class blogs by clicking on the ‘Classroom Pages’ link.

We look forward to a wonderful school year working with you and your child!

Parent survey results

Thank you for your participation in our annual family survey.  We had about 40% of our families participate this year and 100% of those that responded rated their teachers as Excellent or Very Good!  Our teachers individually also received kudos from you in their understanding of your child and developmentally appropriate practice, accommodating individual differences, and respecting the rights and opinions of families.  All families also strongly agreed that the classroom environment is welcoming to families and encourages constructive interaction with play materials and that the curriculum provides sufficient opportunities for creativity and engaging the children.

Although most families agreed or strongly agreed that the school is meeting or exceeding their expectations around communication, two families did disagree that conferences are of sufficient length.  There were not any comments provided, so we are not sure if the 30-45 minute home visits, the fall 30-45 minute conferences, or the spring 30-60 minute conferences feel too long or too short, but please let us know.  We strive to have consistent, meaningful, and regular communication with every family through regularly scheduled conferences, but also through emails, chats during arrival and dismissal times with teachers and other staff, and time for conversations at community events throughout the year.  We know that your time is also limited and want to make these forms of communication as useful as possible, so please let us know how we can improve communications for your family.

In rating the Lab School in general 100% of those that responded agreed or strongly agreed that the Lab School offers a welcoming environment and we thank you for commending the hard work of the staff in creating this community. We did have a few families rate the school neutrally in the clarity around the philosophy and mission and about the emphasis on nutrition.  There was only one comment that gave us some clarity with how to improve this work, so we have some updated nutrition information for the school.  The new format for the monthly snack list categorizes each food item so it is easier for parents to see which two or three food groups were offered at school.  In addition to the two food groups shown on the monthly calendar, 1% organic milk is offered every day to children without dietary restrictions to dairy and a milk alternative is available as well.  An asterisk on the calendar denotes an organic item.  We strive to have most of our fruits and vegetables be organic, and the dairy milk is always organic.  Our snack selections are a mixture of items children enjoy while helping them try new things and offering food that will give them an opportunity to connect with their community during a snack time or meeting other developmental goals, such as sensory, fine motor, or creativity.  You will also note that our snack list is tentative and some cooking projects may occur in individual classes that would change your child’s particular snack for the day.  Please see your individual lesson plans and weekly documentation for additional details. 

This year we had two additional questions about programming for the 2020-2021 school year.  Families showed enthusiasm for adding a lunch bunch program, so that will begin in fall 2020.  You can look for information on registration for that program when forms are due in the summer.  Families were a bit more mixed on a longer day program, so we are still investigating that option for next year.

Thank you for your trust and confidence in the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School at the University of Minnesota.  We look forward to a wonderful spring semester with each of you!

Fall 2019 Directors Welcome

By Sheila Williams Ridge

Hello families! The beginning of the year has been an exciting and busy time at the Lab School.  We are so happy to have all of you as a part of this community and appreciate all of your patience with the construction around our building.  We are all looking forward to it being done in October! 

The fall weather has been amazing for outdoor explorations and stocking up on Vitamin D. We invite you to visit our website to learn more about recent events when the classroom pages are up and running- which should be any day now.  We have a variety of ways that you can be involved this year in creating the community, so please continue to talk to your child’s teacher, see our boards and displays in the hallway, and check out the website as well as your email for more information.  We have a wonderful year planned with a variety of events. Our first event of the year is the Family Camping Trip on September 28-29th, quickly followed by Creativity Night on October 15th.  We have Gym Jam planned for the winter, the Spring Soiree later in the year, and a variety of parent education offerings throughout the year. Starting with the Kindergarten transition in November.  Childcare will be available for the parent education events as well as the PALS meeting for a small fee. If you would like to help with any of these events or general volunteering around the school, please complete the family volunteer sign up from the open house and if you didn’t get one then, there are extras in the hallway near the parent engagement wall. 

If your child will be absent from school or late for arrival or pick up, please call the office at 612-624-9543 to let us know.

This fall our staff will be attending the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) national conference and school will be closed on November 20-22. This conference allows us to focus on our growth and development as teachers and administrators in our work with children and families.   Throughout the year, you may notice a staff member or two out at a conference or workshop. We are continually learning and growing in our profession and bringing back the best in early childhood education and other areas of focus to you and your family. This year, we plan to attend professional development on parent engagement, curriculum, coaching and mentoring, diversity and equity, embracing children’s thinking, race and culture, learning from other lab schools, young children and nature, and more. We look forward to sharing this knowledge through our work at the Lab School. If you are interested in learning more, please stop by the office to find out more.

On the subject of learning more, several research projects will begin later this fall. Please watch your email for details. You can opt out of participation at anytime by emailing your child’s teacher or Sheila directly, or by letting us know in person at school.


Parent Association of the Lab School (PALS)

By John Babcock, PALS Chair and parent of Calvin in 5 AM

PALS is a powerful voice for parents and is a direct conduit to voicing concerns from the classroom, advising the resource needs for the school, and encourage communication between Lab School staff and parents.  Given how much uncertainty parents are experiencing regarding the upcoming unification of the Lab School and the Child Development Center now is the perfect time to become involved and contribute to this ongoing conversation. 

Join us at the first PALS meeting on Tuesday, September 24 from 6 – 7:30 pm in room 105 (upstairs from the school).  We are an open, transparent, and active parent group focusing on charting this next course for the Lab School.

Don’t know where to start with so much information regarding the unification proposal?  Please email John Babcock, PALS chair, at jvbabcock5@gmail.com with your questions and access to documents and guides for the unification process.  

Meeting Agenda:

1. Introduction – parents and staff briefly introduce themselves to the group

2. Shared resource board

  • Purpose of the board (childcare need/offered, carpooling needed/offered, gear/clothing needed/offered).  Other ideas?
  • Guidelines- No money to exchange hands for gear/clothing. And no rates or solicitations are allowed to be posted on the board physical or digital.
  • Who will manage the physical/digital board?  Only one person with a backup?

3. Unification Proposal

  • Update / Where we currently are
  • How to get better involved

4. School Volunteering

  • Events
  • Classroom and School

5. New Business

  • New Policies/changes?
  • Concerns for Parents?

Little Free Library

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Little Free Library just at the bottom of the stairs, we encourage you to take a peek, grab a book, or leave a book next time you are at school.  If there is a green fabric cover over the books, it is just to help when there are small groups that may become distracted. Feel free to lift the cover and enjoy!

New Teacher in 5 AM

We’re pleased to introduce Alyssa Wilt as our new lead teacher in the five-morning program. Alyssa’s class meets in room 50. We hope you will join us in welcoming Alyssa to the Lab School community! A brief bio of our new teacher is below.

Hello! My name is Alyssa and I am so excited to be joining the Lab School community this year. After growing up in Illinois, I came to college at the University of Minnesota. I fell in love with the Twin Cities and never left! I received my Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Child Psychology before graduating with an M.Ed in Early Childhood Education in 2017. I am excited to be back at the Lab School after student teaching here during my undergraduate program.  For the past few years, I have been teaching preschool for Minneapolis Public Schools. Outside of school, I spend my time hiking, swimming, baking, and reading. I love getting outside, no matter the season, and am trying to complete 52 hikes this year. I look forward to getting to know the families of the Lab School this year!

Parent Education: Transition to Kindergarten

By Ayuko Boomer, 2 AM and 3 AM lead teacher and parent educator

Mark your Calendars! Our annual Transition to Kindergarten event is coming up on Thursday, November 7 from 6-8p.m.  We will be hosting a school fair this year for the first hour with representatives from private and public schools from the Twin Cities, and the second hour will feature an information session with a panel of wonderful guests, such as a Kindergarten teacher, a past Lab School parent, and a multi-age preschool teacher.  Information on school choice, school readiness, and helping your child make the transition will be discussed and available.  We hope you can make it!  

Creativity at the Lab School

The Lab School Creativity Night is coming up on Tuesday October 15th from 6 – 7:30.  This event is an opportunity for your family to come to engage in creative expression.  Each of the classrooms hosts a process oriented activity for parents and children to enjoy while getting to know other families in our Lab School community.  We encourage you to explore each of the classrooms as well as the playground throughout the course of the evening.

Speaking of creative expression, we are about to have an abundance of free colorful materials to use for art…fallen leaves!  Collecting them is a large part of the fun. There are so many details to notice in terms of variations in color and shape. Flexible leaves are much easier for children to work with so I recommend putting them in a ziplock bag in the fridge until you are ready to use them.  Young 2 and 3 year olds may enjoy selecting their favorites to make a sun catcher. Simply have them place leaves on contact paper that has the sticky side up. When they are done you place another piece of contact paper on top and voila! As children get older their fine motor skills strengthen as does their ability to represent objects in their art.  They might get inspired by some of the images in the book Look What I Did With a Leaf, by Morteza E. Sohi.  Children can also help make colorful leaf garland or wall hangings.  A hole puncher will cut through a leaf to prepare it for stringing on yarn.  As you are making things with leaves, or admiring their display, I hope it brings back memories of the day you spent outside collecting them.

Fall Camping Trip

Please join us for an adventurous outing with friends and family as we explore and enjoy the beauty of the Minnesota outdoors.  Come for the Saturday activities (beginning at 3pm) or pitch a tent and stay up all night! There are hiking trails, sand volleyball courts, fire pits at each group camp, wagons available for transporting equipment to the site and restrooms with running water!  (There is also limited space available in the lodge for families wanting to stay overnight, but not in a tent.) The lodge has a large open space that 3-4 families can camp overnight, however the bathrooms will be available for all and the entire lodge is the emergency shelter for our group.  Please see your email to sign up.  Spaces are limited.

Scholastic Book Orders

You can find books focused on early learners, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), and books available in other languages.  There are many more amazing stories available at the Scholastic store online at an affordable price. When ordering online use our Class Activation Code H7MHT and the books will be delivered to your child’s classroom.You can order at any time and books will be delivered to the Lab School about once per month. Here is a link directly to the book club page for our school: (https://orders.scholastic.com/H7MHT

Reptiles in the classroom

Reptiles and amphibians, also known as herptiles, like frogs, salamanders, turtles, lizards, snakes, and alligators, can be fascinating for young children. We have several throughout our school including Shy Shell, Boxy, Tuck and Rainbow, Silence, Ziggy, Bart, and Ramona. 

There are so many wonderfully beautiful species with amazing and diverse capabilities, much like your own children. We encourage you, as we learn about reptiles and amphibians, to try and not transfer your worries and fears to your children, but to continue to help flame the spark of wonder that your child feels when investigating something new.

We have carefully chosen animals for our school that offer safe and rich experiences that help children and others grow.  We also ask that you speak with your children, as we do at school, about the safety concerned with any interactions with wildlife or domestic animals. 

Our rules at school around pets include the following guidelines for animals at school from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Children will be closely supervised during contact with animals to discourage contact with manure and soiled bedding.
  • Hand-to-mouth contact (e.g., thumb sucking) will be discouraged.
  • Appropriate hand washing will be required after each interaction with an animal.
  • Staff will be present to encourage appropriate human-animal interactions.
  • If feeding animals, only food for that purpose will be allowed in the space with the animal present.

When interacting with wildlife we also have a set of closely followed guidelines that includes:

  • Adults and children will approach wildlife after a teacher has given the okay, especially around animals like frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, and turtles.
  • Adults and children will not approach wildlife that may become unsafe like deer, raccoons, geese, turkeys, alligators, and large predators.
  • Wildlife will be treated with care and respect.
  • Any wildlife handled will be returned to their natural habitat after the interaction—some exceptions can occur for tadpoles, turtles, etc. that may visit the classroom for a limited amount of time.
  • Staff will supervise all interactions with wildlife.
  • Adults and children will wash hands or use hand sanitizer, depending on the place of the interaction, after handling any wildlife.

Animals in the classroom 

By Marie Lister

Getting to know our classroom pets Bart (the ball python) and Boxy (the box turtle) has become an important part of how we build a sense of community in my classroom. 

Early on in the year we bring the animals to large group and pay careful attention to what the animals look like and how they move as the children draw in their journals. As a group, we talk about how we can work together to care for Bart and Boxy, and think about what kind of care we can give to things that are alive. 

It’s a wonderful way for us to join together as a group while we’re still getting to know each other and establishes a sense of shared pride that threads its way throughout the school year.