Counting to 100 is something students at the Soboba Tribal Preschool are working on but it was a number they celebrated on Jan. 30 as it signaled the school year’s halfway mark. With activities that ranged from making hats to wear that deemed them “100 Days Smarter” and “100 Days Brighter” the kindergarten, pre-kindergarten and children in the “twos” and “threes” classrooms spent the day working with the big number.
Many of the children came dressed for the day, either as a 100-year-old person with gray frosted hair or wearing something that showed 100. A pre-k student had a t-shirt with 100 plastic googly eyes glued onto it, another had 100 colorful pom poms attached to their shirt.
Amanda Vallin’s three-year-olds spent part of their morning counting out 10 different snacks into groups of ten. They used pretzels, Goldfish crackers, Cheerios, raisins, popcorn and more to complete their 100th Day Trail Mix sheet. Their snack items were then transferred to a plastic bag for them to take home and eat later. They also enjoyed a 100-day story that incorporated a special dance so they could get some of their fitness time in as well.
Vallin said the biggest difference with the kids at the start of the school year in August until now has been the development of their fine motor skills. She said that is the most important thing they focus on in her classroom each day. The students do puzzles and trace their names with a pencil. She said a lot of the students had not been in school before so there was much to learn about rules and socialization, too.
Ana Garcia is teaching the pre-kindergarten class this year. She taught the three-year-olds last year so many of her former students are in her class again and she has noticed how much they’ve grown. She was working at a table with four students who were assembling paper gumball machines. The top of the “machine” was made from a paper plate with 100 circles on it. The children could color them any way they wished before gluing them to the base of the machine where they wrote their name.
Garcia said the class is reading short stories and memorizing sight words. She said the majority seem ready for kindergarten even though they have another 100 days of school left. “I couldn’t be happier with the progression,” she said. “Some kids got really creative with the theme this year, with help from their parents. It is so good to see this level of parent participation.”
Sierra Vivanco’s kindergarten students strung 100 colorful cereal loops onto yarn to form a necklace. They also were counting to 100 and working in an activity book that included drawing a picture of themselves at 100 years of age, completing sentences that began with such prompts as “I wish I had 100…” and “If I had $100, I would buy…” and practicing writing out the words “one hundred.”
Vivanco said many of the students have been able to pick up on their letter sounds, which is the skill that was hardest to recoup after the pandemic forced children into virtual learning. She said compared to last year when she taught the first post-COVID kindergartners in person, this has been a faster paced first 100 days. She said there are still some challenges with attendance and social skills, but they are working through all that and she feels by the end of the school year, the students will all be where they need to be to head off to first grade.
“By graduation, they need to have mastered letters and their sounds, numbers, sight words and other things that most are doing pretty well at so far,” Vivanco said. “Parents are really grasping what effect the time away from school during COVID has had on their children but are hopeful they will be able to get back on track this year.”
She said her class has begun learning how to count by twos and they had lots of questions. “They are also very curious at this age,” she said.
Staff from Soboba Tribal Preschool will be hosting a Bingo fundraising event on Feb. 22 so each student along with an adult can take an end-of-the-year trip to Disneyland. A Bingo card and spaghetti dinner will be provided with the purchase of each $10 ticket. Additional Bingo cards will be available for purchase. Please note that all attendees will have to show identification at the Access Gate before making their way to the Soboba Sports Complex. Doors will open at 5 p.m.
For tickets or more information, please call 951-487-8732.
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians